Specialist Leaders of Education

Who can become a specialist leader of education?

To become a specialist leader of education (SLE), you will need to hold a middle or senior leadership role below the Headteacher in a school and have a specialism that is included in our list of areas of expertise. We do not precisely define middle or senior leadership because we recognise that roles and responsibilities differ and that routes to leadership are not always straightforward. Your Headteacher will, therefore, be asked to confirm that you hold an appropriate role. Although you need to be an outstanding leader, you do not need to come from an outstanding school or from a school that is part of a teaching school alliance as long as your school has the capacity to release you for outreach work. Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) are not able to become SLEs.

SLE designation is open to individuals from: Nursery schools, primary, middle, secondary, all-through and special schools, Pupil referral units and short-stay schools, Faith schools, Independent schools, Academies, chains and free schools, Sixth form colleges

Experience – SLEs will be outstanding middle or senior leaders with at least two years experience and a first class knowledge in a particular field of expertise and have a minimum of two years experience in a leadership role within a school or academy.

Track Record – SLEs will have a successful track record, supported by substantial impact evidence, of working effectively within their 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

Applicants may also provide supporting evidence gained from completing leadership development   opportunities such as the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL), the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) or the SSAT lead practitioner accreditation.

Capacity and Commitment – SLEs will have a commitment to outreach work and the capacity to undertake such work. Be supported in their application by their Headteacher.

Skills - SLEs will have:

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • The ability to utilise high levels of emotional intelligence to work sensitively and collaboratively with peer colleagues
  • An understanding of what constitutes 'outstanding' in their field of expertise and the ability and confidence to articulate this
  • 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

For further information on SLEs and the list of specialisms please click the link below;


If you are interested in becoming an SLE through MKLA please contact Alison Donovan on admin@mkla.org.uk or call 01732 840 995.

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