Specialist Leaders in Education (SLEs)


Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) are experts identified by the National College as being able to provide exceptional support to schools in need in their chosen area.  SLEs have to apply through the National College and go through a selection, assessment and monitoring process before they are allowed to deliver support to schools.

Our Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs)

The Weatherhead Teaching Alliance has SLEs in the following areas:

Annmarie Whelan



Headteacher at Weatherhead High School, able to provide support, advice and guidance on all aspects of School Leadership including QA systems, timetabling, Sixth Form, Curriculum etc.  Miss Whelan has expert knowledge of Post-16 Education.


Kirsten Brown


Headteacher of Gilbrook School has specialist knowledge on supporting students with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, detailed knowledge of Behaviour Management and can provide support for all aspects of leadership in relation to students with significant additional needs.

Nicola Rogers


Deputy Headteacher at Weatherhead High School, specialist in all aspects of English and Literacy and is able to lead on assessment and QA systems for leading a department, assessment of teaching and learning etc.


Rachel Byrne



Senior Assistant Headteacher  and Director of Sixth Form at Weatherhead High School, able to provide support, advice and guidance on all aspects of teaching and learning and School Leadership including succession planning and Student Leadership. Miss Byrne is able to provide advice and support on training Newly Qualified Teachers and is a specialist in all aspects of Physical Education.



Christina Walton



Assistant Headteacher at Weatherhead High School, provides specialist advice in all aspects of the English Curriculum for Key Stage 3, 4 and 5. Christina can provide advice on quality and standards, leading a department and succession planning for the new specifications. She is an expert practitioner and can undertake reviews of departmental quality and standards of teaching and learning.



Joe Stringer



Assistant Headteacher at Weatherhead High School, is working at the forefront of Mathematics teaching in terms of mastery learning at Key Stage 3 and developments to the Key Stage 4 curriculum for the new GCSE specification. Able to undertake departmental reviews and advise on all aspects of department leadership including curriculum, teaching & learning and QA systems.



Maryanne Ramsbottom



Maths Leader and Key Stage 2 Co-ordinator at Birkenhead Academy Junior School. Has expert knowledge in all aspects of the Maths Curriculum and can provide detailed advice on schemes of work, delivery and quality.  Mrs Ramsbottom has specialist knowledge in relation to assessment and the introduction of whole school mastery approach to deepen students learning and has developed a monitoring evaluation programme that can be used by other schools.

Jim Morris



Director of SEND at Weatherhead High School and leads on all aspects of Special Needs Education and provision and supporting the needs of Looked After Children.  Mr Morris is able to provide advice and support on the new SEND requirements and all aspects of Special Needs Education.



Deborah Moore



Director of STEM at Weatherhead High School, able to offer advice on all aspects of Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 Science education, also able to undertake departmental reviews and provide guidance on QA systems.



Daniel Major



Provides specialist advice in all aspects of Humanities Curriculum, Key Stage 3, 4 and 5, provides advice on quality and standards, leading a department, is an expert practitioner and can undertake reviews of departmental quality and standards of teaching and learning.


Deborah Hughes


Has been a Senior Leader for many years and is an expert in relation to Secondary Science, specialises in growing leadership capacity in others through coaching and mentoring and is available to support on aspects of leadership and management.

Sarah Deeble



Head of English at Weatherhead High School, specialist knowledge in literacy, assessment and curriculum for Key Stage 3 and 4, is able to advise on strategies for supporting students with additional needs in English.



Louise Reid



Head of Mathematics at Weatherhead High School, able to provide support, advice and guidance on all aspects of KS3, the new KS4 Mathematics curriculum and teaching and learning.



Matt Brooks



A Year 4 Teacher at Bidston Avenue Primary School with specialist knowledge in online mobile learning and is a Master Teacher, able to advise on the use of IT such as handheld devices to develop learning and teaching and best ways of supporting different groups of learners.  Mr Brooks has introduced learning clinics to provide innovative approaches to the development of teaching and learning and has organised Wirral’s Teach Meet event and led numerous training sessions on speed learning etc.

