An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Curriculum Implementation Evaluation:

Social, Personal and Health Education and English

2007

 

REPORT

 

Name of School:

St. Michael’s GNS, Tipperary, Co. Tipperary

Uimhir rolla:  01862 M

 

Date of inspection:  16 March 2007

  Date of issue of report:  6 December 2007

 

Introduction

1. School background and context

2. Provision and use of resources in SPHE and English

3. Quality of whole school planning in SPHE and English

4. Quality of teaching and learning in SPHE and English

5. Quality of assessment in SPHE and English

6. Future development of SPHE and English

Conclusion

 

 


Curriculum Implementation Evaluation:

 Social, Personal and Health Education and English 2007

 

Introduction

 

The Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science undertook an evaluation of the teaching and learning in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and English in a sample of schools nationally.

 

This evaluation is the third in a series of thematic evaluations of aspects of the primary curriculum and is part of an ongoing review of curriculum implementation in primary schools. The purpose of this evaluation is to provide information on the extent of curriculum implementation in SPHE and English. The evaluation focuses on the teaching and learning in SPHE and English and on the quality of pupils’ achievement. This evaluation identifies and affirms good practice, and makes recommendations for teaching and the enhancement of pupils’ learning experiences and levels of achievement.

 

Two inspectors were involved in the evaluation in St Michael’s Girls’ National School. The evaluation involved the observation of teaching and learning in different class settings, a review of planning and policy documents, and an evaluation of the progress of pupils, including those receiving supplementary teaching in English. A school questionnaire was administered and interviews with the principal and class teachers were conducted. Pupils in senior classes and parents were invited to complete questionnaires with respect to issues related to SPHE.  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. School background and context

St Michael’s Girls’ National School is an eleven-teacher, mainstream girls primary school located in Tipperary Town. The school is located on the same site as St Michael’s Junior Boys’ School and the two schools are linked by the general purposes hall which is utilised by both schools. In 2006 the Department of Education and Science (DES) sanctioned the refurbishment of the existing building to provide a principal’s office, staff room, learning support room, and toilets and the construction of two classrooms. There are 182 pupils from junior infants to sixth class enrolled. The school is under the patronage of the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly. The school receives grants to support pupils as a participant in the School Completion Programme (SCP) a Department of Education and Science Initiative.

 

Over the past seven years the enrolment has grown from 175 to 185 pupils. During the evaluation in 2000 there were 175  pupils in the school and a staff of eight teachers. Enrolments increase and decrease slightly from year to year but in general have remained between 175 and 185. Projected figures indicate that the enrolments will remain stable over the next few years. Since the last evaluation a new principal has been appointed. During the evaluation two teachers on staff were working in a temporary capacity.

 

Attendance of pupils at the school in the term prior to the whole school evaluation was good. However figures provided by the school for the previous school year indicate that there is a significant rate of absenteeism. The board of management in collaboration with the school staff should consider devising a school attendance strategy in accordance with the Education and Welfare Act 2000. Parents should be advised of their responsibilities in respect of their children’s attendance at school on a daily basis and the consequent effect that regular absenteeism has on academic achievement over the eight-year cycle in the primary school.

 

The principal was appointed to her position in 2000. She has been both a teaching and administrative principal during that period of time. At the time of the evaluation she was in the administrative role. The school leadership is to be commended for the inclusive school atmosphere that prevails in the school. The principal provides very effective leadership to the school and has succeeded in creating a climate that is characterised by open communication, collaboration and team work. Since her appointment she has led and managed the development of school policy across a broad range of curricular, organisational and pastoral areas. In collaboration with the staff, the board of management and parents’ association she pursued successfully the extension to the school provided by the DES which was recently opened.

 

A strong spirit of commitment to the school and collegiate spirit exist between the staff and good relationships are fostered with external tutors and ancillary staff. All members of the school community know that their work is valued and that they have an important part to play in the school’s development. The principal ensures that communication within the school is open, allowing for the contribution of all staff in decision-making processes. She supports the ongoing professional development of the staff in curricular areas and in the area of special needs. Newly qualified teachers are supported by providing guidance and support. She brings a clear-sighted and dynamic approach to her work in a sensitive but determined way.

 

Her vision for the future development of the school is clear and realistic and she has prioritised areas in which she sees the school can continue to progress. The holistic development of pupils including pupils with special educational needs is promoted to a very high standard and counselling support is readily available. Regular school assemblies are used to promote and reinforce positive behaviour and the principal works closely with parents to encourage their active involvement in the life of the school. Daily administrative and organisational tasks are completed efficiently and official records are carefully maintained.

