Schools praised for tackling poor literacy and numeracy
LONDONDERRY pupils had amongst the lowest levels of achievement at GCSE in Northern Ireland in 2010/11 but a number of local schools have been held up as examples for their efforts at boosting literacy and numeracy.
An Audit Office report published last week showed the proportion of Londonderry school leavers achieving at least five GCSEs (A* to C) was just over 70 per cent - twelfth out of 18 parliamentary constituencies.
The report said schools with the lowest levels of attainment in both Belfast and Londonderry specifically were being supported through the ‘Bright Futures’ and ‘Achieving Belfast’ initiatives.
The two programmes were commissioned by the Department of Education “to address the particularly high levels of under-achievement, linked to social disadvantage in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.” Both programmes were introduced from the 2008/09 school year.
Despite the below average attainment generally in the city the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) report held up four local schools as providing a good example and showing how to raise literacy and numeracy levels.
It referred to the Longtower Primary School’s use of alternative methods for teaching mathematics; St Brigid’s Primary School, Carnhill’s use of Nurture Centres; and the Holy Family Primary’s establishment of a Grandparents’ clubs, as success stories.
At secondary level, St Mary’s College was praised for sharing good practice based on the school’s specialist status in Science since 2006 and its membership of the Microsoft IT Academy programme.
Referring to the Longtower’s numeracy efforts the auditors stated: “Emphasis is placed on engaging with pupils and building their confidence in maths.
“One key barrier that the school had identified was that of language - often pupils’ difficulties with maths problems were not because they did not understand the maths issues being tested but simply because they did not understand the language used.
“As a result, the school focuses on talking and communicating about maths in Key Stage 1.”
Elsewhere, the Auditors reported that: “The results of the Nurture Centre have been extremely positive. Students in the Centre receive individual help and attention to address issues they may have and this is a more productive and positive approach than many have previously experienced.
“The Principal also told us the Centre helped lessen interruptions in mainstream classes and improved the quality of learning there.
“The Principal has tracked the outcomes of pupils who have progressed through the Nurture Centre over the previous eight years and only one has failed to complete post-primary school.”
And on St Mary’s the auditors reported: “The college, in association with the Regional Training Unit and Investors in People, has held an annual ‘Learning Conference’ in which schools are invited to attend and consider one aspect of innovation or best practice in teaching.
“Attendees represent a wide range of schools from all sectors - including primary and post-primary, secondary, grammar and special schools.
“Last year the conference was based on thinking skills. As a result of the conference, St Mary’s staff presented papers at the International Thinking Skills Conference held at QUB.
“Internationally, the school is a Microsoft mentor school and this places it in a worldwide consortium on good practice within the classroom.
“Teachers from St Mary’s have attended courses in Cape Town and Washington. In addition, the school is part of the North European Microsoft Learning Forum and participates in regular video conference calls sharing best practice and discussing innovative ways of teaching.”
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Weather for Londonderry
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North west