An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Castlegregory N.S.

Castlegregory

County Kerry

Uimhir rolla: 11746Q

 

Date of inspection:  27 March 2009

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils

-Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

School response to the report

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Castlegregory N.S. 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 a representative of the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. She interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. She 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 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.

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

Castlegregory N.S. is a mainstream, co-educational school situated on the outskirts of the village of Castlegregory within close proximity of the beach. It is one of three schools in the parish and it serves pupils from the village of Castlegregory and the surrounding hinterland. There are six teachers on staff, five class teachers and a full time learning support teacher. A part time resource teacher provides support to pupils with identified learning difficulties. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Kerry. The characteristic spirit of the school is clearly articulated in its mission statement and in the supporting school aims and objectives. The school has a current enrolment of 131 pupils. Pupils’ attendance is carefully monitored and very good levels of attendance are attained by the majority of the pupils.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

An effective board of management is properly constituted and meets regularly. Minutes of board meetings are recorded and communicated to the school community. The board’s decision making procedures are open, clear and in the best interests of the school. Members of the board have attended organised training events. Finances are very carefully managed and accounts are audited annually. The principal prepares a comprehensive report for each board meeting. This report assists greatly in keeping the board informed of general developments in the school and of the quality of teaching and learning. The board is involved in the whole-school planning process and discusses and ratifies school policies at its meetings. Key policies are communicated to parents on the enrolment of their children into the school and at the beginning of the school year. However, members of the school community are not provided with regular opportunities to collaborate in the development of school policy. It is therefore recommended that the board promotes and facilitates the involvement of the school community in the development of the school plan in accordance with section 21 of the Education Act (1998). 

 

2.2 In-school management

The in-school management team comprises a principal, a deputy principal and a special duties post holder. The principal discharges administrative and organisational functions in a very effective manner. She is a capable leader who has successfully gained the support, confidence and trust of the board, the staff and the parents. She promotes a culture of team work and collaborative decision making. Staff meetings are held formally once a term and informal meetings are arranged as the need arises.

 

Post-holders have been assigned a range of curriculum, organisational and pastoral duties and they discharge these responsibilities in a highly professional manner. There is a palpable sense of teamwork and collegiality among the in-school management team. Together with the principal, members work collaboratively in leading school improvement and innovation and in the building and sustaining of a positive school climate where the contributions of all are encouraged, valued and productively utilised.  It is now recommended that the duties assigned to post holders be reviewed annually by the board. Greater emphasis might be placed on developing the role of the in-school management team in leading the school’s engagement in the process of school self-evaluation.

 

2.3 Management of resources

The board of management manages the school’s resources very efficiently. The composition and allocation of the teaching staff is compliant with Department requirements and teachers are afforded the opportunity to experience a variety of classes and contexts. External tutors work under the guidance of teachers and they are provided with a code of ethics devised by the board. A part-time school secretary carries out her duties conscientiously. A special needs assistant (SNA) provides effective support to the pupil to whom she is assigned.

 

A safe and secure environment has been created for the pupils and the staff. The school building and its environs are commendably maintained by a part time caretaker. Classroom resources, including a recently acquired interactive white board and data projectors, are very effectively utilised to support the teaching and learning process. Attractive, supportive learning environments are provided in the corridors and classrooms.  The organisation of a school book rental scheme, where, for a nominal sum, textbooks and school materials are purchased for the pupils, is highly commended. The board is actively pursuing the building of a general purposes room which was originally planned for when building the present school in 1990.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The parents’ association, which is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council –Primary (NPC), is currently in a transitional phase. The two parents who attended the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) have assumed the roles of chairperson and secretary of the association. The school maintains regular communication with the association and keeps it informed of school related matters. At a meeting with a representative of the association, high satisfaction with the school’s provision for pupils and with the effective manner in which the school communicates with parents was expressed. Parents are reported to be very supportive of the school. They have made funds available to offset costs incurred in school excursions. They attend school related events and extra-curricular activities. Parent teacher meetings are held annually and end of year pupil progress reports are issued to all parents.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

The management of pupils in Castlegregory N.S. is of a very high standard. Relevant school policies pertaining to child welfare, discipline and bullying are effectively and consistently implemented. Pupils, during the evaluation period, presented as confident, well mannered and articulate. They display pride in their work, in their school and in their community. They work collaboratively with each other and with their teachers and are courteous in their interactions with school visitors. The school is praised for its commitment to the general welfare of all its pupils.

