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1.1      i.  School: Ballyclare High                                     v.         Date of Inspection: W/C 23.02.98 ii.
School Reference Number: 341-0008                                       vi.         Area of Study:
       iii.  Age Range: 11-18                                                       Education Technology
       iv.   Status: Controlled Secondary                               vii.        No of Families in School: 985

1.2    Intake/Enrolment

         School Year                   1993/94               1994/95                1995/96           1996/97          1997/98
Year 8 Intake                              180                  180                    181               198              189
Total enrolment                         1,184                 1,184                  1,170             1,206            1,225

1.3    Attendance

 Year 1996/97         8        9        10        11             12            13          14        Average       NI Average
                                                                                                     1996/97        1995/96
% Attendance        96.7      95.9     95.9      94.6         96.6        95.3           92.6          95.9           95%

1.4   i.    Total Number of Teachers:                                  iii.         Contact ratio (percentage of
                                                        73                          timetabled time in direct                .804
                                                                                    class contact):

      ii.   PTR (Pupil/Teacher Ratio):                                 iv.          Numbers of Teachers
                                                   16.8                             involved in Area of Study:                 -
                                                                                    (Focused Only)

 Year 1997/98           8             9           10              11                 12            13            14       TOTAL
Enrolment: Boys          97            91          92              82                 81            63            65          571
Enrolment: Girls         92          106           89              99                 98            87            83         654
Enrolment: Total       189           197         181             181                179           150           148        1,225
PTR                    21.0          21.2        18.9            15.9               17.0          12.8          12.8        16.8

1.5    Staying On Rate (1996/97) (Current year 13/14 as proportion of year 12 from 1/2 years previously)
                                                    Year 13             80.0                       NI Av        Year 13      89.7
                                                    Year 14             70.6                       NI Av        Year 14      81.9

1.6    Leavers’ Destinations (1994/95)

                                                        Total Leavers                       Year 12                     50
                                                        Total Leavers                      Years 13/14                 142

                                   YEAR 12 %                 NI %                               Years 13/14 %             NI %
TOTAL                                 100                     100                                    100                   100
Employment                               0                       4.8                                     5.63                  5.2
Grammar School                            8.0                  10.4                                     0                     0
Full-Time Further            90.0       75.2   19.72    17.4
Full-Time Higher Education   0          0      72.54    74.2
Full-Time Training           0          4.9     0        0.3
Unemployed                   0          0.7     0.7      1.0
Destination Unknown          2.0        4.0      1.41    1.8

NAME OF SCHOOL:           Ballyclare High (Grammar)                         SCHOOL            1997/98

                                                                                       1995   1996
Percentage of Year 12 taking GCSE in at least 5 subjects                                100    100
Percentage of Year 12 obtaining Grades E or above in at least 5 subjects                100    100
Percentage of Year 12 obtaining Grades C or above in at least 7 subjects               89.1   92.3
Percentage of total exam entries obtaining Grades E or above in GCSE                   98.8   99.5
Percentage of Year 14 obtaining Grades C or above in at least 3 GCE A level subjects   42.4   39.5
Percentage of Year 14 obtaining Grades E or above in at least 3 GCE A level subjects   76.8   81.4
Percentage of total subject entries obtaining Grade E or above at A level              91.0   94.1


Ballyclare High School is situated on the edge of Ballyclare and receives pupils from 36 primary schools
spread widely over rural and urban areas. The school has a rising enrolment, with 1,225 pupils at the time
of the inspection, slightly over 3% of whom are entitled to free school meals. Of those who enrolled in
year 8 over the last three years, 88% obtained grade A, and 12% obtained a B grade in the transfer
procedure. The pupils are entered for a wide range of subjects at GCSE level; 80% return to study for A
levels in the sixth-form. Over the past three years, the results obtained in public examinations have
improved annually. In 1997 they were above the norm for selective schools, with over 95% of the pupils in
year 12 achieving grades A-C in at least seven subjects at GCSE level and 48% of the pupils in year 14
achieving grades A-C in at least three subjects at GCE A level.

The focus of the inspection was education technology. The term education technology (ET) describes the
application of information and communication technologies (ICT) to the processes and management of
teaching and learning. The term information technology (IT) is used only when the statutory requirements
for IT skills in the Northern Ireland Curriculum (NIC) are reported on.

