An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

  

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

 

Scoil Naomh Mhichíl Naofa

Baile ’n Sceilg, Contae Chiarraí

Roll No: 19436S

 

 

Date of inspection: 3 March 2006

Data of issue of report:  15 December 2006

 

 

 

 

1.  Introduction - context and background of the school

2.  Quality of School Management.

2.1 The Board of Management

2.2 In-school Management

2.3 Resource Management

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community.

3.  Quality of School Planning

3.1  The Planning Process in the School and Implementation.

3.2 Planning for the classroom

4.  Quality of Learning and Teaching

4.1 Language

4.2 Mathematics

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

4.4 Arts Education

4.5 Physical Education

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

4.7 Assessment and Achievement

5.  Quality of  Support for Pupils

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

 

                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Report on Whole School Evaluation

 

This report was written after a whole school evaluation was carried out on Scoil Mhichíl Naofa.  It shows the results of an evaluation which was carried out on the school's work as a whole and it makes recommendations in regard to further development of the school's work.  During the evaluation the inspector had pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, with the teachers, with the board of management of the school and with parents' representatives.  The evaluation was carried out over a period of a number of days during which the inspector visited classrooms and looked at teaching and learning.  He interacted with the pupils and with the teachers, he examined the pupils' work and he interacted with the class teachers.  He reviewed documentation about school planning and the teachers' written preparation.  He met various staff groups as was appropriate. After the evaluation visit the inspector gave the staff and the board of management feedback regarding the results of the evaluation.  The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.

 

 

 

1.      Introduction - context and background of the school

 

This Gaeltacht school is located in the parish of Prior on the western fringe of Iveragh in County Kerry.  The school is proud of the proverb “Is fearr seachtain sa Phriareacht ná bliain ar scoil.” (Better a week in Prior than a year in school). The school is located about thirteen kilometres from Caherciveen.  The school is used as an Irish College in the summer.  This co-educational school is under the patronage of the Bishop of Kerry and has a strong charitable ethos.  The school is deeply involved with the local community, with the church and with local organisations.  They work together to create a safe environment in the school and to support the staff of the school in providing an appropriate broad curriculum for the pupils.  Irish is used in conversation in the classrooms and as the language of communication between teachers and pupils.  Although the area is famous as a true Gaeltacht area, many of the pupils who attend the school use English as their household language.  According to the school management the pupils are not speaking Irish at home as their mother tongue.  Many of the parents have come home from Britain and it is thought that they do not have fluent Irish.  Despite this challenge a huge effort is made to promote Irish in the school.

 

This was a four-teacher school for some years. When the School Report was provided in 1996, there were 112 pupils attending the school.  The number of children has fallen consistently, and now there are only 48 children on the roll.  It is noted that the population of the surrounding area is in decline.  Two teaching support teachers come to the school on a shared basis.

 

The statements regarding the ethos, atmosphere and aims of the school show that a positive friendly atmosphere is sustained in the school.  The aim of the teachers is “that they (children) will respect themselves and others, that they will respect their language and the culture from their own area as well as other cultures.”  Respect for tradition and heritage, and the culture and language of each child are nurtured through the school.  Musicians, storytellers and artists are invited to share their craft with the children from time to time.   A big effort is made to develop the confidence and independence of the children.  It is also an objective to give the pupils opportunities to develop and nurture their talents.

 

2.  Quality of School Management.

 

2.1 The Board of Management

The board of management of the school is appointed according to the guidelines of the Department, they have a meeting every term, and special meetings are organized as needed.  They give open support to the teachers and to the principal.  It is clear that the members of the board have an understanding of and an interest in the ethos of the school.  They communicate when necessary with the teachers, staff and community of the school.  The chairperson visits the school from time to time, especially for the sacraments. 

 

The school's policies are submitted to the board from time to time.  For example, the board has consulted with the parents to review the policy in relationships and sexuality education.  It is recommended, as good management practice, that the board of management take a more active role in the development and consolidation of school policies.

 

The board deserves praise for the amount of support which they provide to the staff to create an appropriate learning environment.  During the recent renovation of the building, the windows and doors were replaced and the school was painted.  The pupils also benefit from the good facilities which are provided outdoors for games.  The board has decided to develop an attractive green space beside the school, with shrubs, flowerbeds, vegetables, a compost heap and recycling equipment for the young pupils.  The board is worried about the steady decline in the number of children attending the school.  It is also worried about the Gaeltacht status of the area.

