An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



Clonigulane National School

Kilmihil County Clare

Uimhir rolla:  13351D


Date of inspection: 12 February 2008




Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils


School Response to the Report




Whole-school evaluation

A whole-school evaluation of Clonigulane National School was undertaken in February 2008. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE). 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.


Introduction – school context and background

Clonigulane National School is a two-teacher, co-educational rural school situated approximately three miles north-east of the town of Kilmihil in West Clare. It is under the patronage of the Catholic bishop of Killaloe and it promotes an inclusive Catholic ethos. There is a history of educational provision in this area from the 1830s and the present school was built in 1888.


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



This school gives very good service to the pupils attending and it plays an important role in the local community. The numbers attending this school have declined from 27 pupils in the year 2000 to a current enrolment of 11 pupils. Seven of these pupils are enrolled in third class. There is a danger that this school may no longer be viable in the near future unless there is an improvement in enrolment numbers.


1.     Quality of school management


1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The aim outlined in the mission statement of this school is to “provide a challenging, yet supportive environment in order to stimulate, maintain and develop a lively, enquiring mind in pupils”.  The school achieves this aim by ensuring that there is a warm, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere in evidence throughout the school. The pupils receive individual attention which appropriately facilitates all pupils in developing their talents. The school further develops its vision by providing excellent resources and play facilities for the pupils.


1.2 Board of management

 The board of management is very supportive of all aspects of school life. It is properly constituted and specific tasks are allocated to board members. The board provides appropriate resources for teaching and learning and it maintains the school’s facilities to a high order. The board is complimented on the provision of the playing field attached to the school and on its plans to further develop the remaining lands attached to the school by planting a variety of trees and shrubs. The board is in a good financial position. The board takes an active part in the review and in the development of the school plan. The board is concerned about the decline in numbers.



1.3 In-school management

The in-school management team consists of the principal and special duties post-holder. Both teachers have held these posts for some time. They work very closely together and a very good team spirit is in evidence. The principal carries out all of his duties diligently and he displays very good leadership skills in the development of school planning, in fostering positive communication links with parents and in the enhancement of school facilities. In all of these matters he is ably assisted by the special duties post-holder. 


1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Communication within the school community is good. The parents’ representatives on the board of management praised the openness and approachability of the teachers. They reported that all parents are free to discuss pupil-related matters with the teachers at any time. Formal parent-teacher meetings are held once a year and written annual reports are furnished to parents. The school calendar is sent home regularly and parents are kept informed of all school-related activities through regular information notes and bi-annual newsletters.


1.5 Management of pupils

Pupils in this school are very well behaved at all times. They willingly engage in the learning process during lessons and answer all questions enthusiastically. The pupils are well-mannered and they show respect for their peers, teachers and all visitors to the school. The pupils take very good care to include others in their games and activities.


2.     Quality of school planning


2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is good. A very wide range of curricular and administrative policies has been prepared by the teachers and all policies have been ratified by the board of management. Parental input to policy formation is made through their representatives on the board of management. Copies of all policies are available for viewing by parents in the school. It is recommended that parental input is expanded. It is recommended that the school’s enrolment policy should be amended in order to ensure that it meets with the criteria as set out in the Equal Status Acts 2000-2004.


The quality of classroom planning is satisfactory. All teachers diligently prepare for their lessons.  Long-term and short-term planning is available and monthly progress records are maintained. These plans show that a broad and balanced curriculum is taught in the school. It is recommended that the teachers should review their long-term planning in order to further take into consideration the small number of pupils and the small number of classes in the school. This planning should focus more on the needs of the individual pupils. The teachers should also include in their short-term planning a reference to the range of resources, teaching methodologies and assessment procedures intended to be used.


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



 Múintear an Ghaeilge go taitneamhach, spraíúil  sa scoil seo agus tá caighdeán maith bainte amach ag na daltaí. Tá timpeallacht Ghaelach á chruthú sna seomraí ranga tríd na taispeántais Ghaeilge. Tugtar go rialta faoi na snáitheanna uile. Forbraítear an teanga le modhanna díreacha a chothaíonn tuiscint, cruinneas agus cumas labhartha. Tá na páistí in ann ceisteanna a chur agus a fhreagairt agus in ann orduithe a thuiscint. Tá  raon leathan de rainn agus dánta ar eolas ag  na daltaí. Baintear leas an-tairbheach as an nGaeilge mar theanga bhainistíochta ranga.  Léann na daltaí le brí agus pléann siad ábhar na léitheoireachta go han-chumasach. Déantar tascanna scríbhneoireachta feidhmiúla agus cruthaitheacha go rialta. Déanann na hoidí measúnú oiriúnach ar dhul chun cinn na ndaltaí sa Ghaeilge.



