An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín

An Ghoilín, An Sciobairín, Contae Chorcaí

Uimhir rolla: 05656G

 

Date of inspection: 14 May 2008

 

 

 

 

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 Náisiúnta An Ghoilín was undertaken in May 2008. 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 History. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report. The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín is one of two schools in the rural parish of Goleen in West Cork. It is a two-teacher school with multi-grade classes. Additional supports are provided by two shared Learning Support/Resource teachers who are based in other local schools and available for seventeen and a half hours and five hours teaching time, respectively.

 

There is one full-time and one part-time special needs assistant in the school. A cleaner is available for one hour per day and the services of a school caretaker are provided by the board. The main school building dates back to 1849 and was refurbished in 1934 and again in 1993 with Department of Education and Science (DES) support. Both permanent classrooms are housed within the main building and connect through a circulation area with teacher and pupil toilet facilities. All other accommodation (office, staff room, resource room, learning support room, library and store room) is provided for in three additional units, two of which are prefabricated structures, within the school grounds. The school has the free use of the local parish hall which is conveniently located within the school grounds.

 

All working areas circulation spaces and surfaces are maintained to a high standard and a high level of compliance with Health & Safety regulations is evident. The school is a safe secure and attractive environment for learning and teaching. 

 

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

38

Mainstream classes in the school

2

Teachers on the school staff

2

Mainstream class teachers

2

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

2

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

Adjacent to the village of Goleen, Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross.  While the school professes a strong commitment to its Catholic ethos, pupils of other denominations and none are welcomed.

1.2 Board of management

 

The board of management of SN An Ghoilín is properly constituted. Regular meetings are held and school finances are efficiently managed in compliance with all DES guidelines and regulations. Minutes of meetings are recorded and a financial report is presented at each meeting. School accounts are audited annually. The board manages its affairs effectively and provides suitable guidance and direction to the parents and the staff of the school. Their active involvement in the development ratification and review of all school organisational and curricular documents was noted during the external evaluation process.

 

The sustained effort of the school board  to provide a suitable education for all pupils is exemplified in the efficient manner in which the school buildings, premises, equipment and resources are maintained and regularly improved.   The chairperson of the board has a suitable range of educational and managerial expertise and experiences which guide the work of and clarifies the vision of the board.  The school could be characterised as a learning community and the efforts to embrace the principles and challenges of the revised curriculum for primary schools are praiseworthy.

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The teaching staff of SN An Ghoilín work effectively as a team and embrace all long term and short term challenges in a spirit of partnership and mutual support. They are supported where appropriate by other partners and stakeholders and a sense of communal ownership and responsibility was evident in the course of the school evaluation. The principal has cultivated a positive school climate and she plays an important leadership role in the school whilst promoting and modelling positive behaviour as an important cornerstone of good teaching and learning. Posts of responsibility have been assigned to individual staff members but the ethos of this particular school fosters a team approach and cultivates a shared responsibility for organisational, curricular and pastoral priorities. Daily communication is the norm in Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín but additional formal staff meetings are held in compliance with DES guidelines and recommended practices.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

The school is an important focal point in this rural area and enjoys high levels of community involvement and support. The quality of relationships at all levels within the school is impressive. Home school links are actively promoted through parent-teacher meetings, school cultural, dramatic and sporting events, religious ceremonies and more informal lines of communication. Evolving school policy will provide for written reports on pupil’s progress at the end of each school year as per DES guidelines. The school board is currently engaged in the process of setting up a formal parents’ association in order to maximise communication levels and further develop meaningful parental involvement in the affairs of the school.

 

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín is a caring nurturing environment which fosters and promotes good behaviour and mutual respect. Pupils are encouraged to achieve their full potential and high levels of pupil engagement were observed in all classes. They demonstrate pride in their community and show care and respect for one another and for their school at all times. Positive behaviour modification techniques are practiced in the school and a clear commitment to pastoral care and the overall welfare of each pupil positively underpins the learning process.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

A comprehensive range of relevant curricular and organisational policy documents guides the work of Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín. These have been developed through meaningful dialogue and partnerships with all school stakeholders and are currently at an advanced stage of development. These school planning documents are grounded in the strands and strand units, reflect curricular principles and methodologies and bring a positive influence to bear on the work of individual teachers. Classroom planning provides for long-term and short-term planning and monthly progress records. Short-term planning reflects an appropriate range of teaching methodologies and breadth and balance between the strands of the curriculum was evident. Some appropriate examples of meaningful integration and judicious use of school resources were also observed. Planning practices build naturally on the collegiality between staff members and facilitate assessment  which support the needs of individual learners. Monthly progress records and collated test results indicate satisfactory pupil progress at all levels throughout the school.

School plans are regularly reviewed as new priorities are identified. Timetabling arrangements are satisfactory in the school.

