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School told to meet child protection obligations


The school was told to address the deficiency urgently (Stock photo)

The school was told to address the deficiency urgently (Stock photo)

The school was told to address the deficiency urgently (Stock photo)

A PRIMARY school was failing to meet its obligations in relation to statutory child protection procedures issued in 2011, when inspectors called last year.

Gaelscoil Donncha Rua in Shannon, Co Clare could not confirm to a Whole School Evaluation (WSE) team that the board of management had formally adopted the procedures and that the school was compliant with the requirements.

The school was told to address the deficiency urgently and in its response to the WSE report, the board confirmed that it had ratified the guidelines and that it was fulfilling the requirements.

Among the other concerns expressed by inspectors was the lack of action taken to address poor attendance levels that had been highlighted in a previous evaluation, published in 2007.

The co-educational all-Irish school, under the patronage of the Bishop of Killaloe, had 78 pupils enrolled at the time of the inspection in May 2014, a slight decline on the previous year.

According to inspectors, the main strengths of Gaelscoil Donncha Rua include a pleasant learning environment, a commitment by the board, teachers and parents to the development of the school and a strong desire for professional development within the staff.

But among their main recommendations was an immediate need to tackle deficiencies relating to leadership, day-to-day management and the functioning of the board.

Inspectors reported evidence of significant weakness in the board in relation to statutory functions. Certified accounts were prepared for the first time in 2014, for the years 2008-13 inclusive, although legislation requires certification on an annual basis.

According to the report, the principal was unexpectedly absent from the beginning of the evaluation and this absence, together with the absence of some school records, including policy documents and board minutes, impacted on the evidence base available to inspectors.

Although a gaelscoil, inspectors considered the quality of teaching, learning and pupil achievements in Irish to be in need of development. "Overall, little progress has been made in making Irish the standard language of communication among pupils in the majority of classrooms and in the school yard", the report states.

In relation to the quality of teaching, learning and pupil achievement, the report said practice of a high standard was observed in some settings, but there was scope for development.

Standards in maths were considered weak, with some instances of good practice, while English was good overall. In its response, the board accepted the findings and outlined a range of follow-up actions, planned or undertaken, which, as well as ratifying child protection procedures, include board training and a review of the approach to teaching Irish.

"We intend to carry on with the good practice that is fully in progress throughout the school. In the coming year, the recommendations arising from the WSE will be prioritised," said the board.

Irish Independent