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Quality Assurance and School


SDP Summer School

NUI Galway

21 June 2011

Gary Ó Donnchadha
Deputy Chief Inspector
Department of Education and Skills
Influences on School and System
Continuum of
Education Curriculum
Quality of
and Review -

Examinations Teaching
Commission Council
School and

National and Development

International Planning and
Reporting on Self-
Outcomes evaluation

Supports and
Services to
External Evaluation – Theoretical Bases

• Long history of inspection of schools (180 years)

• Statutory procedure under the Education Act, 1998, S13

• Informed by research and evaluation principles

embedded in the Code of Practice
• Developed over recent times in tandem with school
development / school improvement / SSE paradigm
• Accountable under public management / public
accountability and VFM frameworks

• Processes that are principled by collegial, co-

professional and affirmative approaches to engagement
with schools and teachers

• A responsibility to employ fair procedures and ensure

due process in reporting on schools.
Evaluation – Aims

• to identify, acknowledge and affirm good

practice in schools

• to promote continuing improvement in the

quality of education offered by schools
• to promote self-evaluation and continuous
development by schools and staffs

• to provide an assurance of quality in the

educational system as a whole, based on the
collection of objective, dependable, high-
quality data.
Quality assurance
– legal bases
 Education legislation
o Education Act 1998
o Education Welfare Act (2000)
o Teaching Council Acts (2001 and 2006)
o Education for Persons with Special Needs Act (2004)

 Clarification of functions and responsibilities of

o Teachers o Inspectors
o Principal o Trustees
o Board of Management o Minister

 e.g Sections 9, 13, 15, 20, 21, 24, 27, 28, 29, 53 Education Act 1998
A range of Evaluation Models
 Whole-school type inspections:
o WSE (Primary)
o WSE (Post-primary)
o WSE-MLL (Management, leadership and
 Subject Inspection (PP)
 Programme Evaluation (PP)
 Thematic evaluations: SEN, EAL
 Evaluations of DEIS Planning (P and PP)

 Incidental unannounced inspections Primary

(Consultation on post-primary)
 Follow through inspection visits
Evaluation essentials

• Evidence-based processes
• Notification of inspection (or not)
• Whole-school type evaluations focus on management of the school
and student learning
• Emphasis on learning outcomes and the learner experience
• Promotion of school self-review in all evaluations – reviewing
• Engagement with school community stakeholders: Patron,
trustees, board members, parents.
• Perspectives of in-school stakeholders: Principal/deputy, teachers,
in-school management, care teams, students
• Meetings, focus groups and surveys
• Short reports: factual verification and school response
International links SICI – Standing International
Conference of Inspectorates of Education in Europe
Co-operation and conferences in relation to:
• Context of schools • Management of inspections
• Making evaluative judgements • Feedback and reports
• Evaluation criteria and norms • Action plans following
• Inspection frameworks and inspection
quality areas • Very weak schools
• Practice descriptors • Proportional risk-based
• Focus on learning and teaching planning
• Sampling of subjects and • National reporting and policy
lessons advice
• Frequency of inspections • Linkage with Ministry of
• Texts and examinations Education
• Self-evaluation of schools • Publication of reports
• Questionnaires • Impact of inspection
• Triangulation of evidence
Inspectorates of Education in Europe; some comparative remarks about their tasks and work. Johan C. van Bruggen, SICI, April 2010
Evaluation: External and Internal

Quality Assurance
External Evaluation Internal Evaluation
WSE Incidental
(whole-school Inspection
School Self-Evaluation
Research / Probation

Teaching and learning

Learning outcomes of pupils
Improvements in learning

A picture of successful learning and good teaching in the effective school.

Evidence-based evaluation
– External and internal ...triangulation!

Observation of
Learning and teaching Assessment
Records / progress data

School Information Board presentation

Form on strengths and
areas for development

Student and
parent questionnaires Interaction with

Discussion with
School Personnel
WSE Developments (Primary)

 WSE Notification Period is 5 weeks

 Size of Inspection Teams has been reduced
 Pre-inspection paperwork sought significantly reduced
 Reduced number of subjects i.e. English, Gaeilge, Mathematics
and another subject. School may request a fifth subject.
 Greater emphasis on school self-evaluation
 A revised and shortened Report
 All teachers or a sample of teachers will be inspected
 Feedback meetings: Patron’s representative and Chairperson
of Parents’ Association invited to attend feedback meeting
with board members
 Parent and pupil questionnaires in all primary WSEs
WSE-MLL [management, leadership and learning]
 WSE MLL - two critically important dimensions:
 Leadership and Management and Teaching and learning

 Key benefits of WSE-MLL:

 Smaller scale evaluation of whole-school dimensions
 Complements the other models of SI, Programme Inspection and full WSE
 Reviews findings and recommendations of previous inspection reports
 Potential for looking at school improvement.
 Involves inspection of sample of all classes and programmes across the school -
common principles of teaching and learning in these classrooms.
 Use of questionnaires to survey the views of pupils and parents
 The written report is very significantly shorter.

