5 From vision to action

The vision statement is important because it provides a frame of reference. Any actions undertaken by you and your staff can be checked against the statement ‘If I do this, will it contribute to our vision?’

A vision statement is a short statement that summarises what a school stands for and its intentions for the future. It is not detailed, but it can be expanded into a mission statement that defines (for the leadership team) the organisation’s purpose and main objectives.

It is helpful to clarify the difference between vision and mission statements (Table 2).

Table 2 The difference between vision and mission statements. (Adapted from Diffen, undated)
DifferenceVision statementMission statement

Outlines where you want to be

Communicates both purpose and values

Talks about how you will get to where you want to be

Defines the purpose and primary objectives

AnswerAnswers the question, ‘Where do we aim to be?’Answers the questions ‘What do we do?’ and ‘What makes us different?’
TimeTalks about futureTalks about the present leading to the future
FunctionLists where you see yourself some years from now. Inspires and shapes direction

Lists the broad goals for which the school is formed

Defines the key measures of success – the prime audience is the leadership team and stakeholders

ChangeWill remain intact because it is about values, not just what you doMay change, but will derive from core values, pupil needs and vision
Developing a statement

Where do we want to be going forward?

When and how?

Why do we do what we do?

What, for whom and why?

Features of an effective statement

Clarity and lack of ambiguity

Describing a bright future (positive)

Translates purpose and values into actions

In Case Studies 2 and 3, once Mr Singh’s school had framed its vision statement (‘This is a school in which all children are valued and cared for, and have the opportunity to fulfil their positive potential’). He worked with his senior leadership team (which included his deputy and the chair of the SMC) and asked the question: ‘If this is our vision, what should we be doing to help realise it?’

The vision statement is fixed, but the mission statement and subsequent actions will depend on the context and the information gathered as part of the school’s self-review.

It is likely that any sort of review will lead to more actions than can be carried out! This is where having a clear vision statement is important, because it will help the school leadership team to prioritise their actions.

Based on the information that he had gathered, Mr Singh and his team realised that in order to ensure that all students had the opportunity to fulfil their potential, they needed to improve the quality of their teaching and take specific steps to support the education of their female students. Two priorities were identified:

  • increasethe number of female student admissions in the school
  • improve the quality of teaching across the school.

These priorities led to some specific actions to:

  • seek funding and district support for a new toilet for female students
  • start a village recruitment campaign for female studentsled by alumni of the school who are now successful young women studying for their degree or working in their chosen field
  • identify female teaching champions in the school to seek out good practice, support challenged staff and mentor new recruits
  • use the TESS-India key resources to improve assessment for learning so that students are able to take responsibility for their own progress.

There are leadership units on self-review and on the school development plan that have more information, and activities to support self-review and development planning.

The purpose of the vision is to help school leaders to prioritise and identify the actions that should be included in their planning.

4 Involving stakeholders in building a vision for your school

6 Monitoring progress towards the vision