  

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The quality of whole-school planning is good. The whole-school plan is effectively organised and presented in a number of lever arch files. Parents are welcome to view the plan at an arranged time. Plans and policies are drafted by the teaching staff and presented to the board for discussion and ratification. There is evidence to indicate that these plans are reviewed on a regular basis and this good practice is praised. The staff is commended for the drafting of an annual strategic plan. Priorities for development in teaching and learning have been carefully identified and supporting action plans outline achievable targets and realistic timeframes for their successful implementation. These plans assist in the implementation of school improvement initiatives.

 

A very extensive and comprehensive range of whole-school organisational policies has been devised. These organisational policies reflect the school’s compliance with legislative requirements, Department circulars and guidelines. They effectively inform the smooth running of the school. Curriculum plans for all subject areas have also been prepared. A positive feature of these plans is the manner in which they reflect the school’s context and the fact that they were clearly devised cognisant of the needs of the school and its pupils. They outline broad statements of content that are based on the strands and strand units of the curriculum and a range of teaching approaches and strategies. It is now timely to conduct a review of these plans in order to evaluate their impact on pupil learning. It is therefore recommended that curriculum plans be prioritised for review and that particular focus be placed in this review on the provision of clear guidelines to individual teachers for their implementation. The identification of a means through which the plans impact on pupil learning might be monitored and evaluated should also be addressed.  

 

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.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

All teachers prepare comprehensive planning in preparation for their work. Teachers’ long-term plans are of a very high quality. Their short term planning, for the most part, outlines the content to be addressed over a fortnightly basis and it ensures that the pupils experience a broad and balanced curriculum.  Progress records are completed each month. The format for the recording of this work was recently reviewed and a common template agreed. It is now recommended that a consistent approach to individual teachers’ long and short term planning be also addressed and agreed. This format should facilitate teachers to link their classroom planning more closely to the whole-school curriculum plans and to ensure continuity and development between class levels. It should also ensure that all elements of the Primary Curriculum (1999) are systematically addressed.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

The quality of learning and teaching is of a very high standard. Lessons are well structured, paced and developed and they include appropriate content and learning activities. Resources, including information and communications technology (ICT) and the local environment are competently and purposefully utilised to very good effect. Teachers’ communication skills are very effective. There is evidence of skilful use of questioning to elicit pupils’ existing knowledge and to effectively scaffold on pupils’ previous learning. Explanations and instructions are clearly given. A range of appropriate teaching methodologies is employed effectively in most classroom contexts. This good practice might be further developed and extended and include an increased emphasis on paired and group work.  Pupils’ contributions are actively sought and purposefully utilised to develop learning. Significant attention is placed on the consolidation and reinforcement of content, concepts and skills developed during the lessons. Classroom interaction is of a high standard and the quality of pupils’ understanding is clearly reflected in their oral and written responses. It is evident that the pupils are making considerable progress commensurate with their abilities, in all areas of the curriculum.

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Múintear an Ghaeilge go han-éifeachtach sa scoil seo. Cloítear léi mar theanga theagaisc i rith na gceachtanna. Tá saibhreas agus líofacht teanga ag na h-oidí agus tá siad le moladh as a saothar chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn mar theanga bheo. Dá réir sin bíonn caint na n-oidí mar eiseamláir breá do chaint na ndaltaí. Aithrisíonn na daltaí a lán dánta agus rainn, rud a chuidíonn le forbairt na dea-fhoghraíochta agus le taithí a thabhairt dóibh ar luas agus ar rithim na teanga. Baineann na h-oidí an-leas as áiseanna oiriúnacha agus as ábhair léírithe i rith na réamhchumarsáíde chun brí na cainte a chur in iúl agus chun tacú leis na daltaí an t-ionchur teanga nua a thuiscint. Sa tréimhse chumarsáide eagraítear tascanna agus idirghníomhú sóisialta chun taithí a thabhairt do na daltaí ar an teanga a bhíonn foghlamtha a úsáid chun fíorchumarsáid a dhéanamh lena chéile. Sa tréimhse iarchumarsáide déanann na múinteoirí measúnú ar an teanga a bhíonn in úsáid ag na daltaí agus féachtar chuige do dtuigeann siad an teanga agus go mbíonn said in ann í a úsáid i suímh eile. Tá ar chumas na ndaltaí fíorchumarsáid a dhéanamh lena chéile i rith na gceachtanna trí pháirt ghníomhach a ghlacadh sna tascanna a eagraítear dóibh. Moltar go mór an dea-chleachtas seo.

