An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



                                                                                                                                     Tirelton NS ,

Macroom, County Cork

Uimhir rolla: 13286S


Date of inspection: 25 March 2009





Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils


School response to the report





Whole-school evaluation


A whole-school evaluation of Tirelton N.S. was undertaken in March 2009. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and Geography.  

The board of management of the school was 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


Tirelton N.S. is a three-teacher primary school under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross. It is one of three schools serving the parish of Kilmichael in County Cork. The original two classroom school was constructed in 1887 and extended with Departmental financial assistance in 2004. Current accommodation consists of three classrooms, a staff room/office and a learning support room. The school building and grounds are well resourced and diligently maintained by the board. Plans to re-develop the school toilets to ensure compliance with health and safety and equality legislation have been, necessarily, prioritised in the school strategic development plan.

There are 74 pupils enrolled in the school. Significant growth has occurred in pupil enrolment over a ten year period and this consistent pattern is set to prevail. Attendance rates for pupils are consistently high.

All classrooms are attractive and stimulating environments for learning. Curricular grants from the Department have been effectively used to improve the quality of teaching and learning through focused and appropriate resource provision.

The external areas of the school have been added to significantly over the last ten years. Suitable opportunity for meaningful recreation now exists and there is ample space for further infrastructural development.



The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:




Pupils enrolled in the school


Mainstream classes in the school


Teachers on the school staff


Mainstream class teachers


Teachers working in support roles


Special needs assistants




1.     Quality of school management


1.1   Characteristic spirit, mission or vision


Tirelton N.S.  is described in school literature as, ‘…a co-educational, Catholic primary school which strives to provide a well-ordered, caring, happy and secure atmosphere where the intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and cultural needs of the pupils are identified and addressed.’

The school remains an important focal point in the community it serves and strives to imbue in all pupils a sense of place as well as a pride in and a respect for the traditions and practices of their local area.


1.2 Board of management


The board of management in Tirelton N.S. is properly constituted in accordance with normal procedures and guidelines. Meetings are held regularly and the minutes of each are carefully recorded. These were made available for viewing during the period of the school evaluation as were the audited accounts of the board.

Successive boards are to be commended for their diligence and commitment to the school and their work over the years can be seen in the substantial improvements made to the building and the school grounds. The school grounds are stimulating and child friendly and an attractive bilingual mural, a school garden and a series of external spaces decorated with schoolyard games provide purposeful play opportunities for pupils of all ages. The current board members bring considerable experience and expertise and articulate a clear vision for the school in the locality. All board members work in a spirit of service to their local community and they endeavour to build collegiality and partnership. They expressed unequivocal support for the principal and staff and are satisfied with the general achievement levels of all pupils.

A high level of compliance was observed with statutory and Departmental regulations regarding the length of the school year, length of the school day, and allocation of teachers, class size and the retention of pupils during the period of the whole school evaluation process.


 1.3 In-school management


The principal of Tirelton N.S. has made a significant contribution to the school and to the local community since his appointment in 1995. He has effectively managed the creation of an inclusive, productive and caring environment for teaching and learning and enjoys the support of colleagues and all other partners in the school community. He capably articulates a clear and realistic vision for the school and is outcomes focused.

The deputy principal assists in the day to day running of the school and assumes responsibility for a range of curricular, pastoral and organisational duties in support of agreed school objectives.

Formal staff meetings are held in compliance with Departmental regulations and minutes are recorded.

Though roles and responsibilities are clearly understood by each member of the in-school management team there is an informal emphasis on teamwork and collegiality. All staff members have been effectively empowered by the leadership style and management techniques of the principal to share responsibility and participate fully in the decision-making process.

A part-time school secretary provides valuable assistance to the principal, performing a wide range of clerical and organisational duties in a highly competent manner. One full time special needs assistant contributes positively to the working environment of the school and performs her duties efficiently and professionally.

