An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir
Date of inspection: 11 February 2009
A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir was undertaken in February 2009. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and Physical Education. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report. The board of management of the school 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.
Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir is one of three schools in the rural parish of Kilmacabea and Kilfaughnabeg in West Cork. It is a three teacher school with multi-grade classes. Additional supports are provided by two part-time Learning Support/Resource teachers.
The main school building dates back to 1966 and is in good repair. Additional prefabricated areas (classroom, learning support/resource areas, staff room/office) connect to the main building. A high level of compliance with Health & Safety regulations is evident within the school building and it is a safe, secure and attractive environment for learning and teaching.
School enrolment data indicate a continuing upward trend and attendance levels are consistently high.
The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:
Pupils enrolled in the school
Mainstream classes in the school
Teachers on the school staff
Mainstream class teachers
Teachers working in support roles
Special needs assistants
Adjacent to the village of Glandore, Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross.
While the school professes a strong commitment to its Catholic ethos, pupils of other denominations and none are welcomed.
The board of management of Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir is properly constituted. The board meets regularly and minutes are recorded effectively. School accounts are audited annually. The chairperson and individual members bring a considerable range of complementary skills and experiences to the board and they are reflective, focused and committed to the continuing development of the school community. The active involvement of the board in the development, ratification and review of all school organisational and curricular documents was noted during the external evaluation process. Strong effective links exist among the board, staff, parents and the school community. The board pays appropriate attention to the development of positive relations within the school community and expressed unequivocal support for the principal and staff in terms of the quality of educational provision in the school. The school remains a cornerstone of the local community and embraces the principles and challenges of the revised curriculum for primary schools in a spirit of partnership and mutual support.
The principal of Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir has effectively managed a period of significant change and adaptation since her appointment in 2006. She empowers all other staff members and facilitates leadership at all levels within the school community. A spirit of collegiality and teamwork was apparent during the course of the evaluation.
The Deputy Principal provides effective support across a range of pastoral, curricular and organisational areas as per departmental guidelines and best practice. Regular daily dialogue facilitates the involvement of all other staff in the decision making process. Formal staff meetings are held as per departmental guidelines and excellent working relationships, observed during the course of the evaluation, facilitate the holistic development of all pupils.
In-school management routines and practices contribute to the smooth organisation of all school activities and a discernible sense of order allows for the purposeful creation of a positive climate for teaching and learning.
High staff morale and a shared understanding of key priorities for teaching and learning were observed in the course of the evaluation.
A part-time secretary provides valuable assistance to the principal, performing a wide range of clerical and organisational duties in an efficient and competent manner. A part-time cleaner is employed by the board and satisfactory standards of hygiene and cleanliness pertain.
Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir remains an important focal point in this rural area and enjoys high levels of community involvement and support. The quality of relationships at all levels within the school is impressive. Home school links are actively promoted through parent-teacher meetings, school cultural, dramatic and sporting events, religious ceremonies and more informal lines of communication. The parents’ association makes a significant contribution to school life and representatives reported high levels of satisfaction with the current educational provision and with the range and breadth of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities currently provided. Positive home-school interaction facilitates mutual respect and promotes clarity of understanding with regard to the objectives and purposes of education at primary level. Parental involvement is further enhanced by the active involvement of parents in a wide range of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities such as sailing swimming and football.
Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir is a caring nurturing environment which fosters and promotes excellent pupil behaviour and mutual respect. Pupils are articulate and confident and exhibit high levels of self-esteem. They work contentedly and co-operate willingly with their teachers during all class activities. They are eager to engage in discussion and participate fully in guided and discovery-based learning situations. A praiseworthy interest in and an enthusiasm for learning is cultivated in pupils throughout the school. Teachers consistently model good practice and the school climate positively promotes good behaviour in the interest of general pupil welfare.
A comprehensive range of relevant curricular and organisational policy documents was presented for examination during the course of the whole school evaluation. This process of development with regard to all school planning documentation has been underpinned by collaboration and partnership and all school policy documents are subject to ratification and review. The principal has played a key role in the co-ordination of this process.
