Specialist Leaders of Education

What is a Specialist Leader of Education?

SLEs are outstanding middle and senior leaders in positions below the headteacher, with at least two years’ leadership experience. They have a particular area of expertise (such as a subject area, early years, behaviour or school business management) and a successful track record of school improvement.

SLEs support leaders in other schools. They have excellent interpersonal skills, are able to work sensitively and collaboratively with others and have a commitment to outreach work. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of specialism looks like and can help other leaders to achieve it in their own context.

The SLE role is about developing other middle and senior 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 peer coaching or facilitated group support and could involve a variety of activities, such as data analysis, coaching or joint action planning.

SLEs can come from any school or academy, including nursery, primary, secondary, special, pupil referral unit, independent or free school, or sixth form college. Whilst the individual must be outstanding, his or her school does not have to be.

If you would like to engage the services of any of our SLEs, please take a look at our current generic support agreement.

If you are interested in applying to be a Specialist Leader of Education click here

Details on how to contact us can be found by clicking here

STAR Teaching School Alliance SLEs:

We currently have a team of seven Specialist Leaders of Education providing a depth of experience across Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Particular areas of specialism that can be provided are summarised below:

Meet our SLEs:

Georgina Holmes – Senior Leader at Appleton Roebuck Primary School

On completion of a BSc (Hons) in Psychology at the University of York, I enjoyed an interesting and varied career including working with Looked After children aged 8-15y in residential care; with adults and ex-offenders with learning disabilities; with KS4 pupils and adults with moderate and severe learning difficulties and/or complex needs; as an Assistant Psychologist on a Community Adult Mental Health Team and as a Team Manager in an Independent Residential Special School (KS3/KS4 and post-16) for children with Asperger Syndrome and associated disorders.  I was a Rights & Responsibilities trainer, an NVQ assessor and provided Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.  I have acted as an appropriate adult for children detained in police custody and have supported pupils through formal appeal hearings regarding their school place.

I have led inclusion since entering the teaching profession in 2006 and am now the KS2 phase leader, SENDCo, English Co-ordinator and ! deputise for the Headteacher in my current school.  I completed the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination (SENCO) and became professionally recognised in December 2012.  I have experience of teaching KS1 and KS2 in both small and large primary settings (one with high levels of turbulence) and currently have a full-time teaching commitment in a mixed Y5/6 class.  I am a mentor for student teachers and am on the governing body.  I have completed the ‘Outstanding Middle Leaders’ course and am a KS2 moderator for writing.  My previous school opted to become an Academy whilst I was a staff governor and so I have experience of this process.  Since the introduction of the new Code of Practice in 2014, I have taken several children through the EHCP process.

I am concerned about the number of new and experienced practitioners leaving the profession and would welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with colleagues in a coaching capacity.  I take my own professional development seriously and have attended numerous training courses and workshops to ensure my knowledge remains current.  I have a wealth of experience working with children of various ages with a range of needs in different settings that I am able to share.

Valerie Law –  Assistant Head teacher at Monk Fryston CE Primary School

I qualified from Hull University with a Modern Foreign Languages PGCE in 2008. Prior to that, I had worked for 11 years in sales for a national paper merchant. Following my ‘A’ Levels, I studied European Business Studies, achieving a 2:1 BA (Hons) Degree. The final year of this was spent studying at the Fachhochschule Trier in Germany, where I studied for the Betriebswirtschaftslehre Diplom (Business Diploma). I now work at Monk Fryston C of E Primary School in Year 6, but have experience across both Key Stages.

My other areas of responsibility within school include: Assistant Headteacher, MFL co-ordinator, PSHE subject leader and Investors in Pupils leader. I also co-ordinate the school’s global dimension Erasmus+ project. This involves working with European partners on an agreed educational project, with the ultimate intention of improving children’s attainment in that particular area. I am also responsible for Curriculum and Pedagogy.

One of my leadership responsibilities includes supporting the School Direct Initial Teacher Training Programme. This aims to recruit and support students, ensuring they gain the best start to their career so they can become outstanding teachers of the future. In addition to this, in my MFL capacity, I chair the STAR Alliance MFL Network meetings. This is where MFL teachers meet termly to improve and progress the teaching of languages across the primary and secondary phases.  Two years ago, I also gained accreditation as a NYCC Peer Practitioner, offering guidance and support in several areas to colleagues across the county. I look forward to my role as an SLE, where I will be able to continue this support.

