The Need for Vision in Schools

Just yesterday, I read this……

“If you don’t have a common, agreed-on destination, then everyone is left to his or her own devices to imagine one—a scenario that results in unharnessed and unfocused efforts, with everyone believing that what he or she is doing is right. A common understanding of the destination allows all stakeholders to align their improvement efforts. And the best part of planning for this journey is that it doesn’t cost anything to decide where you want to go.”

I strongly believe that the most important responsibility of any effective educational leader is to share, implement and lead a vision which articulates best thinking about teaching and learning, which then inspires students and teachers to reach for ambitious goals.

Through experience and learning, I understand that a well articulated vision results in a common language which informs teachers, parents and students of the WHY about WHAT you do and HOW you do it. I have also found that authentically pursuing the Vision affirms, supports, questions and challenges the school directions regarding many areas, including the following:

  • professional learning for teachers: pedagogy discussions, use of technology and learning spaces;
  • assessment practices: valuing the process of learning, not just the product of learning;
  • the value of skills as compared to the value of content;
  • leadership roles and leadership structures;
  • teacher and support staff appointments;
  • subject offerings and timetable construction; and,
  • data sources. Measure what you value rather than value what you measure!

I know this may sound simplistic and may even appear to ignore the complexities of schools and the diversity of leadership requirements of school principals; however, without Vision, you have a rudderless ship, or, “unharnessed and unfocused efforts, with everyone believing that what he or she is doing is right.”

Lastly, we all need to remember the words of the great Nelson Mandela……

Vision and Mandela

Hence the need for each school to have a Vision for Learning and then ACTION it!


  1. Do you have a Vision? If so, what is it?
  2. Is it widely shared? If so, is it widely understood and how do you know?
  3. Do you use your Vision to make decisions about learning?

I would appreciate your thoughts.



6 thoughts on “The Need for Vision in Schools

  1. Hi Greg et al – great blog on Vision. I have a diagram I refer to – probably need to more often! Yes – vision its vital – it commences the pattern. Without vision is confusion – where as you say – people are going off on their own tangents – many wasted hours , resources etc. Vision + skills + incentive + resource + action plan. Without the backbone of “vision” it is all just separate “parts”. I would add another – turning that vision into a shared vision through collaboration with others – particularly your leadership team.

  2. Great thoughts Greg. Vision is important, but only so much so as the resulting plan for action that has to be implemented to support that vision. It is also extremely important to establish a clear focus that is consistently monitored if the desire is sustainable change resulting in transformation.

  3. Great post Greg. I am reminded in your piece about Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’ ( Our sense of ‘why’ is so important and should be central to everything that we do. However, I guess that is easier said than done. To me it poses so many questions, such as who is responsible for creating it and how do staff subsequently own it?

    The sad irony of it all is that I have seen some confuse what they do as being their vision. For example, they implement Marzano’s instruction that works and then claim that as their ‘vision’ with the argument that ‘the research says so’. The research can say it, but if does not connect with why we do something it is not going to go anywhere.

    I wonder going back to your post on those pushing innovation in NSW what the vision is that pushes them. I reckon that would be an interesting discussion, how the likes of John Goh and Stephen Harris developed the ‘why’ that drives their schools and how they went about implementing it.

  4. Articulating the vision simply and clearly in professional conversations is a key leadership skill for change.
    In fact it has been said change happens
    one conversation at a time.

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