Thursday, May 29, 2008

DES Inspection Report

Our official subject inspection report conducted by the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science on 'The Quality of Learning and Teaching in English' is now public, and can be accessed on the DES website here. The inspection was carried over two days at St Columba's in December 2007. Like all these reports, it is divided into four sections:-
  • Subject provision and whole school support
  • Planning and preparation
  • Teaching and learning
  • Assessment
and there is a summary at the end. We were delighted by the report, and impressed by the professionalism with which the inspection was carried out. The process was a positive and affirming experience for us.
The summary reads :
  • There is good provision of English lessons in St Columba’s College and there is very good whole school support for the subject.
  • There is a very impressive range of co-curricular activities pertaining to English available to the students in the college.
  • The English department has developed an excellent and innovative website. The website generates an interest among students in formal writing and gives them opportunities to write for a wider public than their teachers.
  • A striking feature of the college is the many opportunities that students have to display their written work.
  • There is a very good library in the school and the college funds payment of a librarian. The library is well stocked and well organised.
  • There was evidence that students’ literacy levels improve as they progress through the year and school.
  • The English department is very ably coordinated. The department engages in real collaboration and is very reflective. It is constantly developing new ideas to cultivate a love of English among students and to develop their skills in English.
  • A strong reading culture has been developed in the school.
  • The English teachers are commended for working in the true spirit of the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate English syllabuses in that the wide focus of English lessons goes beyond the examinations and prepares students for life.
  • A range of opportunities are planned to give students a sense of responsibility for their own learning. The TY course is extensive and gives students an excellent grounding in key skills.
  • There is a high quality of teaching and learning. This was evidenced through the high standards expected, the range of texts taught, the frequency of student assignments in a range of genre, the many opportunities for students to write and the excellent examination results.
  • Common examinations are set and a common marking scheme is agreed by English teachers. Students are assessed on a regular basis. The English department has a specific homework policy. All students’ work was corrected to a very high standard.
The report also contains two recommendations for improvement, on junior cycle planning and purpose in lessons, which we are addressing.

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