An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Scoil Easa Dhuibhe
Asdee, Co. Kerry
Date of inspection: 01 October 2009
A whole-school evaluation of Asdee N.S. was undertaken in October 2009. The evaluation covered key aspects of the work of the school in the areas of management, teaching and learning and supports for pupils. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE). The representatives of the parents’ association met with the inspector. The inspector interacted with the pupils, examined pupils’ work, reviewed school planning documentation, observed teaching and learning and provided feedback to individual teachers. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.
Asdee N.S. is a three teacher, Catholic, co-educational school situated in the village of Asdee. It operates under the patronage of the Bishop of Kerry. It serves the pupils of the parish and its surrounds. The gradual decline in pupil numbers is reflective of general population trends in the locality. The school’s mission statement and its aims are displayed in the main entrance hall. These reflect the school’s commitment to developing the full potential of each individual pupil in a happy, secure environment. The attendance of the majority of the pupils is very good. However the attendance of a minority of pupils is a cause for concern. It is recommended that the board address this concern in the short term.
The following table provides an overview of the current enrolment and staffing in the school:
Total number of pupils enrolled
Total number of teaching staff
Number of teaching staff working in support teaching roles
Number of mainstream classes
Number of special needs assistants
The board of management effectively oversees the operation of the school. School accommodation is of a high standard with the building and the grounds well maintained and developed. The board provides a wide range of resources to support learning and teaching. Very good working relationships are established among the board, the school and the community. Finances are prudently managed and minutes of meetings are carefully recorded. The board is praised for the regular review and ratification of organisational plans. It is now recommended that the board consider a means through which parents and the wider school community might play a more meaningful role in the future development of the school plan.
The work of the in-school management team is characterised by a strong sense of direction and purpose. The principal communicates a clear commitment to maintaining and improving school standards. He has established productive partnerships in the immediate and wider school community and he maintains very good relationships with pupils, parents, staff and support agencies. The deputy principal and special duties teacher ensure that the responsibilities delegated to them are carried out effectively and efficiently. It is now recommended that the duties assigned to the in-school management team be reviewed more regularly to reflect the changing priorities of the school as a learning and teaching organisation.
The management of relationships and communication with the school community is of a very high standard. The school has established close and effective working partnerships with parents. An active parents’ association effectively supports the work of the school and works collaboratively with the school to enhance the educational opportunities and experiences provided for the pupils. Parents participate fully in school events, meetings and extra-curricular activities. Newsletters, issued through the school, keep parents informed of up-coming events, school successes and of changes in school procedures. Parent-teacher meetings are held annually and end-of-year school reports detailing pupils’ academic and social progress are issued to the parents of all pupils. Representatives of the parents’ association report high satisfaction with the quality of education offered to the pupils in this school.
It is evident that the pupils of Asdee N.S. are viewed as valued members of the school community and that they are treated with fairness and respect. The school provides a happy, safe and caring environment for its pupils. Pupil behaviour during the inspection period was of a very high standard. The pupils present as well motivated and eager to learn. They listen attentively and follow instructions well when undertaking new tasks. The teachers have succeeded admirably in promoting positive attitudes towards learning and this contributes significantly to the standards achieved by the pupils.
The quality of the whole-school plan is of a good standard. Organisational policies are regularly reviewed and are compliant with legislative requirements. Curriculum plans have been formulated for each of the subject areas of the curriculum and many of these are of a very high standard. It is evident that staff members have collaborated in the drafting of these plans and that they have availed of the services of the support agencies. The board should now consider how best to communicate the school plan to the broader school community. The school’s self-evaluation procedures are in need of development. The school has not yet identified the structures necessary to enable it to determine for itself the effectiveness of its work or the appropriateness of outcomes and, as a consequence, what it needs to do to improve. It is therefore recommended that the school identify a means through which key aspects of school life might be thoroughly and systematically reviewed and evaluated thereby enabling it to identify both school strengths and areas for improvement. This exercise should be complemented by the drafting of a development plan in which, over a given timeframe, specific targets are identified which have the explicit purpose of improving the quality of pupils’ experiences and standards of attainment.
The quality of classroom planning is highly praised. All teachers prepare comprehensive plans in preparation for their work. This planning ensures that high quality learning experiences and activities are provided that reflect the learning needs of the pupils and the skills and content of the curriculum. In order to further enhance the quality of curriculum delivery and to insure continuity and progression and the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum to the pupils, it is recommended that a closer link be made between the long and short term plans prepared by the teachers.
