An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Croagh N.S.

Croagh, Co. Limerick

Roll number: 02007A

 

Date of inspection:  23 November 2006

  Date of issue of report:  26 April  2007

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

1.     Introduction – school context and background

2.     Quality of school management

2.1 Board of management

2.2 In-school management

2.3 Management of resources

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

2.5 Management of pupils

3.     Quality of school planning

3.1 School planning process and implementation

3.2 Classroom planning

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

English

4.3 Mathematics

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

History

Geography

Science

4.5 Arts Education

Visual Arts

Music

Drama

4.6 Physical Education

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

4.8 Assessment

5.     Quality of support for pupils

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

5.2 Other supports for pupils: disadvantaged, minority and other groups

6.    Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Croagh N.S. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspectors held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. They interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.

 

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

Croagh N.S. is situated in the village of Croagh beside the Catholic Church. This is a co-educational school under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray. The school was established in 1961 and it largely serves the parish of Croagh. A small minority of pupils from neighbouring parishes also attends. The school currently has a staff of five permanent teachers consisting of three class teachers, a learning support teacher and a resource teacher for pupils with special educational needs. A second resource teacher is based in a neighbouring school and attends for three hours a week. The current enrolment of eighty four children will entitle the board of management to appoint a fourth mainstream teacher in September 2007. It is projected that the enrolment will increase in the short term which should allow scope for the retention of the third assistant teacher. A small number of foreign national pupils also attend the school and they receive language support from the learning support teacher. In the recent past, significant staff turnover has occurred, the current principal and deputy principal having been appointed to their positions in September 2006. In addition, the third mainstream teacher and a resource teacher, based in a neighbouring school, have also assumed their responsibilities in this school during the current school year. The very good levels of attendance attained by the majority of pupils are carefully monitored in accordance with the Education Welfare Board (EWB) guidelines.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted in accordance with section 14 of the Education Act (1998). It meets at least once a term and more frequently should the need arise. Minutes of meetings and detailed financial accounts are maintained, the treasurer submitting a financial statement at each meeting. It is obvious that the board has a commendable sense of pride in the school and that all maintenance grants are used to good effect. It is recommended that the board would, in the future, arrange for an annual audit of its accounts, as required by Section 18 of the Education Act (1998).

 

The chairperson of the board visits the school on a regular basis and he ensures that he is thoroughly acquainted with staff members, pupils and the administration of the school in general.   It is commendable that three members of the board have availed of training for board of management members.  The value of ensuring that all members of the board might avail of such training at this point was pointed out to the board of management. The board fulfils its responsibility to ensure that the organisation of the school in matters such as the length of the school year and school day complies with Department of Education and Science regulations and circulars. Policies in relation to enrolment, code of behaviour, health and safety, anti-bullying and attendance are in place. There is a need, however, for the board to now become more actively engaged in the drafting of policies particularly in organisational areas. It is therefore recommended that the board review and update existing policies ensuring that they are ratified, have a stated future review date and are signed by the chairperson.

 

2.2 In-school management

The in-school management team consists of the principal, deputy principal and one special duties post holder. The recently appointed principal displays a clear vision for the school which focuses on the provision of optimal learning experiences for all of the pupils. She demonstrates strong leadership qualities and communicates well with all staff members. She manages the day to day functioning of the school in an effective manner. It is noted that  the principal has not had the opportunity to date of availing of professional development which would focus on the leadership and management aspects of her new role. Therefore it is recommended that the board would facilitate her in this respect  when an appropriate opportunity arises.  

 

Members of the in-school management team have been assigned a number of responsibilities which focus on administrative and organisational areas. Regular informal meetings are held between the principal and the post holders. It is recommended that these duties be reviewed periodically and that clearly identified school priorities, particularly in the development of curriculum areas, would be taken into consideration in this ongoing review of responsibilities. It is evident that all of the post holders are diligent and conscientious in their work. They report that they are ably assisted by the other teachers, staff members and by the board. Staff meetings are held once a term and organisational and curricular areas are addressed.  It is reported that these meetings contribute to the effective management of the school and the curriculum. It is recommended that these meetings should now be organised in a more formal basis by the circulation of agenda prior to the meeting and by the recording of decisions taken.