 

Dírítear aird inmholta ar fhuaimeanna na Gaeilge agus ar chomhréir na teanga a le forbairt a dhéanamh ar chumas na ndaltaí tabhairt faoi léitheoireacht in nGaeilge. Léann formhór na ndaltaí go líofa agus is féidir leo ábhar na léitheoireachta a phlé go cumasach. Múintear stór nua focal ar bhealach an-chinnte, agus pléitear ábhar na hoibre go hoiriúnach roimh dhul á léamh agus i ndiaidh a léite. Mar thoradh ar an gcur chuige sin d’éirigh le daltaí i gcuid de na ranganna stór focal sách casta a aithint trí úsáid a bhaint as scileanna foghraíochta,, comhthéasc, agus briseadh síos na siollaí. Is fiú machnamh a dhéanamh anois, áfach, ar éagsúlacht ábhar léitheoireachta a úsáid tríd an scoil, chun saibhreas foclóra agus léitheoireacht neamhspleách na ndaltaí a fhorbairt a thuilleadh fós.

 

Tá cleachtas an-mhaith ar bun maidir le teagasc an scríbhneoireacht sna ranganna go léir. Cuirtear béim chinnte ar litriú, ar fhoghraíocht agus ar dheilbhíocht na Gaeilge sna ranganna uile. Tá neart samplaí d’obair scríofa na ndaltaí ar fáil ina gcóipleabhair, agus baineann ard-chaighdeán le cuid mhaith dá gcuid saothair. Forbraítear bunchloch na scríbhneoireachta go héífeachtach, agus éiríonn leis na daltaí plé le gníomhaíochtaí a bhaineann le hábhar an chomhrá. Leagtar béim inmholta ar ghramadach a mhúineadh i gcomhthéacs cuí sna ranganna sinsearacha. Dírítear aird go fiúntach ar raon leathan cleachtas chun scileanna na scríbhneoireachta a bhunú, a dhaingniú, a shaibhriú, agus a fhorbairt. Moltar, áfach, breis bhéime a leagadh ar abairtí iomlána i nGaeilge a chur ar taispeáint sna seomraí ranga agus timpeallacht phrionta i nGaeilge a chruthú chun cleachtais sa luathlitearthacht a éascú.

 

Irish

Irish is taught very effectively in this school. It is used as the language of instruction during the lesson. The teachers have a richness and fluency of language and they are to be praised for the work they do in progressing Irish as a living language. Their teachers’ use of language provides pupils with an attractive exemplar for modelling language.  The pupils recite a range of poetry, rhymes and songs, which helps them to improve their pronunciation and which gives them an opportunity to experience the pace and rhythm of the language. Teachers use appropriate resources and visual materials during the pre-communicative phase to explain the language and to assist the pupils to understand the new language. During the communicative phase tasks and social interaction are organised to allow pupils the opportunity to practise the language they have learned with each other in authentic communicative situations. During the post communicative phase the teacher reviews the language being used by the pupils and ensures that they understand the language and that they can use it in other situations. The pupils can participate in real communication with each other during the lesson by actively participating in the tasks organised for them.  This good practice is highly praised.

