An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

  

Cigireacht Ábhair: Gaeilge

TUAIRISC

  

Summerhill College

Sligo

Uimhir Rolla: 65170Q

 

Dáta na cigireachta: 30 Márta 2006

Dáta eisithe na tuairisce:  26 Deireadh Fomhair 2006

 

 

 

An Tuairisc Chigireachta Ábhair seo

Soláthar don ábhar agus tacaíocht uile scoile

Pleanáil agus ullmhúchán

Teagasc agus foghlaim

Measúnú agus gnóthachtáil

Achoimre ar phríomhchinní agus moltaí na cigireachta

Report on the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Irish

Summary of main findings and recommendations


Tuairisc ar cháilíocht na foghlama agus an teagaisc sa Ghaeilge

 

An Tuairisc Chigireachta Ábhair seo

 

Scríobhadh an tuairisc seo tar éis cigireacht ábhair a bheith déanta ar Summerhill College. Léiríonn sí torthaí meastóireachta ar chaighdeán an teagaisc agus na foghlama sa Ghaeilge agus tugann sí moltaí i leith tuilleadh forbartha ar theagasc an ábhair sa scoil. Cuireadh an mheastóireacht i gcrích thar thréimhse lae amháin inar thug an cigire cuairteanna ar sheomraí ranga agus inar bhreathnaigh sé ar theagasc agus ar fhoghlaim. Rinne an cigire idirghníomhú le daltaí agus le múinteoirí, scrúdaigh sé obair na ndaltaí agus phléigh sé cúrsaí leis na múinteoirí. D'athbhreithnigh an cigire doiciméadú faoi phleanáil scoile agus ullmhúchán scríofa na múinteoirí. I ndiaidh na cuairte meastóireachta thug an cigire aiseolas ó bhéal don phríomhoide agus do na múinteoirí ábhair mar gheall ar thorthaí na meastóireachta. Tugadh deis do bhord bainistíochta na scoile a thuairim a léiriú ar thorthaí agus ar mholtaí na tuairisce; ba rogha leis an mbord glacadh leis an tuairisc gan freagra a thabhairt.

 

 

Soláthar don ábhar agus tacaíocht uile scoile

 

Scoil Deoise do bhuachaillí is ea Summerhill College a bhfuil breis agus sé chéad scoláire cláraithe inti don scoilbhliain reatha 2005-2006.  Dearbhaíodh gur tugadh faomhadh ar dhíolúine ón nGaeilge do scoláirí áirithe ag teacht le forálacha Imlitir M10/94.  Is sa timthriall sóisearach atá an chuid is mó de na scoláirí sin.  Déantar freastal ar na scoláirí sin le díolúine de réir na n-acmhainní a chuirtear ar fáil dóibh.  Cuirtear na hacmhainní sin ar fáil dóibh, oiread agus is féidir an uair go mbíonn an Ghaeilge ar an tráthchlár acu – cleachtas atá le moladh.  B’fhiú na socruithe seo a athbhreithniú ó bhliain go chéile – go háirithe más ag dul i líonmhaire atá líon na scoláirí le díolúine – ar mhaithe leis na socruithe is fearr a bhaint amach go leanúnach.

 

Tuairiscíodh athruithe suntasacha ar churaclaim na scoile le blianta beaga anuas faoinar tugadh isteach Clár Scoile an Teastais Shóisearaigh, an Idirbhliain, an Ardteistiméireacht Fheidhmeach agus Clár Gairme na hArdteistiméireachta.  Léiriú ar oscailteacht fhoireann na scoile d’athruithe a chur i bhfeidhm is ea na tionscnaimh seo, oscailteacht atá le moladh.  San am céanna is sruthú atá i bhfeidhm i gcás na ranganna Gaeilge ar fad seachas i gcás na hIdirbhliana.  Cláraítear an socrú seo go sonrach i bPlean Roinn na Gaeilge. 

 

B’fhiú machnamh a dhéanamh ar shocrú níos solúbtha a thriail ag teacht leis an tionscnaíocht a luaitear thuas, i gcás na ranganna sóisearacha agus i gcás scoláirí na chéad bhliana go háirithe, ar mhaithe le deis a thabhairt do líon níos mó scoláirí dul chun cinn a dhéanamh sa teanga agus iad féin a chruthú thar thréimhse ama, go háirithe sa teanga labhartha.  Déantar an moladh seo bonn ar aon le béim níos mó a leagadh ar labhairt na teanga sa timthriall sóisearach.

