Education inspectors get tough on schools
THE Department of Education is getting tougher with schools and demanding that they rectify failings quickly.
Its much more robust approach to schools is confirmed in the latest batch of evaluation reports which have just been published.
Separate reports criticise poor management practices and poor quality of teaching as well as the lack of appropriate qualifications for their subjects.
One report says that the working relationships between the principal and board of management in Scoil Naisiunta Eoghain in Moville, Co Donegal, school have broken down.
It says that the present situation is untenable and is impacting negatively on school management and on staff morale and confidence. Currently the board of management is not functioning satisfactorily as a cohesive unit.
It is essential that lines of communication and a professional working relationship are re-established between the board and the principal, says the whole school evaluation (WSE) report.
At the time of the inspection last December the board had not formally adopted the department's child protection guidelines and a designated liaison person had not been appointed as required. Since then, the guidelines have been adapted and other improvements have also been introduced. The principal was absent on the day of the evaluation but the overall quality of the documents presented was unsatisfactory. In Co Roscommon, the tiny 17-pupil Cloverhill national school was criticised for a lack of vision. Inspectors claimed the quality of in-school management was poor, as was the quality of pupil management and assessment, school planning, and the teaching of English, maths and geography.
The report said: "The quality of pupils' reading is generally poor, particularly in the junior classes. Pupils display poor word-attack skills and many are unable to recognise the most commonly used words. Many pupils in the junior classes have an incorrect pencil grip and pupils in junior and middle classes display poor letter formation. In the senior classes copies are unkempt and handwriting is untidy and often unclear."
In its response, the board said that 13 of the 17 pupils had arrived from 10 different countries in the school just months before the evaluation and had received little formal education prior to that. However, it promised an immediate action plan for the development of literacy in the infant classes.
Meanwhile, Scoil Naomh Peader agus Pol in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, was criticised for not sticking to the regulation length of the school day.
St Helen's Junior National School in Portmarnock, Co Dublin, was told that lessons generally need to be made more challenging. And a report on the Castlepollard Community College said that a second teacher of Irish had neither Irish as a degree subject nor sufficient competence in oral Irish to teach the language.