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.


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.


Hye-Jin Park

SLE specialisms: Computing and Digital Learning 

Hye-Jin is an outstanding practitioner, with experience of teaching across both Key Stage 1 and 2. Her current roles are Computing Leader, Student Mentor and year two leader.  Hye-Jin always seeks new challenges and relishes the chance to support new and existing practitioners so they can all make positive contributions to improve outcomes for children - both within and beyond her own school. 

As such, Hye-Jin has always valued the opportunity to work with ITT trainees. She places huge importance on them as the future of the teaching profession. She has worked with many PGCE / School Direct students and they have all completed the programme with either ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ grades against the Teaching Standards. The trainees have all rated their experience with her as ‘outstanding’ and her work has been recognised as an exemplar by UCL IOE.  She has delivered training for the Hackney PGCE programme on reading and phonics.


As a creative and enthusiastic practitioner, Hye-Jin embedded the New Computing Curriculum within her current school in 2014 in a way which engaged and inspired staff and pupils alike.  This was achieved through team-teaching, modelling lessons, delivering staff insets and through providing appropriate resources for teachers and pupils.  As a reflective practitioner, Hye-Jin has since recommended and implemented refinements to the curriculum according to pupil need and teacher feedback.   


Hye-Jin is also an enthusiastic supporter of working in partnership with the community. For example, she formed and maintained strong links with a local secondary school to provide a coding club for the more able KS2 mathematicians. This allowed children to participate in extra-curricular activities, which provide a channel for reinforcing their learning in class.  Using her computing expertise, Hye-Jin is currently leading a research based TLC (Teaching Learning Community) group in the Primary Advantage federation to explore the importance of using ICT across the curriculum.

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. 

Gemma Setter

SLE specialisms: Teaching and Learning, and R.E 

Gemma is an outstanding teacher, with a number of responsibilities as a Lead Practioner. These include Maths Leader, Religious Education and Collective Worship Leader, Key Stage 2 Phase Leader and Year 6 Leader. She has recent experience leading Computing and Middle Leaders. Being a Key Stage 2 phase leader and member of SLT has given Gemma ample experience and opportunities to assess, moderate, monitor, and support staff to enhance schoolwide provision.
A highlight of Gemma’s leadership was during her school’s SIAMS inspection in 2016, where she led Religious Education provision from Satisfactory to Outstanding. She raised the profile of RE across the school community, embedded the RE scheme of work through staff training, introduced summative assessment and introduced the SJB Disciples to encourage pupil voice.
Using her experience and pedagogy of teaching and learning, Gemma is currently leading a research based TLC (Teaching Learning Community) group in the Primary Advantage Federation to explore the importance of guided groups – using AFL strategies to target small groups of learners. She has also delivered INSETs on collaborative learning, pupil voice, assessment strategies and medium term planning.
Within her school community and the wider federation, Gemma has successfully implemented and led teacher support plans, designed and delivered CPD across a range of schools and in a variety of subject areas. On top of this, she works hard to ensure equality of provision for pupils through tailored INSETs, modelled lessons with staff, and individual support with planning, teaching and learning.

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.



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: 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.