An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Annagh Boys’ National School
Ballyglunin Tuam County Galway
Uimhir rolla: 11675T
A whole-school evaluation of Annagh Boys’ National School was undertaken in November 2008. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and History. The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.
This rural three-teacher school provides education for boys from junior infants to sixth class. The school is in the parish of Corofin but its traditional catchment area also includes parts of the neighbouring parishes of Abbeyknockmoy and Lackagh-Turloughmore. The school shares a campus with Annagh Girls’ School. Pupils in the school have a record of high achievement in sports and in science and technology, areas that are beyond the scope of this evaluation.
The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:
Pupils enrolled in the school
Mainstream classes in the school
Teachers on the school staff
Mainstream class teachers
Teachers working in support roles
Special needs assistants
The school is under the patronage of the Archbishop of Tuam and its mission statement makes reference to the Christian ethos. The mission statement also emphasises the holistic development of each child and records the school’s commitment to providing an enjoyable learning experience for pupils and promoting positive relations with the community.
The board of management is properly constituted and meets regularly in accordance with the Department of Education and Science’s Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure. Minutes of these meetings are recorded and kept on file. Board members have been assigned specific roles and they have received training recently in relevant areas. The board is supportive of the work of the teachers and has been actively involved in the development and ratification of the school plan. The school’s finances are managed in a prudent manner and the accounts are certified. Overall there is evidence that the board members are well-informed and committed to their roles and that the board discharges its functions effectively.
The board is to be congratulated on the way in which the school building and grounds have been maintained and especially on the new parking and drop-off/collection area that has been provided to the front of the school. Board members report that they are particularly pleased with the school’s happy atmosphere, the high standards of pupil behaviour and the school’s successful participation in sports and in various science initiatives. The board members are also appreciative of the quality of provision for pupils with special educational needs and the extensive space available on the school grounds for recreation and outdoor activities.
At the meeting with the board, the inspector outlined the ways in which the pupils would benefit from an amalgamation with Annagh Girls’ NS. It is recommended that the board initiate a consultation process in order to establish the views of key stakeholders, including the patron, parents, teachers and Primary Administration Section of the Department of Education and Science. A model for this process is presented in the Commission on School Accommodation’s document Amalgamation of First-Level Schools, a copy of which was given to the board.
The school’s in-school management team comprises the principal and deputy principal.
The principal is to be commended on the courteous, professional way in which he manages the day-to-day operation of the school as well as teaching the senior classes. He receives valuable support from the deputy principal, whose post includes a balance of pastoral, curricular and organisational responsibilities. The responsibilities attached to this post should be reviewed regularly in the light of the changing needs of the school. At present, for example, the school should consider including responsibility for co-ordinating the teaching and use of the Irish language throughout the school among the duties of the deputy principal.
Teachers have undertaken courses recently in a range of curricular and non-curricular areas. It is recommended that the school formulate and implement a policy regarding induction and mentoring of newly qualified teachers.
The school organises an induction meeting for parents of pupils enrolling in the school. An induction pack, including key school policies, is also given to the parents. Parent-teacher meetings are organised annually, at which teachers provide parents with an oral report on the progress of their children. It is recommended that the school also send an annual written report to the parents of each pupil. Parents are invited to attend an annual end-of-year graduation ceremony for the pupils in sixth class. It is recommended that the school collaborate with Annagh Girls’ NS on the preparation and implementation of a policy to support sixth-class pupils and their parents with the transition to post-primary school. The scheme OK! Let’s Go, available from City of Galway Vocational Educational Committee might provide the basis for a suitable programme.
Parental involvement in the operation of the school includes fundraising activities as well as assisting with the organisation and management of extra-curricular activities. The school should consider and implement suitable strategies to increase parental participation in the work of the school. The school should also consider issuing a simple questionnaire to parents with a view to identifying the areas of school life with which parents are satisfied and those in which they see room for improvement.
It is recommended that consideration be given to setting up a joint parents’ association (affiliated to the National Parents Council) for the two Annagh schools, with a view to achieving greater co-ordination of parental involvement in the work of the school.
The standard of pupil behaviour in the school is very good. Teachers generally show great skill in motivating and managing the pupils. The school has a code of behaviour, which is made available to parents.
The quality of whole-school planning is fair. The principal and teachers draft the policies, which are then presented to the board for discussion and ratification. Key policies, such as the code of behaviour and the enrolment policy are made available to parents. It is recommended that all policies be circulated to parents for comment prior to ratification by the board, in accordance with Section 21(3) of the Education Act 1998.
The school plan contains all of the organisational policies that are required by legislation or circulars of the Department of Education and Science. A school attendance strategy has been drafted and will be ratified following discussion by the board of management.
