An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Clogher National School

Uimhir Rolla 12354E

 

Date of inspection: 17 and 18 November 2008

 

 

 

 

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

Conclusion

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Clogher 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 Science. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

This is a two-teacher, co-educational, Catholic, primary school situated in a rural area. It caters for pupils from infants to sixth class from the surrounding areas. Although the numbers of pupils decreased in recent years the projected enrolments are increasing. The school building was constructed in 1969 and has been well maintained.

 

The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:

 

 

Number

Pupils enrolled in the school

40

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

2

Mainstream class teachers

2

Teachers working in support roles

3

Special needs assistants

2

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

Clogher National School is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Kerry.

 

1.2 Board of management

 

The board of management is properly constituted in accordance with Department of Education and Science guidelines. Members of the board, particularly the chairperson are a visible supportive presence and all actively engaged in discussion at the pre-evaluation meeting. The board operates in a focused manner; it reflects on and considers carefully the matters at hand and is committed to the continuing development of the school. The board meets at least once a term and minutes are kept of proceedings. A financial report is furnished at all board meetings and the accounts are audited annually.

The board is actively involved in the development and review of school policies and most policies are signed and dated on ratification. It is now recommended that the remaining policies be signed and dated on ratification.

Board members have attended in-service courses for members of boards of management and this is commended.

1.3 In-school management

 

The dedicated principal teacher manages the day to day running of the school effectively, along with his teaching duties. He places very good emphasis on staff relations and communication. He promotes an open door policy with parents. They are encouraged to participate in many school activities to support their pupils’ education.

 

The principal is ably assisted by a hard-working and committed special duties teacher. She carries out routine administrative tasks, pastoral duties and valuable communication with the community. This is done in a motivated and professional manner. It is recommended that the duties assigned be reviewed on a regular basis to meet the ongoing needs of the school and to support curricular development.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

The school has established an active and dedicated parents’ association which meets regularly and maintains close communication with the principal and the board of management. The association facilitates social activities and also supports the school in extra curricular activities such as the Christmas Show, Spring Clean Up, Sports activities and other areas of school life.

 

As the association is not affiliated to the National Parents’ Council, the inspector met with the parents’ representatives on the board of management at the pre-evaluation meeting. Parents expressed satisfaction at the standard of education being provided at the school and an appreciation of the work of the teaching staff. Parents reported that issues related to the school plan are left to the teachers and to the board of management. It is now recommended that the parents’ association be formally involved where appropriate in the school planning process.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

The management of pupils is excellent and the teachers are to be highly commended for the positive learning atmosphere in the school. The teachers and the board of management have devised a code of discipline and anti-bullying policies. The pupils are very well behaved and display pride and interest in their work, their school and their community. During the evaluation high levels of focused pupil participation were observed in many contexts particularly during the use of interactive teaching approaches. The extra-curricular activities which are made available to the children help to further enhance their learning experiences.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

The quality of whole-school planning is appropriate and the documentation that was made available was extensive, addressing both organisational and curricular areas. It indicates that the planning process is inclusive although the parents’ association is not formally involved in the process. It is now recommended that this be placed on a formal basis. The school plan has been ratified by the board of management and most policies have been signed and dated and have a review date included. It is recommended that an action plan be drawn up to review the school plan systematically over a number of years.

 

 

The quality of classroom planning is appropriate and supports the teaching and learning in the school. It is recommended that a common short term planning template be used to further enhance the work of the teaching staff.

 

2.2 Child protection policy and procedures

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.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

3.1 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá plean scoile curtha le chéile don Ghaeilge. Bunaíonn na múinteoirí a gcuid pleanála go gearrthéarmach ar an gCuraclam agus ar na hábhair atá breactha sa phlean scoile. Ar an iomlán múintear an Ghaeilge go sásúil. Tá dearcadh dearfach i leith na Gaeilge á chothú tríd an scoil agus baintear úsáid as an nGaeilge go neamhfhoirmiúil i rith an lae.

 

I múineadh na Gaeilge cuirtear béim ar an rangtheagasc don chuid is mó. Tá an obair seo bunaithe ar théacsleabhair. Baintear úsáid mhaith as an nGaeilge mar theanga chaidrimh le linn na gceachtanna. Cuirtear béim ar leathnú foclóra agus tá stór cuí foclóra ar eolas ag na daltaí. B’fhiú anois béim ar leith a leagadh ar chur chuige cumarsáide agus deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí an foclóir agus na frásaí atá ar eolas acu a úsáid agus a líofacht a fhorbairt. Bunaítear an leitheoireacht ar na téacsleabhair. Tá sé ar chumas na ndaltaí na leabhair sin a léamh agus san iomlán léiríonn said tuiscint chuí. Baintear úsáid as leabhair bheaga léitheoireachta sna ranganna sóisearacha agus tá sé seo le moladh. Moltar anois an cleachtas seo a leathnú agus a fhorbairt níos mó chun muinín na ndaltaí a threisiú sa léitheoireacht. Tá an scríbhneoireacht bunaithe ar na leabhair saothair don chuid is mó. Ba chóir féiniarracht na ndaltaí a lorg agus a chothú sa scríbhneoireacht. Moltar chomh maith cleachtadh a dhéanamh ar éagsúlacht bhreise sa scríbhneoireacht.Déantar cúram ceart den litriú.

