Over the summer I participated in a fundraising event at a local independent school and from the moment I passed through the gates of the school, I felt a sense of community.
From working with schools, I learned that independent schools work hard to maintain a harmonious relationship with their surrounding community. For this symbiotic relationship to exist, it requires a well-executed set of school priorities with a commitment from all stakeholders. In a previous blog, we looked at the reasons schools need strategic planning and how it benefits the school. But did you know that strategic planning can benefit the surrounding community as well?
It makes sense, what’s good for a school is good for the surrounding area and having a strategic plan is essential for a well-functioning school. Listed below are five ways in which a community can benefit from a school’s strategic plan:
A strategic plan outlines the strategic direction of a school as it clearly articulates a school’s vision, mission, values, goals and objectives. This helps a school receive appropriate accreditation. An accredited school strengthens its community by providing assurances that the school is focused on providing a safe and enriching learning environment while delivering a quality educational experience to local students.
Each school and community has distinct needs and characteristics. A strategic plan articulates the ways in which a school is different from its competitors by developing goals and objectives that reflect the unique cultural, linguistic, religious and other demographic features and values of the school’s community.
Improved student performance
Often included in a school’s strategic goals are plans for campus and facility upgrades. Research has shown that in cases where students attend school in substandard buildings they are limited in their academic achievement. Also, ethnographic and perception studies indicate that poor school facilities negatively impact teacher effectiveness and performance, contributing to a negative impact on student performance as well. Research has shown that the reverse of this is also true. Having excellent school buildings (judged by thermal and light quality and acoustical control) can lead to improved student and teacher morale, school climate, parent and community confidence and better student outcomes.
It goes without saying that the most successful schools will attract and retain the best students. Through alumni programs, a school can continue to foster and strengthen its relationship with these students even after graduation. Alumni programs encourage volunteer activities, mentoring programs, student recruitment and co-op work opportunities thus creating a multitude of ways in which alumni can interact with and give back to the community.
A successful school also attracts some of the best teachers. This is crucial with broad consensus being that “teacher quality” is the single most important school variable influencing student achievement. Setting strategic goals ensures that a school is motivated to attracting, retaining, rewarding and developing its teachers and providing them with the support needed to reach their potential. Having quality teachers serving as role models can only strengthen and add value to a community.
It’s clear that a well-executed strategic plan is essential for independent schools and benefits the school community. The process of executing the plan requires the combined effort of school administrators and stakeholders. Using technology like strategy execution software can make this process run effectively and efficiently and provide accountability so that everyone involved knows what is expected of them. The result is a better school, better students and better community.