An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics
and Technical Drawing
Saint Patrick's Comprehensive School
Shannon County Clare
Roll number: 81007U
Date of inspection: 27, 28, 29 November 2007
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Technical graphics and technical drawing
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Saint Patrick's Comprehensive School, Shannon, carried out as part of a whole school evaluation. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing and makes recommendations for the further development of the teaching of these subjects in the school. The evaluation was conducted over three days 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.
Technical Graphics (TG) and Technical Drawing (TD) are optional subjects in Saint Patrick's Comprehensive School. TG is studied as part of the Junior Certificate programme while TD, in its final year of presentation, is being studied by sixth year students as part of the established Leaving Certificate (LC) or Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP). Fifth year students are studying the new Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) syllabus introduced in September 2007.
First year students entering the school study Technical Graphics as part of a six week long 'taster' programme of optional subjects. Before students make their final optional subject choices at the end of the 'taster' programme an information evening is organised for their parents. Support in making subject choices is provided by subject teachers, year heads, the guidance counsellor and the senior management team. Students entering senior cycle are similarly supported before being offered an open choice of optional subjects and option bands are then developed based on students’ expressed needs. Although there is no Transition Year (TY) class in the current year, a half-year technical drawing module forms part of the programme in years when there is a TY class group. This affords students participating in TY the opportunity to sample technical drawing prior to making their optional subject choices for Leaving Certificate. These arrangements are commended.
All TG and TD classes are relatively small, of mixed ability and comprise mainly boys, although a relatively significant proportion of girls take TG in first and second year. A very small number of girls will take TG in the Junior Certificate examination in the current school year while all students sitting the Leaving Certificate examination are boys. In light of the relatively small number of students studying the subjects and the gender imbalance in uptake it is recommended that the school examine additional ways to promote the subjects among junior and senior students and to encourage and enable more girls to study the subjects in both cycles.
Time allocation for the subjects in junior and senior cycle is appropriate and the allocation of double and single class periods to the subjects also reflects good practice.
There have not been any opportunities for in-career development in TG and TD in recent years but teachers from St. Patrick's Comprehensive School have attended in-service days provided by the Technology Subjects Support Service (T4) over the last two years related to the new DCG syllabus and this is commended. It is recommended, following the introduction of DCG this year that teachers should be timetabled for both junior and senior cycle classes in future in order to ensure that they maintain and develop their specialist teaching skills and are in a position to contribute meaningfully to subject department discussion of the subjects.
TG and TD are currently taught in the TG/TD room and in one of the school's two Materials Technology (Wood)/Construction Studies rooms. A third room is provided for the delivery of Design and Communication Graphics (DCG). All three rooms are well-appointed and equipped and decorated with colourful wall charts and examples of students’ work. Both TG/TD and DCG rooms are equipped with laptop computers with Solid Works software and inter-active white boards (IAWB) and the DCG room is also equipped with twenty four desktop computers with similar software. This excellent ICT provision is highly commended and in order to maximise the benefit of these facilities, especially in the DCG room, it is recommended that teachers and students of all the technology subjects use this room as frequently as possible when the requirements of DCG, TG and TD have been satisfied. It is further recommended that the TG classes currently taken in the MTW/CS room should be relocated to either the TG/TD or DCG room and that access to conventional drawing boards be provided in the DCG room.
St. Patrick's Comprehensive School has a technology subjects department of which the TG/TD/DCG department is a sub-group and a coordinator has been appointed. The subject department meets formally at the beginning of the school year and opportunities for additional meetings are provided during the school year. The department keeps records of meetings and reports are made to the senior management team on subject-related issues when necessary. Formal meetings are supplemented by frequent informal meetings throughout the school year. Comprehensive subject planning documentation has been developed and this is commended. Documentation contains, for example, programmes of work in line with syllabus requirements, aims and objectives for the subjects and sections on time allocation, optional subject choices, formation of class groups, students with special educational needs (SEN), health and safety, resources, assessment and homework procedures. In order to further enhance this commendable level of subject planning it is recommended that additional sections on the promotion of TG, TD and DCG together with proposed strategies to address the gender imbalance in the subjects should be included in subject planning documentation. Syllabus documents and descriptors for the first year 'taster' and TY TG and TD programmes should also be included. A review of the subject plan to take account of the changing circumstances in senior cycle will need to be undertaken at the end of the current school year, when the current TD programme comes to an end.
A wide range of TG and TD resources have been developed in the school and these are shared by the subject teachers and are used to support teaching and learning. This practice is commended. Additional resources may be accessed following consultation with the principal when required and this arrangement works effectively in the school.
Extensive planning for the development of the school's ICT facilities for drawing has been undertaken and work completed to date is highly commended.
Different styles of effective teaching of TG and TD were observed during the inspection.
All TG and TD lessons had clear aims and objectives and were suitable for the time of year. Lessons were structured to ensure continuity and progression through the syllabuses and all activities were well-managed. An appropriately ordered learning environment was created in all lessons. This practice is commended.
