An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta

Department of Education and Science

 

 Subject Inspection of Metalwork and Engineering

REPORT

 

Ennis Community College,

Ennis,

County Clare

Roll number: 70830N

  

Date of inspection:  8 May 2007

Date of issue of report:  8 November 2007

 

 

 

 

 

Subject inspection report

Subject provision and whole school support

Planning and preparation

Teaching and learning

Assessment

Summary of main findings and recommendations

 

Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Metalwork and Engineering

 

 

Subject inspection report

 

This report has been written following a subject inspection in Ennis Community College. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Metalwork and Engineering and makes recommendations for the further development of the teaching of this subject in the school. The evaluation was conducted over one day, during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and the teacher, examined studentsí work, and had discussions with the teacher. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and the teachersí written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and the subject teacher.  The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.

 

Subject provision and whole school support

 

Metalwork is offered at junior cycle and Engineering is offered at senior cycle as part of the established Leaving Certificate (LC) in Ennis Community College. Although the school offers a Transition Year programme, Engineering does not form part of the curriculum. This is due to the available teaching resources in the school. It is recommended that as soon as is feasible Engineering be introduced to the TY programme so as to provide continuity for students who have studied the subject for junior cycle and to provide students who have not studied the subject with the opportunity to experience it and better inform themselves regarding subject choice for senior cycle.

 

There is an appropriate time allocation for Metalwork and Engineering in junior and senior cycle. These allocations include double and single class periods that allow adequate time for practical work, project work and theory to be accommodated. 

 

In first year there are pre-set optional subject bands. During the first four weeks of first year students are provided with a taste of each subject within each subject band. Following this taster programme students are asked to choose which optional subjects they wish to study for junior cycle. However, the number of class groupings available for each optional subject is limited by timetabling constraints and the available teaching resources. For the LC, students are provided with an open choice of subjects. Students are asked to prioritise those subjects they wish to study. Subject bands based on student preferences are subsequently developed. This is to be commended as best practice. Students and parents are supported through the taster programme in first year and information evenings and guidance support in relation to programme and subject option choices for junior and senior cycle.

 

There is a very good uptake among boys for Metalwork and Engineering and few girls choose to study the subject at junior and senior cycle. It is recommended that the subject teachers and the school management should review why so few girls choose to study the subject in the school. 

 

The Metalwork and Engineering subject department seek funding as the need arises from the school management. Funding sought is generally granted. In addition the school has recently received funding from the Department of Education and Science (DES) to upgrade machinery and equipment to ensure it complies with occupational health and safety standards. The items of equipment purchased to date comply with the relevant DES circulars as they appear on the current equipment lists.

 

There is one Engineering room in the school. The room is very well maintained and resourced in terms of equipment, materials and teaching aids. The Metalwork and Engineering teacher is in the process of continuing to upgrade the room to prepare for the revised Engineering Technology syllabus.

 

The school management encourages and facilitates staff to attend continuous professional development (CPD) courses. The Metalwork and Engineering teacher is currently attending the Technology Subjects Support Service (T4) seminars. In addition the school management organises CPD during staff days.

 

Planning and preparation

 

A subject department comprising Engineering, Construction Studies and Technical Drawing has been formed in Ennis Community College. Subject departments meet formally at the beginning and end of the school year and on an informal basis throughout the school year. Common issues of relevance are discussed such as health and safety concerns in practical classrooms. In a school of this size that is made up of some single teacher departments this strategy allows cross-curricular planning and development to occur, this practice is commendable.

 

A comprehensive subject plan has been developed for the organisation and teaching of Metalwork and Engineering in the school. The subject plan is constantly being developed and will be an excellent source of reference for new and visiting teachers to the school. It clearly sets out the policies and practices of the subject department in relation to the organisation, provision, planning, teaching and learning and assessment of Metalwork and Engineering.  

 

The subject teacher has developed medium-term schemes of work that provide a clear description of the knowledge and skills that students in each year group should acquire. In addition the Metalwork and Engineering teacher records those topics that students have completed and the homework assigned. It is suggested that the subject teacher should develop the medium-term schemes of work to record those areas that students are having most difficulty understanding this will help to give greater focus to revision lessons at the end of each topic and term and will also help to identity those area and topics were teachers may need to change their teaching strategy or the sequence of topics.

 

The content of the medium-term schemes of work is in line with syllabus requirements. However it is recommended that more past Junior Certificate State Examination Commission (SEC) style projects could be introduced into the scheme for first and second year.

 

The subject teacher is informed of students with special educational needs and those requiring learning support at the start of each year. The school has also provided in-school CPD seminars focusing on learning support and special educational needs. This is to be commended as best practice as it allows the teacher to plan and prepare for such students in each class.

 

The subject teacher has identified and developed a number of resources for the teaching of the subject including a comprehensive set of revision notes for senior cycle students. There are some posters on display around the classroom that the teacher incorporates into lessons to highlight key concepts and terminology.

 

The teacher had planned and prepared for each lesson observed during the course of the evaluation. In the practical lessons observed the teacher had prepared material blanks and each student had a set of working drawings. In addition all equipment and tools were readily accessible for demonstration purposes.

 

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) resources are easily accessible to the subject teacher. It is recommended that a collaborative approach between the teachers of the Technology Subjects and the school management to the planning and implementation of the ICT resource funding recently received for the new Technical Drawing syllabus (Design and Communication Graphics) be undertaken. It is necessary to ensure that these resources are available to the teachers of all the technology subjects as the need arises.

 

Regular risk assessments are carried out in the room. The subject teacher has developed comprehensive procedures to manage health and safety and to monitor and record student proficiency on the main items of equipment. This combined with the excellent upkeep of the room creates a very safe atmosphere conducive to learning.

