An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

 REPORT

 

Glengurt N.S

Tournafulla Co Limerick

Uimhir rolla:   07317R

 

Date of inspection: 28 January 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

School Response to the Report

 

 


Whole-school evaluation

 

 

A whole-school evaluation of Glengurt N.S. Tournafulla was undertaken in January 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 Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE).    The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

Glengurt N.S. is a three teacher, mainstream co-educational school. It is situated on the outskirts of the village of Tournafulla. The present building was constructed in 1969. It has five permanent classrooms. One of these classrooms is occupied by a pre-school. The vast majority of the pupils transfer from the pre-school class into the junior infants’ class in Glengurt N.S. It is expected that the current enrolment of 71 pupils will remain stable for the foreseeable future. Pupil attendance at the school is, in general, very good.

 

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

71

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

5

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

1

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

Glengurt N.S. is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of Limerick. The school aims to create a safe environment within which the pupils can learn and where they will develop “a Christian outlook, a work ethic, a sense of fair play and responsibility and an awareness of the history and culture of Tournafulla.” The pupils attending the school come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. In keeping with the school’s aims, the board of management ensures that the needs of all pupils are met within a caring and inclusive atmosphere.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted. It meets regularly and minutes of meetings are maintained. The board ensures that the school’s organisation complies with statutory requirements and Department of Education and Science regulations and circulars. The board and its chairperson are supportive of the work of the school. However, members of the board have had limited involvement in the drafting of whole-school plans and policies. This responsibility is devolved, for the most part, to the teaching staff. It is therefore recommended that the board’s involvement in the whole-school planning process be increased and that arrangements for the inclusion of parents in this process be outlined.

 

1.3 In-school management

The in-school management team comprises the principal, deputy principal and a special duties post holder. The principal provides purposeful leadership in the school. He undertakes his management duties diligently and ensures that official documents are accurately maintained. He succeeds in creating a very positive school climate that is characterised by open communication, collaboration, and mutual respect. He discharges his duties in a caring and professional manner. It is now recommended that increased attention be placed on the role of the principal in leading teaching and learning and on the review of the implementation of the whole-school plan.

 

The in-school management team undertakes its assigned duties conscientiously. Members of the team meet frequently and work collaboratively in a manner that assists in the smooth and efficient daily running of the school. It is now recommended that the duties assigned to individual post holders be reviewed periodically to reflect the developing needs of the school and that arrangements be put in place to facilitate the team to report progress on their responsibilities to the board of management.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

There is no parents’ association in the school. However the board reports that parents are supportive of the work of the school. Home-school communication is facilitated through the issuing of newsletters.  Parent-teacher meetings are held annually. End of year pupil progress reports are provided to parents of pupils in the senior classes. It is now recommended that the board would renew its efforts at establishing a parent association. It is further recommended that annual pupil progress records be maintained for all pupils and communicated, as appropriate, to parents.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

The pupils of Glengurt N.S. are valued members of the school community and are treated with fairness and respect. Pupil behaviour is very good and pupils demonstrate high levels of confidence and are, in general, eager and motivated in their learning. They participate directly in relevant decision-making through their involvement in the Green School committee and in the school garden project. They make a positive contribution to the quality of life in their school.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of the plans and policies contained in the whole-school plan is fair. Little reference is made to the planning process involved in the drafting of these documents. Responsibility for the implementation, evaluation or review of the plans and policies is, at present, unassigned and therefore unclear.   Arrangements for the effective implementation of all curriculum plans need to be outlined to ensure that they effectively inform teachers’ individual planning and practice and that they impact positively on the learning outcomes and learning experiences of the pupils. There is a need also to ensure that all school plans and policies are signed, dated and ratified by the board of management. As no whole school curriculum plans were presented in the areas of Irish, Music and Drama, such plans should be drafted without delay. The current English plan is also in need of review. Guidelines are clearly stated in the organisational policies in place relating to substance abuse, administration of medicine, provision for pupils in need of supplementary education, health and safety and in the code of behaviour. The enrolment policy, however, should be updated. It is recommended therefore that a strategic plan be devised which would enable the school community to draft and review plans and policies on a phased basis over a three year period so as to ensure that the school plan continues to meet the needs of the school and its pupils. Arrangements should also be made for the effective communication of relevant plans and policies to the parents of the pupils.

