Published Wednesday, 17 October 2012
A new inspection has found post-primary leadership should be improved. (© Getty)
The report, by chief inspector Noelle Buick, found the overall quality of middle management was good or better in two-thirds of schools inspected, but there was no improvement in the principal's leadership in close to 20% of post-primary schools.
The 2010-2012 report said: "A fragmented approach to leadership development, which is not responding quickly or effectively enough to the changing needs of our education system, is evident."
It also found the quality of education in seven sample schools was inadequate or unsatisfactory and one of the main problems was low exam attainment. Schools in areas with high levels of deprivation fared worst.
But the report states that achievements and standards were good or better in 68% of post-primaries inspected, and less than one tenth were labeled less than satisfactory.
The report highlighted significant challenges facing school leaders like falling enrolments, budget deficits, curriculum change and the need for effective collaboration.
The report added: "There is a clear need to improve the effectiveness of school leaders at all levels in the well-targeted deployment of resources to provide high-quality education and to raise expectations, aspirations and, as a consequence, standards for all pupils.
"Leadership, in the context of reform, requires of school principals a much broader base of multi-disciplinary skills and professional knowledge than before and consequently there is a need for appropriately designed leadership development programmes which are capable of supporting leaders for 21st-century schools."
The 133-page report also found less than one-third of pupils entitled to free school meals left school with five GCSEs in the last school year. It advised outcomes need to improve for English and maths pupils across all sectors, but especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The findings highlight the need to improve the quality of leadership and management, particularly in post-primary where it was deemed not good enough in 39% of schools inspected.
The report said setting challenging targets was key to breaking the link between disadvantage and educational performance.
"Some schools are failing to break a cycle of underachievement that has persisted over a period of time," it added.