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Leadership improvements in schools required

29-01-2009


The Irish News

One in every four principals must improve the quality of their leadership, the new chief inspector for schools has said.

In his first report, Stanley Goudie said he was concerned about the management of about one quarter of all primary and secondary schools.

The Chief Inspector’s Report 2006-2008 highlighted many improvements in education over the past two years.

However, Mr Goudie warned against complacency saying the standards of achievement continued to be too low for some.

He wrote that in one quarter of primary schools – about 200 – the quality of the principal’s leadership was “an area for improvement”.

Additionally, he said “leadership and management need to improve” in the same proportion of secondary schools.

Head teachers, the report read, needed to place a greater emphasis on improving the quality of provision and standards across the whole ability range.

In only a “significant minority of schools” was the quality of leadership and management considered “very good to outstanding”.

It was “inadequate or unsatisfactory” in more than one in 10 of the schools inspected.

Mr Goudie said the report identified where education, youth and training provision were at their best.

“It salutes the work whereby serving practitioners achieve and sustain outstanding outcomes for those children, young people and adult learners in their charge,” he said.

“In doing so, many dedicated and talented individuals, both those dealing directly with learners and those in the support services, make a real difference to the life chances of learners from a wide range of diverse needs and social backgrounds.

“We owe these practitioners a great debt of gratitude.”

He added that the report also identified where provision was “simply not good enough” and where standards were too low.

The raising of standards, he said, particularly in literacy and numeracy to improve the life chances of all children, young people and adult learners, must be the cornerstone of educational provision.

Inspections revealed that there was still too significant a variation in the standards of maths and English attained by children across primary schools.

As a result, one fifth of children did not reach the standards in literacy and numeracy expected for their age by the time they leave primary school.

At post-primary level there was a steady reduction in the number of pupils who left school with no qualifications.

“Almost 1,000 pupils leave school without any GCSE qualifications. The majority of new entrants to work-based training programmes have weaknesses in literacy and numeracy,” Mr Goudie said.

“At the centre of all our efforts must be the raising of achievements and standards for children, young people and adult learners, at both personal and academic levels.”

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