The need for schools to have a clear vision, a core set of values that underpin all that they do, and a concise communication strategy aimed at all key stakeholders is more important than ever.
This blog is part of Ambition:Feed's school culture and ethos challenge. Find more tips and discussion on the Ambition:Feed homepage.
Vision statements are sometimes confused or used synonymously with
The difference is subtle but extremely important; your vision statement should define your organisation’s strategic direction and purpose, focusing on its goals and future aspirations. Your mission statement should be set in the present tense, communicating what you, as an organisation, do best every day.
Your vision underpins your strategy (which in turn details the areas and issues that need to be addressed in order to fulfil your vision), and gives all stakeholders a clear understanding of the direction you are travelling in.
The organisations that achieve this most successfully are rigorous in examining where they are now, where they want to be, and what they need to do in order to get there. Those that don’t will not necessarily fail, indeed may continue to ‘tick over’ quite nicely, but are less likely to achieve their strategic goals. They stand less of a chance of growing, expanding and improving because of the lack of clear direction.
A dynamic vision statement is also a great motivational tool for building reputation and engagement, generating a common goal and offering a possibility for fundamental change; it serves to motivate stakeholders such as students, parents, staff, and governors internally.
Values are the qualities that are important and define how an organisation needs to behave in order to achieve the vision and live out the mission; values may be expressed as beliefs, traits, characteristics or rules.
Once you have set and agreed upon your vision and values, embedding them within everyday life can be even more of a challenge. All too often, the pressures of busy day-to-day life take over from devoting the time you need to promote your vision and values to your internal and external stakeholders.
Here are my five top tips on how to communicate your vision and values more effectively:
1. Keep it visible
Make sure the vision is communicated to all staff, along with the goals that will bring the organisations vision to life. The vision should empower your staff to be more effective, so don’t let it become a statement that sits on a memo in a desk drawer. Instead, include it in all of your key messages and in both internal and external documents.
2. Get everyone on board
Communicating your vision in a positive, excited manner will ensure your staff, governors and pupils engage positively with what you have set out for the organisation to achieve. Take internal measures to ensure everyone speaks with one voice about your mission, vision and values.
"The organisations that achieve this most successfully are rigorous in examining where they are now, where they want to be, and what they need to do in order to get there."
3. Value employee engagement
Make the effort to seek the opinions and ideas of all of your key
stakeholders to help drive the vision forward. Show how the vision has a
positive impact on every individual’s work life. We all engage more when we can clearly see
our contributions have positive impacts on the organisation’s vision.
4. Use a variety of channels
Communicate your vision, mission and values through as many channels as possible to reach all stakeholders. Your stakeholders include your current and prospective staff, governors, students, the local community, local media and local businesses.
In order to ensure these are communicated and reinforced consistently to them, your marketing campaigns need to utilise all the channels available from your internal newsletters, external magazines, prospectus, website, induction and recruitment packs, press releases, social media and your front of house team.
5. Choose your stories wisely
Keep repeating success stories that demonstrate your vision, mission and values. It’s as important to do this internally as it is externally so that everyone is well-versed in the stories that have the biggest impact.
Finally, it is worth remembering that an organisations values and vision should be reviewed regularly and evaluated to ensure they are still relevant; both big and small changes can completely transform the direction a school is heading.
Grebot Donnelly is the leading marketing consultancy for the education sector. They empower schools, academy trusts, sponsors and local authorities to enhance their reputation and achieve their goals through bespoke marketing strategies, creative services, research and training. They also run sessions on our Executive Educators programmes.