An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

 Department of Education and Science

 

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

  

Kilgarriffe National School

Clonakilty, County Cork

Roll number: 10499U

  

Date of inspection:  12 June 2006

Date of issue of report:  15 December 2006

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

1.    INTRODUCTION – SCHOOL CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND

2. Quality of school management

2.1 Board of management

2.2 In-school management

2.3 Management of resources

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

2.5 Management of pupils

3. Quality of school planning

3.1 The planning process and implementation

3.2 Classroom planning

4. Quality of learning and teaching

4.1 Language

4.2 Mathematics

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

4.4 Arts Education

4.5 Physical Education

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

4.7 Assessment and Achievement

5. Quality of support for pupils

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

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

6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

 

This report has been written following a whole-school evaluation of Kilgarriffe National School. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work carried out in the school as a whole and makes recommendations for further development. During the evaluation, the inspector held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a period of some days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the teachers. The inspector also reviewed school planning documentation as well as teachers’ written documentation. Following the evaluation visits, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and the board of management. 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.

 

 

 

 

1.    INTRODUCTION – SCHOOL CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND

 

Kilgarriffe NS is a modern two-teacher mixed school situated on the outskirts of Clonakilty. It was constructed in 1975 and an attractive extension was added in 2004. It caters for pupils from the greater Clonakilty area as well as other surrounding areas and has a current enrolment of 32. Pupil attendance is generally good. It is a Church of Ireland school under the patronage of the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross where teachers and pupils work in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

 

Pupil numbers have increased in the recent past. This positive development was discussed and its importance was emphasised during the evaluation. 

 

 

2. Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is clearly committed to the overall development of the school and is highly supportive of the staff. It is properly constituted and the chairperson convenes board meetings four to five times annually. Minutes are carefully documented and audited accounts are provided annually. The role and function of the board was fully discussed during the inspection especially in relation to the ratification of school policies.

 

2.2 In-school management

The principal combines her teaching and managerial duties effectively and works collaboratively with staff, board of management and parents. A clear sense of collegiality was noted during the evaluation and she deserves considerable credit for the positive learning environment which is cultivated throughout the school.

 

The principal is willingly supported by the assistant as well as the two shared teachers who provide additional support for a number of pupils. The special duties post holder discharges her responsibilities capably in relation to a range of administrative duties. It is now recommended that specific targets for development be identified annually and in agreement with the principal to facilitate the further implementation of curriculum policies.

 

The staff are to be commended for the many examples of caring pupil-teacher relations noted during the evaluation. In addition fruitful whole-class teaching as well as suitably differentiated tuition was observed during the evaluation. Group work together with structured hands-on approaches are also skilfully organised on a regular basis.

 

2.3 Management of resources

 

In addition to the principal there is one other teacher engaged in mainstream class teaching. The school has two part time special needs teachers who are shared with other schools in the locality. The board employs a cleaner and ensures that the school building is maintained to a particularly high standard.

 

A generous supply of teaching resources is used to support curriculum implementation in many areas throughout the school. In addition to a general purposes room a high quality information and communication technology room was provided in 2004 which clearly adds significantly to the overall educational provision. All involved in this project merit much praise. Attractive library corners are organised in each classroom and include supplies of both fiction and non-fiction material as well as some Irish language books. A comprehensive range of manipulative materials is available for the teaching of Mathematics. In addition, considerable credit is due to the staff for their efforts in providing attractive centres of interest as well as print-rich materials which clearly enhance the learning process. The purchase of additional Irish language books was discussed during the inspection and is now recommended.

 

The decorative order of the school is particularly good and much credit is due to management, staff, and pupils for their dedicated work in this regard. Extensive displays of the children’s work in the circulation areas greatly enhance the overall learning environment.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Parental involvement is encouraged by the school authorities. The Parents’ Association is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council and provides significant support for the school in a number of important areas. Its mentoring role with new families is particularly praiseworthy as is its contribution toward school maintenance generally. The association is clearly appreciative of the levels of confidence expressed by the pupils regarding key elements of the curriculum.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

A positive code of discipline is effectively promoted throughout the school. Such management was clearly noted during the course of the evaluation when mutually respectful pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil relationships were obvious. The extent to which pupils are encouraged to participate in classroom work through the use interactive teaching approaches activities is highly commendable.

