Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs)

Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs)

Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) are colleagues who understand what outstanding leadership in their area of expertise looks like. They are skilled in mentoring, supporting and developing others to achieve it in their own context.

Our SLEs have been accredited and are available for school-to-school support. Their individual pen portraits and details on what they can bring to your school are in the table below.

To enquire about becoming an SLE or to discuss utlising one in your school please contact Nicky Hickman on 0191 518 0222 or email

Our SLEs

Behaviour and discipline

Pauline Clark

Assistant Headteacher 

The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, Hartlepool

Pauline has developed both the pastoral and academic aspects of student support and intervention. Her key areas of work include behaviour and discipline, transition, student tracking and interventions. Pauline also leads on Closing the Gap (pupil premium, more able students and SEND) and has led training on topics including: behaviour for learning, positive and assertive discipline, The Optimistic Child (developing emotional intelligence), Every Child Matters and differentiation.

Business and finance

Lee Alexander

Head of Finance and Business Development

The Academy at Shotton Hall, Peterlee

Lee was initially employed as a consultant to the Academy in its conversion process. Lee’s experience includes purchase management, financial accounting, management accounting, payroll management and auditing. Lee has eighteen years’ accounting experience, most of which was gained in the commercial sector. 


Paul Fleming

Deputy Headteacher

Sedgefield Community College, Sedgefield

Paul leads CPD at Sedgefield Community College and has extensive experience of working with colleagues in other schools. Since summer 2010, his innovative approach to teaching and learning has been implemented across the school resulting in a significantly positive whole school impact. 

Alex Hook

Vice Principal

The Academy at Shotton Hall, Peterlee

Alex leads and manages the school’s CPD programme, ensuring whole school development needs are met as well as providing stimulating and appropriate development opportunities for staff. Alex also has the responsibility for student achievement, data and targets, line management for core subjects and teaching and learning. Alex has been involved for some time in offering guidance and training to other schools and is also a qualified and practising inspector.

Joanne Welch

Assistant Headteacher

King James I Academy, Bishop Auckland

Joanne is a specialist in leading teaching and learning CPD. She has coached and supported individual teachers, creating action plans to support and improve practice. Joanne has also created and steered the TaLL Team (Teaching and Learning Leaders), a group of outstanding and creative practitioners who lead and develop cutting edge strategies.

English and literacy

Danielle Dakers

Subject Leader of English

Dene Community School, Peterlee

Danielle is an innovative classroom teacher and Subject Leader of English. She has experience of significantly raising standards of achievement in English at both Key Stage 3 and 4. As a subject leader, she has developed a range of creative strategies to improve the quality of teaching and learning, curriculum, marking, assessment and quality assurance. Danielle uses rigorous data systems to track, monitor, intervene and differentiate. Over the last five years, Danielle has delivered a range of CPD sessions on outstanding lessons, questioning, differentiation and assessment to both her department and as part of whole school initiatives. 

Rose Hall

Assistant Headteacher

Sedgefield Community College, Sedgefield

Rose is an Assistant Headteacher in charge of English and whole school literacy. Prior to this, Rose undertook a number of leadership roles in schools including work as an Advanced Skills Teacher to improve whole school teaching and learning. Rose is strategic in her approach to improving Key Stage 4 results with a successful track record in raising attainment and achievement in English. In 2014 92% of students achieved an A*- C grade in English language – an improvement of 11% from 2013.  Rose has also developed a number of intervention and tracking strategies to improve student performance. Rose leads the whole school approach to literacy with a focus, this year, on improving spelling and a culture of reading for enjoyment.

Lindsay Maughan

Assistant Principal

The Academy at Shotton Hall, Peterlee

Lindsay is a highly qualified English teacher who has been teaching at The Academy at Shotton Hall for nearly ten years. Having previously worked as a head of department and the whole school lead for literacy and numeracy, she specialises in raising attainment and achievement in English at Key Stage 3 and 4. She has been an examiner for a number of years and can also advise on teaching of the new specification as well as offer support with whole school intervention strategies. Lindsay has provided support for schools all over the country and has presented at some of the UK’s biggest conferences such as PiXL, SSAT and Optimus Education.

Louise O'Carroll

English Consultant

Easington Academy, Easington

Louise is an innovative teacher and leader with experience in Key Stage 4 leadership as well as in subject leadership, where leadership and management were judged to be outstanding. She has provided support to the Head of English in curriculum planning and mapping, and in the development and implementation of rigorous tracking and monitoring systems with intervention opportunities. 