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.
Tá moladh ar leith tuillte ag oidí na scoile as an dúthracht a chaitheann siad le teagasc na Gaeilge. Baintear úsáid as raon leathan de mhodhanna teagaisc ar nós rainn, drámaíocht agus cluichí chun cumas tuisceana na ndaltaí a dhaingniú. Úsáidtear ábhar léirithe agus timpeallacht na ndaltaí go seiftiúil chun ábhar na gceachtanna a neartú agus spreagtar na daltaí chun úsáid a bhaint as an teanga i gcomhthéascanna cumarsáideacha. Leathnaítear foclóir na ndaltaí go céimniúil agus caitear dua le múineadh nathanna cainte. Tá caighdeán ard sroichte ag na daltaí san obair seo. Déantar iarracht creidiúnach fonn léitheoireachta a chothú sna daltaí agus cuirtear béim mhaith ar fhorbairt scileanna foghraíochta i ngach rang. De thoradh, is léir go bhfuil caighdeán maith bainte amach ag na daltaí i léitheoireacht líofa na Gaeilge agus go bhfuil tuiscint acu ar a bhfuil léite. Moltar anois úsáid a bhaint as úrscéalta agus fíorleabhair chun suim na ndaltaí sa léitheoireacht a leathnú. Déantar cúram an-mhaith de mhúineadh na gramadaí sa scoil. Cláraíonn na daltaí cleachtaí sa scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil ina gcóipleabhair agus cuirtear béim ar fhorbairt na scríbhneoireachta chruthaithigh freisin. Moltar anois, samplaí de saothair na ndaltaí a chur ar thaispeáint ar bhallaí na seomraí ranga agus prionta sa timpeallacht a mheadú sna seomraí.
The teachers are commended for the emphasis that they place on the teaching of Irish. A wide range of teaching methodologies, including rhymes, drama and games, is utilised to consolidate the pupils’ understanding. Concrete materials and the pupils’ local environment are skilfully utilised to reinforce the content of the lessons and the pupils are encouraged to use the language in communicative contexts. The pupils’ vocabulary is broadened systematically and emphasis is placed on the teaching of language functions. The pupils have achieved a high standard in this work. Credible efforts are made to encourage a love of reading in the pupils and good emphasis is placed on the development of phonological awareness in all classes. As a result, it is evident that the pupils have gained a good standard in Irish reading and that they understand what they have read. It is now recommended that novels and real books are utilised to further develop the pupils’ interest in reading. The pupils’ complete formal writing exercises in their copybooks and emphasis is placed on the development of creative writing also. It is now recommended that samples of pupils’ work be displayed on the walls of the classrooms and that a print rich environment be further developed in the school.
The quality of learning and teaching in English is of a very high standard. Pupils present as good communicators. They have developed a very good appreciation of the listener-speaker relationship, learning to attend actively, and to respond to the verbal and non-verbal cues that are used to convey meaning. They express their ideas clearly utilising appropriate vocabulary and intonation. At each class level, pupils have developed oral fluency and expressiveness appropriate to their abilities and they initiate and sustain conversations with confidence. The good practice observed, whereby teachers frequently utilise specific oral language objectives from the curriculum when teaching oral language classes, contributes significantly to the pupils’ ability to use language purposefully. It is now recommended that learning activities in which pupils are given increased opportunities to work in pairs and in groups throughout the day across the curriculum areas be organised. This arrangement should further enhance the oral language standards achieved by the pupils and the development of their cognitive abilities.
Pupils in all classes have achieved very high standards in reading. The school is well stocked with a suitable variety of reading materials. Pupils are encouraged to borrow books from the mobile library and teachers were observed to utilise a very wide range of reading texts in the teaching of formal reading lessons. These good practices are highly commended and have resulted in the development of positive attitudes towards reading among the pupils. At each class level, selected pupils read texts with confidence and fluency utilising appropriate expression. They display a very good understanding of the content of the text read and an ability to tackle unfamiliar words when presented with challenging reading material.
The quality of the pupils’ handwriting and the presentation of their written work are of a very high standard and they are highly praised in this regard. Throughout the school, pupils are encouraged to employ a range of strategies to help them to spell accurately and they utilise these strategies very successfully in their work. They display a very good understanding of the conventions of print and of grammar. In the infant and junior classes the teachers are praised for the manner in which they facilitate the pupils to write in a wide range of genres and for a variety of audiences. This good practice is further developed in the middle and senior classes. In these classes the pupils apply the skills already acquired to the writing of imaginative, creative essays. The more able pupils produce purposeful sustained writing, successfully separating their ideas into paragraphs and applying speech marks and joining complex sentences.
