Specialist Leaders of Education

The Alliance is able to offer support in areas of its current expertise through a network of Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs).

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.

SLEs are appointed following a rigorous application process.  The Gants Hill Alliance currently has the following SLEs:

Joe Wilson (appointed Nov 2016) – Science Specialism:

Joe is Co-Headteacher of Eastbury Primary School based in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham.

He is passionate about promoting scientific enquiry. For two years, Joe led the Gants Hill Partnership Teaching Alliance Science Network which pursued an action research project across several schools to improve science teaching and learning and led to improved pupil outcomes in science at Key Stage 1 and 2.  The project’s focus was on:

  • Building the independence of children in science and the skills and confidence of teachers in developing that independence
  • Effective recording of science work
  • Developing effective discussion in science

Prior to working at Eastbury, Joe was a senior leader at Cranbrook Primary School and, before that, was the science lead at Elmhurst Primary School in Newham for six years. During this time, he led courses for subject leaders, NQTs and students on science enquiry and led the school to a Primary Science Quality Mark gold award.

Vanessa Seehra (appointed Nov 2015) – Early Years Specialism:

Vanessa’s is an experienced Early Years, Science and Year one practitioner and leader currently working at Highlands Primary School. She works closely with the teams in her own setting to continually reflect upon and evaluate teaching and learning and make necessary adaptations to ensure that children are engaging in the best possible learning experiences. Consequently, the school have seen significant improvements in the attainment of the children in Early Years and Year one over the past 4 years.

She has also worked collaboratively with a range of schools to support them in using observations and data to identify key focus areas and then implement research informed developments to enhance their Early Years teaching practice. As a result of these projects, these schools have seen significant improvements in children’s progress and attainment.

Last year Vanessa completed a Masters in education, as part of these studies she focused upon ‘leading effective teams through change’ and developing children’s creative and critical thinking skills in the Early Years’.  Vanessa has also led her school to achieve a Primary Science Quality Mark Gold Award.

Seet Ying Fan (appointed Nov 2015) – Maths Specialism:

Seet Ying has been working at Gearies Primary School for the past seven years. Recently, she has been promoted to Assessment Lead at Gearies Primary School and is also the manager of the Gants Hill Partnership Teaching Alliance (GHPTA).

In her second year at Gearies, she was appointed a Leading Maths Teacher by the Maths Consultant for the Borough of Redbridge. Subsequently, she then became the Maths Coordinator at her school. Working with her school and other maths consultants, she has developed the Mastery approach to maths teaching and learning and has shared her knowledge and skills with teachers across the borough through her self-written Maths courses.

In her third year, she applied to be a Specialist Leader in Education (SLE) for the GHPTA and through a rigorous process she was accepted. Through this role, she has been asked to help support the maths curriculum in many schools. This involved analysing the current situation and planning with relevant teachers and SLT steps to help them sustained good quality maths teaching. Feedback from the schools was very positive and they have managed to sustain their efforts to this day.

In 2017, the London North East Maths Hub held awards to celebrate aspiring and motivating Maths Coordinators. Seet Ying was nominated by her Headteacher and was awarded the Primary Maths Co-ordinator of the Year.

In 2018/19, due to the new Ofsted framework, she has worked, and continues to do so, with the Redbridge Educational Partnership (REP) to create three bespoke CPD courses for subject leads. The subjects that were chosen were: Art, Geography and PSHE. Leading these courses were other SLEs, whom she sourced from a range of teaching schools. The courses were designed to ensure that the subject leads have the subject knowledge to design their curriculum so that it meets the needs of their children in their schools.

Erica O’Driscoll (appointed Nov 2015) – Maths Specialism:

Erica’s specialism is Maths and the Year 2 team leader at Gearies Primary School.  Erica has been awarded the Primary Maths Co-ordinator of the year by the London North East Maths hub.

Rachel Targett-Adams (appointed Dec 2017) – Assessment, Closing the Gap & Academy Transition Specialisms:

Despite entering the teaching profession 10 years ago now, I am still incredibly passionate about what I do and in providing the best educational opportunities and experiences for all children. I hold a firm belief that a collaborative approach is the best way for schools to raise standards and schools working in partnership, is the best way to achieve this.  Rachel is currently working in Highlands Primary School as an Assessment leader.

A core strength of mine lies in my ability to build trusting relationships with other colleagues. The strength of my working relationships allows me to work with colleagues together to identify, prioritise and implement ideas in order to drive school improvement whilst also developing a network of professional development.