Kelly Bonar

Curriculum Leader of Geography

Easington Academy, Easington

Kelly’s strategies have led to a significant and sustained improvement in geography. She has designed a curriculum which includes opportunities for enquiry based learning, independent learning and strategies for successful differentiation. She has worked as an examiner for AQA for several years and has provided coaching and supported middle leaders and departments in other north east schools. Kelly has worked with Durham Local Authority to raise the profile of geography, working on The Durham Geography Challenge. She has presented to other leaders regarding successful strategies that could be used to raise achievement. 


Stephen Roe

Assistant Headteacher

Parkside Academy, Willington 

Stephen works at Parkside Academy as an Assistant Headteacher. History results at Parkside are well above national averages. Stephen’s specialist areas are teaching and raising attainment in history as well as having a detailed knowledge of the Ofsted framework. Stephen is experienced at observing lessons and quality assurance procedures. Stephen is a confident user of data, and has a wide range of knowledge on intervention strategies.

ICT and computing

Stephen Downing

Director of IT Learning and Services

Walker Technology College, Newcastle

Stephen is currently employed as Director of IT Learning and Services at Walker Technology College in Newcastle. His work is underpinned by a strong background in computer science and he led the introduction of this at Walker, following the successful implementation at his previous school. Stephen has experience leading CPD on ICT, digital literacy and computing and led Python programming CPD across a group of schools within County Durham. Stephen has a track-record of outstanding outcomes for all learners and for carefully developing a curriculum which allows learners to move seamlessly through the Key Stages.

Stephen is also experienced at network and IT infrastructure management along with management of projects relating to IT software, hardware and infrastructure. He recently led Walker's successful move from a centrally provided council IT service to an in-house solution which is more closely aligned with the school's needs and priorities.

Leadership of the curriculum

Brian Burlinson

Head of School

The Academy at Shotton Hall, Peterlee

Brian has been curriculum manager for the last thirteen years, designing a curriculum which is flexible and tailored to suit the needs of students enabling them to follow appropriate courses leading to greater motivation and improved outcomes. Brian has provided support to several partner schools by working with curriculum leaders advising them on how to develop and tailor their own curriculum. Many of these schools are now seeing the impact of the changes in their curriculum.

Nathan Powell

Assistant Headteacher

Bishop Barrington School, Bishop Auckland

Nathan leads the Key Stage 3 curriculum, meticulously monitoring and reviewing progress across the key stage, including coordinating school intervention programmes and developing a new and unique assessment measure in Key Stage 3. His strategies have been nationally recognised by the Department for Education and in 2012 Nathan led the launch of a reading school, the first of its kind in the local authority. 


Stephen Gregory

Deputy Headteacher (Curriculum and Line Manager of Mathematics) 

Parkside Academy, Willington

Stephen has been a leader of maths since 2008, and a senior leader since 2012. He has implemented a variety of teaching and learning strategies to encourage independent learning and improved methods of assessment, tracking, intervention and monitoring of students. His work has resulted in student progress improving significantly over time, with a trend of positive Progress 8 Maths scores. In his current role, Stephen has also improved the number of students achieving the top grades (Legacy A - A* and new 7-9 grades) to a figure that is above both the national and county average.

Anna Pickover

Maths Teacher

The Academy at Shotton Hall, Peterlee

Anna is an outstanding maths teacher with a strong focus on developing enriching and creative teaching and learning approaches in maths. She has seen success in significantly improved engagement and attainment of students. Anna is particularly skilled in successful differentiation, intervention and ensuring student involvement with their learning.

Emma Simpson

Assistant Subject Leader for Mathematics

Wellfield Community School, Wingate

Emma is passionate about engagement in maths. As Assistant Subject Leader she has been responsible for the implementation of various teaching and learning and data strategies in her department. She is also responsible for numeracy across the curriculum. One of Emma’s strengths is her ability to coach staff in order to help them improve and develop their practice. 

Lee Sowerby

Subject Leader of Maths

Dene Community School, Peterlee

Lee has been a Subject Leader of Mathematics at Dene Community School since 2012. During this time, he has implemented many strategies to improve the quality of teaching, and subsequently the outcomes, of students in mathematics. This has resulted in the department’s results now being significantly above national average. Lee has used a creative approach to deploying and developing staff to ensure sustainability. Lee believes that although every school has its own individual challenges, many of the strategies used by his department could be utilised by 

any school whatever their stage of development. 

