Raising Standards and School Improvement
The Department is committed to ensuring that every school is a good school and has identified raising standards and tackling underachievement as key priorities in enabling every young person to fulfil their potential at each stage of their development. As stated in the school improvement policy:
“Our vision is of schools as vibrant, self-improving, well governed and effectively led communities of good practice, focusing not on institutions but on meeting the needs and aspirations of all pupils through high quality learning, recognising the centrality of the teacher."
Our Policies and Strategies for School Improvement
Every School a Good School (ESaGS) – A Policy for School Improvement was published in April 2009. This policy aims to support schools and teachers in their work to raise standards and overcome barriers to learning some pupil may face. This policy includes a requirement to provide focused support for schools which, as a result of inspection by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI), are found to be offering less than satisfactory provision for their pupils. This support is provided through the Formal Intervention Process
At the core of the Policy for School Improvement is self-evaluation, using performance data and other information, leading to sustained self-improvement. Self-evaluation is an integral part of the school development planning process. Guidance is available to schools on the School Development Planning process including measures to improve the quality of school leadership. Guidance is also available on Target Setting and Benchmarking.
Count, read: succeed - A Strategy for Improving Outcomes in Literacy and Numeracy was published in March 2011. This strategy sets out an approach that is designed to support teachers and school leaders in raising levels of attainment in literacy and numeracy.
The Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce was established from February 2008 to June 2011 to oversee progress and make recommendations on the Department’s Strategy for Improving Outcomes in Literacy and Numeracy.
The Strategy is informed by, and responds to, issues raised in the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) and Westminster Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reports on literacy and numeracy. This includes Circular 2007/11 and Memorandum of Reply on the 2nd/3rd Report of PAC Session 2006/07 – Improving Literacy and Numeracy in Schools.
Delivering Social Change - Improving Literacy and Numeracy Signature Project
The Delivering Social Change - Improving Literacy and Numeracy Signature Project, announced in October 2012 by the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister, aims to employ an additional 230 recently graduated teachers, who are not currently in a permanent teaching post, on a two-year fixed-term contract to enable schools to deliver tuition and support for children in primary and post primary schools who are currently struggling to achieve basic educational standards.
The project is being implemented by DE along with their delivery partner the WELB and the employing authorities. The Department has issued a Letter to Principals notifying them about the project. Further details about the Project are available on the Western Education and Library Board website www.welbni.org
North-South Working Group on Educational Underachievement
This Group was established under the auspices of the North-South Ministerial Council in Education Sectoral Format, as underachievement is an area of concern across the island of Ireland. The Group’s work programme has a specific focus on underachievement in literacy and numeracy, particularly among those from deprived backgrounds, and aims to promote sharing of best practice in this area.