 

It is clear that the chairperson of the board of management is in regular communication with the principal and the staff of the school.  Communication with the school community is also maintained through the board members and through school letters which are issued from time to time.  It is extremely important now that the positive communication which was maintained steadily between the parties in recent years be sustained and that clear procedures for this be implemented at board of management and at school level.  There is no parents’ committee in the school but it has been noticed that the parents of the school cooperate willingly with the board and the teachers.  It has also been noticed that the chairperson and the board of management work conscientiously and that the teachers are appreciative of their help in the organisation of the school.

 

2.2 In-school Management

The principal, who teaches full-time, is very conscientious in her work. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she keeps the school records accurately and up to date.  Friendly and practical cooperation is maintained between herself and the other teachers.  She maintains a good relationship with the parents and she ensures that they are kept informed regarding the progress of their children.  She prepares her work enthusiastically and she provides facilities and equipment plentifully.  She gives a good example of diligence to her colleagues and the teaching staff cooperate willingly with her for the benefit of the pupils and of the school in general.  She has made a good start on furthering the planning process in the school and she is now working on implementing the curriculum productively.

 

Responsibilities are shared equally between teachers with posts of responsibility and it is clear that a genuine effort is made to fulfil the various duties cooperatively and diligently.  It is advised, however, that the various duties be reviewed in the context of educational changes and to ensure that the responsibilities are divided specifically between administration duties, curriculum duties and pastoral care duties.  Staff meetings are held regularly, equipment and facilities are organised considerately and an effective supervision system is in place during breaktimes. 

 

2.3 Resource Management

There are three teachers on the school staff.  The classes are shared between them in groups as follows: Junior Infants  / Senior Infants / 1st Class, 16 pupils;  2nd Class  / 3rd Class  / 4th Class,  17 pupils; 5th Class  / 6th Class,  15 pupils.  Two teaching support posts are shared with other schools in the area.  A secretary and a part-time caretaker also work in the school.  The school staff is grateful for their work.

 

A music teacher is employed to do instrumental work with the pupils from first class to sixth class for one hour every week.  It is recommended that each pupil be able to attend these classes and that they be included in the school teachers' planning.  It is also recommended that it is ensured that there is an appropriate balance between the strands and that the minimum amount of time recommended in the curriculum for music is observed.  An external teacher comes in also to teach dancing to all the pupils for two hours each week.  Údarás na Gaeltachta and the parents fund these activities.  It is now recommended that that this practice be reviewed and that each child gets the various curriculum experiences free of charge during school hours. All the pupils get support in football from an outside trainer for two hours every week.  FÁS funds this service.  A language assistant gives various children support in Irish.  The Comhchoiste Gaeltachta funds this service.  It is also recommended that the aims of the curriculum be taken into account in these activities.

 

A wide range of equipment is provided for various aspects of the curriculum, especially Mathematics, Information and Communication Technology and Science.  This is used effectively to reinforce the teaching.  The teachers provide a range of stimulating display material as a support for learning.  There are many appropriate books available in each classroom and in the central library and they are used effectively to promote personal reading.  Reference books are used regularly as well.  This good practice deserves praise.  The school has a television, a video recorder and a photocopier and all the equipment is used effectively as learning aids.  There are six computers and suitable software available in the computer room and the pupils use them to develop their computer skills.

 

The building provides an office, a hall, a resource room, a kitchen, storage and three classrooms.  There is also a computer room and a library/general purpose room.  The classrooms are comfortable, bright and well-ventilated, and have ample space to implement the curriculum effectively.  The rooms are kept neat and tidy. The school is cleaned each afternoon.  The classrooms contain modern furniture. Good use is made of white boards, concrete materials, audio-visual facilities, work cards and some charts to consolidate the pupils' learning.  It is recommended, however, that more written Irish be displayed in the halls.  The school has a spacious yard, some of which is tarmacadam and the rest of which is grass.  The schoolyard is kept clean, tidy and safe.  The board of management and the entire school community deserve recognition for the care which is given to the building and the school environment.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community.