 

 

Irish

A school plan has been formulated for Irish. The teachers base their short-term planning on the Primary School Curriculum and on the topics outlined in the school plan. Overall the teaching of Irish is satisfactory. A positive attitude to Irish is cultivated throughout the school and Irish is used informally throughout the day.

 Emphasis is placed on whole-class teaching and this work is textbook-based for the most part. Irish is effectively used as a means of communication during lessons. Emphasis is placed on developing vocabulary and pupils have an appropriate vocabulary range. It is recommended that additional emphasis be placed on a communicative approach and that opportunities be provided for the pupils to use the vocabulary and phrases they know and to develop their fluency. Reading is largely based on textbooks. Pupils can read these books and in the main demonstrate appropriate understanding. Small books are used in the junior classes and this is commendable. It is recommended that this practice be extended and developed further to consolidate the pupils’ confidence in reading. Writing is largely based on workbooks. It is recommended that the children’s independent writing be further encouraged and promoted. Appropriate attention is given to spellings.

 

 

English

 

Good standards are attained in English in the school. Oral language is appropriately emphasised and the teachers’ skilful questioning ensures that most pupils can discuss their interests and a variety of other topics articulately and enthusiastically. A wide selection of rhymes and poems are recited by the pupils. A suitable print rich environment is evident in all the mainstream classrooms. Phonological awareness is developed as part of the foundation to promote basic reading skills in junior classes. Much emphasis is placed on developing reading skills throughout the school and this ensures that a good standard of reading is achieved by most pupils. It is evident that a love of reading is instilled in the pupils throughout the school. Consideration should be given to using class novels from an early age to further enhance the reading opportunities given to all pupils.

Children engage well in the writing process in all classes, however, the range of writing genres seems limited. It is recommended that this range be extended to further enhance the pupils’ writing skills. Pupils’ handwriting is of an appropriate standard.

 

3.2 Mathematics

 

The teaching of Mathematics is undertaken competently in every class. The particularly good foundation in Mathematics laid in the junior classes has contributed to the high standards achieved by most pupils in the school. The pupils have a good knowledge of mathematical terms and correct emphasis is placed on solving mathematical problems. A wide range of manipulative materials is available in the school and these are used effectively to enhance pupils’ learning. A stimulating maths-rich environment has been developed in the school; however, it is now recommended that this be further enhanced by the development of mathematical corners. The pupils record their work very neatly. This work is regularly checked and corrected by the teachers. Teachers’ planning indicates balanced attention to all strands of the curriculum. Early mathematical activities such as matching, classifying, comparing, ordering and recognition of numbers and shapes are covered comprehensively in junior classes. As pupils progress to middle and senior classes they are introduced to more advanced concepts. Pupils’ skills of reasoning, estimating, predicting, calculating and problem solving are extended appropriately.

  

 

3.3 Science

 

 Teachers make very appropriate provision for all strands of the science curriculum. Pupils are provided with a variety of opportunities and activities to observe, question, predict, hypothesise and analyse scientific phenomena. Lesson content is effectively related to the experience and environment of the pupils. Pupils clearly enjoy science lessons and show a strong foundational knowledge of scientific concepts and facts. Lessons make very appropriate provision for hands-on activities while pupils are presented a wide range of opportunities to engage in experimentation. Teachers make very good use of resources, especially the local environment. Pupils explore the local environment during nature walks and this is commended. The school has taken part in Discovery Primary Science each year since 2005 and a comprehensive photographic record showing the process and activities engaged in, is available. The school also takes part in National Tree day. These activities are to be commended. It is recommended that consideration be given to the possible use of ICT as a learning tool for science lessons.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

Standardised testing is administered throughout the school annually using Micra-T and Sigma –T tests in literacy and numeracy respectively. The results are analysed and recorded carefully and relevant supports and strategies are designed to enable the achievement of quality outcomes. Diagnostic tests are not used in the school .It is recommended that appropriate diagnostic tests be administered when and where appropriate. The other main assessment tools are teacher observation, samples of pupils’ work portfolios, regular monitoring of work and teacher designed tasks and test.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

A whole school plan for pupils with special educational needs has been developed. It outlines prevention strategies, early intervention programmes and the various roles of the partners involved in the pupils’ learning. It is now recommended that the plan be revised to incorporate the staged approach as per Department of Education and Science circular 02/05.

 

Support for pupils with special educational need is provided primarily in the areas of literacy and numeracy. Three pupils avail of the services of resource teachers. Resource services are provided on a withdrawal basis only and on a one to one basis. It is recommended that consideration be given to in-class support when appropriate to further enhance the pupils’ learning.

 

Individual profile and learning programmes (IPLPs) have been devised by the relevant support teacher and class teacher for each pupil in receipt of learning support and resource teaching. It is now recommended that parents of pupils with SEN be formally involved in this process. IPLPs are maintained by the relevant support teacher. It is recommended that a copy be made available to the principal, class teacher and parents and that more specific targets be used to enhance the learning outcomes. Progress reports are maintained and updated regularly. These reports inform planning for future learning.

 

There are three teachers providing support for pupils with special educational needs in the school. These teachers are based in other schools and visit regularly throughout the week. It appears that they do not meet each other as a team to discuss the effective delivery of supports. Consideration should now be given to facilitating team meetings. It is also recommended that consideration be given to the feasibility of rationalising the support for pupils with special educational needs..

 

The use of assistive technology and ICT as learning tools in special educational needs is commended.

 

 

5.     Conclusion

 

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 October, 2009