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Specialist Leaders of Education

Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) are outstanding middle and senior leaders who have the skills to support teams or individuals in similar positions in other schools. They are skilled in mentoring, supporting and developing others.

Tees Valley Education Outreach is offering high-quality training and development and support across their MAT and in their local area. The current SLEs and their expert knowledge are:

Darren Higgins - Mathematics

Darren has been teaching for 16 years. During this time, he has taught across the primary range from Y2 to Y6, spending 6 years as a Year 6 teacher. He has responsibility for leading the day to day running of KS2 which includes staff deployment, informal and formal monitoring of teaching and learning, staff INSET, coaching and modelling lessons and intervention mapping. As well as this, he has led Mathematics for 10 years. This has included leading INSET and school to school support across TVED Trust. Working across the Trust, he has taken part in academy audits, judging and comparing the quality of teaching and learning in all subjects, particularly mathematics. This includes book ‘scrutinies’, pupil interviews and lesson observations.

Elizabeth Clement - Curriculum

Elizabeth’s eleven years in education is driven by a core philosophy that underpins her role as a teacher and a leader: to give every child a future and provide every child with the opportunity to develop a love of learning. She strives to enable every child to fulfil their potential, achieve their own academic success in a safe and rich learning environment and be equipped with the tools to grow to be an independent, self-sustaining citizen of their community and the wider world.

Within her current post at Pennyman Primary Academy as Assistant Head Teacher for Curriculum, Elizabeth leads the development and provision of the creative curriculum offer for the academy. She has developed and supported the successful implementation of a curriculum mapping system to ensure a minimum of 100% statutory coverage of Curriculum 2014 facilitating a broad and rich range of contexts through the Cornerstones program. She supports the SLT in the identification and delivery of high quality training and sustained professional development needs of the staff of the school in order to shape the current and future quality of the teaching in light of current curriculum changes.

As a SLE for curriculum Elizabeth has supported the development of a creative curriculum system across several local academies, as well as being an active Peer Review leader and trainer for the CFBT Education Development Trust.

Jennifer Duncan - SEND

Jennifer has been teaching for 20 years.  She has taught across the primary age range from Reception to Year 6 in both mainstream and SEND schools.  Currently she is Head Teacher of Discovery Special Academy.  The academy is a co-educational special academy for pupils with severe learning difficulties (SLD) at the more complex and severe end of the spectrum of special educational needs.

Jenifer is an experienced teacher whose expertise lies in developing teaching practice and pedagogy for vulnerable groups and children with SEND.  She has adapted curriculum provision and assessment procedures for SEND and has developed ways of incorporating a multi-sensory diet into this.  Jennifer is hugely passionate about challenging expectations and perception in SEND teaching.

Across the Trust, Jennifer has been involved in the development of policies including; Assessment for Learning, Behaviour and an All Ability Sport and Health Policy.  Beyond the Trust, Jennifer has supported colleagues within Middlesbrough, neighbouring authorities and more recently in a national teaching university in developing their understanding of how to support children with SEND.

Giving all children a voice and equality of opportunity continues to drive her and she is dedicated to doing this on a wider scale.

"Over the years I have developed a passion for working in SEND.  I believe that all children are entitled to an outstanding education that allows them to reach their personal potential.  This is achieved through high expectation and a holistic approach which values the individual and their academic, emotional and physical development.  Breaking down social and environmental barriers to ensure all children are offered equality of opportunity is paramount to an inclusive education."

Joe Stammers - Reading

Joe’s area of expertise is reading comprehension. As an SLE in this subject area, he is passionate about helping children to develop their reading abilities to understand and comprehend. He has a sound knowledge of expectations, and the different aspects of reading comprehension, having completed a variety of studies to develop various pedagogical styles that enables every child to become a reader.

“Comprehension is at the centre of everything we do throughout life: I am a firm believer in ensuring that children leave primary education with the ability to do this well. My aim as an SLE is to motivate others, by sharing good practice and ideas to help our children be ‘life-ready’ and have the ability to comprehend. I look forward to working with you in your journey to improve pupils’ attainment and progress in school.”

Sara Hood - EYFS and KS1

Sara is an experienced teacher with a range of experience, more recently in EYFS and KS1, but also through KS2. Some of this time was spent teaching children within a SEND unit placement in Nursery and Reception. She now has responsibility for the progress, attainment and behaviour management of KS1 and EYFS, working closely with the Head and Deputy. Sara has a good understanding of data and is confident using this to inform provision and any intervention required. She is a strategic thinker who considers the wider picture when making decisions or changes. She has developed parts of the curriculum and currently supports the English and Maths Leaders in the development and implementation of new policies and procedures. Sara is a KS1 moderator for the LA.