There is regular contact with parents on a formal and informal basis.  A spirit of cooperation is fostered among the school community to the advantage of the school and the pupils.  The parents who are members of the board of management say that the parents are satisfied with the educational opportunities which are provided in the school.  The parents were seen to be satisfied with the school ethos.  The school staff indicated that they were extremely grateful to the parents of the pupils for all the support which they give the school. Formal meetings with the parents are organised once a year and they are given oral feedback on the progress of the pupils.  A written educational report on the progress of the children is sent to each parent at the end of the school year and copies are retained in the school.  The parents are met on an informal basis as necessary throughout the school year and they are contacted in writing on a regular basis also.  The homework notebook is used as a means of communication between teachers and parents.

 

The parents cooperate with the teaching staff and with the board of management in the development of certain policies of the School Plan.  They also have an active role in the preparations for first holy communion and for confirmation.  They also assist the teachers in transporting pupils to matches and on other occasions.  The pupils participate in sport competitions and in Cumann na mBunscoileanna each year.  The parents provide significant support with finances, with school events and in promoting cultural activities. It is recommended that a parents' association be founded in the school.  It would be beneficial to record the role of the association in the School Plan.  It would be helpful also to communicate more regularly with parents in the form of a newsletter describing the school's various activities each term.  Various groups use the school building from time to time.

 

 

3.  Quality of School Planning

 

3.1  The Planning Process in the School and Implementation.

Significant work has been done as regards the School Plan.  It is clear that cooperation exists among the partners of this school.  This plan gives direction to the work of the school.  Among the policies for organisational aspects which have been reviewed are: the school ethos and aims, enrolment, Scoil Mhichíl registration form, code of behaviour, bullying, supervision, safety statement, policy on attendance, distribution of medicine and homework.  The clarity of the policies on teaching support and in regard to pupils with special needs deserves praise. The plan also contains a policy on Information Technology in the school.  The parents supported the development of the policy in Relationships and Sexuality Education but a review of this policy and its further development is recommended.

 

Evidence was provided which confirms that the board of management and the staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies which fulfil the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (The Department of Health and Children, 2004) and Child Protection: Guidelines and Procedures (The Department of Education and Science, April 2001).  Evidence was also provided which confirms that the policies have been accepted and implemented by the board of management.  A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Department guidelines.

 

The planning process can be seen to particular advantage in policies regarding English, Irish, Mathematics, Science, Social, Personal and Health Education, and the Visual Arts.  It is now recommended that a wider review be carried out on the implementation of the curriculum as part of the continuous school process and that more emphasis be placed on differentiating.  A planning framework is being put together for Music and Physical Education in the School Plan also.  Dates for review are mentioned in some of the policies and it is advised that these be taken into account in the strategic plan for the school.  It is further recommended that all the plans be referred to the parents and that they be written in Irish and in English.

 

 

3.2 Planning for the classroom

An interesting integrated curriculum is taught in the school and a child-centred approach is practised making use of classroom teaching, group teaching and individual teaching to cater for the needs of the pupils.  The pupils are encouraged to participate in their own education and there is a creditable emphasis on using the children's environment as a source in their education.  The most significant principle practised in the school in general is that of integration. 

 

It is clear that the School Plan is used appropriately as a guide in the design of work planning of the individual teachers in most classes but it is advised that the plan be used more widely in some of the classes as regards the formulation of long-term planning. The teachers prepare their work diligently but there is a certain variation in the amount of planning and preparation done by the teachers in the school as a whole.  Some teachers make use of long-term and short-term notes to record their planning.  It is clear from some of the schemes that careful planning is being done in regard to the details of the work to be done and the learning objectives to be achieved.  In other cases, however, there is not enough attention being paid to the detailing of the schemes.  There should be a strong tie between the school planning and the planning of the teachers and the teacher’s work schemes should show how the general plan was adapted for each class.  The monthly accounts are to be praised.

 

 

4.  Quality of Learning and Teaching

 

4.1 Language

Irish

A plan for Irish has been set out and accepted by the board of management of the school.   The basic principles, the aims, the objectives, the strands, the themes, the facilities used, class planning and evaluation are mentioned.  The context of the school has not been taken into consideration in the plan and it is recommended that this should be done.  The school facilities could be mentioned and more emphasis could be put on differentiation in the plan also.  It would be worthwhile to develop a policy which covers the entire school to help to maintain Irish as the main language in the school.

