School to school support

What is School to school support?

The East Sussex Learning Collaborative Network is committed to improving outcomes for children and young people. To achieve this, we work closely with schools to draw on experienced teachers and leaders within the county to work with others to bring about positive change. The type of support offered covers a wide range, including improving teaching practice, subject specific support, behaviour management, curriculum design, support for new leaders, leadership coaching, and help in identify where additional support should be targeted.

In this section

We believe this model of peer-to-peer support is of the most benefit to schools and their staff, as the system leaders have invariably overcomes similar challenges within their own settings and so are able to draw on their expertise and experience.

What are system leaders?

System leaders are practicing professionals who work outside of their own school or setting to support other schools. They may be teachers, leaders or other expert practitioners and bring a range of expertise to their deployment.

System leaders are defined as follows:

• Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE) are experienced middle or senior leaders with a specialism, who work to support other schools through coaching and sharing best practice. SLEs are recruited, trained and badged by the ESLCN.

• Local Leaders of Education (LLE) are successful headteachers who can support other headteachers to achieve
sustainable school improvement through one-to-one coaching and mentoring. LLEs are recruited, trained and badged by the ESLCN.

• National Leaders of Education (NLE) are outstanding headteachers who, together with their national support school, work with schools in challenging circumstances. NLEs are recruited, trained and badged by the DfE.

• Local Support Governors (LSG) are experienced and skilled governors who are willing to support other governors and their governing boards in East Sussex. LSGs are recruited, trained and badged by the East Sussex Governor and Clerking Service. Find out more about becoming a Local Support Governor here.

• National Leaders of Governance (NLG) are effective chairs of governors who use their skills and experience to support chairs in other schools and improve the quality of governance. They are recruited and deployed by the DfE.


SLEs provide outreach support for classroom teachers or middle leaders in other schools to help them develop their classroom practice.

SLEs are strong classroom practitioners with a particular area of expertise such as a subject area, early years, behaviour or school business management, and a track record of bringing about improvement. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of specialism looks like and can help colleagues to achieve it in their own context. As practicing teachers themselves they bring experience and expertise to provide tailored solutions to individual situations and draw on well-developed interpersonal and communication skills to work sensitively and collaboratively with others. Examples of SLE deployment include one-to-one peer coaching or facilitated group support, data analysis, coaching, professional development training or joint action planning.

SLEs are based in a range of schools or academies, including nursery, primary, secondary, special, pupil referral unit, independent or free school, or sixth form college. Whilst the individual must be an outstanding practitioner, their school does not have to have an Ofsted outstanding judgement. All SLEs are required to go through a rigorous ESLCN selection process. As part of any deployment the impact of their work is evaluated in line with our quality assurance processes. To ensure our SLEs are current and aware of recent approaches and developments, the ESLCN provides ongoing training and support.

Benefits of becoming an SLE
Meet the SLEs

Developing System Leaders

If you are a headteacher or senior leader looking for ways to develop more experienced teaching staff, supporting them to become an SLE would be a great way of putting them on the path to wider leadership roles.  By releasing them to work in other settings, you not only allow them to share their skills with other schools, but you will allow them to bring that experience back to your own school, along with the confidence and professional development that these deployments provide. Spending time in other schools provides a unique opportunity to tackle challenging situations within the requirements of the visit. These activities can help foster the necessary skills to take the next step into school leadership, and provide experienced teachers with challenge and professional fulfilment which has a positive influence on the motivation and retention of staff.

Collaboration between schools can provide opportunities for strong practitioners to support colleagues in other schools. This opportunity allows them to experience the SLE role and see if it a career pathway for them. The experience also places the aspiring SLE in a strong position for the application and interview process. Such opportunities might be arranged informally between schools or through the EIP and Area Group structures.

What is an SLE
What is an LLE
How do I get support for my school?
Meet the SLEs