Nearly 70 schools put under supervision over poor standards

Almost 70 schools have been put under Department of Education supervision because of poor standards over the last five years.

From Feb 2008 to the end of last year, 41 primary and 27 second-level schools were referred to the department’s school improvement group, which monitors schools with significant weaknesses.

Among the work done with them is professional support for teachers, changes in management, further inspection visits, and financial penalties.

Fewer than one third had shown enough improvements to have monitoring removed by the end of 2012, although some of the 47 still in the process had only been working with the group for a short time.

The details emerged in the annual reports of department chief inspector Harold Hislop for 2010 to 2012, which shows high overall standards of teaching in the vast majority of the country’s 4,000 schools.

As well as meeting inspectors’ satisfaction, 97% of primary parents and 87% of second-level parents felt teaching was good in their children’s schools.

However, concerns emerged around the teaching of Irish and maths, particularly at second level. There was less than satisfactory student learning in 26% of maths classes observed by inspectors, and in almost one-in-three Irish classes.

Dr Hislop noted that weaknesses in maths teaching were being addressed by the introduction of the Project Maths syllabus during the years covered by the report, while inspectors also noted that the depth of mathematical understanding needed to deliver the new syllabus was challenging for some teachers.

Mr Quinn welcomed the report, particularly thereforms in inspection systems reflected in it and the prominence of parents’ and pupils’ views.

More than 80% of primary schools were found to provide satisfactorily for pupils with special needs and almost 90% did so for disadvantaged pupils in need of extra support.

However, there was big room for improvement in second-level schools in the department’s Deis disadvantage programme, as many do not set targets or monitor progress in literacy and numeracy.

In addition to schools undergoing monitoring, inspectors were brought in to review the work of two teachers after efforts by management were unsuccessful, under procedures to deal with under-perfomring teachers.

The inspection findings also confirm the effects of recent years’ cutbacks, such as narrower subject choices in second-level schools because of staffing cuts.

The report also points to “considerable depletion” of middle management in some secondary schools as they are not allowed to fill vacant assistant principal or special duties teacher posts.

Inspector visits 2012

Primary

* 262 whole-school evaluations

* 326 unannounced inspections

* 98 follow-up inspections

Secondary

* 84 whole-school evaluations

* 342 unannounced inspections

* 389 subject inspections

* 79 follow-up inspections

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