Some chapter titles are more scary than others...
"Make your own and the school's objectives explicit, simple, and crystal clear." (Beare, 2001, p. 113)
This chapter deals with the issue of how to organise the school to ensure that it achieves its core goals. It discusses the use of school charters, in which an agreement is made between a school and the Education Department covering:
- the school's current profile and underlying philosophy
- the school's curriculum and learning program (including targets)
- the school's learning environment
- the school's accountability
- the school's management
- the school's resources
This document includes what the school is now like, what is stands for as an institution, what its priorities are, what criteria it will be assessed on, and how each of its functioning parts are to be made to conform with its vision statement. This document could also be called a strategic plan.
School charters or strategic plans should help a school to be more specific about its intentions, more efficient and effective, and more accountable for educational outcomes.
The quality of learning outcomes should rank above all other considerations.
The steps to take in writing such a document include:
- draw a profile of the school as it is at present
- compose a vision statement for the school
- bring the school's objectives, priorities and budget in line with the vision
The fundamental principles of the school's vision must be translated into a practical plan of action. Each objective will be written as a set of implementation strategies with targets and performance indicators to measure progress. The responsibility with coming up with 'winning tactics' is entrusted to the teaching staff, as long as they are consistent with the overall strategy. A useful technique is determining where we want to be, then working out where we need to be at intermediate points along the way in order to achieve the ultimate objective.
When the document is complete, it should ensure that everything within the school conforms with the vision, the objectives, and with the detailed plan. Everyone in the school is working toward the same goals and is on the same page. Anything that falls outside the agreed goals and priorities is not given resources.
What is not said in this chapter, but is obvious to me, is that for this to work, the whole school must participate and have ownership of the vision, objectives and plans of the school. Without this, there is either a dictatorship, or anarchy.