 

 

3. Quality of school planning

 

3.1 The planning process and implementation

Praiseworthy work is ongoing in relation to the development of whole-school policies. The plans prepared to date are clearly presented. Plans have been formulated recently to cover the areas of Music and Physical Education. A range of curriculum policies have also been developed for areas such as Mathematics, English, Gaeilge while History and Geography have been identified as priorities for future development. The DES booklet Looking at our School together with other support services websites were recommended as resources to assist in this important process of self-evaluation. The school has recently adopted policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, 2004). However it was recommended that a designated person be appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines. It was agreed that this would be done shortly. The importance of having board ratification for school policies was also discussed during the evaluation.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

 The teachers provide good quality written preparation for their work both for the long-term and short-term. Effective planning observed focuses not only on the content to be delivered but also on the needs of pupils in terms of skills development. Further development in this regard might involve the creation of additional linkages between the school plan and classroom planning.

 

Monthly progress in terms of teaching and learning is carefully recorded.

 

 

4. Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Language

 

An Ghaeilge

Tá plean scoile don Ghaeilge ar fáil ina leagtar béim inmholta ar a lán de mhórchuspóirí an churaclaim. Dírítear aird ar leith ar an tábhacht a bhaineann le cur chuige cumarsáideach a úsáid maraon le raon cuí de mhodhanna teagaisc. Moltar anois  treoracha níos cinnte a ullmhú maidir le tréimhsí na gceachtanna mar atá molta sa churaclam chun go dtógfar níos mó fós ar fhoghlaim na ndaltaí ó rang go rang.

 

Chonacthas samplaí fónta de theagasc na Gaeilge labhartha le linn an mheasúnaithe. Úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar mheán cumarsáide uaireanta agus is mór is fiú an bhéim a leagtar ar rannta/filíocht  mar ionchur  saibhir teanga. Baintear leas éifeachtach as  modhanna éagsúla in áiteanna chun sprioctheanga cinnte a bhuanú agus is mór is fiú an úsáid a bhaintear as puipéid, obair bheirte, drámaíocht agus cluichí oiriúnacha chun fíorchumarsáid a spreagadh.

 

Ar mhaithe le scileanna cumarsáide na ndaltaí a chothú ar bhonn níos éifeachtaí ó rang go rang moltar anois na dea-chleachtais atá luaite thuas a fhorbairt a thuilleadh. Luaitear go speisialta an tábhacht a bhaineann le roinnt an cheachta ina thrí thréimhse. Moltar go mór an bhéim a chuirear ar léamh scéalta ag leibhéil ar leith. Pléadh an tabhacht a bhaineann leis an ngné seo den obair agus táthar ag súil go leathnófar an dea-chleachtas seo anois.

 

Ag rangleibhéil éagsúla baintear leas éifeachtach as prionta bunaithe ar an gcomhrá chun scileanna léitheoireachta agus scríbhneoireachta na ndaltaí a fhorbairt. Dá réir sin éiríonn lena a lán páistí an t-ábhar a chuirtear ar fáil dóibh a léamh le brí. Is mór is fiú iad na leabhair bhreise a sholáthraítear i ranganna áirithe agus tuigtear go bhfuil sé i gceist díriú a thuilleadh ar an léitheoireacht mar chaitheamh aimsire go luath. Cothaítear scileanna na scríbhneoireachta go dúthrachtach agus chonacthas samplaí fónta d’obair na ndaltaí le linn an mheasúnaithe. Moltar go dtabharfar deiseanna breise dóibh chun usáid a bhaint as an teanga atá foghlamtha acu chun scríobh go cruthaitheach agus go pearsanta. Sa tslí sin beifear ábalta scil na saorscríbhneoireachta a chothú a thuilleadh  de réir a bhfuil molta sa churaclam.