 

Praiseworthy emphasis is placed on the teaching of phonetics in Irish and the structure of the language in order to develop the pupils’ ability to engage with Irish reading. The majority of pupils read fluently and they are able to discuss the content of the lessons capably.  New vocabulary is very clearly taught and the content of the reading material is discussed in an appropriate way before and after the actual text is read. Pupils in some classes managed, as a result of this approach, to identify difficult works by using phonic skills, context clues, and by breaking the words into syllables. It is important now to consider the use of a variety of reading materials throughout the school in order to further develop a rich vocabulary and to develop pupils as independent readers.

 

Very good practice is evident regarding the teaching of Irish writing in all classes. A clear emphasis is placed on spelling, pronunciation?? and the structure of the Irish language in these classes. Many samples of pupils’ written work were evident in their copybooks and a very good standard is reached in the majority of this work.  The basics of writing are developed effectively and the pupils manage to engage in activities connected with the content of oral language work. The emphasis on teaching grammar in context in senior classes is commendable.  Very good attention is focused on a wide range of practices that help to establish, enrich and develop pupils’ writing skills. It is recommended however that more emphasis be placed on displaying full sentences in Irish in the classroom and creating an Irish language print environment to facilitate practice in early literacy.

 

English

Pupils are making very good progress in English and the standards achieved are, in general, very good. Oral language skills are taught in an integrated manner. Pupils at infant level utilise a wide vocabulary and they demonstrate an ability to initiate and sustain conversations. They have developed very good awareness of the listener-speaker relationship and they demonstrate an ability to clarify thinking through oral language. At junior level pupils are awarded ample opportunities to explore and develop ideas and concepts through talk and directed discussion. In the middle standards pupils are facilitated to identify and evaluate key points, issues and meanings of texts and to organise information efficiently. Pupils in the senior classes are able to justify and defend opinions and to present a coherent argument orally. In order to further develop this work consideration might now be given to the teaching of specific and selected oral language objectives in discrete oral language lessons throughout the school.

 

Reading is competently taught throughout the school. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of pupils’ emergent reading skills at infant level. Concepts of print are developed through modelling by the teacher and through collaborative reading activities. Shared reading is actively encouraged through the use of graded readers. Pupils’ sight vocabulary is systematically developed and their phonological and phonemic awareness is methodically addressed. This good work is further developed in the junior classes. In the middle and senior classes care is taken to encourage pupils to read for pleasure and information. Basic information retrieval skills are taught and the use of dictionaries is encouraged. Pupils at these levels engage with a wide range of different texts. This facilitates them to develop a range of comprehension strategies and enables them to develop their responses to increasingly challenging reading material. In order to further develop this good work, consideration might now be given to the provision of increased opportunities for pupils to respond to different genres of texts and to share their thoughts and opinions with other pupils. This should further develop their cognitive, emotional and imaginative responses to literature.

 

Pupils’ writing skills are systematically addressed throughout the school. They are facilitated to express feelings, impressions, ideas and reactions in response to real and imaginary situations through their engagement in a wide variety of writing activities. All pupils experience a print-rich learning environment and samples of their written work are displayed and collated to very good effect. Very good practice was observed in the infant classes where teacher and parents act as scribes in assisting pupils to record stories and events. Pupils in these classes learn to form and name individual letters and words. Increased emphasis however might be placed on the promotion of “free-writing” activities where pupils are encouraged to make attempts at writing using scribbles and drawings. In the junior classes pupils display an increased understanding of the conventions of grammar and punctuation and activities are organised to encourage them to write in a variety of genres. Pupils in the middle and senior levels experience interesting and relevant writing challenges and are encouraged to write for an increasingly varied audience. Pupils at these levels might now be provided with opportunities to take part in co-operative writing activities such as projects, book reviews, compilations of stories and poetry and the writing and publishing of a class newspaper.