 

The teachers cultivate a positive outlook towards Irish and it is clear that the pupils enjoy the lessons.  The communicative approach is promoted in a workmanlike manner in the school and language functions are developed systematically in many classes. Verse and poetry are recited with enjoyment throughout the school.  There is an emphasis placed on listening to poetry in the middle and senior classes. The children's vocabulary is extended methodically and it is clear that much work is committed to the teaching of idioms and the language foundations. The teachers succeed very well in using Irish as the normal language of communication in class and the school and the pupils have achieved fluency before leaving the school.   Display material and the children's environment are used resourcefully to teach the conversation lessons.  An emphasis is placed on using the language in communicative contexts during conversation lessons. Good use is made of the scheme Séideán Sí, of language games and of weather charts in the lower classes to develop the children's speaking and listening skills.  The aural lessons and the storytelling opportunities which the children are given from time to time merit praise.  In the senior classes, stories like ‘An Píobaire’ are discussed in a useful and energetic way and this work is praised.  The majority of the pupils speak freely on subjects in which they have an interest.  The children's questioning and participation is effectively encouraged in certain classes.  The pupils are given very good experience of asking each other questions in most of the classes. 

 

Big books and a phonics scheme are used to help develop the children's prereading skills in the infants and in the junior classes.  The teaching of formal reading commences in the middle of the senior infants year.  It would be useful to promote paired reading between the classes and with the school parents.  In the junior and middle classes, flashcards, reading charts and reading games are used to give the pupils practice with their reading vocabulary and with reading short sentences.  As the pupils grow older, they gain the ability to read a good range of material across the learning spectrum.  The pupils in the senior classes can read and discuss various subjects fluently.  The variety of reading material which is provided to develop richness of vocabulary and speech as well as independent reading among the children in the senior classes is to be praised.

 

The pupils are given the opportunity to develop their basic writing skills. In the junior classes, written work is based on the subject of conversation and of reading, and simple news stories and other little stories are written.  In the middle and senior classes, the pupils are given appropriate practice in written work, both functional and creative, and the essays and poems which they write are very interesting.  The writing samples are displayed on the walls in the classrooms.  More emphasis should be placed on the development of creative writing, however, and more attention should be paid to the process of writing with the help of the computers.  The children's work is supervised carefully for the most part.  There is an appropriate emphasis on the teaching of grammar.  The work in Irish merits praise overall.

 

English

The school policy is practical and useful in relation to the teaching and learning of English. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the provision of a total language experience where oral language, writing and reading are integrated.  The plan references objectives, content, methodologies, resources and assessment.  A review though specified for a particular time has not been undertaken.  It is recommended that greater emphasis be placed on differentiation when the review is conducted.  The School Plan is suitably used in the majority of classes to inform teaching and learning objectives.

 

All class teachers emphasise the importance of oral language development.  Oral language work cards support the work undertaken by the teachers in this area of the curriculum.  Language is approached through games, talk and discussion, story, rhyme and poetry.  Pupils eagerly engage in discussion and confidently communicate their thoughts and opinions.  Pupils can recite an appropriate range of rhyme and poetry in infant and junior classes.  The repertoire of poetry selected for middle and senior classes such as ‘I am Kerry’, ‘The Lighthouse’ and ‘The Old Woman of the Roads’ is to be commended.  This enables pupils develop further their confidence as well as their expressive and imaginative skills.

 

Reading skills are fostered through the development of a print rich environment throughout the school.  Early emphasis is placed on the development of phonological and phonemic awareness through the use of the Letterland programme.  Teachers place appropriate emphasis on the acquisition of a broad sight vocabulary.  Large format books are used successfully to introduce print conventions and to model reading behaviour.  Personal reading is encouraged through the use of the class libraries.  These libraries are well maintained and have an attractive display of books.  The use of reference material is a notable feature of the work undertaken in some classes.  Some rooms have comfortable reading corners. Appropriate opportunities are provided in all classes to reflect and respond to text and complete book reviews.  While a graded reading scheme is used by all teachers to support the work in reading, pupils are also encouraged to read and scan newspapers and engage in silent reading of library books.  The pupils are competent in answering literal and inferential questions on material read.