I also have over 5 years’ experience as a staff member on the Monk Fryston Governing body.

Sarah Poulter – Senior Teacher at Barkston Ash Roman Catholic Primary School

In July 2013, I was appointed as Senior Teacher at Barkston Ash Catholic Primary School. With enthusiasm, I embraced the opportunity to form part of a new leadership team to implement change and to lead our school to outstanding.

During my 17 years of teaching, I have taught throughout the primary phase and currently teach an EYFS/Year 1 class. Throughout my career, I have always been driven by a desire to take on new challenges. My experience as senior teacher has enhanced my motivation to positively impact on the outcomes and experiences of children in a wider context. With energy and vision, I have embraced new challenges and build individual and collective capacity to push the boundaries of success.

I am passionate about developing others and my approachable and positive manner enhance a culture of improvement. Through supporting middle leaders in their development, I have ensured the longevity of new initiatives, thus securing a successful future for our school. I have facilitated change to raise standards and identified and implemented key priorities through setting and achieving challenging school improvement goals.

My consistent approach to positively supporting colleagues has developed an effective team of skilled and motivated staff. As a strategic thinker, I reflect on the story behind the data; seeking information and taking time to pull together evidence and ideas to identify priorities.

Julia Weights – Senior Leader at Sherburn Hungate Primary School

I graduated from Homerton College, Cambridge University with a B.Ed. Honours in 1992. My first job was in Cambridge teaching a mixed year one and two class, after two years moving into Reception where I stayed for a further 5 years. This was when ‘Four Year Olds in Reception classes’ was introduced and meant our practice and pedagogy had to change to meet their needs and levels of development. I then moved to a school in St Neots teaching year one and after a year found myself back in Reception and it was obvious to me that Early Years was where my passion lay. Whilst working in St Neots I took on the role of an “Advisory Teacher “where my role was to support playgroups, childminders and private providers in their lead up to and after an Ofsted inspection, helping them put any recommendations into practice. 

 Next came a move back to Yorkshire and a break in my career to have our two boys who are now 15 and 17. During this time I became a breast feeding support worker and ran a local mums and babies group. Returning to teaching through the supply route I managed to work fulltime in a Nursery class for two terms and as I always suspected I loved this year group and therefore looked for a permanent position in a Nursery post at Sherburn Hungate primary where I teach now. Since being at Sherburn Hungate I have gained more experience, undertaken a research project with Early Excellence, completed the Middle Leaders training programme and am currently the Early Years Lead, and a member of SLT and two years ago took on the post of SenCo. Becoming SLE for the Early Years was a way for me to pull all my expertise and experience into one place and still continue to develop my career whilst indulge my passion for the Early Years. I look forward to meeting other Early Years practitioners and seeing other settings in my role and sharing good practice.

Lydia Jackson – Specialist Lead Practitioner for English and member of the Senior Leadership Team at Sherburn High School

I have been a teacher in North Yorkshire for over 14 years and have taught in secondary schools in Harrogate, Selby and Sherburn-in-Elmet.  My first school in Harrogate was a National Challenge school and gave me a firm grounding in effective school improvement in the role of Head of English and Media.  From here, I moved to Selby as an Advanced Skills Teacher for Teaching and Learning on the Senior Leadership Team and raised the English results by 18%.  I was appointed Specialist Lead Practitioner for the Selby area at Sherburn High School at Easter 2016 and this allowed me to develop my work with both secondary and primary schools across NYCC.

In recent years, my particular areas of expertise have improved approaches to developing literacy within the department, school, local secondary and primary schools and across the county. By creating links with local primary schools, I established a literacy network to support the transition from Year 6 into Year 7.  This was enhanced by a Literacy Development Action Research Project I worked on for two years with the Local Authority and the English advisor.

I initiated and co-ordinated the Selby English Network to support a local authority initiative to raise English results across the Selby area.  Heads of English and members of their departments attended these informal meetings from across five local secondary schools and two local primaries.  I have also acted as a coach and mentor to staff and ITT students.

I am passionate about English, Drama, Media and Literacy and love to help staff develop creative ways to deliver these subjects. I have provided individual support to schools across the Local Authority with planning, schemes of learning, data analysis and intervention, approaches to delivering GCSEs to gain the best results and in leading a department and team.  I have also led training for North Yorkshire County Council English Subject Leaders in Growth Mindset theory with Philosophy for Children and for Middle Leaders and the leadership of a department.