 

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

Déantar sár-iarracht suim sa Ghaeilge a chothú i Scoil Náisiúnta an Ghoilín. Múintear an Ghaeilge go hábalta agus bhí ceachtanna bríomhaire, spreagúla le sonrú le linn na hoibre seo. Bíonn na ceachtanna bunaithe ar thaithí na ndaltaí agus ar thimpeallacht na scoile agus bíonn  tuiscint agus líofacht oiriúnach sa Ghaeilge bhunúsach le sonrú i measc formhór na ndaltaí.  Dá réir sin ba léir go raibh caighdeán maith bainte amach ag na daltaí agus bhí atmaisféar na scoile fabhrach don teanga agus don chultúr. Moltar, ach go háirithe, múineadh an rince ghaelaigh sna hardranganna. Bhí cumas na ndaltaí sa chomhrá, sa léitheoireacht agus sa scríbhneoireacht go maith agus bhí sé soiléir go raibh said ag baint taitnimh agus tairbhe as na himeachtaí. 

 

Meastar anois gurb é an dúshlán is mó chun an caighdeán a ardú a thuilleadh ná úsáid teanga  ar bhonn cumarsáideach a chur chun cinn.

 

Irish

Every effort is made in Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín to promote interest in Irish. The language is taught effectively and stimulating lessons were observed during the evaluation. Lessons were grounded in the experience of the pupils and related to the school environment and the majority demonstrated an appropriate understanding of and fluency in the language. It was clear that a good standard had been reached and that the atmosphere in the school was supportive of the language and general culture.The teaching of Irish dance as observed in senior classes was praiseworthy. Throughout the school the standard of speaking, reading  and writing was praiseworthy. Adequate levels ability in spoken Irish were apparent and the pupils were enjoying and benefiting from the activities.

 

The challenge for the school is to build on the good work done  and develop a specific and appropriately challenging framework in which to further develop communicative language.  

 

English

The pupils’ language ability and confidence levels are impressive in this school. Phonological awareness, phonemic and phonic skills are developed in a structured progressive manner. Language learning is incremental structured and differentiated in line with grade levels and individual pupils’ needs.

 

Pupils are confident and readily engage in discussion, debates, brainstorming and other reasoning techniques. The oral language of pupils was commensurate to pupils’ age and reading experience.

Print rich environments with an emphasis on oral language development and regular exposure to a wide variety of materials have fostered a love of reading throughout the school. A wide variety of reading material is available at all levels throughout the school.  A wide variety of writing genres are engaged with and the writing process is emphasised and scaffolded appropriately when necessary.   Appropriate emphasis is placed upon the conventions of grammar, punctuation and spelling in the context of teaching practices in this school.  Standardised tests indicate satisfactory levels of achievement in literacy and these results are used to inform teaching and learning.  Some examples of children’s written work were displayed and celebrated throughout the school.

 

3.2 Mathematics

 

An interest in the language of mathematics, the development of concepts and skills, mental mathematics and problem solving is apparent in the school. Pupils’ reasoning skills are developed in line with increasing awareness of mathematical concepts and processes. Pupils’ knowledge of number facts and memorisation strategies are commensurate to age and their enjoyment of the subject resulted in high levels of participation and anticipation. Work  was carefully structured and consolidation and revision of topics taught was apparent at all class levels.  Pupils’ written work demonstrated appropriate levels of achievement and  general competence was impressive. Assessment was used to inform planning at class level and to differentiate learning when appropriate.

 

3.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

There is an appropriate emphasis on local history, chronology, cause and effect and people’s lives evident in the approach to history teaching in the school. ICT is used effectively to develop pupils’ skills as historians and investigative methodologies are usefully employed. A range of historical artefacts, photographs and illustrative material is used to deepen pupils’s understanding of continuity and change over time.  Pupil interest in History is encouraged by appropriate teaching methodologies and meaningful integration with other areas of the curriculum occurs, where appropriate.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

A range of assessment practice takes place in Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín. The focus of the assessment is both diagnostic and preventative. Results when analysed are used to inform teaching and learning. Following initial teacher-based screening, diagnostic tests are used to identify pupils in need of  supplementary teaching and  suitable programmes of intervention are planned implemented and reviewed. Efforts to provide individual learning profiles for all pupils in need of learning support or resource are commendable and further refinement of these developing practices is a whole-school priority in the short to medium term. Support for pupils with special educational needs is provided in the areas of literacy and numeracy. This occurs in a variety of ways which includes both individual and small group withdrawal, whole class  and team teaching.

 

The results of standardised tests are carefully collated and discussed at whole-school level. Assessment practices impact positively on teaching and learning and parents are informed of their children’s progress in the key areas of literacy and numeracy.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

Pupils with special educational needs are supported purposefully in Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín. The board, principal and staff acknowledge and accept their duty of care and within the parameters and constraints of SEN provision and cluster arrangements, the best interests of the pupil are clearly paramount.

 

The school fully supports the principle of inclusion and endeavours to allow every pupil reach his or her maximum potential through a wide variety of intervention practices and procedures.

.

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

 

The population of Scoil Náisiúnta An Ghoilín include no minority or disadvantaged groups though a small number of pupils were born elsewhere and came to live locally.  All pupils are cherished equally and subtle interventions are the preferred mechanism by which issues, however small, may be addressed.

 

 

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, December 2008