An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

 

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

 

S.N. Chill Cúile

Baile Locha Riach, Co. Na Gaillimhe

Uimhir rolla: 06044D

 

 

Date of inspection:  27 March 2007

  Date of issue of report: 17 January 2008

 

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

1.     Introduction – school context and background

2.     Quality of school management

3.     QUALITY OF SCHOOL PLANNING

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

5.     Quality of support for pupils

6.     Conclusion

 

 

 


Whole-school evaluation

A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Náisiúnta Chill Cúile was undertaken in March, 2007. The evaluation covered key aspects of the work of the school in the areas of management, teaching and learning and supports for pupils. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and History. The representatives of the parents met with the inspector. The inspector interacted with the pupils, examined pupils’ work, reviewed school planning documentation, observed teaching and learning and provided feedback to individual teachers. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement.   The board of management 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

S.N. Chill Cúile is a co-educational primary school under the patronage of the Catholic bishop of Clonfert. It is situated in a rural setting in the Parish of Ballydugan, approximately 10km from the town of Loughrea, Co. Galway. Due to the school’s proximity to other parish boundaries, pupils from at least five different parishes attend the school. The school benefits from a very strong sense of community spirit with parents supporting school-related activities organised in the parish of Ballydugan as well as events in their own home parishes. As a result of a slight decrease in the total enrolment figure in September 2005, the staffing complement for the current school year was reduced. Enrolments have since increased and an additional mainstream teacher will be appointed for the school year 2007/8.

 

S.N. Chill Cúile was extended and refurbished in 2006. The building project was excellently managed at local level and the school now provides bright, spacious accommodation admirably tailored to meet the demands of the 1999 curriculum and to cater for the school-going population in the area. Grant-aid has been sanctioned under the national rural development initiative CLÁR (Ceantair Laga Ard-Riachtanais) and under the Department of Education and Science Summer Works Scheme to enable the school to enhance playground facilities and to replace the roof of the older section of the school. The school also receives support under the Department’s national action plan for educational inclusion DEIS (Delivering Equality Of Opportunity In Schools).  

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and functions in accordance with the Rules and Procedures of Boards of Management (November 2003). The board normally meets on average twice a term. It operates in a proactive and progressive manner and provides effective leadership for the school community. Over the last two years, a large proportion of the board’s time has been dedicated to managing the planning and construction phases of the improvement works carried out in the school under the Department’s devolved grant scheme. Every member of the board was highly involved in the project. Additionally, parents and community members were co-opted onto or volunteered to be part of a building/financial committee whose brief was to oversee the various stages of the work. Plans were adapted and redrawn, local tradesmen were employed and the work was co-ordinated effectively to provide the required accommodation in a cost-effective manner. The board astutely combined the knowledge, skills and expertise of individual board and committee members to bring the project to completion within budget and within the agreed timeframes. The school now provides high quality accommodation comprising four classrooms, two ancillary rooms, a general-purposes room, an office, staffroom, storeroom and toilet facilities. A small attractive garden area to the front of the school, a shelter and extensive play facilities at the rear of the premises complement the indoor facilities.

 

The board is to be commended not alone for its achievement in bringing the building project to fruition but also for its forward-thinking approach to planning. The school extension is designed to accommodate further development if required, an ample number of computer points are installed in each room, all rooms are wired to support computer networking, classrooms have interconnecting phones and the school is wired for external closed-circuit television (CCTV).   

 

Since completion of the school extension, the focus of the board’s work has expanded to include development of the school plan and enhancement of the school’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Numerous policy documents have been discussed, developed and ratified, all teachers now have access to computers and the school is linked to broadband. The board, being cognisant of its responsibilities in relation to health and safety, has had the drinking water tested, fire safety signage erected in the school as well as warning signage on the approach to the school and lighting in the car park. The school is cleaned on a daily basis and is maintained to a very high standard.