Before the inspection, meetings took place between the inspectors and members of the school’s management
team (SMT). At one of these meetings representatives from the SMT made a presentation on the school’s
policy for, and progress in the use of, education technology. The inspectors, with the help of the SMT,
identified areas of the school’s work for evaluation, mainly within the English, mathematics, science and
technology departments, augmented by visits to lessons in twelve other subject areas. Forty-nine lessons
taught by 41 teachers were seen; discussions took place with teachers and support staff. Interviews were
held with 32 pupils, from across the school, who had maintained diaries of their use of ET for two weeks
prior to the inspection.


2.1     The relationships in the classes visited are very good. The pupils often take the initiative in
deciding when and how to use computers to support their classwork and homework. They support each
other in class, and often work collaboratively on coursework projects.

2.2    The extent to which staff use or plan to use ET, varies considerably across the school. Nevertheless,
in more than twelve different subject areas and courses inspected, teachers make substantial use of
technology to enrich and enhance learning and teaching. The appropriate and effective integration of
computers into teaching and learning in these subjects enables the pupils to produce work of the highest
standards, and, at times, to produce work normally produced by more mature pupils.

2.3     In a small minority of subjects, where it would be appropriate to use ICT to support the teaching, the
lack of confidence and competence amongst staff restricts the opportunities for the pupils to enhance their

2.4    A large majority of the pupils have a high degree of computer skills, in part because of their use of
computers at home; as a result the key stage 3 (KS3) IT course is not sufficiently challenging to meet their
needs; nor does the course address the ICT needs of subject departments in a co-ordinated way.

2.5    The standard of teaching, which incorporates the use of ET, ranges from fair to excellent: much is
good. It would be helpful to include the learning outcomes expected from computer-based work in
whole-school and departmental planning.

2.6     The school has a long history of teaching courses with a computing content and a number of staff
make important contributions to the development of computers and technology in education in Northern

2.7    The senior management team have made, and continue to make, a substantial commitment to the
development of ET, both for management and for teaching and learning across the school.

2.8    Significant, relevant staff and curriculum development has taken place in recent years and the
teachers generally show an eagerness for further innovation.

2.9     The inspection has identified a range of significant strengths including: the commitment of the
senior management team; long-term planning for integrating ICT in the curriculum; the enthusiasm and
expertise of many teachers; the high priority given to ET by some departments; the very high standards
achieved by very many pupils, especially in the practical subjects; and the high level of home ownership of
computers by the pupils.

2.10 The school is already aware of the need to address a number of issues, such as: the need to develop
expertise among all staff; to provide high quality experience for all pupils; to set out expected learning
outcomes in planning; to ensure a better alignment of the teaching of IT skills to the different needs of the


3.1    The relationships in the lessons visited were very good. The pupils often take the initiative to use
computers both at home and in the school for research, and take pride in improving the quality of the content
and presentation of their work. They support each other and often work collaboratively on projects. The
teachers vary in their commitment to using ET, from those who display high standards of competence to
those who show little interest and involvement.

3.2     The heads of department are increasingly aware of the ways in which the use of technology can
support independent styles of learning and several are engaged in staff development about flexible learning
strategies. However, the evidence of planning for ET and for flexible learning varies considerably. In
subjects such as art, the sciences and technology there is some detailed planning for ET; in English, while
planning includes a number of

appropriate computer-based tasks, the head of department has identified the need for further integration. In
mathematics, the teachers have identified certain units of work where reference is made to aspects of
calculator and computer-based teaching; in practice, few opportunities to use the computer are taken up. In
mathematics and modern languages, the teachers would benefit from opportunities to improve their
understanding of ICT as a tool for learning.

3.3     IT skills and knowledge are taught formally to pupils in an IT course in years 8-10. The strengths
of the course lie in the quality of the direct teaching; the standard of basic computer skills; the setting of
teaching tasks in different subject contexts, such as history and religious education, and the involvement of
teachers from different subject areas in teaching the course. In year 10, the course provides a useful
opportunity to pilot IT tasks, such as the Little Theatre Project, which were devised by the school and
published by the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), for the wider purpose of
the accreditation of IT competence for pupils in KS3.

