‘School inspectors and supervisors have many responsibilities to shoulder at school level and these range from administrative to pedagogical, instructional ones, to monitoring and planning of co-curricular activities and pastoral care’ (Aseltine et al, 2006, Supervision for learning: a performance-based approach to teacher development and school improvement)
School inspections in the world began first in France under Napoleon’s regime at the end of 18th century (Grauwe, 2007). The general ……. is that the rest of the world learnt from France. The inspection of a school provides an independent external evaluation of its effectiveness and a diagnosis of what it should do to improve.
The heart of the inspector’s work, his structural role, consists of serving as an administrative link, to transmit the impulses emanating from central power to operative levels. The aim is to enforce fulfilment of pedagogical and administrative norm (Carlos E. Olivera. UNESCO 1984)
In Mauritius, the School Inspectorate cadre (General Purpose), comprises a three-level structure namely School Inspector, Senior School Inspector and Principal School Inspector. It is responsible for the monitoring of Curriculum Development Programme; the appraisal and evaluation, the functioning of primary schools as well as advising and training of the teaching staff.
The Inspectorate cadre for the Oriental Languages Stream, comprises Assistant Supervisor Oriental Languages, Supervisor Oriental Languages and Senior Supervisor Oriental Languages
a) Critically analyse the purpose of School Inspection and Supervision
b) Discuss your responsibilities as supervisor or inspectors in the supervision of Physical Infrastructure, monitoring of curricular activities and staff development programme.
1. Physical Infrastructure
School infrastructure is a key base for learning in schools. School infrastructure include classrooms, ICT lab, libraries, school yard, playground, games equipment, sanitation facilities and others. Daniel Rivera, Social Development Project Director at CAF, Development Bank of Latin America, states, “The improvement of the physical conditions of schools is as closely related to learning as other educational inputs including home environment, motivation, good teachers, libraries, technologies, or student services”. *1 Vélez, Schiefelbein, and Valenzuela (1993) also indicate positive results between infrastructure quality and learning, based on a review of about 70 models of functions of production carried out during 20 years in Latin America.
As School Inspectors, apart from our ‘normal’ cluster of schools for administrative and pedagogical supervision, we have a cluster of school assigned to us to be visited exclusively for surveys on physical infrastructure. The surveys are carried out in connection with school readiness for resumption of studies at the beginning of each school term and after cyclones or torrential rain. The surveys are carried out according to checklist annexed (Annex ….)
After the survey at a school, we have a meeting with the Headmaster of the school to discuss our findings and how to address any shortcomings noticed within a certain time frame. We advise HM on minors repairs that are to be carried out putting funds fro the School Imprest and PTA to good useThe results of the survey for all schools are compiled at Zone level and sent to Headquarters at MITD. We certainly have to do a follow up on pending issues so that schools can be run under optimum conditions.
Any issues concerning heavy infrastructural works that cannot be resolved at the level of the school are referred to the Maintenance Unit of the Zone with the recommendation of the School Inspector and closely monitored.
During our routine school visits in our ‘normal’ cluster, it is our responsibility to see to it that proper maintenance of the physical infrastructure is carried out regularly to avoid unwarranted damage. We also have to ensure that documents such as infrastructure file, site book, ledgers, inventories and accession books are available and up to date, as well as reports from Health Inspector on water sample analysis and assessment report from Health and Safety Officers.
2. Monitoring of curricular activities
3. Staff Development Programme
One of the six pillars of the Nine Year Continuous Basic Education (NYCBE) is the continuous professional development of educators. “All Educators will have a specified number of hours of professional development that will sustain their mastery of knowledge and enhance their pedagogical skills for the effective delivery of the curriculum” (Inspiring every child, NYCBE, Pillar 4). Staff development is defined as “the process of improving staff skills and competencies needed to produce outstanding educational results for students” (Hassel,1999). As Thomas Guskey (2000, p.4) states, “One constant finding in the research literature is that notable improvements in education almost never take place in the absence of professional development.” Professional development is key to meeting today’s educational demands. Educators must keep abreast of the important advances that are occurring in education. This is where professional development comes in.
One of the duties of the school inspector is ‘To assist in Staff Development Programmes’ (scheme of service specified under Regulation 15 of the Public Service Commission Regulations). The Mauritius Institute of Education has produced a brand-new collection of textbooks based on the National Curriculum Framework for the Nine Year Continuous Basic Education as from 2016. All inspectors were required to follow a training programme (Training of Trainers) at the MIE in early 2017 and each year we carry out training sessions in our respective Zones for educators of grades one to six, in all core subjects. In the same line, we also conduct and/or assist in the conduction of training sessions at Zone level for the implementation of projects such as Early Digital Learning Programme, Diagnostic Assessment, Early Support Programme, etc. Training sessions have also been run on School Management and Administration for Headmasters, Deputy Headmasters and School Clerks.