All teachers plan appropriately at classroom level, follow appropriate timetables and maintain monthly records in line with departmental guidelines and best practice. Current practices might be further enhanced by the adoption of an agreed common template for individual teacher planning. At whole school planning level there may be a need to refine some existing policy documents in the context of the strands and strand units of the curriculum in order to further develop their relevance with regard to long term planning at individual teacher level. It would also be useful to develop action plans to effectively monitor the implementation of whole school planning documents and to ensure that they impact positively on the work of individual teachers.
Confirmation was provided that, in compliance with Department of Education and Science Primary Circular 0061/2006, the board of management has formally adopted the Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2001). Confirmation was also provided that these child protection procedures have been brought to the attention of management, school staff and parents; that a copy of the procedures has been provided to all staff (including all new staff); and that management has ensured that all staff are familiar with the procedures to be followed. A designated liaison person (DLP) and a deputy DLP have been appointed in line with the requirements of the guidelines.
Sonraítear atmaisféar fabhrach don Ghaeilge i Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir agus moltar iarrachtaí éifeachta na n-oidí ó thaobh mhúineadh na Gaeilge de.
Bunaítear an t-ábhar foghlama sa Ghaeilge ar théamaí a bhaineann le saol agus le taithí na ndaltaí agus baintear úsáid as téacsleabhair éagsúla chun an obair seo a chur chun chinn. Léiríonn formhór na ndaltaí tuiscint oiriúnach ar Ghaeilge bhunúsach. Léann siad go cruinn agus bíonn ábhar agus caighdeán na scríbhneoireachta le moladh. Cuireann na h-oidí uile na ceachtanna Gaeilge i láthair go bríomhar, taitneamhach. Úsáideann siad an Ghaeilge go leanúnach le linn na hoibre agus moltar chomh maith an timpeallacht spreagúil a chothaítear sna ranganna. Moltar, ach go háirithe an béim inmholta a chuirtear ar an gceol traidisiúnta sa scoil. Meastar anois gurb é an dúshlán is mó chun an caighdeán a ardú a thuilleadh ná úsáid teanga ar bhonn cumarsáideach a chur chun cinn go leanúnach.
B’fhiú don fhoireann plean gníomhaíochta a chur le chéile a oireann do riachtanais na scoile seo ó thaobh fhoghlaim na Gaeilge de ina leagfaí amach spriocanna cinnte ó thaobh fhorbairt foclóra agus ó thaobh fhorbairt na cumarsáide, ach go háirithe. B’fhiú réimse leathan de théacsanna suimiúla a chur ar fáil do na daltaí chomh maith chun a suim a spreagadh sa léitheoireacht agus deiseanna breise éisteachta a chur ar fáil do na daltaí uile.
A favourable attitude to Irish exists in Glandore NS and teachers are to be commended for their effective efforts with regard to the teaching of Irish. Lessons presented are based on the lives and experiences of pupils and appropriate textbooks are used to develop these themes. The majority of pupils display appropriate understanding of basic Irish. They read fluently and the subject matter and standard of written work viewed was praiseworthy. Lessons are presented in a lively and pleasant manner. Irish is used consistently during classes and the stimulating learning environments provided are worthy of praise. Especially praiseworthy is the emphasis on traditional music in the school. The challenge for the school now is to raise further the level of communicative language in a consistent and developmental manner.
It would be worthwhile for the staff to develop an action plan with specific objectives regarding the development of vocabulary and communicative ability, especially. It would also be worthwhile to make available to students a broad range of interesting texts in order to develop interest in reading and to provide further opportunities for listening to Irish
Standards of pupil achievement in English are particularly impressive in Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir. Pupils are confident and articulate and exhibit high levels of self-esteem. All aspects of the English curriculum are taught effectively using appropriate methodologies in print rich environments. Oral language development is purposeful, structured and age-appropriate. Thinking and reasoning skills are developed incrementally throughout the classes by purposeful and considered questioning techniques. Pupils read fluently from a wide variety of reading material. Written work, across a variety of genres, is of a high standard with regard to content and presentation. Standardised tests indicate above average levels of achievement in literacy.
