Inspection finds serious failings at Monkstown Community School

Monkstown Community School. INNT 05-070-FP
Monkstown Community School. INNT 05-070-FP
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MONKSTOWN Community School has been awarded the lowest possible grade following an inspection last November.

The Education and Training Inspectorate deemed the level of education at the school “unacceptable” and has recommended the Department of Education appoint additional members to the board of governors to help address issues raised in its report.

The 12-page document, published last week, described the overall performance level at the school as “poor” with “major shortcomings which require urgent action”.

During the visit, inspectors scrutinised documentation and the pupils’ written work and held formal and informal discussions with pupils, teachers and staff with specific responsibilities.

As well as observing lessons, they also met with representatives of governors, groups of pupils and gave parents and staff the opportunity to complete confidential questionnaires.

Of the 345 questionnaires issued to parents, teachers and support staff, 63 were returned, 29 of which made comments. The report stated that there were “very few areas of concern emerging from the questionnaires”.

The inspectors’ report concentrates on the areas of ‘Achievement and Standards’, ‘Provision of Learning’ and ‘Leadership and Management’. All three areas were deemed “inadequate”.

Inspectors found that in the majority of classes there were “insufficient opportunities” provided by teachers to promote thinking skills and for independent and collaborative learning.

It went on to say pupils’ oral skills were “undeveloped” and teachers’ expectations of what pupils can achieve were “low”.

Inspectors concentrated on three subjects at the school. They found teaching in the areas of English and mathematics “inadequate”, while the quality of the provision in geography was “satisfactory”.

The report stated: “The teachers’ planning, for a majority of the areas of the curriculum, is inadequate; the planning does not promote sufficient coherence and progression in the pupils’ learning and is not tailored sufficiently to match the abilities and interests of all of the pupils.

“The quality of the lessons observed ranged from very good to unsatisfactory; two-fifths of these lessons were good or very good, with most of these being good. The remaining lessons were in need of significant improvement, and over one-fifth of the lessons observed were inadequate.”

The strategic leadership of the school was also found to be “inadequate” by the inspectors.

Their report said: “The work of the senior leadership team does not address adequately the major challenges faced by the school.

“Key leadership roles at all levels lack clarity which has resulted in duplication of roles, deficiencies in the leadership of key aspects of curriculum and pastoral provision, insufficient action to effect improvement and poor levels of accountability to ensure that all members of leadership play a part in the strategic management of the school.”

The report stated that the areas in need of improvement “significantly outweigh” the few strengths in the quality of education provided.

Specific areas in need of improvement were:

• Teachers to raise their expectations of what pupils can achieve and to improve the inadequate quality of the pastoral and curricular experiences of the pupils;

• the inadequate standards achieved by the pupils, particularly the levels of attainment in public examinations, to be improved;

• school leaders to implement effective processes for self-evaluation and school development planning leading to the identification of appropriate priorities and the associated actions necessary to effect improvement; and

• the roles and responsibilities of leadership and management at all levels, including the role of the governors, to be reviewed, clarified and strengthened so as to ensure that rigorous monitoring and evaluation of all aspects of provision is undertaken and that the actions taken lead to improvement.

The report continued: “The inspection has identified major areas for improvement in standards, learning and teaching, and leadership and management (including governance) which need to be addressed urgently if the school is to meet effectively the needs of all of its pupils.”

The report also recommended a follow-up inspection within six weeks of the November visit.

Monkstown School Principal, Nigel Pell-Ilderton, who has been in the post for just over a year, said this has already taken place.

He told the Times the inspectors were “very pleased” with the changes already implemented.

The full inspection report can be read online at