An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Clochar San Dominic
Uimhir rolla: 05600C
Date of inspection: 22 October 2007
Date of issue of report: 12 March 2008
This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Clochar San Dominic. 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 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.
Clochar San Dominic is a sixteen-teacher co-educational primary school in the parish of Dun Laoghaire under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. The school’s mission is to create a secure, caring environment in which all can live life to the full in a spirit of love and forgiveness, celebrating together the richness of faith. It seeks to enable each child to fulfil his/her potential through the acquisition of spiritual, social and scientific knowledge. The characteristic spirit of the school is based on the Dominican ethos of joy, celebration and caring inclusiveness. The school’s commitment to this ethos is manifest in the understanding, supportive atmosphere throughout the school; in the positive interactions between parents, staff and pupils; in the celebration of all achievements and in the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum.
The school currently benefits from Department of Education and Science initiatives under the School Support Programme. The school has been part of the School Completion Programme since January 2007. The school’s enrolment is currently 192. Enrolments have decreased marginally in recent years and are expected to remain stable over the next number of years. The increasing diversity of enrolment reflects similar changes that have taken place in many parts of Ireland. Almost one fifth of pupils and their parents do not speak English as their first language. The school has a comprehensive attendance policy and attendance is carefully monitored. While overall attendance levels are generally satisfactory, a significant number of pupils are absent for between eleven and twenty days per year. Consideration should be given to devising further strategies for encouraging pupil attendance.
The board of management is properly constituted and board members have availed of training to prepare themselves for their role in managing the school. The chairperson meets regularly with the principal and is a visible and supportive presence. Board members attend school events and links between the board and staff are efficiently maintained. Meetings of the board are convened five times a year and more frequently as warranted. Commonly raised issues include child welfare, health and safety, and maintenance matters. Minutes of meetings are diligently maintained. Finances are certified annually in compliance with section 18(1) of the Education Act 1998. Effective links exist with the whole-school community. The board communicates with parents twice a year through a school newsletter. Posts of responsibility are reviewed in light of the changing needs of the school. The board has been involved in developing and ratifying a number of organisational and administrative policies. Curriculum policies are formulated by the staff. It is recommended that the board ratify, sign and date all curriculum and organisational policies, and actively engage in the systematic review of all policies.
The in-school management team comprises the principal, deputy principal, an acting assistant principal, and five special-duties teachers, two of whom are temporarily appointed to these positions. The principal provides very effective personal and instructional leadership. This ensures the successful creation of a climate characterised by open communication, supportive collaboration and mutual respect. The principal’s vision for the school includes the provision of as many opportunities as possible for pupils to enable them to fulfil their potential. The principal’s duties are discharged in a very caring and professional manner and the instructional leadership role has been particularly successful in supporting the work of newly qualified teachers and in motivating the school community. All school records are carefully maintained. The principal leads and manages the planning process competently and delegates responsibility to staff members effectively.
The principal is ably supported in her role by the in-school management team. Each team member has clearly defined responsibilities consistent with Department guidelines. These duties are carried out diligently. The in-school management team makes an important contribution to the creation of a positive whole-school climate and in supporting other members of staff. Staff meetings are held once a month. An agenda is drawn up in consultation with the staff; team members report on their work and minutes are maintained. Teachers’ expertise is shared at staff meetings and informally throughout the day and the professional development of staff is encouraged. The principal, deputy principal and assistant principal meet on a daily basis and the in-school management team meets formally twice a term. The commitment of the principal, in-school management team and staff to the on-going development of the school is evident from their willingness to meet regularly, both inside and outside school hours, to plan for future organisational and curricular programmes. In the next review of posts of responsibility, it is advised that additional emphasis be placed on curriculum leadership roles and monitoring the implementation and impact of policies throughout the school.
