An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Ínse Geimhleach

Inchigeela, Macroom, Co. Cork

Uimhir rolla: 12967

 

Date of inspection: 29 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

School response to the report

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Náisiúnta Ínse Geimhleach 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 Visual Arts.

The staff and board of management of the school were given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report. 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.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

This is a rural, co-educational school with three mainstream teachers under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross. It is one of three schools serving the parish of Uíbh Laoire in Mid Cork, part of which is in the Gaeltacht. The school was originally constructed in 1905 and was extended on three subsequent occasions – in 1975, 2000 and most recently in 2007/8. The school is structurally sound; however, the provision of a suitable entrance to the school should be addressed as a matter of urgency in the interests of health and safety. It is also recommended that more suitable parking facilities should be provided in the interest of health and safety. It  is agreed that the board will prioritise these matters at the earliest opportunity. 

School enrolment figures have been consistent in recent years. Attendance rates for pupils compare favourably with published figures nationally.

 

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

54

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

7

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

4

Special needs assistants

3

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1   Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Ínse Geimhleach is committed to enabling pupils to achieve their full potential in a caring environment that promotes respect and personal responsibility.

The staff expresses a strong sense of loyalty to the school and the pupils show an admirable sense of belonging to the school community as well as a keen pride in their work across a broad range of curricular and extra-curricular areas. The school is an important focal point in its community and clear levels of parental support were apparent during the course of this external evaluation. School work was endorsed by the parents and no reservations were expressed about the quality of care and the levels of academic attainment achieved. It is recommended, however, that a Parents’ Association affiliated to the National Parents’ Council be established as soon as possible.

 

1.2 Board of management

 

 The school board is properly constituted, meets regularly and provides a broad range of high quality assistance to the staff in their work and also provides wise direction and guidance to the school community. Minutes of meetings are maintained to a satisfactory level and agreed procedures are followed. Advice was offered in relation to annual certification of school accounts.

 

The board, led by its highly committed chairperson, has ensured that a range of important infrastructural improvements are carried out on a regular basis. Its promotion of information and communication technologies in the school is to be highly commended as is its determination to address health and safety issues referred to above. It is recommended that these matters be resolved as soon as possible.

 

The board has been involved in developing and reviewing policies in relation to a range of organisational, administrative and curricular areas. Documents available for evaluation include a Mission Statement, Enrolment Policy Review, Administration of Medicines Policy, Review of policies on Bullying and Substance Misuse as well as a Review of the Mathematics and English curriculum policies. These documents have been drawn up on a collaborative basis and inform school work in a very positive manner. Gaeilge and Health and Safety have been identified as priorities for future development planning.

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The staff members of Scoil Náisiúnta Ínse Geimhleach work collaboratively in the best interests of the pupils under their care. Individual staff members are deployed in ways that makes the best possible use of their specialist knowledge and expertise. The collegial and supportive working atmosphere in the school and the quality of staff relationships are a highly commendable feature of the school. The recently appointed principal has very successfully managed a significant period of change in the school, acknowledges the excellent support and professionalism of her colleagues as well as the commitment of the board, parents and the broader school community.

In addition to informal collaboration there are assigned formal responsibilities in line with normal Department of Education and Science procedures. These are clearly defined and each member of the in-school management team carries out her duties in a professional and conscientious manner. The team shares curricular, organisational and pastoral responsibilities and meets frequently. Duties are regularly reviewed in line with evolving pupil needs and changing school circumstances. Non-post holders and ancillary staff are to be commended for their contribution to the effective management of the school.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

Some very worthwhile efforts are made in developing linkages between parents and teachers. Information is shared on a regular basis through homework journals, parent/teacher meetings, religious ceremonies, outings, and formal and informal parent/teacher meetings to develop a sense of trust and co-operation.

Parental input into the development of school policies is facilitated mainly through the parents’ representatives on the board. The establishment of a Parents’ Association affiliated to the National Parents’ Council is now recommended as a further means of strengthening communication with the school community.

The inspector met with the parent representatives on the board of management as part of the whole-school evaluation process. Parents expressed a strong sense of satisfaction with the school and its goals and felt valued by the approach of the board, the principal and the staff.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

Pupils in this school show impressive levels of belonging to their school community. Excellent relationships between teachers and pupils exist in and out of the classroom and they respond well to purposeful teaching which is clearly focused on their needs. Pupils take pride in their work and accept the importance of high standards of presentation and behaviour as appropriate.

Levels of motivation are high amongst the pupils and they co-operate very well with their teachers in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

The confidence and self-esteem of pupils are promoted through a range of high quality practices in relation to curricular and extra-curricular school activities.

Visitors to the school are made feel welcome by management, staff and pupils and a strong sense of community is very apparent.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

 A useful range of school policies which relate to organisational, administrative and curricular areas has been developed by the staff with some assistance from the support services. These documents have been ratified by the board. The policies relating to English, Mathematics, Enrolment, Bullying and Substance misuse have been reviewed.

The planning identifies realistic objectives for teaching and learning within the parameters of the Curriculum for Primary Schools and key skills and concepts are promoted through a range of suitable methodologies. Relevant levels of differentiation ensure that all pupils are suitably challenged and experience an acceptable level of success. The school authorities are to be commended for the provision of a very attractive range of resources to assist with overall curriculum delivery.

Some excellent practice was observed with regard to classroom planning. Detailed long term schemes of work are prepared in line with the contents of the school plan and each staff member provides monthly progress records as an effective means of recording progress in teaching and learning. Copies are retained by the principal. Clearer lines of distinction between short term plans and monthly records should now be considered, however. Class work was noted to be very purposeful and many excellent opportunities were provided to ensure that the development of language across the curriculum is a key feature of the overall work.

 

2.2 Child protection policy and procedure

 

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

 

Moltar dícheall na n-oidí maidir le teagasc na Gaeilge aníos tríd an scoil. Moltar go speisialta an bhéim a leagtar in áiteanna ar theagasc an chomhrá atá an-aidhmiúil agus an-taitneamhach. Baintear leas le moladh as an drámaíocht uaireanta mar mheán a thacaíonn go mór leis an saibhriú teanga. B’fhiú anois aire bhreise a dhíriú ar chaint chumarsáideach na ndaltaí in áiteanna agus cuireadh comhairle ar fáil ina leith seo. Múintear cnuasach deas filíochta ar bhonn scoile agus is léir gur chun tairbhe na ndaltaí é. Is mór is fiú an úsáid a bhaintear as fíor leabhair maidir le teagasc na léitheoireachta tríd an úsáid a bhaintear as ábhar a bhaineann le Séideán Sí. Léann alán de na daltaí go cumasach dá bharr seo. B’fhiú an dea-chleachtas seo a fhorbairt a thuilleadh nuair a bheidh athbhreithniú á dhéanamh ar pholasaí na scoile don Ghaeilge. Dírítear go sciliúil ar theagasc na scríbhneoireachta sa scoil agus is léir go bhfuil dul chun cinn suntasach á dhéanamh in áiteanna. Léiríodh bealaí breise chun an obair neamhspleách a fhorbairt le linn an fhiosruithe.

 

Irish

 

The teachers’ diligence in the teaching of Irish is commended. In this regard their very purposeful and enjoyable approaches to oral language development are particularly praiseworthy   Drama is also used as a very effective means at certain levels to support the pupils’ development of relevant aspects of the language .Greater emphasis should now be placed on communicative language in some instances, however. Advice was provided in this regard during the evaluation. A pleasant selection of poetry is taught throughout the school and the pupils clearly benefit from the experience. The use of real books from the Séideán Sí programme in teaching reading is highly effective and as a result many pupils read with confidence and understanding .The further use of these good practices should be considered when the school’s Irish policy is being reviewed. The relevant writing skills are fruitfully developed throughout the school. Additional means of promoting the pupils’ independent writing were discussed during the evaluation.    .

 

English

 

English is taught effectively throughout this school. Well organised centres of interest form an attractive feature of English language provision in all classrooms. Oral language development is properly emphasised at all levels and frequently on a cross curricular basis. Most pupils respond confidently when questioned and it is evident from the quality of their responses that whole school emphasis on language enrichment exercises is very successful.

Reading skills are particularly well taught and the results of standardised tests indicate significant progress at all class levels. Teachers are keenly aware of the progress made by individual students and modify their methodologies in accordance with their needs.

Basic skills of literacy are suitably taught and consolidated. In this regard the development of phonological awareness is carefully emphasised in the junior classes. The mastery of essential reading skills is promoted incrementally as pupils advance through the school. Pupils read widely for pleasure and for information from well-stocked and well-presented class libraries. The relevant skills of writing are also successfully promoted on a whole school basis. There is ample evidence to indicate that the pupils are afforded many opportunities to write in a variety of genres and that due emphasis is placed on editing and publishing their work which is attractively displayed in each classroom.

 

3.2 Mathematics

 

The mathematics programme is effectively implemented at all class levels. Lessons are presented in a well-structured manner and pupils willingly participate in the work. There is clear evidence to suggest that their achievements in teacher-designed and standardised tests are in line with age and ability. A variety of recommended methodologies is used to develop mathematical skills and concepts and an attractive range of concrete materials and suitable resources is available to facilitate progress. Activity work is suitably challenging and provides optimal opportunity for skill and concept development. The work is appropriately differentiated to accommodate varying levels of ability and individual support is provided when necessary. The attention paid to the language of Mathematics and to problem solving generally is highly commendable. Written work is neat, well organised and carefully monitored.

As a means of  enhancing existing good practice additional emphasis could now be placed on exercises aimed at promoting logical thinking and higher order mathematical thinking.

 

3.3 Visual Arts

 

The Visual Arts lessons are carefully structured and provide the pupils with a clear sense of achievement and are imaginatively integrated with other curriculum areas. A good balance is achieved between the various strands of the curriculum and the pupils are actively encouraged to discuss their own work and that of their class mates. The quality of the work is commendable.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

Assessment forms an important part of planning for teaching and learning in this school and a variety of approaches is used effectively. The pupils’ written work is regularly monitored in a manner that highlights strengths and sets out areas for development. Pupil attainments influence the use of teaching methods on a whole school basis.

Existing practice includes a range of approaches including monitoring and correction of work, teacher-devised tests and tasks and standardised tests in English and Mathematics. The standardised tests currently in use include Belfield Infant Assessment Profile, M.I.S.T., Sigma T, Micra T. Results of Micra-T and Sigma-T tests indicate significant progress is made by the majority of pupils. Current practice is that the results of Micra T and Sigma T are shared with parents at the end of first and fourth classes. Overall the results are effectively used on a collaborative basis to address the learning needs of pupils experiencing difficulties.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

Pupils with special educational needs receive support from the special education team in the form of learning interventions that are generally well planned. The support team comprises a full-time resource teacher, a shared learning support teacher who is available for 16.5 hours. In addition, the school has the services of two part-time teachers to provide for special educational needs and language support.   

Following a staged process pupils are withdrawn individually or in groups for supplementary instruction by the learning support teacher. This additional support is used effectively in support of classroom teaching and collaborative planning underpins the process.

A small number of pupils with assessed special educational needs receive individualised support especially in relation to literacy and numeracy. The assigned Special Needs Assistants, in collaboration with the teaching staff, plays an important role in this regard.

Purposeful collaboration between mainstream class teachers, support teachers and parents in the development of individual education plans underpins most of this work. These plans set out specific learning targets within defined timescales and progress towards identified goals is carefully monitored. Teachers, parents and other relevant professionals meet to discuss progress and planning. In some instances, however, it is felt that additional analysis of test results as well as additional consultation with parents would be appropriate.

Given the number of support hours currently available to the school and the likelihood of a decrease in that number in the immediate future it is recommended that the board rationalise supports in line with Departmental criteria.

 

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

 

There are no pupils from minority or other groups attending the school at present.

 

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

·         The quality of management and leadership is impressive at all levels within the school. In this regard the principal’s contribution is highly commendable.

·         The quality of teaching and learning is impressive at various levels throughout the school.

·         The staff members show a strong sense of loyalty to the school and work collaboratively to achieve high standards generally.

·         The school is committed to self-evaluation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School response to the report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

Area 1   Observations on the content of the inspection report     

 

Board of Management and Staff of Inchigeela NS were very content with the professional and thorough WSE meetings and subsequent WSE report. Mr Fionnbarra Ó’Tuama was fair, approachable and had excellent Ideas and advice for us which we welcomed. We are satisfied with the report and have taken on board his recommendations.

 

Area 2   Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection

               activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection.          

 

 

  1. Restructuring, acc. to Department of Education guidelines to LS/RT staff
  2. SNA review
  3. Health and Safety – letter highlighting concern to Patron, approached landowner worte letter to landowner, letter to parents’ highlighting issues.
  4. P.A. aware of need for annual affiliation to National Parents’ Council (were affiliated 2008/2009 school year).
  5. Seideán Sí programme incorporated to a greater extent in classrooms.