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  • Charlotte Reece

Your School's Vision

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

This week’s blog focuses on one of the most important elements of any free school application - the vision. The tips below can be applied to any type of school or provision.

Writing a compelling vision

The vision sets out what you want your future school to achieve for its pupils and wider community. Together with the leaders of your school or trust, you'll capture your plans in a concise statement. Vision statements aren’t the same as mission statements, although they are similar. To create a mission statement, you should first have a vision for the future of your free school.

Your vision statement will clearly outline your goals for future students. While the Department for Education (DfE) will want to see an emphasis on outcomes and progress, you should also consider what sort of individuals you would like your pupils to become when they leave your school. This will relate back to your values as a trust, or the specific values you have chosen for this school. It should also align with the strategic vision for the trust as a whole, though the specific context of the new school should be taken into account when forming your vision.

How to write a vision

When writing your vision section, first ensure that it clearly aligns with the Schools White Paper. This includes:

· A focus on increasing capacity in places where the outcomes are the poorest, particularly in Education Investment Areas and Priority Education Investment Areas

· Giving teachers access to high-quality training and professional development, equipping them with the expertise and resources needed to deliver excellent teaching, and creating a sustainable work-life balance to support the well-being of all staff

· Ensuring that all pupils are taught a varied, ambitious, and knowledge-rich curriculum and have access to good quality after-school enrichment programmes

· Providing targeted support to increase the proportion of disadvantaged children progressing to leading universities

Next, you should demonstrate your analysis of the educational and wider needs of your pupils, particularly the distinctive requirements of your target cohort. This should be linked to how your school will meet those needs and enable pupils to reach their potential. Effective applications will highlight how the proposed school will support wider improvement in the overall education system, including planned growth strategies and any further ideas for school improvement.

It is important that you remember to include the key features of the school, such as age range, any plans for a sixth form or nursery, or any religious designation or ethos.

If you have any evidence from prospective parents supporting your vision as a response to community needs, then it would be beneficial to include it here. This is vital if your school will have any atypical features or cater to a certain cohort.

Tips to Remember

1. Be precise: Avoid overcomplicating things; ensure you are covering all bases by using the assessment criteria as a prompt.

2. Be forward-thinking: How will this school contribute to successful outcomes for its pupils? Ensure you link this to the wider school system, the trust, and your plans for growth.

3. Embed your vision in everything you do: Whilst the application requires you to outline your vision in a standalone section, it should also be embedded throughout all areas of the bid, from governance to enrichment. This will ensure that the new school’s distinctiveness is memorable to an assessor.

4. Emphasise your strengths: Using pupil voice and involving the community in the vision writing will ensure you convey the true essence of the school and show the contribution it will make.


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