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.

Please contact teachingschools@primaryadvantage.hackney.sch.uk  to organise school to school support in your school.


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.


Tom Avery

SLE Specialisms:  Curriculum, English, Leader of Learning

Tom is an assistant headteacher who is passionate about curriculum, English and developing teaching and learning which impacts on the life chances of all children.  He is an experienced teacher and leader, having been an assistant head in multiple schools across London as well as an SLE in a teaching school alliance.  Tom has developed and delivered training across a range of schools.

Tom has overseen curriculum development at several outstanding London schools.  His passion is building curriculum which gives children windows into the world, the past, the present and futures beyond, allowing children to be initiated locally and globally.  Tom has led a school through to RRS level two via curriculum change.

In leading English, Tom has worked with staff teams to develop meta-languages to bring a whole school approach and consistency to the acquisition of key skills in writing and reading.  He has developed text rich and child led practise in the teaching of writing. 

Tom is also an award-winning author of books for children.

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.


Sian White

SLE Specialisms: EYFS and Phonics

Sian is an Assistant Headteacher and an experienced teacher across the EYFS and KS1. She is a Hackney Learning trust moderator for Early Years and has worked with colleagues in her own school and across the federation to ensure outstanding practice in this phase. Sian also works as an SLE in the central London tri-borough; supporting NQTs, qualified teachers and middle leaders in EYFS and phonics. She has worked in collaboration with St Marylebone Teaching School to develop and deliver training on working scientifically in the EYFS, specifically.  

In her EYFS role, Sian has supported NQTs, qualified teachers and support staff across schools to improve standards in the EYFS. She has worked closely with other schools to widen her impact and has given constructive feedback to headteachers about agreed actions that have arisen from the support. Beyond her supportive role, Sian is also able to use data to analyse the impact of provision on meeting the needs of all learners and improve results. A highlight of her success in the EYFS was raising the EYFS grading in her previous setting from requires improvement to outstanding.

In her phonics role, Sian has introduced a phonics system which supports reading progression from nursery through to lower KS2. She has delivered whole-school training and supported teachers through coaching, team-teaching and modelling to drive best practice with a proven track record. She has also worked with the federation lead to deliver training on Early Reading and Early Writing to other schools. In her last setting, the number of exceeding readers in reception increased and phonics screening results were within the top 8% nationally. Sian has also supported schools in outer London to develop effective systems of synthetic phonics and has embedded these across schools.  

Jo Stonehouse

SLE Specialisms: Assessment, English, Mathematics and Curriculum 

Jo is a Deputy Head teacher with experience of teaching in both Key Stage 1 and 2. At present, she leads on teaching and learning (with a focus on English) and assessment. At her previous school, she led Mathematics for over 7 years. She also oversees all the NQT and ITT mentoring across the school. She is a Hackney Learning Trust moderator for Key Stage 2 writing assessment and has designed and delivered CPD across a range of schools.
In her current school, she has introduced a writing programme that focuses on the use of quality texts whilst embedding GPS. All staff have received the relevant and tailored training through INSET, modelled lessons and coaching sessions. She has delivered Primary Advantage federation INSETs and bespoke sessions on the use of running records as an assessment and diagnostic tool.
As well as being involved with the development of the Fundamentals Assessment tool for English, she has produced child friendly versions of these and supported other leaders and teachers to introduce these to pupils so that they have a clear understanding of the new expectations. She has supported Science, Curriculum and RE leaders to develop systems for recording pupils’ progress in these subjects. These systems are meaningful and manageable for both children and teachers.
She has a good knowledge of using data tools such as FFT and has delivered training sessions for class teachers, senior leaders and governors so that they are best able to use and understand these tools for their specific needs.


Rachel Smith

SLE Specialisms: Phonics, Reading and Computing 

Rachel is an Assistant headteacher with experience of teaching across the primary phase. She currently leads on reading, phonics, computing and SEN. The a majority of her teaching experience is in EYFS and key stage 1, but she has also taught regularly in Key Stage 2. She is a Hackney Learning trust moderator for Key Stage 1 and has worked with colleagues at all levels to ensure rapid school improvement.

At her current school she has introduced a reading pathway which supports reading progression from nursery right through to challenging children who are reading at greater depth within the expected standard at the end of Year 6. With careful planning, staff have regular CPD which is tailored to their individual needs through model lessons and bespoke coaching. This ensures that staff at all levels are supported to become excellent practitioners.  

She has supported new leaders in reading, phonics and computing in running joint learning walks, monitoring of books and thinking of innovative ways to adapt provision to meet the needs of all learners. She has given feedback to head teachers and governors about agreed actions that have arisen from the support. 

