An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Carrickerry National School,
Carrickerry, Athea, Co. Limerick
Roll number: 11280T
Date of inspection: 25 October 2006
Date of issue of report: 26 April 2007
This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Carrickerry National School. 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 the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. The inspector 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 was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.
Carrickerry National School, Carrickerry, Athea, Co. Limerick is a four-teacher, co-educational school, under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Limerick, which caters for pupils from infants to sixth class. The school is located in the village of Carrickerry, approximately thirty miles from Limerick city. There is a current enrolment of 60 pupils in Carrickerry National School and it is expected that this enrolment figure will remain at current levels in the future.
The mission statement of Carrickerry National School outlines that the school strives to promote the development ‘of all aspects of the person of the pupil – intellectual, physical, cultural, moral and spiritual – in a caring and challenging environment whereby each child can achieve his/her full potential.’
The board of management is properly constituted and is supportive of all school-related activities. It convenes on a regular basis and the board endeavours to comply with statutory obligations. It is recommended, however, that the board undertakes a review of the school’s Enrolment Policy as a matter of urgency, so that statutory obligations pertaining to the Education Act (1998) and the Equal Status Act (2000) are observed. It is also recommended that the Board undertakes a review of the practice of convening an afternoon break time, so that compliance with Circular 11/95, Time in School, “which obliges school authorities by statute to ensure that schools adhere… to the prescribed minimum number of teaching hours per day”, is ensured.
The chairperson of the board visits the school on a frequent basis and regular communication has been established between the principal and the chairperson. This feature of good practice is commended. The board fosters co-operation between the school and the local community and perceives its role as engaging in a wide variety of school-related matters. These issues include the formulation of a maintenance plan, monitoring of the school’s heating system, regular painting of the school building and establishment of security measures within the environs of the school. An application for grant aid for further construction works in the school is currently with the Planning Section of the Department of Education and Science (DES). The board’s current priorities relate to reviewing matters in relation to school funding and the provision of appropriate additional accommodation for the support teaching and ancillary staff. It is now recommended that the board formulates a long-term strategic development plan.
Circulars from the Department of Education and Science are discussed at board of management meetings, as appropriate. The board plays a collaborative role in the formulation of school planning policies, through discussion and ratification of documentation. It is important to ensure that all organisational and curricular school planning policies are signed and dated by the chairperson of the board of management. Consideration should also be given to developing a policy on Staff Rotation, which would provide opportunities for all teachers to teach at different class levels throughout the school.
The board reported that it was very satisfied with the achievement of pupils in this school. It commented on the positive atmosphere which is fostered in the school and the readiness of pupils for entry to post primary school. Reference was made to the school’s involvement in sports activities and also to the manner in which community support in the work of the school is encouraged. The board further reported that it evaluated its effectiveness through acting on matters of urgency on an immediate basis, through feedback received from secondary schools and also from the level of parental satisfaction expressed by the general parent body.
During the inspection process, it was brought to the attention of the inspection team that there is no formal parents’ association in the school. It was reported, however, that efforts have been made in the past to activate a parents’ association. It is recommended, therefore, that the board of management consider facilitating the re-establishment of a parents’ association, which would assist in supporting the work of the school and promoting links with the general parent body on a formal basis.
Communication is facilitated with the general parent body through encouraging parental assistance in fundraising projects, shared reading initiatives, sports activities and also through promoting parental involvement in the school’s Healthy Eating policy. Annual parent/teacher meetings are also convened and a report card on pupil progress is issued each year.
The in-school management team includes the teaching principal, the deputy principal and one special duties post-holder.
It is evident that the principal is effective in creating a very favourable school climate and in fostering a team spirit, co-operative atmosphere and collaborative ethos among the staff. He is responsible for the daily operation and day to day running of the school and is commended for the efficacy with which these duties are undertaken. The principal actively promotes positive behaviour and attendance by pupils, demonstrates good organisational ability, develops the whole-school planning process and manages administrative tasks in an effective manner.
The principal is supported by the in-school management team and this team assists in the operational aspects of the school. Informal communication systems exist between post-holders and school staff. Staff meetings are convened on a termly basis and as necessary.
