Why Choose TELA?
School to School Support

Become an SLE

Become an SLE and support other schools in their improvement.

Supporting other schools helps to develop your leadership and mentoring skills, as well as bringing about school improvement. TELA are always happy to hear from colleagues with an interest in becoming a Specialist Leader in Education, or even just interested in a one off offer of support to a particular school or in a particular role. We deploy between two and fifteen members of a support team into each school where there is an official funded support plan, and we regularly receive requests for support for shorter projects.

We are not currently taking applications for SLE’s. Keep checking here for updates.

If you are an experienced middle or senior leader who is interested in supporting leaders in other schools, you might want to apply to be a specialist leader of education (SLE). There are currently just over 6,000 designated SLEs; TELA has 15 with more in line for application. Teaching schools are responsible for the selection and placement of SLEs. This is one part of the government’s plan to give schools a central role in developing a self-improving and sustainable school-led system.

https://www.gov.uk/specialist-leaders-of-education-a-guide-for-potential-applicants is a useful source of information for those considering the role.

Who can apply

To become an SLE, you need to have been in a leadership role below the headteacher for at least 2 years. Your headteacher will be asked to confirm that you are in an appropriate role. Higher level teaching assistants are not eligible to apply. You can be from any type or phase of school. You don’t need to be in an outstanding school or a school that is part of a teaching school alliance, as long as your school has the capacity to release you to work in other schools. You must have at least one specialism from our areas of expertise, which are based on the 4 areas of focus for Ofsted. You may also have additional specialisms not on this list which we will be able to match with specific needs.

Ofsted focus Areas of expertise
Leadership and management Academies and academy transition; assessment; leadership of continuing professional development; school business management and financial management; leadership of curriculum
Pupil achievement Art; closing the gap; drama; design and technology; early years; English; geography; history; information and communication technology; maths; modern foreign languages; music; phonics; physical education; personal, social and health education; religious education; science; special educational needs; support for the most able pupils
Quality of teaching Initial teacher training and newly qualified teacher development
Behaviour and safety Behaviour and discipline; attendance

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
  • an understanding of what constitutes ‘outstanding’ in your field of expertise and the ability and confidence to communicate this
  • an 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:

There is no cost to apply. Successful applicants will be entitled to some training at no cost to their school. However, the school will have to pay for associated travel or supply cover.

For more information or to discuss a possible application, email Jo Robotham jrobotham@thomasestley.org.uk or ring on 01455 283263 ext 222.

‘Thomas Estley Learning Alliance has offered valuable support, particularly in developing the school’s curriculum, and moderating assessments in English and science. Their representatives have also provided training, including for teaching assistants and cover supervisors. The alliance is providing a number of Specialist Leaders in Education from September, who will work with teachers to improve the quality of teaching. The alliance’s involvement is helping to improve the school.

A Specialist Leader of Education from Groby Community College provides effective support to the senior leader responsible for the quality of teaching’.

Charnwood College OFSTED report, July 2014

Time commitment

The role lasts for 4 years, at which time there will 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 is no minimum or maximum time commitment. You and your school will need to think carefully about capacity and negotiate your availability together with TELA.


There may be payment for specific placements, either from schools receiving support or from other organisations using your services, to help reimburse your school or pay for supply cover. Any payment will be agreed and managed by TELA and the school(s) concerned, in line with statutory guidance. TELA NLE deployments typically fund £300 per day to your school to support release costs, although some other one off projects may work slightly differently or offer reciprocity in lieu of payment.

What an SLE does

Specialist leaders of education focus on developing leadership capacity. While other roles (for example, advanced skills teachers) focused on developing classroom expertise, this role is about developing 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 will 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.

Read case studies that give examples of the type of work being done by SLEs or a blog post of the work of SLEs.