An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Rinnín

Rinnín Sráid na Cathrach, Contae An Chláir

Uimhir rolla:  09425H

 

 

 

 

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 Scoil Náisiúnta Rinnín was undertaken in January 2009. 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 in the Visual Arts.  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

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Rinnín is a rural, co-educational, two-teacher primary school situated in a scenic location close to the Atlantic coast in the parish of Miltown Malbay. Enrolment figures have risen steadily in recent years and are projected to rise further in the foreseeable future. Average attendance for the previous school year compares very favourably with published figures for national mean annual attendance. The school was built in 1869 and has just undergone an extensive refurbishment resulting in the provision of a very high quality educational environment for pupils of the locality. The overall accommodation provision now consists of two spacious classrooms, a room for special needs teaching, a computer room, a general purposes room and ancillary accommodation. Important architectural features of the existing building are commendably preserved. In the school grounds pupils have access to a playing field, basketball court and spacious tarmac area. The school is involved in the Modern Languages in the Primary School Initiative and as a result, pupils in the senior classes are taught French for one and a half hours per week.

 

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

24

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

2

Mainstream class teachers

2

Teachers working in support roles

1

Special needs assistants

0

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

Scoil Náisiúnta Rinnín is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Killaloe. The school’s mission statement expresses a commitment to the holistic development of its pupils to the highest standards attainable in an atmosphere and manner that will provide pupils with happy memories of their school days. 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 is properly constituted and is committed to managing the school in a manner that seeks to provide for the best possible quality of education for the pupils enrolled. Regular meetings are held and minutes carefully recorded. The principal has frequent contact with the chairperson and other office-holders between meetings. Prudent management of the school’s finances is evident from the results of spending decisions over time on resources and infrastructure and from the manner in which transactions are recorded. From the end of the current school year, it is the intention of the board to have its accounts independently certified on an annual basis.  The competent and dedicated teaching staff, the supportive parent body and the centrality and importance of the school in the life of the local community are regarded by the board as key strengths of the school. Current priorities include the maintenance of existing standards, a review of organisational policies and planning for the most effective use of the recently acquired information and communications technology (ICT). Clear and detailed policies have been compiled on a range of issues. These include health and safety, anti-bullying, homework and a complaints procedure. Policies are drafted by the staff and ratified by the board. Greater involvement by the board and by parents generally in policy formation should add to board and parental understanding of the work of the school and would increase further the high levels of co-operation and cohesion already in existence.  

 

1.3 In-school management

Since his appointment in 2003 the principal has provided highly effective professional leadership which he exercises with a strong sense of commitment to maintaining very good relationships with all stakeholders. Recent school developments are a testament to the capable and collegial manner in which the principal has succeeded in harnessing the energies of the staff, board and parent body in efforts to provide a high quality contemporary learning environment. The principal prioritises the attainment of high level learning standards as his main focus and in this regard promotes the provision of varied and exciting learning experiences for pupils, both inside and outside the classroom. He is ably assisted in the co-leadership and management of the day-to-day running of the school by a capable and committed deputy. While specific duties have been assigned to the deputy, she willingly undertakes a wide range of other ancillary tasks which are supportive of leadership and teamwork in the school. Leadership is also vested in the shared learning support/resource teacher particularly in regard to the management and delivery of special needs provision.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Staff and parents co-operate very effectively in this school. Parents have opportunities to meet teachers informally almost on a daily basis. Formal parent/teacher meetings are held in November and annual written reports are issued in July each year. Teachers discuss the results of standardised tests with parents. Parents’ representatives indicate a very high level of satisfaction with the quality of education provided for pupils. Detailed newsletters to parents are issued frequently by the principal. These newsletters provide valuable information on school activities, affirm pupils for their efforts and achievements and acknowledge parental support for and involvement in school events. They provide extensive evidence of the school’s involvement in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and are a valuable historical record of events in the life of Scoil Náisiúnta Rinnín. Parents support the work of teachers through the provision of transport to swimming lessons, games, athletics, concerts and other outings. They co-operate in a shared reading project and assist on special occasions such as the official opening of the newly refurbished building.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

Pupils in Scoil Náisiúnta Rinnín are very well managed and the good staff/pupil relationships evident are based on mutual respect. Careful supervision allied to the organisation of gainful and enjoyable activities during breaks times, adds to the creation of a positive school climate. The staff’s commitment to the development and welfare of each individual pupil is highly praiseworthy. During the inspection process the pupils were observed to be friendly, mannerly and well-behaved at all times.

