The head of a school should play a leading role in improving
the quality of teaching and learning. As a head you will appreciate
that it is your duty and responsibility to ensure that your
school is an achieving school, meeting its objectives in an
effective and efficient manner. It is therefore in your interest
to search for ways and means of improving yourself as a manager.
The aim of this unit is to explain how to formulate a clear
mission for your school and a set of objectives.
Individual study time: 5 hours
By the end of this unit, you should be able to:
formulate a mission statement for your school
identify the values you wish to promote in your school
state your school objectives.
Let us clarify the terminology we will use here. There are
several terms which are used to indicate the purpose and direction
of a school. Consider the following terms: philosophy, mission,
goals, objectives and targets.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes the meaning of the
word 'philosophy' in several ways, including: a system of
principles for the conduct of life. Such a concept is useful
both for each of us as individuals and for each school. But
as the term 'philosophy' may be seen as too complex, an alternative
commonly used is the term 'mission', and its expression as
a 'mission statement'.
The differences between the terms 'goals', 'objectives' and
'targets' lie mainly in the degree to which the destination
we want to reach is specified. Thus 'goals' may suggest a
broad vision, 'targets' an exact position, with 'objectives'
somewhere in between. There is really not much to choose between
them, and you should feel free to make your own choice. Here
we will use the term 'objectives' to mean a set of statements
each of which provides a clear indication of what the school
wishes to achieve, and which together satisfy the principles
included in the mission statement. Targets are very specific
statements describing positions which will be achieved within
an agreed span of time.
The mission of your school
Consider your own school. What would you say is the philosophy
or mission of your school? (Note: At this stage do not try to
write a complete statement.)
In undertaking the above activity, we hope you appreciated
that a school philosophy or mission should include such things
the promotion in the pupils of an interest in learning
and the skills needed to learn
the acquisition by the pupils of relevant knowledge,
skills and attitudes
the provision of opportunities for pupils to participate
in and contribute to their culture
a willingness on the part of the pupils and staff to
serve both the school and the wider community.
Above all the mission statement of your school should reflect
Your mission statement will be based upon your own values,
and those of your staff and of your country, and which you
want to pass on to the next generation. Values are guidelines
for behaviour, and they govern each person's actions and attitudes.
Values are learnt through experience, education and observation.
It is necessary for the head to consciously and deliberately
plan school programmes that promote the values a society approves
and wishes to uphold.
List some of the values you yourself hold and believe your school
should seek to promote. Check whether your initial ideas about
your school mission or philosophy gave sufficient expression
to your values.
Your list probably included the following values: acceptable
behaviour, reliability, honesty, efficiency, punctuality,
diligence, politeness, courtesy, fairness, self-discipline,
tolerance, courage, respect for the dignity of labour, respect
for other people and their property, good sportsmanship, impartiality,
perseverance, respect for legitimate authority, public spiritedness,
cleanliness, justice, etc.
As a head, you will almost certainly wish to ensure that
the values the school cherishes pervade all the teaching/learning
activities including the co-curricular ones. In this way the
gap between what a school says it does and what it actually
does may be reduced.
A general statement about a school philosophy or mission may
be explained more fully in terms of objectives. School objectives
indicate, in fairly specific terms, what the school intends
(1) Does your school have a set of objectives?
(2) To what extent would you say they are comprehensive and
(3) What areas should a set of school objectives cover?
School objectives should take into account the needs of the
pupils, the staff, the community and the nation. Pupils' needs
include the desire for a complete education that prepares
them for the world of work; the fostering of creativity to
facilitate problem-solving; strengthening their abilities
to learn independently; the provision of a variety of co-curricular
activities and opportunities for them to enjoy and learn about
their cultural heritage. Furthermore, pupils need opportunities
to develop themselves as individuals; an environment that
encourages them to develop their leadership qualities and
inter-personal skills, within a culture of tolerance.
In addition to the needs of the pupils, you need to be sensitive
to the critical role that the staff play in achieving school
objectives. It is therefore important for you to ensure that
your school objectives address the following:
the creation of an environment that enables both the
pupils and the staff of the school to experience success
the provision of sufficient facilities, equipment and
materials to facilitate the attainment of these objectives
the creation of organisational structures within the
school that will allow both pupils and staff to realise their
the provision of opportunities for professional growth
for the staff.
