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The Canons Park Knowledge Hub (CPKH) is responsible for the recruitment, designation and deployment of Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) as part of its remit for school system improvement.

To become a specialist leader of education (SLE), you will need to hold a middle or senior leadership role below the Headteacher in a school and have a specialism that is included in the listed areas of expertise.  We do not precisely define middle or senior leadership because we recognise that roles and responsibilities differ and that routes to leadership are not always straightforward. Your Headteacher will, therefore, be asked to confirm that you hold an appropriate role.  Although you need to be an outstanding leader, you do not need to come from an outstanding school as long as your school has the capacity to release you for outreach work.   (National College for Teaching and Leadership – NCTL).

The alliance will be recruiting SLEs this term.  Applications are welcome from colleagues working in the Primary and Secondary phases and in FE colleges.  The Canons Park TSA will be prioritising applications for SLEs in the following areas:  

  •  Leadership of Initial Teacher Training, Leadership of Continuing Professional Development, Leadership of the Curriculum, Assessment
  • English, Mathematics, Science, Geography, History and Closing the gap, and Supporting the more able (Challenge for all)
  • Behaviour and Discipline, Attendance, SEND.

Although applications should be focussed please note that many SLEs work across more than one area of expertise and the alliance will consider applications in areas not listed above. 

SLEs will need to meet ALL of the strict designation criteria and must have the explicit support of their Headteacher, who will be required to submit an online reference to complete the application. 

Experience - SLEs will:

  • Be effective middle or senior leaders with at least two years' experience and a deep knowledge in a particular field of expertise.
  • Have a minimum of two years' experience in a leadership role within a school or academy.

Track record - SLEs will have:

  • A successful track record, supported by substantial impact evidence, of working effectively within their 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.

Capacity and commitment - SLEs will:

  • Have a commitment to outreach work and the capacity to undertake such work
  • Be supported in their application by their headteacher

Skills - SLEs will have:

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills;
  • The ability to work sensitively and collaboratively with peer colleagues;
  •  An understanding of what constitutes effective practice in their field of expertise and the ability and confidence to articulate this;
  •  An appreciation of how their specialism and skills can contribute to the wider school improvement agenda;
  • An analytical approach in identifying the needs and ability to prioritise accordingly, including the ability to set and establish new and innovative working practices;
  • The ability to grow leadership capacity in others.

We have sent the NCTL’s ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ document with this email and more information can be found via their website 

Key dates for SLE applications, interviews, designation and training –  
Application round is open:
Interviews and assessment: 
NCTL review and validate SLE assessment: 
Teaching school confirms outcomes to applicants: on receipt of validation from NCTL (end of January) SLE core training: 

If you wish to find out more about the process the CPKH will also be running information slots at your school. Please contact the following: 

 Hélène Galdin O’Shea – Park High School
 Rachel Appleyard – The Misbourne School
 Renata Joseph – Canons High School

If you have any queries about the SLE role or you are not a member of any of the schools above please email Jackie Brennan (Canons Park KH co-ordinator) at for further information and support. 

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