What are SLEs?

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 in their area of expertise looks like and are skilled in helping other leaders to achieve it.

Teaching Schools are responsible for designating SLEs, brokering SLE deployments and providing ongoing support.The Department for Education introduced the SLE concept in their The Importance of Teaching: The Schools White Paper 2010. The SLE role is designed to help improve the quality of school leadership through school-to-school support and peer-to-peer learning, ultimately raising standards and improving the outcomes for children.

Our Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) are outstanding practitioners. To become an SLE, you will need to provide evidence that you understand what outstanding leadership practice in your area of expertise looks like and you know how to support other leaders to do the same in their own context.


Become an SLE

As an SLE, you will be deployed into schools to develop the leadership capacity of individuals and teams using coaching and/or facilitation that draws on the knowledge and expertise in your specialist area. Your work will contribute to improving outcomes for students in other school settings.

We recruit SLEs to provide support to staff and teams in local schools . We are passionate about supporting school improvement and broadening our network of shared expertise. As such, we invite middle and senior leaders (with the areas of expertise listed in the table below) to become Specialist Leaders of Education and to have a positive impact on school improvement beyond your own school.

Areas of Expertise

Ofsted Focus Areas of Expertise

Leadership and Management



Financial Management

Leadership of Curriculum

Pupil Achievement

Closing the Gap





Quality of Teaching


NQT development

Behaviour and Safety

Behaviour and Discipline


To download application form click here 

For more information email development@primaryadvantage.hackney.sch.uk.


Jo Smith 

Jo is Head of School at St John & St James' CofE Primary School and is experienced in driving whole school improvement in order to raise standards and improve teaching and learning. She helped develop the Primary Advantage Maths programme and has successfully led the implementation at SJSJ. Jo has effectively supported and developed middle leaders, teachers, NQTs and ITT students enabling them to be outstanding practitioners.

Prior working at SJSJ, Jo worked for the local authority as an Every Child Counts Teacher Leader responsible for the implementation of the programme in schools across Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Havering. She modelled lessons, monitored teaching and learning and delivered CPD to develop teachers understanding of how children learn maths.

Toni Mason

 SLE Specialisms: EYFS, Maths and PSED

Toni is an experienced teacher and leader in EYFS and has provided support across many schools both within the borough and beyond. She is the Primary Advantage Federation leader in EYFS, currently supporting schools in leading development and raising standards in the Early Years. Toni has written and created key assessment tools and materials and has lead in the development of supportive programs for PSED, Maths and Literacy.

Toni has supported the effective use of assessment, interpreting data, establishing baselines, using robust moderation methods and evaluation of impact provision.  She has also served as a Hackney Learning Trust moderator for the EYFS Profile.

In line with current initiatives Toni has supported several settings in setting up under three provision, training staff and ensuring settings are in line with current policies.

Toni has supported NQT’s, support staff as well as experienced practitioners and EYFS coordinators, supporting mentors, delivering bespoke training and targeted interventions.


Hannah Lloyd

Specialism – English: Writing, Grammar and Reading

Hannah is an Assistant Head teacher and Head of English at an outstanding school.  She is also an experienced mentor of PGCE, Schools Direct students and NQTs.  Hannah has lead CPD training and coached and mentored teachers and leaders in a number of local schools.  She is also able to support Year 6 teachers in preparing for the KS2 SATs for writing, grammar and reading.

Hannah has a strong knowledge of the new curriculum in both reading and writing. She worked with a small team to create assessment ‘fundamentals’ for the reading curriculum and has independently created writing assessment grids for each year group, which complement the curriculum and have been shared with several schools. 

Successful support Hannah has provided includes: helping with updating a school’s writing and grammar curriculum; updating the spelling and grammar curriculum for each year group; creating staff meetings to provide training to teachers; modelling lessons; team teaching; helping with the creation of medium term plans across KS1 and KS2 and analysing data. 