 

 

4.3 Mathematics

Mathematics is very effectively taught throughout the school and pupils’ standards of achievement are very high. Oral mathematical activities are systematically developed in each class. Very good use is made of concrete materials to introduce and develop mathematical concepts and praiseworthy emphasis is placed on linking new material with pupils’ personal experiences. In all classes the language of mathematics is well developed through discussion and it is supported by language rich mathematical displays. In the infant and junior classes, pupils demonstrate very good standards of attainment in the various strands of the curriculum. They are provided with helpful strategies to enable them to effectively recall number facts with accuracy. In the middle and senior classes activity learning features in many of the lessons and there is evidence also of the effective use of ICT to support pupil learning. The effective linkage of strands and strand units in the lessons observed is praiseworthy. Topics addressed are consolidated and reviewed effectively.  Pupils’ written work is neatly presented and regularly monitored. An increased emphasis might however be placed on the use of diagrams and pictorial representations in this written work. In all lessons observed, appropriate provision was made to meet the needs of pupils with varying abilities, attainment and learning styles. Pupils were observed to engage enthusiastically in assigned tasks and they display an appropriate understanding of the mathematical concepts being developed. To further develop the good work undertaken it is now recommended that the development of mathematical skills be systematically addressed at all class levels and that increased opportunities for the pupils to engage in co-operative problem solving activities are provided.

 

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

The teaching and learning of History is enriched by enabling the pupils to investigate and examine their own immediate past, the past of their families and of the local community and the histories of people in Ireland and other parts of the world. In this manner pupils are facilitated to develop an understanding of the actions, beliefs and motivations of people in the past and an appreciation of their cultural and historical inheritance. Commendable examples of classroom historical displays feature in all classrooms. These include a class museum, timelines and displays of photographic evidence and personal histories. History is integrated in a praiseworthy manner with English writing and pupils in the middle and senior classes are encouraged to write reports, summaries and diaries based on a period of History studied.  Local and personal History is meaningfully explored in many lessons. Local History trails and the invitation of guest speakers to address the pupils on topics of historical interest effectively support this work. ICT is commendably utilised to enable pupils to research periods of History of interest to them and to present new topics. Pupils at all levels display a keen understanding of the skills of “working as a historian”. It is evident that the pupils derive great pleasure and benefit from their active engagement in History lessons.

 

Geography

The teaching and learning of Geography are of a very high standard. The utilisation of a variety of approaches and methodologies assists in developing in the pupils an understanding of human and natural environments and an appreciation of the need to nurture and to protect them. Lessons observed during the evaluation period were supported by the use of illustrative materials, maps, globes, newspaper accounts and PowerPoint presentations. These resources are effectively utilised by the teachers to develop the pupils’ investigative skills and to encourage them to work as geographers. Pupils in the infant and junior classes have developed a commendable knowledge of human and natural environments through their exploration of aspects of the immediate locality. The close proximity of the school to the beach and seashore is effectively exploited for the benefit of the pupils. Pupils in the middle and senior classes engage in field trips to explore the local woodland and lakeland areas. During these excursions pupils are encouraged to observe, measure and collect data and to draw conclusions about the environments which they study. These activities enable the pupils to develop a sense of the richness of their own locality and thus they contribute significantly to the pupils’ sense of self-identity. This good practice is highly commended. Positive attitudes to issues of environmental awareness and care are practically and usefully cultivated throughout the school. Weather and climate are purposefully explored in the infant and junior classes and pupils demonstrate an impressive understanding of the effects of climate on human environments. Throughout the school, but particularly in the senior classes, ordinance survey maps, atlases and globes are very effectively employed to develop pupils’ understanding of symbols, scale and co-ordinates.

 

Science

Pupils in all classes experience a broad and balanced Science curriculum and the school actively fosters an interest in Science among the pupils. Relevant scientific language is taught effectively at all class levels. Pupils display a good knowledge of the topics covered and an enthusiasm for their work in this area of the curriculum. Lessons observed were well prepared, involved whole class and group work and provided much scope for purposeful discussion. Pupils were facilitated to design and make an electrical current in the junior standards. They worked collaboratively, predicting, observing, experimenting and recording the result of their investigation. In the middle standards, the use of the interactive white-board effectively stimulated discussion and worksheets were used effectively to guide the pupils through their scientific enquiry. Involvement in the “Discover Science” programme provides pupils with opportunities to apply science to everyday problems. Teacher planning and monthly progress reports indicate that practical investigations feature to varying degrees in Science lessons. It is now recommended that this feature of Science lessons be further developed in future reviews of the whole-school Science plan. It is further recommended that the systematic development of pupils’ skills in working scientifically, particularly the designing and making strand, be addressed at each class level.

