Health and wellbeing cover

Wellbeing: leading and managing a well workplace

The wellbeing of school and college leaders and their organisation are inextricably linked. Once the leadership is coming from the ‘right place’ the foundation is set to develop the wellbeing of the organisation.

Author/s: David Green & Mark Wright


This document was originally published in 2017, by the Association of Managers in Education (AMiE), the leadership section of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). Following the amalgamation of the ATL and the National Union of Teachers, AMiE now forms part of the National Education Union.

The National Education Union (NEU) has re-published this document in September 2021 in order to ensure that it continues to be available to members of the NEU’s Leadership section and others who will find it useful.

The health of an organisation is founded on the welfare and wellbeing of those who work within it. Truly efficient and effective organisations tend to be happy places with low staff sickness absence. This can all too often be overlooked in the rush to meet deadlines, targets and in dealing with the many rigors of school and college life.

The purpose of this publication is to raise awareness of the connection between work and health and, importantly, to highlight that this is often an area that suffers from poor leadership and management. In the rush to achieve organisational goals core personal needs can go unmet. Leaders can sometimes neglect their own core needs and lack awareness when staff do the same. While this is tenable in the short term it is unsustainable and can lead to wellbeing challenges and dulled organisational performance. Good management necessarily starts with self-management.

This publication outlines:

  • what constitutes healthy working.
  • what hazards to look out for and manage out.
  • how to be open-minded in the face of health.

It offers tools to help with time management, establishing a work-life balance and recognising and dealing with the insidious impact of undue stress. Further, it offers tips to help you look after yourself and your staff and identifies the characteristics of a healthy working environment. ‘Health and safety’, a strand of the wellbeing agenda, is often viewed as a dry and process-orientated topic, which at times can appear too risk averse and contrary to the flexibility that leaders and managers feel is required to prepare learners for the rigors of life.

This publication rightfully places health and safety in its broader health and wellbeing context where, in the interests of both organisational effectiveness and sustainability, leaders take a proactive leadership role rather than simply a ‘tick box’ approach.

Leadership is essentially about awareness and responsibility. It places an onus on leaders to be aware of what’s happening both inside themselves and to their staff. This is a proactive process and requires both sensitivity and an enquiring mind. It is far from a tick list exercise to be forgotten once a policy has been drafted – a wellbeing approach needs to be present and alive at all times. It means truly taking responsibility for the health of the team or broader organisation. You have the responsibility, ie an ability to respond to the needs of staff to be able to carry out their work in an environment that is conducive to their wellbeing. This is the intrinsically ethical dimension to leadership which can sometimes become lost amid the focus on raising attainment. While attainment is naturally important, how it is achieved is equally important.

Good leadership is typified where means and ends accord. Shape a healthy working culture and it will benefit both the staff and learners and contribute to those all-important results.

About the authors

David Green was formerly assistant director of AMiE (employment services)

Mark Wright was formerly director of AMiE

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