School documentation indicates that the primary responsibilities of the deputy principal include supporting the work of the principal and teachers in the development of every pupil in the school, supporting the principal in carrying out the duties appropriate to the role of deputy principal and deputising for the principal during absences. The duties of the deputy principal also include responsibility for drawing up and regularly updating a policy for Visual Arts and advising on its implementation, acting as a keyholder for the school and assuming the care and safe custody of school requisites, equipment and teaching aids.
Responsibilities incorporated in the special duties post include the formulation and updating of the school’s Learning Support policy and advising on its implementation. This role also involves acting as a keyholder for the school, responsibility for health and safety in the school and supporting the principal in carrying out the duties appropriate to the role of post holder.
It is further outlined in school documentation that a review of special duties posts is undertaken, in accordance with the Department of Education and Science Circular 07/03 and this feature of good practice is commended.
The school has a staff of three mainstream class teachers, including the teaching principal. The school also has the services of a shared learning support teacher and a shared resource teacher.
The board of management employs a part-time secretary and a part-time caretaker, while a special needs assistant provides support for two pupils in the school. Extra- and co-curricular provision is made through the services of external coaches. These coaches provide instruction in Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) activities for all pupils, while music tuition has been made available to pupils in second to sixth classes. Pupils are under the direct supervision of the class teacher during these times.
There are three permanent mainstream classrooms within the school building, which was constructed in 1979. A computer room is also in existence in the school and a section of this room accommodates the learning support and secretarial area. A staff room, which is also used as the area in which resource teaching hours are provided, toilet facilities, cloakrooms and outdoor storage areas also constitute the accommodation features of this school. Very good standards of cleanliness and order are in evidence in the school building, while the exterior facilities are also very well-maintained. The school has the use of an outdoor shelter, grassed and hard-surfaced areas during recreational periods and these amenities are also used during activities in Physical Education. The school utilises the facilities of the local community pitch for sports activities.
Learning environments in mainstream classrooms and support areas are well-maintained. The practice of providing organised, attractive and stimulating print-rich environments is commended. It is documented that grants issued by the Department of Education and Science (DES) to the school have been expended in the purchase of Mathematics resources, Science equipment, Music materials, Visual Arts and Physical Education equipment. Resources for classroom libraries, learning support materials and equipment to support the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) have also been purchased. Audio-visual resources are in use throughout the school.
During the pre-evaluation meetings, the parents’ representatives on the board of management met with the inspection team, as there is no formal parents’ association in this school. The parents’ representatives commented on supporting the work of the school through their involvement in fundraising initiatives and also through general parental awareness of the school plan. The parents’ representatives reported that they were very satisfied with the education provision in the school and it was also stated that the teaching staff were ‘very approachable’ and ‘open’. The parents’ representatives reported that parental concerns were dealt with in a satisfactory manner. It was stated that parents were informed of pupil progress through parent/teacher meetings and also through the issuing of an annual report on each pupil.
The parents’ representatives commented that they would like the DES to provide additional support for pupils with special educational needs and appropriate accommodation for the school. They reported that positive aspects of the education provision in the school related to the pupils’ preparation and readiness on transition to second level school, the size of the school, the ongoing communication that existed regarding pupils’ progress and the good educational tours organised by the school.
During the current schoolyear, pupils have been allocated to mainstream classes in three combined class groupings of junior infant/senior infant/first class, second/third/fourth class and fifth and sixth class pupils. The characteristic spirit and mission statement of the school are reflected in the classroom atmosphere, where the holistic development of the child is fostered. This school ethos is evidenced through the positive interactions observed in mainstream and support classroom settings.
Comprehensive policies on organisational and administrative matters and also on curricular areas are included in school planning documentation. The work of the school staff is acknowledged in this regard. It is evident that collaboration between staff and board of management has taken place in the formulation of this documentation and this practice is commended. It is advised that the level of parental involvement and input in the development and formulation of school planning documentation be further extended, as appropriate. It is further advised that consideration be given to ensuring that all school planning documentation be ratified by the board of management and that a date for review be identified in school planning policies.
A range of general school policies is presented on organisational matters including Enrolment, Child Protection, Approaches to Classroom Discipline/Code of Discipline, Healthy Eating, School Drug Policy, Homework Policy, Policy on Pastoral Care, Administration of Medicines, Safety Policy, Supervision Procedures, Yard Rules and Teacher Absence.
