Specialist Leaders of Education

Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) are outstanding middle and senior leaders, with at least two years’ leadership experience, who have the skills to support individuals or teams in particular subject areas and/or specialisms. They are system leaders, deployed strategically to raise attainment/performance, based on identified needs.

Through coaching, mentoring and sharing best practice, their role is to build sustainable leadership capacity.


If your school would like to use the SLEs in our alliance, please email wctsp@wellingtoncollege.org.uk.


John Parsons, Assistant Head, Winston Churchill School

SLE (June 2018) Specialisms: Maths, Leadership & Management: Leadership of Curriculum, ITT & NQT

John has 24 years of teaching experience which includes leading a department, being an AST and more recently a senior leader with responsibility for teaching and learning. His strong belief is that relationships are at the route of successful learning and he believes that students should be engaged, not passive and that there is merit in every type of pedagogy. He regularly works on innovative pedagogy with teachers, as part of this he has led the creation of a skills dimension to our curriculum, which focuses on Values, Identity and Belonging.

John's specialism is Maths, but he has worked with many subjects: he has helped colleagues develop literacy strategies, robust assessment frameworks, understanding of data and hitting the balance between a love of the subject and exam preparation.  He has also overseen restructuring of working practices in several departments.

John's school is part of a four school learning partnership where he has undertaken whole school and departmental reviews in their partnership schools; highlighting good practice and collaboratively identifying areas for development.

He has completed a coaching qualification as part of his role as an AST and believes that progress can only be made if those who need to progress are listened to and complicit in developing the pathway forward.

The use of new technology alongside traditional teaching is something John is enthusiastic about. He brings experience and ideas, but he also sees every challenge as a learning opportunity and believes collaboration enables the development of more sustainable strategies for change.

Janice Storch, Subject Leader Maths, Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School

SLE (June 2018) Specialisms: Maths, Leadership & Management: Leadership of Curriculum

Janice has held various roles in education, including teaching Maths in Newbury for 4 years, as a second in department in Wokingham for 5 years, and she has been in her current school in Reading for 6 years, initially part-time and now full-time in her role as Subject Leader for Mathematics. Janice was also Chair of Governors of a large primary school in central Reading for 6 years.  As a Subject Leader she has dealt with the challenges of recruitment to build a stable and effective team, and has considerable experience in promoting consistency across the department through learning walks and observations, giving constructive feedback, and encouraging staff to develop their skills further through agreed targets. Tracking pupil progress, diagnosing gaps in pupil knowledge, and implementing impactful interventions to address these is now routine in the department.  Janice's department focus next year will be the development of an even more dynamic KS3 curriculum, with further enrichment activities both in and out of school.

In her department, Janice has encouraged input from external agencies, and, as well as the development of their own staff, they mentor PGCE students, university volunteers and students as part of the STEM education project.  Her department has recently hosted an enrichment day with PGCE students trialling mixed ability resources with years 8, 9 and 10.  For Janice, the opportunity to share good practice and develop school to school support is a natural extension of this outward looking approach.

Jane O'Sullivan Dale, Subject Leader English, Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School

SLE (June 2018) Specialisms: English, Leadership & Management: Assessment, Leadership of Curriculum,  Closing the Gap, Support for most able pupils,  ITT & NQT,  Behaviour & Discipline

Jane fully believes that through a more philosophical approach to questioning (P4C) we facilitate a growth mind-set and in terms of exam preparation, it allows students (in the words of one of her pupil's, 'I smashed A03') to develop a more conceptual approach; crucial for the construct of English Literature.  This was noted and praised by Ofsted; her observed lesson is on their school website.  Jane says that in terms of assessment (AfL), it is rooted initially in a dialogic approach between staff and students.  Thus, updating and developing of marking policies in her department involves a strong student voice.  After this, formative assessments (per half term) monitor skill acquisition and summative look for trends.  Tracking – centrally in the department - is monitored and analysed at regular points.  Performance of all students is forensically monitored.  The foundations to all of this, a zero-tolerance approach to behaviour.  This imbues a strong culture of learning.

