An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Crumlin National School

 Ballyglunin,Tuam, County Galway

Uimhir rolla: 12606F

 

Date of inspection: 3 December 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 Crumlin National School was undertaken in December 2008. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and History.  The board of management 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 rural school, providing education for boys and girls from junior infants to sixth class. The school is in the parish of Abbeyknockmoy but its traditional catchment area also includes parts of neighbouring parishes. When the current schoolhouse was built in 1970, this was a four-teacher school but enrolments declined in the intervening years. One of the aims of the current management is that Crumlin National School will become the school of choice for all of the families in its traditional catchment area.  There is a strong sporting tradition in the locality and this school has participated with great success in various sports competitions

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

68

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

3

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

0

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The school is under the patronage of the Archbishop of Tuam. The new principal sets a high value on good relations within the school community and fostering good self-esteem among pupils, teachers, parents and community. The school’s mission statement is not included in the school plan, nor is it displayed in a prominent place within the school. It is recommended that the board of management prepare statements of the school’s mission and ethos in which the current commitment to good relations within the school community is reflected.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and meets regularly in accordance with the Department of Education and Science’s Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure. The minutes of the most recent meetings were available for inspection. The current board is to be commended for the amount of work that has been done recently to improve the school accommodation and the recreation area. This has included resurfacing of the recreation area, provision of new boundary fencing, extension of the car park, painting of the exterior of the school building and various internal improvements.

 

 1.3 In-school management

The current principal teacher was appointed in early 2008. Since her appointment there have been numerous improvements to the school building and grounds. There has been increased parental involvement in the work of the school and a new programme of extra-curricular activities. There has also been a significant amount of whole-school planning activity in a short period of time. The principal’s vision and work rate have enabled her to address deficiencies that were apparent in school planning and administration and in the management of relationships within the school community. She is committed to ensuring that the school will reflect and maintain the traditional values and strengths of the local community and that the school will provide an educational service that the community will be proud of. It is evident that the principal has the support of parents and the wider community for her plans to develop the school.

 

The deputy principal also has whole-school responsibilities in addition to her teaching duties. This post includes organisational, pastoral and curricular responsibilities. It is recommended that the duties attached to the post be reviewed regularly in response to the changing needs of the school. In the light of the findings of this evaluation, the school should consider including responsibility for co-ordinating English reading and the teaching and use of the Irish language among the duties of the deputy principal.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school has a parents’ association that is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council (Primary). The association supports the school through various fund-raising activities. At present, funds are being raised for the purchase of additional computer equipment. Parents also assist with extra-curricular activities and with the ongoing maintenance of the school building.

 

Parents are given copies of key school policies. A new handbook is being prepared for parents of children who are enrolling in the school for the first time. Parent-teacher meetings are held annually. In the past, the school did not issue a written end-of-year report on each pupil but it is the intention of the principal that written reports will now be provided.

 

At a meeting with officers of the parents’ association, the school’s family atmosphere was identified as a strength. Parents also commented positively on recent improvements in the school’s provision for oral-language development and Visual Arts. Parents reported also that it would be beneficial for parents to be given more information that would enable them to assist younger pupils with homework.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

Pupils are generally well behaved and there is evidence that parents are supportive in this regard. The school has a good code of behaviour and a clear anti-bullying policy. In some classes, there is a need to foster better listening and speaking habits among pupils. Ensuring that teaching is purposeful, relevant, and well differentiated would be an important factor in addressing this issue.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

There is evidence that very good work has been done in the area of whole-school planning in the past year. The planning process has involved effective collaboration among teachers and consultation with parents before policies are brought to the board for discussion and ratification. There has also been consultation with a school-planning facilitator from the Primary Professional Development Service (PPDS).

 

The organisational section of the school plan includes most of the policies that are required by legislation and circulars of the Department of Education and Science. Most of the policies are specific to the needs of this school. They are presented in a reader-friendly way and are signed by the chairperson of the board of management. It is recommended that the school provide and implement a school policy with regard to equality of opportunity. It is recommended also that the school prepare and implement a policy on dignity in the workplace, with a view to fostering and maintaining positive working relationships in the school.

 

The curricular section of the school plan contains policies and programmes for the different subjects. Much work has been done in the short period of time since the appointment of the current principal. It is recommended that the current curricular policies be reviewed as time permits with a view to ensuring that they record and consolidate existing good practice.