 

Teaching and learning

 

Both practical and theory lessons were observed during the course of the evaluation. All lessons observed had a clear focus and in all instances the teacher shared the planned learning outcomes with the class at the beginning of each lesson. In the practical lessons observed student progress was checked and clear expectations were set for the lesson. In checking student progress the teacher was able to identify additional learning outcomes for the lesson. This constant monitoring of student progress at the beginning of practical lessons is to be commended. In the theory lesson observed the subject matter under study was the revision of the mock examination with a focus on the manufacturing procedures involved in completing the Junior Certificate project. This topic was introduced to students by exemplifying through discussion how the question should be answered. Students were then asked to repeat the process for each part of the project. All lessons observed were clearly structured so that the content and pace were appropriate to the class group, the subject matter and the time available.

 

A range of appropriate and effective teaching methodologies was employed in all lessons observed. During the theory lesson observed the teacher varied the teaching strategy employed. This helped students remain focused and helped the teacher keep all students engaged in the topic. The teacherís use of the blackboard was very effective, short concise theory notes were utilised to complement sketches. It is suggested however that a prepared handout would further enhance the revision of the topic. During the practical lessons observed the teacher also employed a number of effective teaching methodologies. The teacher used demonstrations to both the class group and to individuals throughout the lessons observed. In all instances the teacher highlighted the correct use of tools and equipment, processing techniques and used the appropriate terminology. The teacherís use of working drawings for students allowed the teacher to highlight areas of difficulty within the project before students encountered them and to highlight the correct techniques and procedures required to manufacture the projects. The teacher moved constantly around the classroom to provide individual guidance and support to students and when required set different learning outcomes and targets for students. This is all highly commendable.

 

Classroom management was effective and conducive to a safe, orderly and participative learning environment. Tools were easily accessible to students and were stored in an orderly fashion. Classroom discipline was supported by appropriate lesson content and pacing, and by the teacherís constant movement around the classroom.

 

Teacher-student interactions were engaging, purposeful and mutually respectful. In all instances student responses were affirmed. There were some student projects on display around the room. It is suggested that this could be further developed and the best projects from each year group should be put on display and returned to students at the end of each year or cycle. It is further suggested that consideration should be given to establishing a project display cabinet or notice board for photographs of student projects in an area outside of the classroom.

 

In all lessons observed students demonstrated a willingness to co-operate with their teacher in their learning and engaged in all classroom activities and discussions. Students were active participants in all lessons observed. Studentsí practical work, which was both stimulating and challenging, was of a very good quality and indicated a very good level of learning. Student notebooks varied in quality and it is suggested that where students are not provided with revision notes that they should be encouraged to transcribe short and concise notes for each topic combined with relevant sketches into their notebooks.

 

Assessment

 

Student assessment occurs through formal end-of-term examinations, in-class questioning, monitoring of student practical work, homework, theory tests and end-of-term class tests. The overall grade awarded for end-of-term examinations is a combination of marks awarded for written examinations combined with a mark for practical work; this is congruent with the aims and objectives of the subject syllabuses and is very good practice as it gives an indication of overall ability in the subject.

 

The results of assessments are recorded and sent to parents on a regular basis. Further communication of student progress is carried out through parent-teacher meetings and through the student journal that allows for correspondence between home and school.

 

Project work is monitored carefully and student progress is individually profiled with oral feedback given. It is recommended that students should be provided with a written record of why marks are awarded and how they could improve their practical skills for subsequent projects. It is suggested that this could be noted in the back of student notebooks.

 

Homework is given regularly to junior and senior cycle students. It is used to consolidate the learning that has taken place in specific lessons and is regularly monitored. It is suggested that positive or constructive feedback be given to all students regularly in relation to homework. This would improve the quality of the homework and thereby improve student understanding. The school management also provide additional support for students through the organisation of a homework club and a study programme.

Summary of main findings and recommendations

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

  • Metalwork and Engineering is available to students at both junior and senior cycle.
  • There is an appropriate time allocation for Metalwork and Engineering.
  • The Metalwork and Engineering room is well resourced in terms of equipment, materials and teaching resources.
  • A comprehensive subject plan has been developed for the organisation and teaching of Metalwork and Engineering in the school.
  • The subject teacher has developed long term schemes of work that provide a clear description of the knowledge and skills that students in each year group should acquire.
  • The subject teacher is informed of students with special educational needs and those requiring learning support at the start of each year.
  • Each lesson observed had a clear learning intention that was shared with students and was structured to ensure optimum student learning.
  • A range of appropriate and effective teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed.
  • Classroom management was effective and was conducive to a safe, orderly and participative learning environment.
  • Teacher-student interactions were engaging, purposeful and mutually respectful. In all instances student responses were affirmed.
  • In all lessons observed studentsí project and practical work indicated a very good level of learning.
  • The assessment modes used are congruent with the aims and objectives of the subject syllabuses.

 

As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:

 

 

  • The school management should consider revising the subject option structures with a view to providing an open choice for students in first year.
  • The subject teachers and the school management should review why so few girls choose to study the Metalwork in the school.
  • A collaborative approach between the teachers of the Technology Subjects and the school management to the planning and implementation of the ICT resource funding recently received for the new Technical Drawing syllabus (Design and Communication Graphics) should be undertaken. It is necessary to ensure that these resources are available to the teachers of all the technology subjects as the need arises.
  • More past Junior Certificate State Examination Commission style projects could be introduced into the scheme of work for first and second year.

 

 

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teacher of Metalwork and Engineering and with the principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.