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Accuracy of spoken Irish at gaelscoil criticised


College student (Stock photo)

College student (Stock photo)

College student (Stock photo)

A school that blazed a trail as the first all-Irish girls' secondary has been taken to task by Department of Education inspectors over standards in the national language.

An inaccuracy in spoken Gaeilge at the school and an apathy by students to speaking the language were among the concerns raised after a Whole School Evaluation (WSE) at Scoil Chaitriona, Glasnevin, Dublin.

The school was also told that it needs to increase the number of students achieving higher level ABC grades in the Leaving Certificate.

Although the attainment of students in the State exams and their progression to college was described as "satisfactory overall", inspectors called for a focus on boosting the number of high performers in some subjects.

Scoil Chaitriona opened in 1928 and operated for years as a girls' school in Dublin city centre, before moving to Glasnevin in 1972 and turning co-educational in 1986.

The school, which operates under the patronage of the Le Cheile Catholic Schools Trust, had 423 students at the time of the inspection.

The WSE was carried out in May 2014 and the school responded immediately with a range of proposals to address the inspectors' concerns, starting last June.

The inspectors identified school strengths including a "strong spirit and good healthy atmosphere", a guidance service that "goes far beyond what is provided for in the timetable" and the prominent role given to sports. They found teaching and learning was of a "good or high quality" in most lessons, with "significant strengths" in some, but said there was room for development in one in four of the lessons they observed.

Inspectors noted a commitment by teachers to provide extra classes to exam students in their own time.

Although Scoil Chaitriona is an all-Irish school, the report records inspectors' concern about "inaccuracy" in the spoken language.

They said attention to correct language use by both student and teachers was "essential" for the school's literacy policy to bear fruit.

Inspectors also referred to a survey of students' commitment to speaking Irish habitually, which showed "a certain apathy regarding this issue".

The report also details concerns about issues including school leadership, the quality of communication within the school community and lack of attention paid to policies, such as for relationships and sex education.

Schools are required to have a policy on Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) b ut this had not been approved or implemented at Scoil Chaitriona at the time of the evaluation.

Inspectors also identified gaps such as a lack of a staff handbook and the absence of a formal policy relating to the induction of new teachers.

There were "clear weakness of leadership for learning" and a "lack of organisation" in regard to Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), with no co-ordinator, no subject plan of quality, no structure to provide continuing professional development (CPD) for the teachers, or good arrangements to encourage teachers to teach the subject.

The Irish Independent was unsuccessful in efforts to contact the principal.

A notice on the school website announces the retirement of the former principal, Caitriona Ni Laighin.

It states that Carmel de Grae will be acting as principal, and Eoin Mac Gearailt as deputy principal until the end of the year, when the position of principal will be filled.

It adds: "We look forward to working together with parents, students and staff to continue to promote the values and ethos of Scoil Chaitriona and to provide education through Irish, of a high standard in a safe, caring environment."

Once on the department's site, you can choose the appropriate report or simply type the full name and area of your child's school into the search box in the top right of the page.

Irish Independent