 

An appropriate range of writing activities is provided and these include news, menus, television schedules, poetry and creative writing tasks.  Recording in copies is neat and in general, handwriting is of a good standard.  In the middle and senior classes, functional writing, including the completion of comprehension and cloze procedure exercises, provides a significant context for written work.  Pupils are afforded the opportunity to engage in creative writing based on a number of topics selected by both the teacher and the pupils.  However, it is advised that pupils be provided with more regular experiences in drafting, editing, proof-reading, illustrating and publishing their own work.  The production of personal stories, books and anthologies of poetry is completed in some classrooms, at times with the aid of information technology.  These are exhibited to notable effect in the classrooms. This exhibition might now be extended to the hallways in the school and to public areas in the locality. 

 

 

4.2 Mathematics

The pupils are achieving a creditable result in Mathematics.  There is an appropriate emphasis on all the strands of the curriculum.  The school policy and the textbooks have a strong influence on the individual planning of the teachers and on the practice in the classrooms.  The material is adapted to the age and the ability of the pupils in each classroom and the lessons are carefully graded.

 

The basic number facts are memorised and ample practice is given in solving problems on paper. Practical trials and projects are strongly linked with the mathematics programme. Emphasis is placed on early mathematical activities and the oral development of mathematical language in the infants and the lower classes and the pupils have a good understanding of the concepts of mathematics as a result.  Good use is made of concrete material and equipment.  The pupils in the middle and higher classes are given beneficial opportunities to do practical relevant tasks making use of concrete material and the children's environment.  A strong emphasis is placed on the development of skills of estimation. The pupils display a complete understanding of the basic concepts which have been done to date.  The oral work that is done deserves praise on the whole.  Computer programmes are used regularly in the higher classes to strengthen the children's understanding.  This work is very creditable.  A number line is displayed for the most part.  It is seen to that the result of the learning is displayed in a well-organised manner in the copy books and this work is monitored satisfactorily.

 

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education 

Irish and English are used to present the subject Social, Environmental and Scientific Education. It is recommended that more Irish be used in the teaching of this subject.

 

History

Work plans for History are available in all the classrooms.  Local and international history are a central part of the work of the School.  The local area is also used in aspects of the history programme.  Photographs and old pictures are used in the infants' and the lower classes to develop the interest of the children in the themes which are discussed.  There is a praiseworthy emphasis on the method of storytelling to show a knowledge of other cultures in the middle and senior classes. The pupils speak confidently about what they have learned.  They are well trained for project work, information gathering and in presenting their work.  There are significant examples of history projects on display in the school, for example the history of Baile ’n Sceilg, Sceilg Mhichíl, the schools in the parish of Prior, and Daniel O'Connell.  This work is highly creditable.  There is an interesting time line on display in the middle classes.  It is important that a time line be on display in every classroom.  All the classes go on a historical walk near the school each year. The camera is used as a support in these tours.  A historian comes in to speak to the children.  The work in this subject deserves praise.

 

Geography

The pupils are encouraged effectively in the geography lessons and there is a genuine effort made to answer the questions which they are asked.  The local area is emphasized and a good effort is made to foster an interest in the local environment among the children.  Photographs and pictures are used by the infants to spot differences and to make comparisons.  There are debates on the weather, on certain days, on the months and on the cleanliness of the area.  Diaries are kept of the daily weather.  The pupils in the middle and senior classes are knowledgeable on various themes, on names and locations of the main natural features of Ireland and Europe.  Project work is used as a teaching method and the projects encourage discussion in class.  It is obvious that the pupils have a good understanding and that this understanding is used to make comparison with national, European and world communities.  The children go for walks in the surrounding area and photographs are on display in the classrooms of children doing sketches and tracings of stones and interesting objects.  These projects are to be praised. There is a creditable integration between this programme and other aspects of the curriculum.  Samples of the children's work about foreign countries is on display in the classrooms.  

 

Science

An enjoyable and varied programme is taught in this part of the curriculum and the pupils have an active role in it.  The way in which this and other elements of the curriculum are integrated is praiseworthy.  This school's objective is to make the best possible use of its grounds and the habitats in the surrounding area.  The school's environment is a starting point for environmental education and as the children's knowledge and understanding is developed, they learn about other environments also.  They go for walks on the beach investigating seaweed and shells.  The children display a knowledge of the lessons which have been done.  A variety of themes is worked on throughout the school.  The pupils get full benefit of the experiments which are done in basic science and an emphasis is placed on enriching of language as an objective of this work.  A praiseworthy use is made of equipment, scientific research and practical tests in Science to promote the children's knowledge, understanding and analytical abilities.  Good use is made of the nature table and the growing of plants as a learning aid in some classrooms.  In order to promote the children's curiosity, it is recommended that investigation tables be provided in all the classrooms.  It is intended to provide a vegetable garden beside the school next year.

