An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
SN Cill Móibhí
Bealach an Doirín, Co. Mhaigh Eo
Roll number: 13080V
Date of inspection: 6 December 2006
Date of issue of report: 21 June 2007
WHOLE SCHOOL EVALUATION
This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Kilmovee NS. 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 inspector held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management and representatives of parents. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning, interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. School planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation were reviewed, and various staff teams, where appropriate, were met. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. The board of management 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.
Kilmovee National School is a small, rural school situated on the Mayo side of the Mayo-Roscommon border. The school, which caters for boys and girls from junior infants to sixth class, has an enrolment of 66 pupils. Many of the pupils come from families that have a long association with the school. The school has three mainstream teachers and two shared support teachers. The school also has access to a part-time teacher of French, who works with fifth and sixth classes under the Modern Languages Initiative.
The school is under the patronage of the catholic Bishop of Achonry. It is evident from the mission statement and from observations of everyday practice that the school places exemplary emphasis on the full development of the child. There is an emphasis on each child experiencing success and a realisation of self-worth. The school engages in numerous educational initiatives, organised locally, regionally and nationally. School attendance is very good. The school’s last evaluation was completed in 1998.
The board of management of Kilmovee NS is properly constituted and meets on a regular basis, usually termly, and keeps minutes of all meetings. Members of the board have clear roles and responsibilities. They work towards the common goal of providing excellent material resources for the pupils of the school and supporting the school staff in all curricular and extra-curricular endeavours. It is recommended that a safety representative be appointed. The board has engaged in exemplary development of the school to ensure equality of access for pupils with physical disabilities. It is currently engaged in upgrading the toilets, painting the school and ensuring safe access to the school on what has become a very busy road. The board has a clear vision for the school and is very proactive in anticipating and meeting the needs of the school community.
The chairperson takes a personal interest in the school and visits the pupils and teachers weekly. The board is involved in the development and ratification of school plans and policies. An annual magazine is used to provide a report to the parents and community on the operation of the school. This, along with newsletters, meetings and notes ensures that parents are well informed about school practices and procedures. The board is proud of the high quality of teaching in the school, particularly in the areas of Gaeilge, Drama and Music. Satisfaction has also been expressed with links among home, school, board and community.
The principal is a hard-working, focused leader who creates a shared vision for the school community. She ensures pupil learning is the focus for all school activities. She has established clear and supportive links with the parent body, the board of management and the wider community. She values local tradition and ensures that whole-school plans are tailored to cater for local needs. Communication in the school is open and respectful and her staff is highly supportive of her work.
The middle management team of deputy principal and special duties teacher provides important support for the principal. These teachers are dedicated, flexible and open to meeting the needs of the school. Each post-holder has curricular, organisational and pastoral duties. These duties have been reviewed recently. It is recommended that the duties of post-holders be reviewed on an annual basis in accordance with the changing needs of the school. There is a need to hold regular, formal staff meetings, in order to ensure the effective management of change.
The dedicated and hard working staff is the school’s most valuable resource. The allocation of classes is reviewed annually on the basis of pupil numbers. The deployment of the infant teacher at two o’clock to teach SESE to some of the senior pupils is evidence of excellent professional support. This facilitates pupil interaction and more extensive use of activity-based methodologies. The special needs assistant ably supports the work of the class teacher and ensures that the pupil to whom she is assigned participates fully in all school activities. The school is cleaned daily and the school secretary supports the work of the teaching principal by effectively carrying out routine administration.
The school has three mainstream classrooms, a small general-purposes room, a support room shared by both of the support teachers, a staff room and an office for the secretary. The school houses a large number of resources for the implementation of various curricular areas and each teacher has a supply of appropriate teaching materials. Pupils’ work is displayed in classrooms and shared areas and provides a stimulating environment for pupils and visitors alike. A computer is used on a regular basis for children attending support classes.
The parent body of Kilmovee NS is extremely supportive of the work of the school. Parents have undertaken a number of projects to raise funds and to increase the involvement of all parents in their children’s education. Projects undertaken include the provision of musical instruments for the school, organising buses to local pantomimes, accompanying their children on school tours and having a family fun day. Parents also assist with the extracurricular activities. These include the school band, sporting activities, Heritage Week, Bealtaine Festival, Féile Scoildrámaíochta, Scór na bPáistí, table quizzes, school concerts and an Intergenerational Day. Parents are kept informed of the workings of the school and of new developments through regular notes, a newsletter, parish notices and through the annual parent-teacher meeting. It is recommended that parents become more involved in the school planning process at the draft stage of planning. The school should inform parents in advance of the plans and policies being addressed on planning days and seek contributions.
