Science & Biology Inspection Report

Back in April 2010, St. Columba's College received an inspection from the Department of Education and Skills on our Junior Science and Leaving Certificate Biology practices. This week the official report was released and we are delighted that it is extremely positive and confirms the high standards we set for ourselves here at St. Columba's. Here are some of the highlights of the inspection report - with the full report available here.
"The level of resources to support both teaching and learning in the subjects is very good. Senior management allocates a generous budget to the subjects. The majority of lessons are conducted in one of the school’s four laboratories, one of which is a dedicated biology laboratory. The laboratories and preparation rooms are located in the science building. Each laboratory is fitted with modern information and communication technology (ICT) equipment, including internet access, and digital projection facilities. Teachers make constant use of these facilities. There is a comprehensive science and biology library for use in lesson preparation, and an extensive video and DVD collection. Data logging equipment is present and used. Within the science building, the enhancement of computer facilities for student use is worthy of consideration."
"The fascinating world of science is successfully revealed to students in many ways in St Columba’s. The school has a very successful science news website, containing a range of science articles which aim to enthuse and inform students about wider science stories and issues of the day. It includes articles produced by students. There is also a science department website with sections for subjects containing course notes and examination material for downloading. Corridors in the science building exhibit poster presentations of interesting science facts and there is an extensive display of natural history specimens. Many animals and plants are kept within the biology laboratory in aquariums and vivariums including freshwater species, tropical fish, terrapins and a python."
"The academic structure of St Columba’s includes a ‘form primary’ which students can enter at age eleven and which is the equivalent of sixth class in primary school. Science is a core subject for this year. A  commendable programme has been developed that reflects the nature of the Primary Science curriculum and the Junior Certificate syllabus; it is based on a series of investigations using the scientific method."
"A very high level of planning for the subjects was evident in the extensive documentation presented and this is representative of the work of all teachers. A progressive, committed and confident set of teachers work collectively to ensure good outcomes for students in the subjects".
"All teachers used ICT in lesson preparation. It was clear that teachers put considerable time into preparing electronic slides to accompany each lesson and choosing the most suitable means of presentation with series of interesting illustrations to suit the capabilities of their students".
"The quality of teaching and learning observed during the evaluation was high. The enthusiasm for and commitment of teachers to their subjects and their students is significant. They displayed considerable knowledge of their subjects often referencing interesting facts or applications from the world of scientific research and industry. In one instance the teacher led the group into a short discussion on the comparisons of fish population densities in two oceans. In another, the teacher used striking video clips to stimulate discussion on the relationship between parasitism and population dynamics. Teachers succeeded in making fungi, ecology, transpiration, acids and mixtures interesting, and got students to speak openly about their views on the topics."
"Students have well-developed ideas about Science and Biology. Students coped very well with the Latin based terminology and technical language of the subject. It was also evident that students placed high value on applying themselves, demonstrating curiosity and achieving a high standard. It is highly commendable that such a flourishing learning environment is successfully maintained"
Needless to say the team of science and biology teachers here in St. Columba's are extremely happy with the content of the inspection report and look to take on the department's recommendations promptly.


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