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

Scoil Mhuire Banríon na hÉireann

Caherdavin Limerick

Uimhir rolla: 19332G

 

Date of inspection:  7 December 2007

 

 

Introduction

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

Conclusion

School response to the report

 

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 Scoil Mhuire Banríon na hÉireann. 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; and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

 

1. School background and context

Scoil Mhuire Banríon na hÉireann is a 16 teacher single sex girls’ primary school situated approximately five kilometres from Limerick City centre. The majority of the pupils come from the parish and from neighbouring parishes. There are 335 pupils from junior infants to sixth class enrolled in the school. The school is under the trusteeship of the Salesian Sisters and under the patronage of the Bishop of Limerick.

The school receives grants to support pupils as a participant in the Department of Education and Science Initiative Giving Children an Even Break through Tackling Disadvantage Scheme (GCAEBS). The school is also a participant in the Traveller ACCESS initiative – Higher Education Authority Strategic Initiative Fund (HEASIF).

 

Scoil Mhuire Banríon na hÉireann’s mission statement outlines that” In keeping with the Salesian ethos we aim to offer a broad sense of the curriculum in order to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, promote enjoyment in learning and provide knowledge and skills to equip our pupils for life so they will be confident and responsible members of a rapidly developing society, and enable them to make their particular contribution to society in an effective way.” This mission statement is in evidence throughout the school as the school climate presents as warm and child friendly where 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. Regular school assemblies are used to promote and reinforce positive behaviour. The holistic development of pupils including pupils with special educational needs is promoted to a very high standard.

 

During a school evaluation in 2001, it was stated that the pupil population was in decline. In the intervening years there has been a steady increase in enrolments. Projected figures indicate that the enrolment pattern will continue to increase due to the housing development planned for in the area. Since the last evaluation a new principal and nine new teachers have been appointed. The school has a comprehensive enrolment policy which was reviewed and ratified in November 2007. It is recommended that the Board of Management in collaboration with the staff review the enrolment policy and the Special Needs Policy in order to ensure compliance with the Education Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2002. Conditions for enrolment cannot be applied to pupils with special educational needs, to newcomer pupils or Traveller children.

 

Pupils’ attendance in the school is a cause for concern. Data presented for review suggest that levels of absenteeism are higher in this school than for schools in similar contexts nationally. The board of management in collaboration with the school staff has devised a school attendance strategy in accordance with the Education and Welfare Act 2000. It is recommended that this strategy be reviewed in consultation with all the stakeholders and that a copy of the revised policy should be sent to all parents. 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 board of management is properly constituted and meets regularly. During the evaluation, the inspectors met with the outgoing and incoming chairperson of the board. 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. The finances are audited once every four years. The board is to be commended for the high quality of maintenance in the school and for the efficient manner in which the maintenance action plan 2003-2007 has been implemented. The board has organised talks on a variety of topics for parents and pupils. The board’s engagement in the review and ratification of a number of organisational polices is praiseworthy. The future action plan for the incoming board includes organising First Aid training for staff and Child Abuse Prevention training for the BOM, parents and teachers. An action plan for the further improvement to the school building will be presented to the incoming board. The board applied to the Department for a grant to erect a perimeter fence in 2004/2005 and in 2005/2006. It made a further application in the school year 2007/2008 and is awaiting a response. 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 stated that the board was very satisfied with the quality of educational provision being provided in the schools and was fulsome in his praise of the teaching staff.

 

The school’s Parents’ Association is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council and meets in the school once a month. The principal reports that the parents support the work of the school through their involvement in policy formulation, assisting at school events, and fundraising activities. They also represent the views of parents and provide a forum for consultation with the principal on relevant issues. The association also supports parents, in particular, parents of newly enrolled pupils in the school. Parents are also represented on committees for the formulation of the following policies, Relationships and Sexuality Education, Health and Safety and the Code of Behaviour. 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. It is timely now that when policies are next reviewed that the views of parents in the wider community be sought on a range of topics relevant to them.

