Having a clear vision is the best foundation you can lay for sound curriculum development.
To try and develop a curriculum without a clear and driving vision is like trying to navigate a rain forest with no compass or GPS. Your vision provides a sense of direction, guidelines and goals. With these you have the way-points that will enable you to construct a meaningful, purposeful and effective curriculum that is focussed on your community of students.

Vision and Mission Confusion

Many schools seem to have traditionally developed mission statements and vision statements, while there is nothing wrong with this approach there is often a hidden confusion about the role and content of each aspect.


Vision is a precis or the essence of your goal and should be directed towards the core business of the organisation. As far as a school goes, 'core business' is learning. On this basis the vision should capture the essence of what we intend to achieve for our students. When I work with schools on developing or revising their vision I use the question "If a child comes into this school at age x and leaves at age x, what do we want to achieve for that child?

  • A vision should be clear and concise, details can be added in supporting documentation,
  • A vision should tell me, if I was a teacher in your school, what my job is.
  • Vision is the 'what', the 'goal' and the desired 'outcomes'


Mission is different.
A mision statement outlines the actions, environment and processes that will enable us to achieve the vision. Mission includes aspects like the action plans and culture we will develop to facilitate and support the achievement of the vision.

  • Mission is to do with the 'how' of achieving the vision.

The digram below shows how a person can have a vision, but are only on a mission when they are doing something.
This demonstrates that vision is to do with goal and intent while mission is to do with actions and how.

mission - vision

The Importance of a Visual

There are, I believe, 2 good reasons for having a graphic or visual image that captures your school vision.
Firstly... Across the country, as we look to the furture of the children in our care, there seems to be a growing commonality of vision. Many schools are focussing on the core aspects of thinking, interacting, learning and communicating. In many ways there is a commonality to many school visions. I don't see that this is an issue, in fact I see it as a strength because it shows that many of us are identifying the same broad needs and are aiming to address those needs. As a parent this must be comforting knowing that as children move between schools there is a level of commonality in terms of what schools are trying to achieve for their students. On the other side it would be nice to have a vision that is unique and personal to our own school. Both of these goals can be achieved without sacrificing our professional integrity. It is in how we capture our vision graphically that can create something unique for our school.
Secondly... Sometimes it is difficult to retain the words of our vision in our heads, but if the words are attached to a visual we seem to be able to retain the visual and then easily make links to the words, so a visual becomes a powerfull tool in owning and remembering a vision.

Sample Graphics

Totara College

Selwyn Ridge


Hikurangi Primary

Westport North Primary

Vision Quotes
"11 characteristics found in effective schools
  1. Professional leadership
  2. Shared vision and goals
  3. A learning environment
  4. Concentration on teaching and learning
  5. Purposeful teaching
  6. High expectations
  7. Positive reinforcement
  8. Monitoring progress
  9. Pupil’s rights and responsibilities
  10. Home & school partnership
  11. A learning organization"
Sammons, Hillman & Mortimore 1995, P8

" The hallmark of any successful organisation is a shared sense among its members of what they are trying to accomplish."
Rosenholt 1989

"Everyone who works in a school is not only entitled to a unique and personal vision of the way he or she would like the school to become, but has an obligation to uncover, discover, and re-discover what the vision is and contribute it to the betterment of the school community ."
Barth 1990

“We are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision.”
Source unknown

“Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for- because unless we stand for something we shall fall for anything”
Peter Marshall

"Good ... leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
Jack Welch

“With vision there is no room to be frightened., No reason for intimidation. It's time to march forward! Let's be confident and positive!”
Charles R Swindoll