 

All teachers make adequate written preparation for their school work.  This planning guides the teachers’ work in the classroom and it contributes to successful learning. It is now recommended that teachers place less emphasis on commercial texts in determining the content to be covered in the various subjects and that teacher planning makes improved provision for the differentiation of the curriculum for those pupils who have identified learning difficulties. All teachers maintain monthly progress records. However copies of these records are not kept on file. It is recommended that the principal retain a copy of these records and that they be utilised to ensure continuity and development from class to class and also to ensure the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum to the pupils

 

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

moladh ar leith tuillte ag oidí na scoile as ucht na dúthrachta a chaitheann siad le teagasc na Gaeilge. Úsáidtear comhrá beirte, drámaíocht agus cluichí i measc raon leathan de mhodhanna teagaisc chun cumas tuisceana na ndaltaí a dhaingniú. Úsáidtear ábhar léirithe agus timpeallacht na ndaltaí go seiftiúil chun ábhar na gceachtanna a neartú agus spreagtar na daltaí chun úsáid a bhaint as an teanga i gcomhthéacsanna cumarsáideacha. Leathnaítear foclóir na ndaltaí go céimniúil agus caitear dua le múineadh na feidhmeanna teanga. caighdeán ard sroichte ag na daltaí san obair seo. Déantar iarracht chreidiúnach fonn léitheoireachta a chothú sna daltaí agus cuirtear béim mhaith ar fhorbairt scileanna foghraíochta i ngach rang. De thoradh na hoibre, is léir go bhfuil caighdeán maith bainte amach ag na daltaí i léitheoireacht na Gaeilge agus go bhfuil tuiscint acu ar a bhfuil léite. Cláraíonn na daltaí cleachtaí sa scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil ina gcóipleabhair ach moltar anois béim a chur ar fhorbairt na scríbhneoireachta chruthaithigh freisin. Déantar cúram an-mhaith de múineadh na gramadaí sa scoil. Aithrisítear raon leathan de rainn, d’amhráin agus d’fhilíocht le brí agus le mothú i bhformhór na ranganna. Moltar anois, an dea-chleachtas seo a chlárú agus plean uile scoile a fhorbairt.

 

Irish

The teachers are commended for the emphasis that they place on the teaching of Irish. Paired conversations, drama and games are utilised among a wide range of teaching methodologies to consolidate the pupils’ understanding. Concrete materials and the pupils’ local environment are skilfully utilised to reinforce the content of the lessons and the pupils are encouraged to use the language in communicative contexts. The pupils’ vocabulary is broadened systematically and  emphasis is placed on the teaching of language functions. The pupils have achieved a high standard in this work. Creditable efforts are made to encourage a love of reading in the pupils and good emphasis is placed on the development of phonological awareness in all classes.  As a result, it is evident that the pupils have gained a good standard in Irish reading and that they understand what they have read. The pupils complete formal writing exercises in their copybooks but it is now recommended that an emphasis be placed on the development of creative writing also. Very good care is taken in the teaching of grammar in the school. In the majority of classes a wide range of rhymes, songs and poems are recited energetically and with feeling. It is now recommended that this good practice be recorded and that a whole school plan be developed.

 

English

The quality of teaching and learning in English is good. Pupils’ oral language skills are well developed. Almost all of the pupils are able to express themselves clearly and they communicate their ideas and opinions with ease. The pupils are well trained in habits of turn taking and listening. Teachers have successfully integrated oral language with other areas of the curriculum and the pupils are awarded opportunities to engage in discussions and in some group work. Commendable work is undertaken in the infant classes where specific oral language activities are effectively organised. In the junior and middle standards praiseworthy emphasis is placed on the development of pupils’ competence and confidence in the use of language.

 

A range of appropriate and varied teaching methodologies is employed effectively in the teaching of English reading and pupil achievement in this area is good. Pupils’ phonological awareness is well developed in the infant and junior classes. Pupils in the infant classes are provided with the necessary skills and confidence to progress to the challenges presented by a structured reading programme in senior infants. The class library and the novel are used very effectively to foster a love of reading amongst the pupils in the middle and senior classes.  It is recommended however that the development of pupils’ emotional and imaginative responses to this reading material be further developed in these classes.

 

Pupils are given regular opportunities to develop their writing skills. Good attention is given to the teaching of grammar, punctuation and handwriting in appropriate contexts. Information and communications technologies (ICT) is used to good effect in some classes but consideration should be given to the further development of ICT as a resource to support literacy development throughout the school. The writing process is appropriately developed in the junior classes, particularly in relation to the writing of poetry. It is recommended that pupils’ experience of the writing process be developed on a whole-school basis and that samples of pupils’ writing be displayed in all classrooms.

 

3.2 Mathematics

Very good practice was observed in the teaching of mathematics throughout the school and pupil achievement in this subject is of a high standard. Each classroom is equipped with a good range of mathematical equipment. This equipment is used to good effect by the teachers. Commendable emphasis is placed by all teachers on oral mathematical activities and on the development of pupils’ mathematical language. Lessons are well structured and mathematical concepts are clearly explained. Of particular note is the manner in which the teachers effectively link the strand units. Teachers are commended for using the real life experiences of the pupils and for drawing upon the immediate and local environment in this area of the curriculum. This assists greatly in developing pupil ability to make connections and to apply knowledge. Written work is, in general, neatly presented and regularly monitored. It is now recommended in order to further develop the current good practice in this area, that increased emphasis be placed on skills development in the area of mathematics and that the mathematical learning environment in the classrooms be enhanced.

 

3.3 Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

Teaching and learning in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is of a good standard. Teachers’ planning ensures that there is good integration of the SPHE programme with other subject areas. Each teacher has timetabled the allocated discrete time of 30 minutes per week to the teaching of SPHE. The teachers draw upon a range of programmes to support curriculum implementation. They employ a wide variety of effective teaching methodologies including class discussions, group work, debates and role play. The promotion of a positive school atmosphere within the school and the classroom effectively supports the development of a sense of self and of belonging among the pupils. Equal opportunities are awarded to boys and girls to contribute orally to class discussions and all pupils are encouraged to listen to and to respect different points of view. The good practice of inviting guest speakers to address the areas of substance misuse and road and fire safety is recognised. It is now recommended that a Relationship and Sexuality policy be drafted as a matter of priority. It is further recommended that parental involvement be facilitated to enable parents to contribute fully to the development and implementation of the SPHE programme in the school.  

 

3.4 Assessment

The quality of assessment in the school varies from being fair to good. All teachers were observed to assess pupil learning informally during the lessons and to provide individual support to pupils who were experiencing difficulties. Standardised tests in literacy and numeracy are administered annually and pupil attainment in these tests is reported to parents at the parent-teacher meeting. All teachers maintain a written record of pupil progress in some strands of literacy and numeracy. However, these assessment data are summative in nature and there is little evidence to indicate that they are utilised to inform whole-school planning or that they inform classroom teaching and learning. It is therefore recommended that a whole-school assessment and record keeping policy be drafted which should ensure that the assessment of pupil progress features regularly across the curriculum and that assessment data impact positively on the quality of pupils’ learning outcomes. 

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

A good special educational needs policy informs the work of the two teachers who provide support for pupils with identified learning needs. These pupils are making good progress in accordance with their ages and ability levels. Each teacher prepares good individual education plans (IEPs) for the pupils. These IEPs effectively utilise the results of standardised and diagnostic tests and the reports of educational psychologists and speech therapists to identify pupil strengths and areas of learning difficulty. In consultation with parents, priority learning needs are identified and specific learning targets are outlined. Lessons are organised which provide for a range of learning activities in which specific areas of difficulty are addressed. Care is taken to ensure that a variety of teaching and learning methodologies is utilised. Pupils are provided with opportunities to engage with a variety of concrete materials to support their learning. It is recommended however, that increased attention be paid to the documentation of pupil progress in relation to the attainment of the specified learning targets. The detail of this progress should be regularly recorded and communicated to the parents. The practice of providing support solely through the withdrawal of pupils from the classroom should also be reviewed in addition to addressing the provision of early intervention programmes in the infant and junior levels.

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

  • It is evident that the positive and inclusive school atmosphere nurtured in this school contributes to the building of a learning environment where all members of the school community are valued. The board, staff and pupils work collaboratively in this respect.
  • The quality of teaching and learning in Irish and Mathematics is of a very good standard.
  • There is an excellent relationship between the members of the teaching staff and they work collaboratively in the best interest of the pupils.

 

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

 

  • It is recommended that the board familiarise itself with relevant legislation and department circulars in relation to whole-school planning. This knowledge will assist in the reviewing of current plans and policies and in the drafting of outstanding documents which should enhance current educational provision for the pupils.
  • The board should renew its efforts at establishing a parents’ association. It should further  ensure that parents are enabled to play a more meaningful role in the life of the school and in supporting their children’s’ education.
  • It is recommended that the board, in consultation with parents, draft a Relationship and Sexuality policy as a matter of priority.

 

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.

 

 

  

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report

 

The Board of Management welcomes the WSE report and acknowledges the commitment and dedication of all staff, pupils and the school community.   We would like to thank the inspector for the courtesy and respect shown during the WSE.   We found the process positive, informative and valuable to all and we welcome the recommendations suggested.

 

 

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 of Management have taken on board the recommendations

 

 

 

 Published June 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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 [h2]Note changes to language section.