The teaching staff comprises nine mainstream class teachers, one special class teacher, two language support teachers, three Learning Support/Resource Teachers (LS/RT), a part-time resource teacher and the principal. The teaching staff is deployed in accordance with Department guidelines. Teachers are given the opportunity to indicate their class preferences each year and class rotation after two to three years is encouraged. It is recommended that a policy on staff rotation be formulated which documents this good practice and ensures teachers have the opportunity to experience a variety of classes and contexts and a sharing of expertise at different class levels. Four special-needs assistants, a secretary and a caretaker are also employed. The special-needs assistants are deployed appropriately in supporting pupils. Their role is outlined clearly in the school plan and they make a valuable contribution to the inclusion and care of pupils under the guidance of the teachers. The school secretary provides efficient administrative support and greatly assists in the smooth day-to-day running of the school.
The school building is a three storey structure with ten classrooms, five learning support/resource rooms, a general purposes room, a principal’s office, secretary’s office, parents’ room/kitchen, library, a staffroom and staff toilet. Two rooms in the school are used to accommodate a Montessori school run by a local non-profit organisation. The board is cognisant of health and safety issues and takes its maintenance role seriously. The whole-school community is commended on ensuring that the school and its environs are maintained to a very high standard and that a bright attractive environment is provided for pupils and staff. The board and staff are praised for making the premises available outside of school hours. A number of commendable after-school activities, including a homework club, science club, skipping and a school choir are organised by the teachers. The organisers of the homework club and the external tutor for tin whistle are funded by the School Completion Programme. Dunlaoghaire Rathdown After School Fun Through Sports (DRAFTS) organise after-school training in basketball, tag rugby and soccer.
The school has a comprehensive range of resources to support teaching and learning. These include CD players, televisions, a digital camera, musical instruments, science kits and other teaching resources. Resources for each curriculum area are stored centrally. An inventory of resources is given to each teacher and an effectual system is in place for their distribution. The school has a well-stocked central library and individual class libraries. The enhancement of the range of books through the further addition of Irish medium books is advised. Classrooms are bright, attractive and print-rich environments. Samples of pupils’ work are displayed to very good effect along the corridors and in classrooms. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources are available in all classrooms. Data projectors are used successfully to enhance teaching and learning in the senior classes. Consideration should be given to extending the use of the library to incorporate a central ICT area. It is advised that the school’s ICT plan be reviewed to provide clearer guidance at each class level and to ensure the systematic development of pupils’ ICT skills through the school.
The school’s parents’ association is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council, (NPC) primary. The parents’ association meets once a month and meetings are attended by the principal. Parents are supportive of the work of the school and organise a number of fundraising activities. At the pre-evaluation meetings, parents expressed satisfaction with the education provided in the school and the welcome they receive. Regular contact is maintained with parents through the school journal, letters, newsletters and class notice boards. These notice boards provide information for parents on current curricular activity and general information on school activities. Parents are invited to class meetings at the beginning of each school year where they are given an overview of the year ahead by the class teacher and advice on how to support their children in school. Parents are informed of their children’s progress through annual formal parent-teacher meetings and an annual written report. Additional meetings with parents are held on request. Parents have been consulted on a number of policies including the code of discipline and behaviour, home-work and enrolment policies. Parents of new entrants are provided with copies of relevant school policies and all policies are available in the school to all parents.
The overall management of pupils in the school is very good. Pupils are well behaved, motivated and co-operate with teachers and school staff during class activities. Weekly school assemblies, with pupil of the week awards at each class level, contribute to the reinforcement of positive behaviour and to the development of pupils’ self esteem. The consistent implementation of the school’s code of discipline and behaviour supports the management of pupils. Teachers and school staff use praise and affirmation to promote good behaviour and systems to encourage positive behaviour are in place in most classrooms. Pupils’ involvement in school life is encouraged and their sense of responsibility is developed. Pupils from second to sixth classes are part of the Green Schools committee and sixth class pupils assist in monitoring younger pupils during lunch breaks. An atmosphere of mutual respect is cultivated effectively between teachers and pupils and among pupils themselves.
