Cygnus Teaching School Alliance

Specialist Leaders in Education (SLE)

SLEs are outstanding middle and senior leaders in positions below the headteacher, with at least two years’ leadership experience. They have a particular area of expertise (such as a subject area, early years, behaviour or school business management) and a successful track record of school improvement.



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

How it works

Models and types of deployments will vary. For example, one deployment might be a two-day diagnostic exercise, whilst another might require a three-month, full-time support role. Time may be taken as a block of consecutive days or spread over a longer period. There is no defined time commitment for deployments as time should be agreed between parties. However, SLEs and schools will need to think carefully about the likely commitment and capacity.

SLEs at Cygnus Teaching School Alliance

Julia Brown

Julia is an outstanding Mathematics teacher with many years’ experience in a variety of schools working with students and teachers across the 11-18 age-range.  As a Head of Mathematics, her department was judged outstanding and exam results improved year on year under her leadership.  Julia’ current role is as the Bucks, Berks and Oxon Maths Hub lead.  She has carried out subject reviews and supported the leadership of a Mathematics department of a school in special measures.  As an accredited National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics Professional Development Lead she has led courses within local schools and for other Professional Development Leads across our region.  She works closely with several national Mathematics organisations and currently chairs the Mathematical Association’s Professional Development Committee.

Charlotte Fell

Charlotte has twelve years of experience teaching Mathematics to secondary school students.  She has taught all year groups from Years 7 to 13 and has taught up to Further Maths A2.  As Head of Mathematics of a large, successful department, Charlotte has several years of management experience and has overseen the uptake of students choosing to study Mathematics after Year 11 double.  Charlotte has worked coaching colleagues in the teaching profession and completed an Action Research project in raising attainment at Key Stage 4.  She has led training to staff across the school to increase effective use of interactive whiteboards and spreadsheets.  In a wider capacity, she initiated a link with Oxford Brookes University which led to forty trainee mathematics teachers working with Wycombe High School, nearly a quarter of whom returned to work with the department.  Charlotte has a keen interest in promoting the study of Mathematics and raising the profile of, and confidence in, the subject amongst students, teachers and parents.

Elizabeth Mansir 

Elizabeth has taught MFL for many years and is now Director of Learning at Wycombe High School.

Richard Nowak-Scase

Richard has 10 years’ experience of teaching Geography in secondary schools and has extensive experience of being a Subject Leader for Geography. Richard is now the Director of Curriculum and Timetable for the Wycombe High School Academies Trust with his main responsibilities being the planning and implementing of the timetable at both Wycombe High School and Bourne End Academy.  Richard works with leaders from both schools to facilitate the sharing of resources and developing innovative curriculum maps that meet the needs of all learners across both schools.

Dr David Palmer

Dr David Palmer is Director of Finance and Resources, Wycombe High School Academies Trust and has expertise in strategic financial planning; business and financial management, Academy transition and Constitution and implementation of multi-academy trusts

David spent 25 years in IT and management consultancy across most business sectors before becoming Business Director at Wycombe High School in 2006. He is responsible for strategic financial and resource planning and management across the Trust school and has operational responsibility for Finance, Facilities and ICT Services at Wycombe High School. David was instrumental in the transition to an academy in 2011 and formation of Wycombe High School Academies Trust in 2014 and integration of second school into the Trust in 2014. He was a school Governor for 15 years and member of Interim Executive Board for two schools placed in Special Measures.

Natalie Reece

Natalie is a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) who is always keen to seek and develop innovative practice in learning and teaching.  She is currently employed as Director of Teaching at Wycombe High School.

Natalie Reece was awarded Distinction for her MA in Education and has over 15 years of wide-ranging experience of teaching English, across the ability range in a range of secondary schools.  She has worked with all exam board specifications such as AQA, EDEXCEL, OCR and WJEC and has proven success in English Language, English Literature and Media Studies at Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.  Natalie has previously been a Head of English in a large, 11-18 comprehensive school, during which time her experiences included preparing and leading the English Department through a five day Ofsted Inspection; Natalie was described as “dedicated to ensuring the highest possible standards” and her leadership/management of the English Department was rated “excellent.”

In addition to working at Wycombe High School, Natalie works alongside Senior Leaders within a wide range of schools, as a consultant.  Natalie conducts Literacy Reviews, evaluating schools’ current provision of literacy and assessing how they can develop outstanding practice in order to maximise its impact on raising pupil achievement.   She also conducts English Reviews (and other subject reviews) and has worked with Heads of English and English departments across the UK, and internationally, to develop outstanding English provision and raise pupil achievement.  In addition, Natalie has considerable experience of delivering INSET courses to teachers as well as revision workshops for students, to help them maximise their performance in both GCSE and A Level examinations.

Natalie is an accredited facilitator with the National College for School Leadership (NCSL); she has written materials for and delivered the Middle Leadership Development Programme to a wide range of Middle Leaders within primary, secondary and special schools.  She has also successfully completed an Online Facilitation and Tutoring Programme which allows her to further engage with, and support, her Middle Leaders in the online community through online facilitation.

Jack Rushton 

Jack is currently Head of History and SENDCo at Wycombe High School with a wealth of experience in teaching and partoral care.






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