An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Curriculum Implementation Evaluation:

Social, Personal and Health Education and English



Evaluation Report


St Joseph’s Primary School

Gorey, Co. Wexford

Uimhir rolla: 18280I


Date of inspection:  19 October 2007






School background and context

Provision and use of resources in sphe and english

Quality of whole school planning in sphe and english

Quality of teaching and learning in sphe and english

Quality of assessment in sphe and english

Future development of sphe and english






Curriculum Implementation Evaluation:

 Social, Personal and Health Education 2007




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 Joseph’s Primary 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 of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.


1. School background and context

St Joseph’s Primary School was opened in 1959 and is located in the centre of Gorey town in Co. Wexford.  It caters for the educational needs of boys from second to sixth classes, with almost all pupils transferring from Loreto Primary School at the end of first class.  There are currently 284 pupils enrolled, with commendable levels of pupil attendance.  A gradual increase in pupil enrolment levels is in evidence in more recent years in response to the growing population rates in Gorey generally.  This growth has resulted in a more diverse pupil population in St Joseph’s Primary School, with pupils’ families being drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds.  The school initiates a range of activities through its participation in the Department of Education and Science’s School Completion Programme, including a homework club and a programme to support pupils’ transition to post-primary education.  The board of management, parents’ council and parents generally are reported to be supportive of the work of the school, with the chairperson of the board visiting the school on a regular basis. 


The staff of the school consists of an administrative principal, ten mainstream class teachers, a full-time learning-support teacher, a full-time learning-support/resource teacher, two shared resource teachers for pupils with special educational needs (SEN), a full-time language-support teacher for pupils for whom English is not their first language and a shared resource teacher for Travellers.  The principal teacher was appointed at the commencement of this school year.  He is assisted in fulfilling his role by the deputy principal, one assistant principal and three special-duties teachers.  In order to strengthen the role of the in-school management team it is recommended that clearly-specified duties be assigned to each post-of-responsibility holder following a review of the current curricular, organisational and pastoral needs of the school.  The particular priorities to be addressed by each member of the team during this school year should be agreed, as well as the manner in which other teaching staff and management generally are to be kept informed of progress in achieving agreed priorities.  Arrangements should be put in place for the convening of regular meetings of the in-school management team to collaboratively progress school matters and a process of frequent review of the duties attached to promoted posts should be instigated.  In allocating teachers to mainstream and support-teaching settings, greater encouragement of teacher mobility is advised to facilitate all teachers to experience a wide range of age groups and class contexts.  In so doing, additional attention should be afforded to class size and the more equitable distribution of pupil numbers.    


The school consists of eight permanent mainstream classrooms, with two mainstream classrooms being located in temporary accommodation.  Supplementary teaching is provided in a range of permanent and temporary accommodation, most of which is inadequate in size and layout.  The school has access to a medium-sized general purposes’ room, a principal’s/secretary’s office and an undersized staffroom.  Toilet facilities for pupils are outmoded and require significant updating.  The overall level of cleanliness of the school building would benefit from improvement through engagement in more intensive and regular cleaning and maintenance.  The outdoor recreation space is severely limited in size and a system of split breaks for pupils and teaching staff is in operation in order to provide pupils with opportunities to engage in active play.  As a means of addressing the school’s current and future accommodation needs, it is recommended that discussions with the Department’s Planning and Building Unit be urgently reactivated. 


2. Provision and use of resources in sphe and english

A wide range of SPHE-related programmes is available in the school, including Walk Tall, Stay Safe, Relationships and Sexuality Education, Prim-Ed Health and Be Safe.  The majority of teachers purposefully draw from the range of resources in devising and implementing programmes of learning in their respective classes.  A small number also access relevant on-line resources as well as employing teacher-generated materials to good effect.  It is advised that the breadth of resources that is available in the school-wide context be consulted by all teachers on an ongoing basis and that the current store be augmented to include additional pictures, photographs, videos and DVDs.  It is further recommended that the annual implementation of specific programmes on a school-wide basis be given positive consideration, such as an anti-bullying programme.  The use of the Making the Links resource should serve to assist teachers in reviewing some of the range of SPHE-related programmes and their capacity to address the specific curriculum objectives for their class setting.  There is some involvement of external speakers, namely the school completion co-ordinator and a local general practitioner, in implementing aspects of the SPHE programme.  It is recommended that the aspects of SPHE being addressed by external personnel be formally incorporated into whole-school and classroom-based planning for SPHE in order that follow-up activity may be facilitated by individual class teachers as appropriate. 


