“‘Strategic planning’ is an oxymoronic term.  If you have a fixed plan, it is no longer ‘strategic’.  In today’s educational environment, flexibility and adaptability are essential.  That is why I prefer to focus on an agile ‘strategic vision’ that is nourished by – and flows directly from –  the school’s distinctive mission”.

 [Stephen Codrington]         

Developing and implementing an effective, robust strategic vision is one of the most powerful ways in which a board can guide the direction of the school.  Sadly, too many strategic visions are neither effective nor robust.

OPTIMAL SCHOOL GOVERNANCE supports boards in developing effective and robust strategic plans.  Recognising that every school has unique characteristics, objectives and mission, we tailor the strategic planning process according to the distinctive needs of each school.  We reject the ‘cookie-cutter’ approach that limits a school’s strategic potential by forcing its vision to conform to a predetermined framework.

We support boards by doing the difficult and time-consuming work of developing the strategic vision, such as engaging in consultations with key stakeholders, drafting interim statements, identifying key objectives, gathering background demographic and economic data, conducting surveys, and so on.  We support the board fully while allowing the board complete autonomy in making its strategic decisions.

For school boards that find it helpful, OPTIMAL SCHOOL GOVERNANCE offers a flexible conceptual framework for strategic plans as shown in the diagram below left.  For boards that prefer to take a totally different approach, we offer complete support.

Optimal School Governance model for a strategic plan or strategic vision

Our support for boards in developing a strategic vision includes the following points:

  • We take the time to ensure that all board members as well as the wider school community understands the various purposes of the mission, the strategic vision, the strategic results, the strategic boundaries and the annual development plans;
  • We emphasise the central importance of the school’s mission statement and foundational philosophy as the guiding frameworks for the strategic vision;
  • We support the establishment of a steering group to liaise with us and work in partnership to develop the strategic vision;
  • We emphasise the importance of ensuring effective ‘best practice’ board governance processes and structures during the time of change that a new strategic vision brings;
  • We support the school’s finance officers as they develop a long-term financial plan that will provide a framework to plan the ways in which funds will be raised and spent in order to protect and enhance the mission;
  • We seek to understand the school’s actual and potential challenges, such as political, financial, demographic, sustainability and legal factors that might inhibit the school’s viability and development, thus offering advice on contingency plans to address such challenges;
  • We provide advice on engaging with and drawing insights from the full spectrum of the school community as they respond in various ways to change – from the innovators, through the change agents, the pragmatists and the skeptics, and at the other end of the spectrum, the traditionalists;
  • We provide advice on all aspects of risk management, and especially the threats and opportunities that risk offers in planning the future;
  • We guide boards towards implementing effective change management processes and principles of effective governance that will ensure the ongoing health of the school, with clear statements of roles and responsibilities, and the absence of financial and other conflicts of interest, thus ensuring stable and effective ongoing change; and
  • We offer follow up support to the board and the senior staff as the strategic vision is implemented to ensure focus is maintained while adapting to the changes that will inevitably arise.

OPTIMAL SCHOOL GOVERNANCE understands that all final decisions relating to the strategic direction of the school remain the board’s responsibility. We see our task as being to provide whatever help and support the board requests in order to ensure optimal decisions are made that will enhance the school’s health and future. 

If you are considering obtaining professional support as you develop a new strategic plan, we would like to hear from you as we are specialists in services that support school boards – it is our sole focus. A confidential, preliminary conversation might allow us to answer some of your questions and learn more about your school’s particular situation and needs. Please initiate a conversation by sending us an e-mail or phoning us using the links on our Contact Us page.