 

The board recognises its statutory obligations and the requirement to comply with Departmental regulations. The school plan is available for viewing and incorporates appropriate policies on health and safety, enrolment, discipline, attendance and child protection. The school complies with regulations in relation to the length of school year and day, deployment of teachers and retention of pupils. Records of attendance are carefully maintained and indicate good levels of attendance among the pupil body. It is the board’s intention to include an annual report on the operation of the school in its list of future priorities. It is suggested that the board extract value from its planning efforts through expanding the priority list to constitute a three-year strategy development plan in which the target dates for commencement and completion of tasks relating to building, maintenance, administration, organisation, policy development and curriculum implementation are set out. 

 

The board is very conscious of the benefits of fostering and maintaining good relations and communication in the school. The chairperson frequently communicates with the principal and visits the school on a regular basis. The board supports the organisation of a staff meeting each term to provide a forum for teachers to discuss issues and to engage collaboratively in policy formulation and whole-school planning. The board supports and encourages the staff to engage in continuous professional development and teachers have recently attended courses on leadership development, learning support, ICT, Visual Arts, History and environmental care. The teachers constitute a very cohesive group, are highly motivated and work conscientiously towards creating a positive school climate in which pupils are exposed to a wide variety of educational experiences. The board expresses a high level of satisfaction with the manner in which the curriculum is taught in the school. It identifies the major strengths of the school as being the strong community spirit, the happy atmosphere in the school, the good communication and the nature of the school’s facilities.

 

2.2 In-school management

The in-school management team consists of the principal, deputy principal and special duties teacher. The principal is hardworking and dedicated, and displays very effective leadership qualities. The principal engages openly and professionally with the board, staff, parents and pupils and elicits a high level of collaboration in seeking to promote the vision, mission and aims of the school. Daily administrative and organisational tasks are carried out in an efficient, capable and caring manner. School activities are well organised and a commendable sense of order is apparent. The principal diligently engages in advancing curricular and organisational planning, provides an excellent role-model in classroom practice and positively supports the introduction of new methodologies and approaches. The work of the board and the support of the staff, the parents and the school community are greatly valued and strongly acknowledged by the principal.  

 

The deputy principal and the special duties teacher competently and diligently carry out assigned duties in support of the principal and the work of the school. The duties, which were recently reviewed, currently pertain to policy formulation, assessment, pupil records, visual arts and physical education resources, official records, first aid, school hygiene, collection of monies and attendance at meetings. It is suggested that review dates for posts of responsibility should also be included in the strategy development plan and that feedback be provided to the board at regular intervals on the effectiveness of the duties in meeting the needs of the school.  

 

2.3 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The board encourages parental involvement in the work of the school and it is reported that parents, in general, are very active and provide a high level of support for school activities. A Parents’ Association was in operation up to approximately three years ago when it was subsumed by the financial/building committee which was formed by the parents to advice and assist the board in managing the school’s building programme. The committee continues to function and is currently assisting the board with the development of the play area and car park, with re-roofing the older section of the school and with organising the forthcoming formal opening of the newly renovated and extended premises. Communication with the board is facilitated by the attendance of parent representatives on the board at committee meetings.

 

In addition to the work of the committee, parents assist with a range of other school and community events including organising the hall and stage for school concerts, making costumes, preparing refreshments, supporting fundraising events and social functions, video recording activities and providing transport to sporting fixtures and swimming lessons. While parents are involved to some extent in policy formulation, there is a need to create meaningful communication mechanisms that will facilitate engagement of the entire parent body in the home-school partnership. The reconstitution of the parents’ association would provide such a mechanism. It could serve to refocus parental attention on post-refurbishment priorities and enable the establishment of practices to foster fuller involvement of parents in policy formulation.

