An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Naisiúnta na gCoillíní

Meelick, County Mayo

Uimhir rolla:  02912G

 

Date of inspection: 10 March 2009

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils

Conclusion

School response to the report

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of SN na gCoillíní was undertaken in March 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 Drama. 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.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

SN na gCoillíní is a rural school located five kilometres from Swinford. It caters for boys and girls from infants to sixth class. Enrolment trends are steady. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Achonry. The school’s last evaluation was carried out in 1999.

 

The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:

 

 

Number

Pupils enrolled in the school

93

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

6

Mainstream class teachers

4

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

1

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The school’s mission statement is published in the school plan and displayed in the staff room and corridor of the school. The school recognises its overall responsibility to ‘foster the growth of the whole child in a secure and nurturing environment’. The school has a welcoming and respectful atmosphere. The positive school climate nurtures self-confidence among the pupils. It promotes respectful and caring relationships throughout the school.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is very effective. It meets on a regular basis, usually twice termly. Members of the board have clear roles and responsibilities. They work towards the common goal of providing appropriate material resources for the pupils of the school. The board has engaged in significant development of the school over the past number of years. It has a maintenance plan for upgrading facilities in the school. The chairperson takes a personal interest in the school and visits regularly. He ensures the board’s involvement in the development and ratification of school plans and policies. 

 


1.3 In-school management

The principal is effective in her day-to-day running of the school. She has established very good working relationships with her staff. Regular staff meetings are organised to facilitate staff discussion. She maintains positive contact with the parent body and is very supportive of the work of the new parents’ association.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

There is very effective communication with the school community. Contact with parents is maintained informally through use of pupils’ homework diaries, through meeting parents at the school gate and through the annual ‘Oíche Cheoil’. Formal communication with parents includes annual parent-teacher meetings and an end-of-year school report. Parents of infant pupils also receive regular notification regarding aspects of the curriculum with suggestions as to how they can support their child’s learning. Pupils participate in many community events including the St. Patrick’s Day parade, National Spring Clean, a Christmas carol service and many sporting events.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

Pupils are friendly and respectful in their interactions. They engage enthusiastically with all class activities and adhere to classroom and school rules. They work appropriately in a range of learning settings and are adequately supervised at all times.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is good. The principal and staff have prepared plans and policies that are relevant to the context of the school. There is consultation with staff to ensure that plans reflect the current practice in the school. Many of these plans have been reviewed in recent months. Parents discuss draft policies at their parents’ association meetings before the drafts are discussed and ratified by the board of management. This practice is highly commended. The school planning process can be further advanced through regular whole-school review, action planning and the use of a planning diary.

 

The quality of classroom planning is good. Teachers prepare long-term and short-term plans of work for each class. A whole-school approach to short-term planning has been devised and proves effective. These plans document the content to be taught, the methodologies and resources to be used, the opportunities for linkage and integration and approaches to differentiation of work. However, differentiation of learning objectives and activities for individual pupils should be noted. Each teacher submits a progress report to the principal at the end of each month. These reports are kept in the office in accordance with Department rules.

 

2.2 Child protection policy and procedures

 

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.

 

 

3.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

3.1 Language

Gaeilge

Tá caighdeán na Gaeilge an-mhaith. Úsáidtear an Ghaeilge go torthúil mar theanga bhainistíochta an ranga. Dá bhrí sin, tá dearcadh dearfach ag na daltaí i leith na Gaeilge, tá suim acu sa Ghaeilge agus bíonn siad páirteach i gcónaí sna gníomhaíochtaí uile. Eagraítear gníomhaíochtaí éisteachta go rialta. Tá tuiscint na ndaltaí go han-mhaith de thoradh sin. Baintear feidhm as réimse leathan de mhodhanna múinte chun na daltaí a spreagadh chun cainte, obair bheirte san áireamh. Tá stór leathan focal ag na daltaí i ngach rang. Sonraítear an-saibhreas teanga. Ó na meánranganna ar aghaidh tá na daltaí in ann caint go leanúnach ar théamaí éagsúla. Tá siad in ann ceisteanna a chur go héifeachtach. Is inmholta an cleachtas atá ar siúl i seomraí áirithe ina dhírítear aird ar nuacht na ndaltaí gach maidin. Tá comórtas ‘Gaeilgeoir na Seachtaine’ i bhfeidhm sna hardranganna, rud a chuidíonn go mór le húsáid na Gaeilge i measc na ndaltaí. Moltar obair bhreise a dhéanamh ar bhriathra na Gaeilge agus cosc a chur ar mhodh an aistriúcháin. 

