“The way I see it is… Whole-School Evaluation in Irish Post-Primary Schools from the perspectives of principals, teachers, parents and students”
Dillon, Suzanne (2012) “The way I see it is… Whole-School Evaluation in Irish Post-Primary Schools from the perspectives of principals, teachers, parents and students”. Doctor of Education thesis, Dublin City University.
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The Department of Education and Skills operates a programme of inspection to evaluate the quality of education provision in schools and to contribute to school improvement. The whole-school evaluation (WSE) process is designed “to monitor and assess the quality, economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the education system provided in the state by recognised schools and centres for education” (Education Act 1998, section 7 (2)(b)). This study set out to hear directly from principals, teachers, parents and students how they had experienced a whole-school evaluation and their perceptions of its usefulness for the school. The research approach adopted was qualitative, rooted in social constructivism. A basic tenet was that the same WSE experience could be understood from multiple perspectives, each equally valid and worth engaging with.
The data set emerged from the talk of the principals, teachers, students and parents who participated in seven focus group discussions. By examining the way that these groups talk about WSE, the study identifies themes Purposiveness and Relationships that shape the participants’ perceptions of WSE. Two additional themes, specific to particular groups of respondents, were also uncovered. The Implementation theme arose from the principals’ talk and Disenfranchisement from the discussions of parents and students. The study confirmed much of what is already known about how principals and teachers perceive school evaluation. However, while recent changes to school inspection address some of the concerns expressed by the participants, this research indicates that further work needs to be done by the Inspectorate to adequately engage with parents and students particularly.
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