 This is new and represents a broadening out of the scope of inspection

Information to
students and
student council.

27 (2) The procedures

established and
maintained under
(1) shall facilitate the
involvement of the
students in the operation
of the school, having
regard to the age and
experience of the
students, in association
with their parents and

Education Act, 1998

Evaluation Findings – Primary some positive developments

 Good progress in whole-school development planning, especially in respect of

o collaborative planning and discussion
o the use of external supports to support planning work
o engagement of boards of management in the planning process in some schools

 Certain aspects of curriculum implementation were identified as progressing well:

o English: oral language and the teaching of reading (DEIS Best Practice Guide)
o Mathematics: hands-on approaches and activity methods
o Visual Arts: breadth of experience offered to pupils and use of varied media
o SPHE: the holistic development of the child, the use of active-learning methods,
the relevance of the programme and the strands Myself and Myself and others
o Science: the provision for the strands Myself/Human Life and Environmental
awareness and care
Evaluation Findings – Primary improvement needed in some areas

 Some aspects of curriculum implementation require improvement. In some schools

there are weaknesses in respect of
o Mathematics
o Science: the development of pupils’ scientific skills and attention to Working
scientifically and Designing and making
o Irish: the methodologies employed, the realisation of the curriculum objectives,
and the pupils’ achievement levels

 The type of methodological change required for implementing the major emphases of
the Primary School Curriculum (1999) has not occurred on as wide a scale as desired:
o integrated teaching
o collaborative learning
o encouraging higher-order thinking and problem solving
o the appropriate use of textbooks / the use of ICT
o the use of assessment to support and improve pupils’ learning

 Robust self-evaluation, focused on the quality of teaching and learning in classrooms

should be used to improve the work of schools
Evaluation Findings – Post-primary some positive

 Whole-school developmental planning progressed well in respect of

o the development of middle-management teams
o collaborative working in subject departments

 Curriculum development has taken place with syllabus revision and wider range of
assessment types in some areas

 The quality of teaching was good or very good in many schools in respect of
o the variety of teaching strategies used
o the provision of individual planning for teaching
o facilities and teaching and learning resources
o interpersonal relations in classrooms

 There were some important developments in providing for students with special
educational needs in respect of
o the procedures for the identification of students with additional learning needs
o team-teaching in a small number of schools

 Schools devoted significant resources to the care and wellbeing of students

Evaluation Findings – Post-primary improvement needed in some areas

 Certain aspects of whole-school development planning required attention:

o identification of clear learning outcomes for students and appropriate

assessment methods
o use of effective self-evaluation focused on the quality of learning achieved
by students and how this can be improved
o the coherence between the department plan and individual teachers’
o Some schools were not providing the minimum instruction time to students

 Methodological change in classroom practice was required in a significant

number of classrooms, particularly in respect of
o the use of a wider range of teaching methodologies
o the promotion of independent learning
o the avoidance of teaching to the examinations

 Assessment procedures in some schools required attention in relation to

o the quality of feedback provided to students
o the use of assessment to inform teaching and learning
o the allocation and correction of homework
Evaluations of DEIS Planning – planning for improvement
DEIS Planning Process

DEIS Framework

Strategies and Implementation and

Targets and data interventions impact Progress





DEIS Evaluation: Primary
Draft conclusions
 Systematic planning process: very necessary: DEIS schools; all
 Planning framework: fit for purpose (strengths in component
processes: improvements re DEIS themes generally made)
 Framework may be of assistance to schools in SSE
 Challenges for DEIS schools; all schools engaging in SSE:
o Target-setting: need for clearer guidance at system level
o In-school capacity to analyse and use data: supports required
o Monitoring of pupils’ progress in learning and use of formative
assessment (ii Report 2010)
o Integration and co-ordination (personnel, initiatives)
o Voice and role of pupils
o Fostering of professional responsibility
DEIS Evaluation: Post-primary
Draft findings
 Litercy, numeracy, examination attainment
 Data collection, analysis, use of data to set realistic targets, data to
measure progress
 Effective structures
• Roles in planning process
• Integration of planning process, services, initiatives
• More inter-agency communication
 Role of BOMs
 Subject Departments and subject teachers
 Role of parents – consultation, involvement, enabling parents to
support student learning
Evaluation findings: sharing best practice
Evaluation Support and Research Unit National trends from major
Thematic Evaluation Reports
Composite reports of Subject
Inspections and WSE

Findings have implications for schools Supporting schools and the system to respond
… and for services and agencies supporting schools where areas for development are identified
Challenges for leaders of learning:
Literacy and Numeracy
PISA 2009: Reading and Mathematics

