I’m often asked if a vision should be created as a whole school team or by a smaller group. One school of thought says that the whole team should create the vision, because it will create greater buy-in. The other holds that it should be down to the leader and their team. Let’s look at each in turn.
A WHOLE TEAM VISION
Many settings will set aside a day (sometimes longer) for the whole school team to create a vision, and may involve parents and children. Everyone gets a say, which hopefully means they’re more likely to buy into it, since they’re part of it’s creation.
I’ve seen some examples of where this has been successful, but they’re quite rare – more often than not, it doesn’t work. There’s naturally a lot of compromise when working in large groups, which will dilute the vision, and whilst everyone might ‘agree’ with the end result, no-one will be passionate about it. I also don’t think that creating a vision should be a one-day team event, but sadly this is often all the time that’s available.
A head once told me how their whole school had created their vision – how they’d involved children and parents, and the kinds of days they ran to create it. I wanted to know how they had done this so well, but then, as a throwaway comment, she said “I can’t remember what the vision was now” and my heart sank. All that wonderful work, but the vision hadn’t even stuck with the head, of all people!
A VISION CREATED BY LEADERS
The alternative is that leaders create the vision – not in isolation, but with a group, usually consisting of other leaders. I’ve found it takes a few days of fairly intense (but good) thinking to create a vision that’s strong.
This is typically much more effective, because they will create a vision they really believe in. The trick is to then communicate it well so that most people, if not all, get on board. In every setting I’ve supported, the whole school has been inspired and excited by the school’s vision, even though not everyone was part of the creation process. I can recall only one instance in a certain school where a teacher decided they weren’t signed up to where the school was going.
There’s an art to creating a powerful vision, but sadly few schools have a vision that does the job it needs to – inspire your team to action towards a common purpose. Once you have this, you’ll find it breathes energy into your school. I’ve seen it done many times, and it’s incredibly powerful.
If you’re planning to work on your vision as a whole school team, then your intention is honourable but it probably won’t get the result you want. Instead, set aside time with your leadership team to craft your vision. Done well, it will give you all the buy-in you could hope for and energise your school.