Oversee and protect the organisation’s vision, mission, and values

Your vision, mission, and values embody the promises you have made to your community on behalf of the school you govern. If you are governing well, you refer to them all the time.

To oversee and protect your vision, mission, and values means knowing your school’s vision, mission and values, talking about how the things you do relate to your school’s vision, mission, and values when you communicate with your students, staff, or wider community, and making every decision based on how that decision will contribute to:

  • creating the school your vision describes
  • accomplishing your mission, and
  • demonstrating your school values

Oversee and protect the organisation’s resources

Resources doesn’t just mean money. It includes everyone and everything that helps your school to do what you do. A school’s biggest resources are its people (students, staff and community, relationships and reputation), its property (grounds and buildings and the smaller things that fill them and make them special) and its finances.

…your students

To oversee and protect your people means understanding your students. What are the strengths your students bring to the school, and what support do they need to be the people described in your vision, mission, and values? What evidence does your principal show you so that you know every student is getting the protection and support that your vision, mission, and values promises them?

…your staff

To oversee and protect your people also means understanding your staff. What are the strengths your staff bring to the school and what support do they need to help your students become the people described in your vision, mission, and values? What evidence does your principal show you so that you know every staff member is getting the protection and support that your vision, mission, and values promises them?

…your community

To oversee and protect your people you need to understand your community. What strengths do members of your local community and your school community have and what support do they need to help your students become the people described in your vision, mission, and values? What evidence do you collect to show whether or not the members of your local community and your school community feel you are treating them in the way that your vision, mission, and values promises them?

…your relationships and your reputation

To oversee and protect your people you need to understand your reputation and relationships. This is often the area boards (and other organisations) have most trouble recognising accurately, because it’s easy to see what we intend, much harder to see how we come across in someone else’s eyes. In other words, even if our intentions are good, we still tend to see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. If you are serious about being able to oversee and protect your relationships and your reputation you need to find reliable evidence, from other people. Even if it doesn’t jell with what you thought you were doing. Especially if it doesn’t jell with what you thought you were doing.

What evidence do you have about the quality of your relationships with the stakeholders in your school – students, staff, community, Ministry, local iwi, tradespeople, and others? What evidence do you have about how others see you – as a school and as a board? What strengths do those other stakeholders see when they look at your board? What support do they tell you that you need to improve or maintain the quality of relationships? What support have you been offered?

...your property

Property is a tricky area for many boards, because some of the decisions we would like to make are out of our hands. To oversee and protect your school’s physical property means knowing your grounds and buildings are safe, healthy, and comfortable, and that they are designed to contribute to students’ learning (or, if not, that you are working through a plan to make sure they get that way as quickly as possible). It requires an understanding of what needs to be done to get grounds and buildings into the best possible condition and how that work contributes to your vision, mission, and values, who is going to make sure the work gets done properly and on time, and where the money is coming from to make sure those things get done.

…and your money

To oversee and protect your finances you need to understand where the school’s money comes from and where it is spent, how much money the school has available for the rest of the year, how much money the school will need to create the school your vision describes, and accomplish your mission over the next ten years, and how each dollar spent contributes to your school’s mission, vision, and values. It also means understanding whether there are more effective ways of spending that money to achieve the same purpose.

This leads you to making strategic decisions, such as choosing which things to do first if there is not enough money, deciding how to reduce your costs or increase your income when you need to. It also means understanding when to stop spending money on things that aren’t contributing enough to your school’s mission, vision and values, and when to start spending more on things that will contribute more to your school’s mission, vision, and values than what you have been doing until now.

In short, governing strategically is a matter of making every decision based on how that decision will contribute to:

  • creating the school your vision describes
  • accomplishing your mission, and
  • demonstrating your school values