Most schools and organizations have strategic plans. The idea is to set long-term to medium-term goals (3 to 5 years) for schools to focus on so they do not get lost during the business of normal operations. Representatives from all stakeholder groups get together, usually for a full day or retreat setting to create the plan. I have seen many plans and for most, I feel, they are too spread out, trying to cover too many areas. They are also usually very dense language wise, and using a lot of platitudes. This is not good for a community to rally behind or even understand what the community should be trying to accomplish. Many schools help this by using the strategic plan to make yearly operational goals that narrow and define goals.
I am an outsider to OIS, as I have not yet started my job as Head of School. This gives me a typical stakeholder’s perspective of the plan, as most people were not involved in creating the document. It is not good to have too many people involved in the writing of the document because that is one way to get the document to be too diverse, and the more people participating, the harder it is to reach consensus in what are the priorities.
I really like the OIS Strategic Plan 2013-2016. It is entitled, “Partnerships for the Future” which refers to the unique position of OIS. I don’t know of any international schools that share a campus and program with a local, private, international school (Senri International School SIS) and are part of prominent university foundation. The main goal of the next three years is to develop, celebrate, and market these two partnerships. The school was founded in 1991 with its sister school, SIS, and it merged with the Kwansei Gaukin (Western Japan University) in April of 2010. During the next two school years, from 2011 to 2013, OIS did a self-study, collecting much data from the community and underwent an accreditation visit from several agencies. This time of reflection and evaluation was a good opportunity to make a new strategic plan. In 2014-2015, OIS will be in the second year of the plan and I will be blogging on our progress.
You can read the document in its entirety at the end of this post. I have summarized the key goals below.
The OIS Strategic Plan fits in with the KG Foundation’s 10-year Strategic Plan. The KG Foundation is in the second half of the plan and in these five years, they are “raising the quality of education in context of a global environment.” That resonates with what OIS does and in fact, what the Japanese education system is trying to do as a whole. They are trying to produce students that are global citizens and can interact and compete with a interconnected global community. The OIS plan is broken down into four main areas:
Learning Community – The main goals here are to vertically align the school’s curriculum, better collect and analyze student learning data, and define clearly the Professional Development Program for OIS within the KG Foundation’s budget.
Technology and Learning – Develop a person in the position of Technology Director. The Tech Director will lead the school in figuring out what is the best technology tools for students to learn with in this age of the internet and in conjunction with the library, support teachers in using technology to improve their teaching.
Attracting Learners – Through better marketing of the school’s unique partnerships, increase enrollment in the upper grades, and get a more diverse, international student body.
The OIS Community – Focus more on the “soft skills” of character education by enhancing programs such as pastoral care, Community, Action, and Service, and the PTA. They also want to broaden the number of community members interacting with the KG Foundation and to communicate clearly means to be in the two partnerships.