The school employs a part-time cleaner and standards of cleanliness and hygiene were observed to be satisfactory at the time of the school evaluation


1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community


Tirelton N.S. enjoys the unequivocal support of the local community. Effective lines of communication were observed to exist and the views and contributions of all partners and stakeholders are given appropriate consideration and respect.

Formal parent-teacher meetings are held in compliance with Departmental guidelines and best practice. Relevant information is shared with parents who are regularly informed of the progress of their children. Each parent receives a written report, which includes STEN scores in standardised Mathematics and English tests, at the end of the school year.  A newsletter is published once per term and a school website is used to inform parents of forthcoming events and to celebrate school achievements and successes.

The parent representatives on the board of management were interviewed as part of the whole school evaluation process and they expressed unconditional support for the principal and staff as well as satisfaction with the overall educational provision offered to their children.

All families of school-going children contribute €10 per month to the school which subsidises the annual costs of swimming, traditional music instruction and the provision of a range of suitable resources in support of teaching and learning.

Advice was given to the board with regard to the advantages of further developing relationships with parents through facilitating the formation of an affiliated formal Parents’ Association in line with statutory obligations and best practice.


1.5 Management of pupils


Pupils in Tirelton N.S. are well behaved, courteous and respectful. Teachers are to be complimented for creating a positive caring learning environment which promotes a sense of place, a sense of tradition and a pride in their local community. The school is a well-ordered and managed environment and pupils respond positively to the provision of a broad curriculum in a safe and familiar environment. Pupils display confidence, humour and maturity that is commensurate with their age.



2.     Quality of school planning


2.1   Whole-school and classroom planning


A comprehensive school plan, which provides a context for the work of the school and impacts positively on individual teacher planning, was presented for examination during the course of the whole school evaluation. Led by the principal it was devised through partnership and dialogue with staff, the school board and the general body of parents. The advice of support services personnel has been used in the development of the school plan and all policies are subject to regular review. The board has approved and ratified all school organisational and curricular policies.

Individual teachers prepare long term plans, short term plans and maintain monthly records of progress in teaching and learning in compliance with Rule 126 governing preparation for schoolwork. These plans are grounded in the reality of the revised curriculum for primary schools and show consistency, continuity and progression across the classes.


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



Sonraítear atmaisféar fabhrach don Ghaeilge i scoil náisiúnta Thír Eiltín. Moltar iarrachtaí fiúntacha fhoireann teagaisc na scoile chun suim sa teanga a chothú.

Úsáidtear modhanna múinte spreagúla a oireann do réimse suime na ndaltaí agus déantar sár-iarrachtaí Gaeilge a úsáid ar bhonn chumarsáideach, go laethúil. Sonraítear cumas cainte inmholta i measc daltaí éagsúla. Cuirtear béim chuí ar éisteacht agus labhairt agus eagraítear gníomhaíochtaí scríbhneoireachta oiriúnacha. Forbraítear caighdeán léitheoireachta na ndaltaí go leanúnach ar fud na scoile. 

Moltar don fhoireann leanúint ar aghaidh leis na dea-chleachtais atá in úsáid go dtí seo ach cinnteacht na gcuspóirí foghlama a fhorbairt a thuilleadh.



A favourable attitude to Irish was observed in Tirelton N.S. The worthwhile efforts of the teaching staff to cultivate an interest in the language are to be commended.

Stimulating age-appropriate teaching methods are used and a commendable effort is made to use Irish as a daily means of communication. A praiseworthy standard of communicative ability was observed in certain pupils. Listening and speaking skills are emphasised and appropriate written exercises are organised. The reading abilities of pupils are developed consistently throughout the school.

The staff are advised to continue this good practice and to further refine expected outcomes in relation to stated learning objectives.



English is taught effectively in a systematic, structured and engaging manner in Tirelton N.S. Age-appropriate methodologies are employed and classes were observed to be engaging and purposeful in support of school objectives. An appropriate emphasis on literacy was evident in all classroom settings and general teaching practices are effective. Print rich environments were observed in all classroom settings and standardised test scores indicated satisfactory levels of achievement throughout the school.