For the last four years, I have led across the school on Data and Assessment. Assessment has always fascinated me and how it can be used to drive improvements in teaching and learning. An integral part of my role is analysing trends and identifying key areas to focus upon. Once identified, I work with individuals and teams of teachers to challenge them through collaborative professional dialogue. Through a coaching model, detailed action plans are then devised which ensure the needs of all children are being met. My other areas of responsibility include leading on the Creative Arts, Wider Opportunities and Extra Curricular Activities, Educational Visits, Health and Safety and aspects of HR.

Most recently I have also been project leading a formal consultation on a proposal to academise. As part of this role I have utilised my excellent communication skills when talking and sharing information with a large number of stakeholders including staff, parents, governors, local councillors as well as senior representatives from the Education Trust. As a result of the detailed research I have undertaken in my role, I believe I have acquired a very high level of expertise in not only legal and statutory considerations but also, processes and people management strategies.

Rehana Fazil (appointed Dec 2017) – English Specialism:

I’m an experienced and outstanding practitioner with substantial twelve years of experience in KS1, leading at a whole school level as a subject leader and year group leader at Cranbrook Primary School. As an SLE for English I look forward to working with other schools to support with Reciprocal Reading and Talk 4 Writing. I have been a champion for Reciprocal Reading for five years and fostered a love of reading in school. Also, I have successfully established a sustainable and strategic model of practice to develop independent writing across the school.  I have supported colleagues across phases and at a partnership level. I am excited by the challenge of being a leader of ‘education’ with the view to drive and improve outcomes for all young people by offering strategic support and guidance and developing leadership capacity in others. Furthermore, I value the opportunity to network to share and magpie outstanding practice and raise standards in schools, through facilitated training, joint action planning, and or coaching. I keep well updated with the latest education developments in my subject area of English and my motto is to; inspire and develop educators, challenge expectations, improve and sustain good teaching and learning outcomes, and build trusting relationships with colleagues from partnership schools.

Alex Dias (appointed Dec 2017) – ITT, NQT Development, Maths and Support for the most able specialisms:

My motivation for becoming an SLE stems from an enthusiasm for supporting others to develop strategies to utilise their strengths in order to give children the very best provision possible.

Throughout my career, my commitment to raising standards and developing new initiatives has always been reflected in my practise. The variety of posts that I have undertaken demonstrates the flexible and adaptable approach that I have.  In addition, the range of initiatives that I have helped to develop throughout the schools that I have worked in shows both my ability to think creatively and my organisation skills.

My 18 years in primary education have seen me teach across three London boroughs, and one international school. I have taught across Key Stages 1 and 2, the majority of my experience being concentrated between years 2-6.

I have spent 5 years working as an Assistant Head Teacher in Newham, and am currently a Deputy Head in Gearies Primary School. Previous posts have included coordinating Maths for a number of years as well as working alongside 2 different SENDCOs as Inclusion Manager.  Additional areas that I have a sound knowledge of are supporting and extending the More Able, managing support staff and using data to plan, carry out and track interventions.

Furthermore, I have worked as a Professional Tutor for ITT students whereby I carried out observations, file scrutinies, provided support and advice and ensured that they both met the required standards and received the correct levels of support. In addition I have carried out consultation work for another school, helping them to develop the skills of their Gifted and Talented coordinators as well as delivering training about Gifted and Talented provision to student teachers.

Dan Lea (appointed Dec 2017) – Leadership, Closing the Gap and Early Years Specialisms:

My motivation for becoming a Senior Leader of Education comes from the opportunities the role provides to support others in improving the life chances of young children, increasing the percentages of children experiencing early educational success and to reduce “inequality gaps” in children’s performances, while working and learning alongside fellow practitioners, developing together, our own professional attributes, knowledge and skills.

As a former AST, Lead Practitioner, Lead Behaviour Teacher, Network Leader and currently Deputy Head teacher at Gearies Primary school, I have a well formed view of life across the whole primary school. Inside the classroom; I specialise in developing sustainable, high quality, early years practice and provision. I also specialise in developing strategies and practices to ensure our most disadvantaged children achieve their full potential and experience success.

Outside the classroom, I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in a wide range of experiences, projects and educational teams including: being a member of The LIFT Teacher Forum, BECTA’s Next Generation Learning Team, The Education Project (Bahrain), Team London’s Youth Ambassadors Programme, working with NALDIC and being a member of the Educational Committee for the charity, “Free The Children/ WE DAY UK.”

In 2009 I was awarded both the London and UK Teaching Award for Next Generation Learning. I am also a Teaching Fellow of The Institute of Education.