A diverse range of resources has been procured throughout the school to support teaching across all strands of the English curriculum. A variety of commercially-produced learning resources combines with a range of teacher-designed materials to create stimulating learning environments in some classrooms. Posters, charts, pictures and commercial schemes are used effectively to assist the enhancement of oral language competence. The variety of environmental print on display in some classrooms serves to create a context that encourages pupils to participate in aspects of the English programme in a positive manner. A selection of graded readers supports ongoing progress in the area of literacy and pupils’ personal reading is supported by the availability of a range of books in classroom libraries. All classrooms have a personal computer and there is a computer room located centrally in the school. While very effective use of information and communication technology (ICT) was noted in some contexts, it is recommended that consideration be given at a whole-school level to ensuring that ICT is more firmly embedded in teaching and learning.  In so doing, it is advised that an assessment be undertaken of the school’s existing ICT hardware, software and peripherals.   The manner in which pupils’ ICT skills are currently being developed both on an in-class basis and through the engagement of an external ICT tutor should be reviewed.  Consideration should also be given to an examination of the professional development needs of the teaching staff in relation to ICT.  In conducting this review and in planning and implementing a programme of action, the assistance of the ICT advisor attached to the local education centre should be sought.  It is also recommended that the staff consider auditing the range of resources currently in use throughout the school to ensure that the diverse cultures and ethnic groups of Ireland and of the school are represented in books, learning resources, pictures, signage and other aspects of the school’s physical environment with a view to representing diversity as a normal part of Irish life and human existence.  It is further advised that the Department’s Intercultural Guidelines be regularly utilised on a school-wide level to ensure that issues of inclusion and respect for diversity be mainstreamed across the range of learning experiences provided for pupils.


3. Quality of whole school planning in sphe and english


3.1 Whole-school planning

A detailed whole-school plan has been collaboratively devised to support the implementation of the SPHE curriculum, with a review scheduled for January 2008 following the first two years of its implementation.  The school’s vision and aims for pupils’ learning in this area of the curriculum are clearly outlined.  It is intended that the programme content be implemented over a two-year cycle with aspects of each strand being implemented annually.  An overview of the particular content for most classes is detailed for a one-year period.  In order to ensure continuity and progression from 2nd to 6th classes, the content to be addressed in each of the two years respectively should be outlined for all classes.  Consideration is given to the range of teaching and learning contexts in which SPHE-related objectives are to be realised and the variety of teaching and learning approaches to be employed.  A range of organisational aspects is also addressed including opportunities for staff development, the promotion of community links and the allocation of roles and responsibilities regarding the plan’s implementation.  In the pending review, significant consideration should be given to the extent to which the current plan reflects the needs and realities of St Joseph’s Primary School, as well as the successes and challenges experienced in its implementation.  The absence of a complementary policy for the implementation of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.  As a means of advancing the implementation of the programme in its entirety, it is advocated that an information evening for parents be convened to consider the content of the programme, that a working group representative of the education partners be established to draft the RSE policy and that any staff-development needs be assessed and responded to.  The guidance and support of the national RSE Training Support Service for Schools should be accessed to assist in this matter.


A range of organisational policies has been devised to support the implementation of the SPHE curriculum.  They include enrolment, code of behaviour, anti-bullying, health and safety and substance use policies.  Draft policies were in evidence regarding mobile phones, administration of medicines and school attendance.  Discussions with the principal and chairperson of the board confirmed that a significant review of health and safety policy and practices is currently underway.  It is advised that the code of behaviour and anti-bullying policies be reviewed to enhance their accessibility, to reflect the positive interventions being made to promote positive behaviour throughout the school and to assess the ongoing effectiveness of bullying-prevention measures.  In so doing, opportunities should be provided for pupils and parents to input their perspectives into the review process.  The enrolment policy requires significant development to ensure its compliance with relevant legislation.   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) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, April 2001). A designated liaison person (DLP) and a deputy DLP have been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.  Such policies should now be reviewed in the light of the updated guidelines of the Department of Health and Children (May, 2004).  It is strongly recommended that all curriculum plans and organisational policies be individually considered by the board of management and formally signed and dated by the chairperson following their ratification.  It is further advised that staff meetings and school-based planning days be effectively structured to ensure that the maximum time possible is afforded to the whole-staff consideration of curriculum planning and implementation matters.  In so doing, appropriate consideration should be given to the means by which curriculum plans and organisational policies are to be effectively and regularly communicated to parents generally.  

Initial work has been completed on the formulation of a whole-school plan for the implementation of the English curriculum. The significance of oral language as the crucial integrating factor in language learning is acknowledged. Specific content objectives for each class level are outlined and some consideration is given to the contexts through which these can be developed. Building on a base of general language competence, some consideration is given to the development of phonological awareness throughout the school. While the content to be addressed and the methodologies to be employed in the teaching of reading are included in the plan, they need to be further defined to reflect the specific school context of St. Joseph’s Primary School. The content objectives for writing, to be achieved under each of the strand units of the curriculum, are also included. The policy on assessment outlines agreed modes of assessment under each of the strands.  At this juncture, it is recommended that the current plan be reviewed at a whole-school level. It is advised that the staff collaboratively develop aims for the implementation of the English curriculum in their particular school context. While much of the content is useful in guiding teaching and learning, greater consideration should be given to the further development of agreed approaches and methodologies and to their implementation at each class level. In addition to this, attention also needs to be devoted to differentiation to effectively include pupils with SEN and those for whom English is a second language. Greater development of the assessment policy to include specific oral-language indicators which are measurable at each class level is advised. Procedures to facilitate the implementation of agreed assessment modes in the areas of reading and writing should also be considered.  


3.2 Individual teacher planning

Almost all teachers engage in long-term and short-term planning to guide teaching and learning in SPHE and English at individual classroom level.  The quality and clarity of individual teacher planning varies across settings.  Where mainstream planning is of a high standard, it is reflective of the primary curriculum objectives and the content of the whole-school plan for the particular class grouping.  In such settings, teacher planning reflects a breadth and balance of curriculum provision, as well as a consideration of content and learning outcomes, teaching approaches, resource provision, differentiation and assessment.  In some supplementary-teaching contexts, individual teacher planning is commended for the clarity of learning targets in response to assessed pupil needs as well as a clear detailing of how the learning targets are to be achieved.  In other mainstream and supplementary-teaching class settings, there is scope for development.  As a means of enhancing the quality of individual teacher planning at a whole-school level and ensuring a consequential positive impact on the provision of teaching and learning, it is recommended that existing good practices be shared and that approaches in use in other school contexts be considered.  The individual teacher planning resources as prepared by School Development Planning Support (Primary) and the National Council for Special Education should prove useful in this regard.  In so doing, positive consideration should be given to the implementation of a school-wide approach to both long-term and short-term planning.  The adoption of an agreed approach to the monthly recording of the progress of learning generally is commended.  It is advised that such monthly records be maintained for a year after the school year to which they refer, in order to facilitate a review of the implementation of SPHE and English at a whole-school level. 


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 in five mainstream classrooms, a review of samples of pupils’ work and interaction with the pupils. 


The underlying principles of the SPHE curriculum were positively in evidence throughout the course of the evaluation, in particular as demonstrated through the positive school and classroom climate.  Caring and considerate relationships were in evidence between teachers and pupils, and pupils and their peers.  The pupils are highly commended for their enthusiasm for learning, the positive behaviour displayed and the open and courteous manner in which they interacted with the evaluation team.  Most pupils exhibit positive levels of self-awareness and self-confidence, and a capacity to take ownership and responsibility for themselves, their belongings and their actions.  In many classrooms, class rules that have been collaboratively devised by the pupils are attractively displayed.  The teaching staff is praised for its cultivation of good habits of conduct and behaviour through the implementation of effective acknowledgement and reward systems.  They are also lauded for their significant efforts in encouraging and affirming pupils generally and in providing ongoing opportunities for the promotion of pupil self-esteem.  The proposed introduction of regular school assemblies will serve as an additional mechanism to promote pupils’ sense of belonging to their school community, as well as acting as a means of acknowledging individual pupils’ efforts and successes. 


Formal lessons in SPHE are well structured and implemented in the main and address issues of interest and importance to the pupils.  Significant attention is afforded at a whole-school level to themes that arise through the Myself and the Myself and Others strands of the curriculum.  It is recommended that greater attention be afforded to content from the Myself and the Wider World strand generally, and that all three strands be addressed at intervals across the entire academic year.  There is an SPHE-rich environment in evidence in some classrooms with attractive displays of pupils’ individually and collaboratively completed works.  In an effort to provide an increased, ongoing emphasis on the importance of SPHE in pupils’ learning, consideration should be given to increasing its visibility in the classroom and school environment generally.  Most teachers are particularly successful in ensuring that real-life events are a feature of teaching and learning in SPHE and that pupils are provided with well-designed opportunities to relate the topic being explored to their own life experiences.  In most settings they are encouraged to voice their opinions, contribute to discussions and interact respectfully with the views of others.  Talk and discussion and written activities were the most common teaching approaches observed at a cross-school level.  In the majority of class settings talk and discussion were focussed and incorporated clear learning objectives.  The provision in some settings of opportunities for pupils to engage in well-structured collaborative activity with their peers is commended as it provides them with enhanced opportunities to acquire values, attitudes and skills through active learning.  Consideration should now be given to extending the repertoire of teaching approaches in use, in particular to include more regular opportunities for pupils’ engagement in drama, co-operative games and media initiatives, as well as opportunities for their greater involvement in partner and group-based activities.  In most classrooms the learning activities observed were interesting and challenging with pupils engaging enthusiastically.  Interaction with the pupils throughout the school confirmed that in general they are confident and competent communicators and that they are making regular and positive progress in their learning.        


At a whole-school level, a positive emphasis is placed on the development of pupils’ physical well-being through the promotion of healthy-eating practices in some classrooms and the ongoing encouragement of pupils’ engagement in physical activity, including a wide range of team games and sporting activities.  The introduction of increased opportunities for engagement in team games of a lesser-competitive nature is acknowledged and welcomed as a means of responding to the abilities and needs of all pupils.  It is recommended that positive consideration be given to the development and implementation of a healthy-eating policy and practices at a school-wide level, following consultation with and direct involvement of pupils and parents.  Pupils’ capacities to become active and responsible citizens in society are actively fostered through their involvement in a range of charitable and environmental initiatives, such as the Christmas Shoebox Appeal and the Tidy Towns initiative.  A commendable range of practices is also being implemented at a school-based level to promote environmental awareness and care.  In order to formalise the laudable work being done in this area, it may now be opportune to consider becoming actively involved in a developmental initiative, such as the Green Schools’ project.  This will allow for the continued promotion of environmental initiatives while also involving pupils directly in decision-making processes.  Pupils regularly participate in a range of competition-based activities, including sport, art, music, chess and quizzes.  A positive emphasis is placed on the value of participation, and individual and collaborative successes are appropriately acknowledged and celebrated through visits to individual classrooms, corridor displays, intermittent newsletters and an annual prize-giving day.                  

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 five mainstream classrooms and in all supplementary-teaching settings.


An awareness of the centrality of oral language and opportunities for the development and enrichment of vocabulary is a feature of provision in this school. Discrete oral language activities are practised in all classes, some of which are closely aligned to a commercially-published scheme. In general, the pupils display confidence and competence in the use of language. Very effective examples of them engaging in collaborative discussion across a range of themes were noted in some classrooms. Further extension of this approach to all classes ensuring that pupils are provided with expressive opportunities to increasing levels of complexity, is recommended. To this end, clearly identified oral language objectives for each class level would serve to ensure consistency of approach from class to class and continuity and progression from year to year. In some classes pupils engage enthusiastically with poetry, clearly articulating personal responses to poems from a variety of genres. A whole-school approach to this area of learning is advised to ensure that pupils in all classes are exposed to a wide repertoire of poetry.


Graded reading schemes are in use throughout the school and the pupils also have access to classroom libraries which contain a wide range of fiction and non-fiction material. Formal reading classes provide opportunities for pupils to develop a variety of word recognition and word attack skills. While grapho-phonic and syntactic cues are use extensively by pupils when reading, further development of semantic or context cues is advised. The school is commended for the extent to which the pupils in almost all classes engage in a broad range of personal reading. The promotion of focused opportunities for pupils to discuss, analyse, compare and contrast aspects of material they read would further enhance this work. Furthermore, devoting due attention to ensuring that books are regularly updated and replenished so that libraries in all classrooms contain an attractive and appealing store of books, would serve to scaffold and support improvements in reading in all classes. It is advised that the school consider banding the libraries in each classroom to ensure that all pupils are more easily facilitated to read at levels appropriate to their abilities. In this context, extending the range of high-interest level, low reading-ability materials is advised. Good use is made of classroom novels throughout the school providing the pupils with opportunities to experience a shared response to fiction. Their comprehension skills are advanced through the judicious use of a good blend of higher and lower-order questions and through the use of sequencing and cloze procedures in some classrooms. Extending the range of strategies in this context, to include activities such as skimming, scanning and search reading, conferencing and prediction assignments is advised to further enrich the quality of teaching and learning in reading. A whole-school approach to spelling, linked to the development of pupils’ phonological awareness, is supported by effective dictionary usage. In order to further enhance provision in this area, consideration should be given to adopting a multidimensional approach to spelling which would incorporate a wider variety of approaches and contexts.


The pupils are provided with opportunities to engage in a variety of writing activities. A good balance is maintained between functional and creative work and pupils in the majority of classes are provided with opportunities to write in a wide variety of genres. In these settings, samples of writing in copybooks and classroom displays indicate a good level of pupil creativity and originality. Drafting, editing and redrafting is a feature of writing in a number of classes and an extension of this provision to ensure that pupils have a consistent experience of process writing as they progress through the school is advised. There is some very effective work on handwriting and presentation in individual classes. Collaboration at a whole-school level on the implementation of an agreed approach to handwriting is recommended. Use of specific indicators to measure attainment in writing and the use of writing portfolios were notable features of provision in individual classes. It is advised that a whole-school approach to assessment considers extending this practice to all settings.  It is further advised that this approach to assessment focuses on the key areas of writing conventions, style, organisation and content. Work observed in the integration of ICT into teaching and learning was commendable, in particular in scaffolding learning and in facilitating differentiation. Further extension of this effective use of ICT at individual class level merits consideration on a whole-school basis.  


The whole-school plan for pupils with SEN, who are in receipt of supplementary teaching, outlines the roles of the various education partners. Some consideration is given to the implementation of strategies to prevent the emergence of learning difficulties and the criteria for selecting pupils for supplementary teaching are clearly outlined. Further development of SEN policy and practice should incorporate the provisions contained in Special Education Circular 02/05, devoting particular attention to the implementation of a staged approach to meeting the needs of these pupils as well as the provision of supplementary teaching on an in-class and a withdrawal basis. Observation of practice during the evaluation reveals that all supplementary teaching is provided in a positive and reassuring atmosphere where the pupils engage enthusiastically in a varied range of activities. The primary focus of provision is on the development of the pupils’ literacy skills.  Individual education plans (IEPs) and individual profile and learning programmes (IPLPs) are developed in all settings. General targets are included and some consideration is given to the role of the special education teacher, the classroom teacher and parents in assisting the pupils to realise their targets. It is recommended that a greater range of diagnostic tests be administered, with a view to formulating more time-specific and measurable learning targets that are responsive to pupils’ individually assessed needs. Such targets should then be used to devise and implement pupil-specific programmes of learning.  Ongoing collaboration with parents and class teachers should also be used to ensure that learning targets and accompanying activities closely reflect individual pupil needs. In the case of pupils who have been externally assessed, report recommendations should constitute an integral part of their IEP and provision should be made for their reassessment at appropriate intervals. It was also noted, during the evaluation, that a number of pupils are attending more that one supplementary-teaching setting for English. It is strongly advised that a formally co-ordinated SEN team be formed to facilitate a more streamlined and innovative approach to meeting the breadth of needs of pupils receiving supplementary teaching in English.  To assist in this endeavour, it is further recommended that a programme of sustained support be requested from the Regional Curriculum Support Service of the Primary Curriculum Support Programme.


The school has the services of a full-time teacher for pupils who speak English as a second language. The pupils engage in language activities with high levels of enthusiasm and the teacher provides ample opportunities for them to develop confidence and a sense of achievement in their learning. Planning and provision for this area incorporates the English Language Proficiency Benchmarks and the contexts through which pupils’ language is to be developed are clearly embedded in planning. The European Language Portfolios are used effectively to provide a clear structure for both guiding and assessing the pupils’ learning. Language-support provision, as observed during the evaluation was of a high quality and focused on the development of the pupils’ receptive language and literacy skills. An extension of the opportunities for pupils to develop their expressive language skills would further enhance provision in this area.


5. Quality of assessment in sphe and english

In SPHE, the main assessment tool employed to measure pupils’ progress is that of teacher observation.  It is used while pupils are engaged in SPHE-specific and related activities, and during the everyday interactions in the classroom and in the school.  In some settings this approach is complemented by the use of photocopied worksheets and/or dedicated SPHE copies in which key aspects of learning are consolidated.  In selecting individual and group-based tasks, judicious attention should be given to their capacity to assess the extent to which pupils understand what is being taught and their ability to transfer and use what they have learned to a variety of situations.  The compilation of pupils’ completed works in portfolio format in some contexts is praised as it allows for the ongoing review of the progress of individual pupils as well as the progress of learning generally.  It also serves as a means of pupil self-assessment and it is recommended that this approach to assessment be considered on a school-wide basis.  Project work and displays are used effectively in some class settings and are worthy of wider implementation.  Consideration might also be given to the formal recording of relevant and significant observations, such as the ability of individual pupils to co-operate and work in collaborative contexts.  Such recorded observations can then be used to contribute to the overall picture of pupils’ development and as a reference for planning for SPHE at class and whole-school levels.  Pupils’ progress is reported to parents through formal and informal parent/teacher meetings and through the issuing of bi-annual, written reports.  It is recommended that the template in use for the compilation of written reports be reviewed to bring it into line with the provisions of the primary curriculum.  The recently published guidelines of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment will prove most useful in this endeavour.


In English, teacher observation and teacher-designed tasks and tests are the primary modes of assessment in evidence throughout the school. Standardised tests are administered annually in all classes and the results inform the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching. While some attention is devoted to diagnostic testing in the special-education context, an extension of the range of tests administered would facilitate greater targeting of the specific difficulties being experienced by some pupils. Excellent practice observed in some classes includes the effective use of indicators to inform teaching and to assess progress in key areas of learning. It is advised that whole-school consideration be given to the implementation of the agreed policy on assessment. To this end, attention should be focused on ensuring a balance between formative and summative assessment and to maintaining a close correlation between assessment results and reporting.


6. Future development of sphe and english

A friendly and caring atmosphere was in evidence in St Joseph’s Primary School throughout the course of the whole school evaluation.  The staff demonstrates a commitment to the pupils in its care.  The pupils themselves are praised for the enthusiasm they display and for their positive engagement in the range of learning activities provided for them.  Their confidence and competence in communicating their views and opinions are strongly commended.  The ongoing work of the school is actively supported by the board of management, the parents’ council and parents generally.


A number of themes for future development are identified and these include:

§         The whole-school plans for SPHE and English and their associated organisational policies should be reviewed and developed to reflect the circumstances and guide the practices of St Joseph’s Primary School.

§         The role and function of the in-school management team should be effectively developed to ensure its ongoing responsiveness to meeting the priorities and needs of the school and its pupils.

§         Significant attention should be afforded to advancing the accommodation requirements of the current and projected school population and to ensuring that the present accommodation is maintained to an acceptable standard of cleanliness and maintenance.

§         All strands of the SPHE curriculum should be implemented in a balanced manner across the school year, including RSE in its entirety, while also employing the full range of active-learning approaches.

§         A wider variety of comprehension strategies should be used in English lessons on a school-wide basis and pupils should be provided with regular opportunities to develop their writing skills in a range of particular contexts.

§         A formally-co-ordinated SEN team should be formed to ensure the effective implementation of the range of innovative measures advocated and to successfully address the needs of pupils in receipt of supplementary teaching in English.


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.




Published June 2008