Irish is taught in a pleasant lively manner in this school and the pupils have achieved a good standard. An Irish ambience is created in the classrooms through the use of Irish displays. All strands are developed regularly. The language is developed through direct methods that sustain understanding, accuracy and oral language competency.  The pupils are able to pose and answer questions and to understand instructions. The pupils can recite a wide range of rhymes and poems. The use of Irish as the language of instruction is very beneficial. The pupils read with meaning and they debate the subject matter in a very capable manner. Both functional and creative writing tasks are engaged in regularly. The teachers carry out appropriate assessment on the progress of pupils in Irish.



The standard of English in this school is very good and pupils are achieving at or above expected levels of competency in all aspects of English. Standardised tests’ results in English are very high. Language acquisition is ably promoted in the junior room and the pupils engage in talk and discussion very regularly with their teacher. The pupils can also recall and recite a wide range of rhymes and poems. In the senior room the pupils are encouraged to speak on a range of topics and the level of debate observed is of a very high order. During discussions the pupils use a wide and varied vocabulary and they express their thoughts and opinions appropriately.  


The standard of reading is very good. There is a print-rich environment in evidence in all classrooms. In the junior classes the pupils are making very good progress in acquiring the skills of reading. Very good care is taken to enable pupils to develop a range of reading strategies which they use appropriately to self-correct reading errors. Good use is made of the school library and of large-format books during lessons. In the senior classes there is very good use made of a variety of texts including novels, stories, poems, myths and legends to enable pupils to become independent readers. Pupils can discuss and support their arguments on characters and plots by reference to the texts being read. Comprehension skills are also well developed.  


The pupils’ writing skills are very well developed and all pupils are encouraged to write in different genres. Pupils are encouraged to compose their own poetry, develop their skills of description and express their thoughts in a logical manner.  The standard of handwriting is good and there is some good use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) during the writing process. Care is also taken to develop the pupils’ knowledge and use of grammar and syntax.     


3.2 Mathematics

The standard in Mathematics in this school is very good. All strands of the curriculum are well developed. Pupils have acquired a fundamental knowledge of mathematical applications and they display a very good understanding of mathematical concepts. These skills are applied appropriately during problem-solving exercises. There is very good use of concrete materials during lessons and mathematical problems are often based on practical everyday contexts. Pupils use appropriate mathematical language when discussing problems and they record the results in a structured written format.


3.3 Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

All aspects of the SPHE curriculum are well developed in this school. A school plan is in place for SPHE and the school is currently reviewing its Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) policy. Very good use is made of a range of resources including Walk Tall, Bí Folláin and RSE programmes to develop the aims and objectives of the SPHE curriculum. Aspects of each strand of the curriculum are delivered on a yearly basis with emphasis on the strands Myself and Myself and Others. It is recommended that the strand Myself and the Wider World receives greater emphasis. The strand units of the SPHE curriculum are delivered over a two-year period. All classes receive appropriate discrete time for SPHE and there is good integration of the programme with other curricular areas. The inclusive atmosphere in this school is very supportive of this curricular area and all matters of a sensitive nature are dealt with in an open and responsive way. The lessons observed promote interpersonal development and enable pupils to recognise, understand and accept themselves as unique individuals who feel valued and respected. Very good use is made of talk and discussion, debate and play during lessons. Assessment is mostly through teacher observation and the use of workbooks. It is recommended that the teachers expand the range of assessment modes in use.


3.4 Assessment

A range of assessments is used successfully in this school. The main assessment strategies used are teacher observation, teacher-designed tasks and the regular correction of homework. Standardised testing in English and Mathematics is carried out annually from second class upwards. Records of assessment are maintained and the results of these assessments are discussed with parents at the annual parent-teacher meeting and at other times if it is felt necessary. The results of this testing appropriately influences the lessons and the tasks set for the pupils. It is noted that pupils are developing well across all areas of the curriculum. 



4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

A learning-support teacher attends this school four days a week for a total timeframe of five hours. The learning-support teacher gives support, on a withdrawal basis, to three pupils in four different groupings in English and Mathematics. Individual Profile and Learning Programmes (IPLPs) are in place for these pupils. It is recommended that the targets outlined in these profiles should be more specific. It is recommended that there should be a review of the learning-support provision within the present cluster to ensure that the emphasis remains on providing assistance to those pupils with the greatest level of need.



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

Funding is granted to the school through the programme Giving Children an Even Break to address the needs of disadvantaged pupils. All monies received from this scheme are spent appropriately to enable the optimal participation of pupils in the teaching and learning  process.



5.     Conclusion

The school has strengths in the following areas:



The following key recommendations are made in order to further improve the quality of education provided by the school:



Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and the board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.






School Response to the Report


Submitted by the Board of Management




Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report


The WSE of our school was a positive experience with worthwhile observations and recommendations being made by the inspectorate.  We would like to thank the inspectorate for the manner in which the WSE was carried out.



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


As a result of the WSE a review of the enrolment policy by the Board of Management has taken place.  The Principals of the two schools concerned have re-allocated the learning support hours to allow maximum assistance to the pupils with greatest need.





Published June 2008