Mathematics is taught very effectively at all class levels and the standards achieved by the majority of pupils are high. In the lessons observed during the evaluation period, the teachers employed a wide range of concrete materials and active learning methodologies to enable the pupils to explore the mathematical concepts being taught. This good practice is highly commended. The language of mathematics was systematically addressed in each lesson and new concepts were effectively linked to the personal experiences and immediate environment of the pupils. Pupil learning is effectively consolidated and regularly revised. There is evidence also of good linkage among the six strands of the mathematics curriculum. An appropriate emphasis is placed on oral mathematical activities and on the development of estimation and problem solving skills. Standards of pupil achievement might be further enhanced by the provision of regular opportunities for the pupils to discuss mathematical processes with a partner, through the increased differentiation of learning programmes for pupils experiencing difficulty and through the development of a more supportive mathematical environment in the classrooms.
Teaching and learning in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is of a good standard. Teachers’ planning indicates that the three curriculum strands Myself, Myself and Others and Myself and the Wider World are addressed during the school year. Each teacher has timetabled the allocated discrete time of 30 minutes per week to the teaching of SPHE. A range of programmes is employed to support curriculum implementation. The promotion of a positive school atmosphere within the school and the classroom effectively supports the development of a sense of self and of belonging among the pupils. The pupils are respectful of different cultural beliefs, religions and abilities. In the lessons observed, the teachers utilised a very wide range of methodologies which enabled the pupils to work co-operatively. This good practice is praised. It is now recommended that a Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) policy be drafted, in collaboration with parents, as a matter of priority in order to provide teachers and parents with a clear outline of the content of RSE lessons to be addressed at each class level.
Teachers systematically engage in the assessment of pupil progress across each curriculum area. Pupil profiles are completed by all teachers in which observations of pupils’ progress are noted throughout the year. Records of teacher designed tests and tasks are maintained and some samples of pupils’ work are retained. Standardised tests are administered in literacy and numeracy to all pupils from first to sixth class. A wide range of diagnostic tests is utilised to identify the specific learning difficulties of individual pupils. The information compiled provides a clear record of individual pupil progress. It is used effectively to inform planning, teaching and learning and is shared with other teachers, parents and pupils as appropriate. Pupils receive timely feedback about the quality of their work and the teachers effectively encourage them and affirm their efforts. Written exercises are regularly monitored and evaluated. These good practices are highly commended. The staff should consider the drafting of a policy in relation to the completion and maintenance of pupil records. This policy might outline the manner in which grades are awarded to pupils in order to ensure consistency and validity between class levels.
A shared learning support teacher provides support to the school for sixteen hours and twenty minutes each week. The quality of support offered to pupils with learning difficulties is of a very high standard. Of particular note is the manner in which the learning environment of the support room is organised, with learning centres created which appeal to a variety of learning styles. A detailed Individual Pupil Learning Profile (IPLP) is drafted for each pupil in receipt of support. In this IPLP the learning strengths and difficulties of the pupil are clearly outlined and specific learning targets are identified to be addressed over the instructional period. Well structured lessons are arranged in which activities which address the learning targets are organised and in which the pupil is facilitated to play an active part. It is evident from interactions with the pupils and from records of their achievements that they are making significant progress in their learning commensurate with their abilities. It is reported that parents are consulted in the formulation of the IPLP and that they are informed of their child’s progress. It is now recommended that a more active role for parents in supporting their child’s learning should be outlined in the learning support policy. It is further recommended that the school consider placing an increased emphasis on preventative strategies and early intervention initiatives in the infant and junior classes. The utilisation of team teaching and in-class support should be considered.
The promotion of equality of participation and access to education is strongly evident in the work of the school at all levels. All pupils are facilitated to partake in school arranged activities and events on an equal basis. The school is highly praised in this regard.
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:
Published, December 2009
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1 Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board of Management and staff of Asdee National School wish to thank the examining inspector for the professional and courteous manner in which the evaluation was carried out.
We appreciate her guidance and advice throughout the process.
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 notes the key recommendations of the report and is working closely with the Principal and staff to implement them as effectively and efficiently as possible.