Credible progress has been made in the development of the whole-school plan. The teaching staff plays a key role in formulating curriculum policies. The board of management, the principal, teaching staff and the parents have collaborated in developing some aspects of the school plan. It is recommended that a strategic plan be devised for the continuing development of the school. The school has availed of the services of the School Development Planning Service and Primary Curriculum Support Programme. Responsibilities for the co-ordination of the development of a number of curriculum areas have been assigned to members of the in-school management team. An action plan has identified Gaeilge, Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and the school web site as whole-school planning priorities for the current school year.
The school plan includes a mission statement and a comprehensive range of documents relating to specific organisational and curriculum areas. Organisational and administrative policies include statements and policies on health and safety, enrolment, behaviour, anti-bullying, sexual harassment, special education needs, substance use and the administration of medicines. It is recommended that the code of behaviour be reviewed in line with section 15:2 (d) of the Education Act (1998). The enrolment policy provides for the deferral of pupils with special education needs. It is advised that this policy be reviewed to reflect current inclusive enrolment practice and to ensure compliance with section 15(2) of the Education Act. Statements on equality of access and participation are included in some curriculum policies. It is recommended that a policy on equality of access and participation should now be fully developed in order to comply with the Equal Status Act (2000), the Education Act and relevant enacted legislation.
Policies have been formulated in the majority of curriculum areas. Some curriculum policies give very clear guidance to the individual teachers in relation to long-term and short-term planning. These policies identify an appropriate range of teaching methodologies, record the content objectives to be achieved at each class level, note opportunities to foster linkage and integration of topics, detail a comprehensive range of resources, list suitable assessment strategies and outline how the programmes may be differentiated to cater for the needs of all pupils. This good practice is commended. It is advised that curriculum plans be reviewed on a phased basis to monitor the implementation and impact on continuity and progression of teaching and learning at each class level.
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.
The quality of individual teachers’ planning is good. All teachers undertake long-term and short-term plans of work based on the curriculum and the school plan. A common framework is used for long-term planning and the recording of progress. This good practice is praiseworthy. Some excellent examples of short-term planning, providing clarity and direction of teaching through the use of specific objectives and the identification of learning experiences, are available. Greater attention should be paid to differentiated learning in relation to the development of content and skills in all classes. Individual Education Plans (IEPs) devised by the special education team in collaboration with class teachers and parents are available in all teachers’ folders.
4.1 Overview of learning and teaching
The overall quality of teaching is good. Lessons are well structured and successful examples of whole-class, group and paired work were observed. The efficient use of resources and the active involvement of pupils in their own learning is praiseworthy. This enables pupils to apply themselves in focused activities, to practise newly learnt skills in pairs and to work in effective, collaborative groups. Extension of this worthwhile practice is advised. Pupils’ learning is generally satisfactory. Some good examples of differentiated approaches to cater for the range of pupils’ abilities from the very able pupil to the pupil with special educational needs were observed in a small number of classes.The practices of differentiation, particularly in relation to literacy and numeracy, need continued attention.
Tá tosaíocht á tabhairt ag an bhfoireann do mhúineadh na Gaeilge i mbliana. Chuige seo tá béim á cur acu ar chaighdeán na Gaeilge a fheabhsú sa scoil. Is léir go bhfuil dearcadh dearfach ag an bhfoireann scoile i leith na Gaeilge. Úsáideann na hoidí an Ghaeilge le linn na gceachtanna agus go neamhfhoirmiúil tríd an lae. Tugtar duais do Ghaeilgeoir na Seachtaine ó gach rang ag tionól na scoile. Tá frásaí na seachtaine ar taispeáint timpeall na scoile agus feictear láithreacha suime don Ghaeilge i ngach rang. Moltar na straitéisí éifeachtúla seo a leanúint.
