An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Cloghoula National School

Cloghoula, Millstreet, County Cork

Uimhir rolla: 09872J

 

Date of inspection: 27 March 2009

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils

Conclusion

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Cloghoula National School was undertaken in March, 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 Geography. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

Cloghoula National School is situated approximately three miles from Millstreet town in a rural area. This is a two teacher, co-educational, Catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of Kerry. The school functions in a prefabricated building since 1965. The principal, temporary mainstream class teacher, resource teacher, part-time secretary and caretaker have all been appointed since September 2008. There are two mainstream classrooms. The learning support teacher, resource teacher and the school secretary operate in the staffroom

 

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

18

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

2

Mainstream class teachers

2

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

0.5

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

According to its mission statement, the school seeks to nurture the child in all dimensions of his or her life – spiritual, cognitive, imaginative, emotional, aesthetic, physical and social.

 

1.2 Board of management

 

The board of management is properly constituted in accordance with Department of Education and Science guidelines. It meets at least once a term and minutes of the meetings are kept. Issues relating to the administration of the school are discussed in a thorough and sensitive manner. Financial reports are furnished at each meeting and the principal’s report keeps the board informed of day–to-day developments in the school. The board plays an active role in the development of school policy and each element of the school plan is discussed by the board before ratification. The school manages its resources with prudence and with care. A good range of equipment and aids is available in the school and display facilities are good for the most part. Resources are used effectively to assist teaching and learning and pupils benefit from the experiences given. It is apparent that resources are used to very good effect to enhance the curricular work of the school. The school’s part-time caretaker and secretary make a very positive contribution to school work and their role is of great value for its overall success.

Despite the efforts of the board of management the school building is not of the standard required. In view of the accommodation needs, there is an urgent need for the board to consider a major improvement to the school’s accommodation to meet present and future needs. It is recommended that the school’s classroom and staff accommodation be significantly improved to meet the needs that are apparent. It is recommended that the board should consider and explore safety issues as regards the public road particularly at school opening and closing times.

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The in-school management team consists of the principal and the special duties teacher. The principal is highly commended for her commitment and capacity in leading and managing the school.  She is particularly successful in creating a shared vision for the school community and in setting and achieving curricular, organisational and pastoral priorities.  Due to her efforts, the school is characterised by a constructive learning atmosphere, in which positive pupil engagement and open communication with the wider school community are cultivated.  She is ably assisted in her role by the special duties teacher and a very positive working relationship is in evidence.  Whole-school planning activities are jointly progressed, with the emphasis on learning and the achievement of school improvement being lauded.  A highly collaborative approach is also in evidence in relation to monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of learning outcomes in curriculum areas.  The enthusiasm and dedication of the in-school management team is highly praised.  

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

It is apparent that the school fosters good relations and open communication with the school community which is invited to attend various school events throughout the year. The parents express a high level of satisfaction with the school and are particularly appreciative of the efforts of staff. They meet with the teachers on a formal basis on one occasion each year but know that they are welcome to consult with teachers on an individual basis whenever they deem it necessary; and they regularly do so, particularly at the behest of teachers who seek their sustained support in addressing particular needs of their children.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

The pupils are given very good training in terms of applying themselves to their work in school. At the infant and junior levels, the youngest pupils are given excellent foundational assistance so that they may benefit from all that is provided for them in school. Through the junior classes and beyond, good discipline and training are provided as a matter of routine. As the pupils advance they are accorded additional roles of responsibility and significant growth and development in terms of maturity is clearly apparent. The senior pupils show an excellent responsibility and good sense in their interactions with each other and with adults. The school has a most creditable approach to the management of the pupils.

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

The quality of whole-school planning is of a high standard. Comprehensive work has been done in the preparation of the whole school plan. This is kept in a series of folders and provides guidance on most aspects of school business. The administrative element of the plan includes a mission statement, attendance policy, home school links, homework policy, the safety statement, code of behaviour and anti-bullying policy. The school also values highly its relationship with parents and the local community and seeks to continue to work in partnership with parents/guardians to ensure the best interests of each child are provided for. The enrolment policy has recently been revised and ratified by the board of management, to take account of relevant legislation. There is good linkage between the content of the school plan and the overall implementation of the curriculum in the school. It is evident that the planning process is beneficial for the work of the school. A planning diary is in place detailing the dates for revision of school policies. This good practice is commended.

 

The quality of classroom planning is of a very high standard. The teachers furnish comprehensive preparation and planning material. It is apparent that all members of staff give thought and effort to outlining their programmes of work and keeping account of work completed. The monthly progress records are completed appropriately. Equipment and aids for learning are provided and display material is used freely in classrooms. Every effort is made to match learning experiences with the level of maturity and knowledge of 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 Overview of learning and teaching

The school provides very fully for learning and teaching. All members of staff devote energy and commitment to their classroom practice. Pupils are given exposure to a range of learning experiences with class work, group work and pair work featuring as regular elements in the classrooms. The school provides an atmosphere that is most conducive to learning and growth in a secure and well ordered system. Pupils show high levels of interest in their work at school and there are very good opportunities for engagement and challenge in the day to day activities.

 

3.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá plean scoile don Ghaeilge forbartha ag an scoil. Tá leanúnachas le feiceáil idir an plean scoile agus pleananna na n-oidí. Tá réimse leathan d’áiseanna le haghaidh múineadh na Gaeilge ar fáil. Úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar theanga chumarsáide sna ceachtanna Gaeilge sna ranganna. Baintear úsáid as scéalaíocht, obair bheirte, ról-imirt agus drámaíocht ins na ceachtanna seo agus moltar an cur chuige seo a fhorbairt a thuilleadh. Moltar níos mó béime a chur ar na gnéithe seo i ngach rang chun scileanna cumarsáide a fhorbairt agus chun féinmhuinín a chothú. Tá bá ag na daltaí óga leis an nGaeilge agus canann said amhráin agus rainn le brí agus spiorad. Tá téascleabhar caighdeánach in usáid i ngach rang agus tá béim chuí leaghta ar mhúineadh an fhoclóra. Cé go bhfuil na daltaí in ann an Ghaeilge a léamh go cruinn sna meán agus sna hardranganna, ba chóir níos mó béime a chur ar a dtuiscint a fhorbairt agus ar ábhar na léitheoireachta a phlé. Tá caighdeán maith bainte amach ag na daltaí. Tá timpeallacht prionta shaibhir sna ranganna idir ábhar tráchtála, ábhar deartha ag na h-oidí agus obair na ndaltaí. Déantar cleachtaí scríbhneoireachta go tráthrialta. Moltar anois breis éagsúlachta a chothú ins na cleachtaí scríbhneoireachta chun foghlaim na ndaltaí a threisiú.

 

Irish

The school has developed a school plan for Irish. Continuity is evident between the school plan and the teachers’ individual planning. There is a wide range of resources available for the teaching of Irish. Irish is the language of communication in Irish lessons in the classrooms. Story, pair work, role-play and drama are used in these lessons and it is recommended that this practice be further developed. It is also recommended that an additional emphasis be placed on these items in all classes to develop communication skills and to foster self confidence. The pupils display an appreciation of Irish and they sing songs and recite rhymes with understanding and in a spirited manner. Standard text books are in use in all classes and an appropriate emphasis is placed on the teaching of vocabulary. Although the pupils can read Irish precisely in the middle and senior classes, more emphasis should be placed on developing their understanding and on discussing the subject matter. The pupils have attained a good standard in Irish. There is a print rich environment in the classrooms, commercially produced materials, materials produced by the teachers and pupils’ work. Writing exercises are engaged in regularly. It is recommended that writing exercises have more variety to develop the pupils’ learning.

 

English

Most pupils attain high standards in English. Oral language development is appropriately emphasised and most of the pupils speak about themselves, their interests and a variety of other topics articulately and enthusiastically. The work done on the recitation, study and writing of poetry is of a good standard. There is a print-rich environment in all the mainstream classrooms and throughout the school. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of phonological awareness, as part of the foundation of basic reading skills, in the junior classes. The emphasis placed on developing reading skills and on developing a love of reading in the school ensures that a very high standard of reading is achieved by most pupils. Class libraries are well stocked and well presented. The school library is very well stocked and very attractively laid out. This library provides a continuous supply of books for readers at all levels of age and ability. Shared reading takes place in most classes and records are kept to ensure that pupils read a number of books each year. The standard of English writing throughout the school is high. There are very good examples of pupils’ writing in a wide variety of genres on display in every class. The writing process is appropriately emphasised and written work is carefully edited and published in class. Copybooks and workbooks contain highly commendable work in functional and creative writing.

 

3.3 Mathematics

 

Mathematics is timetabled appropriately for all classes and lessons are conducted with energy and enthusiasm. The school has an appropriate array of equipment and mathematical aids to assist the work and these are on prominent display along with chart and poster display material. The junior classes memorise number facts with care using number lines and hundred squares to assist understanding. The pupils are grouped for instruction and equipment is used regularly to facilitate particular features of the work. They display good understanding of number and they are accurate and precise in mental work and can solve relational number questions and show their work on paper. Written work is suitably varied and neatly recorded with appropriate use of squared paper for exercises. The pupils show good progress in their lessons overall.

 

The older pupils reveal good knowledge and understanding of their work in Mathematics. They enjoy mental questions and the challenge of oral work. They display accurate and complete knowledge of various facets of their programme and they are enthusiastic in their discussion of problems and solutions. Measuring and estimating are well handled and the pupils display good understanding of activities based on mathematics. Lessons are practical and good use is made of tangible materials to assist comprehension. The written work in mathematics is of a high calibre and merits particular praise for its neatness, order and clarity. It is apparent that the quality of learning and teaching is creditable and that the pupils are well advanced in their studies.  

 

3.4 Geography

 

The standards of teaching and learning in Geography are very good throughout the school. Teachers are to be commended for their balanced implementation of the geography curriculum. The comprehensive whole-school plan provides a clear and practical guide which facilitates effective implementation. Clear and focused talk and discussion periods form part of lessons in most classes. Lessons are well presented and pupils are skilfully motivated through the use of stimulating resources. There is also an appropriate emphasis placed on the development of geographical concepts and skills.

 

The pupils’ sense of place and space is very well-developed throughout the school. Many pupils show a very good knowledge of human and natural environments worldwide. Teacher observation and questioning are used to assess progress in learning outcomes and this in turn informs teaching. The emphasis placed on local Geography is commendable. In some classes, the pupils have drawn maps of their local area.

 

3.5 Assessment

 

Assessment of the learning outcomes for pupils takes place regularly in this school. From a whole school perspective, assessment occurs formally through the administration of Micra-T and Sigma-T tests, the Middle Infant Screening Test MIST. This data is compiled and maintained well. Diagnostic testing includes the use of Quest and Ted Ames diagnostic test. The results are used to develop learning appropriate targets. It is now recommended that consideration be given to the further development. Regular collaboration with the parents provides a mechanism for the dissemination of this information.

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

A comprehensive whole-school plan for pupils with special educational needs is being developed. It outlines prevention strategies, an early intervention programme, criteria for the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching, procedures for discontinuation of pupils and the various roles of the partners involved in the pupils’ learning. Effective links have been established with outside agencies, where required. It is recommended that this plan be ratified by the board of management at the earliest opportunity.

 

Support for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) is provided primarily in the areas of literacy and numeracy. The resource teacher whose base school is Millstreet Boys’ National School, attends the school daily. She also attends another school in the area. The Learning Support teacher attends the school on two days a week for 2.5hours weekly. While much of the supplementary teaching takes place on a withdrawal basis either individually or in small groups, provision for in-class support has been initiated. It is now recommended that this initiative be further developed. Early intervention strategies are used to support pupils in the junior classes to assist them in developing literacy and numeracy skills.

 

Individual education plans are in place for pupils receiving support and each contain a review date, have priority learning needs and learning targets. Each IEP is signed by the principal, class teacher, learning support teacher and the parents. Each class teacher and the principal retain a copy of the IEP.

 

The use of ICT in lessons is commended and consideration could be given to developing this further to enhance the pupils’ learning experience. In numeracy the work is based on the pupils’ environment, however the use of manipulatives should form a greater part of the learning experience. Consideration might also be given to accessing the support services for additional support in the teaching of numeracy.

 

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

 

The school welcomes pupils from all backgrounds. Its aim is that each child’s potential is realised. At present there are no pupils from disadvantaged or minority groups attending the school.

 

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

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

 

 

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and the board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.

 

 

 

 

Published, November 2009