During 2013-2015 BEYTC (now Bristol Early Years Teaching School Alliance BEYTSA) worked with Bristol Early Years Improvement Team on agreed support priorities and has been commissioned to recruit, designate and deploy SLEs in certain specialisms with agreed service specifications. SLEs may also be deployed as a result of a direct request for support from a school or setting.

What is an SLE?

Specialist Leaders of Education (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 looks like and are skilled in supporting others to achieve it.  They can evidence the impact of their work.

Role of an SLE

SLEs use their knowledge in a specialist area to work outside their own school/setting, using  high-level coaching and facilitation skills.  They support the professional evelopment of leaders through:

  • One to one support
  • Faciliated group support
  • Use and analysis of data
  • Diagnosis of strengths and areas for development.

BEYTSA expects all SLEs to undertake research, support the development of specialist learning communities in Bristol and play a role in succession planning. They may also contribute to ITE through School Direct and other routes.

Benefits of becoming an SLE for the SLE’s school or setting:

  • Motivation and retention of staff
  • Excellent CPD for middle/senior leaders
  • Support for schools’ internal succession planning
  • Development of high level coaching and mentoring skills
  • Increased knowledge about other schools/settings, systems and good practice
  • Improved practice in the SLE’s home school/setting
  • Development of outstanding, innovative practice.


There is no pre-defined commitment for SLE work because models and types of deployment will vary. Deployment arrangements will be mutually agreed by BEYTSA, the SLE and the school or setting receiving support. In some cases this may also involve a commissioning organisation such as a Local Authority, School Federation or Adademy group.

Where a school/setting is facing a particular challenge, and SLE support has been agreed, BEYTSA will match an SLE from its pool with leaders in the school/setting requiring support after liaising with the SLE and their own school/setting to confirm capacity and availability.


SLEs will be deployed beyond their own schools/settings in response to local need. There is not guaranteed deployment as this depends on need and demand.  Models and types of deployment will vary and may range, for example, from a 1-day diagnostic exercise to a long term part-time or full-time support role.

Funding for deployment is agreed between BEYTSA and the SLE’s home school or setting and will be managed by that school or setting in line with current legislative regulations.

SLE Application and Designation Process

Guidance for potential applicants

If you would like to discuss the role of SLEs in the context of BEYTSA please contact Lucy Driver, head at St. Paul’s Nursery School and Children’s Centre: