An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Kildare Place National School

96 Upper Rathmines Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6

Uimhir rolla: 12755W

 

Date of inspection:  01 May 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 Kildare Place National School. 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 representatives of the parent/teacher association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. They interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors 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

 

Kildare Place National School is a 224-pupil co-educational primary school located in the grounds of the Church of Ireland College of Education (CICE) in Rathmines, Dublin 6. The school is owned and governed by the CICE.  The school’s Church of Ireland ethos is reflected in weekly assemblies, school and church services, and religious displays in classrooms. The school aims to enable each pupil to reach their full potential, to value and respect others and to develop positive attitudes to citizenship. Management, staff and parents work closely together to achieve these aims. The school’s success in achieving its aims is evidenced in the pupils’ high achievement in a number of curriculum areas, the implementation of a wide range of extracurricular activities, the positive behaviour of pupils and the school’s participation in charitable works.  The school has a steady enrolment. Each year demand for places at the school exceeds the number available. Attendance at the school is very good. Strategies are in place to promote good attendance and punctuality.

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

 

The board of management is commended for its effective management of the school. The board is properly constituted in accordance with Department of Education and Science (DES) guidelines. Clear roles are assigned to board members. Meetings are held regularly.  Board meetings are well managed and carefully structured in terms of preparation of the agenda, presentation of reports and the keeping of minutes.  The board plays a very active role in the development, ratification and review of school policies, both organisational and curricular. It manages policy development very well through the use of individual skills and expertise of board members. A five-year strategic plan for the future of the school has been devised collaboratively by the board, staff and members of the parent body. The board deals effectively with maintenance issues as they arise. The board ensures that Department of Education and Science regulations regarding the length of the school year and school day, the retention of pupils, and class size are observed. The school accounts are audited annually. The chairperson of the board has very close communication with the principal and staff through his frequent visits to the school. Communication with parents is very good. The board communicates regularly with parents through the parent/teacher association, school newsletter and school website.

 

2.2 In-school management

 

The principal, appointed to the school in September 2008, is a dynamic and effective leader.  He demonstrates very good skills in prioritising goals of an organisational, pastoral and curricular nature. He leads the whole-school planning process effectively and successfully promotes a culture of collaborative decision-making. He provides strong curriculum leadership in particular with regard to the promotion of music education at the school. He ensures that the skills, experience and individual talents of the staff are utilised most productively to advance school effectiveness. The principal is ably supported by the in-school management team, which comprises the deputy principal and three special-duties post holders. The work of the post holders is carried out diligently and thoroughly. The duties covered by the posts are varied. They include management of the library, information and communications technology (ICT), sport and first aid. Some of the duties attached to these posts have been in place for some time. It is recommended that a review of the duties allocated to these posts be initiated to ensure that the duties are fully informed by Department guidelines contained in Circular 07/03 Appointments to Posts of Responsibility and are reflective of the current and emerging needs of the school.

 

2.3 Management of resources

 

The staff comprises one administrative principal, eight mainstream class teachers, two learning support resource (LSRT) teachers, one full-time and one part-time, and one concessionary teacher. Staff meetings are held regularly. Opportunities are given to teachers to indicate their class preferences each year and they are encouraged to teach in a variety of class levels.  The formalising of the school’s policy regarding the allocation of classes is recommended. Two special needs assistants are deployed appropriately. They successfully support the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms and promote the development of the pupils’ independence. A school secretary provides very effective administrative support to school management and teaching staff. A part-time caretaker plays an important role in the day-to-day upkeep of the school building. Five outside tutors teach Drama and Music to pupils in middle and senior classes.

 

The school building is very well maintained and provides a comfortable environment for pupils and teachers. The school avails of the grounds and facilities of the CICE. The school is very well resourced to support the implementation of the Primary School Curriculum (1999). There is a comprehensive supply of teaching and learning resources available in all classrooms and these are used to good effect during lessons. Attractive learning environments have been created in the classrooms. The school has an extensive range of up-to-date technological equipment.  Classroom libraries are well stocked, and in addition, the school has a school library organised under the Dewey system. The richness of the local environment is exploited very successfully by staff, particularly in the teaching of Social, Environmental and Scientific Education.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The quality of communication and relationships with the school community is very good. The school has a very active and dedicated parent/teacher association. The association meets regularly and makes a very significant contribution to school-life. It organises a range of fundraising and non-fundraising events for the school. These include table quizzes, Christmas fair and in-school events. Through their fundraising efforts many resources, including an extensive range of computer equipment, have been purchased. Parents have been involved in the development of a number of policies, for example, policies on critical incidents, healthy eating, relationships and sexuality education and the school’s code of behaviour. There are regular channels of communication with parents. The principal is highly visible and welcoming at school opening and closing times and is readily available to meet with parents throughout the day. Newsletters are sent home regularly. School policies and notices of events at the school are published on the school website. Parent-teacher meetings are organised annually and as requested. Parents receive an annual written report on their children’s progress. A meeting of the parents of the incoming Junior Infants is held each June. A helpful school prospectus is issued to parents and this provides valuable information concerning many aspects of school business. These include child protection, homework, discipline and school rules.

 

 2.5   Management of pupils

 

The management of pupils is very good. The school’s code of behaviour and anti-bullying policies are implemented fairly and consistently. The pupils display high levels of respect for each other and for adults.  The weekly school assemblies are well conducted and contribute significantly to the cultivation of respectful attitudes. The teachers are commended for the positive learning atmosphere in the school. 

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

 

There is a tradition of good quality whole-school planning in the school. Policies have been developed collaboratively by the board, staff and parents. A wide range of organisational policies has been developed. These are clear, concise and informative. Curriculum plans for all areas have been developed. Overall they are general in nature and provide limited guidance for teachers’ classroom planning. Additional information on the content and skills to be taught and more specific guidance on the methodologies to be used should be included. This would serve to contextualise the plans to the needs of the school and pupils and would provide clearer guidance to teachers in their individual planning.  A schedule is in place to review all policies and plans on an incremental basis.

 

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

 

The quality of teachers’ long-term planning is good. It ensures that a broad range of strands and strand units in each curriculum area is covered.  Various practices exist with regard to short-term planning. Some teachers engage in objectives-based planning, others adopt a more content-based approach. There is scope in the short-term planning of teachers to be more specific in terms of identifying learning objectives. Teachers should ensure that learning objectives are sufficiently differentiated to take account of the varying ability levels of pupils. An agreed template is in place for recording monthly progress and these are stored centrally by the principal.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

 

The quality of teaching and learning is very good. Teachers inspire high levels of interest, effort and application in the pupils. They use a variety of methodologies effectively including questioning, discussion, teacher modelling, project work, group work, storytelling, drama and language games. Lessons are well structured and appropriately paced.  Teacher use a wide range of resources to introduce new concepts and reinforce learning. Classroom environments are stimulating and visually attractive.  Some good practice in relation to the use of ICT was seen during the evaluation across a number of curriculum areas. Samples of pupils’ work in the visual arts, project work in History, and process writing in English indicate a high level of confidence and skilful use of ICT by pupils.

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Cothaíonn foireann na scoile dearcadh dearfach i leith na Gaeilge i measc na ndaltaí. Caitheann daltaí ón ard rang tréimhse sa Ghaeltacht gach bliain chun an Ghaeilge a chleachtadh mar theanga caidrimh agus chun saol na Gaeltachta a bhlasadh. Baintear feidhm as raon modhanna múinte chun gníomhaíochtaí foghlama a sholáthar thar na snáitheanna. Úsáidtear ról imirt, drámaí beaga, cluichí teanga agus comhrá beirte go héifeachtach chun deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí an teanga a labhairt. Tá leibhéal rannphártíochta na ndaltaí go hard. Baintear úsáid as raon leathan d’áiseanna, téacsleabhair, amhráin, dánta, dlúthdhioscaí agus bileoga saothair san áireamh. Leathnaítear foclóir na ndaltaí go córasach tríd an scoil. Tá an-tuiscint ag na daltaí ar raon leathan foclóra agus eiseamláirí bunúsacha. Is féidir leis na daltaí i ngach rang labhairt fúthu féin go soiléir i nGaeilge. Baineann líofacht agus féin mhuinín lena gcumas cumarsáide. Aithrisíonn agus canann na daltaí uile rainn, dánta agus amhráin as Gaeilge. Múintear an léitheoireacht go rialta ó rang a dó ar aghaidh. Bunaítear an léitheoireacht ar an iomlán ar na téacsleabhair agus ar na leabhair saothair.  Tá sé ar chumas na ndaltaí na leabhair sin a léamh le líofacht agus le cruinneas. Léiríonn siad tuiscint mhaith ar ábhar na léitheoireachta. Sa scríbhneoireacht, obair fheidhmiúil is mó atá i gceist ach sonraítear samplaí áirithe de scríbhneoireacht phearsanta i roinnt ranganna. Moltar cur leis na deiseanna a bhíonn ag na daltaí scríbhneoireacht a dhéanamh i seánraí éagsúla. Déantar monatóireacht rialta ar a gcóipleabhair.

 

Irish

The teachers develop a positive attitude towards the Irish language among pupils.  Pupils from the senior class spend time in the Gaeltacht each year to practise their conversational Irish and to experience life in the Gaeltacht.  A range of strategies is used to provide learning activities in all strands. Role play, small dramas, language games and paired conversation are used effectively to provide the pupils with opportunities to speak the language.  Pupils show high levels of participation in these activities. Suitable use is made of a wide range of resources, including textbooks, songs, poems, CDs and worksheets. The pupils’ vocabulary is systematically developed throughout the school.  Pupils have a very good command of a broad range of vocabulary and fundamental language exemplars. The pupils in all classes can speak about themselves clearly in Irish.  They display fluency and confidence in how they communicate. All of the pupils in the school can recite and sing rhymes, poems and songs in Irish. Reading is regularly taught from second class upwards. Reading activity is based primarily on textbooks and workbooks. The majority of pupils read these books with fluency and accuracy. They demonstrate good understanding of their reading material. Writing activities engaged in are primarily of a functional nature with examples of personal writing in evidence in some classrooms. The writing opportunities provided for pupils should be extended to include writing in a wider range of genres. Written work is monitored regularly.

 

English

English is taught proficiently in all classes with pupils achieving very good standards across the curriculum strands. Oral language development is appropriately emphasised. The pupils can speak about themselves, their interests and a variety of other topics articulately and confidently.  Classrooms have print-rich environments. Pupils are exposed to a variety of poetry. They can recite a selection of poems and rhymes in all classes. Ample opportunities are afforded to pupils to compose their own poems and to respond to the poems of others. An interest in reading is promoted and the pupils are encouraged to research topics and to read for pleasure. Reading records are maintained in every classroom. The pupils’ phonological skills are developed in a structured manner. Very good use is made of large-format books in infant and junior classes as a springboard for developing the pupils’ vocabulary, comprehension and prediction skills. The pupils can read fluently and most pupils display very good comprehension levels. Teachers use a range of novels to supplement the use of formal reading schemes. Through their use the pupils are afforded opportunities to explore concepts of print, plot and character study. The standard of writing in English is very high. The teachers pay careful attention to the teaching of process writing. There are very good examples of pupils’ writing in a wide variety of genres on display. Copybooks and workbooks are carefully corrected by teachers. Spelling strategies are carefully taught and reinforced at each class level.

 

4.3 Mathematics

 

The teaching of Mathematics is very good. Features of effective practice include clear explanation of concepts, structured talk and discussion, handling of manipulatives and focussed questioning. A mathematics-rich environment is established in all classes. Pupils’ mathematical language is developed consistently at each class level. Teachers ensure that programmes of learning include a good balance across the strands. The pupils are motivated and display high levels of interest in mathematical tasks. The overall achievement of pupils in Mathematics is high. Junior pupils competently engage in early-mathematical activities, tasks related to shape and space and number work. Middle and senior class pupils demonstrate very good computation skills. The needs of the lower-achieving pupils are well catered for through the provision of differentiated tasks and individual help given by teachers. The school should ensure that the more-able pupils are consistently challenged through the provision of appropriately-differentiated learning tasks and activities. Work in copies is neatly completed and regularly corrected by the teachers. The pupils’ progress in Mathematics is carefully monitored and analysed.

