Written Answers. - School Evaluation System.

Richard Bruton


8 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will ensure a properly structured role for parents in the whole school evaluation system before it is extended to all schools. [21727/02]

Parents' views on the development of the whole school evaluation, WSE, model have been represented by the National Parents – Council-primary-and National Parents Council-post-primary – at all stages of the extensive consultative process which began in 1996 and which involved 19 partner groups in education. During the WSE pilot project 1998-99, parent representatives, as members of school boards of management, were given the opportunity at both pre-evaluation and post-evaluation meetings to express their views on the process as it related to their particular school. Any such views were taken into account during the finalisation of the relevant WSE school report, a copy of which was issued to the school's board of management in each case.

The WSE pilot project report 1999 acknowledged and emphasised the need to explore the best means of incorporating the perspectives of parents in the WSE process. The development and expansion of such opportunities will constitute part of the preparation for the introduction of WSE to all schools in due course.

During 2003 it is planned to begin the process of extending WSE to all schools on a phased basis. The process will allow for ongoing review of the operation of the WSE model as it is experienced from various participant perspectives, and will permit adjustments to aspects of the model that may require modification. The model will provide for a more structured role for parents in the school evaluation process than obtains at present and will therefore recognise the role of parents as important stakeholders in the education of their children. The new model will incorporate meetings between the inspectors and representatives of parents' associations or parents' councils where such exist in the school.

The aim of school evaluation is entirely about improving the quality of education for our young people in their schools. WSE is designed to contribute to that aim, taking the views of all concerned, including parents, into account. The arrangements for the implementation of WSE will be notified to schools and the educational community through the publication of a circular which will be prepared in my Department.