Vision and mission statements are fundamental elements of a successful Catholic school. The vision and mission are a forum for the staff and community of a Catholic school to clarify the purpose of the school and to identify how the school will meet the specified ideals.
Developing a vision and mission can be a powerful tool in the initial establishment of a school. Also the revision of a vision and mission is just as important in the ongoing renewal and development of a Catholic school.
The vision statement expresses a common or shared understanding of what it means to be educated in a Catholic environment. It describes the dream that motivates you and others to be part of Catholic school.
A vision statement is a picture of where your school is headed. It is a picture that will be used as a guide to shape the character or ethos that a school develops. In written form, the vision is a brief statement that defines the unique purpose and values of the school. It answers the questions
- Where do we (as a school community) want to be?
- What picture do we have in mind of a perfect future for this Catholic School community?
The vision is an eloquent statement of where the school community would like to be. It describes the way the school would be if everything the school community set out to do was achieved.
In addition to a vision statement, many school communities clarify their shared sense of purpose by writing a mission statement. The mission statement is usually brief. It clearly and concisely describes the means to attain the school’s vision.Typically, mission statements answer the questions
- How are we going about getting to where we (the whole school community) want to be?
- What are we (the school community) doing to reach the vision?
A mission statement helps a school clarify where it is headed and builds consensus among members of a school community. The statement explains to the rest of the world what strategies are important in the progress towards the ideals of the school community.
The Vision and Mission Statements
- Are not meant for the filing cabinet. You should refer to the vision and mission statements when making all other decisions about the school.
- Carefully consider how the vision and mission of the school is reflected in all school materials, including: curriculum, assessments, hiring policies, strategic plans, marketing materials, approaches to pastoral care and Web sites.
- Many schools find it helpful to display the vision and mission statement in a prominent location.
- As the school evolves, a process for redefining a school’s vision or rewriting a mission statement will be necessary to maintain purposeful growth and development.
- All governing bodies, parents, faculty, students, and alumni should be encouraged to participate in the continuing evolution of the statement to ensure that all stakeholders feel a sense of ownership in the school’s core values and vision.
(Part 2 next time, hopefully with some links to worksheets and processes to help you facilitate the development of Vision and Mission Statements in your organisation. Forgive the focus on Catholic Schools here, easily transferable to other Catholic organisations.)