 

2.3 Management of resources

It is reported that a good relationship exists between the teaching staff, support staff and the board. This contributes greatly towards the positive school climate which exists in the school. Teachers report that the board is supportive of the purchasing of identified teaching resources and of  the continued professional development of staff. In the light of the imminent appointment of an additional member of staff, it might now be opportune to give consideration to the more regular rotation of staff and teaching duties.

 

A secretary, a special needs assistant and a caretaker are employed by the board and it is evident that they perform their duties diligently thereby contributing to the effective running of the school. A music tutor contributes effectively to the provision of a broad musical experience to the children from first to sixth class. Similarly,  the teaching of gaelic games is underpinned by the support of a GAA coach who visits the school once a week during the summer term. Since this teaching is supplementing the school’s curriculum as outlined in the school plan, the board should be cognisant of the necessity of ensuring that the payment of external tutors is not by direct levy on the pupils and that a teacher is present at all times during these instruction periods.  

 

The school building comprises of three classrooms and a small general purposes room. A converted cloakroom serves the needs of the learning support teacher and the utility area is used by the resource teacher. The second resource teacher, who attends for three hours a week, works from the general purposes room. The board is to be commended for its attention to the painting and maintenance of the internal and external facilities. Windows have recently been replaced and the pupils are provided with a suitable play area at the front of the school. However, the scope and dimensions of the present classroom accommodation are inadequate to support the present and future staffing of the school and also to support the implementation of a full curriculum. Accordingly the board has submitted an  application under the Department of Education and Sciences’ devolved scheme for the provision of an additional classroom, a general purposes room and for the provision of suitable accommodation for the principal and the special educational needs team. It has also applied under the Summer Works Scheme for the modernisation of the toilet facilities for staff and pupils.

 

The classrooms are very well equipped with high quality learning resources and all teachers give commendable attention to the display of pupils’ work and to the provision of visual stimuli to support and enhance pupil learning. Libraries in each of the classrooms are well stocked with a range of reference material and books which are at an appropriate reading level for the pupils. Teachers effectively use a variety of commercial and teacher-generated educational resources to enhance teaching and learning.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The parents’ association is well established and is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council. It meets four times a year. It is concerned primarily with the raising of funds to assist in the purchase of teacher identified resources. The purchase of particularly appropriate reading material, which is widely used in the school, is an excellent example of a very supportive outcome of the work of the parents in this regard. The parents also support the work of the school by assisting in supervisory duties on school outings. The parents’ association communicates with the school through the principal and the parents’ representatives on the board who also attend scheduled parent association meetings from time to time.

 

Parents report satisfaction with the willingness of the principal and the staff of the school to deal with parental concerns. They also report satisfaction with the education their children receive and in particular with the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs into the daily life of the school. Parents were consulted in relation to the drafting of a policy in the area of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) and healthy lunches. It would appear, however, that parents  are not active in the formulation of the broader range of school policy. The board should now consider strategies to increase the participation of parents in the school planning process. The availability of training for members of the executive of the association and for the broader parent body, was discussed.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

The promotion of a positive school climate is reflected in the behaviour of the pupils who presented as being courteous and respectful at all times during the evaluation. The children were observed as working co-operatively with each other, as being respectful towards their teachers and as displaying a pride in their school and their community. A code of behaviour which is successfully implemented throughout the school is circulated to all parents on enrolment of their child into the school. The issue of supervision of pupils at assembly and dismissal times and of the supervision of infants who remain in the school after two o’clock was discussed with the board. The board was advised to review its present arrangements.

 

 

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

 

3.1   School planning process and implementation

The school plan is neatly presented and is accessible to parents on request. Curriculum plans in the areas of English, Irish, Mathematics, Visual Arts, and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), including RSE, show evidence of staff collaboration. The fact that advice has been sought from support personnel from the School Development Planning (SDP) and Primary Curriculum Support Personnel (PCSP) is to be commended. The practice of meeting with similar sized schools when addressing planning issues also deserves commendation. Whole school plans  in the areas of the Visual Arts and Mathematics are of a particularly high standard and relate to learning objectives, content, methodologies, agreed strategies, assessment, resources and review dates. It is recommended that these particular elements might now form the main aspects of  a template which would inform all whole school planning in the future. Priority should be given immediately to agreeing whole school policies in the areas of music, social environmental and scientific education, physical education and drama.

