Last week we had some visitors from the Department of Education. We had been notified of a visit during the Easter holidays and they came on Monday and stayed until Wednesday. This blogpost is just a quick overview of what the inspectors looked at/asked about in my classroom.
I think it’s very important to note that each inspector is different and this is not a definitive list or guide but hopefully it might help you to get started if you are expecting a visit soon!
The inspector in my room looked thoroughly through my plans. She wanted to see termly plans (and looked at each subject as well as Maths in more detail). She then looked at my fortnightly plans and cuntas míosúil. I use my own template which you can download below. It is quite detailed however and I then tick it for my cuntas míosúil.
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I also use my ‘Planning Glance Sheets’ which I tick when completed.
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The inspectors also looked at ‘Classroom Support Plans’ for children who I feel may need extra support in Maths within the classroom. She also requested to see the SET plans for children who have been targeted for learning support. She also wanted a plan for ‘in class’ support which we use every day (We don’t use a particular plan but I had written out the different strategies and approaches we use to support the children in my class.)
For maths assessment, I use ‘Maths Curriculum Targets’ which I tick when the children have completed a topic. If a child is struggling or finding a topic difficult I put a star on the section to be revised at a later date. They are available from 1st to 6th class below. (free download)
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There are 4 pages in total so I photocopy it back to back and 2 in 1 (so its only 1 sheet per pupil.)
I also included the groupings (mixed ability) and the standardised test scores for the previous two years.
Maths display and resources
The inspector commented on the use of ‘real’ resources for hands on activities. She commented that we often forget to use hands on material when the children get to senior classes and noted that it is still as important. She also liked that I used the display throughout the lesson and referred back to it.
I had the maths vocabulary for money on display and I also went through the vocabulary at the beginning of the lesson. (We had already done the vocabulary the day before too so the children remembered most of it!
The inspector asked the children to pick out their favourite piece of maths and she then walked around asking what they had picked and asked the children to explain what they had been doing/ what they learned/ what topic it was.
Talking to the children
At the end of the lesson, the inspector asked the children if they liked maths, what they liked/didn’t like, and then asked them some questions based on what we had covered so far this year. (She had my termly plan which I had ticked off).
I’m not sure of exactly what they looked at on a whole school level but they did look at the standardised assessments as well as maths strategies/methodologies used on a whole school level, they met with the principal, vice principal and maths co-ordinator too.
I wasn’t given a time for when the inspector would arrive – there was a knock at 9.30 am and she walked through the door and I froze – I started shaking and got extremely nervous but the nerves began to settle once the lesson got started. I had everything laid out on the back table (I had placed all my Maths assessment/plans etc. in one folder and had another folder with my termlies and a third folder with my fortnightly/cuntas míosúil.) My lesson went well and the inspector was very positive so overall it was a good experience – thankfully! We will hopefully get our full report in the coming weeks.