 

 

2. Provision and use of resources in sphe and english

The school has one administrative principal, 12 mainstream class teachers, one learning support teacher, one resource teacher, one full-time temporary language support teacher, one shared resource teacher for Traveller pupils, and one shared resource/learning support teacher in the school. The school has the services of three 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 part-time secretary and a full time caretaker who provides valuable support to the school management and the staff.

 

The principal was appointed to the position in 2005. A significant strength of this school is the committed, professional leadership that is in evidence. The principal is commended for the inclusive school atmosphere that is characterised by open communication, collaboration and team work. She has good interpersonal skills and uses these to communicate with the staff, members of the board of management and parents. She supports the ongoing professional development of the staff in curricular areas, in the area of special needs and newly qualified teachers are supported by providing guidance and support. Since being appointed to the position the principal has led and managed the formulation of school policy across a broad range of curricular, organisational and pastoral areas. Respect for the Salesian tradition and ethos as well as individual qualities and strengths have created an atmosphere of pride and mutual support throughout the school.

 

The principal is supported effectively by the in-school management team, which comprises a deputy principal, assistant principal and five special duties post-holders. The roles designated for these posts include curricular, organisational and pastoral duties and these are clearly defined. While the post holders have only recently been appointed to undertake the co-ordination of SPHE and English it was evident from the very good quality of the plans formulated that they approached their work in an enthusiastic and professional manner. A strong spirit of commitment to the school and collegiate spirit exist among the in-school management team members and good relationships are fostered with other members of the teaching staff. All members of the school community know that their work is valued and that they have an important role to play in the school’s development.

 

The school stock of resources for learning in SPHE is very good and there is effective use of the teaching resources by all staff. Resources for SPHE which include Brain Gym, Folláin, Be Safe, posters and a range of videos are stored centrally in the administrative office. Key resource materials to support the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme include Busy Bodies, RSE, Walk Tall and Stay Safe programmes. The recently appointed SPHE co-ordinator has conducted research into the acquisition of a range of resources and following a discussion at staff meetings further resources will be purchased for the school. A number of guest speakers are engaged to speak to the pupils on a range of SPHE topics. The principal reports that the staff has attended a number of courses based on SPHE issues. They have prioritised courses for the coming term to include First Aid, Child Abuse, Stay Safe and Fire Safety. A course in relation to the review of the RSE policy, its formulation and implementation is organised for 2008. The school avails of the Regional Curriculum Support Service (RCSS), the School Development Planning Service (SDPS) and external RSE tutors on a regular basis. A music therapist also attends the school and provides support for a number of pupils.

 

The 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. A range of co-curricular activities provides opportunities for promoting pupils’ SPHE-related learning. These experiences include the Write-a-Book project, Discover Primary Science, Féile Luimní, community based competitions, Get Active Challenge and Road Safety initiatives. The school has established a students’ Green School committee. The pupils are actively engaged in this initiative under the guidance of the co-ordinator and they have a very good understanding of this project. It is timely now to establish a students’ council which will further provide opportunities for senior pupils to engage in the decision making in the school. A range of extra-curricular activities is also offered including team games, French and computer classes. This practice is praiseworthy and teachers are complimented on their involvement in these extra-curricular activities.

 

A wide range of literacy resources has been purchased by the school and these are used effectively in the teaching and learning in English throughout the whole school. Additional reading materials are available and these are used by the children in the Children and Parents Enjoy Reading (CAPER) programme. Sets of class novels have been acquired and are used in the middle and senior standards. A range of large format books has been purchased and they are in use in the teaching of English primarily in the infant classes. The range of literacy materials for this age group should be further extended. A print-rich environment is in evidence in all classes and also in the corridors and public areas throughout the school. The school has a well stocked central library and each classroom is also equipped with a good range of reading materials and reference books. The teachers also devise their own illustrative materials, work cards and charts to support various areas of the curriculum. Commercially produced oral language materials are in use throughout the school.  Tapes/CDs and commercially produced illustrative materials are also in use.

