Vision at the heart of a School as a Learning Organisation

I recently attended a conference with Welsh Government where the OECD produced a report, ‘Developing Schools as Learning Organisations in Wales’.

The document is definitely worth a read and what I’m about to write is a response to one of the recommendations.

DEVELOPING A SHARED VISION:

I was shocked to discover the findings of the ‘OECD’ in this dimension,

“Many schools in Wales could do more to improve their development and realisation of a shared vision…..”

I have often felt that one of our strengths has been an ability to set a vision for a school. However, the wording by the OECD relates to the development of the vision with an emphasis on it being shared.

What is a vision? To answer this question, I decided to look beyond education and into the world of business. I came across ‘The Times 100 Business Case Studies’. They provide an excellent explanation of a vision and a mission statement.

A vision is a motivating summary of what an organisation hopes to achieve. It links the objectives with the core values of the business.

A mission statement is a written expression of the aim of the business.

I searched for examples of mission statements and here are the ones I found inspiring;

Long term business success based on newly invented innovatively designed products – Dyson

I find the Dyson mission inspirational because it belongs to the world of creativity and isn’t focussed on defining profit but the designing of products.

Our mission is to develop the innovation and inventiveness of pupils as they work towards long term success – This is my interpretation of this mission and trying to make it fit into a classroom context. I like the fact that every child is included and success isn’t defined in terms of data but rather personal success. It is short, simple and easy to follow.

Our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realise their full potential – Microsoft

The language in the Microsoft mission statement is familiar in the world of education, to realise full potential. Again what I think is crucial in this example is that it isn’t resticting potential to academic success and it could be easily transferred to the classroom.

Our mission is to enable pupils and all stakeholders to realise their full potential – this is my translation of the Microsoft mission for the classroom. The strength of the mission is that if we are truly developing a school as a learning organisation then all members of the school should be included in the mission.

This leads me to my third choice, Starbucks.

Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.

I absolutely love this mission. I don’t drink coffee and I therefore have no bias in suggesting that we could all learn a lesson from the opening sentence of this mission statement,

TO INSPIRE AND NURTURE THE HUMAN SPIRIT – WOW!!!!!!

Isn’t this what education is meant to be? Aren’t we here to inspire the human spirit? The key word for me is ‘nurture’. Isn’t this our reason for being teachers?

Could this translate into the classroom context? Definitely!

Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one child, one teacher and one class at a time.

I’m not sure about one class at a time and you might be able to create a better example however the fact that this statement is all inclusive allows everyone to see how it could relate to them.

My next example will add to the great cola debate. Firstly, to avoid any accusations of bias, I prefer PEPSI yet the mission from Coca-Cola is wonderful,

To refresh the world

To inspire moments of optimism and happiness

To create value and make a difference

Let us put this immediately into the context of a school,

To refresh pupils

To inspire moments of optimism and happiness

To value others and make a difference

Isn’t this the key? To inspire moments of optimism and happiness. When a pupil or a teacher are happy the lesson is more productive for both. By reinforcing the ability of every pupil, providing them with moments of awe, respect and wonder then a pupil will be on top of the world and believe that they can truly make a difference.

During an NPQH training day, it was suggested that the reason that candidates wanted to become a Headteacher was to make a difference. Yet, we can only truly make a difference if we value the contribution of all stakeholders in a school environment.

But how does a vision and mission ststement support and reflect each other? For this I will turn to Pepsi;

Vision:

PepsiCo’s responsibility is to continually improve all aspects of the world in which we operate – environment, social, economic – creating a better tomorrow than today.

Mission:

“Our mission is to be the world’s premier consumer products company focused on convenient foods and beverages. We seek to produce financial rewards to investors as we provide opportunities for growth and enrichment to our employers, our business partners and the communities in which we operate. And in everything we do, we strive for honesty, fairness and integrity.”

The mission is quite wordy however it includes every single person that are involved in the company and this takes us back to the OECD report where they are asking schools in Wales how we improve our ability to share our vision. I have deliberately chosen successful companies in order to demonstrate that it is only through sharing with others that we can truly succeed.

Here are four key questions for schools to check whether every one shares the vision?

1) Has it been shared with every stakeholder?

2) As you walk around the school is the vision and mission statement at work i.e. can it be seen in action in lessons, displays, interaction between staff and pupil?

3) Do the policies reflect the vision?

4) Is the vision and mission statement simple to undertsand?

I believe with this simple check, a school can be confident that they have all the ingredients in place.

As part of this process, a school should consider its values, aims and objectives.

In my present role what I have learnt is the importance of looking beyond education for examples of how we could learn from others and I hope that the above post has inspired you to do your own research and to consider whether your vision and mission statement is reflective of what you truly wish to achieve, includes all stakeholders and inspires children to use their talent and develop a love for learning.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. erthom1 says:

    A superb blog by a visionary educator.

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