The Irish News education correspondent, Simon Doyle, notes that a Northern Ireland Education and Training Inspectorate report has stated that the “quality of provision in Irish and English was inadequate” at a Londonderry Irish-medium primary school which the NI Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane, has twice awarded funding to against the advice of her departmental officials. From the Irish News
Ms Ruane approved the first proposal in 2007, but the school never met the necessary intake numbers and was forced to re-apply. The second proposal was approved late last year.
The second approval is being seen as more contentious than the first, as the advice the minister received from officials was largely the same as it was previously.
The Irish News report adds
Documents released under freedom of information (FOI) legislation reveal Ms Ruane was told backing Gaelscoil na Daroige would fragment provision – there are almost 80 surplus places in the city’s two established Irish primaries.
Inspectors also said they could not agree with it and reminded the minister that the school had previously failed to meet the criteria for funding.
They added that Irish-medium provision in Derry had reached “saturation point”.
Additional documents obtained under FOI reveal that since becoming minister Ms Ruane has only twice ignored advice when making decisions on school proposals.
On both occasions, the school in question was Gaelscoil na Daroige.
I can’t find the report online but the Irish News quotes from it
The quality of leadership was inadequate, it said. While the principal was “hard-working and dedicated” to the work of the school, “to date his focus has been on satisfying the DE criteria for funding”.
The school’s approach to assessment was “inconsistent and lacks rigour; the link between assessment, teachers’ planning and classroom practice is not strong enough”.
The quality of teaching in lessons observed during the inspection “ranged from good to inadequate with a majority being satisfactory or better”.
“Too often, lessons were over-directed by teachers; whole-class work predominated; and there was an over-reliance on worksheets. The school’s provision for play-based learning is inadequate and needs to be reviewed to ensure it builds effectively on the children’s pre-school experiences,” the report said.
Under the heading ‘achievements and standards’ the report said “the provision in Irish and English was inadequate” although the children’s level of spoken Irish was very good.
“In key stage 1 and year 5 the children have opportunities to use a range of writing forms and the children have planned, drafted and edited some of their own work.
“However, the standards of the children’s written work by year 5 is inadequate. Written activities in their books are incomplete, inaccurate, lacking in basic writing conventions, and presentation is poor.”