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 has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.
A range of general policies is also presented in the school plan pertaining to whole school documentation on Learning Support, Assessment, Procedures for Fire Drill, Gender Equality, Posts of Responsibility, Policy on Educational Trips, Smoke Free Policy, Routine Information, Telephone Policy for Staff and Children, Policy Statement re. ICT and Acceptable Use Policy.
Curricular policy documentation is included on Gaeilge, English, Mathematics, Visual Arts, Music, Science, Geography, Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) incorporating Relationships and Sexuality Education and Physical Education. It is now recommended that curricular policies in relation to History and Drama be formulated, as appropriate. The practice of nominating and identifying curriculum co-ordinators to advise on the implementation of programmes of work in Visual Arts and Learning Support is commended. Consideration should now be given to extending this good feature of practice in order to ensure the overall co-ordination, implementation and review of all curricular policies. Consideration should also be given to the creation of an overall strategic/action plan, where areas relating to the formulation, development and timescales for the regular review of policies could be documented. It is also recommended that, in relation to the development and review of curricular policies, consideration be given to outlining the learning objectives, expected learning outcomes and content to be taught pertaining to each class level. This practice would provide a systematic overview of curricular planning and ensure progression in all areas of the curriculum. The existing curricular plans could be incorporated into revised plans, which should include reference to explicit aims, methodologies, resources, content and assessment. It is also advised that a school self-evaluation process be undertaken to monitor implementation of the curriculum throughout the school.
Individual teacher planning is undertaken in the form of long-term and short-term preparation in accordance with Rule 126 of the Rules for National Schools. Very good work is being undertaken pertaining to individual teacher planning in general and very comprehensive preparation is also evident with regard to supplementary teaching and support provision. Yearly and fortnightly schemes are formulated and supported, at most levels, by the effective use of ICT and, in some classes, there is evidence of linkage between long-term, short-term planning and the principles and structure of Primary School Curriculum (1999). There is a need, however, to ensure a shared understanding regarding pupil learning outcomes at pupil, class and whole school level. It is also important to ensure that these pupil outcomes are explicitly linked to the Primary School Curriculum (1999).
Consideration might now be given to preparation for single-grade and multi-grade class contexts on a whole-school basis, as appropriate. The adoption of a common approach to short-term and long-term planning throughout all class levels is advised, so that continuity and progression throughout all class levels is ensured. The sharing of existing good practice among teaching staff in this regard is recommended. It is further recommended that consideration be given to the creation of a common school-devised template, pertaining to monthly progress records, which might include a balance between content objectives and the pupils’ learning outcomes.
4.1 Overview of teaching and learning
In all classes, clear lesson structure, effective pacing and good lesson development were in evidence in teaching and learning activities observed. Pupils were encouraged to work independently, while pupil tasks and activities were very effectively managed. In some classes, it is evident that there is an appropriate balance between teacher-directed/didactic approaches and the implementation of activity, discovery and participative methodologies. It is important to ensure, however, that these features of good practice are extended to all class levels and also that a balance in teaching approaches is addressed. At some class levels, it is recommended that the role of the textbook be de-emphasised, as appropriate, and that a greater variety of methodologies, including group teaching approaches, activity-based learning and differentiating activities be incorporated into programmes of teaching and learning. Consideration should also be given to the sharing of teacher expertise, as appropriate.
There is evidence of cross-curricular integration during classroom activities and it is now important to ensure that the use of environment be further developed. The use of ICT should also be further explored during mainstream and support teaching class activity, in order to ensure that this resource continues to support areas of the curriculum effectively.
Léirítear cáipéisíocht i leith polasaí na Gaeilge sa phlean scoile. Déantar tagairt i bpleanáil na n-oidí aonair do struchtúir Churaclam na Bunscoile (1999) i gcoitinne. Is léir go bhfuil iarrachtaí fiúntacha á dhéanamh chun atmaisféar dearfach a chothú don Ghaeilge agus go n-úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar theanga teagaisc, mar mhionchaint an ranga agus mar mhéan cumarsáide i rith ceachtanna áirithe tríd an scoil. Tá prionta le feiceáil go forleathan sa timpeallacht freisin i ranganna áirithe agus aithnítear an dea-chleachtas seo.
