The School governor - Developing a vision

19th October 2007 at 01:00
When I became chair of governors I asked about the school's vision. Not surprisingly, I found that there wasn't one. Or, to be fair, if there was it hadn't been written down or communicated. By a vision, I didn't mean a mission statement or a slogan because these are not the same thing. A vision isn't just fine words about what the school tries to be or the sort of meaningless slogan beloved by advertisers everywhere. Rather a vision is aspirational; it's about what a school aims to be. It's clearly more than just a set of targets because a vision will involve things that can't be measured in the same way as a target.

Let me add that I've got nothing against mission statements, although in my experience they are usually full of obvious statements, the opposite of which no school would sign up to. Furthermore, many mission statements are well beyond the understanding of all but the most well-educated parent. Slogans might serve a purpose, but it's often difficult to see what it is. One popular slogan is "learning for life" - to make it clear that the school isn't concerned with learning for the afterlife, perhaps!

So how do you develop a vision for your school? First, the obvious. It's important to involve children, parents and staff, so that the vision is "owned". Second, a vision needs to be forward-looking and not just about what the school does currently. Third, it needs to be clear and simple, so children, parents and staff can understand it and broadly interpret it in the same way. Finally, use it. Judge regularly whether you are any closer to making your vision a reality or whether it's just a lot of words.

Alan Wells, Chair of governors at a north-east London primary.

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