In the context of Mathematics, the observed interactions were impressive. Intellectual progression was appropriate to the level and age of pupils and classes were presented in ways that related meaningfully with pupils’ experiences. Basic number concepts were linked to the environment and to the experiences of pupils and were promoted consistently and systematically. Resources in support of mathematics education were chosen for their relevance and classes were fun as well as instructive. Active participation by students was supported by excellent teacher skills in explanation and instruction and pupils learned by ‘doing’ in the majority of instances.
The language of Mathematics, the development of concepts and skills, mental Mathematics and problem solving are afforded appropriate emphasis in the school. This work was carefully structured and consolidation and revision of topics previously taught was apparent at all class levels.
Pupils’ written work demonstrated appropriate levels of achievement and general competence was impressive. Results of standardised tests indicate impressive levels of mathematical achievement in many instances. Assessment was used to inform planning at class level and to differentiate learning when appropriate.
Suitable outdoor facilities allow for the provision of a broad and balanced Physical Education curriculum when weather permits. Indoor facilities do not currently exist.
Physical education classes observed during the course of the evaluation were structured and purposeful. An appropriate range of warm-up and cool-down routines were used and there was a clear focus on the purposeful development of specific skills. Appropriate equipment was available in support of learning objectives and there was a clear emphasis on exploring physical activities through guided discovery. Pupils demonstrate a positive attitude to Physical Education and the level of pupil engagement and achievement was age-appropriate. All strands of the physical education curriculum are covered and swimming instruction is provided during school hours in a heated indoor facility in nearby Rosscarbery.
All classes allowed for task differentiation by ability and boys and girls participate equally in a broad and balanced curriculum.
A range of assessment practices takes place in Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir. The focus of the assessment is both diagnostic and preventative. Results when analysed are used to inform teaching and learning. Following initial teacher-based screening, diagnostic tests are used to identify children in need of supplementary teaching and suitable programmes of intervention are planned, implemented and reviewed.
The results of standardised tests are carefully collated and discussed at whole school level. Assessment practices impact positively on teaching and learning and parents are informed of their children’s progress in the key areas of literacy and numeracy.
Pupils with special educational needs are supported purposefully in Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir in accordance with departmental Circular 02/05 with regard to early identification and early intervention strategies. The board, principal and staff acknowledge and accept their duty of care and within the parameters and constraints of special education needs provision and local clustering arrangements every effort is made to provide effective support where required. Currently, eleven and a half hours supplementary teaching time has been allocated to the school under the general allocation model in the context of local clustering agreements. Four additional hours resource teaching is also provided.
Advice was given with regard to the need to review clustering arrangements in the context of changing enrolment patterns within partner schools.
The school fully supports the principle of inclusion and endeavours to allow every child reach his or her maximum potential through a wide variety of intervention practices and procedures. A combination of methods including individual or group withdrawal or in-class support, where appropriate, is effectively used in the context of supplementary teaching.
The planning of intervention programmes by teachers is undertaken collaboratively in line with best practice. All teachers maintain a detailed profile for each of the children in receipt of support. This profile includes the pupil’s learning strengths, the results of standardised and diagnostic tests, areas for development as well as other relevant information. Meticulous records are maintained and carefully stored. Parents of children with special educational needs are consulted in the drafting of individual education plans and regularly informed of their childrens’ progress.
The population of Scoil Náisiúnta Chuan Doir included no minority or disadvantaged groups at the time of the evaluation.
The school has strengths in the following areas:
The following key recommendations are made in order to further improve the quality of education provided by the school:
· With regard to provision for pupils with special educational needs it is recommended that local clustering arrangements be reviewed at the end of the school year, and annually thereafter, to reflect changing enrolment patterns in the respective partner schools.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and the board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Published, October 2009
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1 Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board of Management and staff of Glandore N.S. Wish to acknowledge the professional approach of the inspector during the whole school evaluation process, and the manner in which he interacted with both staff and pupils in our school. The Board welcomes the affirmative and Constructive nature of the report.
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 is currently addressing the recommendations made.