How do you become an SLE?

Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs)

Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) are experienced middle or senior leaders who support colleagues in other schools in their local area. 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.

The Application Process:

If you are interested in applying, it is vital that you talk with your Head Teacher. You will need to obtain their consent to release you on SLE deployments and seek their agreement to become your referee. They must also agree to pay the £200 cost of SLE statutory training.

Application guidance can be found here:

SLE Application Guidance

SLE Application process

Who can apply?

You will need to fill in part 1 of the application. Part 2 must be completed by your Head Teacher, as a referee. A second reference will also need to be completed by a middle or senior leader you have supported or a middle or senior leader who has first-hand knowledge of the work you undertook with colleagues in his/her school and the impact of your support.

The application form and 2nd reference form are available to download here:

SLE application form

2nd referee form

On completion of the application form, please email to

Appeals Policy

All applicants have the right to appeal against the outcomes of their designation decision. The National College has published an appeals policy and applicants are able to download this from the College’s website here. If you wish to make an appeal, please complete the appeal form.

Information for prospective applicants

What do Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) do?
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.

How will an SLE benefit me and my school?
School-to-school support enables the sharing and development of outstanding, innovative practice, which can benefit all schools in a partnership. The SLE programme:

  • Is an excellent form of CPD for middle and senior leaders, enabling them to enhance their knowledge, skills and abilities in a variety of ways
  • Will further develop SLE’s coaching, mentoring and facilitation skills, which can also be used to support colleagues in their own school through internal training and development
  • Gives individuals the opportunity to learn about different school contexts and systems, which will in turn help them to develop their practice in their own school
  • Support schools’ internal succession-planning strategies, by enabling individuals to demonstrate they are ready to step up to the next leadership level. This can also support staff retention by motivating and re-energising leaders who are taking on this new role.

My school is not ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted; can I still apply for SLE status?
Whilst SLEs will be outstanding at what they do, they can come from any school, regardless of the school’s Ofsted grade. However, the head and chair of governors must agree that the school has the capacity to release them.

Where can I find more information about the eligibility criteria for SLEs?
SLEs need to meet strict designation criteria, which can be found in full on the NCTL website. SLEs have expertise in a specific area and a list of areas of expertise can also be found on the NCTL website. The website address is:

What is involved and how will I be deployed?
The Morris TSA has a strategic role in the deployment of its SLEs and must maintain an overview of all SLE activity for accounting purposes and to ensure appropriate impact evaluation can take place. All deployments will be focused on addressing the strategic priorities of the partnership.

  • School initiated – individual schools (or groups of school) contact the Morris TSA to request the support of an SLE. The Morris TSA can then broker the support of an SLE with the appropriate specialism, experience and skills to support the request.
  • SLE initiated – the SLE contact Morris TSA to inform us they’ve been approached by another school / group of schools to provide SLE support. Morris TSA will review this and perhaps broker additional support should it be required.
  • Morris TSA initiated – Morris TSA may approach SLEs to inform them of and promote SLE deployment opportunities. These may involve working with an individual school, a group of schools and/or to contribute at a leadership level to wider alliance activity.

How will I be supported in my SLE deployments?
Where possible, SLE deployments will be contracted as part of a wider school-to-school support strategy. This will therefore link with any other support Morris TSA is providing to the school or group of schools, such as NLE, LLE and/or consultant Head Teacher support, and ensure consistency, value for money and additional support for the SLE. All deployments will be discussed with the SLE and require the support of their Head Teacher before being confirmed.

Is my school financially reimbursed for my time?
The SLE daily rate for all SLEs designated by the Morris TSA will be charged at £250. All financial transactions must go through Morris TSA for audit and reporting purposes. Morris TSA will invoice the school receiving support and will arrange payment to the SLE’s employing school. An administration fee of 15% will retained by Morris TSA. No monies will be paid directly to an individual SLE.

What is the time commitment required by an SLE?
The role lasts for 4 years, at which time there will be a review. The types and duration of placements varies per deployment.

There is no minimum or maximum time commitment. Your capacity to undertake deployments will be at the discretion of your Head Teacher.