Tá múineadh na Gaeilge sásúil. Bunaítear na ceachtanna ar théamaí on gcuraclam agus ar eiseamláirí atá léirithe sa phlean scoile. Baintear úsáid an-éifeachtach as áiseanna cósúil le puipéid agus cairteanna chun tuiscint na ndaltaí a fhorbairt. Spreagann na hoidí suim agus taitneamh na ndaltaí sna ceachtanna le rainn, amhráin agus dráma. Tá stór focal cuí ar eolas ag an gcuid is mó de na daltaí. Cuirtear béim oiriúnach ar an gcur chuige cumarsáide sna hardranganna. Tá sé ar chumas na ndaltaí sna ranganna seo ceisteanna agus freagraí simplí bunaithe ar théamaí on gcuraclam a chur agus a fhreagairt. Moltar an dea-chleachtadh seo a leathnú agus deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí an teanga iomlán a úsáid agus a chleachtadh go cumarsáideach. Bunaítear an léitheoireacht ar leabhair mhóra agus ar a leabhair scoile féin atá bunaithe ar théamaí on gcuraclam. Tá an dea-chleachtadh seo le moladh. Tá sé ar chumas na ndaltaí, san iomlán, na leabhair sin a léamh agus ceisteanna simplí bunaithe ar na téascsanna a fhreagairt. Bunaítear an scríbhneoireacht ar na leabhair shaothair, ar abairtí a chumadh agus ar thascanna bunaithe ar na leabhair léitheoireachta. Moltar deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí scríbhneoireacht phearsanta a chumadh agus raon níos leithne scríbhneoireachta a chleachtadh. B’fhiú athbhreithníú a dhéanamh ar an bplean scoile, an dea-chleachtadh a léiriú agus scileanna teagaisc níos soiléire a leagan amach do gach rang mar threoir do na hoidí i múineadh na Gaeilge.
The school has prioritised the teaching of Irish for development this year. To this end, emphasis has been placed on improving the standard of Irish in the school. It is apparent that the teaching staff members have positive attitudes to Irish. Teachers communicate in Irish in classes and informally throughout the day. A prize is given to the Irish speaker of the week from each class at school assembly. Irish phrases of the week are exhibited throughout the school and Irish interest areas are displayed in all classes. Continuation of these effective practices is recommended.
The teaching of Irish is satisfactory. Lessons are based on the themes of the curriculum and the exemplars outlined in the school plan. Very effective use is made of resources such as puppets and charts in developing pupils’ understanding. Teachers stimulate pupils’ interest and enjoyment in lessons through the use of poems, songs and drama. The majority of pupils demonstrate suitable vocabulary development. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the communicative approach in the senior classes. The pupils in these classes are capable of asking and answering simple questions based the themes of the curriculum. Extension of this laudable practice and the provision of opportunities for pupils to communicate regularly in Irish are recommended. Reading lessons are based on big books and the school’s own readers which are derived from the themes of the curriculum. This practice is praiseworthy. In the main, pupils can read these books and answer simple questions based on the texts. Writing activities are based on workbooks, the creation of sentences and exercises from the readers. It is recommended that pupils be provided with opportunities to practice their personal writing skills and experience a broader range of writing genres. A whole-school review of the school plan is recommended to document the good practice and to outline clearly identifiable skills for each class to guide teachers in the teaching of Irish.
The teaching of English is generally satisfactory. Lessons are structured and well paced. There is some differentiation of the curriculum to cater for the individual needs of pupils. Oral language is taught across all curriculum areas with some effective development of specific vocabulary and engagement of pupils in talk and discussion. Praiseworthy use is made of nursery rhymes, stories and poems in the infant and junior classes with some effectual opportunities provided to enable pupils to plan, sequence and predict events. Some fitting examples of brainstorming activities and the use of higher-order questioning techniques were observed in the middle and senior classes. Pupils in most classes learn a variety of poems which they recite with enthusiasm. While pupils’ oral responses are generally satisfactory there is a need to expand their vocabulary and provide further opportunities for the development of their expressive skills. It is recommended that a review of the whole-school plan include the identification of specific oral language objectives for each class level.
