“The first step toward creating an improved future is developing the ability to envision it. VISION will ignite the fire of passion that fuels our commitment to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to achieve excellence. Only VISION allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action. VISION has no boundaries and knows no limits. Our VISION is what we become in life. ”
Since September, I have done a great deal of work on vision and values. I have been working with governors, parents, children and staff. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have established a set of six core values that now underpin everything that we do as a school.
At the very start of the year I held sessions with all the stakeholders and just did a simple exercise of getting ideas up on post-its of the school’s current strengths and things to improve (September). We also did a ‘look, feel, say, do’ exercise, thinking about our ideal school in three years time. This was an exercise I took from the TDA publication about school development from a few years ago. This was a good way to ascertain where the school was and where everyone ‘ideally’ wanted to see it in the future.
(Some of the results of the Vision and Values Sessions that were held)
Christmas rolled around and what with implementing a new behaviour plan, setting up a new tracking system, etc, etc, I am now looking at the School Development plan and thinking about what things our school really needs to focus on. As a new head,there are many things you bring from other schools and settings, but what you have seen be successful in other contexts cannot always be reproduced with the same effectiveness elsewhere. Now that I have had one big term to get to know the school, the children, the parents and staff that make up its community, I have a better understanding of what the school needs and what steps we need to take to work towards ‘outstanding.’
As practitioners, ‘outstanding’ is what we all strive for (whether we admit it out loud or not). We all want to be regarded as being the best. Who doesn’t? However, I think the challenge is that sometimes we might have to do things that others may perceive as ‘unconventional’ or seen as going against the ‘Ofsted’ grain, so to say. As leaders, we have to do what we think is right for our school, for our children, for our parents and our staff. So things can look very different from one school to the next – but for that ‘context’ can still be ‘outstanding.’
This week, I am focusing on our development plan, taking things that everyone has hoped for in the future and amalgamating them into a clear vision. Without a clear vision, no one knows what they are aiming for. Vision is essential, but making sure everyone else understands and is a part of the vision is the crux. I have see visions in place, but no clear route as to how to achieve that vision. So, I have learnt that a clear vision needs to be in place but that there need to be very clear next steps so everyone knows how to attain the vision. Further, everyone involved needs to know exactly what part they play in achieving the vision.
These are the key components that I intend on incorporating into my development plan. I have been looking at other examples of development plans, but still have not found one that I am happy with. Tomorrow I am on a course for new heads that is specifically going to look at this, so I am hoping that I come away with something more tangible. I want my school development plan to be used – to be a core piece of paperwork that helps us achieve our overall vision and gives a clear indicator of how we get there and how well we are doing. So, it has to be something that is easily ‘evolved’ and easy to update. Not just filed away and forgotten about until the end of the year. I need it to be useful.
It would be interesting to see what other leaders think about their school development plan. Is it useful? How often do you refer to it? Does it clearly point you towards the overall vision of the school?