An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Chill Bharra

Uimhir Rolla 12505W

 

Date of inspection: 02 April 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

Conclusion

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Náisiúnta Chill Bharra was undertaken in April 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 Geography. The contents of the report were discussed with the staff and board of management during the post evaluative conferences and were given an opportunity to comment on its findings and recommendations. 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 three-teacher, co-educational, Catholic, primary school which is located in a the parish of Uíbh Laoire and caters for pupils from infants to sixth class from the surrounding areas. Pupil enrolment has increased in recent years and is expected to remain steady for the immediate future. The school building was constructed in 1884 and was extended in 1985 and again in 1995. It is 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

63

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

6

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

3

Special needs assistants

2

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

This is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross. While it professes a strong commitment to maintaining its Catholic ethos, pupils of other denominations and none are welcome to attend.

 

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 very supportive of the school as was evident at the pre / post-evaluation meetings. The board meets at least once a term, minutes are kept of proceedings and a financial report is furnished on a regular basis. The advantages of auditing its financial affairs were discussed during the evaluation.

 

 Together with the staff, members of the board have been actively involved in the development and review of school policies. In the absence of a formal Parents’ Association the parents’ representatives on the board have ensured that the parents’ views are considered in this context.

 

The board is commended for its recent support for supplying additional resources for Information and Communication Technologies. These resources are currently used in a highly effective manner especially with the more senior classes.

 

The importance of providing additional parking / play space area was discussed at the post-evaluation meeting. Current arrangements for car parking on the roadside should be reconsidered in the overall context health and safety issues.

  

1.3 In-school management

 

The principal teacher who was recently appointed to this post manages the day to day running of the school in a highly effective manner. He places a very commendable emphasis on promoting excellent staff relations and facilitates a very fruitful open door policy with parents.  He is ably assisted by a hard-working and committed deputy principal as well as a special duties teacher who carry out a range of administrative and curricular tasks with high levels of efficiency.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Chill Bharra is an important focal point in this rural area. Home-school links are positively promoted in a variety of ways which clearly facilitate high degrees of mutual respect.

  

The school does not have Parents’ Association at present. The importance of establishing such a group which would be affiliated to the National Parents’ Council was discussed during the evaluation. It is understood that work in this regard will begin shortly.

 

In the circumstances the inspector met with the parents’ representatives on the board of management as part of the pre-evaluation meetings. Parents expressed a high degree of satisfaction regarding the standard of education being provided at the school as well as much appreciation for the overall work being carried out by the teaching staff.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

The management of pupils is of a particularly high quality and the teachers are to be commended for the very positive learning atmosphere noted in the school. They together with the board of management have devised a code of discipline and anti-bullying policies and the pupils display pride and interest in their work, their school and their community. During the evaluation high levels of focussed pupil participation were observed in many contexts. The extra-curricular activities which are made available to the pupils help to further enhance their learning experiences.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

School plans in relation to Mathematics, English and Gaeilge are currently under review while policies on enrolment, substance misuse, administration of medicines and mission statement have already been drawn up in the recent past. Policy formulation regarding Information and Communication Technologies and Gaeilge has been identified as areas of priority for the future.

 

Existing policy provision has been ratified by the Board with some input from parents. The school’s stated aim now is to put a more formal structure in place to ensure greater parental participation in policy development. Such an approach is to be highly commended.

 

The quality of classroom planning is relevant and appropriate and supports the teaching and learning process effectively. The school’s provision of a broad and balanced curriculum in this context is very praiseworthy. Monthly progress records of both teaching and learning are carefully maintained and used as appropriate.

 

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; and that management has ensured that all staff members 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

Léiríonn foireann iomlán na scoile seo dearcadh an-dearfach maidir le teagasc na Gaeilge agus tá caighdeán a gcuid Gaeilge féin le moladh go mór. Bunaíonn siad a gcuid pleanála go gearrthéarmach ar an gCuraclam agus chonacthas alán samplaí de theagasc a bhí ar ardchaighdeán le linn an fhiosruithe.Moltar go speisialta an raon de stíleanna teagaisc a úsáidtear  d’fhorbairt an chomhrá ag leibhéil éagsúla maraon leis na spriocanna teagaisc cinnte a chuirtear i bhfeidhm. Dírítear go sciliúil ar scileanna cuí na léitheoireachta agus na scríbhneoireachta ar fud na scoile agus bhí fianaise dá réir ar fáil le linn an fhiosruithe.

 

Mar atá luaite thuas tabharfar tús áite d’fhorbairt pholasaithe breise don Ghaeilge go luath. Cuireadh comhairle ar fáil ina leith seo ag an Iarchomhdháil, go háirithe chomh fada is a bhianeann sé le forbairt na cumarsáide agus úsáid fíor leabhar. Os rud é go bhfuil an scoil suite ar imeall na Gaeltachta b’fhiú úsáid a bhaint as clár Shéideán Sí nuair a bheidh na polasaithe seo á bhforbairt.

