School inspectors criticise standards of teaching in maths and Irish
Teaching quality and standards in all other subjects found to be satisfactory
Ruairi Quinn: “Does it point to a need for reform? No, it screams for reform”
School inspectors have highlighted unsatisfactory quality standards in the teaching of maths and Irish in schools. However, teaching in all other subject areas holds up better, with more positive assessments, a report by the chief inspector of schools has found.
The report shows that a quarter of Irish lessons at primary level during inspections were unsatisfactory. In post-primary schools, about a third of Irish lessons were ranked as unsatisfactory, as were a quarter of maths lessons.
And while maths learning in primary schools was satisfactory or better in 86 per cent of cases, the report showed that only half of students were involved in collaborative working, something considered essential in this subject area.
Teaching quality and standards in all other subjects were found to be satisfactory or better, according to the Chief Inspector’s Report 2010-2012 released yesterday. The highly detailed report includes assessments after announced and unannounced inspections by staff from the department.
For the first time the inspector’s report includes surveys involving parents and also students, who give their assessments of teaching standards in our schools.
Inspectors judged that 86 per cent of lessons inspected in unannounced inspections were satisfactory or better in primary schools, but 14 per cent were not satisfactory. The overall figures for post-primary schools were 87 per cent satisfactory or better and 13 per cent not satisfactory. This generally good performance was repeated across all lessons, the inspectors judged, except for in the areas of Irish and maths.
Baseline of data
Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn said he had read the report with interest. It now provided a baseline of data which could be used in ongoing inspection activities.
The difficulties with maths and Irish were a problem, he said. “Does it point to a need for reform? No, it screams for reform,” Mr Quinn said of the inspector’s findings.
For too long people had “unwisely” accepted the notion that Ireland had the best education system in the world, something that blocked change. The report showed that generally the school system was performing well, he said, but it also revealed some weaknesses and pointed schools in the direction of improvement.
The school system had been working “in a challenging context” given the fiscal restraints, said chief inspector of schools Harold Hislop. Student numbers had grown while the number of teachers has remained fairly static.
The report included the details of almost 800 whole school evaluations and 1,100 incidental inspections at primary level, he said. At post-primary there had been almost 190 whole school evaluations, more than 1,400 subject inspections and 430 incidental inspections, he said.
Inspection procedures had been changed considerably and this was the first such report to be issued publicly by the inspector’s office, Mr Hislop said. Also for the first time questionnaires were completed by thousands of parents and students to assess their views on the provision of education.
These surveys showed there was a “communications issue” between schools and parents. While 94 per cent of primary pupils felt safe at school, only 70 per cent of parents felt their child’s school was dealing well with bullying. Only 70 per cent of parents said their views were regularly sought by the school.
The responses from parental surveys were very positive from the point of view of education, the report indicates. The survey of 47,000 parents of primary school pupils showed that 97 per cent of them felt that teaching was good in their child’s school. At post-primary school level 87 per cent of the 20,000 parents surveyed were happy about the teaching standards at their child’s school.
The 29,000 post-primary student surveys showed 70 per cent of students said their classes were interesting and 74 per cent agreed that their teachers explained things clearly.