The school encourages reading and the school and class libraries are used effectively to foster a love of reading at all class levels. Some paired reading activities are organised between pupils in first class and fifth class. All teachers regularly model reading and the classroom environments support the reading process. A school-wide phonics programme is in operation. Some noteworthy examples of the development of pupils’ phonological awareness and word analysis skills were observed in the infant and junior classes. A formal and structured approach to reading is apparent at infant and junior level. The appropriate use of big books and an agreed reading scheme support continuity in the development of reading skills. In the middle classes and senior classes some use is made of class readers with some use also being made of novels in a number of classes. Pupils read with varying levels of fluency. In order to ensure that the literacy needs of all pupils are being addressed, it is recommended that a greater variety of reading material be utilised and that the ability grouping of pupils be considered.
In the infant and junior classes emphasis is placed on the development of handwriting skills and the development of functional writing skills. Some good use is made of teacher as scribe, resources, personal dictionaries and the local environment in supporting the development of the pupils’ independent writing skills. In the junior, middle and senior classes some praiseworthy examples of pupils being afforded opportunities to write for a variety of purposes in a range of genres were observed. This noteworthy practice should be extended to all classes. All classes participate annually in the Write a Book scheme. Consideration should be given to further extending the provision for process writing through the school. ICT is used to good effect in the presentation of pupils’ work and to support teaching and learning in the senior classes. While good penmanship skills present as a notable feature in some classes, it is recommended that a whole-school approach to fostering handwriting and presentation skills should now be adopted.
Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative
The school is involved in the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative where pupils in fifth and sixth classes are taught French. Classes are taught by the class teachers for fifteen minutes each day. Lessons are well structured with songs and poems used to stimulate pupils’ interest in the language. Pupils demonstrate understanding of the content of lessons and an ability to communicate simply in French.
A comprehensive school plan guides individual teachers’ planning in Mathematics. The teaching of Mathematics is generally good. Lessons are well structured. Resources are appropriately utilised and opportunities are provided for pupils’ active participation in their own learning. Praiseworthy emphasis is placed on the acquisition and consolidation of mathematical language. Mathematical language is reinforced through the instructive mathematical displays in individual classrooms. Oral mathematics is an integral part of most lessons. The importance placed on developing pupils’ mental competencies and knowledge of number facts through the use of games is commendable. This good practice should be further extended with additional opportunities provided for the development of problem solving skills and the use of mathematical trails. The team-teaching in-class approach caters appropriately for the support of pupils with special educational needs in mathematics lessons. Suitable differentiation of classroom activities to cater for the learning needs of all pupils including the very able pupils was observed in a small number of classes. It is important that differentiated learning strategies are put in place to ensure that adequate and appropriate support is provided for all pupils.
Pupils display positive attitudes in mathematics lessons. Pupils in the infant classes engage confidently in early mathematical activities. They are provided with opportunities to develop their understanding of mathematical concepts through the appropriate use of materials and engagement in well- structured collaborative activities. In the junior classes pupils’ problem solving skills are fostered effectively. Opportunities are afforded to pupils to apply concepts and skills collaboratively and to solve practical tasks. This good practice is commended. Pupils display good knowledge of shape and space, data and algebra and show some understanding of place value. Pupils in the middle and senior classes generally demonstrate satisfactory numerical ability and understanding of shape and space, algebra, measures and data. Lessons are linked creatively with the visual arts activities. ICT is used successfully to reinforce and consolidate learning in these classes. This laudable practice should now be extended to all classes.
The teaching of History is good. Creditable emphasis is placed on the study of local history. Lessons are grounded in the pupils’ own experiences and are integrated with other curriculum areas. Class museums, project work and designated interest areas are features of good practice in many classes and there is some appropriate use of timelines. This effective practice should be extended to all classes. The strand continuity and change is explored successfully through interviews with family members and examination of photographic evidence. ICT is resourcefully utilised in the exploration of local areas of historical interest in the senior classes and in the presentation of work in the junior classes. Pupils display good levels of understanding of topics covered and discuss them with interest.
