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SLE Team

Specialist Leaders of Education

SLEs are outstanding middle and senior leaders in positions, below the headteacher, with at least two years’ experience in a particular field of expertise.

SLEs can be deployed in a variety of ways and each deployment can be tailored to suit the needs of the school or individual receiving the support.

Are you interested in becoming an SLE? More information is available on the National College website.

Are you interested in working with an Alliance SLE at your school? Contact


Damian Dean

Teaching Schools Co-ordinator – Bitterne Park School

Specialist Areas:

Leadership of Continuing Professional Development

Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) Development

Behaviour and Discipline

Support for Most Able Pupils

Damian has worked in education for 15 years as a Head of PE, AST, Teaching and Learning Advisor for Southampton Education Authority, Assistant Head (Secondment), and is currently a Teaching Schools Co-ordinator/SLE at Bitterne Park School. Damian has led Quality Assurance processes at whole-school level, and is passionate about staff development.


Paul Overton

Head of Sixth Form / Pupil Premium Co-Ordinator (ELT) – Bitterne Park School


Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) Development

Pastoral support

Pastoral care of students

Transition process from KS2 – KS3

Pupil Premium Strategies

Sixth Form Development.

Paul has worked in education for the past 11 years and is currently the Head of Sixth Form as part of the Extended Leadership team at Bitterne Park School. During his career he has taken on a number of different responsibilities, which have included Director of Music Performance, Assistant Progress Leader, Progress Leader and Pupil Premium Co-ordinator, a post which he still holds.

Having been in charge of a year group through the GCSE process Paul has developed expertise in data analysis and pastoral care. He has also been a Progress Leader of Year 7 so has experience in managing the transition process for students from primary to secondary education. Paul’s current position as Head of Sixth has enabled him to develop a broad knowledge of the ever changing KS5 curriculum, as well as dealing with the more complex pastoral care of post-16 students.

Paul also currently holds the post of Pupil Premium Co-ordinator for the whole school, which has given him the opportunity to implement a number of whole school strategies to reduce the attainment gap between pupil premium and non-pupil premium students. He has extensive knowledge in this area of education.

Paul is always willing to be contacted at any time, give advice and help any colleague or school in order to improve standards of education.

Andrew Foster

Teaching Schools Co-ordinator – Bitterne Park School

Specialist Areas:

Leadership of Continuing Professional Development

Pupil Achievement in History/Support for Most Able Pupils

Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) Development

Andy is passionate about developing and training teachers. He has supported and challenged teachers over the past decade in a variety of roles. Andy has enjoyed a wide and varied experience as Head of History (1999-2013) and Advanced Skills Teacher (2003-2013), and now promotes improvements as a Specialist Leader of Education and Teaching Schools Co-ordinator. He co-ordinates training and support for NQTs and Year 2 teachers. He is an experienced teacher trainer in a variety of contexts, including leading School Direct training, whole-staff coaching, and Outstanding Teacher Programme training. Andy is also keen to build international links with other leaders in education and he co-ordinates a variety of international teaching and learning research projects.

Photo of Victoria Burr

Victoria Shah

Assistant Headteacher – Bitterne Park School

Specialist Areas:


Building Effective Teams

Victoria was a Leading English Teacher working with HIAS (Hampshire Inspectorate and Advisory Service) for three years, prior to becoming an SLE. She has worked with a number of different schools in Hampshire, focussing on active learning strategies, moving staff to ‘good’, and leadership coaching. She has always found that working with other schools has been a mutually beneficial experience and one that she thoroughly enjoys. She joined the Bitterne Park School leadership team in September 2013, having been a Head of English at Crofton School.

Photo of Richard Cosford

Richard Cosford

Assistant Headteacher; SENCO – Bitterne Park School

Specialist Areas:


Richard has been teaching for 24 years in secondary schools in London, Birmingham, Hertfordshire, Hampshire and Southampton. All these posts have been in the area of SEND including 4 years in an MLD special school. Richard is presently Assistant Headteacher and Learning Support Co-ordinator at Bitterne Park School in Southampton, where he has worked for the past 14 years. He is responsible for inclusion, and has had the opportunity to develop some proactive provision programmes and packages for the large range of SEND students at Bitterne Park School. He oversees the Sixth Form SEND provision, where bespoke courses have been designed for students with SEND, as well as the newly established Additional Resource Base (ARB) provision for students with autism. Richard says that very challenging days at work are invariably made lighter and brighter by his SEND students, which is something he really values.

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Sarah Moore

Head of Performing Arts Faculty – Bitterne Park School

Specialist Areas:

Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) Development

Pupil Achievement in Music

Sarah has worked in education for 12 years, and has been at Bitterne Park School since qualifying in 2001. She has held various positions of responsibility during this time, including Head of Department and AST. She now works as an SLE and Head of Performing Arts. Her areas of expertise include setting up and running a successful music department (curriculum and extra-curricular), improving attainment at GCSE (EDEXCEL), Assessment for Learning, setting up and monitoring a BTEC course, promoting independent learning and supporting AG&T students.