Jane has been a Head of English for over 5 years and during that time her outreach work includes training as an English PiXL Associate and piloting, in conjunction with primary and secondary school colleagues, the P4C approach for Reading schools.  Jane runs a strong team-focused department and she monitors the progress and development of all her staff from PGCE status to middle leadership.

Richard Staton Assistant Head, Bulmershe School

SLE (December 2014) Specialisms: Science, Closing the Gap and Behaviour Management

Richard joined Bulmershe School in 2013 as Assistant Headteacher. He joined as part of a new Leadership team having previously served on a leadership team of an outstanding academy for three years.  All areas of  Bulmershe School have been restructured in the last 18 months and these developments have helped secure a hugely improved Ofsted report in the most recent inspection, moving the school to good in all areas. Richard's leadership in the use of the pupil premium to close the gap for disadvantaged pupils at Bulmershe has been recognised as excellent and he has presented to other local schools, both primary and secondary in West Berkshire and Wokingham.

Richard has previously worked in three other schools in a variety of contexts. He has experience of State boarding, outstanding academies and Local authority schools. In each of these sectors he has held Pastoral leadership roles and taught Science. During his time as a teacher he has consistently offered outreach work in Science to other schools to help develop best practise. He has a passion for sharing the very best practise between schools in the most effective, thoughtful and practicable ways possible.

Miranda Patterson, Director of Science, Technology and Engineering, Wellington College

SLE (June 2018) Specialisms: Science, ITT & NQT

Miranda joined Wellington College in 2017 as Director of Science, Technology and Engineering with the aim of improving the provision of science education across all aspects of college life. Prior to that she spent 9 years at Latymer Upper School as Head of Biology and latterly as Head of Science. During this time she worked closely with local schools supporting teachers in their extension of the brightest and helping them to prepare for A Level teaching where they had not done this before.  Miranda has completed both the foundation and advanced coaching course and this approach is at the heart of her practice both with students but also with teachers.  She passionately believes that teaching and learning are at the very heart of what a school does and in sharing best practise between schools in the most practical and effective way. Prior to teaching, Miranda spent 9 years working as in Investment banking raising money for entrepreneurial companies and providing them with financial advice. She is also a qualified diving instructor and has taught in Australia and in the less glamorous waters of the UK coast.

Rachelle Kirkham, Head of Modern Foreign Languages, Wellington College

SLE (June 2018) Specialisms: MFL, Leadership & Management: Leadership of Curriculum

Rachelle started her teaching career in Higher Education lecturing and running seminars in French and Spanish at the University of Nottingham but she quickly realised that her real passion was for classroom teaching much more than academic research.  Moving into secondary education was a natural choice and she's happy to say that she hasn't looked back.  Rachelle joined Wellington College from Nottingham High School in 2008 as Head of Spanish and since then she has become Head of ITT and then Head of MFL.  She currently leads a team of 4 Heads of Subject and 25 language teachers and assistants in French, Spanish, German, Mandarin and Russian. 

Rachelle has mentored a number of new Heads of Department, worked closely with MFL colleagues at the Wellington Academy and she is very keen to build links with language departments at local schools.  Rachelle says "I am passionate about my subject and the ways in which languages can enhance young people's lives, not least through the development of intercultural understanding.  I firmly believe that MFL should be a key part of primary and secondary curricula so that all young people have the opportunity to learn a foreign language with teachers who are skilled, enthusiastic and knowledgeable."  Having worked hard to bring direction and coherence to her team at Wellington, she hopes that as an SLE she can draw on her experience to help MFL teams in other schools too.

Charlotte Le Bihan, Head of French, Wellington College

SLE (June 2018) Specialisms: MFL (French), Support for the most able, ITT & NQT

Charlotte began her teaching career in Oxford as a French Assistant in Magdalen College School in 2007, after graduating with a double Degree in French and English Literature from the University of Aix-Marseille. She has always wanted to inspire cultural, social and linguistic knowledge and understanding in young people, through her teaching.

