What is an SLE?
SLEs (Specialist Leader of Education) 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.
There are currently over 7,300 designated SLEs.
We currently have five SLE's (Specialist Leader of Education). We have asked our SLE's to give a brief biography of their individual specialisms. If you would like further information or have a specific query regarding accessing our provision, please call us on 0161 921 2880.
NLE / SLE Biographies
Amanda Nicholson - Executive Headteacher/NLE
I am currently the Headteacher of Oakwood Academy, which is an outstanding secondary special school for pupils and students who have moderate/complex learning difficulties. Oakwood is part of a multi academy trust called 'The Oakwood Academy Schools Trust'. We converted to academy status on the 1st May 2012 after 14 months of consultation and planning and have over 200 young people on our roll. The Department for Education agreed our conversion from a single academy trust to a multi academy trust in March 2015. We were also designated a National Support School (NSS) in March 2015 and I have overview of this work as an NLE (National Leader of Education).
Throughout my career I have been dedicated to supporting schools, children and their families in some of the most deprived areas of the country, who often face many barriers to learning. I am a strong advocate for the children I work with having access to the best possible education, high aspirations and getting the support they need to help themselves out of poverty and into the workplace.
It has been the toughest of jobs at times, but the rewards are immeasurable and I am so proud of everyone I have had the privilege to work with.
Tom Marsden - Head of School
Specialist Area: Data / Performance Management and SEN
Current Post: Deputy Head Teacher
I am Head of School at Oakwood Academy an outstanding academy convert, located in Ellesmere Park in Salford. My teaching experience has been at secondary level teaching ICT at KS3, 4 and 5.
In September 2012 I took on the role of Team Leader, giving responsibility for the Maths, PE and ICT departments. This role included setting all performance management targets, lesson observations and work scrutiny.
I have been heavily involved in the evolution of Oakwood’s data collection, and analysis over the past couple of years, which has helped the Academy to identify areas for improvement both with individual pupils and certain subject areas – making the Academy very proactive with regards to putting in place support structures and intervention strategies in line with the School improvement plan.
I have been undertaking school to school support since 2008. My work has involved supporting a Federation of schools on different sites in order to raise the level of consistency, when recording / analysing data. This Helped to create a cohesive and consistent view of the performance of the collection of schools. The breakdown of the data enabled the schools to identify and target certain areas for improvement and highlight their findings with evidence, for implementation within their school improvement plans.
I have also worked with a number of SEN pupils within feeder schools throughout Salford – offering advice on ICT lessons, activities, equipment, data collection etc.
Lisa Southwood - Deputy Head of School/SEN
Specialist Area: Teaching and Learning / SEN
Current Post: Deputy Head Teacher / Director of Teaching School at Oakwood Academy
I have been an SLE through the National College for a number of years, starting as an MLE in 2009 as an outstanding practitioner (OFSTED report 2007, in school lesson observations 2004-2014). For the last 10 years, I have always been completely committed to both in reach and outreach work to share good practice and drive school improvement. My MLE role developed further. I became an SLE under the pilot scheme in 2011 but more recently I have joined the SLE team through the alliance with St Patrick's RC High School. This role has developed further with Oakwood Academy being designated as a Teaching School. My role now is Director of Teaching School and Deputy Head.
The role of SLE involves providing outreach work in the form of school to school support to "Key to Success Schools". In this role I have been providing Coaching and Mentoring to underperforming Subject Leaders. An example of this was when I was working in a school where the Maths department was identified by OFSTED as a weakness of the school for Teaching and Learning and Active Engagement. As a result of my involvement, a recent OFSTED inspection found Maths to be a strength of the school.
Darren Jones - PE/SEN
Specialist Area: PE, Physical Education and School Sport for pupils with SEND
Current Post: Head of Physical Education and coordinator of Greater Manchester Inter - Borough Inclusion Group
I have been working at Oakwood Academy for six years and I am now Head of PE. My passion and drive comes from seeing the unique personal development that young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities have made in Physical Education and School Sport.
During the last few years, I have worked successfully with the Youth Sport Trust on various projects to raise the profile of SEND in Physical Education across the UK and have had experiences working collaboratively with other schools regarding assessment and teaching and learning.
Since I have become an SLE, I have taken on a wider role within our local area. This has included; Taking over the running of the Greater Manchester Inter - Borough Sports Inclusion Group. The aim of which is to provide a wide range of sporting opportunities for all young people with a Special Educational Need or Disability across Greater Manchester.
The PE Department at Oakwood has recently won the 'Secondary National PE Award' with The Youth Sport Trust in February 2015 which has put our school top of the tree nationally.
Sara Rocca - Business and Finance
Specialist Area: Finance and Business Management
Current Post: Finance and Business Director
I have been involved in finance in schools for over ten years. In that time, I have covered all aspects of financial management from providing support to schools via School Financial Services to acting as SBM at a large secondary, to my current position as Finance Director of a Secondary Special school. I have experience in Primary, Secondary and Special school status both with regard to financial aspects and effective business management within both Academies and Maintained schools.
I have been able to provide information regarding best practise in all areas of business management through provision of support/guidance on many levels from the Business manager, the Head and Governing Bodies. I have taken the lead on the successful review of SFVS within maintained schools and lead on best practise for finance committees to ensure that the information provided is both useful, simple and functional.
To empower schools to be secure with financial information enables them to function more confidently on both operational and a strategic level.
David Donnelly - Director of Inclusion
Specialist Area: Autism
Current Post: Director of Inclusion
I have worked within special education for over 20 years. Although I have had many different roles within schools, my specialism is in the pastoral care of children and young people and working teachers to support and engage with pupils with complex learning difficulties and disabilities such as Autism, ADHD and FASD.
Over this time, I have developed and maintained provision within schools to support pupils’ social, emotional, behavioural and mental health needs and put in place, facilities and alternative education programmes for children with complex needs which has enabled these pupils to fully engage in learning and school life.