Schools wishing to prevent and/or reduce early school leaving and promote educational success for all learners need to develop a strategic vision for inclusive, learner-centred education. The school’s main mission is to ensure that all learners can benefit from quality education and reach their full potential for growth irrespective of socio-economic status or individual or family-related circumstances. Learners are seen as ‘whole’ individuals. The focus is on academic learning as well as personal development and well-being. Schools develop a culture and climate focused on providing appropriate support so that each learner can meet educational goals. This approach may be thought as the 'whole school around a whole child'.
A learner-centred strategic vision focuses on creating safe, welcoming and caring learning environments, in which learners are engaged and can grow and develop as individuals and community members, feel respected and valued, and have their specific talents and needs recognised. Important elements include:
- setting high expectations for all learners;
- promoting school and classroom practices and attitudes that foster children and young people's motivation and commitment towards;
- building a respectful and favourable school climate (in which, for instance, violence and bullying are systematically addressed);
- developing positive teacher-pupil relationships on foundations of trust; and,
- encouraging teaching methods and curricula which are perceived as stimulating and relevant.
When developing or revising your school's vision, guiding principles and values, it is crucial to invite all the stakeholders to actively participate. This includes all school staff, learners, parents and families. Such wide participation will ensure better communication, cooperation and ownership of the vision among members of the school community. Involvement of learners, in particular, can increase their motivation and commitment to the education process and the sense of belonging to the school community.
St. Killians Community School: An example of collaborative development of vision
St Kilian's Community School in Ireland involved pupils and parents in the process of revising its beliefs and guiding principles, as part of the reflection and planning for the school’s improvement. The learners indicated that it was important for them to benefit from their time in school, i.e.: skills and knowledge that are relevant for their future careers.
To ensure the best possible education for our students, St Kilian's Community School believes that everyone:
Has rights with responsibilities;
Must be treated fairly and equally;
Should be supported to be the best they can be;
Should get value for the time they spend;
Must be shown respect;
Should feel welcome and have fun; and,
Must be able to access high-quality facilities.
Find out more:
Unicef, “Chapter 4: School and Community” in Child Friendly Schools Manual, Unicef, Geneva, 2009, pp. 97 – 120.
World Bank (2008), What is School-based Management?, World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2008.
UNICEF online platform, Rights Respecting Schools Award