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Rise in number of surprise inspections for our schools

SCHOOLS are being subjected to an increasing number of surprise inspections.

New figures reveal that more inspectors than ever are showing up at primary schools without any warning.

In the past, the Department of Education relied on pre-planned Whole School Evaluation (WSE) inspections, whereby authorities were often given several weeks to prepare.

However, a change of strategy saw 196 impromptu inspections take place in the last three months of 2009.

The inspectorate carried out just six similar unannounced checks between January and October last year.

When an inspector walks into a school they can move between classrooms and observe teaching practices before moving on.

The drop-in inspections mean that officials can check out more schools than under the WSE system. It was introduced in recent years as a detailed way of examining the performances of individual schools.

The increase in surprise inspections coincides with the height of industrial action activity and threats from union leaders to withdraw co-operation with WSE. Parent groups are pleased with the increase in random inspections.