Most primary classrooms unfit for modern teaching -- report
Published 15/10/2010 | 05:00
MOST Irish primary pupils are in classrooms not suitable for modern teaching and learning, a major study has found.
Many of the children are not getting the best out the curriculum because of out-dated school designs and poor facilities.
Cluttered classrooms and a lack of outdoor space are among the main obstacles facing teachers and pupils, according to a new report .
Lack of space makes it difficult to incorporate modern teaching methods, such as the group work and play-based learning that is central to the curriculum.
Pupils and teachers in schools built according to 2007 guidelines have more positive experiences, but they represent only a tiny minority of the 3,300 primary schools.
Despite the concerns raised in the report, there are no plans for what would be a massive school-building programme to tackle all the problems.
And at the rate at which the Department of Education builds or modernises schools, many will wait a long time to benefit from a new design.
In 2010, at both primary and post-primary level, approval was given for only 52 major school-building projects. Another 1,200 major projects -- including new schools and extensions -- remain on a waiting list.
The shortcomings have been highlighted in a report from the Economic and Social Research Institutes (ESRI).
The ESRI says the 2007 guidelines are "a step in the right direction", but calls for even better design to cater for the needs of pupils in the modern era.
International research has pointed to the importance of school design for pupil engagement, learning and achievement.
The department commissioned the 'Designing Primary Schools for the Future' report at a time when rising enrolments -- projected to grow by about 10,000 a year over the next decade -- has sparked a generation of new primary schools.
As well as the need for new schools, about 1,250 existing schools, in outdated or inadequate accommodation, are awaiting approval for major building works.
The ESRI report found many classrooms environments to be teacher-focused rather than child-centred and insufficiently flexible to accommodate new technology.
Its main findings were: l in older schools, restricted space constrains the range of teaching methodologies, particularly group work;
- in older schools, rooms for resource and supplementary teaching, such as for pupils with special needs, are often adapted from other spaces;
- even in newer schools, space for supplementary teaching is seen as too small for active learning methods;
- outdoor spaces attract the most criticism -- for being inadequate, lacking variation in surfaces, and lacking shelter, and so are not being exploited for day-to-day teaching.