Teachers employed suitable methodologies during the lessons observed and a range of strategies was used. The problem-solving nature of TG and TD was emphasised and high standards of draughting were being promoted. This approach is commended.
An integrated approach to lesson presentation that emphasised the visual nature of the subject was adopted and teachers made excellent use of the inter-active white board (IAWB) and the whiteboard to support students' learning. The use of ICT during lessons was particularly impressive in this regard and this also helped to reflect the technological nature of the subjects. This approach is highly commended.
Students' learning was effectively scaffolded when teachers demonstrated TG and TD principles and skills incrementally to whole class groups, to smaller groups, and to individual students. Peer demonstrations were also used effectively for this purpose. This is commended as excellent practice.
Teachers used and emphasised the terminology associated with the subjects when they spoke and this allowed students to listen to instructions concerning the development of diagrams and assimilate subject-specific terminology while working on their own drawings. This practice enhanced both teaching and learning and is highly commended.
A variety of questions, including higher order questions, was used during lessons and this is commended.
Examples of students' drawings, a selection of geometric models and computer-generated drawings were displayed in the rooms and these created visually rich environments which supported students' learning. This is commended.
Three-dimensional models and other stimulating materials related to the lesson topics were used and promoted students’ development from concrete experience to abstract representation. This is an essential element of the teaching and learning processes in TG and TD and the practice is highly commended.
Textbooks are prescribed for the subjects but these were not relied upon during the inspection. Rather, texts were used as a resource for students in the completion of class and homework. Examination workbooks and other handout materials were used to supplement texts and were integrated effectively into lessons. These practices are commended
During lessons teachers moved around the drawing rooms and engaged with individual students. Progress on the completion of classroom tasks was assessed during interactions with students and teachers also provided assistance to individual students when this was required. This practice is commended.
The drawing rooms were very well organised and classroom routines were evident during all lessons evaluated. These promoted responsibility for creating an ordered learning environment and are commended.
Students displayed the quality of their understanding of topics in their ability to ask and answer questions during lessons. Their subject-specific knowledge, problem-solving and related competencies and skills were also exhibited during the completion of drawing tasks. Students used conventional 450 and 600 set squares, protractors, compasses and pencils at the drawing board when making drawings. These 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 be used with all year groups in future.
Homework was a feature of all lessons and this helped to ensure continuity with previous and future lessons. This practice is commended.
The content of TD students’ portfolios was appropriate and drawings already completed displayed the competencies associated with syllabus topics. Best practice in respect of assessment of and for learning was observed when teachers graded and commented on the quality of students' drawings produced during lessons or as homework. This practice should be extended to all TG and TD lessons.
Opportunities for independent and collaborative learning were included in all lessons observed and students were actively encouraged to discuss their solutions and teachers' written comments on their drawings. This practice is commended.
Students communicated effectively using TG and TD terminology. This is commended.
An excellent teacher-student rapport was evident during all lessons evaluated. This created an atmosphere where students enthusiastically engaged with lesson activities and received appropriate affirmation.
First, second and fourth year students also sit Christmas and end-of-year examinations at St. Patrick’s Comprehensive School. TG and TD class tests are also organised upon the completion of syllabus topics. Junior and Leaving Certificate students also sit a mock examination in the second term each year.
The results of assessments are recorded systematically and used to identify trends in students' achievement, to inform future teaching strategies and to address the needs of individual learners. These practices are commended.
Best practice in respect of ongoing assessment of students' drawings, completed during lessons or as homework assignments, was observed where students' work was routinely marked, graded and commented on and it is recommended that this practice be extended to all classes.
Students' drawings are retained in portfolios in the school or sometimes students bring their completed drawings home. In order to promote and enhance the current standards of draughting and problem-solving among students it is recommended that a percentage of marks in end-of-term and end-of-year assignments be allocated to these drawing portfolios.
The nature of students’ progress in TG and TD is communicated to parents by means of school reports, through the student's journal and during parent-teacher meetings. Further contact may be organised should the need arise.
Students displayed a high level of enthusiasm for the subjects during the inspection and their subject-specific knowledge and skills, relative to age and ability, were appropriate.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
· There is strong whole-school support for TG and TD in St. Patrick’s Comprehensive School.
· TG and TD teachers cooperate and collaborate to plan the delivery of the subjects in the school.
· A TG/TD/DCG plan of high quality has been developed and is being implemented.
· TG and TD are taught in well-appointed and well-equipped rooms.
· Excellent ICT provision for TG, TD and DCG is made.
· Different styles of effective teaching were observed during the inspection.
· Excellent use of ICT and traditional TG and TD methodologies were employed during lessons.
· Students exhibited a range of levels of subject-specific knowledge and skills consistent with the range of abilities in classes visited during the evaluation.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
· Ways to promote greater uptake of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing especially among girls, should be examined.
· Efforts to enhance students’ draughting and problem-solving skills in Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing should continually be made.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teachers of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing 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