 

Each class teacher prepares a weekly timetable, long-term and short-term schemes of work and a monthly record of progress. In some cases, the quality of classroom planning is very good. It is recommended that weekly class timetables be reviewed to ensure that they are in accordance with the suggested minimum weekly time framework that is set out in the Primary School Curriculum. It is particularly important to ensure that Irish and Mathematics are taught every day. It is recommended that each mainstream class teacher adapt programmes, lessons, methodologies and learning materials as appropriate for certain class groups and for pupils with special educational needs. In some classes, more careful planning would enable more purposeful teaching and learning and better use of time.

 

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

Is léir, ó bhreathnú ar cheachtanna agus ó cheistiú na ndaltaí, go bhfuil teagasc, foghlaim agus úsáid na Gaeilge measartha maith sa scoil ar an iomlán.

Sonraítear an dea-chleachtas seo a leanas. Taispeántar raon d’ábhair chlóbhuailte i nGaeilge sna seomraí ranga agus úsáidtear na taispeántais seo go tairbheach i gcásanna chun an fhoghlaim a éascú do na daltaí. Baintear feidhm úsáideach as an Drámaíocht i gcuid de na ranganna. I seomra amháin, sonraítear iarracht mhaith chun an cur chuige cumarsáideach a úsáid.

Níl prionsabal an tumoideachais á chur i bhfeidhm sna ceachtanna Gaeilge.  Tá sé de nós ag oidí focail agus frásaí a aistriú go Béarla do na daltaí le linn an teagaisc. Iarrtar ar na daltaí an rud céanna a dhéanamh mar bhealach chun tuiscint na ndaltaí a mheas. Úsáidtear an Béarla go forleathan mar theanga bhainistíochta  agus chumarsáide i rith an cheachta Ghaeilge. Is léir ó cheistiú na ndaltaí go mbíonn deacrachtaí suntasacha acu le cruthú abairtí simplí. Caithfear forbairt a dhéanamh ar fhoclóir, líofacht agus muinín na ndaltaí ionas go mbeidh siad ábalta iad féin a chur in iúl go héifeachtach i gcomhthéacsanna cumarsáideacha.

Moltar go dtumfaí na daltaí sa Ghaeilge le linn an cheachta Ghaeilge. Moltar tascanna cumarsáide do bheirteanna nó do ghrúpaí beaga a bhunú ar gach aonad oibre agus a úsáid sa tréimhse chumarsáide den cheacht.  Moltar freisin go gcruthófar gá le húsáid na Gaeilge le haghaidh cumarsáide i measc na ndaltaí taobh amuigh den cheacht Gaeilge. B’fhiú don scoil dul i dteagmháil leis an tSeirbhís um Fhorbairt Ghairmiúil do Bhunscoileanna (PPDS) mar chuid den phróiséas forbartha seo.

 

Irish

It is evident from observation of lessons and from interaction with pupils that the quality of teaching, learning and use of Irish in the school is fair overall.

The following good practice is evident. A range of printed material in Irish is displayed in classrooms and these displays are used effectively in some cases to make learning easier for the pupils. Drama is employed usefully in some classes. In one classroom, it is evident that there is a commitment to implementing a communicative approach to the teaching and learning of Irish.

The principle of immersion is not being put into practice during Irish lessons. Teachers habitually translate Irish words and phrases into English during teaching. Pupils are also asked to translate as a means of assessing their understanding. English is used widely as the language of management and incidental communication during the Irish lesson. It is clear from interaction with pupils that they have significant difficulties in forming simple sentences. There is a need to develop the pupils’ vocabulary, fluency and confidence so that they will be able to express themselves effectively in communicative situations.

It is recommended that the pupils be immersed in the Irish language during the Irish lesson. It is recommended that communicative tasks for pairs or small groups of pupils be based on each unit of work and used during the communicative phase of the lesson. It is recommended also that pupils be required to use Irish for communicative purposes outside of the Irish lesson. The school should consider making contact with the Primary Professional Development Service (PPDS) as part of this development process.

 

English

There are examples of good practice in English, especially in the area of writing. There is a need for more systematic whole-school approaches, however, in the areas of reading and oral-language development.