 

Déantar soláthar maith do chrunnithe ábhair sa mhéid is go dtionóltar cruinniú amháin ar a laghad in aghaidh an téarma in am scoile agus go mbíonn cruinnithe eile ar siúl ar bhonn neamhfhoirmeálta.  I gcás na gcruinnithe foirmeálta, glactar miontuairiscí agus cuirtear ar fáil don phríomhoide iad, Óocrú atá le moladh.  Mar thaca le cúrsaí comhphleanála san ábhar b’fhiú cóip de na miontuairiscí sin a cheangal mar chuid de Phlean Roinn na Gaeilge.  Ón gcuntas a tugadh ar imeachtaí na gcruinnithe b’fhiú clár níos leithne a phlé agus díriú ar chomhphleanáil a dhéanamh do mhúineadh agus d’fhoghlaim san ábhar. 

 

Níl comhordaitheoir ar roinn na Gaeilge faoi láthair, cleachtas a bhíodh i bhfeidhm.  In éagmais chomhordaitheora tá deiseanna ann le pleanáil an ábhair ar bhonn comhaontaithe a fhorbairt.  Moltar teacht ar shocrú a chinnteoidh go mbeidh comhordaitheoir ar an roinn agus b’fhiú machnamh a dhéanamh ar an obair seo a roinnt – gach duine bliain ar a sheal i mbun an ghnó, cuir i gcás – mar chéim thosaigh leis an ngnó seo a ath-thosú.

 

Bhí méid an ama a dáileadh ar an ábhar réasúnta; cúig thréimhse sa tseachtain atá i gceist i gcás na chéad bhliana agus an dara bliain agus ceithre thréimhse i gcás na tríú bliana.  Cúig thréimhse a cuireadh ar fáil do bhlianta na hArdteistiméireachta.  Léiríodh míshásamh, áfach, le hathruithe ar chúrsaí clár ama don ábhar – go sonrach an gearradh siar ar an dáileadh ama don ábhar le ceithre bliana anuas i gcás ranganna áirithe sa timthriall sóisearach a chuir dúshlán breise roimh scoláirí ag an ardleibhéal. Moltar na socruithe don chlár ama a athbhreithniú agus líon seasta tréimhsí sa tseachtain a chinntiú do na ranganna sa timthriall sóisearach agus sa timthriall sinsearach agus an líon sin a aontú i bhfianaise riachtanais eile an chláir ama.

 

Tacaíonn an scoil le forbairt ghairme na múinteoirí agus d’fhreastail beirt mhúinteoirí ar chúrsa píolótach i múineadh na Gaeilge a d’eagraigh an tSeirbhís Tacaíochta Dara Leibhéal.  Moltar do na múinteoirí sin an oiliúint sin a chur chun leasa roinn na Gaeilge i gcoitinne agus modhanna múinte éagsúla a chleachtadh agus a roinnt le baill eile na roinne, rud a chiallódh machnamh a dhéanamh ar mhúineadh i bpáirt le chéile más féidir sin a eagrú ar an gclár ama.

 

Bhí seomra ranga dá chuid féin faoi chúram na múinteoirí Gaeilge ar fad, socrú atá chun leasa mhúineadh an ábhair.  Tuairiscíodh acmhainní don ábhar a bheith míshásúil cé go raibh buiseád ar fáil le háiseanna teagaisc a cheannach agus go raibh liosta suntasach áiseanna luaite i bPlean Roinn na Gaeilge.  Moltar soláthar áiseanna a chlárú mar chuid den obair chomhphleanála agus iarratais ar acmhainní agus ar áiseanna a aontú agus a chur faoi bhráid bhainistíocht na scoile cothrom le riachtanais rannóga eile na scoile.

