Early Years Specialist Leader in Education (SLE)

Specialist leaders of education (SLEs) are outstanding middle and senior leaders with a particular area of expertise and the skills to develop the leadership capacity of colleagues in similar positions across the sector. SLEs are appointed through Teaching Schools on behalf of the Department of Education

Specialist Leaders of Education Programme

Early Years System support was designed as a training resource to provoke and support reflective dialogue and collaboration between early years Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) and settings leaders. The support is around teaching and learning for nursery children, with the primary aim to enable leaders to improve the quality of their provision. It aims to help them gain successful good and outstanding Ofsted inspections, through their strong and confident self-evaluation and development planning. 

This reflective toolkit is designed to support a constructive, professionally collaborative process between the SLE and the setting (EYFS) leader, using this toolkit as a training tool during a 3-hour dialogue and learning walk in the provision. 

Setting leaders will

  • Be empowered to take responsibility for their own improvement journey, with the support of an SLE alongside them
  • Know how to use the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework as a tool for evaluating their own provision
  • Grow in confidence in their self-evaluation in readiness for Ofsted and to support ongoing improvement and development
  • Welcome support from SLEs to give them time and opportunity to dialogue, reflect and evaluate their provision’s teaching and learning
  • Be enabled to develop their setting’s teaching and learning through this toolkit process and join a partnership group to continue to collaborate and improve pedagogy in their setting

Specialist Leaders of Education Training and Visits

Our purpose is that all who take part collaboratively will find the process empowering and crucial in their ongoing CPD and quality journey. The supportive dialogue will enable self-reflection, challenge and pedagogy to enable greater achievement for EYFS children in all settings. 

Feedback from those settings, who have already had a visit, has been overwhelmingly positive. Settings have reported that the visit was very supportive and gave them the time and space to consider their pedagogy. This is more important than ever with the changes to the Inspection Framework. 

SLE Visits are available to be booked via WF Traded Services.

How to become a SLE?

SLEs are outstanding middle and senior leaders in positions below the headteacher, with at least two years’ leadership experience and they support leaders in other schools.


  • have excellent interpersonal skills,
  • are able to work sensitively and collaboratively with others
  • have a commitment to outreach work. 
  • understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of specialism looks like
  • 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. It could involve a variety of activities, such as data analysis, coaching or joint action planning.

If you would like more information on how to become an Early Years SLE, please contact Leann Valiquette

  • Read what J.C had to say about his SLE visit

    J.C, a local Nursery Manager, reflects on his experience after a Specialist Leader of Education visit.  

    We had our support visit in the Summer, on the 20 June 2019.  The Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) visit was aimed at providing support, guidance and advice for our Pre-School provision.  Prior to the visit, a template is filled in which is then sent to SLE and this gives a really good opportunity to reflect on what is being done well and any possible areas which can be developed. 

    The SLE called me to explain that they were there to be supportive and that the visit was paid for by Early Years System Support. On the day of the visit I met with the SLE, Gemma, in the morning and we conducted a joint learning walk. This was really good practice for me as I know that Ofsted usually conduct learning walks with you as part of an inspection. 

    I found the process to be very valuable because it gave me the opportunity to observe the practitioner’s and jointly discuss development areas in a relaxed and informative way.  We then co-produced some key targets for areas which we could develop to improve the practice further in the Pre-School.  Following on from this, a report was created which outlined the visit and the SMART targets discussed. I was offered some free training and resources which I wouldn't have known about and also thought to file the report away in our Ofsted folder as evidence.

    The visit and the process was really valuable and supportive. It was done 'with me' not 'to me' unlike other people we have had come into the setting in the past.  It was nice to have some time to properly reflect on the practice and helpful to have the support of a very experienced Teacher to discuss things with. I would recommend all settings to have an SLE visit and see it as a valuable asset in improving standards and practice.

Last update: Monday 4th of October 2021 02:40:09 PM