 

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

The school provides a broad and balanced programme in the visual arts which enables the pupils to explore, clarify and express ideas, feeling and experiences through their engagement in a variety of activities. Teachers place good emphasis on the fostering of pupils’ creativity and imagination. Opportunities for linkage within the arts curriculum and for cross-curricular integration are well exploited. Classroom displays of pupils’ art work are attractively organised and they reflect a diversity of styles and interpretations. In the lessons observed, pupils were actively encouraged to make a personal response to creative experiences. They were awarded ample opportunities to engage with a wide variety of art materials and encouraged to select the materials they deem most appropriate to engage in the planned activity. Very creditable work has been undertaken in each of the strand units and particularly in the area of Fabric and Fibre. Pupils’ sensitivity to the visual, spatial and tactile world is effectively developed through the provision of opportunities for them to look at, enjoy and respond to the work of a range of artists and craftspeople. In some classes pupils are encouraged to maintain a portfolio of work. This good practice might be extended to all classes. Consideration might also be given to the systematic development of the elements of art in all classes. This would further the pupils’ development of an awareness of the elements of art in their work and ensure continuity and development in their work as they progress through the school.  

 

Music

Very good lessons were observed in the teaching of Music. The strands of performing, listening and responding, and composing are taught systematically to each class group. In the infant classes pupils are provided with regular opportunities to listen and respond to music in a variety of ways including movement, the visual arts and talk and discussion. They sing a range of songs in English and Irish sweetly. In the junior classes pupils display a tangible enthusiasm for and delight in their music lessons. They engage in composing and performing musical arrangements and they play the tin whistle tunefully. Aspects of Music literacy including notation, rhythm, beat, pitch and the use of percussion music are explored very effectively in the middle and senior classes. The school is well resourced with a wide range of percussion instruments and these are gainfully employed in the lessons observed. Pupils are familiar with these resources and demonstrate a commendable ability to name these instruments and other instruments in the orchestra. It is evident that pupil progress in this area of the curriculum is very good.

 

Drama

All teachers plan for and deliver good Drama lessons. The strand units exploring and making drama and co-operating and communicating in making drama are particularly well developed. In the infant classes the teacher effectively fosters the pupils’ impulse to make-believe and facilitates them to enter into the fictional contexts they are creating. Mime and story are effectively utilised in the junior classes where pupils work in groups, co-operating and communicating with each other in the shaping of drama. In the middle and senior classes a range of methodologies including hot-seating, conscience-ally, and pupil in role are effectively utilised to enable the pupils to become aware of the rules that help maintain focus in dramatic action and to come to an understanding of the elements of tension and suspense. It is now recommended that pupils be provided with increased opportunities to reflect on drama thus enabling them to explore themes, characters and plots.  It is further recommended that drama contracts be negotiated in consultation with the pupils, in each classroom.

 

4.6 Physical Education

The school has no general purposes room and the provision of one has been identified by the board as a pressing priority. The school is adjacent to the local football pitch and use is made of this facility during the school year. Pupils have access to a well maintained green field and hardcourt area. These facilities are effectively utilised by the teachers when delivering physical education lessons. However, the close proximity of the school to the coastline regularly results in inclement weather and as a result lessons are frequently postponed. Despite this limitation the teachers succeed in delivering a broad physical education curriculum in which the emphasis is on incremental skills development, physical fitness, team work, participation and enjoyment. Lessons observed were well structured and clearly focused on achieving appropriate curriculum objectives. A parents and a GAA coach assist the teachers in developing pupil learning in the strands of Games and Athletics. After-school swimming lessons are organised by the parents for the pupils. Outdoor pursuits and dance are well addressed in planned lessons. Every effort is made to address the objectives of the strand gymnastics during favourable weather. School tours to outdoor pursuit centres are organised for pupils in the senior classes. The school is commended for the arrangement of a number of yard games during break times. Pupils were observed to use a wide variety of physical education resources creatively during these periods.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