Tá caighdeán maith sroichte ag daltaí na scoile i snáitheanna an churaclaim agus is léir go bhfuil cumas maith tuisceana, labhartha agus léitheoireachta acu. Freastlaítear go héifeachtach, i gcoitinne, ar scileanna cumarsáide na bpáistí a fhorbairt agus tá fianaise ann go bhfuil foclóir leathan ina seilbh. Déantar daingniú rialta ar na nathanna agus ar bhunstruchtúir na teanga le linn na gceachtanna agus feictear go bhfuil na daltaí cumasach ag cur ceisteanna. Is fiú machnamh a dhéanamh anois ar bhéim níos treise a chur ar Éisteacht mar shnáith den churaclam agus ar ghníomhaíochtaí scéalaíochta a chur os comhair na ndaltaí go minic. Ba chóir a chinntiú, freisin, go bhfoghlaimíonn na daltaí cnuasach leathan rann agus filíochta Ghaeilge i ngach rang. Cuirtear ceachtanna i láthair trí fheidhm a bhaint as ábhair chorpartha, acmhainní léirithe, an clár bán agus luaschártaí. Baintear leas as modheolaíochtaí taitneamhacha, éifeachtacha i ranganna áirithe trí ghníomhaíochtaí rannaireachta, ról-ghlacadh, cluichí, grúp-obair, obair i bpéirí agus ceistiúchán a úsáid. Is fiú anois féachaint le modheolaíochtaí éagsúla a chleachtadh i ngach rang agus a chur i láthair na ndaltaí ar bhonn rialta.
Cuirtear tús leis an léitheoireacht trí phrionta sa timpeallacht a sholáthar sna rangsheomraí agus trí fheidhm a bhaint as scéim léitheoireachta. Is léir go léann na daltaí le tuiscint agus líofacht i gcoitinne. Déanann na daltaí clarú slachtmhar d’éagsúlacht ábhair scríbhneoireachta ina gcóipleabhair agus feictear go ndéantar monatóireacht rialta ar an obair seo. Ba chóir, anois, féachaint le háiseanna an ríomhaire a úsáid níos forleithne, chun cineálacha éagsúla scríbhneoireachta a fhorbairt agus chun próiseas scríbhneoireachta a chur chun cinn tríd an scoil.
Documentation pertaining to the curricular policy of Irish is presented in the school plan. In general, individual teacher planning makes reference to the structures of the Primary School Curriculum (1999). It is evident that commendable efforts are being made to foster a positive atmosphere towards the Irish language and that efforts are also being made to utilise Irish during incidental discussions and as the medium of instruction in certain lessons throughout the school. Print-rich environments are provided in some classrooms and this feature of good practice is commended.
A good level of achievement has been attained in relation to pupils’ comprehension, oral and reading skills and a suitable standard is in evidence with regard to their communicative competence across the strands of the Irish curriculum. Due attention is paid to developing pupils’ communication skills and it is evident that a wide vocabulary has been acquired by the pupils. Regular consolidation and reinforcement of vocabulary, phraseology and grammatical structures is undertaken during lessons and pupils’ competence in formulating questions is also in evidence. Consideration should now be given to ensuring that greater emphasis is placed on developing the Listening (Éisteacht) strand of the curriculum and to ensure that pupils are presented with storytelling activities on a frequent basis. It should also be ensured that pupils learn a wide anthology of Irish rhymes and poems in all classes. Lessons are presented through the use of concrete resources, illustrative materials, the white board and flashcards. Enjoyable and effective teaching methodologies are implemented in some classrooms through utilising rhyming activities, role-play experiences, group work, pair work and appropriate teacher questioning. Consideration should now be given to practising a variety of teaching approaches on a regular basis in all classes.
An introduction to reading is addressed through the provision of print-rich environments in classrooms and also through the use of a reading scheme. It is evident that pupils read with comprehension and fluency, in general. Pupils present a variety of written exercises in their copybooks in a neat manner and it is evident that regular monitoring of this work is undertaken. Consideration should now be given to extending the use of the computer to develop a variety of writing genres and also to promote the process approach to writing in Irish throughout the school.
