Information about SLEs for headteachers

(See below for further details for applicants)

The next application round is yet to be confirmed.

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.

A list of the BTSA SLEs with their specialist details is available on the website

A brief description of each SLE may be accessed on the SLE pen portraits area of the website.

The documents for SLE deployment and evaluation can be accessed by clicking on the files below.

SLE visit form

SLE visit evaluation form

This information is from the SLE toolkit and is for headteachers who have middle or senior leaders in their school who are considering becoming an SLE, or would benefit from the support of an SLE.

Potential applicants may find this helpful to share when talking to their headteacher or teaching schools when meeting as an alliance.

The role and who it is for?

SLEs are outstanding middle or senior leaders with at least two years’ leadership experience. They have a particular area of expertise and a successful track record of school improvement. SLEs provide school-to-school support and peer-to-peer learning to senior and middle leaders in other schools.

SLE’s 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

SLEs can come from any school or academy, including nursery, primary, secondary, special, pupil referral unit, independent, free schools and sixth form colleges. Whilst the individual must be outstanding, his or her school does not have to be.

How it works

Teaching schools are responsible for the designation, brokering, deployment and quality assurance of SLEs. Applicants need to identify a teaching school alliance when applying. The SLE area of expertise, published on the National College website lists the specialisms that will be covered by SLES.

Teaching schools will assess applicants before making designation recommendations. SLEs will undertake a one-day core training session and will be entitled to two enrichment modules, both fully funded by the National College. Teaching schools will work with other schools to broker SLE deployments.

Models and types of deployments will vary according to local need. For example, one deployment might be a two-day diagnostic exercise, whilst another might require a three-month full-time support role. Time may be taken as a block of consecutive days or spread over a longer period. There is no pre-defined time commitment for deployments. Deployments should be agreed between all parties prior to taking place and the capacity of both the SLE’s school and the SLE will need to be given consideration. SLEs will be expected to provide evidence that their work has had a positive impact on outcomes for children and young people, by developing leadership capacity in other schools.

Headteacher support

The support of the applicant’s headteacher is a key element of the eligibility criteria and application process. The headteacher will need to sign a reference to agree to the applicant taking time out of school to perform the SLE role.

Funding and support

There may be payment for specific deployments, either from schools receiving support or from other sources or commissioning bodies, to help the SLE’s school towards reimbursement for backfill or supply cover. Any such arrangement will be agreed and managed between the teaching school and/or other schools involved.

Over time and as the programme evolves, different models and approaches will be developed. Some schools have swapped SLEs on a cost-neutral basis, some schools have introduced pay scales, whilst other alliances have used pooled finances.

What are the benefits to the SLE’s school?

System leadership supports the sharing and development of outstanding, innovative practice, which can benefit both schools in a partnership.

An SLE brings a wealth of benefits to their own school:

  • it is an excellent form of continuing professional development (CPD) for middle and senior leader
  • it enhances knowledge, skills and abilities to further improve their current role and influences others
  • it can support schools’ internal succession planning strategies by enabling individuals to demonstrate they are ready to step up to the next leadership level
  • skills such as coaching and mentoring that SLEs develop can be used to support colleagues in their own school
  • it can re-energise and motivate both the SLE and, through dissemination of learning, other staff
  • learning about different systems and contexts from the schools they support helps them to develop practice back in their own school

What are the benefits to schools receiving support?

An SLE brings the following benefits to the school receiving support:

  • peer-to-peer support and building leadership capacity delivered in a collaborative way
  • partnership approach to developing local solutions, taking into account individual schools’ own circumstances
  • embedding coaching and mentoring approaches that support sustainable change and improvement
  • engaging with an outstanding expert with leadership skills in a particular field of practice who also understands current challenges, policy, best practice and local needs

 More information about eligibility criteria, what’s involved and who can become an SLE is available on the website at

 For further information or support, please email Alternatively, you can contact the relevant teaching school.


Key Dates

The next SLE application round is yet to be confirmed

Key Dates will be provided when available


Date Action
  Applications invited for SLE applications.
Please be aware that applications received after 6pm on the  TBC  will not be considered.
  Applications reviewed and interview details sent to candidates
  SLE interviews and assessments. The Boldmere Teaching School Alliance will conduct SLE interviews between  TBC
  SLE applicants will receive a letter confirming the outcome of interview process.
Successful applicants will receive information on how to access training.
  SLE core training begins


All applications must be sent to


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.