The curricular sections of the school plan are based on templates provided by the support services. Each school is expected to adapt these templates so that the school plan will record and promote the good practice that is being developed in response to the particular needs of that school and the resources available. The curricular plans for Annagh Boys’ NS remain generic in nature, however, and are not as useful as they might be in co-ordinating and improving the work of the school. It is recommended that the school review the curricular sections of the school plan with a view to producing curricular policies that reflect and consolidate existing good practice.
The quality of the classroom planning done by individual teachers is generally good. Teachers prepare long-term and short-term schemes of work and these are presented in a professional, reader-friendly manner. There is scope for more effective planning for certain areas, such as oral-language development in English. In some cases, there is also a need for the teacher to identify clear, measurable learning targets for the pupils, in the interests of purposeful teaching, learning and assessment.
Each teacher keeps a monthly record (cuntas míosúil) of work completed. In some cases, these provide a useful account of what the pupils have learned. It is recommended that all classroom teachers use the same format for the cuntas míosúil and that these records include statements of the learning targets that have been achieved by pupils in the month to which they apply.
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.
Bíonn teagasc na Gaeilge ar chaighdeán ard sa scoil seo ar an iomlán. Sonraítear an dea-chleachtas seo a leanas, nó gnéithe de, i bhformhór na ranganna. Cloiseann na daltaí dea-shampla ón oide i dtaobh úsáid na teanga. Bíonn flúirse d’ábhair chlóbhuailte i nGaeilge le feiceáil sa seomra ranga, rud a chuireann go mór le héascú agus buanú na foghlama. Caitear sciar cuí ama ar theagasc na Gaeilge gach maidin. Cuireann an t-oide múnlaí agus focail nua i láthair na ndaltaí go héifeachtach trí úsáid ábhar léirithe. Cleachtaítear na múnlaí nua go cúramach agus tugtar deis do na daltaí iad a úsáid i gcomhthéacsanna cumarsáideacha, go hiondúil ina mbeirteanna nó i ngrúpaí beaga. Spreagann an t-oide na daltaí chun an Ghaeilge atá acu a labhairt taobh amuigh den cheacht foirmiúil. De thoradh na hoibre seo, bíonn sé ar chumas na ndaltaí iad féin a chur in iúl go héifeachtach i nGaeilge atá líofa agus réasúnta cruinn. Leantar céimeanna oiriúnacha i bhforbairt na léitheoireachta agus na scríbhneoireachta Gaeilge.
Moltar go gcuirfí na cleachtais thuas i bhfeidhm i ngach rang. Moltar, go háirithe, go mbainfí úsáid as cairteacha agus ábhair léirithe eile i ngach seomra ranga chun foghlaim agus labhairt na Gaeilge a éascú do na daltaí. Moltar go mbeadh comhordú na Gaeilge sa scoil mar chuid de dhualgais an leas-phríomhoide, ar mhaithe le comhsheasmhacht agus leanúnachas i dteagasc, úsáid agus cur chun cinn na teanga.
The teaching of Irish in this school is of a high standard overall. The following good practice, or aspects of it, is evident in most classes. The teachers give good example to the pupils with regard to the use of the language. There is a wealth of printed material in Irish to be seen in the classroom, which makes it easier for pupils to understand and remember what is taught. An appropriate period of time is spent on the Irish lesson each morning. The teacher presents new language structures and vocabulary effectively through the use of illustrative materials. New language items are practised carefully and the pupils are given an opportunity to use them in communicative contexts, usually working in pairs or small groups. The teacher motivates the pupils to speak Irish outside of the formal lesson. As a result, pupils are enabled to communicate effectively in Irish that is fluent and reasonably accurate. Appropriate steps are followed in the development of reading and writing in Irish.
It is recommended that the above practices be implemented in every class. It is recommended, in particular, that use be made of charts and other illustrative materials in every classroom to make it easier for the pupils to learn and speak the Irish language. It is recommended that the co-ordination of provision for the Irish language in the school be included in the responsibilities of the deputy principal, in the interests of consistency and continuity in the teaching, use and promotion of the language.
The quality of teaching and learning in English is generally good. There is scope for development, however, with regard to implementing a consistent, whole-school approach in some areas. This should be addressed as part of the staff’s forthcoming revision of the whole-school plan for English.
There is a very good emphasis on oral-language development in some classrooms, with a particularly useful focus on vocabulary development. Teachers identify the vocabulary that they want pupils to learn and use questions skilfully to elicit this target vocabulary from the pupils. There is also good use of open questions that challenge the pupils to give longer, more considered answers. As a consequence, pupils in the middle and senior classes are generally good listeners and confident, articulate speakers.
