An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Carnane National School
Carnane, Fedamore, Co. Limerick
Uimhir rolla: 09132 P
Date of inspection: 12 October 2007
Date of issue of report: 17 April 2008
A whole-school evaluation of Carnane National School was undertaken in October 2007. 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 Physical Education. 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.
The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:
Pupils enrolled in the school
Mainstream classes in the school
Teachers on the school staff
Mainstream class teachers
Teachers working in support roles
1 LST (full time/shared)
(part time hours)
Special needs assistants
The characteristic spirit and vision of Carnane National School is clearly outlined in the school’s planning documentation. The school ethos is defined as ‘one of well-organised, co-operative-based learning involving pupils, teachers, parents and the wider community’. It is also stated that the school strives ‘to provide every opportunity for its pupils to work comfortably, efficiently, safely and to the best of their ability in a calm, happy school environment with a firm, yet fair and consistent code of discipline’. The school ethos also promotes the ‘Christian values of respect for all, tolerance of differences, caring for those around us and the environment.’ The school motto is ‘Ingenio et labore’ – ‘by natural ability and hard work’ and it was evident during the evaluation that pupils have an awareness of this work ethic and aspiration. It is also apparent that there is a sense of common purpose among the school community.
The board of management is properly constituted and is supportive of all school-related activities. It is evident that board members work diligently in the interest of the school and its pupils. The board convenes on a regular basis and it endeavours to comply with statutory requirements, departmental guidelines and circulars. It is recommended, however, that the board undertakes a review of the school’s Enrolment Policy and its Policy for Children with Special Needs as a matter of urgency, so that statutory obligations pertaining to the Education Act (1998) and the Equal Status Acts (2004) are fulfilled. During the course of this evaluation, it was reported that extra-curricular activities are organised during the school day, which are undertaken by external tutors and which are partially funded by the parents in the school. It is recommended that the board undertakes a review of this practice so that the integrity of the school day is maintained. It is also important to ensure that funding for activities undertaken during school time is not sought and obtained from parents.
The board reported that it was very satisfied with the quality of teaching in the school. Reference was also made to the manner in which community support in the work of the school is encouraged. Board members further commented on the readiness of pupils on entry to post primary school and on the good levels of behaviour and discipline which have been established among the pupils. Consideration should now be given to developing a policy on Staff Rotation, which would provide opportunities for all teachers to teach at different class levels throughout the school.
The board reports that good communication structures are in existence with the general parent body. A meeting between the board of management and the school’s parents’ association is convened every year and this feature of good practice is commended. Parent/teacher meetings are convened on a bi-annual basis and school notes and information letters are also disseminated appropriately. It is now recommended that written reports on pupil progress be issued each year, as outlined in Circular 0138/2006 ‘Supporting Assessment in Primary Schools.’
The current priorities of the school’s board of management relate to the establishment of security measures within the environs of the school, to address recent incidents of vandalism on the school premises and also to oversee the management of the school’s financial matters. Ensuring the stability of pupil enrolment has also been highlighted as an area of priority. The board plays a collaborative role in the formulation of school planning policies, through discussion and ratification of documentation. It is reported that there is a general parental awareness of the availability of the school’s planning policies. It is now important to ensure, however, that all organisational and curricular school planning policies are signed and dated by the chairperson of the board of management. It is further advised that the board formulates a long-term strategic development plan. This action plan would enable the board to identify realistic and achievable targets, which would outline how the school’s priorities would be resourced, implemented and evaluated. A timescale for achieving these objectives, which would ultimately lead to the improvement of prioritised areas of educational provision within the school, could also be devised.
The in-school management team
includes the teaching principal, the deputy principal and one special duties post-holder.
The principal demonstrates very good professional standards and she is responsible for the daily operation of the school. She actively promotes positive behaviour and attendance by pupils, develops the whole-school planning process and displays good organisational ability. It is evident that the principal’s work in managing the school is effective and that she sets realistic expectations for the staff and for the pupils in all their daily routines. A very positive school atmosphere has been established and effective communication structures are implemented. A culture of collaborative decision-making and team work is promoted and sufficient responsibilities are delegated to the staff, as appropriate.
The principal is supported in her work by the in-school management team and this team assists in the operational aspects of the school. Regular and informal communication systems exist between post-holders and school staff. Staff meetings are also convened on a termly basis and as necessary.
School documentation indicates that the primary responsibilities of the principal, deputy principal and special duties post-holder include pastoral, organisational and curricular duties. It is evident that curriculum co-ordinators have been identified in the curricular areas of Physical Education, English, Learning Support and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The further extension of this feature of good practice is recommended. It is now important to ensure that the role of the curriculum co-ordinator oversees the overall co-ordination of identified areas of the curriculum, ensures the review and the evaluation of the appropriate policies and advises on the systematic progression, practice and implementation of the identified curricular area throughout the school.
During the pre-evaluation meetings, the inspection team met with the officers of the parents’ association (PA) in this school. The PA is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council (NPC) and it is evident that the PA is very active in the school through the organisation of events and fundraising activities. An Annual General Meeting (AGM) is convened each year and meetings of the PA are convened on a frequent basis. It was also stated that the PA has a very good relationship with the board of management.
It is evident that the PA in this school is active and supportive of school activities. The parents’ representatives commented on supporting the work of the school through parental assistance in school-related and extra-curricular activities, including the summer barbeque, table quizzes and sports activities pertaining to Cumann na mBunscol. The application for provision of funding from Limerick County Council regarding the Small Villages Grant, towards the maintenance of the school, was cited as a project in which the PA has an involvement.
The parents’ association also subsidises extra-curricular activities within school time, such as Speech and Drama, Dancing and Swimming. It is now recommended that a review of this practice be undertaken.
The parents’ representatives reported that they were satisfied with the education provision in the school. It was also stated that parent-teacher meetings are convened on a twice-yearly basis, where oral reports on pupils’ progress are given and results of standardised tests are discussed. Written reports on pupil progress are not issued.
It was reported that parental awareness of school planning policies in the areas of Code of Behaviour and Discipline and Enrolment is encouraged.
During the pre-evaluation meeting, the parents’ representatives also discussed issues with the inspectors which related to increasing the number of parents involved in the parents’ association, the provision of appropriate physical education facilities in the school, concerns pertaining to enrolment in the recent past, matters pertaining to the possible appointment of a fourth mainstream class teacher, class size and implementing aspects of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme in the school
During the current school year, pupils have been allocated to mainstream classes in three combined class groupings of junior infant/senior infants, first/second/third class and fourth/fifth and sixth class pupils. Classroom activity and pupil behaviour are very effectively managed in all class settings. The school ethos is manifested through the positive interactions and productive management procedures which have been established. It is also evident that an atmosphere of mutual fairness and respect prevails throughout the school.
The quality of whole-school planning is, in general, very satisfactory, however, some areas for development exist. The school has devised comprehensive and coherent planning for all areas of the curriculum and for the organisation of the school. The development of the school planning process is managed collaboratively and all teachers have a copy of the school plan. Consideration should now be given to increasing parental engagement with certain aspects of the school’s organisational and curricular policies. It is also important to ensure that evaluation and review of the implementation of the school’s curricular policies is co-ordinated and monitored in a systematic manner. The formulation of an action plan which would identify priorities for development in teaching and learning, which would set challenging, achievable and time-bound targets towards further enhancing pupil achievement and which would evaluate the criteria for the success of these plans, should now be ensured.
The quality of classroom planning is good, however, some possibilities for improvement exist. All teachers provide long-term and short-term planning, which, in general, refers to the principles and structure of the Primary School Curriculum (1999) and which guides and informs classroom activity. A template for monthly progress records has been agreed among the staff. Good practice was observed in individual teacher preparation where the learning objectives, the methods and resources to be utilised and the content of lessons was clearly outlined in both long and short-term planning. At some class levels, the plans focus solely on the teaching activities to be used and the content of lessons to be taught. It is advised, therefore, that the staff would now agree on common approaches for long and short-term classroom planning, which would assist in facilitating the planning process throughout all class levels in the school. These agreed approaches should allow for the clarification of specific learning outcomes in the short-term and streamlining the broad learning outcomes in the long-term in relation to each curricular area.
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. It is now important to ensure that the deputy DLP is identified in the school’s Policy on Child Protection.
Léirítear cáipéisíocht sa phlean scoile i leith polasaí na scoile sa Ghaeilge. Moltar, anois, athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an bpolasaí chun cur chuige córasach, céimniúil a chinntiú i snáitheanna éagsúla an churaclaim ag gach rang leibhéal. Tagraítear, i gcoitinne, do struchtúir Churaclam na Bunscoile (1999) i bpleanáil na n-oidí aonair.
Déantar iarrachtaí fiúntacha atmaisféar fabhrach don Ghaeilge a chothú sna rangsheomraí agus dírítear aird ar scileanna éisteachta, labhartha agus cumarsáide na ndaltaí á cur chun cinn tríd an scoil. Feictear prionta sa timpeallacht, cuirtear ceachtanna éifeachtacha i bhfeidhm agus leagtar béim chuí ar mhodheolaíochtaí torthúla a chleachtadh i seomraí áirithe. Baintear dea-fheidhm as áiseanna agus as straitéisí éagsúla teagaisc i ranganna áirithe. Ina measc, feictear go n-úsáidtear puipéid, rannaireacht, postaeir, luaschártaí, cuntas ó bhéal, ceistiúchán agus ionchur oiriúnach teanga chun ceachtanna a chur i láthair. Moltar anois béim níos treise a chur ar Éisteacht mar shnáith den churaclam, ar an bprionta Gaeilge sa timpeallacht a fhorbairt i rangsheomraí áirithe, ar chnuasach leathan filíochta agus amhránaíochta Ghaeilge a mhúineadh agus ar an scéalaíocht a chur chun cinn tríd an scoil. Dírítear aird ar sheanfhocail agus ar fhrásaí na seachtaine a mhúineadh agus is léir go bhfuil tuiscint chuí agus foclóir oiriúnach i seilbh na ndaltaí. Ba chóir a chinntiú go ndéantar dul siar agus daingniú rialta ar fhoclóir agus ar nathanna cainte i ranganna áirithe. Úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar mhéan teagaisc i rith na geachtanna sa Ghaeilge agus is léir, freisin, go mbaintear feidhm as an nGaeilge le linn gníomhaíochtaí laethúla agus ceachtanna eile. Aithnítear an dea-chleachtas seo. Moltar anois béim a leagadh ar bhriathra, ar struchtúir fheidhmiúla agus ar an ngramadach a mhúineadh go rialta, foirmiúil, córasach tríd an scoil, de réir mar atá sonraithe i bpolasaí na Gaeilge sa phlean scoile.
Cuirtear tús leis an léitheoireacht trí phrionta sa timpeallacht a sholáthar agus trí scéimeanna léitheoireachta a úsáid. Is fiú a chinntiú anois, áfach, go ndírítear ar scileanna léitheoireachta na ndaltaí a chur chun cinn trí straitéisí focal-bhriseadh a mhúineadh, trí anailís rialta a dhéanamh ar fhocail agus trí scileanna fóineolaíochta a leathnú go foirmiúil.
Sa scríbhneoireacht, spreagtar cur-i-láthair slachtmhar in obair na gcóipleabhar. Tá sé den tábhacht anois a chinntiú go ndéantar monatóireacht agus ceartúchán rialta, éifeachtach ar shaothar scríofa na ndaltaí ag rangleibhéil áirithe. Is fiú machnamh a dhéanamh ar aird níos treise a dhíriú ar an scríbhneoireacht phearsanta agus chruthaitheach a fhorbairt, ar chineálacha éagsúla scríbhneoireachta a leathnú tríd an scoil agus ar an bpróiseas scríbhneoireachta a chur chun cinn. Ba chóir, freisin, béim níos treise a leagadh ar úsáid áiseanna an ríomhaire chun saothar scríbhneoireachta na ndaltaí sa Ghaeilge a fhoilsiú agus a thaispeáint.
Documentation is presented in the school plan regarding the Irish curricular policy. It is now recommended that this policy be reviewed so that a systematic and progressive approach to the curricular strands at each class level is ensured. In general, reference is made to the structure of the Primary School Curriculum (1999) in individual teacher planning.
Worthwhile efforts are made to nurture a favourable atmosphere towards Irish in classrooms and attention is directed at promoting pupils’ listening, oral and communicative skills throughout the school. Print in the environment is evident, lessons are implemented effectively and appropriate emphasis is placed on practising productive methodologies in some classrooms. Good use is made of a variety of resources and teaching strategies in some classrooms. It is evident that puppets, rhyming activities, posters, flashcards, oral accounts, questioning and appropriate language input is utilised to present lessons. It is recommended that greater emphasis be placed on developing the Listening (Éisteacht) strand of the curriculum, on developing print in the environment in some classrooms, on teaching a wide anthology of poetry and songs in Irish and on promoting storytelling throughout the school. Attention is directed at teaching proverbs and weekly phrases and it is evident that pupils possess an appropriate understanding and suitable vocabulary. It should be ensured that frequent revision and consolidation of vocabulary and phraseology is undertaken in certain classrooms. Irish is used as the medium of instruction during lessons in Irish and it is also evident that Irish is utilised during daily activities and other lessons. This feature of good practice is acknowledged. It is now recommended that emphasis be placed on teaching verbs, functional structures and grammar on a regular, formal and systematic basis throughout the school, as is documented in the curricular policy for Irish in the school plan.
Reading is introduced through the provision of print in the environment and through the use of reading schemes. It is now worthwhile ensuring, however, that attention is directed at promoting pupils’ reading skills through the teaching of word-attack strategies, regular word analysis and through the formal expansion of phonological skills.
In writing, neat presentation of written work in copybooks is encouraged. It is now important to ensure that regular, effective monitoring and correction of pupils’ written work is undertaken at certain class levels. Consideration should now be given to directing further attention at the development of personal and creative writing, to expanding a variety of writing genres throughout the school and to the promotion of the process approach to writing. Greater emphasis should also be placed on the use of computer resources to publish and to display pupils’ written work in Irish.
A comprehensive curricular policy is outlined in English, with appropriate reference made to curricular strands and strand units. It is recommended that a programme of work, pertaining to the incremental development of the three strands of oral, reading and writing, be detailed in the school’s curricular policy, in order to ensure that there is systematic progression of teaching and learning of English at each class level.
It is evident that print-rich environments in are developed in all classroom settings, as appropriate, and that all learning environments are attractively-organised. Lessons in English are taught in a clear and structured manner, with due attention paid to effective pacing and development of activities. Pupils are encouraged to work independently and their application to tasks, activities and behaviour is effectively managed. The practice of collaboration between mainstream and support teachers in implementing an in-class intervention model of support is commended.
During the evaluation, it was evident that pupils engaged in effective oral interaction with teachers and that most pupils displayed satisfactory oral language and speaking skills. A range of poetry is studied and recited with expression and it is evident that pupils learn an appropriate anthology. Discrete oral language activities are also implemented in classrooms. It is now recommended that a system which will assist in the ongoing assessment and monitoring of pupil progress in this area of the English curriculum be developed.
The curricular policy in Mathematics, presented in the school plan, displays a comprehensive programme of work in each strand at all class levels in the school. It is also evident that whole school planning documentation and individual teacher planning reflects the principles and structure of the Primary School Curriculum, 1999.
Lessons in Mathematics are structured and developed in an effective manner and pupils’ application to tasks and activities is managed productively. The practice of collaboration between mainstream and support teachers in implementing an in-class intervention model of support in Mathematics, where a need has been identified, is commended. Group teaching approaches are undertaken in all classes and suitable emphasis is placed on the acquisition of number concepts and skills. In classes where good practice in relation to the teaching of Mathematics was observed, concrete and structured materials were used skilfully, activities were differentiated in accordance with pupil ability and class level, while active learning strategies were also promoted.
It is now important to ensure that, in all classes, oral mathematics activity continues to be addressed on a daily basis and that maths-rich environments are created. Extending pupils’ access to and work with concrete materials and to promoting active learning strategies and activities is also recommended. Further emphasis should also be placed on expanding pupils’ problem-solving and higher-order thinking skills and the development of mathematical language. During the post evaluation meeting with the teaching staff, opportunities were provided to discuss the analysis of pupils’ attainment in numeracy. It is now important to ensure that the results of assessment tests continue to be used to inform teaching and learning activities and to ensure that differentiated activities, matched to pupil ability and appropriate to each class level, are undertaken.
A good curricular policy has been developed in relation to Physical Education (PE) and a comprehensive programme of work is presented for inclusion in the school plan. Pupil profile checklists, which relate to the attainment of skills at certain class levels, are also in evidence in this documentation.
During the evaluation, effective lesson organisation, development and implementation were evident at all class levels and productive teaching methods were also utilised, through the use of stations, team and whole-class teaching. Good features of practice were also observed during lessons in PE where Music was integrated with activities, as appropriate, and where Irish was used, on occasion, as the language of instruction. Pupils displayed competence in skill development and high pupil participation and activity were in evidence. Pupils also demonstrated a positive attitude to PE and equality of access to equipment and equal participation in all activities was ensured.
It is evident that good use is made of the school’s PE resources and equipment, that pupil activity is well managed and that appropriate procedures and attention to safety are addressed. Equipment and resources are maintained securely in an external storage area, however, the school does not have access to a general purposes area or an indoor PE facility. During the lessons observed, effective use was made of the school’s external recreational areas, which include tarmacadamed surfaces and a basketball court. A pitch in the locality is utilised on an occasional basis, for the purpose of undertaking after-school activities. It is also reported that pupil participation in Cumann na mBunscol activities is facilitated. Members of the teaching staff are commended for the investment of their time and effort in organising, assisting and attending sporting activities outside of school time. Parental assistance, in this regard, is also acknowledged.
Extra- and co-curricular provision is also made in hurling, football, dancing and swimming. It is now advised, however, that a review of the current practice of funding extra-curricular activities and external tutors during the school day be undertaken, as referenced earlier in this report.
A policy on Assessment is included in school planning documentation. It is evident that a range of informal assessment strategies is utilised during classroom activity, including teacher observation, monitoring of written work, homework and teacher-designed tests. Formal and standardised testing procedures are also undertaken through the administration of the Drumcondra Primary Reading Test (DPRT) and the Drumcondra Primary Mathematics Test (DPMT). The results of these tests are recorded methodically and are maintained securely in the school. The Drumcondra Primary Spelling Test has also been administered. It is now advised that data collected from standardised tests results be used as a base upon which to provide differentiated activities, as appropriate, and to make decisions for improvement with regard to teaching and learning experiences, at whole-school level.
At present, hard copy documentation of completed pupil tasks and activities is maintained, at some class levels, in individual pupil folders. Consideration should now be given to the development of a digital portfolio to facilitate the storage of individual children’s work samples. Diagnostic testing materials including the Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST), Quest, Parallel Spelling Test, Burt Reading Test, Schonell Spelling and the Rain Sentence Test are administered in the context of the school’s support provision. It is now advised that consideration be given to the implementation of the Forward Together Programme, as appropriate.
An oral report on the results of standardised tests and on general pupil progress is given to parents during parent/teacher meetings, which are convened on a bi-annual basis. It is now recommended that written reports on pupil progress be issued to parents on an annual basis, as outlined in Circular 0138/2006 – Supporting Assessment in Primary School.
A very comprehensive Learning Support Policy is presented in the school plan and a Policy on Special Needs Children is also documented. The school has the services of a learning support teacher, who is based on a full-time basis in this school and who is also shared with Manister National School. One part time resource teacher, who is shared among three schools, provides nine hours resource teaching time in Carnane National School.
Early intervention strategies are addressed by the learning support teacher through the implementation of literacy programmes with pupils in infant classes. In-class support is also provided in Mathematics to pupils at junior class level. The practice of undertaking this integrated model of provision in mainstream class settings is commended. Supplementary teaching in literacy and Mathematics is also addressed regarding the learning support provision in this school.
Very attractively-organised learning environments have been created in the support setting. Resource teaching is currently undertaken in the school library area. Pupils are withdrawn for support provision from mainstream classes, both individually and in groups. The programmes of learning formulated for pupils for whom supplementary and support teaching are provided, focus on the development of literacy, language, numeracy, social and behavioural skills and also on the effective use of ICT.
It is evident, from the lessons observed, that a wide range of teaching strategies is effectively implemented in support settings and that lessons are presented in a clear, organised and well-structured manner. A favourable working atmosphere is fostered, positive teacher-pupil interactions are promoted, pupil effort is frequently affirmed and very good teacher communication has been established. Pupils are encouraged to work purposefully and are motivated to remain on task. Practical and relevant activities are undertaken and a range of educational software is used in a productive manner.
There is evidence of high quality individual teacher planning in the support teaching context. This is documented through the focused and comprehensive formulation of Individual Pupil Learning Profiles (IPLPs), which identify very clearly-defined learning targets. It is now important to ensure that that IPLPs are formulated and reviewed within specific time-blocks and that the progress of pupils in receipt of resource teaching time is recorded on a regular basis. Strategies are also in place to ensure that parents receive a copy of pupils’ IPLPs, while oral feedback, regarding the progress of pupils in receipt of support provision, is provided at parent/teacher meetings on a bi-annual basis. Student profiles are completed by parents and a file is maintained on each pupil in receipt of support teaching. Weekly/fortnightly plans, group education plans, monthly progress accounts, daily records of work, attendance records and timetables are documented in a productive manner. Pupil portfolios and folders are also neatly maintained and effectively organised.
During the post evaluation meeting, it was reported that a review of the re-clustering of the part time resource teaching hours post had recently been completed, with a view to establishing a full-time resource teaching post.
Efforts are made to ensure that the education provision in this school is tailored appropriately to all pupils’ needs and abilities.
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.
Submitted by the Board of Management
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 wish to confirm that the enrolment policy of Carnane N.S. and the policy for children with special needs have been reviewed and amended in accordance with the Education Act of 1998 and the Equal Status Act of 2004.