The relationship between pupils and staff is open, respectful and appropriate. Pupils are friendly and spontaneous in their behaviour in class. They ask questions freely and are satisfied to share thoughts and opinions. The older pupils help younger pupils both in class and during recreation time.
The staff and board have worked consistently on the school plan over the past number of years and have a number of plans and policies in place for the smooth running of the school. A collaborative approach is taken to planning, where teachers contribute to the draft of a policy on in-school planning days, the board makes comments on this draft and parents are informed when new policies are ratified. School planning in Kilmovee NS would benefit from identifying organisational and curricular priorities at the beginning of the school year in a planning diary, maintaining school reviews and action plans and ensuring that all whole-school approaches are carefully implemented. This will impact positively on the learning and teaching in the school and will ensure continuous school improvement.
Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2001). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.
All teachers prepare praiseworthy programmes of work for their multi-grade classes. There is evidence, in some classes, of excellent practice in planning for teaching methodologies, language development, assessment, differentiation of work for pupils with different needs and linkage and integration. It is advised that this good practice be implemented on a whole-school basis. All plans indicate the curricular strands and strand units to be covered. This helps the school to ensure that a broad and balanced curriculum is being provided. The principal monitors this through the monthly progress records that are prepared by teachers and submitted at the end of each month. Examination of these records provides evidence of progression and continuity in the pupils’ learning.
The implementation of the Primary School Curriculum is at an advanced stage in Kilmovee NS with a characteristic blend of traditional and progressive methodologies. Teachers use talk and discussion, project work, circle time, pair work, group work, interclass work and whole-class work as their main methods of teaching. Clear procedures are in place for the organisation and management of these methodologies thus ensuring efficiency and efficacy in their use. Teaching is purposeful, context-based and effective. Standards in the school are very good across all curricular areas.
Tá caighdeán na Gaeilge ar leibhéal fíor-ard. Cothaítear dearcadh dearfach i leith na Gaeilge agus snáitear an obair go cliste leis an Drámaíocht, an Ceol agus na hAmharcealaíona. Sonraítear an dea-chleachtas seo a leanas sa scoil. Úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar theanga chumarsáide sna seomraí ranga. Baintear úsáid as luaschartaí, póstaeir agus ábhair nithiúla chun foclóir nua a chur i láthair. Baintear feidhm inmholta as obair bheirte, rangtheagasc, druileanna, filíocht agus amhránaíocht. Tá structúr ar leith leagtha amach ag an bhfoireann chun Gaeilge neamhfhoirmiúil a mhúineadh ó rang na naíonán go rang a sé. De bharr sin, bíonn na daltaí sna hardranganna ábalta an Ghaeilge a úsáid go muiníneach, cumasach mar theanga chumarsáide.
Tosaítear le léitheoireacht agus scríbhneoireacht na Gaeilge go neamhfhoirmiúil i rang a haon agus bíonn an léitheoireacht an-chruinn agus soiléir. Bíonn na daltaí ó rang a dó ar aghaidh in ann nuacht phearsanta agus cleachtaí eile a scríobh go cúramach agus go héifeachtach. Moltar an t-ábhar scríbhneoireachta a phlé níos mó leis an rang sula dtugann siad faoin obair scríofa.
Is inmholta é cleachtas na scoile maidir le drámaíocht na Gaeilge. Bíonn na daltaí sna meánranganna agus sna hardranganna in ann drámaí fíor-thaitneamhacha a dhéanamh go sciliúil agus go tuisceanach. Is iomaí duais atá buaite acu sna féiltí scoildrámaíochta. Chomh maith leis sin, leagtar an-bhéim ar fhilíocht agus amhránaíocht Ghaeilge. Déanann na daltaí aithris ar dhánta go bríomhar, spreagúil.
There is a very high standard of Irish in this school. A positive attitude to the language is nurtured and there is exemplary integration between Irish and the arts subjects. The following examples of good practice are evident in the school. Irish is used as a language of communication in the classrooms. Illustrative and concrete materials are used to introduce new vocabulary. There is appropriate and effective use of whole-class teaching, pair work, drills, poetry and song. There is a systematic, whole-school approach to the teaching of conversational Irish. As a result of this, the senior pupils are able to express themselves, to share personal news and to engage in real communication with the teacher during the school day.
Irish reading and writing are taught informally in first class and pupils read clearly and accurately. Pupils from second class onwards can write personal news, as well as engaging carefully and effectively in a variety of other writing genres. It is recommended that more oral work be undertaken with the pupils to reinforce new vocabulary prior to writing.
The school displays highly commendable practice with regard to Irish dramas. Pupils in middle and senior class perform very enjoyable plays with skill and understanding. The school has won a number of awards in inter-school drama competitions. There is also a strong emphasis on Irish poetry and song. Pupils recite poetry with energy and enthusiasm.
