action research, capacity building, critical friend, external support, facilitator-led approach, quality assurance, process outcomes, school evaluation, school improvement, self-evaluation
With an increasing emphasis on school self-evaluation as a mechanism for school improvement, many countries provide a range of supports to guide schools through the self-evaluation process. While models of support vary across jurisdictions, there are a number of common approaches that prevail, including the provision of an external specialist to support the school self-evaluation process. However, there is very little research carried out in relation to models of external specialist support for school self-evaluation. Building on previous research this article explores the implementation of a specific model of external specialist support for school self-evaluation in five Irish post-primary schools (student age cohort 12–18 years). This model differs from the standard set of supports provided by the Department of Education and Skills to schools in Ireland. The model was developed and facilitated by a researcher from the Dublin City University, Centre for Evaluation, Quality and Inspection. An action research methodology was used to implement and test the model of support in five schools and the related findings are outlined. While the findings are relevant to the Irish context they may have a wider application for self-evaluation policy and practice in other jurisdictions. The model may have particular relevance for jurisdictions where self-evaluation is being introduced for the first time or where implementation issues exist.