Your LONG TERM vision
Your Values and the resulting ethos: Imagine setting up a school from scratch. What should be the values that underpin the school community you create and how will these values ‘feel’ when you walk around your institution; in other words, what will be the ethos or character of your school that is the ‘evidence’ of these values in practice?
Your Core Purpose and Core Aims: What are the main purposes of your school as measured by the impact it makes on the lives of ALL the staff and students who pass through it. What qualities, competencies, attitudes, aspirations etc. would you hope they improve continuously during their time at your school?
Your Educational Model and Pedagogy: What models of learning will you use? How will you structure your curriculum and advise your staff in how to maximize the potential of ALL the students?
Your School Culture: In order for you to achieve your core purpose you will have carefully built all the elements of your culture so that they coherently instill your values, deliver your outcomes, build your society and provide the shared identity which is what it means to people to be part of your school.
A school is a microcosm of society. As a school leader you need to decide what kind of community do you want to create.
Your SHORT TERM vision
Very few of us have the option of setting up a school from scratch so, having identified what your ideal school vision will contain, you now need to take a step back into reality and evaluate where your school is currently in terms of its values, aims, educational model and culture. If you take in the current ethos, how does it feel?
Quite simply, if you know where you are today and you know where you are heading in the long term then you should be able to describe a first step that will take you in the right direction. This first step is your short term vision. For me each element is described as: ‘by the end of the year we will have….’ I know that some prefer to first consider their three year ‘step’ and then from this formulate the one year targets. Either way, by the end of the year your school will be closer to achieving its long term vision than it was at the start of this year.
Paradoxically, an excellent long term vision will always develop and respond to research findings so if you ever did reach it then it will have moved on. This is true of all learning goals and if it were not true then there would be a point for all of us when learning ceased. Any institution that is no longer learning and embracing learning at every level is no longer a school so it is imperative that your long term vision is unreachable but continuous improvement towards it is at the core of your school culture and subscribed to by all.
Often, excellent vision statements remain just as statements in a folder in the school office or posted on promotional materials. When this happens, people begin to see the vision as little more than a ‘blue skies’ exercise and the next time they are asked to contribute to one they will do so without real passion or belief.
Immediately after the vision is written, action must happen so perhaps step 2 should be ‘start’. See Michael Fullan who argues this in saying the order should be ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’. I agree that the start should be soon after the vision but as in the scene from Pulp Fiction in which the man bursts from the bathroom and fires off a dozen bullets at someone directly in front of him missing every time, sometimes it is worth taking the time to take a brief check on the direction as well as saving some of your energy for the follow up phase.