Formal lessons in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) are presented by each of the teachers. These programmes seek to develop the intrapersonal skills of the pupils by assisting them to recognise, understand and accept themselves as unique individuals who feel valued and loved.  Many of the lessons focus on enabling the pupils to create and maintain positive, healthy relationships based on mutual respect and responsibility.  In the junior classes a very good lesson which focused on bullying was observed. Personal attributes were effectively explored in this lesson. A SPHE lesson in the senior classes effectively enabled the pupils to learn about and actively participate in the community to which they belong and so to develop a sense of shared commitment and belonging. The successful implementation of the SPHE programme is augmented through the promotion of a positive school climate in which all pupils are treated with fairness and respect and where each individual child is valued and their sense of self-worth and self-esteem is actively promoted. Teacher planning does not indicate how the Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme is to be implemented. It is also noted that this policy is in need of review. It is therefore recommended that the RSE policy be reviewed, in consultation with parents at the earliest possible opportunity.

 

 

4.8 Assessment

The teachers are aware of the importance of assessment in organising meaningful teaching and learning experiences for their pupils. The school uses a range of assessment instruments to monitor pupils’ progress and many examples of good practice were observed. These include standardised tests in literacy and numeracy, teacher observation, checklists of words and samples of work pages, lists of books read and results of teacher designed tests and tasks administered during the school year. Some teachers, commendably, keep portfolios of pupils’ work. In the infant classes checklists for phonological awareness and for the identification of core words are maintained. In the senior classes tests are administered on a termly basis to assess pupil progress in a range of curriculum areas.  The systematic correction of pupils’ written work is a feature of all classroom practice. This good practice might be further developed through the inclusion of evaluative comments which provide pupils with an awareness of their own learning needs and which outline strategies to assist improvement.  The results of standardised and diagnostic tests are effectively utilised for the purpose of measuring and monitoring the pupils’ attainment and for identifying those in need of learning support.  These data also serve as a useful source of information for the parent-teacher meetings that are held annually and for the end of year written reports. It is now recommended that a system of formally recording pupil progress across all curriculum areas be developed so as to add to the validity of the end of year progress reports.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

Provision for pupils with special educational needs is of a very high standard and the school is highly commended in this regard. The school’s policy on special education provision is very comprehensive. It aims to ensure that pupils’ learning difficulties are identified at the earliest possible stage of their schooling and that appropriate and high quality interventions are organised, in an inclusive manner, to assist them to achieve their full potential. A full time learning support teacher and a part-time resource teacher provide very good support to those pupils identified as in need of support. Using data generated by the administration of a wide range of diagnostic tests and coupled with feedback from parents, classteachers and other relevant professionals where appropriate, the support team devises very good individual education plans (IEP) for the pupils. These IEPs outline specific learning objectives to be achieved by the pupil over the term of the instructional period. Support is organised through a combination of in-class support and withdrawal of pupils individually or in small groups as appropriate. Lessons observed were of a very high standard. Teachers utilise a wide range of teaching methodologies and supportive learning resources. Good learning activities are organised. Language games are also used to motivate the children and to improve their memory and oral language skills. An emphasis is placed on the active engagement of the pupil in his or her own learning. All pupils in receipt of support are making progress commensurate with their abilities. Daily records of pupil progress are maintained. It is now recommended that pupil progress be assessed at the end of each instructional term against the identified learning targets and that the parents of pupils in receipt of supplementary education are provided with a report of their progress.

 

 

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

The board is supportive of the inclusion of pupils from all backgrounds and the school ethos and enrolment policy promote the integration of all pupils and facilitates their full participation in the daily life of the school.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

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:

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Published, October 2009

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School response to the report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

Area 1   Observations on the content of the inspection report     

 

The Board of Management is very happy with the findings of the report. It compliments the inspector on her courtesy and professionalism during her time in the school.

The Board is glad the inspector referred to our lack of a GP room. The provision of such a facility has been a priority for the Board for the past ten years but to no avail. We continue our quest and will pursue every avenue until we secure the room which will further enhance the operation of 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.        

 

The Board has already addressed some of the recommendations of the report. Reviews of curriculum plans are in progress, taking cognisance of the advice given by the inspector. The RSE review will be given priority and the involvement of the school community will be important in this.