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

The standard of teaching and learning in History is high. The teachers use a wide range of suitable approaches including talk and discussion, story, personal reflection, interviews, photographs, ICT, artefacts and activities based on local history to teach the history programme. Pupils and teachers regularly visit the Museum of Education located on the CICE campus.  Local historians are invited regularly to the school. Well-laid out and attractive projects are completed by the pupils.  Pupils in the middle and senior classes display a very good understanding of a range of national and international events of historical significance. Senior pupils can confidently discuss local historical events and landmarks.

 

Geography

Geography is taught very well in the school. The teachers capably use a variety of approaches in the delivery of a broad curriculum. They ensure that lessons are interesting, well structured and paced appropriately. The teachers use the local environment effectively to develop observation, investigation and mapping skills. Pupils in the junior classes can use appropriate language to demonstrate that they have a sense of space and place. They can give and follow directions to places within the school building and to and from places in the local area. Pupils in the senior classes can discuss similarities and differences between their own location and contrasting places in Ireland, Europe and international locations. Through their project work the pupils exhibit excellent information-retrieval and presentation skills. 

 

Science

Science is taught effectively. Lessons are clearly structured. The teachers provide excellent opportunities for pupils to engage in experiments, to work scientifically and to develop observation, prediction, investigation and recording skills. The pupils record the outcomes of experiments in Science pictorially and in written form. The school and college grounds are used to very good effect as a resource for studying various aspects of environmental care. The organisation of purposeful nature walks and out-of-school visits provide additional opportunities for pupils to apply scientific knowledge to their own environments. Positive attitudes to Science are promoted through the school’s involvement in a number of local and national initiatives such as Discover Primary Science, Greenwave and Agriaware.  Pupils are given opportunities to plant seeds, bulbs and plants to monitor and observe their growth. Pupils can speak about their environment, animal habitats and the outcomes of their investigations using a well-developed scientific vocabulary.

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

The quality of teaching in the Visual Arts is very good. An appreciation and a love of art are effectively fostered. Pupils are exposed to all strands of the visual arts curriculum. They are afforded opportunities to visit art galleries. Individuality and creativity in their art is encouraged. Very good use is made of talk and discussion at the outset of lessons. Lessons are effectively integrated with other areas of the curriculum. Attractive exhibits of the pupils’ art across the range of strands can be seen in the classrooms. Pupils display pride in their work and are keen to describe the processes in which they engage.

 

Music

Music is taught effectively. The programme enables all pupils to participate in a wide range of music-making activities such as performance, listening and responding, and identification of rhythmic patterns. Lessons are characterised by skilled teaching, active engagement and appropriate response to music by pupils.  Pupils sing very well and perform a variety of songs in various styles in English and Irish. The school has an orchestra and a school choir which perform to a high standard at religious services and school events. 

 

Drama

There is effective delivery of the curriculum for Drama. In addition to discrete lessons in Drama very good use is made of drama as a teaching methodology in a number of curriculum areas. Teachers use a range of methodologies and strategies such as improvisation, circle time, story, teacher-in-role and pupil-in-role to stimulate interest and to engage pupils fully in Drama. Group work is used effectively to share drama scenes and to re-enact them for peers. The performance element of Drama is facilitated through an external provider. Pupils at the school are given ample opportunities to perform in public.