Reading 2000 2009 Change

Mean score 527 496 -31
OECD rank 5 17 -12
•2000 – significantly above OECD average (500)
•2009 – not significantly different from OECD average (493)

Mathematics 2003 2009 Change

Mean score 503 487 -16
OECD rank 17 26 -9
•2003 – not significantly different from OECD average (500)

•2009 –significantly below OECD average (496)

Incidental Inspection Incidental Inspection Findings
…literacy and numeracy challenges 2010: Mathematics

% Yes % No

There is satisfactory preparation for the lesson 76.5% 23.5%

The teacher has written plans 71.1% 28.9% Recommendations
Assessment practices are satisfactory 65.9% 34.1%
Pupils’ work is appropriately corrected 88.9% 11.1%
The teacher has satisfactory classroom management skills 94.6% 5.4%
Appropriate teaching approaches are used in the lesson 83.5% 16.5%
Appropriate learning activities are provided for pupils 83.8% 16.2% Teaching
Resources are used effectively 81.9% 18.1%
ICT is used in the lesson observed 29.6% 70.4%
Learning is consolidated 84.7% 15.3% Assessment
Pupils are engaged appropriately in their learning 89.9% 10.1%
Pupils’ learning (skills and knowledge/concepts) is
84.3% 15.7% …. and school
developed satisfactorily
Pupils have opportunities to learn through talk and
82.8% 17.2% for improvement
Pupils are enabled to work collaboratively 48.8% 51.2%
The quality of learning outcomes is satisfactory 85.5% 14.5%
Strategic developments
…a literacy and numeracy national plan
Better Literacy and Numeracy for Children and Young
People - A Draft National Plan to Improve Literacy and
Numeracy in Schools

 Proposed actions include:

 ECCE initiatives
 Changes to initial teacher education to build capacity of all teachers in
effective literacy and numeracy teaching
 Revising primary curriculum to show the skills pupils are expected to learn
at each stage
 Reforming Junior Certificate curriculum and assessment
 Improving the ways schools assess and report on pupils’ progress in literacy
and numeracy
 Publishing national standards for literacy and numeracy
 Ensuring inspection of literacy and numeracy is improved further
 Supporting CPD for teachers / principals / deputy principals
School self-evaluation for Literacy and
Numeracy development
…in the context of a new emphasis on literacy and numeracy…some
questions…at school level...

 How do we accommodate a new emphasis on literacy and

numeracy in our practice?
 What is the relationship between curriculum breadth, balance
and necessary standards in literacy and numeracy?
 What are the implications for people with management roles in
the primary and post-primary schools, including the Principal,
Deputy Principal and those supporting SSE?
 What kind of classroom / subject teaching is required?
 What kind of quality assurance is required?
Assuring quality
School self-evaluation
 A process of internal evaluation of the work of the school
o a collaborative process

o that builds on school development planning and

assessment practices
o where principals and teachers

o engage in reflective enquiry

 Involves:
o Evaluating how well the school provides for its pupils

o Using information / evidence to make judgements about

the work of the school
o Identifying the strengths of the school

o Examining teaching strategies

o Focusing on pupils’ learning experiences and learning

o Identifying where outcomes could be better

o Identifying priorities for improvement

o Taking action to improve pupils’ learning

Assuring quality
School self-evaluation: Some practical considerations

 An evidence-based process
 Information on pupils’ learning achievements and progress
 Information on pupils’ learning experiences
 Information on teaching in classrooms

 Drawing on a range of information sources

 Principals and deputy principals
 Teachers
 Pupils
 Parents
 Board
 Classroom

 By means of a range of strategies and tools

 Collective reflection
SSE in Practice
 Questionnaires
Support materials
 Observations of classroom practice
Coexistence of internal and external

• Independent: parallel and complementary

• Interdependent: external partly based on internal
Eurydice 2004

• Parallel: two systems run side by side with own criteria

and protocols
• Sequential: external follows on from internal and use
internal findings as the focus
• Cooperative: external agencies cooperate with schools
to develop common approach
Alvik 1991
Supporting schools after inspection

 Key messages
o School inspection and follow-through to support improvement must
be proportionate.
o Blanket approaches that treat every school in the same way are
likely to be ineffective and wasteful of resources
o Inspection generally reflects very favourably on schools and the
great majority of schools have the capability to address areas for
o The DES has developed a mechanism to coordinate a coherent
response where serious weaknesses arise [School
Improvement Group]
o PDST has a continuing role to respond to requests for advice
following inspection and specifically to assist a small number of
schools where serious weaknesses arise.
o Continue to place emphasis on supporting capacity building in
the schools in which PDST facilitates development.


Inspectorate Evaluation Support and Research Unit

Department of Education and Skills