The teaching of Geography is effective. The local natural and human environments are explored purposefully across all classes. Lessons are usefully linked to the pupils’ knowledge and experience of their local environment. In the infant and junior classes pupils’ mapping skills are effectively developed. Local field trips and project work are used to good effect in the middle and senior classes. Pupils engage in lessons with interest and display appropriate knowledge particularly in the strands of environmental awareness and care and natural environments. In reviewing and developing the school plan for Geography further emphasis should be placed on the development of geographical concepts and the provision of additional opportunities for the pupils to work as geographers.
The school prioritised Science as an area for development in its action plan for 2006/2007. The teaching of Science in the school is of a high quality. The use of talk and discussion, guided discovery methods and experiments are features of effective practice in many classrooms. In the infant classes, appropriate emphasis is placed on developing an awareness of the pupils’ school environment. In the junior, middle and senior classes praiseworthy emphasis is placed on the development of pupils’ skills as scientists in the strands of materials and energy and forces. Good use is made of the garden in the development of pupils’ awareness of living things throughout the school. Pupils display keen interest and knowledge of topics explored. The school is to be commended on winning the Discover Primary Science Award of Science excellence 2007.
The teaching of the Visual Arts is praiseworthy. Lessons are well structured with appropriate emphasis on the development of pupils’ creative skills and on the language and elements of art. Activities are imaginatively linked with other curriculum areas including Social, Environmental and Scientific Education and Mathematics. A comprehensive range of resources is utilised to support teaching and learning and the school avails of the Artists in Residence scheme run by Dunlaoghaire Rathdown County Council. Excellent examples of the Visual Arts in a range of media are attractively displayed in classrooms and the school corridors. An appropriate balance of two dimensional and three dimensional activities is promoted. Pupils’ skills of looking and responding are cultivated aptly particularly in the middle classes where pupils are provided with opportunities to present their work and to appraise the work of their peers. Pupils demonstrate good levels of interest and understanding in lessons. Consideration should now be given to assessing pupils’ progress across the school through the use of art portfolios.
The teaching of Music is generally satisfactory. Some fine examples of structured and well-directed activities involving all strands of the curriculum were in evidence. These lessons included the playing of percussion instruments, enthusiastic singing with movement, listening and responding, composition and appropriate development of literacy skills. The quality of pupils’ singing is highly praiseworthy. Teachers’ use of their individual musical talents to accompany pupils contributes greatly to school performances. Pupils demonstrate some knowledge and understanding of musical concepts; exploring sounds; improvising and creating; literacy; and listening and responding to music. It is recommended that a review of the linkage of strands be undertaken to ensure that the school plan provides specific guidance at each class level in relation to the coverage of all strands.
The teaching of Drama is satisfactory. Elements of good practice include the use of a range of drama conventions, improvisation activities and exploration of ideas leading to understanding. Drama is aptly linked and integrated with History and Irish in a number of classes. Successful use of Drama as a methodology in fostering pupils’ understanding of story was observed in the infant classes. Discrete time has been allocated for Drama in all classes in accordance with curriculum guidelines. In devising a whole-school plan for Drama, consideration should be given to extending the use of Drama as a methodology across all curriculum areas.
The teaching of Physical Education is very good. A broad and balanced Physical Education programme is implemented. Lessons are well structured with appropriate emphasis being placed on skills development and safety. A comprehensive range of resources is utilised effectively. Pupils participate fully in lessons and demonstrate positive attitudes towards Physical Education.
Provision is made for the full implementation of the aquatics strand, through the organisation and supervision of lessons by school staff, for a term outside school hours.