Photo of Julia Chilcott-Coombes

Julia Chilcott-Coombes

Head of Vocational Learning – Bitterne Park School

Specialist Areas:

Leadership of Vocational Curriculum & Quality Assurance

Julia has over 35 years’ experience of managing and leading change, both in the corporate and public sectors. Julia has led Internal and External Quality Assurance processes at whole-school level. In her role of SLE, she focusses on empowering all colleagues to improve on their previous best through a sensitive, collaborative, joined-up approach. As Head of Vocational Learning the Quality Assurance of each course is of paramount importance along with developing effective external links with industry that promotes meaningful learning. Julia has vast experience in this continually fluctuating area. She is also a Pearson Vocational Trainer, Examiner, External Subject Verifier & Internal Quality Assurer for a range of BTEC, NCFE and VTCT courses. Developing international partnerships, through links with the British Council has been of particular interest to Julia.

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Neil Phillips

Teacher of Drama – Bitterne Park School

Specialist Areas:

Leadership of Continuing Professional Development

Leadership of Curriculum

Support for Most Able Pupils

Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) Development

Neil has worked as a Drama teacher for over 20 years. He has worked with individual teachers, departments, middle and senior leaders, and has also delivered training regularly in a whole staff context. Neil’s passions are in developing independence in learners and teachers alike. His areas of expertise include department leadership, interactive learning, Assessment for Learning, ICT for learning, thinking skills, SEAL, AG&T, questioning, differentiation, Drama (KS2-5) and Cutaway. Neil has previously worked for Southampton Education Authority as a Teaching and Learning Advisor.


Gina MacDonald

Head of English



Planning effective lessons


Leadership and Management of a Core Department

Gina has been teaching for 12 years where she has held  variety of different position during this time including A/A* Coordinator for English and Second in English. She is currently Head of English and has been an SLE for the past 2 years working with colleagues in partnership schools and internally at Bitterne Park. Her areas of expertise include department leadership; long term curriculum planning and effective lesson planning for progress as well as mentoring NQT’s. She passionately believes that quality teaching is the key to outstanding progress for all students.


James Preston

Head of English – St George Catholic College


English / Literacy

Marking, Assessment and Feedback

Initial Teacher Training

James has been teaching for 7 years, and is currently Head of English, as well as overseeing and monitoring the quality of marking and feedback across the school. He has worked as an SLE for the past 2 years, working with colleagues in partnership schools and internally at Bitterne Park, especially through School Direct and NQT training. He has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s education department, and is an examiner for AQA A-Level English Literature. His areas of expertise include: Active Approaches to teaching Shakespeare (in collaboration with the RSC), effective use of assessment criteria, effective use of modelling for impact and ‘Talk-Less’, independent and student-focused learning.


Jennifer Parker

Inclusion Leader; Deputy CPLO – Townhill Junior School

Specialist Areas:

Inclusion Provision for SEN and EAL Pupils

Support for most able pupils

As part of the Senior Leadership Team, Jenny has ensured significant and sustained progress for SEN pupils in KS2. She has implemented whole-school provision mapping, supporting Quality First Teaching, differentiation and employing data tracking systems to underpin appropriate assessment of pupil progress. Coaching and training in specific areas of SEN, differentiation, emotional literacy support and effective behaviour strategies have been successfully applied to develop staff awareness and encourage teamwork. Jenny is also a member of the British Psychological Society specialising in Child Development.

Photo of Paul Clark

Paul Clark

Deputy Headteacher – Matravers School

Specialist Areas:

Leadership of Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and New Qualified Teacher (NQT) development

Pupil Achievement: Dance

Paul has worked at Matravers School since 2006, originally as Head of Dance, later becoming Assistant Headteacher and more recently Deputy Headteacher. Paul’s core line management responsibilities include Teaching,  Learning and Assessment across the school and the 6th Form. He has also previously worked as an SSAT Lead Practitioner for Dance and has experience of leading staff training in a range of contexts. Paul is the Teaching Schools link for Matravers. In his current role, Paul oversees the professional development of all teachers with specific responsibility and oversight for trainees and newly qualified teachers, and he has a proven track record of successfully supporting and mentoring teachers to improve the quality of their teaching. He is a real advocate for sharing good practice as a key strategy in developing and improving the quality of teaching and building capacity for future development. Paul has had real success in engaging boys in dance and has been able to adapt and develop his approach to other subject areas in his role as Deputy Head. He has also forged strong international links with an Arts College and Dance Theatre Company in Bethlehem, Palestine, where he volunteers during the holidays.