Schools rated from ‘very good’ to ‘weak’ under new regime

Bruton says changes will give parents better information on school performance

Richard Bruton said new guidelines on inspections and best practice in schools make clear the standards which we want schools to aspire to achieve.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Richard Bruton said new guidelines on inspections and best practice in schools make clear the standards which we want schools to aspire to achieve. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Inspectors are now measuring the quality of education in schools on a sliding scale that ranges from “very good” to “weak”.

The changes are part of broader reforms aimed at providing parents and schools with better information about on performance.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the new inspection reports – introduced a year ago, but which are now evident in recent reports – are more meaningful for parents and teachers.

All reports are available on the Department of Education’s website.

Under recent changes, the department is now carrying out unannounced inspections as well as targeted inspections into, for example, the teaching of a single subject.

Inspection reports are also issued more quickly, allowing schools to implement recommendations more quickly, according to the department.

Standards

Mr Bruton said 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.”

It is estimated that about 1,400 inspections of schools will take place this year. About 450 will be unannounced visits, while 500 evaluate specific subjects or other matters.

The remainder are whole-school evaluations – or comprehensive examinations of individual schools – and follow-through inspections.

In addition, inspectors conduct hundreds of advisory visits to schools to assist with self-evaluation.

A new feature of the inspectorate’s work is on helping schools to drive innovation in teaching and learning.

It has been working on a number of trials this year with disadvantaged schools, as well as Gaeltacht schools seeking to help improve tuition through Irish.