Very good lessons were observed in all classes in relation to the curricular area of English. Effective lesson structure was implemented, there was evidence of good management of pupils’ application to tasks, while the pupils’ ability to work independently is also encouraged. In some classes, it is important to ensure that a wider range of methodologies is employed during lesson implementation. There is evidence, from a variety of sources, that good pupil attainment has been achieved in this area of the curriculum.
Most pupils displayed very satisfactory oral language and speaking skills, while almost all pupils had very good listening and attention skills. During the lessons observed, it was also evident that pupils engaged in effective oral interaction with teachers. Planning for oral language topics is in evidence in the curricular policy for English in whole school planning documentation, where a range of oral language activities, with reference to the Primary School Curriculum (1999), are outlined. It is recommended, however, that a discrete oral language programme, which is explicitly linked to the oral language objectives in the English curriculum, be further developed and implemented in all classes. Consideration might also be given to using the Drumcondra English Profiles as a resource to assist the monitoring of pupil progress in this strand of the curriculum.
A scheme to enhance pupils’ phonological awareness is in use in infant and junior classes, through the implementation of the Letterland programme. Large-format books and commercial textbooks are utilised throughout the school, while novels are also being used at middle and senior class level. Shared reading initiatives such as the school’s Buddy System are in operation in some classes. Collaboration between the mainstream class teacher and the support teacher is also ensured, through the implementation of an in-class intervention programme, which is undertaken on a daily basis in junior classes. These features of good practice are commended. It is anticipated that the Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) will be administered in senior infants during the second term of the current school year. It is also expected that the Forward Together Programme will be implemented, as appropriate. A wide range of books is presented in classroom environments and libraries.
Appropriate emphasis is placed on pupils’ understanding of grammatical structures and it is evident that pupils have a good grasp of spellings and phonic work throughout the school.
A range of poetry is undertaken and recited with expression and pupils’ responses are appropriately developed. It is important to ensure, however, that a broad store of poetry is learned at all class levels.
Consideration should also be given to ensuring the development of children’s higher order thinking skills throughout the school.
There is evidence of very good written outcomes and presentation regarding pupils’ written work in copybooks and regular correction is undertaken. In some classes, dedicated writing areas have been developed, with appropriate emphasis being placed on creative writing activities and on the process approach to writing. It is now recommended that the process approach to writing be further developed and implemented at all class levels and supported through the use of the school’s ICT equipment. A variety of genres is explored in some classes and this feature of good practice is commended. It is now advised that consideration to be given to ensuring that a wider range of genres in writing be addressed and further explored throughout all classes in the school.
The principles and structures of the Primary School Curriculum in the area of Mathematics are reflected in whole school planning documentation and also in individual teacher planning.
Very good teacher-pupil and co-operative pupil/pupil interactions were in evidence in lessons observed, while group teaching approaches are also in evidence in all classes. Active learning strategies are promoted in some classes and emphasis is placed on the acquisition of mathematical language. It is important to ensure however that, in all classes, experiential learning approaches continue to be developed and implemented and that active learning strategies are further promoted. There is effective management of pupil application in tasks and activities during lessons, concrete and structured materials are used productively in most classes and importance is also placed on the explanation of basic mathematical procedures.
It is advised that experiential learning approaches continue to be developed and that active learning strategies and work with concrete materials are promoted at all class levels. Increased emphasis should now be placed on developing pupils’ problem-solving skills, higher order thinking skills and the development of mathematical language. Suitable emphasis is placed on the acquisition of number concepts and skills. Consideration should be given to ensuring that activities in oral Mathematics are undertaken on a daily basis in all classes, in order to further develop pupils’ problem solving abilities. The creation of maths-rich environments and dedicated areas for mathematics is commended and it is advised that this feature of good practice be extended to all classrooms.
It is evident that cross-curricular links have been established between the programme of learning in History and other areas of the curriculum. Pupils display enthusiasm in their acquisition of knowledge regarding themes of local, national and European relevance. These topics are effectively explored through the use of project work, textbooks and illustrative materials. Further consideration should now be given to developing a variety of teaching approaches and methodologies and also towards ensuring that the role of the textbook be decreased in some classes. It should also be ensured that the development of pupils’ skills as historians be further expanded through the use of the school’s ICT resources and broadband technology. This could be undertaken by enabling pupils to access and analyse primary sources of data. It is recommended also that a policy in the curricular area of History be formulated for inclusion in the school plan.
