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Embedding your school's vision
- 1 School vision and governance
- 2 Communicating your vision
- 3 Developing and implementing the school vision: case studies
- 1 video
- 3 external links
We spoke to three of our associate education experts, Bill Dennison, Harry James, and David Roche, for advice on communicating the school vision and putting it into practice. Bill and Harry are both national leaders of governance. David is an education consultant.
School vision and governance
Governing body meetings
Harry suggested that if your meeting has an agenda item to which the school's vision is particularly relevant, you could include the vision at the top of the agenda, so that it is a constant reminder to governors during the discussion.
He said it is easy to get ‘bogged down’ in day-to-day concerns, and so it is important for governing bodies to constantly bear their school's vision in mind, and refer back to it when they need to.
Schools must publish an ethos and values statement
A further article from The Key explains that schools must publish a statement of their ethos and values on the school website.
You may wish to publish your school vision in the same place.
School development plan
Harry said that the school development plan should be a tool for helping schools to achieve their vision. He explained that 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.
The school vision should be stated on the website
Communicating your vision
All three experts advised that your school vision should be stated on your school website. Harry also suggested using a school newsletter to further publicise your vision. He emphasised the importance of making your vision ‘live’ in the minds of your stakeholders.
David Roche added that a church school could ask permission to put a summary of its vision on the parish notice board. The vision could also be added to parish newsletters, along with other relevant information about the school.
At the school where Bill Dennison is the chair of governors, the vision is displayed on a wall outside so it is the first thing people see. Bill explained that it is written there in English and in Mandarin, as the school has links with a school in China.
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
The experts said that the school’s vision and goals could be displayed around the school. David suggested that classroom notices, school council meetings and assemblies can be used to remind pupils of the school vision.
He added that if the vision is being revised, pupils can be involved in this process via the school council.
Although it is no longer a statutory requirement for governing bodies to produce an annual report to parents, Harry believes that it is good practice. 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.
David advised that you can 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 the school vision, together with other important details about the school and its policies.
David suggested including 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
We spoke to a governor of a two-form entry community primary school in north London.
She said 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 five strands that represent what the school wants to be.
The vision was fed into all the strategic documentation the school uses. The five strands of the vision statement are structural headings on documents used in governing body committee meetings. The headteacher also uses the five elements of the vision statement 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.
This article was written in response to a question from the chair of governors at a medium-size urban primary school in the north west.
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