An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

   

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil an Chroí Naofa

Léim Dhonnabháin, Contae Chorcaí

Roll number: 11245R

  

Date of inspection:  7 June 2007

Date of issue of report:  6 December 2007

Whole-school evaluation

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 School 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

5.     Quality of support for pupils

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 


Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of SN an Chroí Naofa. 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 inspector 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 an inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. He interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. He reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to 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

 

Scoil an Chroí Naofa NS is a three-teacher co-educational school situated in the village of Leap. In addition two learning-support teachers provide services in the school on a shared basis. A part-time Special Needs Assistant has also been allocated to the school. It is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross and has an enrolment of 56 pupils at the present time. This figure is likely to drop to 48 for the next school-year. There is a strong sense of community in the school and it is obvious that the staff collaborate closely to meet the pupils’ needs.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board is correctly constituted and manages the school with great care. Meetings are convened at least once a term or more frequently as the need arises. Due care is taken in relation to the school’s financial affairs and audited accounts are submitted annually. A commendable maintenance programme is in place which has involved major remedial work on the roof. Additional work is now planned regarding other aspects of the building. The board is to be highly commended for its continued efforts in this regard.

 

In keeping with best practice the board is involved with important aspects of the whole-school planning process. It is now recommended that such involvement be further developed regarding the curricular aspects of the planning process. The board’s support for the recently established Parents’ Association is to be commended.

 

 Key concerns for the board at present relate to enrolment. It was also noted during the evaluation that one pupil has been absent for more than 20 days during the current school-year. This matter was discussed and advice was provided.  

 

2.2 In-school management

The principal has successfully created a school atmosphere that is characterised by respect and collaboration. She discharges her duties in a caring manner and deserves much credit for her commitment to the school. She also facilitates a shared sense of leadership in some key areas.

 

The principal is capably assisted by a committed and well-motivated staff. Such qualities facilitate significant levels of teamwork in the overall functioning of the school. 

 

 

 

2.3 Management of resources

 

As noted above the school benefits from the services of 3 mainstream teachers, two shared learning-support teachers and a part-time Special Needs Assistant. The combined levels of expertise are effectively managed and clearly benefit the educational provision in the school generally.

 

The school’s physical environment is very well managed and maintained and the authorities deserve much credit for their efforts in this regard. Special education provision is available in an attractive environment and a General Purposes’ room is available. Attractive external playing facilities are also available.     

 

The staff is to be complimented for their efforts in providing stimulating learning environments for the pupils. The school has a fine variety of teaching resources which are used to good effect in supporting the learning process. The centres of interest are also of central importance in this regard. Each classroom is equipped with an attractive variety of reading material in English. The provision for additional reading material in Irish is now recommended.  

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

A variety of useful structures is in place to promote positive relations among the school community and to communicate with parents in relation to their children’s education. A recent and welcome development in this regard has been the establishment of a Parents’ Association which has been affiliated with the National Parents’ Council. It is expected that such developments will further promote linkages among the school community.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

The management of pupils is very effective and the staff is to be highly commended for the positive atmosphere which is apparent throughout the school. The teachers in collaboration with the board have devised an effective code of discipline and anti-bullying policies. During the evaluation, positive levels of pupil participation were noted in a variety of contexts especially when interactive teaching approaches were being used.

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The school is actively involved in the whole-school planning process. A comprehensive overview of the existing position is available which includes very positive references to the importance of collaboration and inclusiveness. It also clearly delineates the various areas of responsibility for work within the school. Among the areas recommended for development within the planning process is the need to promote further linkage between assessment and learning. The need for highlighting more fully the needs of this particular school, including the issue of continuous professional development, within the parameters of the plan was also discussed during the evaluation. Advice was also provided regarding the school’s anti-bullying policy.  

 

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, 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2004). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

Each teacher provides suitable long-term and short-term classroom planning in addition to the monthly progress records for teaching and learning. Evidence of well-focused programmes of work was noted during the evaluation with particular reference to pupils’ learning outcomes. The development of such good practice was discussed during the evaluation so that classroom work may be used to clarify expected learning outcomes on a more systematic basis. The use of planning templates provided by the Support Services was recommended in this regard.

 

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1

A range of effective approaches to teaching was noted at various class levels during the evaluation. Lessons are generally presented in a purposeful manner and some highly effective efforts are made to differentiate class programmes in line with pupil needs. In addition, several high quality samples of pupils’ work are available in copybooks and on general display.  Both mainstream and learning support areas are attractively organised with visual and print-rich materials many of which are teacher-generated. The need to further develop pupil learning outcomes in some cases was discussed during the evaluation.

 

4.1 Language

 

Gaeilge

Chonacthas samplaí fónta de theagasc na Gaeilge ag leibhéil éagsúla sa scoil le linn an mheasúnaithe. Is mór is fiú an cúram a dhéantar den drámaíocht, de theagasc na filíochta, den scéalaíocht agus den chaint chumarsáiderach in áiteanna. Pléadh a dtabhacht seo le linn an mheasúnaithe agus moladh go ndéanfaí na dea-chleachtais seo a iomlánú níos ar bhonn scoile feasta. Moltar go ndéanfaí é sin i gcomhthéacs an phlean scoile don Ghaeilge chun ionchur teanga níos soiléire a sholáthar ar bhonn níos córasaí.

 

Dírítear ar theagasc scileanna na léitheoireachta agus na scríbhneoireachta go dícheallach sa scoil. Moltar an úsáid a bhaintear as prionta cuí chun bunscileanna na léitheoireachta a theagasc ach moltar feasta aire níos a dhíriú ar ábhar léitheoireachta níos nádúrtha agus ar an léitheoireacht mar chaitheamh aimsire. Is inmholta go mór an freastal a dhéantar ar an scríbhneoireacht neamhspleách in áiteanna.  

