An Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna

Department of Education and Skills

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Mhaoilíosa

Knockavilla, Innishannon, County Cork

Uimhir rolla: 04152T

 

Date of inspection: 17 December 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

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Mhaoilíosa was undertaken in December 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, Mathematics and History. 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.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

Scoil Mhaoilíosa is one of four primary schools in the parish of Innishannon. This school has undergone a major programme of refurbishment in the recent past and is now in a position to offer its pupils high quality education in very comfortable surroundings.

 

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

111

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

2

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

This school is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross and has involved parents in a very effective manner to agree a vision statement. This agreed statement emphasises holistic development, mutual respect and the development of a sense of responsibility and confidence among the pupils. The statement clearly articulates the high value placed on partnership with parents and with the local community. The creation of a happy, safe and supportive learning environment is central to school work and diversity is welcome and valued. Regular attendance is actively promoted and attendance levels are very good.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and manages and supports the school in a highly commendable fashion. The board meets regularly and accurate records are maintained. Financial matters are carefully managed and the school accounts are audited. Individual board members take responsibility for particular aspects of management. The board values highly the commitment and dedication of the school staff and sees its role as one of facilitating teachers to provide the best possible education for the pupils.

 

1.3 In-school management

The principal was appointed in 2008 and in the intervening period has provided organisational and instructional leadership of a very high quality. She maintains a keen focus on teaching and learning across the school and strives for high standards across the curriculum. She successfully promotes a collegial atmosphere within the school and has built strong relationships with all the stakeholders. The principal acknowledges the support of the hard-working teaching and ancillary staff in discharging her duties. The deputy principal takes responsibility for a range of agreed duties and supports the principal in a clearly professional manner. Another teacher holds a B post of responsibility and also provides valuable support to the principal in discharging her duties.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The efforts made to build an effective partnership between the school, parents and the community are particularly praiseworthy. The parents’ association has significant involvement in school life and provides invaluable support across a range of activities. This support is much appreciated by the board and by the teachers. In addition to fundraising for building development and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment, the association organises a comprehensive series of events throughout the year. It is also noted that the association has a very meaningful role in the planning process. Parent teacher meetings are normally held in November each year and written reports are issued to parents at the end of the school year.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

During the evaluation pupils’ behaviour was exemplary. They presented as caring and respectful towards the staff and each other and exhibit commendable levels of confidence.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

The quality of whole-school planning is very good. In this regard records of progress in school planning over recent years are a source of significant encouragement. Strategic planning is organised in terms of curriculum, school building and grounds, staff development, extra curricular activities and community involvement. The extensive range of organisational policies ratified by the board includes those required by legislation. The assistance of the Department’s support services has been availed of in drawing up curricular policies to guide curriculum implementation. In recent years policies relating to Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Assessment, data protection and record keeping as well as writing across the curriculum have been developed. Policies relating to Science and Drama have been identified as priorities for future development. 

 

All teachers approach classroom planning in a very conscientious manner. Common approaches have been agreed and the breadth and detail provided in plans indicatives a genuine commitment to curriculum implementation.

 

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

 

English

The standard of teaching and learning in English is very good. A comprehensive whole-school plan indicates that policy in this area has been developed following careful consideration. The plan also focuses profitably on the needs of pupils with literacy deficits.

 

An integrated approach to oral language across the curriculum, as well as a programme of specific oral language activities within the English programme, allows the pupils to discuss a wide range of topics with confidence. Role play and improvisation are used extensively and in general very good emphasis placed on language enrichment. Writing poetry and responding to poetry are also suitably attended to.

 

The promotion of a rich print environment creates a very positive basis for the development of key reading skills at all levels. An important foundation for success in reading is laid in the junior classes where a highly structured approach to the teaching of phonological and phonemic awareness is carefully implemented. Nursery rhymes and work on onset and rime are integral to this work. A well-structured phonics programme is taught and provides pupils with the facility to blend sounds and acquire a good knowledge of syllabication. Reading schemes and class novels are used to good effect and pupils respond to text using a variety of comprehension strategies.

 

There is a very appropriate emphasis on the writing process at all levels and various strategies are used to encourage pupils to write successfully. Pupils write for themselves and for a variety of audiences. Attractive writing centres are used to encourage writing in several classes and senior pupils make excellent use of ICT in drafting and editing their writing and are actively encouraged to publish their work. In this regard they have enjoyed significant success recently in a national competition. The careful monitoring of pupils’ writing is also fruitful aspect of the work.

 

3.2 Mathematics

The standard of teaching and learning in Mathematics throughout the school is very good. The lessons observed were carefully structured and teachers effectively related the material to the pupils’ immediate environment. The language of Mathematics, the systematic use of concrete materials and group-work are emphasised very successfully throughout the school. Attractive maths-rich environments are provided at all class-levels and pupils’ work is carefully recorded and monitored on a whole-school basis. The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as other materials facilitates the internalisation of concepts very commendably. The use of carefully chosen problem-solving techniques was also noted during the evaluation.  

 

3.3 History

The standard of teaching and learning in History at all class levels is very good. Class work is informed by a carefully prepared school plan which in turn accurately reflects the principles of the curriculum. All teachers display a high degree of creativity in the presentation of well-structured lessons and ensure that pupils participate in a very meaningful manner. Very good emphasis is placed on local history, time lines are used effectively while the careful employment of group-work is frequently an attractive feature of the overall process. In this regard historical and investigative skills are fruitfully honed. Cross-curricular project work is purposefully promoted with the assistance of Information and Communication Technology. The promotion of community involvement as well as significant contributions from external experts in the teaching and learning of History greatly enhance the children’s experience in this aspect of curriculum.

The staff are commended for ensuring a judicious blend of text book material with a wide variety of other materials. This approach allows for high quality discussion which is both challenging and thought provoking. Pupil work is recorded and monitored with great care.

  

3.4 Assessment

Assessment practices in SN Mhaoilíosa are very well developed. An attractive range of strategies is used by the teachers to evaluate and inform the learning and teaching process. These strategies include the monitoring of pupils’ written work, folders and project work, regular teacher-designed tests, miscue analysis and check lists. Pupils’ progress is also assessed through the use of diagnostic and standardised tests. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) identifies early literacy difficulties and careful analysis of the results leads to appropriate intervention. The Micra-T and Sigma-T standardised tests are administered annually and the results of these tests are suitably analysed. Teacher collaboration in this area ensures the implementation of highly effective assessment practices throughout the school.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The principal assumes overall responsibility for the implementation of policy in special needs education. This policy clearly outlines roles, responsibilities and procedures established for the identification and selection of pupils for supplementary teaching and the implementation of early intervention programmes. Provision for pupils with special needs is undertaken by two Learning Support / Resource Teachers (one full-time and one shared) who support pupils with low incidence and high incidence disabilities. Two special needs assistants are appropriately deployed and work diligently under the direction of class teachers. Support for pupils in literacy and numeracy is delivered through a combination of withdrawal of pupils and a collaborative teaching model. The teachers’ quality of preparation is exemplary.

 

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

Should educational disadvantage present among any pupils, the principal and staff deal with such matters in a caring and sensitive manner.

 

 

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, June 2010