Home' Independence : Independence Vol 33 No 2 Oct 2008 Contents Independence Volume 33 No. 2 57
Dr Paul Burgis,
School, Bangor, NSW
Inaburra School is a Baptist coeduca-
tional day school with 890 students from
Kindergarten to Year 12.
Inaburra School was founded by Menai
Baptist Church and this is reflected in the
composition of our Council, which repre-
sents people who are associated with the
school, including parents and the church.
The Council has entrusted me with devel-
oping a vision -- or strategic plan -- for the
school based on our mission statement. So
the first thing we have is a shared mission
statement. At Inaburra that is, 'To be a
dynamic, Christ centred school, providing
excellence in education for every individual
within a community of care'.
The strategic plan can be said to come both
from the bottom up and the top down.
Each year we have a strategic planning day
when church, parents and staff all come
together and look at future directions for
the school. I then work directly with the
Council and staff on developing the plan.
The strategic plan is structured as a series
of threads -- including performing arts,
Christian education, sport and so on.
I've been working through those with the
staff to see how they understand the mis-
sion of the school being enacted through
I talk through the plan with the ex-
ecutive, coordinators, staff and all the
different groups in the school. I work
with administrative staff to try and get
a budget framed in terms of setting the
plans in place. I also talk with the Shire
Council and neighbours. Our next plan
involves building a performing arts centre
and developing our library facilities, so
this is important.
The Council and I then look at the strategic
plan together. The Council's interest is to
make sure that the mission statement is
enacted through the strategic plan, and so
it is the mission statement around which
dialogue in the school occurs.
The strategic plan I am working on now
will last us for the next five years. But it is
important to recognise that a strategic plan
is not a checklist; it is a dynamic document.
There could be a shift in the economic situ-
ation or a change in government direction
that could have an impact on our plan
and there must be flexibility to adapt to a
change in circumstances.
Once it is finalised we see our strategic
plan as being a very useful means to com-
municate with our neighbours and the
Shire Council as well as with the school
and church community. It will set out our
plans for the future in such a way as to
enable us to continue our dialogue with
I'm very appreciative of our Council.
Successful school development relies on
people maintaining a commitment to the
common cause. Keeping people engaged is
an important job for the Principal, school
administrator and the Chair of Council.
It is a challenge, but I think the reason it's
working here is because of the tremendous
good will of the people involved.
Once they've undertaken these strategic
planning decisions as a group with the
Head and the leadership team, it is abso-
lutely imperative that Council members
are mindful of the division between their
work and the work of the Principal.
Council members should be very familiar
with the role description of the Principal
and that of the Board so that if, for ex-
ample, they are approached by parents at
debating or rowing or wherever they are
not persuaded or convinced into speaking
on behalf of the Council about an issue
that is actually in the operational domain
of the school. If Council members have
any concerns about the decisions or
performance of the Principal then they
should approach the Principal or use
the proper channels to do that, but they
should never make those comments to
the broader school community, or allow
people to perceive that they are making
those sorts of comments. That's in the
best interests of the school as well as the
The relationship between the Head and
the Chair is probably one of the most im-
portant factors that can affect the success
of a school.
There has to be a professional respect and
an understanding between the Head and
the Chair, and an honesty and openness
in the relationship so that there is a free-
dom to exchange ideas. The Head must
be able to speak out, to be confident to
express what he or she thinks about the
overall directions of the school.
between the Head and
the Chair is probably
one of the most
important factors that
can affect the success
of a school.
A strategic plan is
not a checklist; it is a
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