 

A range of books is also available to support pupils’ phonic awareness in infant and junior classes. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are used in some classrooms for developing illustrative materials, project work and displaying children’s writing. Some graded reading materials are in use but there is a need to provide a wider range of reading materials in all classes in order that a differentiated approach to the teaching of reading can be carried out more effectively, particularly with pupils who have special educational needs. An audit of the reading materials available in the school is appropriate at this time. The support-teaching rooms are equipped with computer hardware and relevant software. These resources are used at various times during the school day to support different areas of the curriculum with particular emphasis on project work and English writing.

 

3. Quality of whole school planning in sphe and english

3.1 Whole-school planning

The whole school plan for SPHE was reviewed in 2007. It was formulated by the staff   and ratified by the board.  The plan is of a very good standard and was formulated utilising the SDPS curriculum planning template. The plan illustrates the significant effort and thought of the staff who formulated it. A review of plan will take place at the end of the current school year. The plan was ratified by the BOM and communicated to members of the parents’ association. A copy of plan is available in the office for parents to read. It is recommended that a copy of the SPHE plan be disseminated to parents.

 

The plan is based on the structure and principles of the curriculum and it takes account of the three strands Myself, Myself and Others and Myself and the Wider World and the strand units which are implemented during a two year period. Each member of staff has a copy of the plan which provides detail under a range of headings including vision, aims, objectives, content of the plan, contexts for SPHE, roles and responsibilities, discrete time, methodologies ,children with differing needs, integration, resources, parental involvement, home school community links, school projects, guest speakers,  review and ratification. The manner by which staff has linked the positive school climate specifically to the values and practices adhered to in the school is particularly praiseworthy.

 

While a whole school approach to assessment is not documented in the SPHE plan, the principal outlined the tools used to assess the SPHE programme in the school information form, which includes approaches utilised for teacher observation, teacher designed tasks and how issues are dealt with on an ongoing basis at assemblies. It is recommended that whole school planning for assessment and record-keeping in SPHE needs further consideration. 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, the staff 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.

 

A very wide range of organisational policies support the SPHE plan and these include code of behaviour, enrolment, anti-bullying, sexual harassment, health and safety, healthy eating, bus safety, fire drill and evacuation, attendance, critical incidents, child custody, differentiation, supervision and acceptable use policy. While the school does not have a care of the environment policy, a safe hygienic environment is evident throughout the school and the staff is engaged in the implementation of relevant practices on a day to day basis.

 

An RSE policy has been formulated. 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 class levels about the naming of body parts as outlined in the Growing and Changing strand unit.

 

The staff has organised training in all areas of the RSE programme for 2008 and intend to review the policy after attendance at this course. It is recommended that members of the RSE committee should also be provided with opportunities to avail of RSE training. The principal and staff will review the RSE policy in consultation with the board and parents’ representatives. It is advised that the 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 staff is commended for the wide range of curricular and organisational plans which have been developed to date. A strategic planning framework is now required in order to focus on the development of specific organisational, curricular and resource plans for the next five years. It is recommended that as part of their five year action plan that the following policies be formulated to include, care of the environment, intercultural education and gender equality. Development of the gender equality policy should be formulated utilising the recently published DES Equal Measures. 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.”

 

A high quality curricular plan in English has been devised. The plan provides guidance to the individual teacher in relation to the implementation of methodologies, strategies and approaches outlined in the school plan. This is useful to teachers as a guide when compiling long-term and short-term plans. The plan has been devised collaboratively by the teaching staff. The most recent review of the plan for English was co-ordinated by the newly appointed post holder with responsibility for this area of the curriculum. Almost all areas of the plan have been reviewed since September 2007. It is evident that the teaching staff has dedicated considerable time and effort to the whole-school planning process. The principal also reports that the Parents’ Association and the board of management were involved in the ratification of the plan.

 

The English plan outlines the rationale, vision and aims. It also references the strand, strand units and objectives for each class level. Overarching school policies are outlined in respect of: oral language, reading, writing, assessment and record keeping, children with different needs and equality of participation and access. These policies closely mirror the strategies and approaches in the primary curriculum.

 

The further development of the school plan might consist of the individual class teachers linking the learning experiences to be provided for pupils in each class to the content objectives outlined in the plan. This would ensure that the progressive and continuous implementation of the plan in all classes. It would enable differentiated experiences to be provided at all levels throughout the school.

 

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.

 

 

3.2 Individual teachers’ planning

 

SPHE

Teachers plan programmes on a two yearly basis to ensure continuity and progression in SPHE. Quality of planning was very good and in some classrooms it was very comprehensive. Long-term, short-term planning and monthly progress reports were provided by all teachers. In line with the requirements of Rule 126, monthly records were stored centrally. Very good practice was noted and in some classrooms excellent practice was in evidence where planning was very closely linked to the curriculum strand and strand units, to the curriculum objectives and where topics were linked real situations.

 

There is evidence that all teachers are conscious of individual differences in their classrooms; careful attention is paid to pupils with special educational needs. There is need to plan for differentiation of SPHE activities. Some plans provide clear details with regard to the use of a thematic approach to planning, where a theme is explored from a number of different curricular perspectives including SPHE and this should be further developed throughout the school. All teachers maintain monthly progress records and evaluation of these records indicates that all aspects of the SPHE curriculum are explored with particular attention given to the strands Myself and Myself and Others. Monthly progress records should also include a record of the skills values attitudes and knowledge achieved by the pupils. These records will then become a more useful tool for school management in reviewing the progress of curriculum implementation across the school.

 

English

Overall, teachers’ long-term planning in English is very good. Long-term planning is linked to the strands and strand units of the English curriculum and generally reflects the structure and language of the Primary School Curriculum. Short-term planning is based largely on the curriculum objectives and the English textbooks in use.

 

The short-term planning ensures that the pupils experience a diverse range of learning activities and that an appropriate balance between whole class teaching and group work is maintained and opportunities are provided for pupils to participate in paired work, group work and project work. Some teachers identify content objectives from the curriculum in writing in their short-term plans and it is recommended that this practice be extended to all teachers’ short-term plan

 

 

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 and interaction with the pupils. Teachers encourage and affirm their pupils and work hard to provide experiences in SPHE lessons that raise the self-confidence and self-esteem of all pupils. Lessons are constructed skilfully in order to ensure the maximum participation of pupils in the learning process. A range of active learning approaches is employed including talk and discussion, pair and group work, song, story, poetry, games, circle time and role-play. Pupils remain on task and teachers ensure that talk and discussion sessions are focussed on the lesson’s objectives. Pupils embrace SPHE activities with enthusiasm and display confidence in their learning. The majority of pupils are forthcoming in expressing their feelings and opinions and can relate learning in SPHE to their own lives and experiences. Senior pupils are enthusiastic about themes studied including health, bullying, friendship and respect for others. This is in evidence in the pupils’ responses to the questionnaires administered during the evaluation. All teachers are aware of the different learning needs and styles of their pupils and most teachers differentiate activities in respect of pupils with learning difficulties. Some teachers skilfully exploit opportunities to link and integrate the pupils’ learning in SPHE with other subject areas including, Irish, Music, Mathematics, English, Visual Arts, Physical Education and Geography. This practice is commended as it results in a cohesive programme of learning. Teachers have created very rich SPHE-learning environments in their classrooms. Consideration should now be given to the further use of media and ICT equipment in the teaching of SPHE.

 

 

 

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 six of the mainstream classrooms and in four support teaching settings.

 

Attainment in literacy in this school is very good. The majority of pupils express themselves confidently in English in all classes. Attention is paid to the development of oral language skills and opportunities for engaging in discussion across a wide range of curricular areas are provided. The majority of pupils in junior classes have good listening and attention skills and this is in evidence from the Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) results. It is recommended that a discrete oral language programme, based on receptive and expressive language skills, should be taught at all class levels.

 

In general, very good English reading lessons were observed in all classes. The standard of literacy in the school is very good with the majority of pupils engaging in reading activities in a competent manner in all classes. Phonological awareness is developed in an effective manner in the infant, middle and junior standards. A commercial reading scheme is in use throughout the school. Teachers also make use of additional reading materials which are drawn from a wide range sources. Novels are in use in the second and third term in middle and senior classes

 

In general, pupils’ writing is of a very good standard. The pupils engage in a range of writing activities, both functional and creative. Pupils’ work is monitored effectively and celebrated appropriately through attractive displays in classrooms and public areas in the school. Personal and creative writing commences in the junior classes. Pupils write short personal accounts and undertake simple book reviews. Pupils’ writing is developed and emphasised in middle and senior classes where book reviews, character reviews and a range of writing for different purposes and audiences is undertaken. Children also write their own poetry and are encouraged to write in various formats. Some teachers use computers skilfully to support and present the work undertaken by the children.

 

4.2.1 Quality of support for pupils in English

A special educational needs policy has been formulated by the staff in collaboration with the principal. The special needs policy documents the roles and responsibilities of the board of management, principal, mainstream class teachers, learning support teacher and resource teachers. A separate policy has been developed in respect of the work of special needs assistants. A section of the policy focuses on the enrolment of children with special educational needs. It is recommended that this section of the policy be reviewed as no conditions can be applied to a child with special educational needs on or prior to enrolment as specified in the equality act. The policy alludes to the staged approach as per Circular 02/05. This policy has also taken into account other relevant legislation including the EPSEN Act, 2004.

 

Supplementary teaching is provided in literacy and Mathematics. In general, during the evaluation good practise was observed in support teaching settings. Support teaching is provided by teachers who are concerned with the holistic development of their pupils. In most classrooms the teaching was structured, focused on the needs of children, who were fully engaged in their learning. Children are withdrawn in groups and some children receive individual attention. In line with Circular 24/03, consideration should now be given to working with class teachers to provide an integrated system of support incorporating in-class provision where appropriate.

 

All teachers prepare Individual Pupil Learning Profiles (IPLPs) or Individual Education Plans, (IEPs) depending on the needs of the child. These plans are primarily focused on phonological training, spellings, comprehension skills and some reading. In general, the targets in these plans are broad and in future they should be very specific and relevant to the needs of the individual child or group of children. The IPLP model outlined in the Department of Education and Science Learning Support Guidelines 2000 should be used as the basis for planning.

 

It is recommended that planning for pupils presenting with literacy and mathematical difficulties should be organised as follows; two individual profiles and learning profiles should be devised annually outlining the screening assessment, diagnostic assessment, learning strengths and attainments, priority learning needs, specific learning targets for the period, learning support activities to be provided by the support teachers and the learning support activities to be provided by the classroom teachers. Weekly planning should be prepared that will outline the familiar reading planned and the learning strategies for revision. This plan should outline the new reading strategies and the new reading to be undertaken weekly. Weekly progress on the achievement of this plan should also be recorded.

 

The programme for Traveller pupils focuses on the development of personal and social skills, behaviour management, language development, and the core competencies in English. The learning experiences are focused on oral discussion, phonological awareness training, familiar reading, new reading, high frequency words, handwriting and Mathematics. Work in Mathematics is based on early number concepts, place value, number operations, oral Mathematics, and the language of Mathematics. Good use is made of ICT during the teaching and learning process.