 

Chinntigh na socruithe a bhí i bhfeidhm ar an gclár ama, faoina raibh an Ghaeilge ar fáil go comhuaineach ar an gclár ama don chuid ba mhó, go raibh saoirse ag na scoláirí teacht ar an leibhéal san ábhar cothrom lena mianta agus lena gcumas.  B’fhiú breis iarrachta a dhéanamh, le ranganna sóisearacha go háirithe, an t-ardleibhéal a chur chun cinn i measc líon níos mó scoláirí mar leibhéal atá insroichte dóibh agus a chuirfidh ar a gcumas sásamh a bhaint amach maidir le sealbhú na teanga chomh maith le luach saothair a bheith ar fáil dóibh ar a gcuid iarrachtaí sna scrúduithe teistiméireachta.  Is cóir iarracht a dhéanamh ar thacaíocht na dtuismitheoirí a ghnóthú chuige seo chomh maith. 

 

Pleanáil agus ullmhúchán

 

Cuireadh cóip de Phlean Roinn na Gaeilge 2005-2006 ar fáil a thug breac-chuntas ar obair na roinne faoi na ceannteidil seo a leanas:

(i) Aidhmeanna an ábhair, (ii) Baill na roinne, (iii) Dáileadh an ama & an clár ama, (iv) Ranganna – mar a eagraítear iad, (v) Rogha leibhéil na ndaltaí, (vi) Leabhair agus trealamh in úsáid i mbliana, (vii) Daltaí le deacrachtaí foghlama – socruithe a dheantar dóibh, (viii) Modhanna múinteoireachta, (ix) Trealamh teicneolaíochta, (x) Siollabas na Gaeilge, (xi) Obair bhaile, (xii) Scrúduithe, (xiii) Torthaí na scrúduithe.

 

Bhain fiúntas leis an eolas a bhí ar fáil sa phlean, a raibh meon dearfach a chur chun cinn i measc na scoláirí mar bhonn leis.  Bhí ‘mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí’ le léamh ar chlúdach an phlean, rud a tháinig leis an gcur chuige.  B’fhiú eolas sa bhreis a chur leis an bplean seo mar threoir leis an gcaoi a chuirtear an dea-aidhm sin i gcrích. 

 

Bhí saoirse na múinteoirí lena gcuid modhanna teagaisc agus foghlama féin a chleachtadh le léamh ar an bplean agus de réir chuntas na múinteoirí ní cuid fhoirmeálta d’obair roinn na Gaeilge í an chomhphleanáil.  B’fhiú go mór tógáil ar an obair atá le léamh sa phlean a cuireadh ar fáil agus comhphleáil i múineadh agus i bhfoghlaim na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn níos mó. 

 

B’fhiú, mar sin, cuntas a chur san áireamh a bhainfeadh le spriocanna aontaithe foghlama, cláir chomónta teagaisc, chomh maith le clár aontaithe measúnaithe a shainiú i gcás na mblianta éagsúla agus i gcás na leibhéal éagsúla.  B’fhiú, chomh maith, cuntas níos iomláine a bhreacadh maidir le modheolaíochtaí agus is fiú an t-ábhar seo a phlé mar chuid de chruinnithe comhphleanála.  Bheadh tairbhe le baint as machnamh a dhéanamh ar chuairteanna a thabhairt ar ranganna a chéile ó am go chéile ar mhaithe le modheolaíochtaí sa teagasc agus san fhoghlaim a roinnt ar a chéile, a mheas, agus a athnuachan.

 

Tuigeadh nach mbaintear úsáid ar bith as an seomra ríomhaireachta ó thaobh mhúineadh agus fhoghlaim na Gaeilge de.  Cuireadh an leathanbhanda ar fáil sa scoil tamall gairid roimh an gcigireacht ábhair agus moltar mír de Theicneolaíocht na Faisnéise agus na Cumarsáide (TFC) a chur ar chlár na ranganna Gaeilge agus iarratas a chur isteach in am don scoilbhliain seo chugainn ar mhaithe le teacht ar áiseanna TFC do ranganna Gaeilge.  Níor mhór an clár chuige seo a aontú ag cruinniú comhphleanála san ábhar.  Tá sé de bhuntáiste ag an roinn go raibh TFC i múineadh na Gaeilge ar chlár an chúrsa phíolóitigh a ndearna beirt mhúinteoirí freastal air.

 

Ba léir go raibh pleanáil ghearrtéarmach chuí déanta ag na múinteoirí ar fad i dtaca leis na ranganna a breathnaíodh agus bhí ábhar na ranganna ag teacht le riachtanais na siollabas.

