The Astra Learning Alliance currently has the following SLEs in this category:

Andrew Millar (Dr Challoner's Grammar School)

Irene Evans (The Hemel Hempstead School)



Andrew Millar

School:  Dr Challoner’s Grammar School

Position held: English teacher 

SLE area of expertise:  English

Current responsibilities: I am the Initial Teacher Training Coordinator at Dr Challoner's; I oversee much of the organisation of teacher training within the school and work with trainees, mentors and subject teachers and the Astra Alliance. I organise the in-school Professional Studies programme for trainees based at Challoner's. I am also Assistant Team Leader for English with responsibility for English Literature in the Sixth Form, where the subject has a very strong uptake level, and co-ordinate the preparation of students for university entrance in English. I co-ordinate the school’s extensive extra-curricular drama programme, teach GCSE and A level Drama additionally and I am an NQT mentor and a form tutor.

Previous career history:

I joined my first school as an NQT, gaining experience in different areas of responsibility – notably in Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 – and introduced Drama as a discrete subject, both in Key Stage 3 and the Sixth Form. After four years, I became Second in English and eventually Head of Department, before moving to my current post. Along the way, I have directed about twenty school productions, worked as a PGCE mentor and led subject-based PGCE training sessions.

At Challoner’s, I was Team Leader for English and Drama for nine years. I have worked extensively on developing approaches to English (and specifically English Literature) at GCSE level which are designed to engage and challenge students and raise achievement. I’ve also worked to improve students’ understanding and appreciation of the importance of English as a subject, and been involved in leading school-wide initiatives to raise the status of English as subject. I have co-ordinated the English Team’s development of reading, and developed extra-curricular activities as a way of raising achievement.

What you hope to achieve as an SLE:

As an SLE, I am interested in helping English teachers deepen their expertise in the teaching of English across the age and ability range. No one teacher can achieve everything, so helping English departments grow as teams – often with very different areas of specialism – is an important part of my role.

Specific areas of expertise, and how you might be able to help other schools:

  • How speaking and listening can be used to extend and develop pupils’ thinking. I completed an MEd in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge on dialogic approaches to the teaching of English at Sixth Form level, and this has influenced significantly my classroom approach.

  • Raising achievement, particularly at Key Stage 4 - I have worked extensively in this area and have been led the implementation of new GCSE specifications on several occasions. I have also co-led major reviews of Key Stage 3 in order to meet the demands of National Curriculum changes.

  • Using drama to teach English, both in Key Stages 3 and 4 – I have helped develop a drama-rich approach in my current role.

  • A level English Literature – curriculum change & raising achievement.

  • Reading – promoting independent reading.

  • Teacher training - mentoring of trainees and development of school support for initial teacher training.

Future career goals:

I have two passions: training new teachers whatever their subject and sharing great English teaching with new and beginning teachers.


Irene Evans

School:  Hemel Hempstead School

Position held: Head of Year 11 and English Teacher

SLE area of expertise:  English, Behaviour, Training

Current responsibilities:  As Head of Year I am responsible for the pastoral support (including behaviour management and attendance) and academic progress of just over 170 students. I am also a member of the CPD team in school; I take part in teacher training and work as a coaching partner within my department.

Previous career history:

As well as teaching English, I have taught Drama, Theatre Studies and Media all to A level. I have been Head of English in an upper school in Bedfordshire and have also brought in Media A level to another school. I have been a Head of House as well as Head of Year and have produced and directed many school productions in spite of not reading music!

What you hope to achieve as an SLE:

I hope that the position of SLE will allow me to develop my skills as a teacher and manager as well as offer my experiences to develop others. I am particularly looking forward to the opportunity to work with new people and sharing ideas and good practice as well as my love of teaching.  

Specific areas of expertise, and how you might be able to help other schools:

I have had 16 years’ experience as a teacher and have held positions in many different types of school from high achieving to “requires improvement”. I hope that I can bring a certain expertise in lesson planning and sequencing as well as an understanding of what “works” in different classrooms. I have always had success in behaviour management and I hope that I have a wide enough variety of experiences to be able to suggest behaviour management techniques to improve many situations.

Future career goals:

I want to have a career based in the classroom rather than as a manager and hope that I will be able to work in a coaching capacity with teachers both in my school and others to help promote excellence in leadership and classroom teaching.