 


4.4 Arts Education

 

The Visual Arts

An interesting programme is followed in the Visual Arts and all the activities are enjoyable and beneficial.  The children's creative side is encouraged and there is great variety to be seen in the work which is on display.  The children's work is displayed in the halls and on the walls of the classrooms.  Certain variety may be seen in regard to the experience which the children are given with drawing, printing, building, clay and creative work, and it is observed that praiseworthy work is carried out in the building strand.  The foundations of art are developed appropriately along with colour, tone, design, pattern, rhythm, texture and spatial organisation.  These activities are linked carefully with other aspects of the curriculum.  The gallery near the school in Dún Ghéagáin is used regularly.  Louis le Brocquy held an exhibition there recently.  All the children saw this excellent exhibition. Classes are held in the gallery with famous artists and the children work with them from time to time.  A collection of work is being put together by the pupils.  Although the pupils are given the opportunity to look at and respond to the art, this should be done more often.  It is recommended that more emphasis be placed on looking and responding in the School Plan to enable the pupils to clarify their ideas and to discuss art thoroughly.  Extra emphasis should also be placed on the language of visual arts in the school plan.

 

Music

The good work done in the teaching of Music throughout the school is highly commended.  The enjoyment of music is emphasised in each class.  The staff develop the aspects of music in their own classrooms and a music teacher comes to the school to teach instrumental music also.  The pupils are given excellent opportunities to listen to and respond to a range of traditions and musical styles in all the classes.  Wonderful work is done with the tin whistle and some other instruments and as a result the pupils are good at reading music.  Instrumental music is taught creditably.  Each class has a wide range of verses, including both traditional songs and songs from other countries.  Composition is also attended to in the higher classes.  The pupils can give a lovely display of music and dance and the presentation is of a very high standard.  The work of the teachers is praised.  It is understood that the school takes part in the St Patrick's Day activities in Caherciveen.  

 

Drama

Drama is emphasised throughout the school and it is used as a teaching method for various subjects.  Roleplaying, inanimate images and drama games are used to develop the children's imagination and confidence and to compose stories.  Short plays are based on poems or stories in the various classes. 

 

4.5 Physical Education

A comprehensive programme is made available in Physical Education.  Excellent use is made of the physical education facilities which are available in the school.  The lessons which are taught are well-ordered and organised.  In general there is an appropriate emphasis placed on the strands of athletics, dance and games.  There is a strong emphasis on games in the physical education programme in this school.  All the pupils get support in football from an outside trainer for two hours every week.  FÁS funds this service.  Appropriate attention is placed on the development of skills in the various games especially in football and basketball.  The pupils are given  definite instructions and their skills are developed steadily.  Good use is made of group work in this aspect of the curriculum.  Regular use is made of the general purpose room to organise athletics and a range of games for the pupils.  The board of management employs a dance teacher to teach national dances to the pupils.  This programme is working well.  The dance lessons which are organised add greatly to the diversity of activities which are available to the students.  The teachers emphasise creative dancing and composition.  These activities are fun and give great satisfaction.  It is advised, however, that more emphasis be given to the strands of outdoor and adventure activities and aquatics. The school participates in the competitions which are organised by Cumann na mBunscol and the school football team won the cup for three teacher schools in 2005.

 

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

This subject is presented to the pupils through the positive outlook and atmosphere of the school and the class.  The personal development, well-being and health development of the individual pupil is promoted through various activities.  A number of schemes and stories and circle time and discussions are used as teaching methods to promote listening and communication skills.  Lessons on school rules, confidence, feelings, bodily organs, drugs and self-awareness are given in the various classes.  The pupils are praised and encouraged to promote self-confidence and self-respect.  Good behaviour and good manners are practised and it is obvious that every pupil gets enjoyment and satisfaction from schoolwork.  Attention is focused on health education in each class and the pupils are given a good training in this aspect.  The school has a healthy lunch policy and this is succeeding very well.

