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New school inspections turn heat up on teaching


 Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan

A range of changes to the schools inspection regime has put teaching standards and management under increased scrutiny.

Ongoing reforms include more school visits and follow-ups on earlier reports to ensure that recommended improvements are implemented.

Despite cutbacks in staffing levels in the Department of Education, the number of inspections in schools has risen in recent years.

Recently published inspections analysed in a special report in today’s Irish Independent have picked up:

* A gaelscoil where there was inaccuracy in spoken Irish at the school.

* Some schools still not teaching pupils about relationships and sex education.

* Schools not meeting the requirement  for a minimum 28 hours of tuition time each week.

* A school where many parents felt the contribution was not voluntary.

In an example of how the new regime is working, a school that was severely criticised a number of years ago has now got a clean bill of health from the inspectors after implementing recommended changes.

There were 954 inspections  at primary level last year – almost one in three of the  3,200 schools – up from 742 in 2010.

At second level, there were 754 inspections in 2014 – an average of slightly more than one per school – up from 706 in 2010.

In addition, there are more than 3,000 visits to probationary primary teachers each year, giving inspectors another opportunity to see a school at work.

Follow-through inspections are among a number of significant reforms introduced to drive quality in the system and to provide better accountability to parents and students.

Any school that has had an inspection may now get a return visit within about three years to check on progress. So far about 700 such visits have been made, and the Department of Education is publishing the reports.

Meanwhile, second-level teachers’ union ASTI has snubbed Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan with a decision not to invite her to their annual Easter conference.

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

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