 

The school plan includes a number of organisational policies, some of which include evidence that they have been ratified by the board and dates for future review This good practice should now be extended to all whole school policy-making.  There is a need to review and amend some of the existing policies, particularly those regarding supervision, administration of medicines and learning support in light of circular 02/05. In regard to general communication with the parent body of the school, it is very praiseworthy that the content of some of these policies is communicated through the means of a school booklet which is well presented and informative.  Future initiatives might include the development of this booklet to include strategies which would outline for parents practical means of supporting their children’s education. 

 

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, 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 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 Classroom planning

All teachers in the school prepare good long-term and short-term planning. The format of this planning varies from teacher to teacher but in general, learning objectives are clearly stated, methodologies are outlined, resources are identified and assessment of progress is addressed.  Overall, the strand and strand units are referenced in each curricular area, thereby ensuring the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum to the pupils. It is recommended that teaching staff would now consider the formulation of an agreed planning template which would be drawn from the variety of current good practice of individual teachers and which would include methods of differentiating the curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties. Monthly reports, which focus on the content covered by each class, are also completed and filed. Teachers are to be commended on the good practice of continually assessing the learning of the pupils and of recording results. This assists greatly in the formulation of school progress reports and in the identification of pupils who may be experiencing difficulties.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

The quality of learning and teaching varies between being good and very good throughout the school. The lessons observed were well structured, sufficiently challenging and generally appropriate for the age and abilities of the pupils. Activity and discovery methods are used at all class levels and pupils have opportunities to talk and discuss and to use concrete materials. Samples of the children’s artistic work, project work and writing are displayed to good effect in the classrooms. A policy for greater and expanded use of information technology as a methodology for extending teaching and learning in the school might now be considered.

Whole class teaching and group teaching are the predominant methodologies in use in the school as a whole. Imaginative play approaches are used at a whole class level in the early years.  However, more widespread use of structured learning approaches and group teaching in the infant classes would ensure that the problem-solving and thinking skills of the pupils of this age group could be developed more effectively and in an age-appropriate manner.  The teacher’s role should be to interact with individual children and groups of children, contributing to the particular activity, supporting it with collaborative talk and challenging the children appropriately. Teachers provide pupils with constructive advice, support and feedback in respect of their learning. Teachers are to be commended on the manner in which they continually assess pupils learning and provide individual attention to pupils who are experiencing difficulties. Standards of achievement in the areas of Mathematics, English, Gaeilge and Visual Arts are for the most part of a very high standard but some attention needs to be focused on skills development in the areas of Social, Environmental and Scientific Education(SESE).

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá árd-chaighdéan ag na daltatí sa Ghaeilge. Tá sé soiléir ón teagasc sna ranganna go bhfuil tuiscint mhaith ag na hoidí ar bhunphrionsabal an churaclaim. Úsáideann siad an Ghaeilge ar bhonn neamhfhoirmiúil go rialta i rith an lae. Leagtar béim ar an gcumarsáid agus ar úsáid na teanga mar ghnáththeanga bheo.Cuireann siad na ceachtanna i láthair go hanamúil agus faigheann siad comhoibriú oiriúnach ó na daltaí. Úsáideann siad ábhar oiriúnach d’aois agus do spéis na ndaltaí. Oileann siad na daltaí chun ceisteanna a chur ar a chéile agus díríonn siad aire ar struchtúr na teanga ionas go sroicheann na páistí dea-chaighdeán líofachta agus cruinnis. Baintear dea-úsáid as cluichí, rainn, obair bheirte, amhráin agus as acmhainní oiriúnacha chun cumas cainte na bpáistí sa teanga labhartha a fhorbairt. Tá cnuasach leathan rann, filíochta agus amhránaíochta ar eolas ag na daltaí tríd an scoil.Úsáideann siad téipeanna agus fís chun scileanna éisteachta a chothú agus déanann siad cheangal oiriúnach idir an chomhrá, an léitheoireacht agus an scríbhneoireacht. Dírítear aird ar chruinneas sa léitheoireacht Ghaeilge. Léann na daltaí go cruinn agus go líofa. Léiríonn siad a dtuiscint ar an ábhar léitheoireachta trí cheisteanna a fhreagairt ó bhéal. Tá eolas maith ag na daltaí ar an bhfóneolaíocht freisin agus cabhraíonn sin leis an léitheoireacht. Forbraítear na scileanna scríbhneoireachta go cúramach agus tá na daltaí sna h-ardranganna ábalta aistí beaga suimiúla a scríobh.  Baintear dea-úsáid as prionta sa timpeallacht i ngach seomra ranga. Déantar monatóireacht mhaith ar obair na ndaltaí freisin. Moltar anois, úsáid a bhaint as fíorleabhair agus úrscéalta agus roinnt leabhair as Gaeilge a chur sa leabharlann.

