One of the most difficult tasks for leaders in schools today is to develop and work within a framework that gives precision, coherence, structure and direction for ongoing improvement. It is not so much a question of which framework is used as the fact that you have a framework. Far too much energy goes into stand alone, one off methods that ultimately absorb precious resources, overtax staff and under-deliver. The result is that the school community is often left with a sense of frustration and a maintenance of the status quo.
I think Jim Collins’ work in “Good to Great” is an excellent example of what can be achieved by using a good planning framework. The common quality in the framework of Collins and others is a focus on Intent.
Understanding the core task is very important in Catholic schools which are both faith and educational communities; everything they do is in the context of a Catholic culture and worldview. From this comes the school’s vision and mission. These are usually clearly expressed. What is often unclear, however, is the school’s understanding of what it actually intends to do – it’s intent.
Collins’ makes the point that successful organisations have a very clear understanding of their intent as well as their vision. Our ongoing challenge in Catholic schools is to clarify our purpose and strategies which will serve it.
To help us all address this challenge, we need to stimulate a wide discussion on the intent of Catholic schools.