Since 2014, Charlotte has been Head of French at Wellington College, after completing a PGCE at Oxford Brookes University, teaching French and Spanish for a year at Burnham Grammar School and for four years at Oxford High School (GDST). Her training qualification placements were extremely beneficial and rewarding as she was able to work in less advantaged environments and look for ways to motivate less able students, maintain interest for all and stretch the most talented. Whilst at Oxford High School, she mentored PGCE trainees from Oxford Brookes University and at Wellington College, she has supported graduate trainees and NQT development within her department.  As Head of Department, Chalotte has put in place strategies to give as much creativity and freedom for teachers and motivate our students to enjoy languages. Trips, theatre festivals, debating, film clubs are a few ways to bring language to life. She has really enjoyed leading Oxbridge extension and getting our students ready for interviews, and our bilingual/near native fast track course for GCSE.

Charlotte believes that we should provide outstanding language teaching in our UK schools more than ever before, giving the current national trend, to give our young men and women an equal chance and aspirations at University or/and in the competitive market place.

Cressida Henderson, Deputy Headteacher, Co-curricular, Wellington College

SLE (December 2013) Specialisms: MFL, Academies and Academy Transition,  Leadership of Curriculum, Behaviour and Discipline, Attendance

Cressida joined Wellington College in 1993 and has worked part-time at The Wellington Academy since 2010, representing the sponsor, Wellington College, on SLT in this state-independent school partnership.  She has set up teachers at each school with a teaching partner to share good practice, resources and knowledge.  Joint CPD, teacher exchanges, teacher training placements have all been organised to further develop teaching and learning.  She has also set up a number of student events and activities with a range of objectives including raising attainment, service learning, and artistic and sporting collaboration.  She has developed the school's strategy for Forces children in receipt of Pupil Premium (some 40% of the school population).

She is part of the project team for the new Wellington Academy Primary school which opens in September 2014.

Cressida has previously been a Head of Modern Languages, leading that department to significantly improved results: an average 15% increase in A*-A at GCSE, A*-B at A level and 6-7 at IB as well as overseeing the department's first cohort of MYP through to some of the highest scores worldwide in a variety of languages.  She has also been Head of Key Stage 4 in charge of pupil achievement for these year groups.  She is a trained coach and a trainer of coaches.

Sophie Jobson, French Teacher, Wellington College, Crowthorne

SLE (December 2013) Specialism: MFL

Sophie is a French national and graduate of University of Rouen and IFI Business School, France.

Following her PGCE in French, at the University of Surrey in 1995-6, she spent 12 years teaching in the maintained sector, latterly as Head of Modern Language at Reading Girls School. Later Sophie became the MFL lead teacher for the Secondary National Strategy in 2006 for the Reading LEA.

Sophie joined Wellington College in 2008 as Head of French with responsibilities for the introduction of the IB and the Middle Years Programme with the MFL department. In her role at Wellington College she was engaged in 2013 to co-author Hodder Education's first IB French textbook for the UK, US and international markets.

Some of Sophie's skills include being OFSTED trained and an accredited Coach.  She has demonstrated and shared best practice across the spectrum of the maintained sector schools, including 'failing' schools in special measures and two of the UK's top performing grammar schools. In addition she has supported graduate trainees and NQT development within her department and those of other network schools. Some of this support has included off-site meetings at Oxford Brooke's and Reading universities.

Emma Windiate, Subject Leader of History and Sociology, Waingels

SLE (June 2018) Specialism: History

Emma has worked in her current role as Head of History at Waingels College, in Reading, since 2012 and has been teaching for eleven years. She leads a diverse and successful team, where colleagues feel motivated and supported. Under Emma's leadership, the History department has performed consistently well at both A Level and GCSE. In 2017, her department gained 37% A*-A at GCSE, achieving an ALPS grade of 3. In her school's recent Ofsted report of March 2018, her GCSE results were mentioned favourably; "They performed particularly well in...humanities, their rates of progress being in the top 20% of schools." The uptake at both GCSE and A Level continues to be strong.

