An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Metalwork and Engineering
Carnew, County Wicklow
Roll number: 70790E
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Coláiste Bhríde, Carnew, conducted as part of a whole-school evaluation. 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 teachers, examined students’ work, and had discussions with the teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and the 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 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 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 student preferences for the Junior Certificate and established Leaving Certificate programmes. Transition year (TY) students who have not studied the subject in junior cycle are encouraged to study it in TY. As not all of these students choose to study the subject in TY it is suggested that the school management should explore the possibility of developing a TY programme where students experience all of the senior cycle subjects available in the school. Students receive a very good level of support from school management, the guidance counsellor, and the teaching staff 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 in junior and senior cycle, excluding TY where a considerable proportion of girls have chosen to study the subject. It is suggested that the subject teachers should develop strategies to encourage more girls to study the subject in the school.
The subjects are well resourced in terms of equipment, tools and materials. There are two rooms used to teach the subject in the school, one of which is a metalwork and engineering room and one of which is a technology room. The technology room is only suitable for first-year and second-year class groups for project work so teachers change rooms for other year groups as the need arises. It is suggested that the teachers of the subject should develop a list of equipment and tools for both rooms that would enhance learning and teaching in Metalwork and Engineering.
The school management has facilitated the subject teachers in attending the in-service organised by the Department of Education and Science through the Technology Subjects’ Support Service (T4). The school management has also provided in-school continuing professional development (CPD) during staff days to assist teachers in teaching and learning.
The subject teachers meet on a regular basis throughout the year to plan and prepare for teaching and learning in Metalwork and Engineering. The subject teachers have developed a comprehensive subject plan. 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. It is suggested that 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 the suggestions and recommendations contained throughout this report could form the initial basis for these priorities. It is further suggested that these priorities should be included in the school plan where appropriate.
The subject teachers have 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 subject teachers also use their teachers’ journals to record those topics that have been covered by each year group. It is recommended that by monitoring class work, homework and students’ projects, teachers should use the medium-term schemes of work to record individual and class progress and attainment. This should highlight students 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 teachers need 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 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 use of other European languages such as Polish on posters throughout the room is to be highly commended.
The subject teachers have identified and developed a number of resources for the teaching of the subject including handouts and information and communication technologies (ICT) resources.
The teachers 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 a set of working drawings. In addition all equipment and tools were readily accessible for demonstration purposes and for students’ use, it is suggested however that additional dividers for marking out should be put on the main tool rack in the metalwork and engineering room.
A good standard of teaching was observed throughout the inspection. All lessons observed had a clear focus and in all instances the teacher shared the learning intentions with the class at the beginning of each lesson. All lessons observed had a clearly defined structure. The subject matter in all lessons was appropriate to the particular year groups. While all lessons were project focussed, metalwork and engineering theory was introduced at appropriate times throughout the lessons.
A range of teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. Metalwork and engineering theory was introduced at the start of practical lessons that focussed on a particular skill required of the project being completed by students (soldering, production drawings or design brief requirements). In these instances handouts, oral questioning, board sketches and concrete examples were used to support and assess students’ understanding. Such strategies are to be commended. During the practical part of lessons observed the teachers used demonstrations to very good effect to develop students’ understanding of manufacturing processes and to model best practice. Best practice was observed where students were involved in demonstrations through questioning and active participation. In some instances students were also asked to suggest subsequent stages in the demonstration. This is to be highly commended as it allows teachers to assess students’ understanding and their ability to apply previously-learned knowledge to new problems. In all demonstrations the teacher highlighted the correct use of tools and equipment, processing techniques and used the appropriate terminology. The teacher moved constantly around the classroom to provide individual guidance and support to students.
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 teacher’s constant movement around the classroom. Teacher-student interactions were engaging, purposeful and mutually respectful. In all instances students’ responses were affirmed.
In all lessons observed students were actively engaged in all classroom activities and discussions. Students clearly understood the subject matter covered and the directions given by the teacher during demonstrations. Students were generally able to complete assigned tasks. Students’ practical work in the lessons observed indicated a good level of manufacturing skills. It is recommended however that there is a need to focus on the correct manufacturing sequence for projects and on the development of accuracy and finish with students in junior cycle. It is recommended that project-manufacturing-sequence handouts where each stage in the completion of each part of a project is described and accompanied by a thumbnail sketch or drawing would be useful in this regard.
Students’ assessment occurs through formal examinations, in-class questioning, monitoring of students’ practical work, homework, and class tests. The results of assessments are recorded and sent to parents on a regular basis. Further communication of students’ progress is carried out through parent-teacher meetings. Project work is monitored carefully and students’ progress is individually profiled with oral feedback given and marks awarded.
The frequency of homework given to students varies with each year. When given it is used to consolidate the learning that has taken place in specific lessons and is regularly monitored. 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 teachers 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.
Published October 2008
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 2 Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection
1. It is suggested that the subject teachers should develop strategies to encourage more girls to study the subject in the school.
Strategies such as using girls who have studied the subject to demonstrate their practical skills on the open night continue to be used to promote the subject amongst girls.
2. It is suggested that the teachers of the subject should develop a list of equipment and tools for both rooms that would enhance learning and teaching in metalwork and engineering.
Subject teachers will develop a list of tools in future subject meetings and use it as a basis to develop teaching and learning.
3. It is suggested that the plan would be enhanced by the inclusion of development priorities for all aspects of learning and teaching in the subject.
Suggestions and recommendations from the WSE report will be discussed and acted upon during and after subject meetings. Further development of the subject is an important ongoing aim of the subject teachers.
4. Monitoring class work, homework and students projects, teachers should use the medium term scheme of work to record individual and class progress and attainment.
Using the scheme of work as a working document has been discussed at subject meetings
and will become a part of subject planning.
5. It is suggested that additional dividers for marking out should be put on the main tool rack in the metalwork and engineering room.
Additional spring dividers have been made available to students during practical classes.
6. It is recommended that project manufacturing sequence handouts where each stage in the completion of each part of a project is described and accompanied by a thumbnail sketch or drawing would be useful.
Subject teachers are in the process of producing project manufacturing sequence handout
/ posters for all ongoing/future projects.
7. It is recommended however that there is a need to focus on the correct manufacture sequence for projects and on the development of accuracy and finish with students in junior cycle.
Subject teachers have continually focused on the quality and accuracy of students work
and see it as being an integral part of achieving high grades in state exams.
8. It is recommended that homework should be given to all year groups on a more regular basis.
Subject teachers have agreed to allocate homework on a more regular basis.