 

Parents are currently kept informed of school activities through the issuing of notes, letters and a school calendar. There is also a parent’s notice board in the school. Pupil diaries are used to maintain regular contact with class teachers and formal parent-teacher meetings are held during the second term of the school year. Parents are also welcome to meet teachers at other times. Induction meetings are arranged to introduce new parents to school practices and a booklet with specific details relating to healthy eating initiatives, safety regulations and anti-bullying measures is made available. The school has established links with second-level schools in the area and it is reported that pupils transfer with ease to second-level education. To supplement oral feedback to parents on their children’s progress, consideration should now be given to issuing written reports on individual pupil progress at some stage during the school year.

 

2.4 Management of pupils

All staff members effectively foster positive behaviour among the pupils. Pupils are encouraged to develop inquiring minds, to pose questions and to participate in activities specifically focused on developing their self-esteem and confidence. At some class levels very successful strategies are used to encourage pupils to indicate their level of understanding in an unobtrusive and confident manner while teaching is in progress. Pupils’ work is attractively displayed in classrooms and on corridors and reflects a wide range of activities across all curricular areas.  The pupils exhibit happy dispositions, are respectful and caring towards one another and co-operate readily with staff and visitors. They display interest in a wide range of activities and eagerly participate in camogie, hurling and rugby coaching sessions arranged in association with local clubs. Attendance at choir practice, organised as an after-school activity in preparation for church ceremonies and community, is reported to be very good. It is noteworthy that during the evaluation the parents’ representatives praised the teachers and their commitment to the community highly.

 

 

3.     QUALITY OF SCHOOL PLANNING

 

3.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is good. The school engages with the School Development Planning Service and the Regional Curriculum Support Service as an initial step in developing new policies for inclusion in the school plan. Draft documents are normally prepared by the staff and circulated to board members for perusal prior to being discussed, sometimes amended and finally ratified at board meetings. Parent representatives on the board provide the main avenue for consultation with the parent body. All parents have been consulted in relation to selected areas of policy including the code of discipline, the anti-bullying policy and the healthy eating policy. All newly ratified policies are displayed on the parents’ notice board. In order to enhance the consultative nature of the process, consideration should be given to promoting greater understanding of the role of parents in both policy development and curriculum implementation and to establishing procedures which will foster increased levels of parental participation in the planning process.

 

The school plan contains a wide range of clearly presented organisational and administrative policies relevant to the school. 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, 1999, updated issue May 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, April 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.

 

Considerable progress has been made in developing policy in all curricular areas with the exception of Drama, which is currently being informed by the national programme of in-service. Review dates are indicated on policy documents and specific areas of work are identified for further exploration and future development. This proposed programme of action should now form part of the school’s strategy development plan. As curricular planning and review proceeds, it would be important to ensure that policy documents reflect the multi-grade situation in which the school operates and that the developmental nature of the curriculum is addressed by indicating how content and learning experiences are to be differentiated at each individual class level.

 

The quality of classroom planning is good with all teachers providing yearly schemes, continuous short-term planning and comprehensive accounts of the work completed. There is a need however to differentiate the material more clearly for the different class levels in the multi-grade situation. Further development of the school plan should support refinement of this aspect of planning in the future. Planning in some classrooms is based on lists of intended work and there is scope for placing greater emphasis on the statement of objectives which should then inform the selection of appropriate assessment techniques to measure pupil achievement and progress.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tugann na hoidí tacaíocht éifeachtach dá chéile chun an curaclam sa Ghaeilge a chur i gcrích sa scoil. Glacann siad gur fearr béim a leagan ar labhairt na Gaeilge sula dtugtar faoin teanga a léamh nó a scríobh. Is amhlaidh a dhéantar atheagrú ar na ranganna do theagasc na Gaeilge. Cuirtear ranganna na naíonán agus rang a haon le chéile fad is a fheidhmíonn rang a dó agus a trí mar chomhbhuíon chun éascaíocht a dhéanamh d’ábhar léitheoireachta agus scríbhneoireachta a nascadh go rathúil leis an obair ó bhéal ó rang a dó ar aghaidh.  

