The standard cookie policy for this website is to allow all cookies. This helps to ensure you have the optimal experience. If you would like to continue with our optimal website experience, you don't need to make any changes. If you would like to learn more about what cookies are and how we use them, visit our cookie policy page.

Who Can Become An SLE?

To become a WLTSA Specialist Leader of Education, you will need to hold a middle or senior leadership role below the head teacher in a school.

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 head teacher 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.

SLEs need to meet strict designation criteria and 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.


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;


  • 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 head teacher.


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 application guidance from the National College for Teaching and Leadership please click here.