Catherine Thomas

SLE specialisms; Computing and Mathematics

Catherine is an experienced outstanding teacher with a proven track record of providing support across the key stages in both computing and mathematics. She is an AST in ICT and has helped develop write and deliver mathematics programs across a number of schools both in Hackney and London boroughs.

She has planned and delivered an extensive range of mathematics training sessions for NQTs, deputy/head teachers, lead teachers and teaching assistants. She has been involved with the development and writing of the Primary Advantage Mathematics programme.

Catherine has had six years’ experience working with iPads in the classroom from teaching with them to supporting teachers with their use of them in the classroom. She has recently transitioned a school from a Windows environment to a Mac. The children are now working 1:1 with iPads across key stage one and two.  The school is currently working towards Apple accreditation and becoming a Regional Training Centre.

She has supported a significant number of teaching students during their training year in her role as mentor, assistant and deputy head.


Rebecca Mackenzie

SLE Specialisms : Curriculum Leadership, Special Educational Needs and English

Rebecca is a Head teacher with experience across KS1 and 2. She currently  leads writing, SEN, safeguarding  and AFL. Rebecca has coached and mentored teachers and middle leaders in a number of schools, including as a 'London Challenge' mentor and a 'Leading Teacher'.  Rebecca is an experienced ITT mentor of PGCE, School Direct students and NQTs. 

Rebecca has introduced provision mapping to replace the IEP system in her current school. She has designed and led CPD for teachers and support staff to improve their understanding of the requirements of the revised SEN Code of Practice and the effective deployment of teaching assistants. She has also worked with parents improving participation and parent voice.

Rebecca has monitored and led CPD across the curriculum, moderated writing and supported teachers across the borough.



Sarah Lowden 

SLE specialism: Literacy/ English

Sarah is an Assistant Head teacher, with experience of teaching across both Key stage 1 and 2. She currently leads English and is the Schools Direct and NQT mentor in her current school. She has experience coaching middle leaders and students in her mentor role. Being a KS1 phase leader and member of the SLT has given Sarah ample experience and opportunities to assess and moderate children's learning at the end of both KS1 and KS2 and she has designed and delivered CPD across a range of schools.

Sarah has introduced a new writing programme within her current school that focuses on the use of quality texts to produce contextual learning opportunities. She has ensured that all staff have received the relevant and tailored training through INSET, modelled lessons and coaching sessions. She is trained to deliver SfA training and has led Primary Advantage federation INSETs on the importance of spelling.

Sarah has been involved with the development of the Fundamentals Assessment tool, whilst also working closely with other colleagues to produce leaflets and workshops to engage parents.

Aaron Webb

SLE specialism; Computing and Digital Learning

Aaron is an experienced Apple Distinguished Educator with a proven track record of providing support across all key stages to redefine learning with technology. Aaron has helped develop, write and deliver learning programs using iPad across a number of schools both in Hackney and London boroughs. He has worked with schools and delivered Keynote presentations internationally and across the UK. 

Aaron works closely with the Apple Education team for both the UK and Europe supporting and advising on how iPad can enhance teaching and learning. He has planned and delivered an extensive range of training sessions for NQTs, deputy/head teachers, lead teachers and teaching assistants.

Aaron has worked in Hackney for over six years’ developing the use of technology in education and became an Apple Distinguished Educator for the UK in 2013. Aaron has recently been involved in the transition from a Windows environment to a Mac and 1:1 iPad environment. The children are now working 1:1 with iPad across key stage one and two as he supports and guides the school to Apple Distinguished School status and the development of an Apple Regional Training Centre.

Aaron has supported a significant number of teachers and senior leaders in numerous educational institutions from Children Centres, Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Sixth Form Colleges, Museums and a Premier League football club. In his previous Hackney role he worked for 3 years to redefine learning across a Federation of three Primary schools. Just before his move to his current position, the Federation became successful in the Apple Education Recognition Program and have been awarded Apple Distinguished School for all 3 schools, the first of it’s kind Worldwide for a Federation of schools.