The NEU is here to support you in your role as a middle leader.  In addition to all the main benefits of NEU membership, such as workplace representation, legal support and employment rights advice, middle leaders can find information and guidance relevant to their role on this page:

Join over 60,000 leaders and 460,000 members to share best practice and exchange ideas to lead change.

Get involved and train as a union representative and network with other members locally. Getting involved in your union is the best way to achieve change, both in working conditions and in education.

If you take a further step into senior leadership, our dedicated membership group NEU Leadership is there for you.

Creating a better work-life balance with your team

Middle leaders are aware that when a better work-life balance is achieved for all, their teams are able to make a greater impact on the achievement of students in the workplace.  Creating a manageable workload can support staff wellbeing and building trust within teams can lead to greater motivation. To help with this, middle leaders can work with their teams to:

Watch and share this short video about the value of education and the professionals that work within it. 

Value Education, Value Educators highlights the concerns of our members, parents and students so that, together, we can change things for the better.  In the NEU’s 2021 State of the Education survey, 55% of members indicated that their work-life balance was worse and were working more hours than before the pandemic.  Join NEU members by signing up to the Value Education, Value Educators campaign.

Bespoke CPD designed to meet the development needs of middle leaders

  • Developing middle leaders: level 2 : This six-month programme is for experienced middle leaders and is run in partnership with UCL’s Centre of Education Leadership.  The programme will focus on deepening your understanding in leading learning and increase your ability to lead and develop a positive approach to team growth. Running March 2022 – July 2022.

  • Leading into Belonging: This 3 part online course supports leaders on their journey in creating a sense of ‘Belonging’ in their schools.  In this course leaders will explore how young people perform better academically and come to believe in themselves when they experience a sense of connectedness. Running April 2022 to June 2022.

Campaigns that support you in the workplace 

  • Workload– Take steps to reduce workload in your school
  • Assessment – Get involved to build a new, fairer and more robust assessment and qualifications system
  • Pay – Organise a meeting to discuss our pay campaign
  • Child poverty – Find out how many children near you are growing up in poverty and ask your MP to take action

Updates on the changes to the NPQML and changes affecting the role of NQT mentors

Read our FAQs on changes affecting middle leaders working in schools and the FAQs affecting the role of NQT mentors this academic year.

Create a sense of place and belonging

The NEU commissioned research, Place and Belonging in School: why it matters today offers examples of how a whole-school approach can help create a climate of welcome and belonging in schools.  The approach can bring everyone on board, enrich their lives and set the school on a positive and upward journey.  In schools which are places of belonging, young people, their families and school staff experience a sense of connectedness.  Young people perform better academically and come to believe in themselves and their future.  Their families feel more accepted. Their teachers feel more professionally fulfilled.

The table has two columns .  The left hand column is the Belonging Challenge and has four bullet points which outline the consequences for young people of not having a sense of place and belonging.  The right hand column is headed the Belonging Opportunity and lists six points which a sense of belonging has been linked to

Creating a culture of place and belonging has several opportunities including increased staff motivation and retention, and a growing sense of agency in students and staff.  As a middle leader why not consider developing a team approach to creating a sense of belonging in your school. The following questions could be used as a professional development session with your team to introduce the NEU research and reflect upon: 

  • Inside the classroom: The relationship between young people and their teachers is the most significant thing for them in terms of whether they have a sense of school belonging. What behaviours, attitudes and practices matter most in the classroom?
  • Inside the school: School belonging is nurtured through compassionate leadership at all levels, and through an inclusive culture. How can your school grow a culture of compassion? How can the school develop young peoples’ sense of agency?
  • Making the connections: Whether young people feel that they belong in school is linked to whether their families feel welcome, and schools understand community realities.  What actions can your school take to build positive connections and open possibilities?

Advice on protecting the mental health of pupils and staff

Workload surveys reveal the extent to which demands on the profession and working practices in school are either causing or contributing to the mental ill-health of school and college staff. The NEU Mental Health Charter offers tools and strategies that middle leaders and their staff can collectively apply to their specific needs to ensure the well-being of all is reflected in the culture of the school or college.

There are six overarching principles contained in the charter including 'Support from colleagues including managers’ that middle leaders will find helpful.

Support from colleagues (including managers)

This principle encompasses both professional and personal support from colleagues. All colleagues, not just line managers, have a role to play in contributing to each other’s well-being at work. We all need to feel that our colleagues value the work we do and the contributions we make to the workplace, just as we value them. Below are some suggested steps for middle leaders in building a more collegiate working environment:

  • Promote open dialogue and involve staff in decision making.
  • Ensure good, clear communication and develop trust.
  • Encourage peer support and buddy systems (e.g. health and wellbeing buddies).
  • Discourage working in isolation – group working should be the norm.
  • Encourage colleagues to respect diversity at work.
  • Encourage colleagues to set realistic expectations of themselves and others.
  • Arrange regular catch-ups with those you line manage and use them as an opportunity to normalise conversations about mental health.
  • Ask colleagues who appear to be struggling whether they want direct support. Don’t wait to be approached.
  • Ensure that colleagues who struggle to cope at work have early access to occupational health services.
  • Modify performance management practices (e.g. stop learning walks and drop-ins) where a colleague has been, or is, experiencing ill-health.
  • If someone you line manage tells you they are stressed, or that they cannot undertake additional duties, do not reply by making a direct comparison between their workload – or their workload as you perceive it – and that of other colleagues. It takes a lot of courage for some people to admit to stress and your obligation to that person under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act is not met by dismissing their disclosure or by telling them to pull themselves together.
  • Treat people as individuals. Change your management style to suit the needs of the staff member and the task.
  • Think about what those you line manage need from you rather than just what you need from them.
  • Try not to take each other for granted. A favour, no matter how small, should always be acknowledged.
  • If a colleague takes time out of their busy day to listen to your concerns, be prepared to lend an ear when they need to talk.
  • Where good work is the result of group effort, acknowledge everyone who contributed.
  • Try to engage in small-talk whenever a normally bubbly colleague appears downcast or moody.
  • Be supportive of colleagues who are experiencing or have experienced ill-health, particularly hidden illnesses.
  • Share important work-related information with all relevant colleagues and not just with friends. Selective information sharing can exclude individuals and act as a barrier to effective working.

Recovery education and support

Middle leaders have shown creativity and imagination in establishing teams who can affectively work in the realm of blended working. Share your learning that has made a difference to the life chances of students during this time, by joining the Recovery Education Hub. Here you can network with 460,000 NEU members to get advice, support each other and shape education following the coronavirus pandemic. The hub aims to put education professionals at the heart of developing practice which supports teaching and learning during the months and years ahead.

The following are a taster of articles and videos that may be of interest to middle leaders.

Adaptations to qualifications in England in 2022

Many qualifications taking place in secondary schools and colleges have seen adaptations made to them this year because of the impacts of the pandemic.

The NEU has collated guidance on these adaptations which covers BTECs, Cambridge Nationals and Technicals, GCSEs, AS and A-levels in England. This guidance shares information about the types of adaptations that each qualification has in place and links to further detail and FAQs from exam boards about what teachers and students can expect.