4 min read

Vision quest: Paul Pirihi's journey to unite a community

What’s a school vision? As a statement of intent, a picture of where you want to be in five years, it forms a critical part of telling your team, students and community what the school will bring to them.  

When Paul Pirihi, principal at Rosebank Primary took on the task of reworking his school’s vision, he found that it Helped bring all the staff, students and community together.   

“I knew it was going to be be awesome”  

Paul had previous exposure to our Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme before doing it himself in 2019, which shaped his decision to work with us on his plan for Rosebank.  

“The previous principal I worked with, they did SLPP and re-visioned the school – and it gave everything a new life and purpose. When I moved to Rosebank, I jumped at the opportunity to do the same.” 

“Before that, the vision statement was something old and outdated – nothing you’d remember. When I first looked at it and did some digging, I realised that nobody knew what the vision for the school was – and that really worried me!” 

“Through SLPP, I got to work on something new. I wanted it to be short and snappy, so people would remember it. I got feedback from staff, from students, even did a lot of research into popular brands. Distilling everything I got back from the people around me, there were some  clear themes that we could make into a vision – and I knew it was going to be awesome.” 

That vision? Dream. Believe. Succeed.  

Success on an individual’s terms  

As Paul explains, the vision then permeated through every aspect of the school.  

“It’s everywhere – we have  got signs for around the school, one for each class with the Māori translations included. It’s on the front fence. We’re going to link into vision awards at the assemblies. There’s a school values song with the vision incorporated in it. You could even say it’s overkill, but we love it!”  

The simplicity of the vision also allows students to envision things differently for themselves – placing themselves in the context of the school and using the vision and values to realise their own success.  

“An example is when our sports teams go off to play – even if they don’t win – we can bring it back to the vision, to think about where they succeeded. It’s about what success is for every individual, and helping the students understand that they can believe they will become whatever they want to be.”  

"It's about... helping the students understand that they can believe they will become whatever they want to be"
Paul Pirihi, Rosebank School Principal

Daring to dream big 

While Paul devised the vision with the help of his school and community, it happened as part of the SLPP process – something he is very pleased to have done.  

“Through Springboard, I got to work with Darrin Bull, who is one of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. He reviewed every step I took to get the vision and plan to where it was, catching up with me outside Springboard workshops all the time to go through what I was doing with a fine tooth comb.”  

“I’ve done a lot – a lot - of professional learning, and this was the best by a mile. It’s why I’ve come back, I’m working with my three DPs and Springboard to refresh our strategic plan. Each of the DPs are responsible for a strategic goal, which helps us develop leaders all the time at every level across the school.”  

The success of “Dream. Believe. Succeed” has reverberated through the Rosebank School community – and it’s even helped with recruitment.  

“We asked applicants for a role at the school to share a 5-minute presentation about our school vision, and the way everyone just got it was incredible. Someone even wrote a poem about it, I’ve asked for a copy of that because it just encapsulates everything so well.”  

“Everyone believes in the vision, and everyone knows how to work towards it – it's given our school such a wonderful sense of purpose. We dream big, so we have to believe in ourselves and make those pathways available for whoever needs them.”

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