Teachers say school 'is not well-run' amid calls to take 'urgent action'
Education inspectors have raised concerns about leadership and management at a girls' secondary school, where fewer than half the teachers agreed that it was well-run.
A number of management-related areas of life at the 646-pupil Maryfield College, Drumcondra, Dublin, need "urgent attention", according to a Whole School Evaluation (WSE) report.
Much of the report's focus is on the quality of working relationships and communications systems between some members of senior management and staff that "seem to be impacting negatively on important aspects of the running of the school".
Inspectors spent four days in the school in April and the WSE report was published this week.
In an unusual move, inspectors recommend independent facilitation if there is no early improvement in the quality of relationships.
Other concerns highlighted are the relationships and sex education (RSE) programme; the code of behaviour; and provision for pupils with special educational needs.
In its main findings, the report described the quality of school governance as very good, and the quality of teaching and learning as good or very good in the majority of lessons, with some exemplary practice, and scope to improve in a small number of cases.
The overall quality of school leadership and management is stated to be satisfactory, which inspectors otherwise describe as where the strengths just outweigh the shortcomings.
Positives included senior management committed to improving the quality of education and care, senior management and teachers showing a pride in their work and a desire to create a vibrant and positive learning community.
But the report points to a "significant challenge" evident in managing the organisation.
"Perceptions of the openness, fairness and effectiveness of school leadership in some accounts related at meetings held with teachers were diametrically opposed to those of senior management," the report stated.
In a survey of teachers, opinion was divided on whether there was good atmosphere in the school or that communications were good among the staff, with fewer than half agreeing the school was well run.
On RSE, students "indicated a clear dissatisfaction at the quality of provision" and inspectors called for a major review of the planning and delivery of the programme.
Some teachers felt there was inconsistency in the implementation of the code at senior management level and fewer than half of teachers surveyed agreed that policies such as the code or the anti-bullying policy informed day-to-day school life.
Fewer than half of students agreed that the code of behaviour was good, or that students were treated fairly and respectfully. Parents had more positive views on both issues.
Board of management chair Patricia Fitzsimons told the Irish Independent that every one of the recommendations made by the inspectorate had been addressed by the board and that there was a process in place to deal with each of them.