 

Tá léitheoireacht Ghaeilge múinte go han-éifeachtach. Cé go bhfuil téacsleabhar in úsáid, is iomaí leabhar leabharlainne atá ar fáil freisin. Baineann na daltaí taitneamh agus tairbhe as na leabhair seo. Léann gach múinteoir scéalta do na daltaí go rialta as leabhair mhóra, cleachtas an-éifeachtúil chun suim sa léitheoireacht a chur chun cinn. Moltar mion-cheachtanna a bhunú ar fhoghraíocht na Gaeilge agus ar bhotúin choitianta na ndaltaí chun an léitheoireacht a fhorbairt sa bhreis.

 

Tá caighdeán na scríbhneoireachta go maith. Bíonn deiseanna rialta ag na daltaí scríbhneoireacht a dhéanamh. Ó na meánranganna ar aghaidh dírítear aird inmholta ar phróiséas na scríbhneoireachta. Foilsítear obair na ndaltaí i leabhair bheaga. Úsáidtear na ríomhairí go rialta chun leabhair ranga a chur le chéile. Moltar saorscríbhneoireacht a chur chun cinn. Tá an-bhéim sa scoil seo ar chultúr na hÉireann. Bíonn an ceol traidisiúnta le foghlaim ag gach dalta. Tá banna ceoil na scoile an-tábhachtach d’ocáidí scoile agus pobail.

 

Irish

The standard of teaching in Irish is very good. Irish is used fruitfully as the language of the classroom. As a result, pupils have a positive attitude to Irish, they are interested in it and they always participate in all activities. Listening activities are organised on a regular basis. This results in pupils’ understanding being very good. A wide range of methodologies is used to motivate the pupils to speak, including pair work in particular. Pupils in all classes have a wide vocabulary. A rich vocabulary was evident. From the middle standards pupils are able to speak at length about different topics. They can ask questions effectively. The practice of getting pupils to speak about their news each morning is exemplary. An ‘Irish speaker of the Week’ competition is hosted in the senior classes, which greatly helps to promote the informal use of Irish among the pupils. It is recommended that additional work be done on the teaching of Irish verbs and that translation be avoided in lessons.

 

Irish reading is taught very effectively. While a class reader is used, there are also many Irish library books available. Pupils greatly enjoy and benefit from these books. All teachers read stories regularly to their pupils from big books, a practice which is very effective in stimulating interest in reading. It is recommended that mini-lessons regarding pronunciation and common errors be organised to further develop reading.

 

The standard of writing is good. Pupils have regular opportunities to write. From the middle standards onward teachers promote the writing process in an exemplary way. Pupils publish their work in little books. Computers are used regularly to put class books together. It is recommended that free writing be promoted. There is a very strong emphasis on Irish culture in the school. All pupils learn traditional music. The school band is central to school and community celebrations.

 

English

The teaching of English is carried out in a proficient manner with pupils achieving very good standards. An appropriate emphasis is placed on oral-language development. Pupils are able to ask and answer questions and to express their thoughts and feelings effectively. Teachers use pair work productively to ensure all pupils are engaged in oral activities, although a greater emphasis should be placed on vocabulary development. An effective language-experience approach is used competently in the infant class. Pupils in all classes can recite a repertoire of poems.