 

The principal is supported effectively by an in-school-management team, which comprises a deputy principal and three special duties post-holders. The roles attached to these posts which include organisational, curricular and pastoral duties are clearly defined. The posts are reviewed on a regular basis and duties are allocated according to the needs of the school. 

 

The board of management is properly constituted and at least six meetings are convened each year. Statutory obligations are observed and the board endeavours to ensure compliance with Department of Education and Science regulations. The chairperson of the board stated that finances are carefully monitored and that a statement of accounts is presented to the board at each meeting. The chairperson reported that the board is supportive of the work of the school and that there is good communication among the board, the parents and the staff of the school. The chairperson also expressed the board’s satisfaction with the quality of educational provision in the context of the broad and balanced curriculum being delivered in the school.

 

The school’s Parents’ Association is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council. Two parents’ representatives from each class form the parents committee. The principal reports that the parents support the work of the school through their involvement in policy formulation, assisting at school events, organising the book rental scheme and fundraising activities. When engaging in policy development a committee consisting of two board members, two staff and two parents work collaboratively to develop  relevant policies. Parents’ representatives on the board of management are consulted when administrative policies are formulated by the staff as part of the normal activities of the board. Communication with parents is further enhanced through the feedback provided through the annual parent-teacher meeting and the informal parent-teacher contact provided for in the school.

 

 

St Michael’s GNS mission statement states that it strives to provide a well-ordered, caring, happy and secure atmosphere where the intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and cultural needs of the pupils are identified and addressed. It endeavours to enhance the self-esteem of everyone in the school community, to imbue in the pupils respect for people and property and to encourage in them the idea of being responsible. It also strives to promote, both individually and collectively, the professional and personal development of teachers through staff development and encourages the involvement of parents through home/school contacts. This mission statement is in evidence throughout the school as the school climate presents as warm and child friendly and this is reflected in the positive, confident pupils in all classrooms. Pupils’ intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and cultural needs are addressed effectively. A very positive and successful approach to the management of pupils is evident throughout the school. Respectful pupil-pupil and pupil-teacher interactions characterise a positive school climate in which pupils are encouraged to develop their talents and interests.

 

Pupils present as enthusiastic and active learners and are provided with opportunities to engage in independent and collaborative areas of interest through a broad range of curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular experiences. Co-curricular experiences include the senior choir who participate in the Hallelujah Christmas Concert and at various local venues each year, the Write-a-book project, tin whistle classes and regular musical and ballet performances. A variety of guest speakers is also invited to the school each year. A wide range of extra-curricular activities is also offered including team sports, French, and dancing classes. These activities support the strategies employed by the staff to ensure that pupils are offered appropriate opportunities to develop socially, emotionally and intellectually as they advance through the school. The school’s caring community provides a well-ordered, secure atmosphere for pupils. It is timely now to establish a students’ green school committee and a students’ council which will further provide opportunities for  pupils to contribute to the decision making process in the school.

 

Teachers have participated in a range of online courses dealing with pupils with special educational needs. They have also attended courses dealing with various aspects of the English curriculum and courses based on the development of self-esteem. During the evaluation period, the principal, deputy principal, and representatives of the parents attended two training seminars based on the development and the implementation of the Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) policy.

 

2. Provision and use of resources in sphe and english

The school has one administrative principal, seven mainstream class teachers, one learning support teacher, one shared resource teacher based in the school, one shared resource teacher for Travellers, one part-time resource teacher, one shared language support teacher based in the school, two part-time teachers who provide supplementary support to pupils and one part-time teacher who provides instruction in Physical education (PE) under the School Completion Programme (SCP). The school has the services of two full-time Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) who provide positive support to the school by meeting the care needs of pupils and by enabling them to participate in school life as fully as possible. In general, personnel are deployed in an efficient manner. Consideration should be given to the development of a policy which would afford all teachers the opportunity to experience teaching in a variety of classes and contexts. However, the final decision regarding the deployment of staff is a function of the principal. The school has the services of a secretary and a part-time caretaker who provide valuable support to the school management and the staff.

 

The classrooms are bright and comfortable and are adequately heated and ventilated. In general most classrooms HAVE print-rich attractive environments and samples of the pupils’ Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) work are on display in most classrooms. It is recommended that all classrooms allocate a specific area for the display of pupils work and illustrative materials.