 

Some samples of the effective teaching of Irish were noted during the evaluation. The emphasis placed on drama, poetry, story telling and on the teaching of communicative language at certain levels is particularly praiseworthy. The importance of these elements in language teaching was discussed during the evaluation and their further development on a whole-school basis was recommended .It was recommended that this be done within the parameters of the school plan for Irish to allow for the provision of clearer language input on a more systematic basis.

 

The skills of reading and writing are taught diligently in the school. Relevant print is used creditably to teach the basic reading skills. However it is now recommended that additional attention be paid to more relevant reading material and also to reading for pleasure. The attention paid to the promotion of independent writing in some instances is very productive.       

 

 

 

English

 

Key aural / oral skills in English are developed on a systematic basis throughout the school in the context of purposeful talk and discussion. Useful opportunities are provided in relation to language enrichment exercises and also in relation to the promotion of sustained speech among many pupils. Other curricular areas are also utilised to promote the pupils’ ability in self-expression.

 

A fruitful variety of approaches is used to teach the relevant skills of reading and evidence is available to show that a significant number of students attain praiseworthy standards. In addition, an attractive range of additional reading material is also used. Reading for information as well as for pleasure is carefully promoted throughout the school and many pupils discuss a range of texts knowledgeably.

 

There is evidence of good practice being promoted in relation to the writing process on a whole-school basis. Accordingly many high quality samples of pupils’ work in a variety of genres were noted during the evaluation. Praiseworthy emphasis is also placed on penmanship and presentation skills.

 

4.2 Mathematics

 

The school’s Mathematics plan provides a useful basis for teaching and learning in this key area of the curriculum. Accordingly it provides clear guidelines regarding common approaches to central areas such as number operations, language and problem solving skills. During the course of the evaluation several examples of good quality practice were observed. Pupils’ capacity to internalise key concepts was carefully monitored and there is evidence available to indicate that many make creditable progress. The use of concrete materials feature prominently during well-focused interactive lessons and linkages to other curriculum areas are purposefully cultivated. A commendable emphasis is placed on the pupils’ understanding of number facts. It was recommended during the evaluation that further emphasis be placed on the practical implications of some mechanical operations.

 

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

The school has developed a whole-school plan for History which ensures breadth and balance in the implementation of the programme throughout the school. The display of visual and print-rich materials based on various aspects of the programme, including the local aspect, is of significant value. It is evident that pupils are provided with many opportunities to develop important investigative and research skills.  

 

Geography

There is clear evidence of high quality work throughout the school in relation to this aspect of the curriculum. Commendable attention is paid to the immediate and extended environment to allow the pupils acquire important geographical and literacy skills.

 

Science

A useful whole-school plan for the teaching of Science has been prepared. The work observed in class during the course of the evaluation was very effective and generated significant levels of enthusiasm among the pupils.

 

4.4 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

The school acknowledges the important role visual arts education plays in the pupils’ holistic development. Many impressive samples of their work in a variety of strands are displayed throughout the school and it is evident that the pupils are afforded many opportunities to explore the benefits of working with a range of materials.

 

Music

The principal areas of the Music programme are competently addressed at a variety of class-levels. The pupils are trained to sing a suitable variety of songs tunefully in both Irish and English. Due emphasis is also placed on very appropriate rhythm exercises while instrumental music is taught to a high standard in certain instances. The pupils clearly derive much pleasure from these activities.

 

Drama

Drama has been identified as an area for future staff development in the school. Nevertheless, some very effective exercises were noted during the evaluation especially when integrated with aspects of the music programme.

 

4.5 Physical Education

It is significant that modern indoor facilities for Physical Education are available in the school. Accordingly some very purposeful exercises relating to movement to music and educational gymnastics were noted during the evaluation.

 

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

Useful policies have been prepared in relation to Social, Personal and Health Education and impressive work is undertaken to promote these important aspects of the pupils’ lives.

 

4.7 Assessment

A praiseworthy range of standardised tests is administered within the context of the school plan. These tests include Micra T, Sigma T, MIST, Neale Analysis and Aston Index. Hence there is clear evidence of a systematic monitoring of the pupils’ work and the test results are carefully recorded. In addition, teacher designed tests and checklists are used on a regular basis. It is now recommended that the linkages between assessment and learning be further clarified in the school plan.

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

There is strong evidence available to indicate that many effective strategies are employed in relation to provision for pupils with special educational needs in the school. The school plan incorporates the staged approach and early intervention is effectively managed. All involved in these services are to be commended for the high degree of collaboration they promote with all relevant parties in this key area of school work. A praiseworthy range of assessment tools is used to ensure appropriate levels of provision for pupils in need of supplementary teaching.

 

The special needs team approach their work in a very professional manner. Individual Profile and Learning Programmes are fruitfully developed on a multi-disciplinary basis for the relevant pupils and significant progress is noted. Various models of intervention regarding pupils with special educational needs were discussed during the evaluation and additional flexibility in this regard was recommended.    

 

  

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation

·         The principal and staff collaborate effectively.

·         The teachers emphasise the importance of reading for pleasure in English.

·         The board of management is effective and committed to the further development of the school.

·         Arts Education is duly promoted.

·         Support for pupils with special educational needs is fruitful.

 

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

·         It is recommended that the board should continue to develop its involvement with the school planning process.

·         It is recommended that the development of linkages with the Parents’ Association should continue.

·         It is recommended that additional reading material in Irish be provided.

·         Ii is recommended that linkages between assessment and learning be further explored.

 

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.