 

Irish

A school plan for Irish is available which places commendable emphasis on many of the primary objectives of the curriculum. Particular attention is paid to the importance of using a communicative approach as well as an appropriate range of teaching methods. It is now recommended that more definite guidelines are prepared regarding the lesson periods as recommended in the curriculum in order further develop the pupils’ learning from class to class.

Good examples of the teaching of spoken Irish were observed during the evaluation. Irish is sometimes used as the medium of communication and the emphasis placed on verse/poetry as a rich input of language is very worthwhile. Various methodologies are used effectively to promote accurate language acquisition .In this regard the use of puppets, paired work, drama and appropriate games to encourage real communication is very worthwhile.

 

In order to cultivate the pupils’ communication skills more effectively from class to class it is now recommended that the best practices mentioned above should be developed further. Additional attention should now be placed on the division of the lesson into three specific periods. The emphasis on the reading of stories at certain levels is highly commended. The importance of this aspect of the work was discussed and it is hoped that this best practice will be developed.

 

At various class levels effective use is made of print based on the oral work to develop the children’s reading and writing skills. Therefore many children succeed in reading the material supplied for them with meaning. The extra books provided in certain classes are noteworthy and it is understood that it is intended to focus more on reading for pleasure shortly. Writing skills are diligently cultivated and fine examples of the children’s work were seen during the evaluation. It is recommended that they be given additional opportunities to use the language they have acquired to write creatively and personally as recommended in the curriculum.

 

 

English

A useful whole-school plan for English has been prepared by the staff. It includes a policy statement as well as a number of useful additional materials provided by the support services. Accordingly, the plan highlights the central aspects of the curriculum and there is evidence of new approaches which are designed to enhance pupil learning. 

 

Many fruitful efforts are made throughout the school to develop pupils’ aural and oral language skills which allow the pupils to communicate their ideas and opinions with clarity and  confidence. Language enrichment activities, story-based activities, rhymes and poems are key features of this important aspect of school work.

Reading for pleasure is successfully encouraged and many pupils display a keen interest in a wide variety of children’s literature. A range of appropriate methodologies is used in the junior classes to enable pupils acquire a suitable sight vocabulary and develop important pre-reading skills. A praiseworthy emphasis is placed on the development of phonological and phonemic awareness. Print-rich environments are also key factors in the development of early literacy in this school. In addition to a graded reading scheme a range of real books and novels is provided in the middle and senior classes to develop the pupils’ reading skills imaginatively. The practice of creating opportunities for the pupils to prepare oral responses to their individual choice of books is to be commended.

 

Opportunities to write in a range of genres are provided on a regular basis and a high standard of writing is produced in many instances. Penmanship skills are emphasised and impressive samples of work were observed throughout the school. Evidence of good practice in relation to drafting and redrafting was also noted during the evaluation. The pupils’ written work is attractively displayed.

 

4.2 Mathematics

A comprehensive whole school plan for Mathematics has been prepared which reflects the key principles of the curriculum and which includes a wide range of excellent reference materials.

 

Clear objectives are frequently highlighted in individual planning. The good practice noted during the evaluation includes the purposeful teaching of concepts through the active involvement of pupils using an attractive variety of manipulative materials. Mathematical language is effectively taught and reinforced throughout the school and the pupils are encouraged to record written activities sometimes. It is now recommended that further attention be paid to the application of concepts to practical real-life situations within a problem-solving framework.

 

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

Pupils are encouraged to explore a range of topics in history as set out in curriculum. They are given many opportunities to listen to relevant stories and in some instances fruitful emphasis is placed on the importance of local history. Project work is also a very praiseworthy feature of the work  which allows the pupils to speak with obvious enthusiasm about their work.