Pupils at all class levels have developed very good oral language skills and can express themselves clearly and confidently. A particular emphasis is placed on receptive skills and pupils listen very attentively to the class teacher and to their peers. These skills are taught through circle time and through class discussions. It is advised that a more structured whole-school approach to oral language be devised to ensure a variety of genres is explored and that vocabulary is developed systematically through discrete oral language lessons.
Reading is taught effectively by all teachers. Pupils read aloud with confidence and ease, although there is a need to differentiate the reading programme for pupils exhibiting either superior reading ability or difficulties with the class reader. A number of strategies are used to build pupils’ confidence at reading including listening to the teacher, reading in pairs, choral reading and silent reading. A phonics programme introduced at infant level needs to be reviewed to ensure a whole-school approach. It is recommended that the learning support teacher provide in-class support in the junior classes. Class libraries contain a large number of books. Many pupils, however, are reluctant readers. This is an issue often discussed by the staff but one that needs immediate attention. Consideration should be given to shared reading with parents. The results of standardised tests show that pupils are succeeding well in the areas of reading and comprehension.
Once they have mastered the mechanics of writing, pupils enjoy expressing themselves through creative writing. Some excellent samples of pupils’ work are on display in classrooms or are made into class books. Pupils experience a broad range of appropriate and exciting writing activities and publish many of these in school newsletters and the annual school magazine. To further develop the area of creative writing, it is advised that teachers consider structured oral discussion coupled with language development as a basis for writing. There is a need for a whole-school approach to handwriting and the presentation of written work, with a view to ensuring standardisation of expectations.
Pupils enjoy exploring and reciting poetry in a variety of ways. They respond enthusiastically to the work of renowned poets and can recite poems with dramatic presentation.
The teaching of French is offered to pupils in fifth and sixth classes under the Modern Languages Initiative. These classes are well structured with an excellent emphasis on language development, language awareness and cultural awareness. Pupils engage in short role-plays, talk about themselves at length and sing a variety of songs in French with great enthusiasm. Pupils have already developed very good listening skills and comprehension and display a great knowledge of French speaking countries. The language teacher has instilled a great love of language and culture in these pupils, which is evident from the way they engage in lessons, answer questions and present project work. A very broad range of methodologies is used in the teaching of French. These include role-play, project work, teacher-pupil interaction, songs, games, group work, use of CDs, use of authentic materials and concrete materials.
Learning in Mathematics is clearly supported in each classroom through displays and investigation areas. The quality of teaching in this area is high as teachers engage in oral discussion, place appropriate emphasis on the language of Mathematics, promote number facts and ensure all pupils have access to concrete materials. A variety of methodologies is also employed successfully in the teaching of Mathematics from whole-class teaching to games, number rhymes, pair work, use of manipulatives and individualised teaching. Mathematical concepts are presented clearly and are reinforced through structured activities. There is also clear evidence of the development of mathematical skills such as problem solving, estimation and mental computation.
Lessons in History are characterised by a balance between knowledge and skills. Pupils are exposed to a variety of historical eras and personalities, both Irish and international. There is a commendable emphasis on the history of the local area and the expertise of local historians. The pupils are encouraged to seek information from parents, grandparents and members of the community to reinforce the personal aspect of History. There is widespread use of timelines, photographs, artefacts, projects, books, worksheets and story. History is integrated effectively with English, Geography, Science and SPHE at all class levels and a thematic approach to feasts and festivals works particularly well.
The teaching of Geography is well structured, with evidence of continuity and progression between classes. The lessons observed show the integrated nature of Geography with the other SESE subjects. Material at all class levels is challenging and involves higher-order thinking skills. Pupils perform well on tasks presented by teachers and even at infant level pupils can compare their home environment to other environments. In the middle standards, pupils use the internet to gain information about such topics as space and the moon, while at senior level there is a strong emphasis on empathy and understanding of people in other countries.
The displays in each classroom provide evidence of a focus on the natural environment and the development of a caring attitude for living things and curiosity about the workings of everyday objects. A very good emphasis is placed on language development in Science in all classes. The methodologies used to promote pupil understanding include project work, discussion, group work, experiments, observation studies and the development of skills through content. It is recommended that there be a greater emphasis on eliciting, testing and developing the pupils’ existing ideas.
Pupils experience a very wide range of artistic experiences in the course of their education in Kilmovee NS. They revisit strands on a regular basis and have opportunities to develop skills learned in previous encounters. A whole-school approach to the teaching of the elements of art has been particularly effective and clear development can be observed from class to class. This has included work on line, the colour wheel and shades and tones. There is an appropriate emphasis on Looking and Responding and pupils can discuss their work and that of other artists confidently and competently. They can also distinguish between the merits and demerits of a variety of media and can express preferences for their own styles. Senior pupils have attended workshops in crafts such as crochet and have produced creative, attractive work.
