An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Art
Rosses Community School
Dungloe, County Donegal
Roll number: 91407T
Date of inspection: 7 November 2007
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Art
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Rosses Community School. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Art 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 subject teachers. The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.
The Rosses Community School has an enrolment of 435 students of whom 207 are girls. Art is taught in the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate programmes as well as the compulsory Transition Year (TY) programme. The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme is also taught in the school. However, at present there is no Art taught in this programme. As the facilities are available and Art can be a very positive option for students, it is suggested that consideration be given to incorporating Art into the LCA programme in the future. Timetabling for Art is good with double periods being provided when appropriate.
Access to the subject is good in both junior and senior cycle. Students choose their subjects before admission to the school in September. An open menu is offered to students from which the subject bands are created; this is good practice. It is reported that management is sufficiently flexible to support students who may wish to change their subject preference after September. The number of students studying Art in junior and senior cycle is healthy as are the numbers of students taking the subject at higher level. All of the art class groups are mixed ability with the exception of special educational needs (SEN) groups.
The art department is very well established in the school and is operated by two members of staff. One of these co-ordinators art on a voluntary basis and is a member of both the Irish Learning Support Association and the Art Teachers’ Association of Ireland. Both teachers dynamically pursue a plethora of courses and other activities which enhance the levels of teaching and learning in Art in the school. Collaboration between teachers is a feature of the art department and informal meetings are held when necessary. Fruitful teamwork also takes place between the art department and other departments in the school. This is commended.
The art department plays a very active role in the daily life of the school and a wide selection of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities is provided to augment the activities of the classroom. These include a high profile international cultural/educational exchange and support for students interested in following art and design-related careers by facilitating their attendance at art college open days and encouraging their portfolio work. This work is evidence of the dedication and commitment of the art department to the provision of a full and professional art education for students.
Management is very supportive of the art department and provides funding for materials and resources. It is reported that the budgeting system that is in place works well. The art department also supplies materials for projects in other subjects. This collegiality and support for other departments is commended. Students are encouraged to obtain a pack of art materials for use during the year which is stored in the school. On the day of the evaluation there was an appropriate amount of materials and resources available.
There is one room dedicated exclusively to Art. This room is well organised with a good range of objects and interesting items of artistic value for students to look at. Another room, a general purpose one, is also used for the teaching of Art. In the interests of making the best possible use of students’ and teachers’ class-time together it is recommended that an auxiliary art room be designated, with a lockable storage unit, near the original art room. In this way the potential of lessons could be maximised to greatest effect. It was understood at the time of the evaluation that a room would be available for this purpose in the near future.
In general, there is a limited amount of secure space available for the storage of candidates’ work for the certificate examinations. It is recommended that lockable storage space should be found for this purpose as soon as is possible.
There is one computer situated in the art room. This is generally used for research for art history and appreciation, research for Junior Certificate projects, film studies and other areas of study. It is reported that time is made available once per week for students in the art room to avail of the computer room. Whilst this is a good idea in theory, in practice it is much more educationally beneficial to have access to the internet and other types of information and communications technology (ICT) in the classroom where the work is taking place. Since Art is a visual subject and since the teacher’s own equipment is being used at present and the ICT currently available is being used very well, it is recommended that a digital camera, video camera, digital projector and computer and laptop should be obtained as soon as funding becomes available.
The over arching philosophy of the art department is ‘education for life’. As not all students will have the skill, interest and motivation to make practical art work their career, the art department encourages all students to appreciate those who do, and promotes an enjoyment and understanding of general art work. This approach is commended.
A very useful art department plan was made available during the evaluation. This plan outlines the procedures operating in the department regarding homework, assessment and record keeping as well as the curricular and subject based information.
The department has identified four solid pedagogical aims for the students—aesthetic, perceptual, technical, and personal and social—which when combined create a full and robust art education. Curricular content is listed with general aims and objectives for each year group. The ideas and subject matter chosen to illustrate particular topics are excellent, and are of great motivational value for students while retaining their educational significance. Execution of ideas in the classroom regarding aims and objectives is very good. However the written plans in their current form do not reflect the very high levels of teaching and learning evident. It is therefore recommended that the plans be extended to include more of the particulars of schemes of work and of the good practice happening in the classroom, specifically naming the skills being targeted and the outcomes expected. The plan for TY also outlined aims and objectives which are in line with good practice and evidence provided on the day of the visit showed that the work being conducted was of a high quality. However, it is also recommended that this good work be committed to the TY plan in detail such that it can be easily referenced in the future.
The department is always keen to ensure that the art department is well resourced and has commendably made collections of books, DVDs, newspaper articles and visual aids available to students. At the time of the evaluation the art department was exploring the idea of creating a formal exhibition space within the school for students’ work. This is a very good idea.
The atmosphere was pleasant and conducive to learning in each of the three lessons visited. Teachers are highly commended on their enthusiastic and lively delivery of topics and the kind and encouraging rapport developed with students. Very clear communication of the various elements involved in tasks and projects ensured that all activities had good potential for success. Students were exemplary in their behaviour and all students were gainfully employed in projects that they liked and which were appropriately pitched to their ability. In discussions about their work, students were found to be confident, interested and knowledgeable.
The structure of lessons was sequential and logical. Students settled down to work very quickly and there was a clear expectation of progress for each lesson. The pace of lessons and of schemes of work was good. Schemes of work were arranged such that skills learnt in previous lessons were revisited, extended and used in later lessons. The choice of methodologies was also very good. A variety of techniques was used to inspire and encourage students’ work including visualisation, demonstration and working with small groups on individual projects using a variety of visual stimuli. Positive class management was also used as students were given enough responsibility to be in charge of their own movement but were carefully monitored by their teacher.
As well as the regular drawing and painting sections of the syllabuses, a wide range of crafts and disciplines is offered to students; these include packaging, lino, calligraphy, construction, modelling, batik, film making and puppetry. The topics being taught on the day of the visit included imaginative painting based on a set piece using colour combinations, the colour wheel, architectural and interior design, film making and animation. Of particular note, students are encouraged to choose their own areas of in-depth study thus making use of the students’ own enthusiasm and motivations. This promotion of independent learning is good practice. Both the work in progress and the finished work observed on the day of the visit were of a very good standard relative to the ability spectrum of the students.
Assessment is ongoing in the art department. Feedback is given to students during their projects and also on their homework. Commendably, students are encouraged as part of lessons to evaluate their own work and that of their peers. Guidelines and marking schemes are also given to students when appropriate to help them make accurate evaluative decisions about their work. It is suggested, where appropriate, that the levels of student profiling taking place be increased. Where students with SEN are being assessed, it is further suggested that effort and good learning behaviours such as following instructions should be emphasised.
Formal examinations are held for first, second and fifth year students at Christmas and summer. ‘Mock’ examinations are held for certificate examination students in February. Parents are kept informed of their students’ progress using the student’s journal, parent-teacher meetings and reports, which are issued bi-annually. Student attainment is formally reviewed each year at staff meetings.
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 Art 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 2008
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1: Observations on the content of the inspection report
Excellent report, fair
Area 2: Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection
B.O.M. will implement recommendations of report