 

Tugtar go dúthrachtach faoi ionchur teanga i ngach sheomra ranga. Eagraítear raon d’imeachtaí idir gheáitsíocht, cluichí, ceistiú agus drámaíocht. Baintear úsáid cheardúil freisin as sraitheanna pictiúr, comhráite réamhdhéanta agus raon fairsing rann, filíochta agus amhrán chun cumas labhartha na ndaltaí a fhorbairt. Is inmholta an leas forleathan a bhaintear as druileanna simplí taitneamhacha chun an fhoghlaim a dhaingniú agus chun tuiscint ar aimsirí na mbriathra a chur chun cinn. Cleachtar caint leanúnach go torthúil ó na bunranganna ar aghaidh agus leagtar béim inmholta ar chumas ceistiúcháin na ndaltaí a threisiú i seomraí ranga ar leith. Éiríonn leis na daltaí tuiscint a ghnóthú ar réimse leathan foclóra agus iad ag dul ó rang go rang agus bíonn ar a gcumas an fóclóir a úsáid i gcomhthéacsanna difriúla faoin am go bhfágann siad an scoil.

 

Baintear leas as raon straitéisí chun suim a mhúscailt i léamh agus scríobh na Gaeilge. Cothaítear saibhreas prionta agus déantar pictiúrleabhair agus leabhair bheaga ranga bunaithe ar ábhar na cainte agus na n-imeachtaí scríbhneoireachta. Cuirtear le héagsúlacht na n-imeachtaí de réir a chéile trí leas a bhaint as scéim leabhar. Cuirtear ar chumas na ndaltaí sleachta a léamh go muiníneach agus gnóthaí scríbhneoireachta a dhéanamh bunaithe ar an ábhar. Sonraítear an-chumas i gceisteanna a chur agus a fhreagairt ag rangléibhéil áirithe agus ba thairbheach na straitéisí a úsáidtear chuige sin a roinnt ar bhonn uile-scoile. D’fhéadfaí a thuilleadh béime a leagan anois ar an scríbhneoireacht phearsanta chun neamhspleáchas sa scríbhneoireacht a chur  chun cinn ar bhonn córasach. Is leas leis na daltaí go ndéantar iniúchadh ar sheanfhocail ag gach rangleibhéal agus go dtugtar deis dóibh damhsaí Gaelacha a fhoghlaim agus ceol Gaelach a sheinm.

 

Tá dea-struchtúr ar an bplean scoile sa Ghaeilge ach níor mhiste é a fhorbairt fós chun réimse iomlán na hoibre sa scoil a chlárú agus gnéithe ar leith a chinntiú. B’fhiú an ghreille shamplach d’eiseamláirí a fhorbairt agus a chur in oiriúint don scoil, fothéamaí a leagan amach faoi na mórthéamaí teanga ag gach leibhéal agus an clár feasachta teanga agus cultúir a chlárú don scoil.

 

Irish

The teachers support each other effectively in implementing the Irish curriculum in the school. They accept that it is preferable to concentrate on spoken Irish before proceeding to reading and writing the language. Thus the classes are reorganised for the teaching of Irish. Infant classes and first class are put together while second and third classes work as a unit to facilitate successful linkage of reading and writing activities with oral work from second class onwards.   

 

Language input is diligently undertaken in each classroom. A variety of activities is organised including movement, games, questioning and drama. Series of pictures, pre-prepared conversations and a wide range of rhymes, poetry and song are skilfully used to develop the pupils’ oral ability. The extensive use of simple enjoyable drills to consolidate learning and to develop understanding of the tenses of verbs is praiseworthy. Continuous conversation is practiced productively from the lower classes onwards and commendable emphasis is placed on strengthening the pupils’ questioning capability in particular classrooms. The pupils succeed in developing an understanding of a wide range of vocabulary as they go from class to class and they are able to use the vocabulary in different contexts by the time they leave the school.

 

A range of strategies is used to awaken interest in reading and writing Irish. Richness of print is cultivated and picture books and little class books are made based on oral and writing activities. The activities are embellished gradually through the use of a book scheme. Pupils are enabled to read extracts confidently and to do written exercises based on the subject matter. Great ability in posing and answering questions is noted at certain class levels and it would be beneficial to share on a whole-school basis the strategies used to develop this ability. Further emphasis could now be placed on personal writing in order to promote independence in writing in a systematic manner. Pupils benefit from exploring proverbs at each class level and from being provided with opportunities to learn Irish dances and to play Irish music.

 

The school plan in Irish is well structured but it should be developed further to document the full range of work in the school and to clarify certain aspects. It would be worthwhile to develop the sample grid of exemplars and to adapt it for the school, to identify minor themes under the major language themes at each class level and to document the language and cultural appreciation programme for the school.

 

English

The programme is English is comprehensively laid out in the school plan. Excellent team work is in evidence with support teachers working closely with class teachers to structure differentiated activities for individual pupils and groups. A combination of class teaching, group work, paired work and individual work is used to teach the various components. Attractive print-rich classroom environments, well-stocked classroom libraries and an array of resources provide appropriate supports for implementation of the programme. While an integrated approach to the teaching of oral language, reading and writing is adopted, discrete oral language periods are regularly organised to extend vocabulary through discussion, use of the senses, language games and dictionary work. Pupils are exposed to a varied repertoire of poetry as they proceed through the school. They are provided with opportunities to listen to poetry readings, to engage personally in reading poetry of their own choice, to research common themes and to identify commonly used techniques. Recitations are of a particularly high standard in some classes.  

 

Interest in reading is promoted through the use of large-format books, graded-reading schemes, library books and class novels. Early intervention in the form of in-class support is very effectively organised to support the reading programme in the infant classes. There is a consistent approach throughout the school to developing phonological and phonemic awareness. Pupils learn to approach unfamiliar words with confidence and to use a range of word-attack strategies to assist them in their reading. Pupils are provided with opportunities to read collaboratively, to engage in purposeful silent reading and to enjoy periods of Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading (USSR). Due emphasis is placed on developing higher-order thinking skills through oral discussion and written tasks. Pupils at appropriate class levels display a firm understanding of the conventions of print and a keen interest in reading for knowledge and for pleasure. Pupils read with confidence and display good awareness of audience. They acquire increasing levels of competency in retelling stories, summarising texts, analysing plots and describing characterisations.

 

Appropriate activities are organised at all class levels to engage pupils in the writing process. Pupils are enabled to write in a variety of genres and for different audiences. It is suggested that the provision of flipcharts would act as an additional support for brainstorming, vocabulary extension, story framing and experiential writing. Written work is very neatly presented and fine samples of stories, collaboratively written poetry and individual poems are in evidence in copybooks as well as in classroom and corridor displays.

 

4.2 Mathematics

The teaching of Mathematics is approached in a skilful and systematic manner by mainstream and support teachers alike. The activities observed reflect the clear guidance provided in the school plan in relation to pedagogy, language and problem solving strategies. Experiential learning is central to all lessons and group work is excellently structured to enable pupils to engage in discovery-based activity. A range of manipulatives and attractive visual aids including teaching charts, measuring materials, desktop number lines and hundred squares are used effectively to develop numerical concepts and to bring pupils progressively through the stages of measurement. Poetry, enjoyable games and artful questioning are among the strategies used to reinforce learning and to aid memorisation and recall of number facts.

 

Commendable emphasis is placed throughout the school on developing understanding and appropriate use of mathematical language. Regular opportunities are provided for pupils to talk through computational procedures and to explain the thought processes and strategies used in problem solving. Aspects of story, role play and drama are used very effectively to embed problem solving activities in real life situations. A series of mathematical trails is also identified for different class levels. Careful attention is paid to the pacing and structuring of activities. Very effective strategies are used in some instances to monitor pupil understanding during the course of instruction and consideration should be given to extending this practice in the school. Pupils record their work neatly, respond confidently to questioning and generally display a firm understanding of the content, concepts and skills taught.

 

4.3 History

The teachers provide a broad and balanced programme in History to foster enthusiasm and curiosity about the past and to enable pupils to develop and practise historical investigation skills. Pupils are initially introduced to History through story and are skilfully guided to focus on their own personal lives, on family events and on tracing change and continuity in the local environment. The programme then broadens to include the study of a range of peoples, events and periods pertaining to Irish and international history. Materials, pictures, photographs, artefacts and copies of historical documents are used in a creative and interesting manner to guide pupils in reconstructing and interpreting the past. Group activities are carefully prepared to engage pupils in such tasks as sorting, classifying, analysing, selecting and communicating. The construction and use of time-lines feature in the teaching and learning in each classroom. The pupils are successfully motivated and exhibit keen interest in topics previously explored and in current classroom activities. They ably refer to personal histories, competently retell myths and legends, describe project work with pride and provide detailed accounts of people and events relating to different periods in history.

The development of the school plan in History is progressing well and the teachers are currently compiling a folder of local history which will include digital images of local sites of historical significance. It is commendable that the school is tapping into local community interest and is linking with the local archaeological society to source information and to arrange talks and presentations for the pupils. The content at certain class levels is clearly referenced in the plan and it is suggested that this approach be adopted to indicate the knowledge and skills to be developed as the pupils proceed through each class level. 

 

4.4 Assessment

A variety of assessment modes is used throughout the school to monitor pupil progress in the curricular areas observed. Textbook-based exercises, teacher-designed tasks and homework assignments are regularly corrected and analysed to highlight specific learning needs and to assist teachers in planning and mediating teaching and learning activities. Observation, questioning and discussion form an integral part of the teaching process at all class levels. Projects and work samples in the form of class books and individual pupil folders provide valuable information on levels of pupil application, interest and understanding. Phonic checklists, word banks, reading logs, book reviews, spelling checks, the Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) and the Micra-t standardised test are among the effective strategies used to assess progress in English. Objective-based assessment tests are administered on completion of units of work in Mathematics and the Sigma-t standardised test is completed at the end of year. Standardised test results are documented and maintained carefully, and are communicated to parents at parent-teacher meetings. The learning-support/resource teachers have access to a range of diagnostic tests which are used in specific cases to identify pupil strengths and to provide more refined information on learning difficulties. This information is appropriately incorporated into individual learning programmes for pupils identified with learning difficulties and special educational needs.

 

Future development of the school’s policy on assessment should focus on developing assessment procedures to provide for both assessment for learning and assessment of learning. It is suggested that more consistent use of objective-based planning would assist this process and would provide pertinent information in relation to pupils’ development in a variety of domains. It is further recommended that the school should explore ways of providing written reports to parents and should consider using the draft report card templates designed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment which are available on the Council’s website.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The whole-school approach to provision for pupils with special educational needs is appropriately documented in the school plan. The policy on enrolment is consistent with current legislative requirements and the policy on special education encompasses the staged approach to provision as detailed in Special Education Circular 02/05. The latter policy also addresses the role of the board, the principal and teachers in relation to special education. A description of the role of the special needs assistant is identified for development and future inclusion in the policy.

 

The school’s special education team comprises three support teachers, one of whom is based in the school, and one special needs assistant. All three support teachers operate on a shared basis with other schools in the area. The teachers coordinate their presence in S.N. Chill Cúile to provide an early intervention programme in English at junior and senior infant levels, a programme in creative writing for first to third classes and a support programme for pupils identified with learning difficulties/special educational needs. The school is advised to seek a review of the organisation of the support services for the new school year in order to ensure that optimal benefit is derived from the service.

 

The early intervention programme is organised on an in-class basis. The support teacher and class teacher work very effectively together to guide pupils through a programme of language development and a programme of phonological and phonemic awareness. Every opportunity is taken to integrate learning with other aspects of work in English and in other curricular areas. The creative writing programme is organised on a withdrawal basis with each class involved receiving support for a period of a term. The programme is closely linked with class reading activities and with the use of real books and the class novel in particular. Praiseworthy attention is given to extending language and to bringing pupils through the process of visualising and verbalising as well as describing emotions prior to engaging in the writing process.

 

The support programme for pupils with learning difficulties/special educational needs is provided mainly on a withdrawal basis with pupils receiving support in one-to-one or small group settings. Supplementary teaching is focused on achieving specific learning targets as identified in individual programmes compiled for each pupil. Support is provided in English, Mathematics, Social Skills and areas of personal need. Very good use is made of a range of teacher-made resources as well as commercially produced games and materials to structure the learning activities to the pupils’ needs. The manner in which activities are linked with classroom work and in some instances integrated with other curricular areas is commendable. There is regular liaison with class teachers and with the special needs assistant who is very attentive to the care needs of designated pupils. Further development of the service should now focus on extending in-class support to assist pupils in the classroom setting and to facilitate differentiation across all curricular areas.

 

All support teachers provide comprehensive planning and maintain clear records of the work completed. Individual learning programmes are compiled in consultation with class teachers, parents and in some instances pupils. The programmes are reviewed at regular intervals and are informed, where appropriate, by reports from educational psychologists, speech and language therapists and other professionals involved in special education. The programmes clearly identify the strengths, abilities and learning needs of the pupils while objectives, approaches and strategies are expressed in varying degrees of specificity and detail. The process of formulating and reviewing individual programmes should now be refined and developed in preparation for future legislative requirements. It is suggested that the support team should meet to share their expertise and experience in relation to formulating individual education programmes and should work collaboratively to identify best practice and to establish an agreed approach to engaging the relevant parties in the planning and review process.

 

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

The board of management appropriately uses funding from DEIS to ensure that all pupils have an equal chance to access, participate and benefit from the educational provision in the school. The staff strives conscientiously to support pupils experiencing educational disadvantage, to provide resources to stimulate their interest in education and to encourage their participation in class and school organised activities.

 

 

 

6.     Conclusion

The school has strengths in the following areas:

·         The school greatly benefits from a strong sense of community spirit, an interested and active parent body and a committed, progressive board of management.

·         As a result of the excellent management at local level of the Department’s devolved grant scheme, the school provides very comfortable accommodation conducive to the full implementation of the Primary School Curriculum (1999).

·         Regular and open communication among staff members and very effective leadership qualities on the part of the principal contribute significantly to the strong team spirit which is evident among the staff.

·         The teachers are highly motivated and display openness to exploring new methodologies and approaches.

·         The pupils are exposed to a wide range of activities in the curricular areas observed and are achieving appropriate standards at all class levels. The consistency of the teaching in Mathematics is to be commended in particular.

·         The school fosters a positive, inclusive atmosphere and pupils interact with each other in a friendly, respectful and caring manner.

·         Praiseworthy emphasis is placed on providing for pupils with learning difficulties and special educational needs.

 

The following key recommendations are made in order to further improve the quality of education provided by the school:

 

·         The board of management should develop its list of priorities to form a three-year strategy development statement which would indicate targeted timeframes for the completion of tasks relating to building, maintenance, organisation, review of posts of responsibility, policy development and curriculum implementation.

·         It is recommended that the parents should consider reconstituting the parents’ association with the support of the board of management.   

·         It is recommended that the school develop its assessment and reporting system to facilitate the issuing of written feedback to parents on the progress of their children.

·         Further development of the school plan in some of the curricular areas is necessary in order to reflect the full range of the current activities and to provide clearer guidance as regards how content and learning experiences are to be approached and organised in the context of dual and multi-grade classes.

·         It is recommended that the special education team collaborate further to refine the process of formulating and reviewing individual learning programmes in preparation for future legislative requirements.   

 

 

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.