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is very good.  Planning documentation made available was extensive and indicates that the planning process in the school has been developing for some time although over the past two years the main focus of planning activity has centred on the completion of the very fine facilities that now exist. Curricular and organisational policies have been drafted by staff through involvement in clustering arrangements with neighbouring schools and with advice from the support services. These policies are suitably customised to reflect the needs of the school and have been ratified by the board. Some policies are circulated to parents and the remainder are available for inspection in the school.  The most recent exercise in curricular planning involved development of a Physical Education policy. This work is ongoing and has been given impetus by the completion of the general-purposes room and additional outdoor facilities. The staff has also identified the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) as an area to be prioritised for policy development in the short term. At this point existing good practice in planning would be enhanced by ordering priorities strategically, by greater involvement of parents and the board in the planning process and by carefully evaluating the impact of policies on performance.

 

Planning is clearly influenced by the whole school policy documents in each curricular area. A common classroom planning template, combining fortnightly preparation and monthly reporting, has been adopted. Teachers are commended for the thought and effort given in this school to classroom planning. As a result, teaching is positively influenced and the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum, based on the strands and strand units of the Primary Curriculum, is ensured. Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are carefully compiled for the benefit of pupils with special educational needs. The staff members are conscious of the benefits of self-evaluation and teachers cite their experience of using the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) review templates as being particularly positive in terms of their impact on the implementation of changes in practice. More precise statements of curricular outcomes and of planned content in some curricular areas would facilitate change to an even greater extent. The monthly progress report could also be usefully used as a vehicle for self-review in the future.

 

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

Caitear dua agus díogras le teagasc na Gaeilge sa dá sheomra agus tá moladh tuillte ag an bhfoireann as ardchaighdeán na múinteoireachta a bhí le sonrú le linn an mheasúnaithe. Déantar cumarsáid leis na daltaí trí Ghaeilge go leanúnach le linn na hoibre agus úsáidtear an Ghaeilge go coitianta mar theanga bhainistíochta ranga. Léirítear ceachtanna taitneamhacha go bríomhar samhlaíoch agus bíonn na daltaí gníomhach ina gcuid foghlama. Spreagtar na daltaí chun cainte trí chluichí mhealltacha agus obair i bpéirí. Úsáidtear acmhainní tarraingteacha go tairbheach chun na bunmhúnlaí comhrá agus raon leathan foclóra a dhaingniú. Sna bunranganna cuirtear béim fhóinteach ar rainn agus ar ghníomhamhráin chun an chumarsáid a threisiú.  Chruthaigh na hardranganna a gcumas leis an nGaeilge maidir le líofacht, cruinneas agus tuiscint leathan foclóra, trí dráma a léirigh siad.

Cothaítear an léitheoireacht go córasach agus léann na daltaí i gcoitinne le cruinneas agus le brí. Moltar go speisialta an úsáid a bhaintear as raon leabhairíní beaga chun an chumas léitheoireachta agus feasacht teanga a chur chun cinn. Cabhraíonn na tuismitheoirí san obair seo freisin.

Tugtar neart deiseanna do na daltaí an scríbhneoireacht a chleachtadh agus baintear caighdeán maith amach san obair sin. Glactar an-chúram leis an bpeannaireacht agus an néatacht agus déantar monatóireacht inmholta ar shaothar na ndaltaí. Anois, chun barr maitheasa a chur ar an dea-obair i nGaeilge moltar díriú isteach ar bhreis cumais agus muiníne sa bhfíorchumarsáid a chothú ‘sna daltaí.

 

Irish

Much effort and fervour is expended in the teaching of Irish in both rooms and the staff deserves praise for the high standard of teaching in evidence during the evaluation. Communication is undertaken consistently through Irish during class work and Irish is frequently used as a medium of communication in managing the classroom. Engaging lessons are taught in a lively and imaginative way and pupils are active in their own learning. Pupils are encouraged to speak through the use of appealing games and pair work. Attractive resources are used effectively in the teaching of basic language structures and in the reinforcement of extensive vocabulary. To improve communication, useful emphasis is placed in the junior classes on rhymes and action songs.  The senior classes performed a drama in which they displayed a commendable facility with Irish in terms of fluency, accuracy and understanding of a broad vocabulary.

Reading skills are developed systematically and in general pupils read accurately and with meaning. The use which is made of a range of simple library books to develop reading ability and language awareness is particularly praiseworthy. Parents assist in this work also.

 

Pupils are given frequent opportunities to write and achieve a good standard in their work. Neatness and handwriting skills are carefully cultivated and pupils’ work is assiduously monitored. At this point, it is recommended that the teaching of Irish could be taken to the next level by focusing on improving pupils’ confidence and ability to engage in real-life communication.

 

English

The teaching of English results in very good standards in all classes. Talk and discussion, play and games, story, improvisational drama and poetry and rhyme are used effectively as contexts for approaching oral language activity. In the junior classes pupils’ use of language is very effectively developed through the dramatic presentation of stories and guiding pupils’ responses to this experience. In the senior classroom pupils are encouraged to engage in the oral exploration of topics of current interest and display very good knowledge of topics discussed. Talk and discussion are used widely across the curriculum with concomitant beneficial effects on the listener/speaker relationship and on the development of pupils’ higher-order thinking skills. Poetry is explored and recited with enjoyment in all classes. It should be possible at this point to strive for greater fluency and confidence in oral expression.

Reading skills are systematically developed and the results in standardised tests indicate commendable achievements at all levels. Many notable strategies are exploited in this work. Phonological awareness is carefully nurtured in the junior classes where an early intervention programme is mediated. Displays of print are prominent features of both attractively decorated classrooms. Parents are involved through a shared reading programme for which the school has compiled a very useful guide. Pupils read a wide variety of material from well-stocked class libraries and the local library. They write their own books for the Write a Book project and compile interesting studies related to local history. Pupils have interacted with authors discussing their work both in school and in Miltown Malbay library. They have participated in the Clare County Library Reading Challenge. In the senior and junior classrooms pupils read a number of class novels each year.

Good practice features prominently in pupils’ engagement with the writing process. Pupils in junior classes are given worthwhile opportunities to engage in free writing. Drafting, editing and the use of ICT to finalise work encourages pupils by giving them pride in their work. There is an appropriate emphasis on giving pupils mastery of conventional spelling and a sound knowledge of grammar and syntax in context. A cursive style of handwriting is developed throughout the school and pupils’ work, in a variety of genres, is neatly presented and carefully monitored.

 

3.2 Mathematics

The standard of achievement in mathematics is high throughout the school as reflected in impressive standardised test results.  Both teachers are experienced in teaching in multigrade settings, where common themes are developed in a differentiated manner to meet the needs of pupils of various class and attainment levels. A broad and balanced Mathematics programme is taught. Lessons observed were well-structured and there was a commendable emphasis on focused talk and discussion, on the use of mathematical language and on constructivist approaches to the acquisition of concepts.

Good practice was observed in the development of estimation and problem solving skills through enabling the pupils to work collaboratively in groups. Very good use is made of the broad range of mathematical equipment in the school and teachers are commended for researching and sourcing suitable artefacts and materials which enliven their presentations. Thoughtful construction and use of maths trails provides for meaningful and effective use of the environment as a springboard for the pupils’ learning. ICT is well used to reinforce concept development in various topics. Pupils record their work neatly and this work is regularly and appropriately monitored by the teachers. Samples of pupils’ work are displayed attractively.

 

3.3 Visual Arts

Much good work is done in the Visual Arts throughout the school. The strands and strand units are addressed in a balanced manner over time. The pupils’ work is attractively displayed in classrooms and corridors. Pupils are given frequent opportunities to develop their creativity and skills in a range of media and appropriate attention is given to two-dimensional and three-dimensional artwork in both rooms. Pupils also benefit greatly from opportunities to work with visiting artists and crafts people. Lessons observed in clay and fabric and fibre featured highly stimulating introductory discussion aimed at awakening the pupils’ interests and imagination in the task in hand. In this way attention is drawn to the visual elements of line, shape, form, colour and tone, pattern and rhythm, texture and spatial organisation. Integration of work in Visual Arts with other curricular areas is also a feature of work undertaken. Consideration could now be given to planning to address curricular strands in a manner uniquely suited to multigrade teaching.

 

3.4 Assessment

Very good assessment practice has developed over a number of years in this school. Such practice encompasses a range of approaches including monitoring and correction of work, teacher-devised tests and tasks and standardised tests in English and Mathematics. Results of Micra-T, Sigma-T and Drumcondra Reading and Mathematics tests are carefully tabulated and tracked and analysis of the tests informs teaching on an ongoing basis. Performance in these tests indicates high standards of achievement in literacy and numeracy throughout the school. Results of these tests and of various diagnostic tests are effectively used to address the learning deficits of weaker pupils. Test results are reported to parents annually. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is administered in senior infants to identify pupils in need of specific intervention in the development of early reading skills and where necessary a follow-on programme of intervention is implemented. To build on existing good practice the staff might usefully consider exploring further the potential of formative assessment as an aid to learning.

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The school has the services of a shared special needs teacher who deals with both high incidence and low incidence needs from a total allocation of fourteen and a half hours per week. This teacher is based in Liscannor NS. A comprehensive learning-support policy, compiled in conjunction with the local principals’ cluster and support services, effectively guides practice in this area. This policy incorporates a staged approach to meeting the needs of pupils. Time is allocated at each staff meeting to discussing ongoing progress. Support for pupils is delivered both in the classroom and through withdrawal of pupils for individual or small group teaching. The learning support/resource teacher also delivers a programme of early intervention in language enhancement to the infant classes. Teachers collaborate very successfully in the delivery of such programmes. Some pupils receive regular speech therapy sessions from the Health Service Executive (HSE) speech therapists.  Pupils are given supplementary teaching on a priority basis as determined by results in standardised attainment tests, consultation with classroom teachers and/or recommendations in psychological reports.  Detailed IEPs, which contain specific learning targets to address priority learning needs, are drawn up for each pupil. These plans are regularly reviewed and updated and discussed with parents. Teaching in this area is well-planned and well-delivered and clearly offers significant help to the pupils concerned.

 

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

There are no pupils from minority or other groups attending the school at present.

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

·         This school provides a caring, stimulating and well-ordered environment where each individual pupil is encouraged to derive maximum benefit from broad and balanced curricular provision.

·         Hard-working, innovative and highly accomplished teachers work purposefully to optimise teaching and learning for their pupils.

·         The school achieves commendable standards across all curricular areas, particularly in literacy and numeracy.

·         The support and co-operation of an effective board of management and of a parent body with a deep commitment to the education of the pupils adds greatly to the cohesiveness of educational provision.

·         The newly refurbished school and surrounds provide highly suitable conditions for the delivery of a relevant curriculum.

·         Judicious use of funding has resulted in this school being well-resourced.

·         Efficient use is made of resources to support the teaching and learning process.

·         An atmosphere of calm purposeful collaboration pervades the school.

 

 

 

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 and staff now outline school planning priorities and draw up a timescale for a staged review of the school’s curricular and organisational policies over the next two to three years.

 

·         It is recommended that future self-evaluative practices be focused on evaluating the impact of school policies on performance and that all stake holders would be appropriately involved in this process.

 

·         It is recommended that staff would now pursue its stated aim of investigating the possibilities that ICT presents as a medium to aid teaching and learning and to draw up a policy in this regard.  In this context consideration might be given to the development of a school web site.

 

 

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 April 2009

 

 

 

 

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 of Rineen N.S. wishes to thank the Inspectorate for the professionalism, courtesy and support given in the recent W.S.E.

We welcome the affirmation of the work done by teachers, pupils, parents, the school community and the B.O.M.

 

 

 

 

 

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 has studied the findings and is acting on the recommendations in the report.