 

Where oral-language development is good in this school, the teacher sets clear short-term oral-language targets, the weekly timetable includes a dedicated oral-language lesson and the teacher uses questions and tasks that require pupils to use the target language. Pupils also encounter a rich variety of poetry and other literature and recite favourite pieces with confidence. Where oral-language development is good, the teacher also fosters positive speaking and listening habits among the pupils. It is recommended that these successful approaches be implemented in all classes. It is recommended that the teachers prepare and implement a whole-school oral-language programme that sets out the content to be taught during dedicated oral-language lessons as well as language-development strategies to be used across the curriculum. As part of this approach, it is recommended that there be daily use of structured play activities for infant pupils, with each play activity having particular vocabulary and language targets.

 

The school is doing good work to promote a love of books and reading among the pupils. Each classroom has a well-stocked pupils’ library. There is a need in some cases to ensure that the class library is organised and presented in an age-appropriate way. The school has various initiatives to promote an interest in reading, such as the Eager Reader club. Teachers in some classes read to their pupils and pupils also listen to audio books. The performance of pupils in standardised tests of English reading is below national norms, which gives cause for concern. It is recommended that the school review the way in which reading is taught. It is particularly important to ensure consistency, continuity and progression in the teaching of phonics through the school.

 

There is evidence of good work in the middle and senior classes with regard to English writing. Pupils are given opportunities to develop their writing ability in a wide range of forms and genres. There is an appropriate emphasis on discussion and vocabulary development prior to writing. Pupils are enabled to draft, edit, proof-read and publish their own writing. A range of pupils’ written work is displayed and celebrated in classrooms.

 

3.2 Mathematics

There are some examples of very good practice in the teaching of Mathematics. Overall, however, there is scope for development, most obviously in the areas of mental arithmetic and the learning of number facts. Where practice was judged to be good the following features are evident. There is good use of relevant displays to make it easier for pupils to understand and remember mathematical concepts, procedures and vocabulary. The pupils are active during the lessons and there is effective use of appropriate mathematical equipment. It is recommended that this practice be implemented in all classrooms. It is evident from observation of teaching and from interaction with pupils that teaching and learning is good in the strand Measures. Pupils’ performance in standardised attainment tests in Mathematics is good.

 

There is evidence of a need for a greater emphasis on mental arithmetic at all class levels and a need for a consistent whole-school approach to the teaching of number facts. It is clear that pupils in some classes would benefit from further direction and monitoring with regard to the recording and presentation of written work in Mathematics. It is recommended that more attention be given to differentiating lesson content for the different class groups within each room.

 

3.3 History

It is evident from observation in classrooms and from interaction with pupils that the quality of teaching and learning in History is good. Appropriate programmes are implemented effectively at each class level. These programmes include a suitable emphasis on local studies. There is very good use of classroom displays that make it easier for pupils to understand and remember what is taught. When questioned, pupils show a good knowledge of the topics they have studied and a good command of the relevant vocabulary.

 

3.4 Assessment

The school administers norm-referenced tests annually in English and Mathematics. The Middle-Infant Screening Test is also used for early identification of pupils who require additional support. A range of further diagnostic tests is administered by the learning-support and resource teachers. Various teacher-designed tests are used regularly in each classroom.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The school’s provision for pupils with special educational needs has been reorganised in the past year. Supplementary teaching is provided by two visiting teachers who are based in neighbouring schools.

The main responsibility for the learning of any pupil with special educational needs rests with that pupil’s class teacher. It is recommended that each mainstream class teacher adapt programmes, lessons, methodologies and learning materials appropriate for pupils with special educational needs. It is recommended that the school schedule regular meetings between each class teacher and the teacher who provides supplementary teaching for pupils in that class, with a view to ensuring consistency, continuity and progression in planning and teaching for these pupils.

 

The quality of the supplementary teaching provided by the learning-support teacher and the resource teacher is good. The teachers foster a positive working relationship with the pupils. Planning and recording are generally very good. There is a need, in some cases, to ensure that the scope of individual learning programmes is in accordance with the pupils’ identified needs and to state learning targets clearly. In some cases, there is a need to ensure that the learning programme is suited to the individual pupil’s developmental level, especially in literacy, rather than aiming to keep up with the work being done by the pupil’s mainstream class at that particular time.

 

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

At present, the school does not have any pupils with particular needs arising from their membership of disadvantaged or minority groups. The school has an effective policy on promoting attendance. It is recommended that the school provide and implement a school policy with regard to equality of opportunity.

 

 

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 May 2009