 

4.7 Assessment and Achievement

The pupils' progress in the various subjects is monitored and assessed regularly through the use of school based tests and standard tests.  Questions, teachers’ observation, tests in spelling and informal strategies are used to assess the pupils' learning standard in the mainstream classrooms.  Standard assessment tests such as Sigma-T, Micra-T and Drumcondra Reading are used to monitor the pupils' ability and to select the pupils who have a learning difficulty.  This information is used actively as a guide in the learning programme.  The progress of the pupils is recorded at the end of the year and the appropriate details are sent to the parents. Copies of these reports are kept in the school.  The teachers organise a formal meeting each year and the parents are welcomed to discuss the progress of their children.  The parents of the new infants are also invited to preparation meetings.  This is a praiseworthy practice.  The support teachers use diagnostic tests also. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST), Schonell, and RAIN screening tests are implemented. Copy books and the pupils' written work are monitored regularly in all the classes.  It would be worthwhile keeping profiles of the pupils' achievements, writing a short account on work samples and collecting them in folders as an assessment aid.

 

 

5.  Quality of  Support for Pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The pupils with special needs in this school are given praiseworthy care and they are well looked after.  There has been much work done on the school policy and it is based on the Learning Support Guidelines.  The two learning support teachers are based in Scoil Náisiúnta Dar Earca and they operate on a shared basis between Scoil an Ghleanna and Scoil Mhichíl Naofa.  They attend the school three days a week and they give extra tuition in English to eight pupils.  They provide comprehensive preparation and planning for their work.  The two support teachers have individual learning programmes with clear objectives, copies of these are given to the class teachers and they are discussed with the parents.  Good use is made of active teaching methods to develop literacy skills in the support room.  The positive support and the boost in confidence which the teachers give to the pupils deserves praise.  The teachers administer this work well and they keep a full and accurate account of everything that they do with their pupils and of the progress which is made. 

 

It is extremely important that there be a stronger link between classroom work and the work which takes place in the support classes.  It is advised that the practice of taking various pupils from the classes on their own very frequently be reviewed.  Reorganisation is necessary in order to ensure that each child gets a full and even education in every subject.  It would be worthwhile if possible to put a stronger emphasis on coordinating the support and providing the extra tutoring within the classrooms.  The teachers are in informal contact with the parents throughout the year. It would be worthwhile to consult with the parents regularly to discuss the learning development of their children with them and to encourage them to take a more active role in this work.  The pupils are regularly reviewed to assess their progress and to identify the main new learning needs.. The support teachers work prudently and steadily, and vital cooperation with the classroom teachers is evident.

 

 

 

6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths and areas for development identified in the evaluation:

 

§        The Irish atmosphere of the school, and the emphasis which is placed on preserving the culture and heritage of the Gaeltacht is praised.

 

§        The board of management deserves high praise for the way in which they fulfil their management duties regarding the school.

 

§        The hard work of the principal and the staff deserves praise.  The positive, welcoming atmosphere of the school is also to be praised.

 

§        It was seen that the pupils in the school are polite, well-mannered and very friendly with each other.

 

§        The teachers prepare conscientiously for their teaching and they provide a stimulating learning environment for the pupils.

 

§        The experiences which are provided in the school for Irish, Music, Mathematics, History, Science and dance are praised.

 

§        The support and care that is given to pupils with learning difficulties and special needs is recognised.

 

§        The progress which has been made with the School Plan is praised.

 

As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:

 

§        It is advised that various aspects of the School Plan be reviewed and that the policies be in Irish and in English.

 

§        It is recommended that a parents’ association be founded and the role of the association should be clarified.

 

§        It is advised that the posts of responsibility, from administration duties to curriculum duties and pastoral care duties, be reviewed.

 

§        It is recommended that the extra services be coordinated more effectively and that the extra tuition be implemented inside the classrooms where possible so that the pupils would not be absent from the mainstream classes too often.

 

§        It is advised that paired reading be promoted in the lower classes.

 

§        It is advised that a stronger emphasis be placed on the writing process in both languages with the help of the computers.

 

Post-evaluation meetings were organised with the staff and with the board of management; the draft results and the draft recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed at these meetings.