 

Teagasc agus foghlaim

 

Bhain díograis le hiarrachtaí na múinteoirí ar fad sa teagasc sna ranganna ar tugadh cuairt orthu in imeacht na cigireachta agus d’fhreagair na scoláirí do na hiarrachtaí sin trí pháirt a ghlacadh in imeachtaí na ranganna, comhoibriú atá le moladh.  Ba léir ar na ranganna ar fad go ndearnadh ullmhúchán maith ar an ábhar teagaisc, ullmhúchán a d’fhág go raibh struchtúr maith faoi na ranganna.  Bhí luas maith faoi ghníomhaíochtaí an teagaisc sna ranganna ar fad a chinntigh éagsúlacht áirithe ar na tascanna a bhí le cur i gcrích. 

 

Ba léir sna ranganna ar fad go raibh spriocanna cinnte foghlama le baint amach a cuireadh in iúl i dtús ranganna áirithe agus a bhí intuigthe i gcásanna eile.  Is fiú aidhm an cheachta a lua i dtús an ranga ar mhaithe leis na scoláirí a dhíriú ón tús ar thasc na foghlama agus is fiú chomh maith achoimre a dhéanamh i ndeireadh an ranga ar mhéid aidhm an cheachta a baineadh amach.

 

Bhí modheolaíochtaí éagsúla á gcleachtadh i ranganna éagsúla agus tugadh faoi deara na scoláirí a bheith níos gníomhaí san fhoghlaim san áit a raibh modheolaíochtaí gníomhacha in úsáid (obair bheirte, mar shampla) de rogha ar obair an ranga a bheith faoi stiúir an mhúinteora go hiomlán.  Bhain an fhoghlaim neamhspleách seo le scoláirí sinsearacha chomh maith céanna is a bhain le scoláirí sóisearacha agus dearbhú ar chumas na múinteoirí is ea an tslí ar eagraíodh an obair sin.  Baineadh leas maith as ceisteanna a chur ar scoláirí i ranganna eile leis na scoláirí a choimeád gníomhach san fhoghlaim.  B’fhiú i gcásanna áirithe freagraí níos iomláine a lorg ó na scoláirí mar mhalairt ar fhocail aonair.

 

Bhí méid na hoibre a bhí le léamh sna cóipleabhair cothrom le haoisghrúpaí agus le leibhéil na scoláirí agus bhí aitheantas le léamh ar obair na scoláirí sna cóipleabhair.  I gcásanna áirithe tugadh faoi deara aistriúcháin go Béarla a bheith le léamh ar fhoclóir nua sna cóipleabhair agus i ranganna áirithe ba díol suntais é méid an Bhéarla a lorgaíodh agus ar glacadh leis i gcomhartha ar thuiscint na scoláirí d’ábhar foclóra.  Ceist í seo a mba chóir d’fhoireann roinn na Gaeilge a phlé eatarthu féin ar mhaithe le polasaí aontaithe a chur i bhfeidhm.  B’fhiú dul i gcomhairle chomh maith le múinteoirí teangacha eile sa scoil chomh maith d’fhonn polasaí comónta a aontú ina leith seo.  I gcás amháin, mar shampla, ba léir go raibh na scoláirí an-chleachtaithe ar úsáid an aistriúcháin nó bhí fonn mór orthu méid a dtuisceana ar fhoclóir na Gaeilge a thaispeáint le haistriúchán go Béarla a chur ar fáil.

 

Moltar an díograis seo a bhí le moladh a chur i dtreo eile agus an fuinneamh sin a chaitheamh le cleachtadh a dhéanamh ar an teanga féin a labhairt agus iad féin a chur in iúl níos mó trína meán.  Rinneadh dea-obair ar mhír chluastuisceana le rang sóisearach, cluastuiscint a bhain le cineál na cluastuisceana a bhíonn mar chuid de scrúdú Gaeilge an Teastais Shóisearaigh.  Ullmhúchán cuí don scrúdú sin ba ea an obair a breathnaíodh.  Mar sin féin, b’fhiú triail a bhaint as sleachta gairide a thaifeadadh ó na meáin chraolta Gaeilge ar mhaithe le téacs dílis den chaint bheo a chleachtadh go rialta.  D’fhéadfaí mír bheag den deachtú a cheangal leis an obair sin chomh maith ar mhaithe le scileanna uile na teanga a chomhtháthú i dtréimhse ghairid sa rang.