Language development is consistently and effectively emphasised in all areas of the curriculum. Pupils are articulate and confident and display thinking and reasoning skills commensurate with their age.

Pupils read with confidence and a wide variety of reading material is available throughout the school and in classroom libraries. Appropriate intervention strategies are used to support pupils with specific literacy needs and purposeful collaboration between class teachers and the support team occurs, regularly.

The quality of observed written work across a wide variety of genres was of a high standard.  Appropriate emphasis is placed on the conventions of grammar, spelling, handwriting and punctuation.

The emphasis on literacy development as a key aspect of independent learning was a consistent and commendable feature of practice at all levels within the school.


3.2 Mathematics

The teaching of Mathematics is facilitated by the availability of a wide range of appropriate resources in Tirelton NS. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of mathematical concepts using active methodologies and pupils are thereby active agents in the learning process.  An appropriate balance between repetitive mechanical operations and the practical application of mathematical knowledge was observed to be a key feature of mathematics classes at all levels within the school. .

Maths classes were carefully structured and incremental. Teachers displayed excellent skills in facilitating purposeful mathematical learning experiences which developed skills, consolidated concept development and promoted mathematical language in an age-appropriate way.

Pupils’ written work demonstrated appropriate levels of achievement and their general competence was impressive. Results of standardised tests indicate appropriate levels of mathematical achievement.


3.3 Geography

In Tirelton NS pupils acquire a broad and balanced understanding of local and world geography through the effective study of people and places. This work is carefully structured in a whole school planning context and in conformity with the principles of the revised curriculum for primary schools.

A range of appropriate teaching methodologies is employed including effective use of the local environment, ICT, and project work. The work is integrated, where possible, and pupils are given appropriate opportunity to work as geographers. Commendable value is placed on the local environment as a starting point in the context of the teaching of Geography and a range of   suitable maps, charts and supportive material is available in all classrooms. There is a breadth and balance to the programme and stimulating and engaging methodologies are effectively employed.


3.4 Assessment


Assessment practices in Tirelton NS are used purposefully to examine the extent to which intended learning outcomes have become actual learning outcomes. A broad variety of assessment practices is used. These include self-assessment, conferencing, questioning, teacher observation, teacher designed tests and standardised tests. Results of standardised tests indicate satisfactory levels of pupil achievement in literacy and numeracy. Diagnostic testing takes place under the direction of the learning support teacher and the Middle Infant Screening Test (Mist) and Belfield tests are used to develop early intervention programmes, where appropriate.

Assessment data are used to prioritise pupils for supplementary teaching and to provide parents and other relevant service providers with a comprehensive view of individual pupil performance.


4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs


Support for pupils with special educational needs in Tirelton NS is provided, under the general allocation model, by two part-time learning support teachers and a resource teacher with a five hour time allocation.  All three posts are based in other nearby schools.

The work of the support team is characterised by purposeful dialogue and collaboration. Roles and responsibilities are clearly identified and individual and group withdrawal arrangements  are the preferred tuition forms.


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 Board of Management of Tirelton N.S. is aware of its role and responsibilities and provides consistent and considered supports to the school.

·         The Principal articulates the agreed vision of the school consistently and is committed to a collaborative vision of instructional leadership.

·         Teachers are professional and committed and the quality of teaching and learning in the curricular areas evaluated was very good.

·         The school is a safe, caring and inclusive environment for learning which mirrors the traditions and expectations of the community it serves.



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, November 2009







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 and the whole school community would like to thank the Inspector sincerely for the professional and courteous manner in which the inspection was carried out.

·         The Board of Management is particularly pleased that the report recognises the happy, caring and inclusive environment of the school and the high standard of teaching and learning taking place.



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

               activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection.  


The Board of Management welcomes the key recommendations of the report and will endeavour to implement them as effectively as possible.