Emma is passionate about being a good middle leader and the opportunity to support and encourage other schools is something she is excited about. She has a wealth of experience in curriculum planning and has managed the introduction of new schemes of work and assessments at all key stages. She has recent experience of working with other History departments in the area, through a middle leader peer review project, and has mentored other heads of subject at her own school. Emma has led training on many issues that departments face, from developing a vision, utilising data to maximise outcomes, holding difficult conversations and managing a team. She is an open and approachable person and thrives when sharing ideas and learning from others. Emma is looking forward to meeting fellow History colleagues and supporting departments in many different capacities.

Simon Williamson, Director of Music and Arts, Wellington College

SLE (June 2018) Specialisms: Music, Art, Drama, Support for the most able pupils

Simon joined Wellington College in 1996, becoming Director of Music in 2004 and then Director of Arts 5 years ago.  He is also President of the "MMA, Music Teaching Professionals", a national organisation for music teachers who are actively involved in joining schools together to create partnerships and develop an understanding about what is excellent in music provision.

Within the Arts, he wishes to support students in Music, Drama and Art (as well as dance) and is keen to map ways for them to realise their potential.   With a published work on Gifted and Talented by Pearson Publishing, he is also keen to support the most able but is as much motivated by nurturing interest in all students and wants to facilitate discussion in our subject areas.  He feels that there is real benefit in sharing ideas, resources and strategies, so as to support the arts curriculum and co-curriculum within our school environments, therefore creating larger pools of ideas across the teaching partnership.

Simon has been a mentor for PGCE and NQT, runs a large department of visiting teachers, has experience in a wide range of disciplines and secretly would love to support a large cross-arts festival with all the schools within the partnership.

Yvonne Smith, Assistant Head, The Holt School
SLE (December 2013) Specialism: Leadership & Management of CPD, Initial Teacher Training and Newly Qualified Teacher Development.

Yvonne is an experienced Teacher of Geography and Head of Department. She joined The Holt School as Head of Geography in September 2006 and was appointed Head of Humanities in January 2007. Following a successful year as a Development Assistant Head she was appointed to her current role of Director of Professional Development and Training in September 2010.

As CPD lead Yvonne organises, implements and facilitates the CPD programme. She regularly attends CPD Lead meetings and has worked very closely with the Wokingham Federation of schools, helping to plan and coordinate events including Federation INSET days. She has planned numerous CPD programmes in school and has recently introduced a series of Teaching and Learning Groups which encourage staff to take a more proactive role in their own development (CPDs).

Yvonne is an experienced NQT Induction coordinator and ITT Coordinator. An active member of the School Direct Steering Group, working as part of the team to plan and implement the current extremely successful application and selection process. She has worked with ITT HE providers including Reading University, OU and Oxford University. She has used her coaching skills to support and guide mentors, trainee teachers and new teachers as they move through their ITT and NQT years.

Yvonne is passionate about the development of all teachers and aspirant teachers and can provide bespoke advice and guidance.

Ryan Hopton, Trust Teaching  & Learning Lead, The Wellington Academy

SLE (June 2018) Specialisms: Leadership & Management of CPD, PSHE, ITT & NQT

Ryan has been teaching on the English and International circuits for 7 years, and before this,  he worked for a FTSE 100 company in Learning and Development. He has been Head of Well-being/PSHE for the past 6 years, Key Stage 3 coordinator at a school in Tanzania and Leader of Professional Development for the past 2 and a half years.

Part of the role in Tanzania involved leading and setting up a Key Stage 3 curriculum as well as inducting and training Teaching Assistants, students on the iPGCE programme and new teachers.

Ryan's role at the Wellington Academy is the Head of Initial Teacher Training and developing a 'Consistently Good Teaching' Programme. The impact of his work has been recognised by the UWE, with whom his school are collaborating to create a hub for the 'Troops to Teaching' Programme, and Hampshire Council who have recently rated his school's NQT provision as 'exceeding expectations'. Developing teacher craft has been a crucial part of his work at The Wellington Academy and it has been recognised by Ofsted in their 2016 report.

Alongside this, Ryan coordinates and develop the Wellbeing curriculum. Our Schemes of Learning have been published online, along with a selection being used by The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues in their publication 'Teaching Character through the Curriculum'. In addition to this, he has also presented at the Festival of Education on how to lead and develop an SMSC and Wellbeing programme.

The Wellington College Teaching School Partners