 

Geography

The human and natural environments are attractively introduced during the Geography lessons. Due attention is given to care for the environment and there is clear evidence of high quality work in relation to project work. Suitable linkages with other aspects of the curriculum are also skilfully developed. Additional attention could now be devoted to the promotion of investigative techniques regarding the local environment.

 

Science

A suitable whole-school plan has been carefully prepared for Science. A good supply of materials is provided to facilitate an interesting range of experiences for the pupils. The school’s participation with a local second level-school in this regard is to be highly commended. The pupils take a keen interest in this aspect of the curriculum and record it with due care.

 

 

 

4.4 Arts Education

 

Visual arts

Whole-school planning for the visual arts curriculum is clearly outlined and an attractive range of activities both for making and responding to art have been prepared for the various class levels. Attractive samples of the pupils’ work in a range of strands are displayed in the classrooms and circulation areas. It is commendable that this programme incorporates both art making and responding to art. 

 

Music

A school plan for music has recently been developed in accordance with the official guidelines. The pupils clearly enjoy this aspect of the curriculum which is taught with care throughout the school. They sing an attractive variety of songs tunefully in both languages while other components such as listening and responding to music also feature prominently in the programme.

 

Drama

A fruitful emphasis is placed on the use of drama both formally and informally throughout the school on a regular basis. All pupils are given the opportunity to participate during normal class activities and also to perform publicly on certain occasions. 

 

 

4.5 Physical Education

An effective plan for Physical Education is currently in place which allows full use to be made of the high quality internal facilities where a wide range of equipment is readily available. The programme includes some welcome attention to gymnastics, games and, athletics.

 

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

A relevant whole-school plan for Social Personal and Health Education has been prepared. Discrete time is allocated and aspects of the programme are taught diligently. The programme is effectively integrated with other curriculum areas. The positive school climate as well as significant parental support greatly contribute to effective teaching and learning in this area of the curriculum.

 

4.7 Assessment and Achievement

Children’s progress is monitored by means of both formal and informal assessments. The standardised tests Micra-T and Sigma-T are administered at the end of each school year and the results are carefully recorded. Checklists together with teacher-designed tests are also used to monitor pupil progress.  Pupils’ written work and oral responses are carefully monitored and effective feedback is provided to pupils. The assessment data is used to ascertain levels of attainment and to identify pupils in need of additional support. It is also used to inform teaching and learning.

 

 

5. Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

Additional tuition is provided for a number of pupils in the areas of literacy and numeracy. High quality Individual Education Plans are provided for the relevant pupils and are based on their identified learning needs. In keeping with good practice, priority areas and associated learning targets are clearly identified and a very effective tracking system has been drawn up. Advice was provided regarding aspects of the language programme especially regarding the value of additional diagnostic testing. The support teachers collaborate very effectively with the mainstream teachers and fruitful communication is maintained with parents. A wide range of appropriate materials is available for use in support contexts.

 

The Speech and Language service currently available in the locality was discussed during the evaluation.

 

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

The parents are very supportive of the school and have contributed significantly to its development. The Parents’ Association is active on many fronts and display an admirable enthusiasm for their work. They indicate an obvious satisfaction with school progress generally. In this context the overall support for pupils is considerable and fruitful.

 

 

6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths and areas for development identified in the evaluation:

 

The principal and staff provide dedicated leadership.

 

There is evidence of high quality special needs provision

 

Positive working relationships are an attractive feature of the overall work.

 

 The board of management plays a highly supportive role.

 

The Parents’ Association provides valuable support to the school authorities.

 

 The teaching and learning environment is stimulating.

 

 The pupils are well behaved and highly motivated.

 

There is a  need to finalise the school’s Child Protection Policy.

 

The need to continue being mindful of school enrolment trends.

 

The importance of applying mathematical concepts to real-life situations should be emphasised.

 

There is a  need to develop the board’s role in ratifying school policies.

 

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

 

There is a need to finalise the school’s Child Protection Policy.

The board’s role in ratifying school policies should be developed.