 

Irish

Pupil achievement in Irish is of a very high standard. It is evident from in class teaching that the  teachers possess a good understanding of the principles of the Irish curriculum. They use Irish informally throughout the day on a regular basis.. Emphasis is placed on conversational Irish and on its use as a living language. Lessons are interesting and pupil co-operation is good. Lessons taught are suitable to the age range and interest level of the pupils. Pupils are taught to ask questions of each other and attention is paid to the structure of the language enabling the pupils to attain high standards of fluency and accuracy. Excellent use is made of games, rhymes, paired work, songs and resources to develop the oral language of the pupils. Pupils throughout the school have a wide range of rhymes, poems and songs. Tapes and videos are utilised to develop the listening skills of the pupils and suitable integration is made between oral language, reading and writing. Attention is paid to accuracy in Irish reading. The pupils read accurately and fluently. They display their understanding of the content of the reading exercise by their ability to orally answer questions. They also have a good understanding of phonics and this assists them with their reading. Writing skills are carefully developed and the pupils in the senior classes are able to write simple interesting essays. Excellent use of print is made in each of the classrooms. There is good monitoring of pupils’ work. It is recommended now, that real book and novels are used and that a variety of books in Irish be placed in the library. 

 

English

The quality of teaching and learning in English is of a high standard. Lessons observed engaged the pupils appropriately. Oral language is very well developed and a range of very suitable strategies is utilised to enable pupils to express their thoughts using a wide and well developed vocabulary. Pupils are given opportunities to explore and express reactions to poetry, fiction and to learn and recite poems and rhymes. Pupils in the senior classes engage enthusiastically in debates on topic of relevance to their lives and this results in their ability to justify a point of view.  Teachers are to be commended for the manner in which oral language is integrated into all areas of the curriculum and school life.

 

A good foundation for the teaching of reading is established in the junior classes through the effective use of big books, teacher-made resources and illustrative materials. However, in keeping with the recommendations of the curriculum, there is a need to delay the introduction of formal reading approaches to ensure a broad and solid language foundation in the infant classes.  Reading skills are systematically developed in all classes. Pupils are assisted to acquire these skills through a range of approaches including phonemic awareness, word identification strategies and the extension of pupils’ sight vocabulary. Pupils are encouraged from an early age to read for pleasure and for information. Good use is made of extension readers in particular. There is a  need however  to engage pupils more actively in the junior classes in paired and group work during the English lesson. Whereas writing skills are conscientiously and carefully developed in English lessons, there is a need to reconsider the current English plan with a view to ensuring a more structured approach to the writing process throughout the school. Class work is presented very neatly and is consistently monitored by the teachers. Samples of children’s completed work in a range of genres are displayed attractively. When the proposed review of the English Plan is undertaken, it is recommended that particular attention be focused on the development of the emotional and imaginative strand unit.

 

4.3 Mathematics

The teaching of Mathematics is informed by a good school plan and is characterised by a consistent approach to mathematical operations. Evidence from long-term planning and monthly reports suggests that all strand units are appropriately addressed. Good efforts are made by the teachers to provide a mathematics rich environment. Mathematical concepts are well taught in the junior classes and are developed competently throughout the school. The effective use of concrete materials by the pupils assists them in acquiring these concepts. Good use is made of the environment, particularly in the areas of measures and weights and it is recommended that this methodology be further extended to all strand units. Pupils display a good knowledge of mathematical terms and they use mathematical language effectively and accurately. They apply themselves well to problem solving. They have acquired a proficiency in fundamental mathematical skills and in recalling facts, definitions and formulae. A good standard of presentation of written work is in evidence in all classes. Teachers assess the progress of the pupils in each of the strand units through the use of commercial and teacher designed tests. Results are carefully recorded to assist in the completion of end of year reports. It is recommended that these results be further utilised to enable the teachers to differentiate the curriculum for pupils who may be experiencing difficulties in Mathematics.  

