A School’s Guiding Statements – who and what are they for?

One thing that we want to focus on this year at Bandung Independent School is our new Guiding Statements, approved by the School Board in May 2016 after a lengthy process of review involving all community members, including a Vision Mission Values review committee made up of teachers, administrators and parents.  Throughout the process we were mindful of IB Programme Standard A: ‘The school’s published statements of mission and philosophy align with those of the IB.’

The process of determining our new guiding statements involved several meetings and a lot of heated debate.  It was certainly not an easy process, and not one without controversy and heated debate.  Deciding what type of school we were and wanted to be evoked emotional responses, and even some criticism.  A few people who had been at the school for a long time almost resented being told by relatively new community members what type of school was desirable; and some of those who were new to the school felt that we needed a different approach.

After the summer break we returned to school and realised that many staff could not even remember the new vision.  Why had we spent so long reviewing and revising our Guiding Statements?  Was it simply because we’re coming up to accreditation and therefore needed revised guiding statements for our self study?  Did they really matter, and how were they going to guide our decisions and actions over the coming years?

On 19 August we held the first PYP assembly of the year.  After welcoming new students and staff we focused on the new vision –‘At BIS, it is our vision to nurture individual potential and be an internationally-minded school of excellence.’  In mixed level groups, students decided how we meet our vision through the PYP attitudes.  Each group was given one attitude and prepared a short skit to demonstrate how we work towards our vision through their particular attitude.  What does it mean to nurture individual potential?  How can we be internationally-minded?  What exactly is a school of excellence?  We felt that connecting the vision to something that the students were already familiar with, the PYP attitudes, worked well.  In the PYP we decided that we wanted to focus first on the students and help them to understand and show commitment to the vision, mission and values of their school.  We were also keen to do this within our inquiry-based curriculum framework in a way which fostered children’s curiosity.

In the following week’s assembly we focused on our new school values.  We deleted the headings of the three columns and the students worked out which values are connected to ‘Academic’; which to ‘Community’ and which to ‘Self’.  In mixed level groups, students next decided how to demonstrate our 10 values through skits.  The groups then presented their skits and the audience used their thinking skills to decide which value each group was showing.  It was certainly encouraging to see that younger students were just as enthusiastic and seemed to understand the values just as easily as older students.

It is very important to us that students as well as staff and parents understand the new Guiding Statements and can connect them to their own role in our school.  How can we make sure that they are not forgotten soon after they were established and announced to the school community?  How can we ensure that they remain ‘alive and kicking’ and play a crucial role in decision making and in the life of the school?

We will be thinking of ways of creating a sense of ownership of and commitment to our new Vision, Mission and Values.  We would like to have images on display around the school of community members demonstrating our different values, or of learning engagements that refer to them.  Perhaps we can request that our parent association use them to evaluate the after school social activities that they plan for this school year.  We would be interested in hearing ways in which other schools have ensured that community members understand their vision, mission and values and use them to ensure ongoing reflection and school improvement.

Bandung Independent School Guiding Statements:

On 23 May 2016 the Board approved the following Vision, Mission and Values:


To nurture individual potential and be an internationally-minded school of excellence


Through relevant, challenging and engaging programmes, we inspire every learner to become skillful and courageous, empowered to participate responsibly, successfully and with integrity in a global community.


Bandung Independent School values:



·     learning as a lifelong process

·     academic rigour and excellence

·     creative and critical thinking


·     respect and empathy toward others

·     building character through a strong ethos towards service and action within the local community

·     creating a safe, caring and open-minded environment

·     being an internationally-minded community


·     integrity and taking responsibility for actions

·     resilience through courage and willingness to lead and take risks

·     balance and wellbeing for ourselves and others.

About marycollins21

Mother of three daughters and one son; grandmother of one. PYP teacher at Xiamen International School, China. I am a member of IBEN (IB Educator Network) and love my role as PYP workshop leader. As well as being passionate about inquiry and all things that enhance student learning, I enjoy reading, salsa and swimming.
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2 Responses to A School’s Guiding Statements – who and what are they for?

  1. cdw11238 says:

    Enjoyed your post! I agree that vision and mission don’t come alive unless they are processed, reflected on, enacted. At one of my schools teachers are similarly doing skits. At another, the principal assembled six images that illustrate the vision and mission. Teachers will work in teams to create statements from the images. Then we will compare their statements to the school’s written statement. Veteran teachers will recall the vision and mission from memory. New teachers will use their imaginations.


  2. Thanks very much for your comment! We have thought about asking students to find images that illustrate our vision, mission or values or even to take photos themselves if they see something happening that would fit the guiding statements. I like your idea of having teachers create statements from images that illustrate the vision and mission.


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