In formulating the school objectives, it is also important
to consider the needs of the community. These needs include
the educational expectations of parents for their children;
the promotion of good citizenship; respect for community values;
and parental involvement in school programmes. Furthermore,
school objectives must reflect national goals which may include
the development of human resources, the promotion of a common
national identity and respect for the dignity of labour.
Fig 1 below summarises the different needs both a school mission
and objectives should address.
Fig 1 The needs school objectives should address
Formulating a school mission statement and objectives
A school mission statement
Each school should have a statement of its own philosophy
or mission. In designing the statement for your school you
will need to consult your staff and address the following
1 What is the purpose of this school? Why are the pupils
and staff here?
2 What knowledge and skills do our pupils need?
3 How does the school identify individual differences, abilities
and capacities amongst the pupils, and how does it adjust
methods, materials and programmes to foster individual development?
4 What are the desired relationships between:
a pupil and a pupil
a pupil and a teacher
a teacher and the head
the head and the community?
5 What values does the school seek to promote?
6 How does the school prepare pupils to participate fully
in the real world?
(1) Consider and answer the questions listed above.
(2) Compare your responses to the current mission of your school.
(3) Prepare a draft mission statement for your school for consideration
by your staff.
You should discover that your school mission will emerge from
a discussion of the responses to the questions cited above.
If you do not already have a school mission statement, this
activity should provide you with a guide as to how you and
your staff may develop an appropriate one, or to reflect on
the one you already have.
You will need to make time for your senior staff to work
with you on the school mission statement. You should present
your draft statement to all your staff, to the board of governors
or management committee, to the PTA, as well as to any other
persons who may have an interest or a contribution to make.
Once you have devised the school mission, it becomes your
duty as the head to communicate this to all members of the
school community in order to secure their support and commitment.
Having agreed upon your school mission, it becomes necessary
to break it down into objectives that are realistic and achievable.
You may find the questions posed below helpful in formulating
a set of objectives for your school.
1 What is our school trying to achieve?
2 For whom does our school exist?
3 How is our school trying to achieve its mission?
4 What resources does our school have to achieve its objectives?
5 How will we know when we have accomplished our objectives?
6 Are our objectives realistic and achievable?
7 Do the objectives reflect the values of our school?
8 Could our objectives be improved?
(1) What are your answers to the questions posed above?
(2) Formulate objectives for your school. Make sure that they
cover all aspects of school life and are clearly and concisely
expressed. Do not make your list too long!
Strategies for promoting selected values
Since a school plays a very crucial role in exposing pupils
to selected values the head and the staff need to devise strategies
for promoting them.
(1) How is your school promoting the values you identified in
(2) Spend some time this week observing the following in your
- how senior and junior children interact;
- how children leave assembly and go to class;
- how staff interact at a formal staff meeting;
- how staff and pupils interact with visitors to the school;
- how boys and girls interact;
- how children of different backgrounds talk to you.
(3) Suggest three ways in which more could be done in your school
to promote key values.
Which of the following strategies did you include on your
Values may be promoted through:
direct tuition or teaching during lessons
a well-designed programme of guidance and counselling;
Family Life Education or Education for Living; or pastoral
the content and conduct of assemblies
allowing pupils opportunities to develop their leadership
ensuring that the school has an intellectual focus
publicly honouring academic and practical achievement
and by stressing their importance through the appropriate
use of symbols, ceremonies, etc.
above all, the exemplary behaviour by the staff.
It is likely that, in the same way as for the formulation
of the school mission, you will need to work with your senior
staff on the school objectives, before presenting them for
further discussion to various groups involved with the school.
As the head, you should evaluate regularly the appropriateness
and currency of your school mission and objectives. You will
need to do this in order to satisfy yourself that the school
mission and objectives are:
realistic, achievable and well-understood by all concerned
giving direction to the school and staff
meeting the needs of the school, pupils and the community
Module 6, Monitoring
School Effectiveness provides suggestions as to how you may
set about carrying out an evaluation exercise.
In this unit we have explained the importance of the school
mission and objectives which should guide all school activities.
Furthermore, suggestions on how to formulate the school mission
and objectives, and the need to evaluate them regularly, have
been made. As the head, you should ensure that your school has
a clear mission and a set of objectives which reflect it.