 

4.6 Physical Education

 

The quality of teaching and learning in Physical Education (PE) is high. The school has very good facilities and resources for PE.  In addition to its own school hall, the school has the use of the grounds and facilities of the CICE. The teachers deliver a broad physical education curriculum in which the emphasis is on the development of physical skills, aerobic fitness, team work, participation and enjoyment. Teachers model the skills to be acquired and provide appropriate activities to develop these skills. Lessons are well structured and clearly focussed on achieving appropriate curriculum objectives. The pupils are provided with an extensive range of after-school sports activities undertaken by parents and teachers. These include soccer, hockey, badminton, table tennis and swimming.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

 

The teaching of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is very effective. The characteristic ethos of the school is clearly reflected in the teachers’ planning and delivery of the curriculum. A number of programmes are in use within the school to deliver particular aspects of the curriculum, including Stay Safe and Walk Tall. Teachers employ a variety of suitable teaching methods to explore issues that are relevant to the pupils’ personal development.  Methodologies such as circle time, drama, story, ICT, co-operative games and pair work are employed to promote discussion during SPHE lessons. These strategies are successful in ensuring that all pupils’ contributions are listened to and valued appropriately. These methods also serve to reinforce other important skills such as relating to others and working collaboratively. Pupils’ citizenship skills are further developed through the school’s commendable participation in charitable works at home and abroad. The school’s Relationships and Sexuality Education policy has been in place for some time. A review of the policy is recommended.

 

4.8 Assessment

 

There is very good practice in relation to assessment of pupils’ learning. A range of assessment tools is used effectively by all teachers including teacher observation, teacher-designed tasks and tests, pupil profiles and portfolios of pupils’ work. The progress of pupils in senior infants is monitored through the administration of an early-screening literacy test. Standardised tests in Mathematics are administered annually to pupils from senior infants to sixth class. A standardised test in English is administered to pupils from first to sixth class. The Non-reading Intelligence Test (NRIT) is administered to pupils in first class to complement other formal assessment data. Results of these tests are analysed carefully by members of the teaching staff to identify pupils in need of additional support, to track achievement levels in the school generally, and to identify particular curriculum strands which may require further attention. Careful diagnostic testing is carried out by the special education team to identify learning strengths and to set specific learning targets for those pupils identified as needing support. The pupils’ work is regularly monitored and corrected by teachers and positive feedback given. Information relating to the outcomes of assessment is shared with parents during parent-teacher meetings, informal meetings during the year and in annual progress reports.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

There is very good support for pupils with special educational needs. The special educational needs team comprises two learning support resource (LSRT) teachers, one full-time and one part-time, and one concessionary teacher who is partly-deployed as a support teacher for Mathematics.  The criteria for pupils attending the concessionary teacher for support in Mathematics require further clarification. A comprehensive special education policy has been developed. The policy takes into account the main principles and recommendations of the Learning Support Guidelines (2000) and relevant Department circulars. The learning environments are attractive and a very good range of resources is available and in use.

 

The quality of the special education teachers’ planning is very good. Detailed individual pupil learning profiles (IPLPs) and individual education plans (IEPs) are developed by teachers for each pupil availing of support. These are prepared by the special education teachers in consultation with principal, class teachers and parents. They are reviewed regularly at intervals throughout the year. Parents are issued with a copy of the relevant individual educational profile. Pupils receive support in literacy, numeracy and social skills. Support is provided both in-class and in withdrawal contexts. The teachers employ effective teaching methodologies. Focussed teaching is combined with skilful questioning and practical learning activities. Under current arrangements a number of pupils attend more than one support teacher. It is recommended that the current arrangements be reviewed to minimise the number of support teachers each pupil attends.

 

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

 

The school has a very positive atmosphere and all pupils are treated with fairness and respect. It ensures that all pupils are enabled to engage in the full range of in-school activities. In addition, the participation rates by pupils in after-school sports and activities are very high.   

 

 

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 March 2010

 

 

 

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 of Kildare Place School wish to express their appreciation for the approach and professionalism of the inspectors who carried out the school evaluation.  The Board wishes to strongly endorse the strengths that were recognised by the report.

 

They would also like to commend the Principal, the acknowledged highly skilled and dedicated teachers and members of the wider school community for their role in providing what is reported to be the “positive atmosphere, shared sense of purpose and strong commitment to education for pupils”.

 

Area 2   Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection          

 

Recommendations in the report are currently being addressed by the Board and staff of the school.