 

A defined whole school policy in respect of language support teaching should be formulated. The programme for language support focuses on developing oral skills based on a range of topics outlined in the Integrate Ireland Language Training manual (IILT). The teacher creates a positive atmosphere during the teaching and learning process. The teacher has begun to create a print rich environment and some illustrative materials are in evidence. Some concrete materials are available for teaching in this area. It is recommended that further development of a print rich environment and the acquisition of materials and charts would enhance the teaching and learning in this setting. Long- and short-term planning is based on the IILT guidelines. Short-term planning should indicate continuity and progression in respect of specific targets identified for learning and a record of pupils’ progress in respect of these targets should be maintained. It is also recommended that the review sheets provided in the (IILT) manual should be utilised to ensure a collaborative approach in respect of the teaching and learning of the pupils.

 

5. Quality of assessment in sphe and english

Teacher observation is the main method employed in assessing SPHE throughout the school. In some classes pupils have dedicated SPHE/SESE copybooks. Photocopied worksheets are completed and some teachers maintain them in files. Project work is used effectively in the middle and senior classes. Specific areas in 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. It is advised that further development of a whole school approach to the assessment of SPHE should be considered at the next staff meeting. Consideration should be given to what teachers will observe. It is recommended that the observation checklist in the curriculum should be utilised for this purpose. Further opportunities for the pupils to engage in self-assessment; reflecting on personal capabilities and limitations and selecting samples of work for assessment should be considered. A whole-school assessment framework will ensure greater continuity and progression in the implementation of SPHE in the school

 

A range of assessment strategies is in evidence in English including teacher observation checklists, teacher designed tests, consistent monitoring of oral and written activities and standardised test results.  

Standardised testing in English is carried out annually from first to sixth class. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST); Belfield Infant Assessment Profiles (BIAP) are used to assess attainment in a range of areas in the infant classes. The Forward Together Programme is also used as a follow through in respect of pupils who have been identified with specific literacy needs in the MIST. The results of the Micra T are analysed, filed centrally and maintained in a methodical manner in the school.

 

The use of profiling instruments in all infant classrooms to monitor emergent reading skills, oral language skills and emergent writing skills is also recommended. The Drumcondra English Profiles are recommended as a class-based assessment instrument throughout the school and this strategy would be valuable in identifying the learning outcomes in oral language, reading and writing at each class level.

 

6. Future  development of  sphe and english

Scoil Mhuire Banríon na hÉireann is an effective school. All staff members are committed to providing an enriching, holistic experience for the pupils in keeping with their ethos to value the uniqueness of all individuals within a caring school community and recognise that SPHE is intrinsic to the learning and teaching that occurs both formally and informally in the school and in the classroom. The overall quality of teaching and learning in the school is very good in both SPHE and English and there are some instances of excellent teaching. Teachers have high expectations of the pupils’ achievements and behaviour and the pupils respond positively to these expectations.

 

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

 

  • The policy for RSE should be reviewed in consultation with the stakeholders and the objectives for all class levels should be outlined and recorded in the plan.
  • A copy of the policy should be distributed to all parents.
  • A review of the SPHE assessment policy should be conducted and systematic record-keeping practices should be introduced.
  • It is recommended that a special-duties post-holder be appointed as the Special Needs Co-ordinator in the school.
  • A defined whole school policy in respect of language support teaching be formulated.
  • The further development of IPLPs/IEPs to include specific targets and learning experiences for pupils in receipt of language support and pupils with special educational needs.
  • It is recommended that a discrete oral language programme, based on receptive and expressive language skills, should be taught at all class levels.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Published June 2008

 

 

Appendix

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

Area 2:  Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection.

 

  • The board of management, in collaboration with staff, have reviewed and amended the Enrolment and Special Needs Policies in order to ensure compliance with the Education Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2002.

 

  • The school attendance strategy has been reviewed in consultation with all stakeholders, and a copy of the revised policy has been sent to all parents.  Parents have been advised of their responsibility in respect of their children’s attendance at school.