Steve Taylor

Assistant Principal 

The Academy at Shotton Hall, Peterlee

As maths is a shortage area, Steve has worked hard to maximise the flexibility and scope of his staff. Coaching and working closely with staff in a supportive but constructive manner has meant that they have flourished. Steve ensures that good practice is shared and opportunities for improvement are given. Listening, watching and working with them so they are empowered to deal with difficulties themselves means that Steve now oversees an outstanding, and resilient group of staff. 


Victoria Da Gama

Head of Modern Foreign Languages 

The Venerable Bede Academy, Sunderland

Victoria has been a teacher of Spanish up to Key Stage 4 and French up to Key Stage 3 for nine years and has also been lead teacher for gifted and talented. Before becoming a teacher, Victoria worked in the commercial sector for a multi national logistics company. As Head of Modern Foreign Languages, her passion for providing a stimulating learning environment in which students feel supported and challenged has led to outstanding progress from students in a previously struggling department. Victoria has introduced many improvements such as personalised spiral learning, robust assessment and tracking systems, as well as rigorous monitoring and intervention.

Rachel Heer

Director of Culture and Languages

Easington Academy, Easington

Rachel has taught German to Key Stage 5, French to Key Stage 4 and Spanish to Key Stage 3 over a period of twenty one years and has been a Head of MFL for fourteen years. She has delivered CPD to groups of staff on generic teaching and learning and has also led the Gateshead Local Authority Modern Foreign Languages Network Group. She has been part of a national, DfE funded languages project to encourage take up in modern foreign languages at Key Stage 5 and is currently involved in delivering teacher subject specialist training (TSST) to a number of teachers across the region as part of another DfE funded initiative.

Fran Swinburn

Deputy Headteacher 

Wellfield Community School, Wingate

In addition to still being the subject lead for MFL, Fran has responsibility for teaching and learning, research and development and CPD. She fully understands what outstanding practice is and models it consistently to others. She has coached, mentored and supported individual teachers across the curriculum for many years including through ITT and NQT programmes. As SLE she has worked with other schools, successfully supporting their MFL departments according to their needs.


Angela Brinton

Deputy Headteacher

Red Rose Primary, Chester-Le-Street

Angela has lead responsibility for teaching and learning, literacy, maths and assessment across Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Over the last five years she has taught in Year 6, Early Years and Year 2, developing a wealth of knowledge and experience including mentoring and supporting teaching staff, support staff, student teachers and working with governors to achieve the Governor Quality Mark.She has also played a pivotal role in redesigning the curriculum and developing assessment procedures.

Catherine Harris


Browney Academy, Durham

Catherine has a successful track record in raising attainment and achievement in English and maths. She is responsible for tracking pupil progress and leading core curriculum interventions to ensure rapid and sustained progress across the school. In 2010, Catherine completed a masters degree in leadership and management and is part of the senior leadership teams in both the primary and the secondary setting. Working across these key phases, Catherine models the principles of outstanding teaching and learning and uses this to coach staff and train potential teachers through the school centred initial teacher training programme. 


Sue Hutchinson

Learning Director of Sport and Performance

Consett Academy, Consett

Sue has been a secondary PE teacher for fourteen years and has taught in schools in North Tyneside, Gateshead and Durham. During her career she has been a school sports coordinator, a head of department, a head of faculty and enjoyed a secondment as an assistant headteacher. She is an outstanding teacher. Her current role is as a learning director for sport and performance at Consett Academy. Within this role Sue oversees all aspects of PE and music from primary transition to accredited exam courses in PE and music. She has disseminated good practice through mentoring and allowing teachers from both within Consett Academy and neighbouring schools to observe her teaching.


Kelly Armstrong

Assistant Headteacher SENCO

Parkside Academy, Willington

Kelly is in her tenth year of teaching at Parkside and within that time, she has upheld a range of leadership roles. Kelly is now an assistant headteacher who’s roles include leading SEND and Pupil Premuim provision across an Multi Academy Trust. Kelly has provided support to a number of schools advising them on how to improve provision for both SEND and disadvantaged students. Kelly is currently working alongside Durham Local Authority to embed SEND procedures across County Durham.