Parent guide: how to find your child’s school inspection report

School education rated from ‘very good’ to ‘poor’ under inspection regime

It’s over ten years since the Department of Education published their first individual school inspection reports.

It was long overdue: the move was aimed at the time at dampening demand for school league tables by providing parents with information on school performance.

However, critics said the these reports were fairly anodyne, with critical findings couched in diplomatic language which required parents to read between the lines.

In a change introduced a year ago, Minister for Education Richard Bruton says inspectors have been measuring the quality of education in schools on a sliding scale that ranges from "very good" to "weak".


The most comprehensive reports are “whole-school evaluations’. These measure the quality of the school management and leadership, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and the school’s own planning and self-review.

To find a whole-school inspection report for your school, visit here.

At second level, there are also subject inspection reports which evaluate the teaching and learning of individual subjects. They are available here.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton says these revised reports are more meaningful for parents and teachers.

He says new guidelines on inspections and best practice in schools make clear the standards which we want schools to aspire to achieve.

“Probably the biggest change for parents and teachers is the new inspection reports that have begun to be published over the last year,” Mr Bruton said.

“The new inspection reports contain clearer statements about the quality of the school’s work that is examined in each inspection. They also include information that helps readers understand the judgements that inspectors make.”

Parents do not necessarily get the full picture. For example, there is no specific information on any underperforming teachers or principals.

However, the first fitness to practice hearings for teachers are due to get underway next week, which officials say will be a major step forward in ensuring public confidence in the teaching profession.

How to read individual inspection reports:

“Very good”

This applies where the quality of the areas evaluated is of a very high standard. The very few areas for improvement that exist do not significantly impact on the overall quality of provision. For some schools in this category the quality of what is evaluated is outstanding and provides an example for other schools of exceptionally high standards of provision.


Good applies where the strengths in the areas evaluated clearly outweigh the areas in need of improvement. The areas requiring improvement impact on the quality of pupils’ learning. The school needs to build on its strengths and take action to address the areas identified as requiring improvement in order to achieve a very good standard.


Satisfactory applies where the quality of provision is adequate. The strengths in what is being evaluated just outweigh the shortcomings. While the shortcomings do not have a significant negative impact they constrain the quality of the learning experiences and should be addressed in order to achieve a better standard.


Fair applies where, although there are some strengths in the areas evaluated, deficiencies or shortcomings that outweigh those strengths also exist. The school will have to address certain deficiencies without delay in order to ensure that provision is satisfactory or better.


Weak applies where there are serious deficiencies in the areas evaluated. Immediate and coordinated whole-school action is required to address the areas of concern. In some cases, the intervention of other agencies may be required to support improvements.

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