Classroom rules are displayed in most classrooms and it is evident from pupils interaction with inspectors that pupils had an input in decision making regarding rules and responsibilities There are appropriate toilet facilities however warm water is not available in these facilities. Playground and recreational space are satisfactory.

.

The board is commended for the maintenance of the school both internally and externally. All members of the board share collective responsibility in respect of the major re-development of the school premises. The skills and talents of all the board members have been fully utilised in bringing this major project to its current stage of development. 

 

The school is very well equipped with resources for teaching and learning in SPHE. An audit of the SPHE resources was conducted and all teachers have a list of the resources which are stored centrally in the staff room. Key resource materials utilised to support the RSE programme include RSE materials, Busy Bodies, Walk Tall, and Stay Safe programmes. Teachers avail of resources from the wider community which include visits from guest speakers and people who work in the community. The use of external tutors to support the implementation of aspects of SPHE and RSE is carefully considered and the principal monitors the effectiveness of such external tutors.

 

There is a wide range of resources available to the pupils and teachers for the teaching and learning of English throughout the school. Reading materials are appropriate and plentiful in most classes. In the junior classes, big books are used and in the middle and senior classes, class readers and novels are readily accessible. Some classes are commended for the excellence of the print-rich environment which has been created. Skill levels in oracy, reading and writing of the pupils in these classes were good. However, in some classes English was not promoted to the same extent and pupils were not provided with opportunities to write in a variety of genres. Commercially produced illustrative materials relating to general topics were used excessively in some classes. In all classes, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is used. Materials used for the teaching of English were child-based and appropriate.

 

The challenge for the school now is to seek to promote English to the fullest degree throughout all classes and public areas as outlined in the whole school plan for English.  When possible, a variety of genres should be used when providing pupils with opportunities to write. Facilities for reading for pleasure and the consistent usage of ICT should be promoted. In order to expedite this as fully as possible, it is recommended that the school would incorporate ICT more systematically as a mediation tool for learning in all classes. Furniture in all classrooms needs to be reorganised in order to optimise interaction between pupils and teachers, where the learning environment will facilitate clear explanation, reasoning and debate in whole-class, group or pair settings. Literacy areas need to be created in a manner which will support the pupils’ reading as a worthwhile activity. Examples of pupils’ achievement across all strands of the English curriculum should be displayed in the classrooms and public areas in the school in order to promote attainment in this area of the curriculum.

3. Quality of whole school planning in sphe and english

The whole school SPHE plan was formulated by the staff and ratified by the board of management in 2004. The plan was formulated by members of the staff, board of management and parents. The plan is of a very good standard and was formulated utilising the School Development Planning Support (SDPS) curriculum planning template. The plan illustrates the significant effort and thought of the partners who formulated it. A review of the plan has not taken place to date.

 

The plan is based on the structure and the principles of the SPHE curriculum and it takes account of the three curriculum strands, Myself, Myself and Others and Myself and the Wider World. The vision clearly outlined in the plan states that it is to prepare the child for active and responsible citizenship and foster in them the values of a just and caring society”. The plan provides detail under a range of headings including introductory statement, rationale, vision, aims, objectives, content of the plan, overview of plan to be completed over a two year period, contexts for SPHE and details the roles and responsibilities which includes detail on parents, principal, teachers, ancillary and support staff. Detail is also provided regarding discrete time, approaches and methodologies, assessment, children with differing needs, integration, resources, parental involvement, home school community links, school projects, guest speakers and review and ratification. Greater detail is provided in relation to the three contexts for SPHE. A copy of the plan is available in the office for parents to peruse and the policy was discussed by the parents at the parents’ association meetings. It is recommended that a copy of the SPHE plan is disseminated to all parents. All teachers have a copy of the school plan

 

Whole-school planning for assessment and record-keeping in SPHE needs further consideration in order to ensure consistent implementation throughout the school. While assessment is well documented in the SPHE plan, the implementation of the assessment strategies would benefit from further discussion at whole-staff level. A review of the assessment of SPHE should be discussed at staff meetings to ensure that different aspects of assessment of the SPHE curriculum are engaged in regularly. To this end, they should consider examining the monthly progress records in order to assess the implementation of the SPHE curriculum, in particular, in relation to skills, values and attitudes development. Review dates and the clear allocation of responsibility in relation to such planning review should be included in the school plan.

