Posts Tagged ‘school vision’

An INSET day to get the year started

August 29, 2012

My memories of the 1st day back in September …

  • Quick catch-up with colleagues; sometimes relaxed, but usually more hurried than if we’d met during the holiday in school  … a general sense of purpose in the air
  • Whole school staff meeting; taking the form of a Welcome Back from the Head, welcome to any new staff, and a sharing of key diary dates & time tabling information … planned to be 1 hour, but usually ended up being 2!
  • Key Stage meeting; often included sharing some last minute planning, but usually relaxed
  • Individual time; prep time for all staff to put the finishing touches to their rooms / their planning / backing display boards / making resources, etc.

… Plus the photocopier would be working to capacity, and there’d usually be a queue!

In terms of a positive start, most staff would be upbeat about the term and about generally making a fresh start … “This year I’m going to do ‘X’ better!” Although this sometimes depended on which class you had, and whether a tight budget meant that class support would be thin on the ground.

If you’re a Head / School Leader / Principal, what would make that first INSET day a really positive start for your school?

Ideally, some time spent with all staff together is a good idea. But if this needs to be kept to an hour or two, how best could you use it?

Here are some thoughts …

  1. Use to re-group, welcome new staff, and remind staff of successes from last year and next step targets for this one
  2. Communicate changes in curriculum / leadership / key stage roles – so all staff are aware of roles and responsibilities of their colleagues. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked – either as it’s not felt to be important or it’s assumed people already have this information. The clearer staff are about each other’s responsibilities the less the opportunity for misunderstandings later along with wasted time spent sorting them out
  3. Remind staff of the school vision (unless you are using this INSET time to create the vision) and provide a few minutes for discussion in pairs on how their individual roles contribute to it. It’s a great way of getting that whole staff feel of “we’re in this together” from the start of the year.

So how will you be using your INSET day this autumn?

What needs to be included to ensure it’s a positive and productive start?

Photo credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.net and nokhoog_buchachon

Creating a school vision

July 16, 2012

In a survey I carried out last year on creating a school vision, I asked the question: “How did your school vision come about?” The main responses were:

  • From the Head, in consultation with all staff (58% respondents)
  • From the Head and the Senior Leadership Team (23%)
  • From the Headteacher (12%)
  • From the Head and Governing Body (7%)

Other respondents, though not many, said they involve the pupils as well. Fewer still mentioned involving parents.

Where does your school fit here? Do these results surprise you?

A vision has to start somewhere, and as the results above support, it’s usually initiated by the Headteacher. The Head needs to be really clear about where their school is going. This can be informed by 3 things:

  • Experience – within the education sector; of school development; of working on a school vision previously; of having high aspirations …
  • Knowledge – of how the school works well; of the children and staff (and their strengths / areas for development); of the catchment area / community links …
  • Imagination – of what it could be like in the future; how it could be better for all concerned with the organisation, particularly the pupils …

In a previous blog, I quoted a Head I’ve worked with who said:

“I want the school to be outstanding, not for Ofsted, but for the children.”

As a school vision it is commendable and simple, and once you have a statement that sums up your vision, like this one – the next step is to be clear exactly what it means. Let’s explore this by posing a few questions:

  • What time scales are attached to this vision…. Is it a 1 year vision, a 2 year, or a 3 year vision?
  • If outstanding is the aim – what is the current status? Does everyone know this?
  • What are the outstanding success criteria for everyone’s role?
  • What will outstanding look, feel and sound like?
  • What resources will be put in place to help ensure this standard is met?

Putting the meat on the bones of the vision statement can take place during well planned INSET days or staff meetings. Some staff like to brainstorm and create web-type diagrams, some create pictorial representations. It’s a good idea to use staff strengths and expertise to maximise this time, and be creative. One school I’ve worked with has used CARES after its name (also beginning with a ‘C’!) to form their strapline … and CARES stands for:

Creative

Aspirational

Respectful

Enthusiastic

Successful

Their INSET time on vision included identifying what each word meant for their school and the pupils. From this came a list of 5 priorities for the next 3 years.

A final point on values

Don’t forget what’s important. The vision needs to be underpinned by a core set of values that are shared by all. Start off by looking at your own values, and listing those that are pertinent to your job. Then decide what the values of the school/organisation are. These 2 sets of values need to be similar, if not the same. If too opposed – there will be problems.

What do you think is the most important element to consider when creating your vision?

Next week’s blog will focus on Implementing the Vision. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic so far, or about your experiences on creating a vision.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Revisiting your school vision this autumn?

July 13, 2012

Thinking of re-connecting with or revising your school vision next term?

    

I realise that it’s a few weeks off as I write this, but the start of a new term is a great time to look again at your school vision.

Here are 3 key reasons why:

  1. It helps to remind staff why they are doing the job (it’s not just for OFSTED!!)
  2. It can give more clarity to everyone’s roles and responsibilities
  3. It helps to give a school its individual identity

Let’s look at these in more detail …

Re 1 – Reminding staff why they are doing the job

Whilst working with some Heads this year who’ve recently been through an Ofsted inspection, they’ve commented that staff are deflated and there’s been an anti-climax after Ofsted have left. There has been an element of “Is that what we’ve been working for? So what’s next?”

I’m not reducing the importance of Ofsted here, but surely the Ofsted process should form part of school life, not totally consume it. Before Ofsted came along (and they weren’t doing their thing when I started my teaching career!) teachers had a purpose for going to work which didn’t involve the Big ‘O’.

One Head I’ve been working with summed up her thoughts on this: “I want the school to be outstanding, not for Ofsted, but for the children.”

How can staff re-connect with the greater purpose?

This can be achieved in part by finding out what each member of staff’s own vision is for their role. Try discussing / exploring this at staff meetings, key stage meetings, INSETs or during 1-1s (e.g. performance management sessions).

Re 2 – Giving greater clarity to roles and responsibilities

Once you’ve identified your school’s vision then useful discussions can take place with staff about how their roles and responsibilities support the vision. (More on this in a forthcoming blog.) Making the link between what staff do on a daily basis and the bigger picture is often missing from professional discussions.

Do you link your vision to your School Improvement Plan?

In a survey I carried out last year on creating a school vision, only 40% of respondents said their school improvement plan reflected the school vision. Slightly more positively – 54% were clear that an effective school vision states how & why it is relevant to all stakeholders, although didn’t state that’s what they currently do.

Re 3 – Giving a school its individual identity

All schools are different, and what makes them so are a combination of factors including:

  • staffing (staff strengths, skills and resources they offer, etc)
  • leadership of the school
  • pupils (including type of catchment area)
  • general school ethos
  • school environment (internal and external)
  • how individual school issues / challenges are dealt with

The school vision should reflect, or at least take account of, all these things and more.

In the vision survey I mentioned earlier, I asked schools to share their vision strap lines. Here are a few:

  • “Your future, your dreams, our challenge”
  • “The highest expectations, inspirational teaching and a therapeutic environment”
  • “Building tomorrow’s future one day at a time”
  • “Excellence for all and from all”

Strap lines, by their nature, tend to be general statements and should summarise the essence or highlights of the vision.

Do you have a favourite from those above? 

What’s your school strap line?

I will continue this theme in next week’s blog, when I’ll look in more detail at creating a school vision, and share some of the things schools I’ve worked with have done. In the meantime, would love to hear your thoughts on the topic so far!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net