3.4      Many pupils in year 8 already have a high degree of computer competence. For them, the course
lacks challenge; the course does, however, effectively meet the needs of the minority who do not have such
skills. There is a need for better co-ordination to relate the teaching to ICT elements in the programmes of
study of other subjects. For example, in English, home economics and mathematics, the teachers undertake
activities with year 8 and 9 pupils which require skills in information retrieval or the use of spreadsheets
which are not taught until later in the IT course. In a number of subject lessons seen, the pupils made
elementary errors using software which they had not been taught to use properly. Furthermore, when the
expertise which the pupils acquired during the course was not consolidated in subsequent subject teaching,
the skills were quickly lost

3.5     Across the school, planning needs to address a number of issues including the development of the
pupils’ information and communication skills, the integration of the library skills course and the IT course,
the achievement of technology-based learning outcomes which relate to subject objectives and are explicitly
stated in whole-school and departmental planning. The school reports that it plans to integrate the CCEA
IT tasks into subject teaching.

3.6    The standard of teaching, which incorporates the use of ET, ranges from fair to excellent. In many
lessons the deployment of a range of resources, including video in English and French lessons, an audio
language system for modern languages, and the wider use of ICT, was accomplished effectively and
supported the intended learning.

3.7     The pupils’ experience of the use of technology varies considerably across the school. As a result
of the option choice at KS4 and beyond, and by the effective integration of ICT into the curriculum, many of
the pupils have opportunities to use technology in an informed and purposeful way, producing some
imaginative, creative, innovative and experimental work of the highest quality, and working in a flexible and
independent style. For example, in work undertaken as part of the CREST (Creativity in Science and
Technology) award scheme in

technology and design, the pupils demonstrate an increasing degree of independence and team work in
deploying their investigative and research skills. The best work undertaken by some pupils as part of this
scheme has reached the highest standards recognised in the UK.

3.8     In some lessons in English and religious education the pupils can organise, refine and present
information in appropriate ways for specific purposes and audiences. They publish newsletters of high
quality in response to reading novels, plays and stories from the Bible, scanning and modifying original
drawings and images in appropriate ways. They search for information on the historical and cultural
context of literature: a year 10 class searched several different CD-ROMs to collate information on
Shakespeare’s life and times; a year 13 literature class retrieved, from the Internet, information about the
influence of Seneca on Shakespearian tragedies, on the history of Queen Cleopatra, and on film adaptations
of the play “Anthony and Cleopatra”. Pupils in a year 8 library class learnt, through research on the
Dunkirk evacuations which form the backdrop to the novel “The Snowgoose”, that factual information from
different sources is not always reliable. As a result the pupils demonstrated their ability to be
discriminating in their use of information.

3.9     In science, much progress has been made in using ICT to record and present information from
experiments, effectively extending the pupils’ learning. Generally, increasingly good use is made of
relevant information sources at all stages to enhance the pupils’ scientific investigations, and to reinforce the
teaching of specific concepts and areas of scientific knowledge. In biology at KS3, excellent use is made of
a CD-ROM to show the operation of the human heart. At KS4, the pupils can interrogate databases to
develop their knowledge of nutrition, to simulate, for example, transpiration and photo-synthesis, and to
represent the results of experiments in the form of graphs and spreadsheets. In chemistry, the pupils are
beginning to use graphics to construct and simulate scientific experiments on screen, to record the results
and to test hypotheses. In physics, simulation packages are used to demonstrate concepts, and to collect
data showing for example, the variation in the rates of cooling, light intensity, temperature, pressure and the
rate of heat transfer in an experiment. Searching databases on topics as varied as the solar system and fuse
selection for household appliances, is a feature of coursework.

3.10 The pupils have good opportunities to develop their information handling skills to a high level in
subjects such as business studies, English, history, technology and science. In information systems and
computing courses the pupils retrieve information to support a variety of learning tasks, and design
databases as part of a complete solution to a need; this involves, for instance, producing spreadsheets and
graphs as well as writing, designing, illustrating and publishing booklets, flyers and posters.

