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. SLEs will work beyond their own schools, supporting individual or groups of leaders using a high-level coaching or facilitation approach that draws on their knowledge and expertise in their specialist area. This may involve a variety of support approaches, for example:
The cost of providing SLE support is met either by the supported school or through intervention funding; depending upon the circumstances of the school.
The Swindon Teaching School is responsible for brokering support from a pool of SLEs within our area. Working with the schools and other partners in our alliance, we identify where SLE support is needed, which could be in any school in the alliance but is likely to be in those schools that are facing particular challenges . We will match SLEs in our pool with a leader or leaders in another school, liaising with the SLE and his/her own school to negotiate capacity and availability to be deployed. We may also liaise with other teaching school alliances to join our SLE pools together to enable schools needing support to access an even wider range of expertise. For further details, follow this link to the National College website: www.education.gov.uk
The application round to become a specialist leader of education (SLE) is currently closed. The next application round will be open in May. Please see the following link for further details
Being an SLE benefits both the SLE and the school in which they are being seconded from. The national leaders of education and local leaders of education programmes have proved that individuals can be motivated and re-energised by undertaking school-to-school and peer-to-peer support roles that help support staff retention.
The SLE role is an excellent form of continuing professional development (CPD) for middle and senior leaders, enabling them to enhance their knowledge, skills and abilities in a variety of ways. This can mean that their ability to undertake their current role is further improved. It can also support schools’ internal succession planning strategies by enabling individuals to demonstrate they are ready to step up to the next leadership level.
The coaching and mentoring skills that SLEs develop can be used to support colleagues in their own school, for example, through in-house training and development. In addition, what they learn about different systems and contexts from the schools they support will help them to develop practice back in their own school. System leadership supports the sharing and development of outstanding, innovative practice, which can benefit both schools in a partnership.
Deployment may also result in some funding for the SLE’s own school, although this will need to be agreed by the schools involved and their teaching schools alliance. Even if remuneration doesn’t take the form of direct funding, it could involve an exchange of services that may help support or enhance an area of the SLE’s school.
Deployment of an SLE can be a cost-effective way of delivering in-house professional development for individuals, departments or whole school.