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

History is well developed throughout the school and is effectively integrated with other subjects especially the visual arts. The pupils display a good knowledge of historical facts and an ability to place historical events in chronological order. The strands of story and early peoples and ancient societies are explored to good effect and pupils are knowledgeable in recalling factors which influenced the lives of peoples in ancient times. Pupil’s curiosity is raised through the good use of question and answer sessions and through class discussion. There is evidence of local history being developed in the middle standards and it is recommended that this practice be utilised more extensively in all classes. There is also a need to draft a whole school policy in this area.

 

Geography

All three stands of the geography curriculum are well developed. Pupils are familiar with their own locality and its geographical position in relation to the county, province and country. Lessons observed required pupils to draw on their knowledge of human environments and to justify decisions made in relation to the planning of a town. Pupils also display a familiarity with map reading and are impressive in their knowledge of the atlas and the globe. Pupils in the middle and senior classes display a good knowledge of the natural and physical features of Ireland. Good project work was also observed in the majority of classes. There is a need however to develop a whole school policy in this area and to focus on the development of field work and on geographical investigation skills.

 

Science

Pupils achievement in the area of science is at a satisfactory level. They possess an understanding of living things, particularly the human body, are aware of their environment and are knowledgeable in relation to its care. Pupils in the infant classes are familiar with local flora and the setting of bulbs and seeds in all classes allows pupils to observe growth and change. The school is well resourced with a variety of scientific equipment in the area of energy and forces and materials. There is a need however, in the teaching of science, to strike a balance between knowledge , activity and discussion. It is recommended that the staff devise a whole school plan in science which reflects an emphasis on skills development, working scientifically, designing and making and which facilitates hands-on learning and investigations. The provision of an investigation table in each classroom is also recommended.

 

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

A good visual arts plan informs the teaching in this area. There is a good balance struck between two dimensional and three dimensional art and it is evident that all strands, including looking and responding, are well addressed. Pupils’ art is displayed effectively in the classrooms. Lessons are well structured. Care is taken to stimulate the pupils to adopt a creative and imaginative approach to the creation of displays and constructions which reflect their individual interpretations of the task set. Integration with other curriculum areas informs the classes. There is good evidence of pupils working co-operatively, designing their own constructions, and there is appropriate progression from class to class.

 

Music

The pupils receive a creditable musical education in this school. Aspects of music literacy including notation, rhythm, beat, pitch and interval training are explored. The pupils sing well in all classes and engage enthusiastically in the activities provided for them. Pupils can perform music, from memory and from notation, using an impressive variety of musical instruments. Musical elements are well developed and pupils are exposed to compositions from different cultures and periods. It is recommended that the school devise a school plan for music which incorporates present good practice and which further develops the listening and responding strand.

 

Drama

All teachers’ timetables include a discrete time allocated to the teaching of drama. It is evident that drama is taught to good effect and is well integrated with other areas of the curriculum. Pupils are encouraged to read prose and poetry expressively. There is evidence of pupils in the senior classes engaging in exploring and making drama. Lessons observed focused on an exploration of feelings and emotions and on the building of a good vocabulary to enable pupils to express themselves and to communicate their feelings and opinions. Teachers facilitated the full participation of pupils and teacher planning indicates that a range of strategies and methodologies is employed to enable pupils to access the full curriculum in this area. It is recommended that, following the implementation period of inservice in this area, a whole school policy be drafted.

