An Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna

Department of Education and Skills

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

S.N. Éanna,

Roundstone, County Galway

Roll number:12502Q

 

Date of inspection: 2nd December 2009

 

 

 

 

Report of Whole School Evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of School Planning

The quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils

Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

 

 

Report of Whole School Evaluation

 

A whole school evaluation was undertaken of Roundstone National School in December 2009. 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 Social, Personal and Health Education. 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 two teacher school is situated on a picturesque site at the north-western point of Bertraboy Bay overlooking the sea expanse from Roundstone to Cashel and overlooked by the Twelve Pins to the northth and Maumturk mountains to the north-east. The first national school was opened in this area in 1870 for boys by the Franciscan Monks and was replaced when this school building opened in 1964. The girls’ school was amalgamated to this school building in 1977.  The school building comprises four classrooms, two of which are currently in use. The surplus classrooms are used to accommodate a pre-school for local children and the additional services of learning support and D.E.I.S co-ordinator as well as an office for the part-time secretary. The classrooms are spacious and bright with plenty of natural light and hosting colourful displays reflecting the range of curriculum being delivered to the pupils. The building however requires refurbishment and upgrading to reflect the changed standards of school accommodation. A restricted basketball court and play area to the front of the school provides the main activities centre for the pupils during break times and for physical education activities. The school grounds and environs are a unique area of natural beauty, sloped with uneven rock formation with a variety of cultivated deciduous trees on the higher ground. The trees require continuous maintenance as the leaves tend to cover the school yard during the winter months. Seasonal shrubs, flower beds and hedge are cultivated in the sea-ward side of the school and the location is an attractive place of work for pupils and teachers. There has been a significant drop in population in this area over the preceding thirty years with a consequential drop in school enrolment and numbers are set to fall further over the next number of years.

 

The table below provides the general information on the staff and pupils registered in the school at the time of this evaluation:

 

 

 

Number

Pupils enrolled in the school

40

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teacher(s) on the staff of the school

2

Teacher(s) in mainstream classes

2

Teacher(s) assigned to a support role (shared post)

2

Special needs’ assistants

0

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission and vision of the school

This school is under the trusteeship of the Archdiocese of Tuam and is characterised by a strong Christian ethos with very positive working relationships among the whole school community. The school’s mission statement ensures that the pupils access a broad curriculum in an environment of good relationships based on respect between staff, pupils, parents and local community. The school partners see the school as a place where everyone is secure and valued and that provides a positive and motivating atmosphere, conducive to fostering a love of learning. To this end the school provides a developmental structured curriculum tailored to pupils’ abilities, in partnership with parents and the wider school community.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management has been selected in accordance with the regulations of the Department of Education and Science. The proceedings of meetings are recorded in a clear manner and school finances are well managed. It was confirmed that the chairperson of the board meets with the principal on a regular basis and fosters good rapport with the school staff and partners. As a result of this report and the review time frames noted in the school plan, the board intends to take a pro-active role in reviewing the plan with the other school partners. It intends to facilitate discussion and research on the relevant issues and ratify the agreed documents as a matter of procedure. This process should also include a strategy of community involvement designed in conjunction with the parents’ association as well as the general parent body to generate transparency in the process. It will also ensure local ownership and acceptance for the renewed plan. The proposed upgrading and refurbishment of the school building should take priority, as should devising procedures for circulating a school report and statement of accounts at the end of each school year. Curricular issues should include a plan on methodologies specifying the differentiated approach to teaching and learning to be used, a board and staff development plan, review of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE), prioritising an investment plan for mathematics and science equipment and increasing the broad stock of library books particularly in Gaeilge. Discussions took place with the board regarding the various ways in which parents might be included in the current review of the school plans and on strategies to ensure their access and contribution to the plan.  

 

1.3 In-school management

The two class teachers have posts of responsibility as principal and special-duties teacher in the school; they share the management responsibilities of the school on a day-to-day basis and both are relatively recent appointees. Staff meetings are held regularly to review the work of the teachers and the operation of the school. These should include the two part-time teachers to allow opportunity for their advice on policy formation. The newly appointed principal is an experienced leader who promotes open communication with all the partners. He is highly regarded by the board of management, by parents’ representatives and staff and he displays commitment in the promotion of school activities.  He is warmly supported by all the members of the school staff. The teachers ensure that a welcoming stimulating environment is created for the children, resources and information technology are regularly used and school policies emphasise the centrality of pupils in their learning programme.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