The variety of methodologies used to teach reading and to sustain interest in reading is highly commendable. Pupils engage in a shared-reading programme with their parents. They also participate in a ‘buddy-reading’ system. Pupils’ phonological skills are developed in a structured manner and a broad emergent-reading plan is implemented. Very good use is made of large-format books in junior and middle classes. Pupils can read fluently. Older pupils respond well to a range of class novels, which are used effectively to complement the use of formal reading schemes.

The quality of pupils’ writing is very good. Pupils are encouraged to produce assignments where both creative and functional writing are presented. However, each genre of writing could be further developed to ensure the conventions of each style are acquired by the pupils. In the junior classes the teacher acts as scribe for the pupils. Opportunities for pupils to draft and edit their writing are facilitated by the use of computers. All classes produce a number of class books where pupils experience the writing process. This practice is highly commended. Middle and senior pupils also produce good-quality projects and newsletters as part of this process. Phonics and spellings are developed across the school. The use of dictation is particularly praiseworthy. It is recommended that the school’s approach to handwriting be reviewed to ensure that all pupils have achieved an individual, cursive style before the end of sixth class.

3.2 Mathematics

The teaching of Mathematics is effective. All teachers use concrete materials for the teaching of new concepts. Pupils enjoy mathematical engagement and discovery. Many teachers use pair work to ensure the language of Mathematics is used regularly by pupils. All classrooms have a Mathematics-rich environment, which supports learning. Games are used advantageously to stimulate interest and as a means of reviewing mental Mathematics. An appropriate emphasis is placed on solving mathematical problems, although clearer links could be made with pupils’ lives and experiences.

 

 

 

3.3 Drama

Drama is effectively taught throughout the school as a discrete subject and as a methodology in other curricular areas.  Pupils are provided with suitable opportunities to explore and make drama, reflect on drama and co-operate and communicate in making drama. The elements of Drama are developed consistently by a majority of teachers. The content is appropriate to the class level and full participation is both encouraged and facilitated. A range of strategies and activities is used effectively. A majority of pupils can work successfully in role and are confident in their roles. They also show good use of space and objects. It is recommended that teachers ensure the prerequisites for making drama: content, fictional lens and safe environment are used in each lesson to ensure all pupils enter fully into the dramatic activities.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

The quality of assessment is good. A range of assessment strategies is used to track pupil attainment, including commercially produced assessments, work samples, teacher-designed tests and teacher observation. Standardised testing is carried out on an annual basis for English and Mathematics, bi-annually for pupils attending support classes. Suitable diagnostic tests are administered to pupils experiencing learning difficulties. Early-screening assessments ensure pupils with difficulties in early-literacy skills are supported. To further develop assessment in the school it is recommended that teachers use the results of tests to inform their teaching, particularly to form a basis for differentiation of work for individual pupils. It is further recommended that the staff explore strategies for documenting their observations across all subject areas.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

The quality of supports for pupils is very good. A collaborative approach to this area is in evidence among the principal, mainstream-class teachers and support teachers. All teachers follow the staged approach in accordance with Department Circular 02/05. Pupils are withdrawn, individually or in groups, for their supplementary support. The special-needs team members approach their work in a professional manner and have developed positive working relations with the pupils in their care and with the parents of these pupils. They develop individual plans for each pupil or group of pupils and copies of these plans are given to parents. A wide range of diagnostic assessments is used to ascertain pupils’ priority learning needs. A range of effective teaching strategies is implemented. The learning environment in the support settings is well organised and attractively decorated with visual aids and pupils’ work.

 

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

There are no pupils of the Traveller community enrolled in the school at present. Nor are there any pupils with English as an additional language. The school’s ethos promotes respectful interactions among all members of the school community. School personnel maintain regular attendance records. They report as necessary to the National Education Welfare Board.

 

 

 

 

5.     Conclusion

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:

 

 

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

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report

 

 

The Board of Management wishes to thank our local inspector for the courteous, thorough and professional manner in which she conducted the W.S.E.

 

It endorses and appreciates her affirmation of existing good practice in the school, as reflected in the high standard of leadership, planning, teaching and learning.

 

 

 

 

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 Recommendations outlined in the report will be implemented as from September’09