Danielle Vorley (appointed Dec 2017) – PSHE Specialism: 

I have been teaching in Redbridge for the past 8 years. Within my career so far, I have had many opportunities to have an impact on the education of our children.  I have taught in both Ks1 and Ks2, from Year 2 to Year 6.  I have previously been a team leader and led on History at Highlands Primary.  I have also been a part of various other teams including the English team.  I currently lead on PSHEC, Philosophy for Children and Wellbeing and have done so, for the past 3 years.  I am also the Learning Leader for Years 5 and 6 and a part of the Inclusion Team, with a focus on Behaviour for Learning.   Whilst leading on these areas I also currently teach a Year 6 class.  I am lucky to have experienced various roles within my career, all of which have enabled me to understand the direction that I wish my career to move whilst staying true to my values as an educator.

All of the above career opportunities have led me to choose, to focus on PSHEC as an SLE and I look forward to being able utilise my skills, knowledge and understanding to work with other schools and share and review good practice.


Having grown up in and been educated in East London, and having only taught in Redbridge, I feel that my dedication and passion to enhance the education of our children is a major quality on which I pride myself. I also value working as a team with those I lead, and hope to inspire and champion colleagues to feel as excited as I do, to take on Leadership opportunities of their own.  I believe that being approachable and kind, whilst remaining honest are also strengths that I hold.

Jennifer Owen (appointed Dec 2017) – Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) development Specialisms:

I have been a teacher for 9 years and still have the same passion and drive I had when I first began my career. I strongly believe that it is those initial experiences that you have in your first few years that lay the foundations for your teaching career. It is this that has provided me with the motivation within this SLE role to support others as they start out on their own teaching journey.

I have a breadth of teaching experience across key stages 1 and 2 and have worked with a range of different people in the roles that I have held which have included ITT lead, NQT lead, Subject leader, Team leader and Learning leader.  As a leader in Highlands Primary school, I believe that working collaboratively is a successful approach to building and supporting individuals. Within the different roles I have held to date I have had numerous opportunities to do this.  I also believe that leaders require a high level of emotional literacy in order to motivate and inspire others. This is something which I also feel is a particular strength of mine.

For the last three years I have been the NQT network lead for the Gants Hill alliance. This role has required me to build strong and trusting relationships with the NQTs and the schools that I have worked with. I have used my organisational and facilitation skills to build a tailor made programme that starts with the individual needs of the NQTs and uses a collaborative approach to both support and challenge them. This has proven to be very successful with all the NQTs I have worked with. I have used the drive and passion I have to inspire others at the very start of their career and I look forward to many more opportunities to do this.

Louise Waters (appointed Dec 2017) – Phonics Specialism:

Louise has been teaching for eight years at Gearies Primary School. During this time she has taught and led teams in KS2, KS1 and is currently leading the Reception team. Louise is part of the English team and is responsible for ensuring high standards across the school. She has led staff development sessions to raise the profile of phonics both internally and externally. These sessions have provided individuals with the opportunity to develop and adapt their phonics teaching to meet the needs of their children. These sessions have included supporting Teach in Redbridge students, Teaching Assistants and teachers in local schools to develop their phonics teaching and learning and raise attainment. Louise is passionate about phonics and has worked hard to develop hers and her colleagues practice to ensure outstanding progress and attainment in the Year One Phonics Screening Check. She seeks to ensure that all phonics teaching is fun, purposeful, relevant and pitched high. Louise prides herself on her approachable and realistic outlook and is looking forward to supporting other schools to raise standards through joint action planning, modelling and targeted training.

Mark Evans (appointed Dec 2017) – Assessment Specialism:

I have been awarded the position of an Assessment SLE within the Partnership. I have been Assessment Coordinator for four years at Cranbrook Primary School and have also supported other schools in the Borough with Assessment previously before becoming an SLE. I am the current Assistant Headteacher at Cranbrook Primary School, a post which I have held for 5 years and have been Acting Deputy Headteacher within that time too. My other areas of responsibility other than Assessment are: Lead Safeguarding Officer, EYFS Phase Leader, CPD Coordinator, PE and PSHE strategic Leader and I am the Initial Teacher Training Coordinator. Before working at Cranbrook Primary School, I worked at Mossford Green Primary School. I would see my strengths as being able to form good relationships with colleagues, coming up with effective ways of presenting data to all members of the school community and identify clear headlines with effective actions.

If you are interested in receiving support from any of our SLEs, please address any initial enquiries to Bob Drew – Head Teacher and National Leader of Education at Gearies Primary school (rdrew6.317@lgflmail.org ).  Our current charges are £300 per day.