 

Many organisational policies support the SPHE plan and these include anti-bullying, RSE, enrolment policy, code of behaviour, health and safety, substance use, acceptable use policy, data protection policy, sexual harassment policy, ICT policy, waste management policy and homework policy. Copies of the code of behaviour and anti-bullying policies are disseminated to parents. While the school does not have healthy eating, care of the environment or yard supervision policies, the staff is engaged in the implementation of relevant practices in these areas on a day to day basis. A team is presently engaged in the formulation of a critical incidents policy.

 

An RSE policy is available. The principal and teachers report good implementation of the RSE programme particularly at senior level through the engagement of guest speakers to deliver the objectives based on sexuality. There remains some difficulty with regard to aspects of the programme at the infant, junior and middle levels about the naming of body parts as outlined in the Growing and Changing strand unit. The staff and parents are commended for the recent attendance at RSE seminar training. It is advised that a review of the RSE policy be undertaken in consultation with the partners and that the content objectives for all class levels be clearly outlined in this process, recorded in the plan and disseminated to parents. It is important that all content objectives of the RSE curriculum be implemented under the SPHE curriculum in all classes.

 

The development of a gender equality policy should be formulated utilising the recently published DES publication Equal Measures. It is recommended that all the partners including pupils be involved in the review of the SPHE and that a copy of the final plan be disseminated to parents.

 

Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 1999, updated issue May 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, April 2001). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines. A deputy designated liaison person has also been appointed.

 

A clear and comprehensive whole school plan for the teaching of English has been compiled by the teaching staff of the school in consultation with the parent body and the board of management. This document is excellent. Graded programmes of work for all standards are prepared with clear reference to the 1999 Primary Curriculum. Teaching strategies best suited to all class levels have been identified and a strong commitment to assessment is evident. The promotion of inclusive classrooms is identified as a key element in providing for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) in the plan.

 

Individual teacher planning in English is very detailed and the school is commended for the development of a common planning system. Aims and objectives sourced from the school plan and the 1999 Primary Curriculum are identified and appropriate methodologies outlined. This work is consistently reviewed and improvement to the templates in use is ongoing. The engagement of all teachers with this work is highly commendable. Currently, there is excessive attention paid to the content to be taught and insufficient detail available in the assessment of learning outcomes across the strands. 

 

Planning for SEN pupils is equally detailed and individual education plans are developed at the beginning of the school year and they are reviewed every two months thereafter.  These plans seek to identify the learning needs of pupils in the special education setting and also in the mainstream setting. To develop this work further it is recommended that a class notebook be introduced for each class where the class teacher and support teacher can record the targets to be achieved in order to promote the participation and achievement of the pupils in the work of the mainstream classes. It is vital that all teachers have a knowledge and awareness of the work being carried with pupils with special needs. This knowledge should be organised and shared in a manner which results in a systematic record of the progress of these children. All teachers record the work completed  in a monthly progress report. It would serve the needs of the pupils to a greater extent if this document was compiled with a view to using the assessment data gathered as an element of the whole-school planning process.

 

A strategic planning framework is now required in order to focus on the development of specific organisational, curricular and resource plans for the next three years. Allied to the phased introduction of the Primary Curriculum (1999), it would be appropriate to introduce a formal school-based self-evaluation process. Consideration should be given to the suggestions contained in the Department of Education and Science publication “Looking at our School.”

 


4. Quality of teaching and learning in sphe and english

4.1 Social Personal and Health Education

The quality of provision in SPHE was evaluated on the basis of observation of teaching and learning, a review of samples of pupils’ work, display areas throughout the school, allocation of SPHE tasks, and interaction with the pupils in four of the mainstream classrooms.

 

Provision for the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) of the pupils is one of the key strengths of the school. It is evident that the children respond positively to the interest which teachers show in their personal development, their educational progress and good behaviour. A positive and enriching programme of SPHE activities is developed in the school where mutual respect, transparency and dignity are  fundamental interpersonal interactions. Pupils are continually affirmed and praised and the curriculum is skilfully used to develop self esteem and self confidence. High standards and expectations are promoted and pupils’ achievements are celebrated through project work and displays in most classrooms. The positive, supportive school environment and the range of cross-curricular activities facilitate the development in the children of responsible attitudes to themselves, to their community and to the wider world.