Research helps us recognize that high-quality ongoing professional development that deepens teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical skills; provides opportunities for practice, research, and reflection; and includes efforts that are job embedded, sustained, and collaborative will assist in the goal to remain up-to-date (Sparks,2002). Seminal research by Joyce and Showers (1988) concludes that levels of teacher learning and strategy use are greatly increased when coaching, study teams and peer support are provided. During my school visits, specially in my two Community Schools, I am encouraging setting up of Pedagogical Committees and educator networks where educators can share on their good practices, discuss pedagogical issues and get school-based training and coaching.
c) Strategies used by school inspectors or supervisors to improve the academic performance at school
As a point of departure, it might be good to look into the causes of underperformance in schools. If academic performance needs to be improved, more attention should be channeled on the causes of underperformance as well as the factors that contribute to continuous failure. These may include: poor curriculum coverage, poor classroom management, total disregard for teaching and learning time, lack of teacher discipline and poor work ethics, teacher apathy, high rate of unaccounted absenteeism and inadequate resources – to mention just a few. According to Clarke (2007:203) the core function of the school is effective curriculum delivery. This implies that all schools must be characterised by quality teaching and learning processes. Despite this fact, some schools continue to reflect characteristics of a poor culture of teaching and learning defined by poor academic results and illdiscipline (Van Deventer & Kruger 2003:3). Shantz and Ward (2000) observed that for teachers to improve instructional delivery, they rely on feedback given to them by supervisors. Constructive criticism and guidance giving by supervisors are important in helping teachers develop their teaching proficiency and consequently achieving effective learning on the part of the students. Rettig (2000) noted that instructional activities foster teacher motivation, inspiration, trust, and help to improve teaching performance.
1. Monitor lesson planning
Planning of lessons is an activity most of our teachers do not like to do. They would argue that detailed planning on paper is ‘mindless hoop jumping’. According to them, good teachers could step into a class with all their knowledge and skills, and proceed to do the right things, without having to rely on notes written on paper. Even their powerful trade union encourage them in that direction, requiring them if ever they are requested to prepare daily notes to just jot a few lines with the topic to be taught, the pages of the workbook and the exercises to be done.
A good lesson is a vital component of the teaching learning process. A lesson plan is the instructor’s road map of what students need to learn and how it will be done effectively during the class time. Well organized and properly sequenced lesson plan allow for a smoother functioning classroom, class room disruptions are minimized, the stress on the teacher is reduced, and the learning environment is optimized for pupils.
Lesson planning produces more unified lessons (Jensen, 2001). It gives teachers the opportunity to think deliberately about their choice of lesson objectives, the types of activities that will meet these objectives, the sequence of those activities, the materials needed, how long each activity might take, and how students should be grouped. Teachers can reflect on the links between one activity and the next, the relationship between the current lesson and any past or future lessons, and the correlation between learning activities and assessment practices. Because the teacher has considered these connections and can now make the connections explicit to learners, the lesson will be more meaningful to them.
One of our priorities as inspectors would be to bring about a change of mindset on the part of educators through coaching and workshops. The different steps in the procedure of the lesson should be stated clearly. Educators will have to refer to the National Curriculum Framework document and the Teaching and Learning Syllabus to devise focused learning objectives. The Teaching and Learning Syllabus represents a valuable asset to establish clear levels of achievements at the end of a lesson. With reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy it provides low, intermediate and high levels of objectives. While preparing his lesson plan, the teacher would develop activities at each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy to involve pupils related to their assessed needs and abilities. This would allow a lower functioning pupil to respond to one group of questions while higher functioning pupils are responding to another set of questions and activities which are all related to the same topic of study.
Head of schools would be requested to monitor lesson planning which include scheme of work for the whole week and daily notes. Educators are to be reminded that one of the Key Tasks in their PMS (performance appraisal form) is lesson planning and Head of schools doing the appraisal should be more careful when giving ratings.
2. Improve Teaching effectiveness
Dunkin (1997) considered that teacher effectiveness is a matter of the degree to which a teacher achieves the desired effects upon students. Teachers may have limited control over many of the important factors that impact students’ learning, including students’ attitudes, study and learning skills, time students will spend on their learning, their emotional readiness to learn, and on.