Chief Inspector's Report

Elaine Foster Allen
National Education Inspectorate
November 1, 2010

The First Chief Inspector's Report on Education in Jamaica

In 2010, the National Education Inspectorate (NEI) completed its first round of inspections on 30 public schools at the primary and secondary level. By highlighting the strengths and weakness of the approaches and practices of these schools, valuable feedback and lessons are encapsulated in this comprehensive report.

The report focused on 8 key indicators of school effectiveness:

  1. Leadership and management
  2. Teaching and learning
  3. Students' performance in regional and national examinations
  4. Students' progress in relation to their starting point
  5. Personal and social development
  6. Human and material resources
  7. Safety, security and well-being

The Evidence

The NEI observed over 1100 lessons across thirty schools (23 at the primary level and 7 secondary), 60 percent were Mathematics and English Language classes and the remaining were lessons from across the other areas of the curriculum. The Inspectors also conducted 321 interviews with staff: principals, vice principals, guidance counselors and senior teachers as well as 123 on-site interviews with students during the course of these inspections.

In addition, 6275 students responded to the Inspectorates student satisfaction survey, two thousand seven-hundred and eighty-four (2,784) parents gave their perception of their children's school and 499 teachers expressed their views about the teaching and learning culture and leadership in their institution.

Key Findings

It is at the Primary level that leadership is weakest. Of the twenty-three schools inspected, thirteen were rated as unsatisfactory on all components and eight were considered as satisfactory. Only in one Primary school was the leadership and management assessed as good. The report noted that leadership was weakest in those schools where the principal failed to demonstrate focused strategic and instructional leadership and did not hold staff accountable. In one such school the inspectors noted that although the principal had a good relationship with staff, she failed to hold them accountable for improving student performance. The team noted that in these instances:

The leadership lacks the rigor and drive needed to improve teaching and students' achievements and progress. The Principal's and teachers' low expectations of the current and potential performance of individual students and groups of students contribute to the Principal giving limited direction and guidance to teachers with the goal of improving standards. Insufficient energy is placed on instructional leadership which holds teachers accountable for the impact of their teaching on students' learning.

According to the findings, self evaluation, which is critical to improvement planning has not been "fully embraced by the school management culture" and was evidently deficient at both primary and secondary levels. The report noted that "insufficient use of data allows many members of staff to remain unaware of the extent of poor performance" (p. 26). The implementation of effective tracking systems was identified as a problem that plagued many of the schools. Specifically, action goals tended to be too wide, next steps needed to be identified and limited monitoring of the progress toward goals. Conversely, those who were successful in this regard had clear, measureable goals and strong emphasis on teaching and learning.

The report found that at the primary level where teachers function as generalists, their knowledge of subject areas was weakest whereas the reverse was evident in secondary level teachers who function as subject specialists. However, in terms of students' progress in relation to their starting point, the primary level was rated as satisfactory, while performance on this indicator at the secondary level varied depending on school type.

In approximately half of the schools inspected, the curriculum and enhancement programmes supported learning effectively and scored satisfactorily or higher on the safety, security and well-being indicator.

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