A curricular policy in the area of Geography is presented in school planning documentation. It is evident that very good work is being undertaken in project work and in local environment activities. Pupils display an interest in, and a knowledge of a range of geographical facts. The continued development of pupils’ skills as geographers should now be considered. This could be assisted through the support of computer equipment and also through the extended use of broadband technology. In general, concepts pertaining to pupils’ sense of place are being developed in an effective manner, while work in Geography is often suitably integrated with aspects of other curricular areas. It is advised that, at some class levels, future classroom activity in this curricular area would include the extended use of maps and illustrative materials during lesson implementation, while the development of a variety of teaching approaches should also be considered.
A policy pertaining to the curricular area of Science is included in the school plan. It is evident, from the lessons observed, that the programme of work undertaken at classroom level is informed by individual teachers’ long-term preparation and also that these activities are based on the strands and strand units of the Science curriculum. Group work activities and activity/discovery approaches are addressed in a commendable manner and the continued use of these methodologies is recommended to ensure the development of the pupils’ scientific skills. Cross-curricular links between the programme of learning in Science and other curricular areas of the Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) curriculum have been productively established. Experimentation is undertaken in mainstream classrooms and investigation/nature tables have also been created in pupils’ learning environments. The further development of the school garden as an active and effective strategy in studying many of the strands of the Science curriculum is now recommended.
A very comprehensive programme of work is outlined in school planning documentation in relation to the Visual Arts curriculum. Learning experiences are detailed which are aimed at providing a broad programme for each class level across the six curricular strands. There is evidence of this activity through the attractive display of pupil effort in classrooms. Cross-curricular work is undertaken in a productive manner, pupils are encouraged to participate in competitions and emphasis is placed on pupil enjoyment and also on the developmental process. Consideration should now be given to expanding the use of the school’s ICT resources, which could support the development of digital portfolios and photographic records of pupil work in Visual Arts.
A Music policy has been formulated in a comprehensive and clear manner and is presented in school planning documentation. In the classes where the teaching of Music was observed, it is evident that Music is taught in a competent manner and that good standards have been attained in relation to pupils’ singing ability. Very good standards are also in evidence with regard to pupils’ performance and competence in instrumental skills. Many aspects of Music literacy are being explored, including rhythm, notation, beat and pitch. Appropriate activities are also presented to develop pupils’ listening, responding and Music appreciation skills. A variety of resources is used in an effective manner to support this curricular area, including percussion instruments, appropriate textbooks, tapes, compact discs and audio-visual equipment. The development of pupils’ instrumental skills is promoted through the provision of instruction in tin whistle, fiddle and accordion. Tuition is provided by an external tutor and pupils from second and sixth classes are afforded the opportunity of availing of this instruction, which is undertaken under the direct supervision of the class teacher.
Dramatic activity is undertaken at classroom level and from the lessons observed, it is evident that it is also used as an effective tool to ensure cross-curricular integration. Techniques in this curricular area also support the programme of work in Gaeilge (Irish), English and SPHE. In some classes, Drama is employed to enhance learning experiences across a range of curricular areas, including oral language activities and the exploration of poetry. It is evident from the lessons observed that pupils derive enjoyment from the activities undertaken. Pupils are afforded the opportunity of participating in Christmas concerts on a bi-annual basis and also in fundraising performances. It is now recommended that a policy in the curricular area of Drama be formulated for inclusion in the school plan.
Planning documentation for the curricular area of Physical Education (PE) is presented in the school plan. In the lessons observed, effective organisation and implementation of PE activities were in evidence, while appropriate skill development and use of equipment were also addressed. Good use is made of the school’s external facilities and recreational areas, with regard to the programme of work undertaken in Physical Education. Extra- and co-curricular provision is addressed through the services of an external coach from the GAA, who provides instruction in Gaelic games to all pupils. Pupils are under the direct supervision of a mainstream class teacher during the time of tuition in GAA activities. Lessons in swimming are also organised. Pupils are enabled to participate in a broad programme of learning in relation to physical activities and the teaching staff is commended for the investment of time in and commitment to Physical Education.