At the pre-evaluation meetings all the partners acknowledged the professionalism and competence of the teachers and indicated their appreciation of the contribution they make to the school and community.  Both the parents’ representatives and the board of management confirmed that they were satisfied with the way the school was operating. The parents’ association is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council and supports school activities primarily through fundraising for curricular resources and extra curricular activities in the school. Parents are encouraged as partners in school activities and they contribute practically to their children’s education through schemes such as shared reading, mathematics for fun and through monitoring homework, as well as engaging with DEIS. interventions. Written reports on children are given to parents at the end of the school year and an annual report on school progress is provided by the principal to the board of management.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

A strong spirit of collaboration is evident in the school, relationships are open and well managed and every pupil feels cherished and held in high esteem. Although a code of behaviour and management plan is included in the school plan for a number of years, it has not been necessary to take recourse to its procedures. The pupils are divided between the two teachers with the senior classes currently the responsibility of the newly appointed principal teacher and the junior classes the responsibility of the recently appointed assistant teacher. There is a high level of attendance by the pupils in the school and strategies have been implemented to ensure that attendance problems are addressed. The teachers ensure that the work programme is interesting and challenging and they emphasise developing pupils’ skills as independent learners. The teachers also ensure that a broad list of extra-curricular activities is available during school term and participation in local competitions and community celebrations is a feature of school life.

 

 

2.     Quality of School Planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The school plan has been developed by school staff over a number of years and it is recommended that aspects of the school plan would be amended and that parents would be presented with these changes for their perusal. The school plan currently includes organisational, pastoral and developmental elements and it now requires updating in line with changes in statute and practice over the years. Curricular elements are referenced to the strands and strand unit’s framework in the curriculum and these also form part of individual teacher planning. Individual teacher planning vary considerably from being generic outlining content primarily to being focused and detailed outlining objectives and targets directed at individual pupils. The school now requires a common approach to differentiated teaching and learning strategies to be adopted in the delivery of the curriculum. The agreed approach should then be included in the school plan together with a plan of engagement with the curriculum support services to guide its implementation in the school. The school is focusing on raising achievement standards in literacy and numeracy as participants in the DEIS initiative. Regular meetings are held with parents regarding the progress of pupils and home-school co-operation is practised through the extensive adult education services provided through the DEIS programme in the area.

 

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.     The quality of learning and teaching

 

3.1   Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá sé soiléir go bhfuil na hoidí féin an-bháúil do mhúineadh na  teanga agus go mbíonn tionchar dearfach acu ar mhian foghlama na ndaltaí. Múintear ceachtanna sa Ghaeilge go rialta sna hard ranganna, baintear úsáid as an leabhar saothair go príomha agus éiríonn leis na daltaí leibhéal maith tuisceana teanga a shroichint. Baintear úsáid as beogaireacht, fearas agus teicneolaíocht sna ranganna sóisireacha, a chuireann go mór le taitneamh na ndaltaí sa phroiséas; éadaí agus puipéid a bhí mar teama gníomhaíochta le linn na cigireachta seo. Is gá tús áite a thabhairt do labhairt na Gaeilge san ath-bhreithniú atá á dhéanamh ar an bplean oibre faoi láthair agus infheistíocht a dhéanamh i léitheoirí leabharlainne agus téacsleabhair nua-aimseartha i nGaeilge. B’fhiú freisin úsáid a bhaint as ‘Séideán Sí’ sna ranganna chun scileanna teanga labhartha agus úsáide teanga a leathnú. Ceanglaítear an scríbhneoireacht le réamh-phlé ó bhéal agus tugtar deiseanna do na daltaí a bpíosaí saothair a chláru i réimsí teoranta. B’fhiú breis deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí a gcuid saothair a chur i láthair pobal níos leithne tríd an idirlíon agus trí fhoilsiúcháin tréimhsiúla ón scoil féin a fhorbairt.

 

Irish

It is evident that the teachers are favourably disposed to teaching the Irish language and this has a positive influence on the pupil’s motivation in learning the language. Use is made of workbooks in the senior classes and the pupils achieve a good level of understanding in the language. Animation, supplemental materials and technology are regularly used in the junior classes with good impact on pupils’ motivation for learning; clothes and puppets featured during this inspection. During the current revision of the school plan primacy must be given to developing fluency within the context of a comprehensive language programme. It would be worthwhile to further invest in library books in Irish and in modern Irish text-books and the language programme ‘Séidean Sí’ could be used to develop language competence. The writing programme is based on previous discussion and the pupil’s written work is practised in limited genres. It would be worthwhile to give the pupils access to a wider readership through the internet and school periodicals.

