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Woman appointed to role of chief inspector for schools for first time

Yvonne Keating makes history as first woman to hold role dating back to 1832

A new chief inspector at the Department of Education has been appointed following the retirement of Dr Harold Hislop.

Yvonne Keating, who served as deputy chief inspector for the past three years, has taken over the new role which involves inspecting and supporting primary and second-level schools, as well as early-learning and care settings.

Ms Keating is the first woman to hold the top post at the inspectorate which dates back to 1832, when it was known as the primary school inspectorate.

Minister for Education Norma Foley said Ms Keating had an “exceptional track record” as a teacher and inspector.


“She is enormously well-qualified for this role. We have an ambitious ongoing programme of development within our school system with, for example, our senior cycle reform, embedding of wellbeing and the development of the new primary curriculum, and the inspectorate will continue to play a key role in the imagining and implementation of this important work,” she said.

“I wish Yvonne every success in her role and I know that the inspectorate will continue to evolve and thrive as an essential support and partner to our schools under her leadership.”

Her appointment follows the retirement of Dr Hislop, who served as chief inspector from 2010.

He was involved in evaluating and supporting schools through major reforms and played a key role in developing alternative forms of assessment for the Leaving Cert during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Foley paid tribute to the “rich legacy” he will leave behind as chief inspector.

“I want to thank Harold for his commitment and dedication to providing excellence in education. Since 2010, he passionately and diligently led a series of reforms in the inspection and evaluation of schools and has led the work supporting educational policy development within the department,” she said.

“Harold’s vast contribution to the Irish education system is widely recognised, at home and internationally. Everyone involved in education sends him every good wish in his retirement from this role.”

Ms Keating holds a bachelor of education degree from Carysfort College, a master of education degree from Maynooth University and the degree of barrister-at-law from King’s Inns.

She has also undertaken further studies in inspection and regulation at the Institute of Education, University of London and leadership studies at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent