An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Naomh Mearnóg, Portmarnock

County Dublin

Uimhir rolla: 10296G

 

Date of inspection:  13 November 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

Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

School response to the report

 

 

 


Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Scoil Naomh Mearnóg. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspectors held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. They interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management.  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.

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

Scoil Naomh Mearnóg is a fifteen-teacher co-educational school located in Portmarnock, Co. Dublin. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. Formerly one of Ireland’s largest primary school, with over one thousand pupils enrolled in 1983, the school has experienced major changes as a result of a declining school population in its catchment area and the development of new schools in the wider Portmarnock area. There are currently 284 pupils enrolled in the school. The school aims to provide a holistic education for its pupils and to support them in reaching their potential in a safe, caring environment where all partners involved in the school work in close collaboration towards a common purpose.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted, meets regularly and functions in accordance with agreed guidelines. A review of the minutes of recent board meetings confirms that a financial report and a principal’s report are presented at each meeting. The chairperson of the board has served as a member of the board for many years and is in regular contact with the principal regarding school matters. Members of the board have availed of training provided by the Catholic Primary School Managers’ Association (CPSMA). School policies required by current legislation have been ratified by the board. The board is committed to providing a safe, comfortable and pleasant learning environment for the staff and pupils and it has developed a maintenance plan to guide its work in this respect. Voluntary contributions by parents support the work of the board. Members of the board expressed their concerns about class size and the level of funding provided by the Department of Education and Science to manage the school.

 

2.2 In-school management

The in-school management team consists of the principal, the deputy principal, an assistant principal and four special duties teachers. The principal who has served in the role for many years manages the day-to-day work of the school very effectively. He has guided the school in adapting to the many changes experienced over the years. Considerable thought has been given to the development of systems and procedures that facilitate the smooth running of the school and these are communicated to all partners. The principal fosters a collaborative approach amongst staff to developing a positive working environment in the school. He relates very well with colleagues and with parents.

 

Areas of responsibility that include curricular, organisational and pastoral duties are assigned to all post-holders. In general, duties relate to the day-to-day functioning of the school and are suitably carried out. Curricular responsibilities focus mainly on managing resources. The practice of regular reporting by post-holders at staff meetings of activities undertaken is commendable and facilitates a sharing of information amongst staff members. However, meetings of the in-school management team are not a feature of school organisation. While all teachers sign contracts on being appointed to a special duties post, there is no clear procedure regarding a review of duties to respond to the changing needs of the school.

 

It is recommended that all posts of responsibility be reviewed with a specific focus on duties relating to curriculum leadership and the development of teaching and learning. The responsibilities attaching to posts should be clearly outlined and should take account of the needs of the school. Responsibility for guiding the implementation of an action plan for a specific curriculum area should be undertaken by each post-holder. Provision also needs to be made for the regular review of duties attaching to posts. To strengthen the team approach to managing the school, regular meetings of the in-school management team should be held.

 

2.3 Management of resources

The teaching staff is suitably deployed and opportunities are provided for teachers to gain experience of teaching at various class levels. Teachers regularly attend a variety of professional development courses in various aspects of the curriculum. Classrooms are bright and comfortable and very pleasant learning environments have been created throughout the school. Corridors contain a rich photographic record of the history of the school. Teachers provide an extensive range of visual and material resources to support teaching and learning. Resources are well maintained and suitably stored.

 

Very good use is made of rooms that are not required as classrooms. Participation by the school in the Hermes IT Project has led to the development of a very fine computer room. While all classes are time-tabled to use the room weekly more extensive use could be made of this facility to develop pupils’ independent learning skills across a range of curriculum areas. A well-stocked school library is used to foster an interest in reading for pleasure.

 

The school buildings and grounds are very well maintained. The extensive playing facilities, both hard-surface and grass, provide a safe recreation area for pupils. A very fine school hall is used for Physical Education, for choral work and for a variety of school activities.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school has developed a close working relationship with parents over many years. The participation of parents in aspects of school life is actively promoted and facilitated by the principal. The school’s website provides information about the school for parents and the wider school community. The parents’ association is very active and focuses on supporting extra-curricular activities for pupils. Swimming lessons and French lessons are arranged after school hours and a Book Fair for parents and pupils is organised annually. Parents assist with the organisation of the sports day and provide hospitality at various school meetings and events.

 

The association communicates with the general parent body through regular newsletters and with the wider community through notices in the parish bulletin. Clear channels of communication exist between the association, the board and the school, and a representative of the teachers attends the meetings of the parents’ association. Representatives of the parents met with the inspectors and reported satisfaction with the quality and breadth of education provided in the school. Clear procedures are in place to deal with issues of concern raised by parents. Suitable arrangements are made for parents to discuss their children’s progress both formally and informally with teachers. Written reports on pupils’ progress are sent to parents of pupils from first to sixth classes at the end of each school year.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

Pupils are valued members of the school community and mutual respect characterises interactions between pupils and the staff. The school’s code of discipline is successfully implemented and pupils are very well behaved. They display an interest in their work and contribute enthusiastically to discussion. Pupils’ attendance levels are high and parents and teachers are to be commended for the attention they give to promoting regular school attendance.

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

There is scope to further develop the school planning process. While a number of policies have been developed to date, there is no clear procedure for the regular review of school policies or for monitoring the implementation of curriculum policies. Some very good work has been done in developing a range of policies, procedures and plans that facilitate the day-to-day functioning of the school. These organisational plans are clearly presented and are available on the school’s internal web-site. Parents have been consulted regarding some policies, including Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE), homework and healthy eating. The board of management ratifies policies that have been developed by the teaching staff.

 

While whole-school plans have been developed for some curricular areas, there is no evidence of the impact of these plans on teaching and learning in the classrooms. In general they have not been sufficiently contextualised in the school, and action plans have not been drawn up to monitor their implementation. It is recommended that school plans be developed for all aspects of the curriculum and that members of the in-school management team act as curriculum leaders in co-ordinating the planning. School plans should be short and easily accessible. To ensure that plans impact on teaching and learning they should focus on giving clear guidance to teachers regarding the types and regularity of learning activities to be undertaken at each class level. A starting point for the revision or development of a curricular plan should be a review of current practice in each aspect of the subject at each class level. An action plan is required to underpin the school planning process.

 

Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 1999, updated issue May 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, April 2001). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person (DLP) has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines. While there is provision in the school’s child protection policy for the deputy principal to act as DLP in the absence of the principal, a deputy DLP has not been specifically appointed. The board is advised to formalise the appointment of a deputy DLP.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

The quality of classroom planning is generally good. All teachers provide written long-term and short-term plans to support their teaching and maintain a monthly progress report. Some plans provide very clear evidence of the curriculum being linked to the needs of pupils. Other plans are overly dependent on textbooks and do not facilitate the provision of rich learning experiences for pupils. In particular, provision needs to be made for differentiated learning activities for pupils of various ability levels, the regular use of information and communications technologies (ICT) as a learning tool and dedicated group-work. Most teachers prepare an extensive range of visual resources and have created stimulating learning environments that motivate pupils and celebrate their achievements.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

Curriculum provision is broad and balanced and in most classes it is adapted to the developmental needs of pupils. A high quality of interaction between pupils and teachers was generally evident and the classroom atmosphere was positive and affirming. Most lessons observed were well structured and suitably paced and provided for active learning. Some lessons however were insufficiently challenging for pupils and were overly didactic. Further use of the computer room during the teaching of regular lessons would enrich pupils’ learning experiences. To ensure that all pupils’ needs are being met, more emphasis should be placed on group-work where tasks are specifically designed to match pupils’ levels of ability. Building more on previous learning would enhance the quality of provision in some classes

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá éagsúlacht i gcáilíocht an teagaisc agus na foghlama sa Ghaeilge tríd an scoil. Ag teacht leis an gcleachtas is fearr baineann gach oide úsáid as an sprioc-theanga le linn na gceachtanna Gaeilge agus cuireann líofacht cainte na n-oidí eispéiris shaibhre foghlama ar fáil do dhaltaí, go háirithe ó thaobh a gcumas tuisceana ar fhuaimeanna agus ar rithim na teanga a fhorbairt. Aithrisíonn daltaí i roinnt ranganna rainn agus dánta le dea-fhoghraíocht. B’fhiú cur chuige uile scoile a aontú maidir le teagasc agus foghlaim na filíochta ag gach rang-leibhéal.

 

Breathnaíodh dea-chleachtas i múineadh na teanga i gcuid ranganna, agus bhí sár-chleachtas le feiscint freisin. Sna ceachtanna seo múintear ionchur cinnte teanga go céimniúil, agus cuirtear deiseanna ar fáil do dhaltaí an teanga nua a chleachtadh le linn gníomhaíochtaí cumarsáide. Baintear dea-úsáid as an dramaíocht chun rannpháirtíocht na ndaltaí a chothú. Tá daltaí sna ranganna seo breá ábalta ceisteanna a chur agus a fhreagairt agus abairtí a chruthú, agus is mór an chabhair dóibh an timpeallacht shaibhir prionta atá cruthaithe sna seomraí ranga. Baineann  easpa struchtúra leis na ceachtanna i gcuid ranganna áfach. Ní léir go bhfuiltear ag tógáil ar fhoghlaim na ndaltaí ná go múintear ionchur nua teanga a oireann dá n-aois leibhéal. Sna ranganna seo is gá  soláthar a dhéanamh go rialta do thascanna foirmeálta éisteachta agus deiseanna a chur ar fáil do gach dalta an teanga atá foghlamtha a chleachtadh i suímh fíorchumarsáideacha.

 

Cé go raibh rian de dhea-theagasc bunscileanna na léitheoireachta sna ranganna sóisearacha, is gá díriú ar theagasc na léitheoireachta Gaeilge sa scoil. Sna meánranganna agus sna hardranganna baintear úsáid as sraith téacsleabhar le linn gníomhaíochtaí léitheoireachta. Bhain neamh-chruinneas foghraíochta le léitheoireacht roinnt mhaith daltaí i gcuid ranganna. Tá gá le scileanna na léitheoireachta a theagasc go foirmeálta, béim a leagadh ar dhea-fhoghraíocht agus deiseanna a thabhairt do dhaltaí taithí a fháil ar réimse leathan téacs, fíor-leabhair ina measc. Scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil is mó a chleachtar sa scoil. Bunaítear na tascanna ar ábhar na dtéacsleabhar agus déantar monatóireacht oiriúnach ar shaothar na ndaltaí.

 

Chun caighdeán an teagaisc agus na foghlama sa Ghaeilge a fheabhsú is gá athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar na cleachtais atá in úsáid i ngach rang chun gnéithe ar gá áird a dhíriú orthu a aithint. Is cóir plean gnímh a fhorbairt le cur i bhfeidhm an phlean scoile don Ghaeilge a threorú. Níor mhiste treoir chinnte a thabhairt sa phlean scoile maidir leis na scileanna teanga is gá a theagasc ag gach rang-leibhéal agus áit na filíochta agus na scéalaíochta i bhfoghlaim na Gaeilge a shoiléiriú.

 

Irish

The quality of teaching and learning in Irish varies throughout the school. In line with best practice all teachers use the target language during Irish lessons and their fluency in the language provides rich learning experiences for pupils, particularly in relation to developing understanding and an awareness of the rhythm and sounds of the language. Pupils in some classes recite poems and rhymes with good pronunciation. An agreed approach to the teaching and learning of poetry at all class levels is advised.

 

Good practice with regard to teaching the language was observed in some classes, with some excellent practice in evidence. In these lessons a new language input is taught systematically and opportunities are provided for pupils to practise this new language during communicative activities. Good use is made of drama to foster pupils’ participation. Pupils in these classes are well able to ask and respond to questions and to create sentences, and the rich print environment created in the classrooms supports their efforts. In some classes however there is a lack of structure to lessons. It is not apparent that pupils’ previous knowledge is being suitably built upon and that new age-appropriate language input is taught. In these classes there is a need to provide for regular formal listening tasks and for opportunities for all pupils to practise using the language they have learned in authentic communicative settings.

 

While there was evidence of some very good teaching of early reading skills in junior classes, the teaching of Irish reading in the school requires attention. A series of textbooks is used in middle and senior classes during reading activities. Poor pronunciation was evident among many pupils in some classes. There is a need to formally teach reading skills, to emphasise correct pronunciation and to provide pupils with an opportunity to read a wide variety of text, including authentic books. Functional writing is the genre most practised in the school. Tasks are based on the class textbooks and pupils’ work is suitably monitored.

 

To improve the overall quality of teaching and learning of Irish, a review of present practice in all classes should be undertaken in order to identify aspects that require further attention. An action plan to guide the implementation of the whole-school plan for Irish should be developed. The school plan should provide clear direction regarding the language skills to be developed at the various class levels, and clarify the role of poetry and story in the teaching of Irish.

 

English

The quality of teaching and learning in English is generally good, but there is scope to develop aspects of the provision. A variety of games is effective in developing pupils’ listening skills and their ability to process and order information. Pupils throughout the school listen respectfully to the views of their peers and participate in age-appropriate talk and discussion. Questioning is effective in stimulating pupils to engage in thought-provoking discussion. Good use is made in some classes of story-telling to develop pupils’ imagination. Poetry is well taught and pupils recite poems and discuss themes with enthusiasm.

 

A variety of approaches and resources is utilised to teach reading. These include class readers, novels, large-format books, individualised reading programmes and initiatives such as shared reading and paired reading. While some reading lessons using a class reader are well structured, the reading material and related activity work in some classes needs to be more effectively differentiated to meet pupils’ varying reading abilities and levels of comprehension. The use of an individualised reading scheme in some junior classes is structured effectively with a particular emphasis placed on the acquisition of a sight-word vocabulary. Pupils’ phonological skills are well developed and they demonstrate a good knowledge of letter sounds and names. Many pupils read aloud with expression and fluency. Some examples of print-rich environments are effective in consolidating and expanding upon pupils’ vocabulary and knowledge of sentence structure. Reading for pleasure is actively promoted and pupils borrow books from a well-stocked school library on a regular basis. The school library is also used to replenish class libraries. Book reviews are written by pupils to consolidate their understanding and stimulate their interest in reading.  

 

The teaching of penmanship is undertaken systematically throughout the school and pupils’ letter formation is of a good standard. Functional writing activities feature frequently in the provision for writing. Pupils demonstrate a good grasp of the conventions of writing and spelling in these activities. The display of pupils’ writing is effective in affirming their endeavours. While there are examples of very effective teaching of independent writing skills in some classes there is much scope to develop the quality of pupils’ independent writing. In some classes a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the provision of supports for pupils to develop their independent writing skills. These include the development of personal dictionaries and the display and compilation of lists of high frequency words. Opportunities for independent writing on a cross-curricular basis could be extended. Regular opportunities to engage in personal writing need to be provided from an early age and pupils’ skills should be developed from year to year. The current lack of co-ordination between class levels means that effective work in independent writing in some classes is not built upon. A co-ordinated approach to the systematic development of the writing process throughout the school is required, in particular the use of pair-work and group-work to stimulate ideas and the development of pupils’ ability to draft and edit their work. According as pupils progress through the school, greater attention needs to be paid to developing their ability to craft their writing, demonstrating a greater awareness and use of style.

 

4.3 Mathematics

The quality of teaching and learning in Mathematics varies throughout the school. Lessons on all strands of the curriculum were observed during the evaluation. During some excellently structured lessons pupils engaged actively in their learning using concrete materials to develop and consolidate their conceptual understanding. In some classes tasks were differentiated to match pupils’ learning needs and through challenging questioning pupils’ thinking skills were developed. Overall there is a good focus on teaching and using discrete mathematical language during lessons. Many pupils display a good understanding of basic mathematical facts and an ability to apply their learning to real-life problems. Aspects of the curriculum that prove difficult for some pupils include fractions, carrying out number operations and problem-solving. Pupils’ written work is carefully recorded and generally well monitored. In some classes, however, the work does not address the needs of individual pupils. In particular more able pupils are not sufficiently challenged during the learning activities. Further use could be made of mathematical games and ICT to develop pupils’ learning. It is recommended that group-work be practised regularly in all mathematics classes and that tasks are designed to match pupils’ learning needs. The staff should review the outcome of assessment tests carried out in the school and use the data to inform their learning programmes.

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

A wide range of suitable approaches is used in the teaching of History. Effective use is made of story, personal reflection, visual resources, photographs, interviews, ICT, museum visits, project work and activities based on local history. The ability of pupils to engage with these approaches is enhanced through effective teacher questioning. Textbooks are used judiciously to support pupils’ learning. Pupils demonstrate a good knowledge and a lively interest in topics that have been taught. A very effective lesson was observed based on the extensive range of pupils’ photographs through the years that are on display in the school. There is scope to expand upon the range of primary sources and active methodologies that pupils engage in through incorporating artefacts into lessons.

 

Geography

Evidence from teachers’ planning and progress reports demonstrates that pupils are provided with opportunities to develop their knowledge of natural and human environments in the locality, in Ireland and other parts of the world. Good use is made of project work to actively engage pupils in learning. Two lessons were observed during the evaluation. They were well structured and very good use was made of stimuli and visual resources that captured pupils’ interest. Pair-work was used effectively to foster active participation and there was a good focus on the pupils’ own environment as a basis for learning.

 

Science

There is a specific focus on the environment in the school plan for Science. The school grounds are used to good effect as a resource for studying various aspects of environmental care. Participation in the Green Flag initiative supports pupils’ understanding of recycling and energy consumption. Evidence from teachers’ planning shows that pupils study a range of suitable topics to assist them in developing their knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts. Some excellently structured work was observed, with a focus on developing scientific skills and teaching scientific terminology. Pupils engaged in experiments with suitable resources and displayed a lively interest in their work. Some teaching however was overly didactic, with limited opportunities for contributions from pupils. To ensure the implementation of the whole-school plan for Science in a developmental manner, guidance could be given in the plan regarding suitable activities at the various class levels.

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

The teaching and learning of Visual Arts provides for the systematic development of the elements of art and the exploration of a wide variety of media. Samples of art work and teacher demonstration are effective in focusing pupils’ attention on the elements of art. Pupils in some classes are provided with opportunities to look and respond effectively to the work of a variety of artists. There is scope to enhance the process of looking and responding to works of art through its systematic development within the school. Pupils’ art work is completed with careful attention and demonstrates a good awareness of colour. Some art work, however, is too dependent on the use of templates. Further emphasis should be placed on forms of work that allow pupils to demonstrate greater creativity. An initiative in collaboration with the parents’ association enables pupils to use the local natural environment during sand sculpture activities. 

 

Music

Pupils enjoy music lessons and achieve very good standards in the performing strand. Participation in the National Children’s Choir provides an opportunity for pupils in senior classes to experience a wide repertoire of songs and to share in the celebration of their musical talents with pupils from other schools. Three music lessons were observed. Very good development of early music literacy skills was evident and pupils engaged in composition work. During listening and responding activities pupils’ understanding of form and an awareness of the sounds of various instruments were developed. Teachers provide opportunities for pupils to learn instrumental music after school hours and this service is provided on a voluntary basis.

 

Drama

From a review of teachers’ planning and observation of two lessons, it is evident that teachers are engaging with the methodologies of the drama curriculum. Pupils’ imaginative potential was suitably developed during lessons observed, and pupils engaged enthusiastically in the process of improvisation and exploration. Story was used as an effective stimulus for thinking creatively and discussing solutions to various dilemmas. Pupils were encouraged to co-operate and communicate in helping to shape the drama. Drama activities are incorporated into a variety of learning activities in a range of curriculum areas.

 

4.6 Physical Education

A broad and balanced programme in Physical Education (PE) is provided throughout the school. The very fine indoor and outdoor facilities that are available enhance the quality of the learning programme. Coaching in Gaelic games’ skills is provided in collaboration with the local GAA club. The school has a long tradition of participation in athletics and Gaelic games competitions and has achieved many noteworthy victories over the years. During PE lessons observed, age-appropriate activities were very effectively managed. Pupils were actively engaged and a range of skills was suitably developed. Pupils’ efforts and attainments were affirmed. Teachers are to be commended for the opportunities they provide for pupils to engage in a variety of sports related extra-curricular activities.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

A variety of published resources is used effectively in providing interesting lessons for pupils in Social, Personal and Health Education. The practice of sending samples of worksheets from the Stay Safe programme to parents enables the consolidation of content that has been explored at school and provides an important link between the school and the home. Visual resources and active methodologies such as circle-time and group-work are very effective in stimulating pupils’ interest and in encouraging thoughtful contributions during lessons. Teacher questioning is very effective in probing pupils’ thinking. Encouraging pupils to self-evaluate their functioning as a group is very good practice. Pupils demonstrate a good capacity to understand and relate to age-appropriate human dilemmas. In collaboration with the local Credit Union pupils are encouraged to save regularly.

 

4.8 Assessment

A variety of assessment modes is used to monitor pupils’ progress. These include teacher-observation, teacher-designed test, checklists, monitoring of written work and self-evaluation by pupils. Standardised tests in English and Mathematics are administered annually to pupils from first to sixth classes. A range of diagnostic tests is administered by special education teachers to identify the specific learning needs of pupils experiencing learning difficulties. Teachers maintain careful records of assessment outcomes and these are used to guide the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching. A whole-school policy on assessment should now be developed, with a particular emphasis on assessment for learning. The outcome of assessment should inform the learning activities planned by teachers, and assist in devising differentiated learning tasks.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

Clear guidance is provided in the school’s learning support policy on the selection of pupils for supplementary tuition, the documentation to be maintained and the roles and responsibilities of teachers, parents and the board of management. Two learning support/resource teachers provide additional support for pupils with learning needs. Individual profile and learning programmes (IPLPs) are prepared for all pupils who receive support. Learning priorities are suitably identified but there is scope to sharpen the focus of the learning targets and to record progress in relation to meeting these targets within a specific time-frame.  

 

Lessons observed were well structured and facilitated the active participation of pupils. Good use is being made of a suitable range of resources, including ICT, to support individual pupils’ learning. Positive and visually stimulating learning environments have been created in the support settings. In line with the recommendations of the Learning Support Guidelines, the staff should now explore opportunities for in-class provision to support the delivery of a coherent learning programme for each pupil. To derive optimum benefit from this approach the complementary roles of both the learning support teacher and the class teacher would need to be clearly defined.

 

The school has a special class for pupils with speech and language disorders and it is staffed by a teacher and a speech therapist employed by the Health Service Executive. Very effective collaboration between the class teacher and the speech therapist underpins the provision being made for the seven pupils in the class. Activities are well structured and suitably paced and are matched to the individual learning needs of the pupils. Learning outcomes are recorded regularly on an individual pupil basis. A commendable aspect of the school’s inclusion of these pupils is that each pupil is attached to a specific mainstream class to promote the development of social skills.

 

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

Effective provision is made for supporting pupils for whom English is an additional language. A structured programme is implemented and lessons are characterised by an appropriate use of active methodologies and visual resources. Open-ended questions are effective in encouraging comprehensive responses from pupils and a suitable emphasis is placed on the development of good pronunciation. To assist pupils in applying their learning a stronger focus needs to be placed on the provision of communicative activities. Good assessment of pupils’ abilities is in evidence. At times, lesson activities need to be more clearly aligned to these needs. Formalising channels of communication with mainstream teachers would enhance pupils’ learning. A resource teacher for members of the travelling community, who is based in another school, provides additional support for one pupil in the school.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

·         A shared sense of purpose characterises the work of all partners in the school community and they display a strong commitment to providing a good quality holistic education for pupils.

·         Teachers are very effective in creating a pleasant and stimulating learning environment for pupils throughout the school.

·         The day-to-day functioning of the school is managed very effectively by the principal and is underpinned by a range of clear organisational policies and administrative procedures.

·         Opportunities are provided for pupils to engage in a wide range of extra-curricular activities in music, sport and the arts.

 

As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:

 

·         To optimise the work of the in-school management team a stronger emphasis needs to be placed on the curriculum leadership roles of post-holders and on a co-ordinated team approach to school development.

·         School plans that have a clear link with classroom practice need to be developed for all areas of the curriculum. To underpin this process an action planning approach needs to be adopted to monitor the

      implementation of whole-school policies.

·         To ensure that all pupils’ learning needs are met, a greater emphasis needs to be placed on group-work in English and Mathematics to meet the differentiated learning needs of pupils.

·         The staff should explore opportunities for in-class provision for pupils receiving supplementary tuition in order to deliver a coherent learning programme for each pupil.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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 welcomes the report which affirms the high standard of education being provided in a stimulating and caring environment in St Marnock’s School.

 

·         The Board acknowledges the dedication and commitment of the staff, the co-operation of pupils and the invaluable support of parents.

 

·         The Board appreciates the committed leadership provided by the Principal and Deputy Principal and the supporting role played by the In-school Management team in ensuring the efficient and smooth running of

       the school.

 

·         The Board commends the excellent work engaged in by teachers and parents who organise extra curricular activities for pupils on a voluntary basis.

.

 

 

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 has formally ratified the appointment of the Deputy Principal as the Deputy Designated Liaison Person.

 

·         The Board proposes to address the recommendations contained in the report on a phased basis in consultation with interested parties.