 

English

A structured developmental approach to English is used in the junior section of this school; definite language objectives are identified and achieved. Use is made of English as a communicative tool to develop fluency. This approach is replicated in the senior classes and a range of integrated discussion themes is used effectively to develop pupils’ confidence and competence in using English. The school plan identifies the curricular framework and methodologies to be used in the development of pupils’ skills in English, it identifies the programmes to be used and lists various resources. A well-structured emergent reader programme is employed, large format books are imaginatively used to foster collaborative reading and to develop an awareness of various aspects of the reading process, including phonological and phonemic awareness and vocabulary development. Parents are viewed as key partners in the teaching of literacy and are actively involved in shared reading schemes. During this inspection the staff indicated their participation in the improving standards programme in literacy and numeracy, organised through the DEIS programme in school. Both the templates and research methods are being processed through the co-ordinator and a three year process is envisaged for the scheme. Their continued engagement with this programme is recommended. Pupils’ progress is carefully monitored through a variety of assessment procedures including teacher observation, questioning, written tasks, correction of copies as well as the use of standardised tests. 

 

3.2 Mathematics

Frequent collaborative activities using concrete materials and practical problem solving in Mathematics are a feature of the junior section. Due emphasis is placed on developing the language of mathematics and a maths rich environment is created. The teaching of mathematics has been clearly influenced by the approach recommended in the curriculum; a specific programme has been outlined in the school plan and textbooks are used as a guide for exercises on problem solving. Further investment in mathematical resources to support the additional use of workshops is recommended. Mental work and problem solving is regularly practised in the senior classroom and attention is given on an ongoing basis to the use of formal terminology. The school is currently preparing for participating in the improving-standards programme in conjunction with the DEIS programme in this school. Pupils have opportunities to develop their prediction and estimation skills and the strategies used to promote higher order thinking skills are commendable.

 

3.3 Social, Personal and Health Education

Attention is drawn to the various strands of the programme and the pupils enjoy and benefit from practising different techniques. The rooms and the public areas are decorated with fine examples of the pupils’ work and display the strands cohesively. Examples on show also demonstrate appropriate integration with other areas of the curriculum. Pupils are encouraged to express their views and feelings in exchanging comment and opinions, use is made of group work and circle time to facilitate discussion and topics are frequently selected from current affairs and the written media. The development of pupils’ assertiveness, self confidence and social skills is commendable and their skills in decision making are developed through role play, drama, debate, role improvisation and discussions. This subject area is developed in a variety of contexts, but most particularly through the ethos and atmosphere of the school. Pupils are central to the learning processes and they are given ample opportunities to present their views and opinions.

 

 3.4 Assessment

Standardised tests are used to monitor the progress of pupils. Other strategies such as teacher observation, checklists, compilations of work samples, projects and teacher-designed tests are also used and analysed at teacher meetings. The results of standardised and criterion referenced tests are recorded on an ongoing basis. New procedures have been identified for collating and analysing assessment data on a sequential basis for each class. The results should be reviewed regularly to update appropriate learning targets for the individual pupils.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

The part-time teacher responsible for general-allocation learning-support hours in this school uses a common delivery policy with two other schools in the cluster. Effective support is given to pupils in literacy and numeracy for a combined period of eleven and a half hours spread over three days. A staged approach is practised and structured prevention programmes are implemented in conjunction with the junior classes. In reviewing the current delivery model, it is recommended to include modules on developing self-esteem and behaviour modification practises in the programme. The home-school-community liaison co-ordinator is based in an adjoining school and provides services to pupils and parents in this school on a clustered basis. There is a structured programme developed in conjunction with colleagues and other agencies at both primary and post primary levels in the area. There is also an intervention programme focused on individual pupils in the school. The part-time teachers work in tandem with the class teachers and ensure a defined programme of support inclusive of all the education partners.

 

4.2 Additional supports for pupils: disadvantaged pupils and pupils from minority or other groupings

 

It was confirmed by the school that all pupils currently enrolled in the school are of a similar background and are residing in this community. Additional supports are available in Drama, Art, Music and Dance, Physical Education as well as supports to pupils and parents under the DEIS programme.

 

 

5.  Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

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 board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.

 

 

 

 

Published, June 2010