Minister Bruton Launches Chief Inspector’s Report 2018
This February, Minister Bruton launched The Chief Inspector’s Report from the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills. The Report summarises the findings from nearly 5,000 inspections in schools and centres for education during the period January 2013 to June 2016. The Report also summarises findings from inspections of Early Years provision made in 2015 and 2016.
Minister Bruton has set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. Major international studies have recently shown the strength of the Irish education system. Ireland’s 15-year-olds are among the best in OECD countries in reading and are above average in mathematics and science. Our primary school students are the best in Europe for reading and maths. The Inspectorate is key to helping schools deliver the excellent standards we are seeing in our schools.
Some key findings of the Chief Inspector’s Report:
Overall Quality of Teaching
Primary: Quality of teaching in primary schools was generally of a high standard. It was judged as good or better in between 88% and 94% of schools inspected via Whole School Evaluation (WSE). This is an improvement on the previous Chief Inspector’s Report 2010-2012 where the quality of teaching was good or better in over 86% of all inspections.
Post Primary: The report outlines very positive findings for post-primary schools. The overall quality of teaching in post-primary schools was evaluated as good or better in between 88% and 94% of lessons. The quality of learning was good or better in 85% to 91% of lessons visited, depending on the model of inspection used. This was better than in the 2010-2012 report in which the quality of learning was satisfactory or better in between 82% and 84% of lessons.
At both primary and second level, inspectors noted that while overall the overall standards of teaching and learning were good or better, more lessons were “good” rather than “very good”.
Teaching of English
Primary: There has been an improvement in the quality of teaching and learning of English in primary schools. The quality of teaching and learning was satisfactory or better in 93% of primary schools where a Whole School Evaluation was carried out compared to 89% of schools in 2010-2012. Inspectors reported that teaching approaches were less than satisfactory in 12% of English lessons examined in unannounced (incidental) inspections.
Post Primary: Learning in English was found to be good or very good in 83% of lessons observed in Subject Inspections of English. This is broadly in line with the previous 2010-2012 report, although Inspectors did note the need for better planning of lessons and more variety in content of lessons. Inspectors expressed concerns that the overall quality of learning was less than satisfactory in 17% of English lessons.
Teaching of Mathematics
Primary: The quality of teaching and learning in Mathematics was found to be satisfactory or better in 96% of schools during WSEs compared to 92% in the 2010-2012 report.
Post Primary: Overall findings from Inspections are largely positive. The data from 2013-2016 shows that learning was good or better in 88% of lessons in Mathematics Subject Inspections, which is a significant increase compared to 2010-2012 where the quality of learning was good or better in 74% of lessons. However, teaching approaches were judged to be less than satisfactory in 15% of mathematics lessons inspected in unannounced (incidental) inspections.
Teaching of Irish
The report expresses concerns about the teaching of Irish at both levels. Standards in Irish are poorer than those in English and Mathematics.
Primary: The quality of teaching of Irish remained broadly the same over the period, as during the 2010-2012 period and Inspectors reported that improvements are required in this area. The quality of learning in Irish was good or better in 74% of lessons in (unannounced) incidental with learning in 26% of Irish lessons deemed unsatisfactory.
Post Primary: Challenges persist at post primary level although the quality of students’ learning in Irish in Subject Inspections showed an improvement in students’ learning since the last Chief Inspector’s Report. The quality of students’ learning in Subject Inspections was judged to be satisfactory or better in 68% of lessons in 2010-12, and this had improved to 79% in 2013-16. Inspectors also noted a higher percentage of lessons (up 10%) that were very good and a matching reduction in the percentage of lessons where lessons were considered to be unsatisfactory.
The proportion of lessons in Subject Inspections where learning was judged to be very good in Irish was 28% (compared to 34% in English and 41% in Mathematics). In addition, in 21% of lessons observed in Subject Inspections of Irish, learning was less than satisfactory.
Boards of management
Primary: The quality of management was good or better in 89%-90% of the schools in which Whole-School Evaluations were conducted. A minority of voluntary Boards of Management find it challenging to manage demanding tasks, including handling parental complaints and providing leadership when standards are not satisfactory in the school. The report noted that better professional support could be provided to (mostly voluntary) Boards of Management of schools in carrying out complex tasks.
Post-primary: The quality of management was good orbetter in 91% of the post-primary schools in which whole-school evaluations were undertaken.
Primary: The quality of work of school leadership remains of good or very good quality. The percentage of schools where the quality of the work of in-school management was less than satisfactory was between 11% and 15% in this report compared to 18% in the Chief Inspector’s Report of 2010-2012.
Post Primary: Inspectors found effective senior management in the majority of schools inspected.