Perfecting Your School's Mission Statement

mission statement for schools
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Every private school has a mission statement, which is something that companies, educational institutions and corporate institutions all use to state what they do and why they do it. A strong mission statement is brief, easy to remember, and addresses the services or products that the institution provides to its target audience. Many schools struggle with creating a strong mission statement and look for guidance on how to best prepare this important message.

 Here's what you need to know about perfecting your school's mission statement, which can help you develop a strong marketing message that your audience will remember.

What is a Mission Statement?

Every private school has a mission statement, but not every school's community knows it and lives it. In fact, many people aren't even sure what the mission statement should be for their school. A mission statement should be a message that states what your school does. It should not be a lengthy description of your school's makeup, demographics, student body, and facilities.

How long should the Mission Statement be for my school?

You may find differing opinions, but most will agree that your mission statement should be short. Some say a paragraph should be the absolute maximum length of the message, but if you truly want people to remember and embrace your school's mission, just a sentence or two is ideal.

What should my school's Mission Statement say?

If you had 10 seconds to say what your school does, what would you say? This is a great exercise to do if you're creating or evaluating your mission statement. It needs to be specific to your school, and it needs to clearly illustrate what you're doing as an educational institution, your purpose.

Why do you exist? 

This does not mean outline every little detail of your school's plan of action, strategic plan, or accreditation self-study. This simply means you need to tell your greater community what your main objectives are. However, your mission statement should not be so general that the reader doesn't even know what sort of business you are in. As an educational institution, something about your mission should relate to education. While it's important to think about what your mission statement means to your school, it's equally important to understand that as private schools, to some extent we all have the same mission: to educate children. So use your mission statement to take this notion a step further and find out how you differentiate from your peers and competitors. 

How long should a mission statement last?

You should aim to develop a timeless mission, as in it is a message that can stand the test of time - decades or longer. That doesn't mean that your mission statement can never change; if there are significant organizational changes, a new mission statement could be most appropriate. But, you should aim to develop a general statement about philosophy that doesn't tie your school to a time-sensitive program or educational trend.

An example of a programmatic mission that works well would be a school's mission statement that describes a commitment to the Montessori Method, a tried and tested educational model. This is an acceptable specification for a school. An example of a programmatic mission that is not ideal would be a school that develops a mission statement that ties the school to 21st-century teaching methods that were the trend in the early 2000s. This mission statement dates the school's practice to the turn of the 21st century, and teaching methods have changed already since the year 2000, and will continue to do so. 

Who should develop a mission statement?

A committee should be formed to create and/or evaluate your mission statement that should be comprised of people who know the school well today, and are familiar with its strategic plans for the future, and understand the elements of a strong mission statement.

What is often disappointing is that many committees who decide what a school's mission statement should be don't include branding and messaging experts who can provide proper guidance to ensure that the school is represented well.  

How do I evaluate my school's mission statement?

  1. Does it accurately describe your school?
  2. Could it accurately describe your school 10 years from now?
  3. Is it simple and easy to understand?
  4. Does your community, including faculty and staff, students, and parents, know the mission statement by heart? 

If you answer no to any of these questions, you may need to evaluate the strength of your mission statement. A strong mission statement is a crucial component of developing a strategic ​marketing plan for your school. Think your school has a great mission statement? Share it with me on Twitter and Facebook.