The teaching of SPHE is successful. Lessons are well structured and the employment of a range of active and participative learning methodologies including circle time and games is praiseworthy. The school’s mission to provide a secure, caring environment for all pupils, staff and parents is central to teaching and learning in SPHE. The atmosphere in the school is conducive to the development of pupils’ self-confidence and self-esteem. Values, such as respect, are successfully fostered and copies of class rules, devised in collaboration with the pupils, are displayed. Resources including the Stay Safe and Walk Tall programmes are utilised effectively. Pupils demonstrate an ability to relate issues to their own experiences.
Guidelines on assessment are included in the English, SPHE, Music, Physical Education, Science and the Visual Art policies. Standardised tests are administered annually to pupils from first to fifth classes. An efficient record-keeping system is in place with a member of the in-school management team allocated specific responsibility for this task. The results of these tests are analysed by the principal and members of the special education team to identify pupils in need of learning support. Individual teachers keep on-going records of assessment to track pupils’ achievement and progress. These include teacher observation notes, checklists, spelling results and mathematics assessment results. Further analysis of assessment results in planning programmes of learning to provide for the varying abilities of pupils is recommended. It is recommended that a whole-school policy on assessment be formulated. This should include systematic formative and summative assessment across all curriculum areas which informs planning and teaching. Consideration should be given to building up a set of assessment strategies to verify continuity and progression through the school.
A whole-school policy on the provision of support for pupils with special education needs has been developed in line with the Department guidelines outlined in circular 02/05. Teachers are highly commended for the collaborative team-teaching approach adopted in the school and for the time spent in planning for this approach. The teaching of pupils with special education needs is effective. Lessons are well structured and a range of teaching resources appropriate to the needs and learning styles of the pupils is available. Successful use is made of games, cookery and active learning methodologies. Pupils engage positively in learning activities in the classrooms and support rooms. Support for pupils is organised on an individual or group basis depending on individual pupils’ needs. An early intervention programme is provided for pupils in senior infants following administration of the Middle Infant Screening Test. Some records of pupils’ attendance at support sessions are recorded and maintained. The provision of a broader range of supplementary reading material and tailored programmes is advised. Some good use is made of ICT to support learning. The provision of additional opportunities for pupils to develop their ICT skills and of further use of ICT in teaching and learning is advised.
IEPs are available for all pupils in receipt of additional support. These plans are based on data from standardised test results and, in some cases, information from diagnostic tests and psychological reports. The plans are drawn up by the school staff in consultation with parents and are reviewed twice a year. Copies of IEPs are given to parents. Each pupil’s plan details current strengths and areas of need. Targets are set and monitored regularly. Consideration should be given to building a portfolio of each pupil’s attainments and progress. It is recommended that current special education provision be reviewed to facilitate the use of a more comprehensive range of diagnostic tests to contribute to the setting of specific targets for individual pupils and to facilitate review of IEPs. The identification of more focused learning objectives and clearly identifiable learning targets is advised in order to facilitate and guide planning and to enable all pupils to access the curriculum at their own level.
The school has a very inclusive and welcoming ethos and positive home-school links are fostered. All pupils are welcomed and included in school activities. Signs of welcome in many languages are displayed in the school. A number of intercultural activities have taken place in the school in recent years. A whole-school intercultural policy documenting the good practice and intercultural educational opportunities should now be formulated. The board continues in its efforts to fill the vacant position of part-time home school community liaison co-ordinator. Close links are fostered with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown area community initiatives.
Two language support teachers provide support for pupils whose first language is not English. Support is provided on an in-class and withdrawal basis dependent on each individual pupil’s needs. Resources, including ICT and the Integrate Ireland and Language Training (IILT) programme, are used to support teaching and learning. Emphasis is placed appropriately on the development of pupils’ social and academic vocabulary and their language fluency. It is advised that further use be made of IILT material in assessing pupils’ needs and in formulating and implementing individual pupils’ programmes.
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.
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1 Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board welcomes the WSE report because it acknowledges and affirms the total and undivided commitment of all the partners involved in the school community to the pupils entrusted to our care.
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 notes the key recommendations from the inspectorate and are already endeavouring to implement these as suggested.