43,280 teachers rated on website


Almost 700,000 ratings have been registered on the controversial website where students can rate their teachers' performances, with fee-paying schools receiving the highest number of ratings.

The Rate My Teachers website, which has been condemned by teacher representative bodies, was inundated with anonymous comments when the site was originally launched in March and to date 43,280 teachers and 1,837 schools have been rated.

However, since its controversial start, the number of students appraising their teachers has fallen dramatically in the latter half of 2005.

The five most frequently rated schools, after St Louis secondary school in Dundalk, include the names of some of the best known fee-paying schools in the State: Terenure College (3,933), Blackrock College (3,801), Catholic University School (3,708) and Castleknock Community School (3,570).

The non-fee paying secondary school St Benildus College, in Stillorgan, is classed as the school with the best teachers with an average rating of 4.2816 (out of a possible 5).

A spokesman for the Rate My Teachers website said there was a strong correlation between heavy usage and fee-paying schools in both Ireland and the Britain.

He reasoned that students boarding in such schools had greater after-school access to computers and that in the more "academic schools", students often felt more involved in the school process.

In April, Ireland was posting three times more ratings than the US and Canada combined. However, since the site was launched to great fanfare and public debate in March, the number of monthly ratings has decreased from a peak of more than 300,000 to several thousand in recent months.

The website has acknowledged that ratings had fallen on both the Irish and British sites.

As it aims toward reaching the one million ratings mark, more than 15,000 students have now signed up for permanent accounts on the site so they can change their teacher ratings on a regular basis.

Currently, 38 schools are listed on the website's "hall of shame" as having blocked access to the controversial site but on the same page, a link to a website where students can learn how to disable blocking software is provided.

The spokesman for Rate My Teachers concluded that the comments registered on the site were now more constructive than previously and the site was moving towards providing an open forum for students, parents and teachers.