An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of
Technical Graphics and
Design and Communication Graphics
Borrisokane Community College
Borrisokane, County Tipperary
Roll number: 72370P
Date of inspection: 4 February 2009
Report on the quality of learning and teaching inTechnical Graphics and Design and Communication Graphics
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Borrisokane Community College. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics and Design and Communication Graphics 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 teachers, examined students’ work, and had discussions with the teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and teachers' written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and the subject teachers. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.
Technical Graphics (TG) and Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) are provided as optional junior and senior cycle subjects respectively in Borrisokane Community College. Students study TG for Junior Certificate (JC) and DCG as a follow-on subject for Leaving Certificate (LC) or Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP). Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) students study Graphics and Construction Studies (G&CS), a related optional subject specialism, as part of their programme. The school also provides transition year (TY) and while the TY programme includes a Materials Technology (Wood)/Construction Studies module there is no provision for TG/DCG. It is recommended therefore that the school examines ways in which TG/DCG can be incorporated into the current MTW/CS module or shared with it throughout the school year.
Access to TG and DCG is good. All classes are of mixed ability and include male and female students. Support for students and parents in the form of information and advice is provided by teachers, the guidance counsellor and the senior management team at times of transition. First-year students participate in a 'taster' programme of optional subjects during the first term and make final subject choices upon its completion. Students preparing to enter fifth year are offered an open choice of optional subjects and bands are then prepared to accommodate these choices.
Time allocation for the subjects is good across all year groups and programmes and the provision of double and single periods reflects good practice.
The school has three qualified teachers of the subjects and these are deployed in line with their qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience. Two teachers are primarily involved in the delivery of the TG and DCG syllabuses while the third teacher delivers TG on the first-year 'taster' programme and teaches G&CS to LCA students.
All TG and DCG lessons are delivered in the TG/DCG (drawing) room. This room has been allocated to the subjects in recent years, is more suitable than the room previously used, and is well-equipped. Subject-specific wall charts and a selection of students' work are displayed in the room and these also contribute to the creation of an appropriate learning environment for students of the subjects.
Attendance by TG and DCG teachers at whole-school and subject-specific continuing professional development (CPD) activities is facilitated, encouraged and supported by the school. Teachers have engaged in CPD provided by T4, teacher professional networks (TPN) and subject associations.
Planning for the provision and delivery of TG and DCG in the school is good.
The school has a subject-department structure and TG and DCG form part of a subject department that encompasses all the technology subjects available in the school. Formal subject-department meetings are facilitated a number of times each term and records are retained in planning documentation. Subject departments make presentations at staff meetings to ensure that a consistent approach to planning is adopted across subject departments. Formal meetings of the technology subjects department are supplemented by frequent informal meetings and a rotating co-ordinator has been appointed.
A comprehensive TG and DCG plan has been developed. This addresses aims and learning outcomes, clearly defines medium- and long-term programmes of work, project work, assessment practices, and subject-specific resources available to support learning and teaching in the subjects. The subject plan also provides for the integration of effective teaching methodologies, including the use of ICT, contains records of work completed during the course of the year and affords the facility to review, and redesign completed lessons within planned programmes of work.
The subject plan contains a health and safety section but this does not refer to the specialist equipment now contained in the newly-equipped drawing room. It is recommended therefore that the current section be amended and supplemented by an appropriate risk assessment, similar to that undertaken for the computer room and included in the school's safety statement.
The school provides support for students with additional educational needs and they sit State examinations at the level appropriate to their abilities. TG and DCG teachers liaise with the school's learning support team when planning for these students and support programmes that emphasise the key TG and DCG skills are then developed and implemented.
The TG and DCG subject teachers liaise with teachers from other subject areas, most notably those in the subject department, when planning cross-curricular activities.
The TG and DCG subject teachers have developed a comprehensive range of appropriate teaching resources and this is used to support teaching and learning. They also have access to supplementary resources developed by T4, the local TPN and from a variety of textbooks. Access to additional resources to support teaching and learning is facilitated following consultation with the principal.
All TG and DCG planning is informed by relevant Department of Education and Science State Examination Commission documentation. Students' outcomes in certificate examinations are analysed and compared to the national averages each year and this process informs planning for the following year.
Good teaching was observed during the inspection when second-year TG students were engaged in a lesson on the parabola, fifth-year DCG students revised axonometric projection and Leaving Certificate DCG students were engaged in completing State examination project work.
