How to Become an SLE

How to become an SLE with DTSA

How to become an SLE

Teaching schools are responsible for the recruitment, assessment, designation, brokerage and quality assurance of Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs).

What is an SLE?

SLEs are outstanding middle and senior leaders in positions below the headteacher, with at least two years’ leadership experience. They have a particular area of expertise (such as a subject area, early years, behaviour or school business management) and a successful track record of school improvement.

SLEs support leaders in other schools. They have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, are able to work sensitively and collaboratively with others and have a commitment to outreach work. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of specialism looks like and can help other leaders to achieve it in their own context.

The SLE role is about developing other middle and senior leaders so that they have the skills to lead their own teams and improve practice in their own schools. This may be done through one-to-one peer coaching or facilitated group support and could involve a variety of activities, such as data analysis, coaching or joint action planning.

SLEs can come from any school or academy, including nursery, primary, secondary, special, pupil referral unit, independent or free school, or sixth form college but must be supported by their headteacher in their application.

Whilst the individual must be outstanding, his or her school does not have to be.


Skills SLEs will have:

  • the ability to utilise high levels of emotional intelligence to work sensitively and collaboratively with peer colleagues
  • an appreciation of how their specialism and skills can contribute to the wider school improvement agenda
  • an analytical approach in identifying the needs and ability to prioritise accordingly, including the ability to set and establish new and innovative working practices
  • the ability to grow leadership capacity in others


What’s in it for me and my school? 

  • developing coaching and facilitation skills
  • the opportunity to network with peers
  • gaining experience of different school environments
  • the chance to learn from ideas and approaches used by others
  • developing skills and knowledge to benefit your own school
  • the knowledge you are helping others to improve and are having a positive impact on outcomes for children


What will I need from my school? 

  • the support of your Headteacher
  • their understanding that they will need the flexible capacity for you to be released for the role
  • a supporting reference


How long will I be deployed for? 

  • Deployment will be based on need and demand and will vary
  • There is no pre-defined time commitment it can be from 5 days per year
  • Your school will receive funding for every day you are deployed


We would particularly welcome applications from colleagues with experience in:

Secondary: Leadership of CPD; English; Maths; MFL; Science; ITT/NQT support; SEN

Primary: Leadership of CPD; English; Phonics; MFL; Maths; ITT/NQT support; SEN; School business management and financial management


How it works

There is no defined time commitment for deployments as time commitment will be agreed between all parties. However, SLEs and schools will need to think carefully about the likely commitment and capacity. Initially DTSA is looking for a minimum commitment of around 5 days for each SLE but each piece of work will be individually negotiated and some contracts may be for a longer period where appropriate.

SLEs will be expected to show evidence that their work has had a positive impact on outcomes for children and young people by developing leadership capacity in other schools.

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

Applicants who apply for the programme must have the support and agreement of their headteacher, who will confirm that the school has the capacity to release them. The headteacher will act as the applicant’s referee and will complete a reference section in the application form. They will 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.

Please contact us on 01332 706806 or for more information.

View our a list of our current Primary and Secondary SLEs below.