If you are an experienced middle or senior leader who is interested in supporting leaders in other schools, you might want to apply to be a specialist leader of education (SLE).

Weatherhead TSA is responsible for the selection and placement of SLEs. This is one part of the government’s plan to give schools, and Teaching school in particular, a central role in developing a self-improving and sustainable school-led system.

What do SLEs do?

Specialist leaders of education focus on developing leadership capacity. While other roles (for example, advanced skills teachers) focused on developing classroom expertise, this role is about developing other 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 or group support and could involve a variety of activities, such as:

  • data analysis
  • coaching
  • facilitating and training
  • joint action planning

If selected, you will be expected to provide evidence that your work has had a positive impact on outcomes for children and young people by developing leadership capacity in other schools.

Read case studies that give examples of the type of work being done by SLEs.

Time commitment

The role lasts for 4 years, at which time there will be a review. The types of placements will vary. For example, one might be a 2 day diagnostic exercise, while another might require a 3 month, full time support role. Time may be taken as a block of consecutive days or spread over a longer period, arranged by Weatherhead TSA in negotiation with the SLEs own school and the school requiring support.

There is no minimum or maximum time commitment. You and your school will need to think carefully about capacity and negotiate your availability together.


There is no additional pay for SLEs undertaking school to school support. There is a charge made by Weatherhead TSA for SLE support in school. The school receiving SLE support pays  Weatherhead TSA for your work. We will transfer this payment to the SLE’s school to cover the cost of releasing the SLE to work in another school.  Any payment will be agreed and managed by the headteachers and governors of the schools concerned, in line with statutory guidance.

How the programme works?

Choose a teaching school alliance to apply to

You’ll need to identify your preferred teaching school alliance that is recruiting for your specialism. You can check this by contacting the teaching school directly or checking the teaching school’s website. Complete an application form and be interviewed/ assessed by the teaching school. If successfully designated, the teaching school will confirm your designation to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) and confirm the specialisms (areas of expertise) you’ve been designated against.

Placements to support other schools

Each placement will be designed to meet the needs of the supported school. They may involve coaching, mentoring or facilitation skills – there’s no set method, but support will always focus on sustainable leadership development and school improvement. Your allocated teaching school will want to be informed of the progress you’re making in your deployment(s).

Access to ongoing support and training

Your teaching school alliance will ensure that there’s support available for you, where required. Our team will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Additional opportunities

As well as supporting other schools, we expect that you’ll also be able to engage with other areas of work – for example, research activity on behalf of teaching schools or working with national policy makers in relation to particular specialisms.

How to become a SLE

You can be from any type or phase of school.

You don’t need to be in an outstanding school or a school that is part of a teaching school alliance, as long as your school has the capacity to release you to work in other schools. You must have at least one specialism from our areas of expertise, which are based on the 4 areas of focus for Ofsted as shown below:

Effectiveness of leadership and management

Academies; leadership of continuing professional development; school business management and financial management; leadership of curriculum

Outcomes for children and other learners

Art; closing the gap; drama; design and technology; early years; English; geography; history; information and communication technology; maths; modern foreign languages; music; phonics; physical education; personal, social and health education; religious education; science; special educational needs; support for the most able pupils

Quality of teaching, learning and assessment

Initial teacher training; assessment

Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Behaviour and discipline; attendance

To become a Specialist Leader of Education, you should have:

  • a successful track record of working effectively within your 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
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • an understanding of what constitutes ‘outstanding’ in your field of expertise and the ability and confidence to communicate this
  • an understanding of how your specialism and skills can contribute to wider school improvement goals
  • an analytical approach in identifying and prioritising needs
  • the ability to set and establish new and innovative working practices
  • the ability to grow leadership capacity in others