She has delivered training sessions to Newly Qualified Teachers as part of the Hackney NQT program on using technology and social media in the classroom to raise standards in all subjects and to promote online safety. As part of the Primary Advantage Federation, she has worked with teams of teachers across the schools to embed technology into the classroom,  teaching computer science and also in reading assessment. 

Sarah Mather

SLE Specialisms: Leader of Learning

Currently working as a Leader of Learning, Sarah has previously been a Head of School and has over 10 years of experience as part of senior leadership teams; she has also been an Associate Deputy Head teacher within Hackney Learning Trust’s Teaching and Learning Team for three years.
Consistently judged to be an outstanding classroom practitioner, Sarah has used her expertise to significantly raise pupil achievement, predominantly with under achieving pupils. Sarah has experience teaching across KS1 and KS2.
Sarah has shared her classroom expertise through being an NQT mentor as well as a class mentor to a host of ITT students via the Teach First and School Direct routes of training, most of whom are now in senior leadership roles themselves.  Sarah has worked as an ITT mentor, for the IoE, for School Direct Salaried students.
Sarah has led a wide range of CPD, with a particular current focus on maths, science and assessment. She has a broad experience in regard to moderation at KS1 and KS2, having moderated evidence from end of key stage outcomes across a range of schools.   


Ben Bignall

SLE Specialism: English

Ben is an experienced Assistant Headteacher who has worked across a variety of school settings both in London and other parts of the UK. He is the Leader of Learning across the Primary Advantage federation and has had a wealth of experience teaching across KS2. He has coached and mentored both NQTs, RQTs and middle leaders to develop practice and embed pedagogy. He has modelled lessons, team planned and team taught and reviewed teaching and learning. He has experience of delivering a range of CPD sessions, which are often tailored to specific school’s needs. Through completing his NPQSL, he had had extensive experience in establishing and embedding key classroom resources and activities at a school-wide level to develop children working at Greater Depth and develop key AfL practices across both Key Stages. He has re-written and embedded marking policies, monitored and reviewed their impact and led pupil discussions.
Ben has experience of assisting teachers and English Leads plan effective and engaging grammar lessons which link directly with writing and is an expert in developing thrilling hooks; he has also led CPD sessions on writing moderation for both KS1 and KS2. 
Ben has been a KS2 writing moderator, is a Lead Practioner for English and is a passionate advocate of dynamic and creative writing.



Daniella Hutchinson

SLE Specialism: Leader of Learning - Mathematics

Daniella is a former Assistant Headteacher and Maths leader who has worked across a number of schools in Hackney. She was also involved in the start-up and development of a free school and has taught across all key stages. Daniella has been an NQT mentor for a number of years, supporting and helping newly qualified teachers throughout their first year of teaching. 
Daniella is a Maths Specialist who has a strong track record both in the classroom as an outstanding practitioner and as a school leader. She was data and assessment lead at her previous school with a passion for ensuring that no child was left behind. 

She is an NCETM Professional Development Accredited Lead and is training to become a Maths Mastery Specialist Teacher with the London North-East Maths Hub. During the programme, Daniella will establish mastery across the Primary Advantage Federation and will then lead work groups involving six or seven other schools in the development of teaching for mastery. She will also lead training and develop the Primary Advantage Maths programme.


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.


Daniela Rader

SLE Specialisms : EYFS, Special Educational Needs and English

Daniela is a Deputy Headteacher, with experience teaching and leading in EYFS, KS1 and KS2. In her previous school, she successfully led EYFS, English, Early reading and Phonics and Science. She has experience leading an Autism Resource Base and completed her Masters in Education in Childhood Autism in April 2015 with Distinction. Her SLE specialisms are early years and inclusion, specifically autism.

Daniela has experience of coaching and mentoring NQTs, RQTs and middle leaders to better understand effective Early Years practice and pedagogy. She has modelled lessons, run parent workshops, reviewed teaching and learning, and worked alongside teachers to develop their practice. She has planned and delivered a range of CPD session, including teaching maths through stories, early reading strategies for school and home, opportunities for mark making in Nursery and Reception, developing an engaging learning environment and transition to Year1. In her previous role as English leader, she facilitated moderation clusters looking at writing in the Early Years, as well as creating an exemplification document for writing from Nursery to Year 6. She has carried out extensive EYFS data analysis as part of her previous role and planned programmes of support with senior leaders.

In her role as inclusion SLE, she has worked with teachers, SENCos, teaching assistants and Senior Leaders to understand how to better support children with complex needs in a mainstream classroom. She provided bespoke training for teachers and schools, as well as delivering a range of training sessions, including how to support children with a range of complex needs in a mainstream classroom, the power of social stories, managing challenging behaviour and an overview of autism. 


Sarah Lowden 

SLE Specialism: English and Literacy 

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.