 

All teachers implement the SPHE curriculum and SPHE is timetabled as a core curricular subject. Positive classroom atmosphere facilitates learning in SPHE. Teachers are encouraging and affirming of their pupils and they work hard to ensure the maximum participation of pupils. The quality of learning and teaching in this school is very good with some excellent SPHE lessons observed during the evaluation process. Lessons in the strands “Myself”, “Myself and others” and “Myself and the Wider World” are presented in a highly competent manner and the teachers succeed in creating secure and attractive classroom environments. Illustrative materials are used effectively to stimulate the interest of the pupils. The engagement of the children in their learning is excellent. Pupils’ enthusiastic participation in these activities and their achievement of high standards are clear indicators of the appropriateness and success of the strategies employed.

 

The quality of teaching in SPHE is very good in the classrooms observed. Much of the teaching observed included skilled questioning which stimulated thought and development in the pupils. However, in some classes this work predominantly occurred on a whole-class basis which did not provide the opportunity for all pupils to engage in the process. The teaching should be aimed at fully engaging the pupils so that they take part in discussions and respond to probing questions which will encourage them to talk through their ideas and so develop their understanding of the topics. Teachers gave clear instructions to pupils, presented new content coherently and provided appropriate and structured learning experiences for the pupils. A wide variety of teaching strategies was observed at all class levels, including whole-class teaching, group work, and work with individual pupils. Use is made of ICT in the delivery of SPHE activities however it is recommended that greater emphasis be placed on the use of ICT to develop a wide range of skills including decision making skills. The inclusive school atmosphere provides opportunities for the all-round development of pupils with special educational needs. The care and attention given to the pupils by classroom teachers, support teachers and special education needs assistants are laudable.

 

During SPHE lessons children explore a range of issues involving self-identity, personal health and safety, advertising, bullying and the challenges of making difficult decisions. The discrete lessons are augmented by the active nurturing of children’s self-esteem. Pupils engage with enthusiasm in the SPHE activities and they can relate their learning to their own lives and experiences. The majority of pupils have developed skills which enable them to work collaboratively and to express their feelings and opinions. Some pupils need to be provided with further opportunities to develop a range of communication and interpersonal skills. 

 

Pupils are provided with opportunities to become independent and collaborative learners through a range of curricular, co-curricular and extra curricular experiences. Co-curricular experiences include write-a-book project, instrumental development, the National Children’s Choir, school and community performances and major performances in association with Ballet Ireland. A range of extra-curricular activities is also provided including French classes, trips to museums and art exhibitions.  These activities support the strategies employed by the staff to ensure that the pupils are offered appropriate opportunities to develop socially, emotionally and intellectually as they progress through the school. It is recommended that a green schools’ committee and a students’ council be established which will provide more opportunities for senior pupils to engage in the decision making in the school.

 

4.2 English

The quality of provision in English was evaluated on the basis of observation of teaching and learning, a review of samples of pupils’ work, interaction with pupils in four of the mainstream classrooms and in six support teaching settings.

 

The quality of teaching in English is good. Teaching methodologies are fully in line with the 1999 Primary Curriculum and objectives selected are appropriate and interesting. Poetry, drama, story and class discussion are all regularly used to elicit oral language from the pupils. Through more effective management of the space available in some classrooms, pupils could be afforded greater potential in terms of their response to stimuli. Pupil/pupil interactions are introduced to good effect where needed and it is clear that the pupils are very used to working in groups and pairs. Questioning during oral language lessons is generally differentiated to suit the range of abilities. During interaction with the inspectors, the standard of pupil response was very good. In the senior classes, the pupils are able to discuss and debate with ease and a wide range of relevant topics is covered.

 

The standard of reading is very good. Pupils read with fluency and comprehension. A range of reading experiences is provided with attention given to recording the news of the day in a format that is relevant and of interest to all the children. However, it is important to highlight the need for consistency in the way that reading is promoted throughout the school. This promotion is, at present, uneven. In some rooms, the work of the pupils in writing, reviewing, composing and editing is displayed to excellent effect. Teacher work specifically linked to the topic concerned is clear and simply displayed. Commercially-produced charts are used sparingly, only where there is no school-produced alternative available. This approach must be replicated in all areas of the school. It is vital that a consistent message in respect of the importance of reading is given to pupils from their time in junior infants to sixth class. 

 

In writing, excellent samples of pupils’ work were observed during the inspection process indicating high quality learning outcomes have been attained. In some classrooms, a diverse range of genres is introduced and pupils display high competence levels. In a focused creative writing exercise, the pupils displayed considerable skill levels in terms of content, organisation, handwriting, fluency and sequence of thought. This work is of an excellent standard. The school should seek to expand the use of ICT as an enabling tool in the writing process. The expansion of the school newsletter to becoming a monthly or even fortnightly document should be considered. The work involved in the production of the newsletter, through news gathering, drafting and redrafting and the publication process itself will motivate the pupils to attain to an even greater degree than at present.