It is recommended that the school devise and implement a whole-school strategy for oral-language development. As discussed with teachers during the evaluation, the use of structured play in the infant classes, word boxes in the middle and senior classes and a rich variety of verse and poetry in all classes would be key elements of this strategy. It is recommended that a dedicated weekly oral-language lesson be taught to all classes. It is recommended also that all teachers use charts and cards to display target vocabulary so that it is easier for pupils to learn and to use.
A suitable phonics scheme is implemented in the junior classes, which provides an important foundation for subsequent progress in reading. There is good use of authentic reading material to provide pupils with a sense of the pleasure and the purpose of reading. Teachers read age-appropriate stories and novels aloud to pupils. Each classroom has a pupils’ library. Pupils generally speak knowledgeably and enthusiastically about the books that they have read. There is good use of paired reading. There is a need in some cases to ensure that the classroom library is attractive and accessible to all pupils.
There is evidence of good practice in the development of the pupils’ writing ability. Letter formation is developed carefully in the infant classes through effective modelling and regular practice. Throughout the school, some pupils would benefit from further support with regard to handwriting and presentation of written work. Pupils in all classes are given a range of writing tasks and the resulting work is displayed in the classroom. Pupils contribute to an annual school magazine. The school’s provision for writing would be further enhanced through participation in the Write-a-Book project, which is organised annually by Galway Education Centre.
Overall, the quality of teaching and learning in Mathematics is good. In some cases, it is very good. The whole-school plan for Mathematics is among the most practical and most useful of the school’s curricular plans. It is recommended that a Mathematics trail be included in the plan when it is being revised.
In classrooms where teaching and learning of Mathematics was considered to be very good, there is evidence that the following elements are present. There is a good range of charts and other displays in the classroom to make it easier for pupils to understand and remember Mathematical concepts, language and procedures. Teaching is purposeful and engaging. Pupils are active in the lesson. There is very deliberate development of Mathematical language and plenty of structured pupil-pupil interaction. There is good differentiation to cater for the needs of the different class groups. There is frequent and regular revision of concepts. It is recommended that this good practice be implemented in all classrooms. Frequent revision and the use of visuals are particularly important in maintaining and improving pupil achievement in Mathematics.
There is evidence that good work has been done in the teaching of History. Each class follows an appropriate programme, although there is scope for more effective whole-school planning to ensure progression and continuity, especially in the area of local studies. In the junior classes there is an appropriate emphasis on the pupil’s own life and the changes that have occurred during their lifetime. Pupils in the middle classes are well able to recount stories from the History programme. Teachers are to be commended on the use of attractive classroom displays to stimulate the pupils’ curiosity regarding History, especially local studies.
The school administers standardised attainment tests annually in Mathematics and English reading. The Middle Infant Screening Test is administered to pupils in senior infants. The results of these tests are used to determine eligibility for supplementary teaching from the learning-support teacher.
Teachers report that they do a lot of informal formative assessment but that this is not recorded. There is evidence of scope for more systematic assessment of pupil achievement. Section 2.1 of this report identifies a need for teachers to identify clear, measurable learning targets in their planning. This would make assessment easier and more useful and would support improved pupil achievement.
Two visiting teachers provide supplementary teaching for certain pupils. The current time allocation for these teachers was determined several years ago on the basis of the enrolment at the time. The number of pupils enrolled has increased by almost two thirds since then but the allocation of hours has remained unchanged.
The resource teacher had just commenced in the post on the day of the evaluation and was not observed teaching. The quality of the learning-support teaching is very good. The learning-support room has plenty of displays to support the development of literacy and numeracy. There is also a supply of authentic reading material and of various Mathematics and language games, which pupils are allowed to borrow and take home. The approach to planning is very professional and the teaching is purposeful and effective. The teacher prepares appropriate learning programmes for individual pupils and for small groups. Parents are involved in the process of designing and implementing these plans. There is very good use of appropriate resources and activities to develop phonological awareness and numeracy. There is also commendable attention to fostering a positive attitude to reading and writing. There is effective use of information and communication technologies.
There are no children of the Traveller community enrolled in the school at present. Nor are there any pupils with English as a second language. The school ethos promotes respectful interactions among all members of the school community.
Some pupils do not participate fully in the school programme for dance and Music. It is recommended that no pupil be excused or excluded from these or other subjects of the Primary School Curriculum.
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:
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and the board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Published April 2009
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1: Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board of Management of Annagh Boys’ National School welcomes the whole school evaluation report. The whole exercise was positive and useful. The inspector was courteous, professional and detailed. We are happy with all he identifies as positive and will engage with the proposed recommendations to improve the quality of education in the school.
Area 2: Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection
Chairperson had a conversation with the Patron re: amalgamation