Zoe Verrill - EYFS

Throughout her teaching career she has always shown passion and commitment to children within the Foundation Stage, as she believes all children should be given the opportunity to experience the very best start to their education.

For the last two years, she has been in a privileged position, working collaboratively as an SLE leader with outstanding EYFS leading practitioners. This has involved observing teaching practice, supporting practitioners to reflect and improve practices and implementing effective systems to monitor and evaluate progress. Her role as an external moderator has increased her expertise in analysing data and leading professional discussions.

Zoe has gained a huge insight into how we, as experienced practitioners have an essential role to play in moving teaching and learning forward in schools.

Deborah Fawcett - English

Deborah is Assistant Head Teacher at Pennyman Primary Academy. She has an infectious enthusiasm for teaching English which is demonstrated in her expertise to plan exciting reading and writing learning opportunities which allow children to apply these into their reading and writing skills regardless of their abilities. She has become adept at empowering children with a reading and writing ‘tool kit’, seeing it as an essential part of removing barriers to reading and writing, especially amongst reluctant boys. Her present focus is looking at how making links between the grammar being introduced, and how it works in the writing being taught, can be developed as a writing teaching principle. Her belief is that children who leave primary school with the skills to read and write at age related expectation have a firm foundation with which to access the secondary school curriculum with. It is this which underpins her determination to want all primary school children to be the best that they can be in reading and writing when they leave primary school.

Jo Johnson - SEND

Jo endeavours to keep up to date with new initiatives and be at the forefront of educational excellence for SEND pupils. She continually develops her skills through in service training and has recently completed an Aspiring Heads course; she strives to translate learning into improved competence and skills. She has built a wealth of experience teaching all ages and abilities (from EYFS to 25 years) across a broad spectrum of needs in both mainstream and special educational settings, teaching a variety of subjects. Being both versatile and adaptable as a practitioner and senior leader, she can provide a wealth of knowledge and experience to provide dialogue, coaching, training, mentoring and support to grow leadership capacity.

Fiona Marshall – Early Years/Phonics

I have led Phonics at Breckon Hill School for 11 years. Our school has high proportions of children with EAL, children learning English as new arrivals to the country, children with SEND and children working below ARE.

We have achieved an increase in the % of children passing the Year 1 phonics screening test year-on-year and are expecting this trend to continue.

I have delivered phonics and early reading training across a wide range of settings including day nurseries, whole staff secondary school, inclusion teaching teams, Children’s Centre staff, trainee teachers and NQTs. Some of these projects have also included delivering modelled lessons and also carrying out lesson observations and feedback on improving practice.

I am currently a Nursery and Pre school teacher but I have experience teaching across the primary phase and as an Early Years Support teacher for Sure Start during my 16 year career.

I have a MA in Education from the University of Teesside. During my studies I focused mainly on Early Years policy and practise, outdoor play and on teacher’s workload and job satisfaction.

I am a passionate advocate for quality Early Years Provision, and especially the importance of child initiated and outdoor learning opportunities.

I am an experienced trainer and a good communicator across many varied and sometimes challenging platforms. I have a friendly and enthusiastic delivery style which focuses on active learning and providing sustainable, clear outcomes.

I value research based approaches and believe a strong grounding in theory, reflective practise, adaptation and aspirational goal setting is extremely important in facilitating improvement.

Sarah Birch - Regional Standards Leader

Sarah has recently been appointed at RTMAT as Regional Standards Leader. Prior to this she worked in Stockton as a Deputy head of a PRU. Whilst at Stockton Sarah was the SLE for behaviour and vulnerable pupils within the Stockton Schools Teaching Alliance. The role really started to take off in Stockton and she was instrumental in supporting schools in this area.  Sarah's philosophy was not to create pre-determined packages but to tailor the support to the requesting school. Sarah delivered training sessions to dinner supervisors on positive behaviour at lunch times; supported Stockton Sixth form in delivering positive behaviour support training sessions for ITT, NQTs, RQTs and TAs, conducted observations of pupils with recommendations which were used as evidence when compiling reports, conducted observations on behalf of the SEN team and delivered de-escalation training for staff meetings. Sarah ensured all of her training was evaluated and the feedback was continually positive.