The quality of provision in this curricular area is exceptional. All pupils delight in listening and responding to music. They have developed a musical vocabulary to enable them to articulate their response to music and to discuss the musical elements. Music chosen is appropriate to the needs and interests of the pupils. Rhythm is taught systematically with pupils attaining the ability to compose rhythms, beat them out using different percussion instruments and read rhythms written by the teacher. The recording of pupil compositions is particularly effective and allows pupils to comment on aspects for development. All pupils from first class play the tin-whistle and have the option of learning how to play other traditional instruments. The school band comprises drums, accordions, violins, tin-whistles and keyboard. The senior classes can perform without the intervention of the teacher, with a pupil able to count in the music group, present the pieces of music and keep time. Singing is taught to an excellent level with pupils adept in singing in English and Gaeilge. The school presents a concert to the community on a regular basis. The school also availed recently of a music workshop, devised by Mayo County Council and the Arts Council with a focus on composition. The concert performed showed the skill development of the senior pupils and their obvious enjoyment for performance. It is recommended that the staff devise a whole-school approach to supporting pupils who find instrumental work challenging, with a view to ensuring that all pupils enjoy a sense of accomplishment.
The school places a significant emphasis on Drama, both formal and informal, and is extremely proud of the results attained in Drama competitions at local and national level. Pupils experience the dramatisation of nursery rhymes in the infant classes. Poetry, stories and structured plays are used in the middle and senior standards. Pupils are encouraged to focus on body and facial expressions, the elements of drama, voice projection and diction. Drama is used effectively to enhance understanding and promote cognitive, imaginative and expressive development. Most impressive is the level of feeling and emotion the pupils can express through Drama. Pupils can also discuss the elements of Drama confidently and succinctly.
The lessons observed in this area of the curriculum were well structured with a clear emphasis on the routine of warm-up, skill development, activity and cool down. There is an excellent focus on body movement, awareness of space, appreciation and understanding of activity and language development. The Dance strand is particularly well taught with the pupils showing skill in movement, self-expression and creativity both as a class group, in pairs and individually. Due attention is paid to pupil participation and safety. The pupils clearly enjoy lessons in Physical Education.
Pupils are exposed to challenging aspects of the SPHE programme through carefully structured discussions and activities. An excellent emphasis is placed on language development in this area. There is useful integration with English, Music and SESE. Circle time is used effectively and appropriately by teachers. A number of activities are organised throughout the school year to encourage pupils to interact with their grandparents and older members of the community and great value is placed on the information and skills available from such people. The school has organised an intergenerational day in which older members of the community came in and spoke with the pupils and shared stories, song and music with them. Creative displays throughout the school show the importance attached to such activity. The senior pupils show the cumulative success of the SPHE programme as they discuss and debate challenging issues of world poverty, fair trade and aid. They also organise an annual jumble sale to raise funds for charity.
The modes of assessment used include teacher-designed tests and tasks, teacher observation, standardised tests and diagnostic tests. Standardised tests are administered annually in reading and Mathematics. Pupils are making creditable progress in these areas. MIST, Quest and Neale Analysis are the primary diagnostic tests used. Parents are informed of pupil progress at the annual parent-teacher meetings. It is advised that a detailed analysis be undertaken of these test results on a whole-school level to identify overall areas for development and to ensure differentiation in individual teacher planning.
The work of teachers who cater for the needs of pupils with special educational needs is characterised by careful planning aimed at addressing the identified needs of individual children. Individualised, structured and purposeful teaching strategies are in place to maximise learning opportunities. The support classroom has a large number of charts and other visual materials on the walls and is well resourced so that pupils’ needs are addressed in a way that is enjoyable and motivating. Records of progress are documented systematically. It is suggested that all pupils’ learning targets are reviewed each term in collaboration with class teachers and parents. Diagnostic tests are used in the identification of learning difficulties and to support the preparation of individual learning programmes. Teachers have expressed an openness to providing in-class support in the junior classes in phonics, reading and writing. The inclusion of pupils with special needs in the daily school activities is excellent and shows a whole-school commitment to equality of participation and access. The support teachers have established links with Spina Bifida support group and Enable Ireland who give invaluable assistance with assessments, hardware and software.
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 when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1: Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board of Management of Kilmovee NS is very satisfied with the content of the inspection report. The Board considers that this report affirms the excellent work that is ongoing at the school. The Board would also like to state that a safety representative has been appointed.
Area 2: Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection
A whole-school approach to handwriting has been devised.
In-class support at the junior level from the Learning Support Teacher has been successfully implemented.
Shared-Reading programmes have been satisfactorily completed.