3.11 A multimedia computer system in the art department is used to search the Internet for information on
fashion and graphic design, to scan photographs and textures, to manipulate images, to experiment with
colour saturation, to create and produce advertising designs and to present the interim and final products,
both as colour prints and through multimedia presentations. The effective use of the technology raises the
quality of the pupils’ art and design work well beyond that which would normally be expected. Several
KS3 pupils

worked collaboratively on an extra-curricular project to devise a creative multimedia presentation on the
subject of school security, through which they developed design and communication skills to a high level.

3.12 In music, computers are used extensively, mainly by the pupils in KS4 and in the sixth-form for
musical composition, producing scores and for sampling and creating electronic sounds. The technology
has become a central part of the learning for the pupils. They are able to attain levels of composition in
music which would otherwise not be possible, and are able, in a confident and articulate manner, to make
critiques of their own and their classmates’ compositions. In a GCSE media studies course, the pupils learn
to use a computer suite to edit and assemble video sequences and to design and produce titles and graphics
for a variety of video productions.

3.13 Sixth-form pupils have started to make good use of a small stock of graphic calculators in
mathematics, to model, study and discuss inverse trigonometric functions and the related graphs.
Elsewhere, while calculators are used to aid calculation, and errors in the use of calculators in earlier
examination scripts are effectively corrected, there is evidence that some pupils are not sufficiently
knowledgeable of the facilities on their own calculators. Nor do they use their mathematical knowledge to
perform more complex calculations efficiently. There is scope to develop further the use of the calculator
as a learning tool for mathematical investigation. In many instances, the teachers lack the awareness and
confidence necessary to develop the effective use of computers in mathematics lessons.

3.14 The use of ICT to enhance learning in technology and design is excellent. The pupils’ competence
in communication skills, information handling, in modelling and in measurement and control are logically
sequenced throughout the full teaching programme which extends from year 8 to the sixth-form. An
appropriate emphasis is placed on modelling and control, thus providing a discrete opportunity for the pupils
to create, build and test electronic and pneumatic circuits suitably interfaced for control purposes. As a
result, the pupils are able to control their personally designed and manufactured products. The pupils make
excellent use of the graphics software to design, develop, refine and present proposals in imaginative and
creative ways and to communicate their proposals to a variety of audiences, including the use of the Internet
to retrieve helpful information through consultation with a third party.

3.15 In science and technology, individual pupils have achieved excellent results in national competitions
including Young Engineer for Britain and Young Scientist of the Year. A new City and Guilds
supplementary course for sixth-form pupils in computer aided design is provided. The pupils are highly
motivated and appropriately challenged and the quality of their work is good. The department is
developing computer-aided engineering as a sixth form specialism and is pioneering this work through video
conferencing in association with the North-Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) Technology
Centre: a good start has been made; initial indications suggest that the experiment will be of significant
benefit to the school and more widely.

3.16 Within the sixth-form enrichment programme, a number of courses make effective use of ICT,
ranging from the RSA word-processing class, through publication studies, and desk-

top publishing, to a group of technology, language, art, media and computing students designing and
producing a web site and multimedia presentation for the Comenius Eurorobo project. The Eurorobo
project links schools in several countries for the purpose of collaborative design, manufacture and marketing
of a robot and involves file transfer of technical drawings and programs, real-time interactive meetings on
the Internet and the local use of numerically controlled machines.

3.17 Beyond the use of ICT initiated by teachers, there is significant evidence that the pupils often take
the lead in deciding to use computers to enhance their work across a wide range of subjects, including where
little use is made of the technology in pupils’ teaching. They use ICT for homework and coursework,
sometimes working in each other’s homes to share access to CD-ROMs, the Internet and other software
tools. For example; a year 13 pupil in the role of finance director in the Young Enterprise scheme,
maintains the business accounts in a professional way on his own laptop computer; in home economics, year
9 project teams worked at home to research, design and create a corporate image, advertising and packaging
for a fast-food outlet, all to an exceptionally high standard.


4.1    The school has a long-established history, extending back almost 25 years, in providing computer
courses and developing their educational use. GCSE and A level courses, such as those in information
systems, computing and office studies remain an important element of optional course provision. One of
the vice-principals has made, and continues to make, a significant contribution to the development and
support of examination syllabuses for courses with a significant computing element, including the recent
introduction by CCEA, of an accreditation scheme in IT for pupils at KS3.