 

Ba shaoráidí a bhí an chaint ag na scoláirí i ranganna ardleibhéal, ní nach ionadh.  Cúis eile í seo, áfach, a mb’fhiú machnamh a dhéanamh ar ranganna cumais mheasctha a thionscnamh sa timthriall sóisearach go háirithe agus aidhmeanna an tsiollabais sin a bhaint amach, arb í an Ghaeilge mar ghnáththeanga chumarsáide an ceann is tábhachtaí sa chomhthéacs seo. 

 

I gcoitinne moltar tús áite níos mó a thabhairt do na scoláirí a chur ag labhairt trí mheán na Gaeilge ina measc féin agus leis an múinteoir seachas an obair sin a bheith teoranta do cheisteanna an mhúinteora a fhreagairt ar mhaithe le giota scríbhneoireachta a dhéanamh ar ball.  Bhí labhairt na Gaeilge ó thaobh na scoláirí chun tosaigh áfach i ranganna áirithe agus rinneadh stiúradh éifeachtach ar an gcaint sin ar chaoi a léirigh go raibh tuiscint mhaith ag an múinteoir d’ábhar spéise na scoláirí.

 

Bhí timpeallacht na seomraí ranga glan agus bhí taispeántais d’ábhar na scoláirí féin le léamh i rangseomraí áirithe, cleachtas atá le moladh.  Baineadh leas maith as na cláir bhána chun ábhar foclóra nua a bhreacadh.  Bhí atmaisféar na foghlama le brath sna ranganna ar fad.  Bhí caidreamh réidh idir na múinteoirí agus na scoláirí agus tugadh moladh maith ar iarrachtaí na scoláirí.

 

Measúnú agus gnóthachtáil

 

Déantar measúnú ar scoláirí nua céad bliana roimh theacht chun na scoile dóibh i mí Aibreáin ar mhaithe le dáileadh a dhéanamh ar ranganna a dhéantar a shruthú.  Sa Mhatamaitic agus sa Bhéarla a dhéantar trialacha measúnaithe.  B’fhiú na socruithe atá i bhfeidhm a athbhreithniú áit nach ndéantar measúnú ar chumas Gaeilge na scoláirí nua mar chuid den phróiseas faoina ndáiltear scoláirí ar ranganna sruthaithe ón tús.  B’fhiú an Ghaeilge a chur san áireamh sna trialacha sin – é sin nó socrú maidir le ranganna cumais mheasctha sa Ghaeilge sa chéad bhliain a thionscnamh.  Faoi mar atá cúrsaí faoi láthair, d’fhéadfadh an chuma a bheith ar an scéal, dar leis na scoláirí nua, gur lú an tábhacht a luann an scoil leis an nGaeilge i gcomórtas leis na hábhair croíláir eile.

 

Cé go mbíonn measúnú leanúnach ar bun leis na ranganna sa Ghaeilge i gcaitheamh na bliana, is faoi na múinteoirí go haonair atá sé cineál agus minicíocht an mheasúnaithe sin a shocrú.  Ar an gcaoi chéanna i gcás na scrúduithe tí, a reáchtáltar um Nollaig agus sa samhradh, leagann na múinteoirí scrúdpháipéir dá gcuid féin seachas páipéir chomónta a aontú.  B’fhiú polasaí a chumadh maidir le spriocanna measúnaithe comónta a aontú, bliain ar bhliain, leibhéal ar leibhéal, spriocanna a bheadh ag teacht le spriocanna aontaithe foghlama.  Obair do chomhphleanáil an ábhair í seo.   B’fhiú chomh maith cumas na scoláirí i labhairt na Gaeilge a chur mar chuid de na trialacha éagsúla, rud nach dtarlaíonn faoi láthair. 