Teachers had prepared thoroughly for the delivery of all lessons and these had clear aims and learning outcomes. There was continuity with prior learning and lessons were well structured consistent with planned programmes of work. The content and pace of lessons were appropriate to the class groups, subject matter, time available and timing of lessons within programmes of work.
Teaching methodologies employed were effective and encouraged student participation. TG and DCG concepts and practical skills were introduced on a phased basis during teachers' demonstrations at the chalkboard. Extensive use was also made of the overhead projector to focus students’ attention and to support their learning. Overhead transparencies which displayed incomplete solutions to geometrical problems were displayed. Demonstrations were made to whole-class groups, to smaller groups, and to individual students and these served to model good draughting practice.
Teachers encouraged students to utilise projection systems and consider alternative solutions to geometric problems. This strategy encouraged the development of students' problem-solving capabilities.
Instructions for the completion of student tasks were delivered during and at the conclusion of demonstrations and these were clear and in subject-specific terminology. This practice allowed students to assimilate subject-specific terms and ensured that communication among peers, with the teacher and the inspector was in the language of the subjects. This enhanced both teaching and learning.
Teachers circulated and interacted with individual and small groups of students during the completion of students' tasks. Progress was monitored during these interactions and assistance was provided when this was required.
A variety of effective questioning techniques was used during lessons. This included individual, group and higher-order question. Teachers allowed adequate wait-time for students to formulate their answers before responding.
Examination tips were provided during junior and senior lessons and students were encouraged to develop their knowledge of design and graphical communication concepts using 'mind maps' during the completion of classroom tasks and homework assignments.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) were used extensively and effectively during the Leaving Certificate lesson observed where students engaged in project work for State examination purposes.
While textbooks are prescribed for TG and DCG and were used during some lessons observed these were not overly relied upon. They were used as a resource for students during the completion of class and homework tasks. Teacher-prepared handout materials were also used effectively to supplement texts during lessons. Charts displayed in the drawing room were also used as teaching aids.
Classroom management was effective and discipline was sensitively maintained during all lessons. Student attendance was monitored and students responded positively to clear class rules and teacher instructions. All learning activities were well organised and managed and classroom routines promoted responsibility among students for creating an ordered learning environment.
The interpersonal relations in the classroom reflected very good teacher-student rapport during all lessons. Teachers generated enthusiasm for the topics being studied and this ensured that students engaged with lesson activities and received appropriate guidance and affirmation. Teachers' expectations of students were high, while remaining commensurate with their abilities and learning styles.
Students displayed enthusiasm for the subjects during the inspection and were organised, engaged by lesson activities and active in their own learning. They displayed their understanding through the completion of teacher-designed tasks, through their answering of teachers' questions and in the questions they asked during lessons. Students’ subject-specific knowledge and skills, relative to age and ability, were appropriate.
Students' drawings are retained in portfolios and electronic files are stored in the manner recommended by the State Examinations Commission. The content of these portfolios reflected coverage of a range of work appropriately related to the syllabuses. Ruled and computer-generated drawings demonstrated an emphasis on key geometrical concepts and progression relative to planned learning outcomes. Students used conventional 450 and 600 set squares, protractors, compasses and pencils when making ruled drawings at the drawing board and their drawings were of a standard consistent with the range of abilities in the classes. In an effort to enhance the quality of students' draughting it is recommended that adjustable set squares and micro-pencils should be used by students in all year groups in future.
In keeping with the school's policy, homework featured during all lessons and this ensured continuity with previous and future lessons.
Borrisokane Community College has a formal assessment policy and class work is regularly assessed during TG and DCG lessons. Students also sit end-of-term examinations and certificate examination students sit mock examinations in the second term each year. The school also has a homework policy and this informs practices and procedures operated in TG and DCG where homework is regularly assigned and monitored.
Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning and the outcomes of all assessments are recorded systematically and used to identify trends in students' achievement, inform future teaching strategies and address the needs of individual learners. Students are provided with regular oral and some written feedback on the quality of their performance and progress. It is recommended that more extensive written feedback that reflects assessment for learning principles be provided on completed students' drawings in future.
The nature of students’ progress in TG and DCG is communicated to parents by means of written comments on class work and homework and using the students' journals. Formal school reports are issued to parents following end-of-term examinations and subject teachers meet parents during the scheduled programme of parent-teacher meetings.
An appropriate system for the collation and storage of students’ work, including examination materials, is implemented for TG and DCG in the school.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teachers of Technical Graphics and Design and Communication Graphics and with the principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Published June 2009