What does your school stand for? What are your goals and ambitions for the future? How will you achieve them?
Finding it hard to answer these questions? If so, it may be because your school is missing a strong mission statement.
First things first: a vision statement and mission statement are two different things, though they go hand in hand. To set things straight…
- A vision statement outlines where your school wants to be – it’s a future state and should communicate values and purpose.
- A mission statement details how you’re going to get to that future state and achieve your vision – it defines purpose and your school’s primary aims.
Vision statements are usually very short and expand into the mission statement.
Why are they so important?
Together, vision and mission statements help to communicate to your community what your school’s values and beliefs are.
They help to unite and align everyone associated with your school – including parents, students, staff, stakeholders and the wider community. They keep everyone focused on your school’s core purpose and can help to drive key decisions.
Value and mission statements can also inspire candidates to apply for vacancies at your school, especially if their own values and beliefs align with yours. In this way, they help your school stand out from the rest.
Tips on crafting a mission statement
If you’re yet to create a mission statement for your school, or you’ve decided your current one needs refreshing, here’s a six-step guide courtesy of Prodigy:
Draw on your community
Ask teachers, staff, parents, students and any other members of your community for their insights. Gather a small group that represents all stakeholders and start brainstorming. Where do they think the school is now? Where do they see it heading in future? What elements of your school’s identity should be emphasised?
Working with different members can help reduce the fear of change and at the same time, improve buy-in and lead to an all-round better mission statement.
Assess your school
Every school differs in terms of its challenges, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses – and data can help you to identify what yours are. Just some of the areas to focus on include:
- Attendance rates
- Classroom diversity
- Staff turnover
- Staff assessments results
- Student extracurricular activities
- Graduation rates
- Socio-economic status of students
- Common discipline issues
- Student achievement
- Special communities – i.e. international students, immigrant populations
The data you have on each of these areas is vital in crafting your school’s unique identity. Harness the information you have to find your main strengths, issues and growth opportunities within your school community.
Write with your vision in mind
This is incredibly important – your mission statement needs to be crafted with the future in mind at all times.
With a strong vision, you need to consider what steps your school must take in order to achieve it. Things to think about include:
- Systems and tools already in place to help you move forward
- Actions that will help your school to grow
- Things that must be changed in order to achieve your vision
- School characteristics you want to emphasise
- Changes you envision happening in the future
Bear in mind that your mission statement isn’t a static thing; it can change, grow and adapt, just like your school community.
Armed with stakeholder insight and school data, you should now be ready to work on your first draft. Make sure you:
- Avoid cliches – terms like ‘global citizenship’ and ‘nurturing environment’ have been overused to the point that they’ve lost meaning. Dodge the buzzwords and instead, be as authentic as possible by keeping your school and community front of mind at all times.
- Be specific – you can, however, adapt the cliches so that they fit specifically within your school. So, ‘global citizenship’ might focus on your school’s second language literacy.
Think about your school’s teaching strategies and curriculum philosophies, students characteristics, plus one or two more features you feel are vital in communicating your mission. Then take the mission to the initial stakeholders you engaged for feedback – it may need tweaking before it’s right on the money.
Release your mission to the wider community
Present the statement in your school newsletter, inviting members to raise any objections they may have. They may even identify a core value that you’ve failed to include.
This is a great chance to communicate to everyone involved with your school about how your vision and mission are key to its growth, and how you believe the community’s needs are represented and reflected in it.
Use your mission!
With your mission statement perfected, the only step left is to put it in action! You need to inspire everyone to work by your mission, so make sure it’s everywhere – not just on your website but on office walls, classrooms and newsletters too.
Remember, mission and value statements can aid the recruitment process by attracting talented candidates to your school. For this reason, you might want to consider sharing it on your Career Site and within job ads. If you’re yet to take advantage of Eteach’s suite of recruitment solutions for your school, then get in touch today!