 

Baineann impleachtaí eile le cinneadh dá short .i. tosaíocht a thabhairt do labhairt na teanga mar ghné den teagasc agus den bhfoghlaim sna ranganna.  Bhainfeadh cinneadh dá short leis na ranganna sa timthriall sóisearach go háirithe agus chuirfeadh sé dreach nua ar fhoghlaim na Gaeilge roimh na scoláirí ag tosú amach dóibh sa chead bhliain.  Gné lárnach de phlean don Ghaeilge is ea an cinneadh seo, gné a gcaithfeadh baill uile na roinne a bheith ar aon fhocal faoi agus a bheadh le clárú mar chuid dhílis de phlean Gaeilge na roinne.  Is ceist eile don bhfoireann í cé acu na scoláirí a chur isteach ar scrúdú béil roghnach an Teastais Shóisearaigh.  Fiú muna ndéantar sin d’fhéadfaí fós cuid de na scrúduithe tí a chur i leataobh do chaighdeán labhartha na teanga agus aitheantas dá réir a bhronnadh ar iarrachtaí na scoláirí sa rang le dlús a chur faoi shealbhú labhairt na teanga.

 

Cuirtear scrúduithe tí ar bun faoi Nollaig agus sa samhradh chomh maith le triailscrúduithe teistiméireachta san Earrach.  Coimeádtar cuntas ar iarrachtaí na scoláirí san ábhar sna scrúduithe tí agus teistiméireachta.  Coimeádtar cuntas ar ghnóthálacha na scoláirí ar fad sna scrúduithe teistiméireachta agus bhí cuntas críochnúil ag an bpríomoide ina leith seo.  Tá dúshlán roimh na múinteoirí agus roimh na scoláirí rátaí rannpháirtíochta ag an ardleibhéal a ardú sna scrúduithe teistiméireachta. Dúshlán é seo atá ar chumas fhoireann teagaisc roinn na Gaeilge a shárú ón díograis agus ón gcomhoibriú a chonacthas in imeacht lá na cigireachta. 

 

 

Achoimre ar phríomhchinní agus moltaí na cigireachta

 

Is iad seo a leanas na príomhbhuanna agus na príomhachair ar díth forbartha a aithnítear sa mheastóireacht:

 

 

Mar bhealach chun tógáil ar na láidreachtaí sin agus aghaidh a thabhairt ar achair ar díth forbartha tá na heochairmholtaí seo á ndéanamh:

 

 

 

Tionóladh cruinnithe iarmheastóireachta leis an bpríomhoide agus leis na hoidí Gaeilge ag deireadh na meastóireachta. Cuireadh dréachtchinní agus dréachtmholtaí na meastóireachta i láthair agus pléadh iad.


Report on the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Irish

 

This Subject Inspection Report

 

This report has been written following a subject inspection in Summerhill College. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Irish 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 of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.

 

Subject provision and whole school provision

 

Summerhill College is a diocesan school for boys with more than six hundred registered students for the current school year 2005-2006. The school has confirmed that exemption from Irish was given to a number of students in compliance with the terms of Circular M10/94. Most of these students are in junior cycle. The needs of such pupils are addressed in line with available resources. These resources are provided, as far as possible, at times when Irish is timetabled for them and this practice is commended. It would be advisable to review these arrangements from year to year, especially if the numbers with exemption were to increase, so that the most appropriate arrangements are in place at all times.

 

The school reported significant curricular change in recent years, with the introduction of the Junior Certificate School Programme, Transition Year, Leaving Certificate Applied and the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme. These initiatives are evidence of the commendable openness of staff to facilitating change. At the same time, class groups are streamed for Irish in all but Transition year, an arrangement that is clearly explained in the Irish department’s plan.

 

It is suggested that, in tandem with the curricular project above, a more flexible arrangement be trialled in the case of junior cycle class groups, in first year particularly, in order to facilitate more students to make progress with the language and to prove themselves over time, especially in spoken Irish. This recommendation reflects the general desirability of placing greater emphasis on spoken Irish in the junior cycle.

 

There is good provision for subject meetings, in the fact that at least one formal meeting is held per term, along with other informal meetings. Regarding the formal meetings, minutes are taken and provided to the principal; this is a commendable practice. To assist joint planning for the subject, it is suggested that copies of these minutes be included in the department plan. From the record of meetings, it is noted that a wider agenda would be advisable, with specific attention to be given to collaborative planning for teaching and learning in the subject.

 

The Irish department currently does not have a subject coordinator, a position that was filled previously. In the absence of a coordinator, there is opportunity nonetheless for the development of agreed planning. It is recommended that an arrangement be made to ensure the appointment of a coordinator, and that the task be shared – one teacher per year, for example – as a first step in reactivating this role.

