Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE)

Becoming a Specialist Leader of Education with the Alliance of Leading Learning


Are you an experienced middle or senior leader who’s interested in supporting middle and senior leaders in other schools?

Through sharing your expertise do you want to provide every child and young person with access to high-quality provision, achieving to the best of their ability regardless of location, prior attainment and background?




Who can apply

  • To become an SLE, you need to have been in a leadership role other than headteacher for at least 2 years. Your headteacher will be asked to confirm that you’re in an appropriate role. Higher level teaching assistants are not eligible to apply.
  • You can be from any type or phase of school.
  • You must have at least one specialism from our areas of expertise, which are based on the areas of focus in the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework (September 2016):

To be successful in your application, you should have

  • a successful track record of working effectively within your own school and/or across a group of schools, or working with a range of leaders within a single school
  • evidence of successfully using coaching and/or facilitation skills to bring about sustainable improvements
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • a good understanding of what constitutes ‘outstanding’ in your field of expertise and the ability and confidence to communicate this
  • a good understanding of how your specialism and skills can contribute to wider school improvement goals
  • an analytical approach in identifying and prioritising needs
  • the ability to set and establish new and innovative working practices
  • the ability to grow leadership capacity in others

You can also provide supporting evidence gained from completing leadership development opportunities such as:

·     the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership

·     the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership

What an SLE does

SLEs focus on developing leadership capacity. While other roles focus specifically on developing classroom expertise, this role is about developing the capacity and capability of other 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 or group support and could involve a variety of activities, such as:

·     data analysis

·     coaching

·     facilitating and training

·     joint action planning

If selected, you’ll be expected to provide evidence that your work has had a positive impact on outcomes for children and young people by developing leadership capacity in other schools.

Time commitment

The role lasts for 4 years, at which time there’ll be a review. The types of placements will vary. For example, one might be a 2-day diagnostic exercise, while another might require a 3 month, full time support role. Time may be taken as a block of consecutive days or spread over a longer period.

There’s no minimum or maximum time commitment. You and your school will need to think carefully about capacity and negotiate your availability together.

Apply NOW to become an SLE with the Alliance of Leading Learning.

A Gold Standard provider of School 2 School support.

·     Check you fulfil the eligibility criteria

·     complete the application form provided

·     gain a supporting reference from your current headteacher

Useful documents:

Please see the SLE application guidance and the standard version of the application form for reference only.

Application form:

Click here for an Application Form 

Click here for an Application Form  (word doc)

The small print:


There are 2 situations where you have the right to appeal:

·     if your initial application is not successful

·     if you become an SLE and, when reviewed, are judged to no longer meet the criteria

To make an appeal you should:

·     read the SLE appeals procedure 

·     request an appeals form and submit the form within 10 working days of receiving the outcome you’re appealing (if the outcome is received at the end of term, this period will transfer to the following term)

·     We encourage you to try to reach an informal resolution with us before making a formal appeal.

Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE)