A DRAFT of the Whole School Evaluation undertaken at De La Salle College shows that the complaints aired by teachers, which were exclusively revealed in the Waterford News & Star, are founded.
The draft outlines a number of issues of concern for the Department of Education including the principal’s leadership, the use of money for material objects, the Board of Management’s functions and also issues surrounding the deployment of teachers.
On May 1 we revealed that tensions were running high between staff and management, with staff continuing to raise issues since 2009 in regard to issues at the school, including the deployment of teachers outside their specialist areas and the lack of openness, parity and honesty between the principal and teachers. At the same time it was revealed that the school was in debt to the tune of €500,000 as a result of “certain building projects” that were undertaken and a “serious miscalculation” in regards to the money available from grants and other school resources.
The draft report, which was sent to Principal of the school Gearoid O’Brien in May for his approval, outlined the findings of the evaluation and also made recommendations for improvements at the school. The final report has not yet been published.
The report stated that some of the recent “costly refurbishments have little educational purpose” and recommended that trustees should consider how to best engage with staff to insure that initiatives and developments are educationally beneficial and have the broadest staff support.
Difficulties between the senior management team at the school was said in the draft report to have resulted in tension between the team and teaching staff as a whole. It was found that the absence of collaboration and communication between them has “militated against strategic planning and precludes the development of a shared vision by which to lead the school community.”
It also said that it was possible that this would have a negative impact on the teaching and learning of students, despite teachers’ evident commitment to their welfare.
The Board of Management also came in for criticism in the draft report, which stated that the educational leadership of the board has “not been a focus of its work to date.”
The report stated that the school offers a board and balanced curriculum with a wide range of subjects but said the omission of Social Personal and Health Education, (SPHE), a mandatory subject for junior classes, is a “grave issue of non compliance with Department regulations and requires the most urgent action.” It also found that almost all teachers teaching the subject had no training in the field.
A pattern of deployment of teachers outside their subject area was said to be evident in the report.
“The prevalence of the deployment of teachers to curricular areas other than the subjects in which they are qualified and registered is one of the most serious negative findings of the subject inspection reports,” the draft report stated.