 

4.6 Physical Education

Physical education is taught to good effect in this school. Lessons observed were well structured, activity based and pupils derived much pleasure from their participation in the classes. Games feature strongly in the curriculum provided. Pupils are encouraged to engage in community based sports activities and their accomplishments are duly celebrated in the school. Teacher planning indicates that the strands of dance, athletics, and gymnastics are also addressed. There is a need to now attend to the strand outdoor and adventure activities, including swimming. The possibility of parents assisting in enabling the pupils to access these activities was discussed. It is recommended that a whole school plan be devised which ensures that pupils are enabled to access all strands of the physical education curriculum.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

There is a strong sense of community and belonging in the school The atmosphere of the school reflects a commitment to the development and extension of the pupils’ self-esteem and awareness and is supportive of the schools’ mission statement. Pupils’ personal and social development is attended to and values such as respect and co-operation are fostered. A strong sense of mutual respect exists between teachers and children and the pupils are well motivated to learn. The school has a clear code of behaviour and the pupils’ behaviour both inside and outside of the classrooms is a credit to both teachers and pupils. Planning of discrete S.P.H.E lessons in all classes, complements this excellent whole-school approach. All teachers employ participative teaching and learning approaches and lessons planned reflect a balance of all three strands.

 

4.8 Assessment

A range of assessment modes is successfully employed throughout the school. These include teacher observation, careful monitoring of pupils’ written work, teacher and commercially designed tests. Standardised tests in the area of English are administered annually. The information gleaned from these test results might now be utilised more effectively to identify pupils in need of differentiated learning opportunities within the classroom setting. The learning support teacher administers diagnostic tests, including the Belfield Infant Assessment Profile and the Middle Infants Screening Test to ascertain individual children’s strengths and learning difficulties. The results of these are utilised to devise individual education plans (IEP’s) for pupils identified as in need of support. Good records of pupil progress are maintained by individual teachers and these inform the completion of an end-of-year report on each pupil. It is recommended however that this report be communicated to parents. The good practice of maintaining an individual file for each child in receipt of supplementary education is to be commended and staff might now consider extending this good practice to the maintaining of a file on each pupil enrolled in the school. It is also recommended that teachers use assessment information to assist them in differentiating the curriculum for pupils experiencing difficulties. These data might also be utilised to assist teachers in evaluating teaching strategies and in choosing the most appropriate learning experiences for the children in their care. These recommendations should be considered in the drafting of a whole school policy in relation to assessment.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The special educational needs team comprises a learning support teacher and a resource teacher who are on staff in the school and a shared resource teacher based in a neighbouring school. The school mission statement and enrolment policy are supportive of the inclusion of all pupils, regardless of their needs or disabilities, into the school. Structured and comprehensive individual education plans are prepared for each child and good records of their progress are maintained. Teachers are to be commended for this element of their work. There is reported collaboration and consultation among the principal, mainstream class teachers and support teaching staff in the formulation and development of these programmes. It is also reported that liaison with other support personnel, including occupational therapists and speech and language therapists, has been established, as appropriate. Strategies to initiate and foster communication among parents, mainstream class teachers and support personnel should now be put in place to ensure that parental input towards the formulation and review of IEPs is extended. Feedback regarding pupil progress is provided to parents at annual parent-teacher meetings.

 

Overall the quality of teaching is good and is based on identified  pupils’ learning needs. Lessons are well structured and identify a variety of suitable teaching methodologies. Pupils’ progress is continually assessed and standards of pupil achievement are satisfactory. Teachers report that the board provides them with a good supply of teaching and learning resources. It is noted that these pupils do not have ready access to computers and that the range of available software programmes is limited. It is recommended that the provision of suitable  hardware and software be addressed by the board.

 

Pupils are withdrawn for support provision from mainstream classes, both individually and in groups. It is recommended that an integrated model of provision in mainstream class settings, as appropriate, now be considered. It is further recommended that the learning support service be utilised to provide intensive early intervention for pupils with the greatest priority learning needs, in accordance with the terms of the Learning Support Guidelines (DES, 2000) and that the current policy be reviewed in light of the recommendations contained in circular 02/05.

 

5.2 Other supports for pupils: disadvantaged, minority and other groups

The schools’ admissions and enrolment policy, special needs policy and stated mission statement are all supportive of the inclusion of pupils from disadvantaged, minority and other groups. Those pupils presently enrolled are adequately catered for and are assured of equality of access and participation in all areas of the curriculum and school life. The positive school climate facilitates this inclusion to a great extent and the school is to be commended in this regard.

 

 

6.    Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

 

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

 

 

 

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.