The Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) scheme was introduced by the government in 2011. SLEs are outstanding middle and senior leaders who have the skills to support individuals or teams in similar positions in other schools. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of expertise looks like and are skilled in helping other leaders to achieve it in their own context. The creation of the SLE role was designed to help raise standards and improve the quality of school leadership through school-to-school support and peer-to-peer learning.
At first, the designation was available for many other curricular areas but not for RE. At the All Party Parliamentary Group meeting in November 2012 Deborah Weston, in the course of presenting oral evidence to the group, asked why RE had been omitted from the list of subjects. Since then there appears to have been a change of policy and RE is now included in the list of subjects for which the SLE role is available. This means that from now on it will be possible to have Religious Education Specialist Leaders of Education, which is a very positive development because it will provide both support for teachers of RE and good professional development for people who take on these roles.