Thursday 13 December 2018

Standards in Irish among primary school children have deteriorated, new report shows

One in ten parents describe their child’s emotional health as “poor” or “fair”. (stock photo)
One in ten parents describe their child’s emotional health as “poor” or “fair”. (stock photo)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Standards in Irish among primary school children have deteriorated in recent years, according to a new report from the Department of Education.

It is among a number of concerns about teaching and learning in the core subjects of English, maths and Irish, raised in the Chief Inspector’s Report.

The report, by Chief Inspector Harold Hislop, is based on almost 5,000 school inspections conducted during the period 2013-16.

Problems with standards tended to be slightly more obvious when inspectors arrived for unannounced visits, rather than when notice is given.

Overall, the quality of teaching in primary schools was found to be high with a general  improvement in English and maths, since the last report covering the 2010-12. This coincides with the introduction of the numeracy and literacy strategy.

Inspectors also reported largely positive findings about teaching and learning in post primary schools.

However, at both levels, they described more lessons as “good” rather than “very good” and also raised particular concerns.

Among their findings at primary level are:

  • a deterioration in outcomes for children in Irish is noted since the 2010-12, with a significant number of children not making appropriate progress
  • the quality of learning was deemed “unsatisfactory” in 26pc of Irish lessons
  • teaching approaches were “less than satisfactory” in 12pc of English lessons, where inspectors arrived unannounced
  • teaching approaches were “less than satisfactory” in 15pc of maths lessons in where inspectors arrived unannounced

At post-primary level, their findings included:

  • the overall quality of learning was in “less than satisfactory” in 17pc of English classes where inspectors arrived unannounced
  • challenges persist in the teaching of Irish although the overall quality of student learning showed an improvement on 2010-2012.
  • teaching approaches were “less than satisfactory” in 15pc of maths lessons where inspectors arrived unannounced.

The report also raises concerns about the ability of some school boards of management to deal with the range of issues coming before them, such as large scale building projects.

Launching the report, Education Minister Richard Bruton said there was much that was good in the country’s Early Years, primary and post-primary education provision.

“The Chief Inspector’s Report acknowledges all the good practice that takes place on a daily basis in our schools and other settings in terms of quality leadership, management, teaching and learning.

He said the findings from this, together with positive findings for Ireland in international assessments of reading and mathematics, affirmed  that the Irish education and training system should become the best in Europe over the next decade, is achievable.

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