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Developing a vision for Red Beach School


Digital story: Red Beach School

Access the PDF icon. Red Beach School vision matrix (PDF, 286 KB) , which details the philosophy and structure behind the vision.


During 2005 the staff and board of trustees of Red Beach School worked on the creation of a new vision for the school. The school spent six months consulting and discussing the key question: 'What is it that we want our school to stand for?'

The statement 'Red Beach School is a community empowering lifelong learners to achieve and make a difference', and the pictorial representation above, form the new school vision.

In the Red Beach graphic, a cluster of shells on the beach depicts each and every learner in the school joining together to form a community. Lifelong learning is shown as the sun rising over the beach.

Lifelong learning is an important concept as the school believes in teaching children the skills of learning for life, not just the skills to pass through the various stages of the education system. To do this, Red Beach School places an emphasis on ensuring that each child achieves in the key areas of reading, writing, and mathematics; and this is demonstrated in the graphic by the pohutukawa tree, reflecting the dominant and forever growing tree centred in Red Beach.

In a similar way, the school emphasises the development of honest, able citizens of the world. This is depicted in the graphic by the 'heart' at the base of the tree, a visual image of the school's values programme.

Everything the school community, its staff, and students focus on ensures that all they do, now and in the future, will make a difference to their own lives and the lives of others. This is shown in the graphic as the footsteps on the beach leading off into the horizon.

The best thing is that this hasn't just sat on a shelf somewhere. It has become central to everything that happens in the school. People are constantly asking how things fit with the vision. It has given everyone a set of core beliefs.
Lesley Tait – Principal

Involving staff

A staff retreat enabled teachers to explore and contribute to the development of the vision. They considered the following questions:

– What is schooling in today's world?

– What skills do we want our kids to leave Red Beach School with?

– What big ideas?

– What values and attitudes?

– With all these skills, values and attitudes in mind, what is the purpose of Red Beach School?

They used a '10/4 voting strategy' to determine the most important concepts and a priority order. Each teacher had ten votes but was able to vote for only four concepts.

Involving students

The students have been encouraged to contribute through learning conversations about the metaphors and concepts in the vision. The Red Beach graphic is important in helping the students to understand these ideas. They have expressed their understanding through conversations, art, and music.

Involving the community

The school held two consultations – one to determine the school values (hearts); and another evening, to which a number of parents were invited to critique the vision statements and provide feedback. A flyer was included in the school newsletter, and three workshops with parents – explaining the vision's components – were offered at the school's open day.

Regular discussions were held with the board of trustees.

Vision day

Once there was consensus on the new vision, it was launched at an afternoon at the beach. The teachers and children prepared for this by making jigsaws, art, and talking about the metaphors. They formed the word 'vision' on the sand, enjoyed their lunch together, and made sand sculptures that represented the school and its new vision. As they were leaving, a pod of dolphins leapt out of the sea.


Teachers actively model lifelong learning. They are exploring this concept more deeply and thinking about how they can teach those attributes.

All professional learning is connected to the vision. It is used as a framework for inducting new staff, and for the redesign of the school intranet and school reports. It has also become part of the selection process for new staff.

As they plan, teachers are asking how this will 'make a difference' (vision concept), allowing them to determine, through questioning, what's important.

Staff have developed a school picture book to help students work with and understand the vision.

The future

Future plans include extending the idea of community beyond the brick and buildings of the school by providing opportunities for parents to be involved in their children's learning, and by extending opportunities for making connections. The school hopes to cross the school-home divide using ICT to open up the learning process, so children will be empowered to learn at home and at school.

You can follow Red Beach School's continuing development through their school website. On the website you will find further digital stories and discussion of the vision and learning at Red Beach School.

Review questions image.

Red Beach School worked together with their community to create a new vision that has become "central to everything that happens in the school. People are constantly asking how things fit with the vision. It has given everyone a set of core beliefs."

There were a number of key factors, which contributed to this process:

  • focus questions related to the proposed changes
  • taking time to work on developing the vision
  • the whole school community were involved in the process
  • the vision was developed around local features, which were then used in metaphors to tell the story of their vision and how it related to their school community
  • the development process included considering the vision in action and reflection by all parties involved.

Discuss the Red Beach School development process and consider the key factors that your school and community would consider critical in the development of your school vision.


Published on: 19 Dec 2007