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Learn Academies Trust

Learn Academies Trust

SLE Recruitment

Specialist leaders of education (SLEs) are outstanding middle and senior leaders who have the skills to support individuals or teams in similar positions in other schools. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of expertise looks like and are skilled in helping other leaders to achieve it in their own context.

The Schools White Paper announced the creation of the SLE role to help raise standards and improve the quality of school leadership through school-to-school support and peer-to-peer learning. This designation recognises the important role that senior and middle leaders play in improving schools and outcomes for children.

SLEs will:

  • have excellent interpersonal skills
  • be able to work sensitively and collaboratively with others
  • have a commitment to outreach work
  • understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of specialism looks like and help other leaders to achieve it in their own context

The SLE role focuses on building the leadership capacity of middle and senior leaders in other schools to develop their skills so that they can lead teams and improve practice within their own schools.

This may be done in a variety of ways such as:

  • one-to-one peer coaching
  • facilitated group support
  • data analysis
  • coaching
  • joint action planning

Since 2011, over 2,500 SLEs have been designated. The aim is to recruit every year, building up to 5,000 by 2014–15. In time, we anticipate 10,000 SLEs to be designated to ensure full national coverage.

Who can apply?

You need to be an outstanding middle or senior school leader with a particular area of expertise and the capacity, skills and commitment to support others in similar positions in other schools. See the eligibility criteria and areas of expertise for further details.

What's involved?

SLEs will develop the leadership capacity of individuals and teams in other schools, using coaching or facilitation support that draws on their knowledge and expertise in their specialist area. The work will contribute to improving outcomes for children, with priority likely to be given to supporting the needs of underperforming and challenged schools.


There is no pre-defined time commitment for SLE work as models and types of deployment vary according to need and capacity. Designation is for four years, as long as you continue to meet the eligibility criteria, after which you will be subject to a review of designation by your teaching school.


There is no cost to apply. Successful applicants will be entitled to some training at no cost to their school. However, we are unable to cover the costs of associated travel or supply cover.

For further information please see

You can download the SLE factsheet from here.


Application process

The SLE application form consists of two parts. Both parts are accessible at
Part 1 is completed online via the National College log-in site and part 2 is a Word document completed offline by the applicant and uploaded electronically, by the referee, to part 1.

Part 1

Part 1 of the application form is completed online. If applicants are not already registered as members of the National College, they will need to register in order to complete the SLE application form. This involves entering some personal information and school details. Applicants should ensure that they allow time for this part of the process. Applicants select the teaching school alliance they wish to be designated by, using a drop down box.

Part 2

Part 2 of the SLE application form is a Word document that contains five key questions and the applicant’s Headteacher reference. The application form can be downloaded at any time from the website during the application round. Once completed, the applicant will need to email the application form to their Headteacher referee. After the Headteacher has completed the reference section of the form, he/she must upload it onto the National College website in order to be submitted. Teaching schools will be sent both parts of the application form.

  • applicants are required to complete all fields in the application form
  • applicants are required to confirm their name, school and contact details
  • there is a maximum of 300 words for free text boxes

The SLE application guidance for applicants contains more information on the application process, the questions and how they link to the SLE eligibility criteria. Applicants must have the support and agreement of their Headteacher in order to be considered. The Headteacher acts as the applicant’s referee and should complete a reference section in the application form which includes confirming that the school has the capacity to release them.

The Headteacher will also need to provide a supporting statement showing evidence of how the applicant meets the criteria and how he or she has supported a middle or senior leader from another school or academy. Where it is not possible to draw on an example of outreach work, the Headteacher can provide evidence of how the applicant has supported a middle or senior leader within their own school and what impact this has made.