An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Metalwork and Engineering
Roll number: 91448K
† Date of issue of report: 12 March 2008
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Metalwork and Engineering
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Kilrush Community School, Kilrush, Co Clare. 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 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.
The subjects are offered as part of all programmes available in the school. The subjects are appropriately timetabled for in each programme.
Subject option bands are developed based on studentsí preferences for the Junior Certificate and established Leaving Certificate programmes. Students receive a very good level of support when choosing optional subjects.
There is a very good uptake of the subject at both junior and senior cycle among boys. At present very few girls are studying the subject. It is suggested that the subject teacher should explore with female students the reasons for non-selection of the subject in the school and should develop strategies to encourage more to study the subject in the school.
The subjects are very well resourced in terms of equipment, tools and materials. There is one metalwork and engineering room in the school. Funding is sought as the need arises for consumable material and equipment. The majority of the recent grant to address health and safety issues in metalwork and engineering rooms has been spent, and the school is in the process of spending the remaining balance in accordance with agreed procedures. It is noted however that a milling machine has been installed and commissioned in the room; this item of equipment is not on the Department of Education and Science (DES) engineering room equipment list. It is recommended that when the school seek the remaining balance of funding from the building unit of the DES that they should inform them that they have purchased this item of equipment.
The school management has facilitated the subject teacher in attending the in-service organised by the Department of Education and Science through T4 the Technology Subjectsí Support Service. The school management has also provided in-school continuing professional development during staff days to assist teachers in teaching and learning.
School management facilitates teachers to plan and prepare for learning and teaching on a number of occasions throughout the year. A comprehensive subject plan in Metalwork and Engineering has been developed. 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 in the school. The plan would be enhanced by the inclusion of development priorities for all aspects of learning and teaching in the subject. It is suggested that these priorities should be included in the school plan where appropriate.
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. The content of the schemes of work is appropriate to each year group. The subject teacher uses their teachersí journal to record those topics that have been covered by each year group. It is recommended that by monitoring class work, homework and studentsí projects, the subject teacher should use the medium-term schemes of work to record individual and class progress and attainment of learning outcomes in theory and practical activities. This should highlight studentsí and class strengths and areas for development. It would also help to give greater focus to revision lessons at the end of each topic and term and would also help to identity if the teacher needs to change their teaching strategy for a particular topic, if the sequence of topics needs to be changed or if a particular skill or knowledge area needs to be revisited.
The subject teacher is informed of students with special educational needs and those requiring additional educational support in mainstream classes at the start of each year. This is to be commended as best practice as it allows the teacher to plan and prepare for such students in each class. The school also has a special education unit for students with mild and moderate general learning disabilities and the teacher has developed an appropriate programme of study for these students. Such levels of planning are to be commended.
All lessons observed had a clear focus and a clearly defined structure. The subject matter in all lessons observed was appropriate to the particular year groups.
A range of teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. In the first-year lesson observed, students were asked to draw a practical exercise (threading and tapping project) in their notebooks. The teacher highlighted the importance of accurate drawings, correct use of drawing instruments (rules for measurement) and the importance of drawing standards (distance of dimensions from drawing). The processes and tools required to complete the exercise were also highlighted. The teacher moved constantly around the classroom to offer individual support and advice and there were high levels of student engagement. The teacher demonstrated best drawing practice by having the completed drawing on an overhead transparency. These high levels of student-teacher interaction were also present at the start of the fifth-year theory lesson where the uses of iron-carbon equilibrium diagrams and quenching media were revised through question and answering. The use of practical examples to highlight the everyday use of the subject matter under study is also to be commended. This was particularly evident at the start of the fifth-year theory lesson to highlight why a chisel would be annealed, hardened and tempered. When new subject matter was introduced the teacher read from the textbook and asked students to underline key words. It was intended to hand out examination-preparation revision notes on this unit of study when students brought in folders to store them. It is recommended that the teacher should develop teaching strategies that would increase the level of student-teacher interaction when new subject matter is introduced. Some recommended strategies include; taking short concise notes supported by diagrams to synopsise the subject matter, the key points of which would be developed with students. Or given that in the opinion of the teacher that this would use up a considerable portion of teaching time, students could be provided with a set of notes similar to the comprehensive set of notes developed for examination preparation with keywords and diagrams missing; these keywords could be inserted following practical demonstrations of the subject matter, the use of videos or information and communication technologies. This would enhance studentsí understanding and ensure all students are on task and focussed on the learning intention of each lesson.
Classroom management was effective. Students have assigned seats. All tools and equipment for practical activities are easily accessible on tool racks and there is a comprehensive store of materials and tools for class projects.
There was a very good rapport between students and teacher in the lessons observed. There are examples of the studentsí project work on display around the classroom. These helped to provide a stimulating environment for learning. It is suggested that more metalwork and engineering posters could be put on display around the classroom.
Studentsí assessment occurs through formal examinations, in-class questioning, monitoring of studentsí practical work, homework, and class tests. The results of assessments are recorded and sent to parents on a regular basis. Further communication of studentsí progress is carried out through parent-teacher meetings and studentsí journals. Project work is monitored carefully and studentsí progress is individually profiled with marks awarded.
Marks awarded for reports to parents are a combination of practical and theory examinations. This is to be commended as best practice as it gives an accurate indication of overall studentsí ability.
The frequency of homework given to students varies. When given, it is used to consolidate the learning that has taken place in specific topic areas. It is recommended that homework should be given to all year groups on a more regular basis.
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 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.