How to become an SLE

The next round of SLE applications will open in the April 2021.

The application process:

If you are interested in applying to be an SLE, please read the SLE Application Guidance and the SLE Briefing Pack and talk with your headteacher to gain their agreement to:

  • become your referee
  • pay approximately £250 cost of the SLE statutory training

Your headteacher will need sufficient time to complete this reference. The reference will be a key part of the application form.

Application guidance can be found here:

SLE Application Guidance

SLE Briefing Pack

Data Policy

You need to fill in part 1 of the application. Part 2 must be completed by your Headteacher, 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

SLE 2nd Referee Form

Supporting you with your application:

Talk to any of your colleagues who have been involved in school-to-school work.  Discuss with them the nature and opportunities of this partnership. In addition, take the opportunity to discuss your plans with your line manager, within the broader picture of you career progression and professional development.

If you have any further specific questions related to becoming an SLE and the application process, please contact Pauline Haslam, the Saffron Teaching School Hub administrator, at

If you are successful at this stage you will be invited to an online assessment consisting of:

  • A presentation
  • Formal interview questions

 The final assessment stage is a Compulsory Core Training Day

  • This is a standardised day for the Eastern Region
  • A certificate designating you as an SLE will only be given on the successful completion of this day
  • There may be pre-task activities that you will be asked to undertake by your SLE Co-ordinator and/or SLE Core Training Centre before you attend this day

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 an 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 rated ‘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