 

For SEN pupils, the learning experience is one where specific needs are identified, programmes are set out and great sensitivity is shown to ensure that each step achieved is built upon and valued. Resources are used effectively to make the experience relevant. Pupil responses to the teaching experiences provided are very positive and steady progress is evident in all of the settings observed. When the pupils are back in their mainstream class, excellent care is provided by the special needs assistants in a deliberate and subtle manner, enabling high participation rates to be achieved. The School Completion Programme (SCP) works diligently and successfully to support those pupils at risk. Strong bonds have been nurtured effectively and it is clear that the programme is working to good effect. When reviewing the SCP, it is important to ensure that duplication of services does not occur. The danger of one need dominating must be avoided and steps taken that provide for as broad a range of needs based interventions as possible. The promotion of SPHE topics as part of the SCP should be considered.

 

5. Quality of assessment in sphe and english

The whole school SPHE plan details a variety of assessment techniques to be utilised Consideration has been given to what teachers will observe utilising the checklists outlined in the curriculum. The plan includes approaches to recording of observations, teacher designed tasks and tests, portfolios, projects, displays and presentations. However, to date, teacher-observation is the main method of assessment used in this school to evaluate pupils’ learning. In some classes pupils have dedicated SPHE/SESE (Social Environmental and Scientific Education) copybooks and other teachers use photocopied worksheets and workbooks to record learning in SPHE. Project work is used effectively in the middle and senior classes. Specific areas in most classrooms display pupils’ work which includes poems, surveys and presentation of a wide range of SPHE activities completed by the pupils to a very high standard. This good practice should be extended to all classrooms.

 

It is recommended that assessment in SPHE be placed on agenda for staff meetings as the discussion and sharing of expertise in this area will enable teachers to develop a greater understanding of the role of assessment in SPHE. The aim of assessment is to improve the learning experiences of the child, assessment should therefore reflect the progress of the child in the planned SPHE programme. It should take cognisance of all the objectives in all three strands and relate to what can be realistically assessed. The school plan should be further developed to outline ways in which assessment can be undertaken in a practical and balanced way throughout the school. The use of checklists detailed in the school plan and review of monthly progress reports will enable teachers to record relevant observations and achievement. These records will contribute to the overall picture of the child’s development and will inform the teacher’s future planning in this area. Further opportunities for the pupils to engage in self-assessment to include reflecting on personal capabilities, limitations and selecting samples of work for assessment would provide further insight into the effectiveness of the implementation of the SPHE curriculum

 

Through the monthly report, all teachers record the topics taught in English. Inspection of the individual teachers’ plans displays a strong commitment to this work and the system in place is clear and specific. Standardised tests such as the MICRA-T and the MIST indicate a very high level of achievement by most of the pupils. Reading ages are consistently high and the standard of writing in English, as assessed during the evaluation, is also highly commendable.

 

The school should now consider the purpose behind the monthly progress report and seek to add to its knowledge of pupil achievement through the more effective use of this planning tool. The identification of specific curricular elements which require whole-school data gathering and analysis followed by the use of the monthly progress report as the collection instrument will complement the information management system currently in use in the school. When collected, this information will provide the basis for the selection of strategies and the provision of resources aimed at the achievement of specific lesson objectives. It is recommended that the development of oral language throughout the entire school will be furthered through engagement with this planning approach.    

 

6. Future development of sphe and english

During the evaluation it was evident that SPHE is developed in a combination of contexts for learning in St Michael’s Girls’ National School. The positive, health-promoting supportive school climate, the variety of topics covered during discrete time and the range of cross-curricular activities provide pupils with opportunities to develop responsible attitudes to themselves, to their community and to the wider world and to take ownership of and responsibility for their own learning.

 

A number of themes for future development are identified in this report and some are outlined hereunder:

 

·         The challenge for the school community now is to maintain the very high standards of teaching and learning currently being achieved.

·         Print-rich environments should be developed in all classrooms. 

·         The potential of ICT should be maximised as a motivating and enabling tool for organisational and planning purposes.

 

Conclusion

 

The Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science wishes to acknowledge the contributions made by the principal, teachers, pupils and the entire school community during the course of the evaluation. It is hoped that this report will assist the school in reviewing practice at school level and in identifying priorities for future development.