SCHOOLS will draw up report cards on themselves as part of a new regime designed to raise education standards.
The Department of Education is introducing a self-evaluation process for the 4,000 primary and post-primary schools to help them focus attention on where they could perform better.
Principals and teachers are being told to evaluate the school's strength and weaknesses in key areas, such as literacy and numeracy.
Then they must set out a plan for improvement over rolling three-year periods.
Parents will also be involved as part of a drive to boost literacy and numeracy after worrying evidence of a decline in standards in these basic areas.
Teachers gave a guarded welcome, warning that it must not create even more bureaucracy for school staff who are already stretched.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said teachers needed reflect on their teaching and get the views of students and parents about their work.
"This will help them to identify what they are doing well and what needs to improve. They can then plan carefully to bring about better outcomes for their students," he said.
Parents and pupils will be asked to contribute their views through questionnaires, interviews or focus groups.
The process is aimed at providing schools with solid evidence of what is working well – and what is not.
The evaluation process is to focus on a different area of teaching and learning each year, with improvement plans implemented as schools move on to the next topic.
Many schools already carry out such evaluations, but this is the first time it is being formally embedded in the system.
Schools in countries including Finland, Scotland and New Zealand are encouraged to reflect on and examine their own practice and take responsibility for improvement within their own schools,
According to the department these countries consistently perform well in international assessments of education.
Schools have been told to start self-evaluation and Mr Quinn has now launched guidelines to assist them.
The guidelines are being welcomed, but the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) said schools would need resources to implement it.
The union said that many schools were struggling with the moratorium suppressing promotions to middle management posts, which impacted the introduction of initiatives such as this.
The INTO said in other schools, teachers were trying to maximise time for teaching and learning, as issues like dealing with bullying, promoting attendance or paperwork and bureaucracy made increasing demands on teacher time.
Programme deserves our support