 

Time allocation for the subject was adequate; five periods per week in the first and second years and four periods in third year. Leaving Certificate classes are allocated five periods per week. Dissatisfaction was expressed, however, at changes to timetabling arrangements for the subject – specifically, the reduction in time allocation for certain junior cycle classes over the previous four years which presented greater challenge to students at higher level. It is recommended that timetabling arrangements be reviewed and a permanent allocation of weekly periods be decided for classes at junior and senior cycles within the overall demands on the timetable.

 

The school supports staff professional development and two teachers have attended a pilot course in the teaching of Irish organised by the Second Level Support Service. It is recommended that the training received by these teachers be put to use for the benefit of the Irish department generally and that a variety of methodologies be practised and shared with colleagues; this may require consideration to be given to cooperative teaching, if such can be arranged within the timetable.

 

Each teacher of Irish has his/her own classroom, an arrangement that benefits the teaching of the subject. Notwithstanding access to a budget for purchase of teaching aids and a substantial listing of resources in the department plan, it was reported that resources for the subject were unsatisfactory. It is recommended that collaborative planning should include an inventory of resources and that applications for resources and aids should be agreed and communicated to school management, to be considered alongside the needs of other subject departments in the school.

 

Timetabling arrangements, by which Irish classes, in general, were scheduled concurrently, showed that students were facilitated in settling at a level suited to their capacities and abilities. It would be useful if greater effort was made, in the case of junior classes especially, to promote higher level Irish among a greater proportion of students as one that they are capable of achieving and one that will enable them gain satisfaction from acquiring the language as well as the prospect of being rewarded for their efforts in the certificate examinations. The support of parents should also be harnessed in this endeavour. 

 

 

Planning and prpeparation

 

The Irish Department Plan 2005-2006 gave a summary description of the department’s work under the following headings:

(i) Aims of the subject, (ii) Members of the department, (iii) Time allocation and timetable, (iv) Classes and how they are organised, (v) Students’ choice of level, (vi) Books and equipment in use this year, (vii) Students with learning difficulties – arrangements made for them, (viii) Teaching methods, (ix) Technological equipment, (x) The Irish syllabus, (xi) Homework, (xii) Examinations, (xiii) Examination results.

 

The information available in the plan had merit, based as it was on the promotion of a positive attitude among the students. The slogan on the cover of the plan - “Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí” – reflected this approach. The plan would benefit from the inclusion of additional information to guide the achievement of that noble aim.

 

The department plan reflected the freedom of individual teachers to use their own particular teaching methods, and teachers commented that collaborative planning was not a formal feature of the department.  There is much to be gained by building on the work set out in the plan and in promoting collaborative planning for the teaching and learning of Irish.

In that context, consideration should be given to documenting agreed learning targets and common teaching programmes, as well as an agreed assessment strategy for the various year-groups and levels. A more detailed setting out of methodologies is also required, based on discussion at joint planning meetings. Teachers might consider the value to be gained from occasional visits to one another’s’ classrooms as a means of sharing, evaluating and renewing teaching methods.

 

It is understood that no use is made of the computer room in the teaching and learning of Irish. Broadband access was provided in the school shortly before this subject inspection and it is now recommended that an Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) module be included on the programme of the various class groups and that application to avail of ICT facilities be made in time for the next school year. Such a programme should be agreed at a planning meeting. An advantage to the department is the fact that the pilot course attended by two members of the department included the use of ICT in the teaching of Irish.

 

There was evidence of adequate preparation by teachers in those classes observed and that lesson content was in accordance with syllabus requirements.

 

 

Teaching and learning

 

All teaching observed in classes visited in the course of the inspection reflected teachers’ dedication, and pupils responded by cooperating commendably in class activities. It was clear in all lessons that teaching content was well prepared, to the extent that lessons had a good structure. The good pace of teaching activity in these lessons ensured variety in tasks to be undertaken.

 

It was evident in all classes that clear learning objectives were set out; these were shared with students at the start of lessons in some cases, while implicit in others. There is value in stating the aim of a lesson at the outset in order to focus students on the learning task, while it is also valuable to summarise at the end of a lesson the extent to which the lesson aim has been achieved.

