Thursday, 24 February 2011

School improvement: Vision


To be able to steer firmly to an agreed course, it is essential to have a vision and values. The vision and values of a school give it roots. Without them the school is liable to be blown around by transient forces, especially when the rate of change is so rapid. Having a vision is also about having a language for the future.

It is the responsibility of the governors to discuss, define and articulate a vision for how the school is to develop. It must be based on shared values and beliefs and should provide the principles behind decision-making and action. A successful vision links together the various targets that a school sets itself so that they are aligned to the same priorities and governed by the same values.

There are three key points in the work cycle of governing bodies at which it becomes essential for you to get this process of alignment right:

when drawing up the School Development Plan, within which the targets for the whole organisation will be defined
when discussing and agreeing to pupil performance targets each year
when agreeing the headteacher's performance objectives for the year.
All of these should be linked to one another to make sure that they contribute to achieving the overall vision.

This is acting strategically while tackling specific tasks. When governors are involved in school development planning and pupil performance target-setting they are acting strategically. A robust performance management system links some of the strategic and operational responsibilities of the governing body. Establishing the performance management policy for the school is also a strategic act. Other aspects of the governing body's role also link into these tasks, particularly regular school self-evaluation, as the governing body monitors progress and ensures accountability.

Moreover, there are further links between these three points in the work cycle. A robust performance management system can only operate if there is a clearly defined plan that outlines objectives for the school. The objectives for the head and other staff should be agreed within the context of both the vision and that plan. To do so will ensure that all are focused on the development of the school, and that the SDP leads to the desired outcomes in both pupil and staff performance.

The three points can be seen as being linked in a triangle.

The targets at any point on the triangle should inform the objectives at any of the other points. Among the performance management objectives for every member of the teaching and management staff should be ones linked to pupil performance. In response to what has been learned in school self-evaluation the targets in the SDP will identify how the organisation as a whole needs to change its priorities in order to achieve better pupil performance.

Decisions about resourcing, development and rewards should be made to underpin decisions about what needs to be improved and achieved and reflect the values that are embraced in the vision. For example, schools that aim to enable every child to reach their potential (a frequently used phrase) must have resourcing policies that reflect this.

The material in this blog article has been drawn from Joined-up Governance book by Jane Martin and Ann Holt, revised edition 2010,Adamson Publishing.

It was reproduced on the website which you can sunscribe to for free here

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