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How to embed your school's vision
Understand how you can communicate your school's vision to stakeholders, and embed the vision in the work of your governing board. You'll also find case studies of practice in 3 schools.
School vision and governance
Our contributing associate experts
We worked with Bill Dennison, Harry James and David Roche to write this article.
Governing board meetings
If your meeting has an agenda item to which the school's vision is particularly relevant, include it at the top of the agenda, so that it is a constant reminder to governors during the discussion.
It is easy to get bogged down in day-to-day concerns, so it is important for your board to constantly bear their school's vision in mind, and refer back to it when it needs to.
School development plan
The school development plan should be a tool for helping your school to achieve its vision. Your vision is an overarching goal that everything else should feed into.
When setting school objectives, you should always ask yourselves the question “How does this help us to achieve our vision?”
Making big decisions: case study
The governing body of Wade Deacon High School, a teaching school in Widnes, recently decided to form a multi-academy trust (MAT). The chair of governors told us that a key part of the discussion prior to making the decision centred on the school's vision, and whether this new initiative would help the school to achieve this.
As the school's vision is based on improving outcomes for its pupils and pupils in the local area, governors decided that the formation of a MAT would help with the achievement of their vision.
Communicating your vision
Your school vision should be stated on your school website. Consider using a school newsletter to further publicise it as this can help to make your vision ‘live’ in the minds of your stakeholders.
A church school could ask permission to put a summary of its vision on the parish notice board. It could also be added to parish newsletters, along with other relevant information about the school.
Additionally, you could display your vision on a wall at the front of the school so it is the first thing people see.
Top tips for communicating your vision
At The Key’s Fundamentals of Headship training event in June 2015, Peter Slough, one of our associate education experts, gave some tips on communicating your school vision effectively:
- Ensure you have a good marketing strategy for your school. Brochures and websites should be of the best possible quality
- Remember that the reception area is what visitors to the school see first. It should represent the school's ethos and culture effectively
- Make links with local community groups and businesses, and keep in regular contact with them. This will help you to communicate your school's ethos in their interactions with staff and pupils, and affect the culture of the school
Your school’s vision and goals could be displayed around the school. Use classroom notices, school council meetings and assemblies to remind pupils of the school vision.
If it is being revised, pupils can be involved in this process via the school council.
Although it is no longer a statutory requirement for governing boards to produce an annual report to parents, it is good practice to do so. You could use the report to update parents on what you have been doing to help the school achieve its vision, and your plans for the next year.
Also refer to key elements of the vision during any sessions with parents, at school events, and in any letters sent home. Letters to the parents of new pupils can tell them about it, together with other important details about the school and its policies.
Include the school vision in your welcome pack for new staff, in the staff handbook, and on staff areas of the school website.
The vision statement could also be included in materials sent to potential applicants for any posts at the school.
At the beginning of the first staff meeting of the school year, the headteacher could take time to remind staff about the school vision.
Developing and implementing the school vision: case studies
A governor of a two-form entry community primary school in north London explained that the chair of governors at her school developed the school’s vision through a series of workshops with stakeholders. The result was a vision statement containing 5 strands that represent what the school wants to be.
The vision was fed into all the strategic documentation the school uses. The 5 strands are structural headings on documents used in governing board committee meetings, and the headteacher also uses them as headings in the school’s self-evaluation form.
The governor stressed that the vision statement is used to inform every element of how the school is run.
Modelling the vision
A video produced by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (National College) is available on YouTube. It features staff from the Samworth Enterprise Academy in Leicester talking about how the school’s vision is embedded in everyday practice.
The headteacher suggests that if the vision drives policy, practice and decision-making, “you do not need to tell anyone what your vision is, because it is so clearly portrayed in everything you do”.
The chair of governors at Saint Gabriel’s College in Lambeth told us that the school’s vision and values (service to others, generosity of spirit and commitment to excellence) are easy to remember because “they fit the initials of the college (SGC)”.
The college displays its values and aspirations in classrooms, and teachers refer to them in lessons. Classroom displays include provocative questions that challenge pupils to think about whether they are living up to the school’s vision and values.
In addition, when pupils apply to become prefects, they have to show how they live out the school’s values.
The chair also explained that, in staff recruitment interviews, the school asks candidates how they would contribute to the school’s vision and values.
He added that the vision can be found on all governor documents. During a Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS), the inspectors noted how thoroughly the vision could be seen in action across the whole school.
Spa School in Southwark is a special school for pupils aged 11-19 with autism or Asperger’s syndrome.
Its senior leadership team (SLT) use the following strategies to embed the school’s vision:
- A daily morning briefing. This ensures everyone knows what is going on and feels fully involved in school life
- ‘Modelling the vision’ from the SLT. Steph Lea, the school’s deputy headteacher pointed out that the SLT cannot expect staff to engage in the vision if they cannot see the SLT doing so
- Consistency of information. All staff, including temporary and agency staff go through the same induction process
Bill Dennison is a national leader of governance. He is currently chair of governors of a large secondary school and a governor of a large sponsor-led secondary academy. He was previously head of the education department at a Russell Group university.
Harry James is a national leader of governance. He is currently chair of governors of a primary school in London, and is part of the steering group for an academic research project looking at school accountability and stakeholder education.
David Roche is a former headteacher currently working as an education consultant involved in governor training and supporting schools towards academy status.
Peter Slough is an education consultant. He has experience of headship at a large secondary school in the west Midlands.
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