4.2    Developing the use of ET, in the school as a whole, is the responsibility of the SMT, each of whose
members is equipped with a portable computer to assist them in carrying out their administrative and
management duties, and to enhance their personal competence. The school is extending personal
ownership of laptop computers to all heads of department. Prior to the inspection the SMT asked all heads
of department to analyse the developmental stage of their department and the school. The results revealed a
considerable degree of co-ordination and transformation, and a need for targets to be set to embed the
innovation further.

4.3     The school makes considerable use of the CLASS system to support its administration and
management, and teaching and learning. Responsibility for the effective use of the system is devolved to
senior management, increasingly to middle management, and to the office and library staff. For example,
the school is experimenting with ways of using the system to prepare annual reports to parents and to
produce records of achievement, which complements the developing practice of teachers who report in
terms of learning outcomes. The school makes exemplary use of CLASS for the analysis of examination
results and performance target-setting. The school reports that the improvements in the results obtained in
external examinations in recent years are in response to such target setting.

4.4     Over the years, the school has made substantial and regular investments in accommodation and
provision for ICT. The school has 220 computers: a 1:6 ratio of computers to pupils. While some
departments make very limited use of the technology, the work of a considerable proportion of the pupils
and staff makes demands which outstrip the facilities available. In response, the SMT has, through the
school development plan, identified appropriate resource, staff and curriculum development needs related to
ET. In particular, it has identified the need for a significant investment to introduce structured networking,
to provide access to the Internet and to upgrade some desktop computers.

4.5     A survey carried out by the school in January 1998 revealed that 73% of all pupils have access to a
computer at home. Home access is highest in KS3, with 80% in year 8 and 88% in year 9. Three-quarters
of these are modern, powerful computers, with CD-ROM drives and colour printers. In addition, 27% of all
pupils have access to the Internet at home. The school is actively considering the implications of the
survey’s findings for their approach to teaching generally, their expectations concerning the use of
computers for homework, and how to ensure equity of access to technology for all of the pupils in the
school. For example, in one class, the teacher organised the pupils to work in pairs at home to research on
the Internet. Out of lesson time, pupils make independent use of computers in the technology department,
in IT rooms and in the school library.

4.6      The school library holds some 50 information and reference CD-ROMs, in addition to an appropriate
variety of CD-ROMs used in a number of departments. The senior pupils also make independent use of
CD-ROMs for research on careers guidance in the careers suite. As recognised in the school development
plan, the use of the school library needs to be developed further, in particular the use of computers for
research during timetabled lessons could be extended. There is also a need to improve the computer
facilities available to sixth-form pupils.

4.7    A technician, working part-time in IT and part-time in science, provides good support; however,
urgent maintenance and problem-solving tasks can often fall to specialist teachers when he is unavailable.

4.8     In the three years prior to the inspection, more than 40 staff have been involved in school-based
courses related to ICT, 30 have attended a wide variety of relevant external courses, and seven have engaged
in post-graduate courses with some ICT content. Courses have been run for parents. A further eleven
teachers, together with all heads of department, have benefited from CLASS training sessions. A survey of
staff development needs with respect to ET carried out prior to the inspection, indicated that 83% of the
teachers aim to demonstrate their competence in education technology in the coming year and 40% of the
teachers wish to progress to a more advanced level. While most teachers have taken a basic skills training
course, the findings of the inspection indicate that further staff development, relating ICT to teaching and
learning, remains a priority in the mathematics and modern language departments.


The inspection highlights the extent to which the standards of work and the pupils’ attainment in a
significant proportion of subjects had been raised by the effective use of technology. It also indicates the
extent to which a large majority of the pupils are outstripping both the facilities available and the integration
of computers in some important areas of the curriculum.

The school is self-sufficient in the expertise needed to move forward in the light of emerging initiatives. In
order to make further progress and in a more uniform way, the school needs to set and implement its
strategic targets, in ways that ensure that the departments overcome the inconsistencies of expertise amongst
the teachers and of experience for the pupils across the whole curriculum.


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