 

Various methodologies were practised in different classes and it was noted that, where active learning methods were in use (for example, pair work) in preference to teacher-directed whole class activity, students were more engaged in their learning. Such independent learning strategy applied to senior and junior students alike and evidence of teachers’ capacity for such activity lay in the manner in which these activities were organised. In other classes, good use was made of questioning of students as a means of maintaining active engagement in learning. In some instances, there was need for more complete answering as an alternative to single-word responses.

 

Students’ work in copybooks was age-appropriate, suited to the relevant levels and effort was acknowledged effectively. In some cases, translation of new vocabulary to English was noted and in certain classes there was a significant and accepted requirement of pupils to demonstrate understanding of vocabulary through the use of English. This is a question that the Irish department should debate, with a view to implementing an agreed policy. There would be value also in meeting with other language teachers in the school in order to agree a common policy on this issue. In one case, for example, it was evident that students were both very adept in the use of translation and very anxious to demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary by the use of English.

 

It is recommended that such commendable effort be channelled otherwise and that the energy be used in practising the spoken language itself and in making themselves understood through its medium. In a junior class, good work was done on listening comprehension of a type used as part of the Junior Certificate Irish examination. This work was appropriate preparation for that examination. However, it would be beneficial to use short recorded segments from Irish language broadcast media sources as a means of providing regular practice based on authentic oral exemplars. A small amount of dictation activity could be linked to this work with a view to integrating all the language skills in a short class period.

 

Fluency among higher level students was greater, as expected. This, however, is further justification for staff to consider the formation of mixed ability groupings in junior cycle to achieve the aims of that syllabus, the most important of which, in this context, is the use of Irish as a normal medium of communication.

 

As a general point, it is recommended that greater priority be given to encouraging the use of Irish among the students themselves and in conversation with the teacher, rather than confining this work to answering teachers’ questions as a prelude to subsequent writing task. However, students’ use of spoken Irish in some classes was more advanced and teacher guidance in those instances was evidence of a good understanding of students’ interests.

 

Classroom environments were clean and in some rooms there was commendable display of students’ own work and materials. Good use was made of white boards to record new vocabulary. An atmosphere of learning pervaded all classes. A relaxed relationship was evident between teachers and their students, whose efforts were well affirmed.

 

 

Assessment and achievement

 

Incoming first year students are assessed in April prior to enrolment, in order to facilitate the allocation of classes, which are streamed. Assessment tests are carried out in Mathematics and English. Given that the competence of these students in Irish is not assessed as part of the process of placement in streamed classes on enrolment, a review of these arrangements insadvised. Irish should be included in those assessments; the alternative might be an arrangement to trial mixed ability classes for Irish in first year. Under current policy, newly enrolled students might be of the view that Irish is valued less highly by the school compared with other core subjects.

 

While assessment of classes is continuous over the year, it is left to the individual teachers to decide the type and frequency of such assessment. Similarly in the case of house examinations, held at Christmas and summer, teachers set their own examination papers rather than agreeing common papers. There is need for policy on agreeing common assessment targets, by year and by level, that would align with agreed learning targets. This is a task for collaborative subject planning. In addition, students’ competence in spoken Irish could be included in the various assessments, which is not practice at present.   

 

Such a decision would have other implications i.e. giving spoken Irish priority in teaching and learning in classrooms.  This decision would impact upon junior cycle classes especially and would present a new image of learning Irish to new first year students. This decision would be a core element of planning for Irish, to be set down as a genuine part of the department plan and one requiring staff to be at one on the matter. It is a separate matter for the department to decide to what extent students would be entered for the optional oral test in the Junior Certificate examination. Should that not occur, there would still be an option to devote part of in-house examinations to oral language competences, allowing students’ classroom efforts in this regard to be credited appropriately as a means of strengthening acquisition of the language.

 

In-house examinations take place at Christmas and in Summer, in addition to “mock” certificate examinations in the Spring. The school maintains records of students’ achievements in the subject in house and certificate examinations. A detailed record of certificate examination results for all students is maintained by the principal. A challenge for teachers and students is to increase participation at higher level in the certificate examinations. On the basis of the dedication and cooperation observed during the inspection, this challenge is well within the capacity of the Irish teaching team.

 

Summary of main findings and recommendations

 

The following are the main strengths and areas for development identified in the evaluation:

 

 

As a means of building on these strengths and addressing areas for development, the following recommendations are made:

 

 

 

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teachers of Irish and with the principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.