 

 

Irish

The entire staff  displays a very positive approach to the teaching of Irish and their mastery of the language is to be  highly commended. Teacher preparation is clearly based on the curriculum principles and several examples of high quality teaching and learning were noted during the evaluation. The range of methodologies employed at various levels together with the implementation of specific language targets to assist with oral language development is particularly praiseworthy. The relevant skills of reading and writing are purposefully promoted on a whole school basis and clear evidence of same was evident during the evaluation.

 

The staff  has decided to prioritise the development of additional policies to assist the teaching of Irish in the school. Advice was provided in this regard especially in the context of further developing a communicative approach and also regarding the use of real books. As the school is in close proximity to a Gaeltacht area it is recommended that the use of Séideán Sí be actively considered.        

 

English

 

High standards are attained in English throughout the school. Oral language is emphasised very effectively and the teachers’ skilful use of a range of teaching styles ensure that most pupils discuss a variety of topics articulately and with confidence. The teachers are commended for the attention paid to language enrichment exercises and to the promotion of logical thought in this key area. High quality print rich environments are evident in all the mainstream classrooms and phonological awareness is fruitfully developed to promote basic reading skills. Much emphasis is placed on developing a wide range of such skills throughout the school which ensures that a high standard of reading is achieved by most pupils. The pupils clearly enjoy the reading activities and class novels are a very successful feature of class work, especially among the more senior pupils.

 

Children engage effectively in the writing process at all class levels and many fine samples of their work in a variety of genres were readily available during the evaluation. Pupils’ handwriting is of an equally high standard throughout the school.

  

3.2 Mathematics

 

The teaching of Mathematics is undertaken competently at each class level. It is evident that the particularly good foundation in Mathematics laid in the lower classes has contributed to the high standards achieved throughout the school. It is also evident that the teachers plan their work in a manner that ensures that all strands of the curriculum are duly emphasised.

 

The pupils have a good knowledge of the language of mathematics and a very fruitful emphasis is placed on number facts and problem solving, especially in the senior classes. A wide range of manipulative materials is available throughout the school and is used effectively in the internalisation of appropriate concepts. In addition, a stimulating maths-rich environment has been developed at all class levels.  The pupils are guided to record their work great care. This work is regularly checked and corrected meaningfully by the teachers.

 

The gradual progression in the pupils’ skills of reasoning, estimating, predicting, calculating and problem solving is a particularly note worthy feature of this school’s approach to mathematics teaching.  

 

3.3 Geography

 

The teaching and learning of Geography is of a high standard throughout the school. The work based on the pupils’ immediate environment is highly commendable and relevant. Other areas for development in this regard were discussed during the course of the evaluation. A fine range of methodologies and concrete materials are used at various class levels to allow the pupils become familiar with key elements of the Geography programme such as living in different countries and environments. Many of them display a high degree of interest in and knowledge of a wide variety of local, national and international topics which are closely related to the overall programme.    The development of a school garden is highly commended and its influence on the pupils’ appreciation of their environment was favourably commented upon during the post evaluation conference. The pupils are guided very effectively to record their work with great care.

 

3.4 Assessment

School practice is influenced by a commendable range of approaches including monitoring and correction of work, teacher devised tests as well as standardised tests in English and Mathematics.

The standardised tests, Micra-T / Sigma-T / M.I.S.T., are administered annually in relation to literacy and numeracy. The results are analysed, recorded and carefully used to inform appropriate teaching strategies for weaker pupils and the results are carefully explained to parents on a regular basis. The system of recording and maintaining individual pupil records is of a high quality.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

School policy in relation to pupils with special educational needs has been carefully developed on a collaborative basis to include staff, parents and other relevant professionals. It suitably emphasises early intervention programmes as well as the roles of all interested parties involved in the pupils’ learning.

 

Support for pupils with special educational need (SEN) is provided by three teachers, one of whom is based in Kilbarry NS as part of a cluster, one based in SN Fhionnbarra, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh and the third is employed on a temporary part-time basis. The quality of intervention provided by the special needs team is very carefully managed and features fruitful levels of collaboration and dialogue between the interested parties.

 

Individual profile and learning programmes (IPLPs) have been methodically devised for each pupil in receipt of learning support and resource teaching and are maintained by the relevant support teacher. Copies are provided to the principal, class teachers and are available to parents Very purposeful progress reports are maintained and updated regularly and are profitably used to inform planning for future learning.

 

Clear guidelines have been formulated and adopted regarding Special Needs’ Assistant (SNA) support for pupils.

 

 

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, December 2009