School planning documentation in relation to SPHE addresses pupil needs appropriately and effectively. Programmes of work undertaken to support this curricular area include Bí Folláin, Walk Tall and Stay Safe. Policies in relation to SPHE also incorporated in school planning documentation include the school’s Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Policy, Child Protection Guidelines, Code of Discipline, Health and Safety, Administration of Medication and the School Drug Policy. The school also ensures the implementation of the Sammy Stamp Credit Union Savings Scheme. In classes where lessons in SPHE were observed, teaching strategies including teacher-led questioning/discussion were implemented and Circle Time activities were undertaken. The characteristic spirit of school is reflected through the positive classroom atmosphere and also through the favourable pupil/teacher interactions, which are in evidence throughout all class levels. Personal development activities and the promotion of pupils’ self-esteem are also emphasised. A Healthy Eating Policy is implemented in the school, in collaboration with parents.
A policy on Assessment has been formulated and is included in whole school planning documentation. It is evident that a range of assessment strategies is employed throughout the school. Teacher observation, monitoring of written work and teacher-designed tests constitute the school’s informal assessment approaches. Commercially produced reporting booklets are in use and reports on pupil progress from second to sixth classes are sent to parents at the end of each school year. A file on each pupil is also maintained. Consideration should now be given to the development of digital portfolios to facilitate the storage of individual children’s work samples in a variety of curricular areas. Formal assessment procedures are addressed through the use of teacher-designed tests and through the annual administration of standardised tests, including the MICRA-T and the SIGMA-T. The results of these tests are filed and stored methodically in the school. It is advised that consideration be given to the use of a computerised system, which would further facilitate the analysis of assessment data by mainstream class teachers, the support teachers and the principal. Diagnostic testing materials utilised include QUEST, Neale Analsis of Reading Ability (NARA II) and the Diagnostic Reading Programme (Ted Ames). It is anticipated that the Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) will be administered in senior infants during the second term of the current school year. It is also expected that the Forward Together Programme will be implemented, as appropriate.
The school has the services of a learning support teacher, who is based on a full-time basis in this school and who is also shared with Kilcolman National School. One resource teacher, who is also based in Ardagh National School, provides nine and a half hours resource teaching time in Carrickerry National School. A Learning Support Policy is documented in the school’s whole school planning documentation. It is now advised that a whole school policy on Special Educational Needs be formulated as a matter of priority.
Early intervention strategies are addressed by the learning support teacher through the implementation of phonological awareness programmes and shared reading initiatives with pupils in infant/junior classes. In-class support is also provided in Mathematics to pupils at middle class level. The practice of undertaking this integrated model of provision in mainstream class settings is commended and should be further extended, as appropriate. Supplementary teaching in literacy and Mathematics is also addressed regarding the learning support provision in this school.
Very attractively-organised learning environments have been created in support settings. It is evident, from the lessons observed, that a wide range of teaching strategies is implemented and that lessons are presented in a very clear and well-structured manner. Pupils are withdrawn for support provision from mainstream classes, both individually and in groups. The programmes of learning formulated for pupils for whom supplementary and support teaching are provided, focus on the development of language, literacy, numeracy, social and behavioural skills and also on the effective use of ICT. Practical activities are undertaken and a range of educational software is used in a productive manner. It is recommended that the practice of using the school’s existing ICT resources be further extended in support provision contexts, so that pupils’ identified learning needs are further targeted and addressed.
There is evidence of high quality individual teacher planning in support teaching areas. This is documented through the comprehensive formulation and recording of Individual Pupil Learning Profiles (IPLPs), which identify very clearly-defined learning targets. Collaboration and consultation among the principal, mainstream class teachers, support teaching staff and parents is undertaken in the formulation and development of IPLPs. This practice is commended. Strategies are also in place to ensure that parents receive a copy of pupils’ IPLPs, while feedback regarding pupil progress is provided at annual parent/teacher meetings. Weekly plans, progress records, assessments, templates pertaining to records of contact with parents and appropriate personnel, monthly records and timetables are documented in a productive manner. Pupil portfolios and folders are also neatly maintained and effectively organised.
The teaching staff strives to ensure that the education provision in this school is tailored appropriately to all pupils’ needs and abilities.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
of the practice of convening an afternoon break time should be undertaken, so that compliance with DES Circular 11/95, Time in School, is ensured.
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.