An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa,

Bangor Erris, Ballina, Co. Mayo

Uimhir rolla: 13684H

 

Date of inspection: 8 November 2007

  Date of issue of report: 22 May 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

Conclusion

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Chroí Ró Naofa was undertaken in November 2007. 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 Physical Education. The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

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

81

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

6

Mainstream class teachers

4

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

3

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

The mission statement promotes a ‘love of learning’. This is evident in the broad range of experiences; both curricular and extra-curricular, presented to pupils at all levels. The teachers endeavour to ‘develop confidence, self-esteem, good social skills and knowledge of fundamental Christian moral values’ in their pupils.

 

1.2 Board of management

 

The board is effective in its management of the school. It has devised a comprehensive development plan, which is part of the school’s planning diary. Fundraising and the completion of a building project are the main priorities for this school year. The board promotes valuable parental involvement through a range of activities such as quizzes, sports activities and curricular presentations. The board expressed its pride in the achievements of its pupils.

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The principal is a highly motivated, energetic leader and manager. She has a clear vision for the school and works tirelessly to achieve it. She is very effective in promoting educational debate among her staff. She successfully endorses the planning process to ensure continual school improvement. She is committed to the process of change and manages change in a dynamic and enthusiastic fashion.

 

 

 

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

The school has clear procedures for communicating with the school community. Annual parent-teacher meetings are organised and informative letters are sent home on a regular basis. A school website is being developed. The strengthening of the school’s links with the wider community has been achieved through events such as an annual Grandparents’ Day and presentations by pupils of their Science and History projects.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

The school has an ordered environment where pupils display courtesy and respect in their interactions. Teachers are proactive in promoting positive behaviour. The code of behaviour devised by staff is based on the principles of respect and tolerance. The school’s anti-bullying policy is particularly comprehensive. It provides very clear guidelines for prevention of bullying and clear strategies for dealing with bullying behaviour.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

The quality of whole-school planning is excellent. Adherence to the school development planning process ensures effective use of time for planning. Teachers prepare an annual planning diary highlighting current priorities in curricular, organisational and resource areas. Plans are devised following consultation. The school plan is reviewed on a regular basis, in accordance with the clearly stated review dates of each plan or policy. Teachers are currently producing a booklet for parents containing all the school’s policies, in an effort to promote greater openness between home and school. Some of the finer details of the effective teaching and learning strategies currently used by teachers could be discussed and documented in the school plan.

 

The quality of classroom planning is generally excellent. All teachers produce informative, effective schemes of work. Exemplary use is made of the curricular documents. Teachers generally plan on a weekly basis to ensure greater continuity and progression. Due emphasis is placed on documenting relevant resources, methodologies and assessment procedures. A whole-school approach to planning for differentiation should be discussed to consolidate existing good practice.

 

2.2 Child protection policy and procedures

 

While the school has produced a child protection policy, the board of management has not formally adopted the Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2001) in compliance with the Department of Education and Science Primary Circular 0061/2006. Confirmation was provided that child protection procedures have been brought to the attention of management and school staff. A designated liaison person (DLP) and a deputy DLP have been appointed in line with the requirements of the guidelines. It is recommended that they be named clearly in the school plan.

 

 

 

 

3.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

3.1 Language

 

Gaeilge

Múintear an Ghaeilge go héifeachtach trí ghníomhaíochtaí taitneamhacha. Cothaítear dearcadh dearfach sna daltaí maidir léi. Sonraítear éagsúlacht agus cruthaitheacht sna modhanna teagaisc. Baintear feidhm inmholta as rainn, amhráin agus cluichí teanga chun na daltaí a spreagadh. Úsáidtear réimse d’acmhainní chun comhthéacs cainte a chruthú. Tá saibhreas teanga ag na múinteoirí agus leagtar béim chuí ar Ghaeilge Mhaigh Eo i ranganna áirithe. Moltar béim níos láidre a chur ar obair bheirte chun deiseanna sa bhreis a thabhairt do dhaltaí chun an teanga a labhairt.

 

Tá caighdeán na léitheoireachta ard. Sonraítear neart ábhar léirithe sna seomraí ranga. Léann daltaí go muiníneach agus go cruinn. Múineann cuid de na múinteoirí trí chur chuige foghrach, rud a chuireann go mór le cruinneas na léitheoireachta. Úsáidtear leabhair mhóra agus úrscéalta go héifeachtach.  Tá taithí fiúntach faighte ag na daltaí i raon leathan de thascanna scríbhneoireachta.  Tá scríbhneoireacht na ndaltaí sna hardranganna an-mhaith. Tá taithí ag na daltaí ar eagarthóireacht a gcuid scríbhneoireachta féin agus scileanna eile a bhaineann leis an bpróiseas scríbhneoireachta. Moltar béim bhreise a chur ar shaorscríbhneoireacht i ngach rang.

 

Leagtar béim inmholta ar mhúineadh chultúr na hÉireann. Glacann na daltaí páirt i ndamhsa Gaelach agus damhsa seit. Eagraítear réimse leathan de ghníomhaíochtaí cultúrtha do Sheachtain na Gaeilge gach bliain.

 

Irish

Irish is taught effectively through enjoyable activities. A positive attitude to the language is promoted among the pupils. Teaching approaches are creative and varied. Commendable use is made of rhymes, songs and language games to inspire the pupils. A range of resources is used to create a context for the language class. The teachers have excellent Irish and in some classes an appropriate emphasis is placed on the Mayo dialect. It is recommended that more emphasis be placed on pair work to give additional opportunities to pupils to practise the language.

 

The standard of Irish reading is high. There is an abundance of printed material on display in classrooms. Pupils read confidently and accurately. Some teachers use a phonic approach in Irish, which greatly advances reading accuracy. Large-format books and novels are used effectively. Pupils have been afforded valuable experiences in a wide range of writing tasks. The quality of writing of the pupils in senior classes is very good. The pupils have experience of editing their own writing and of other skills of the writing process. It is recommended that free-writing be promoted to a greater extent in all classes.

 

A commendable emphasis is placed on Irish culture. Pupils engage in Irish dancing and in set dancing. A wide range of cultural events is organised for Seachtain na Gaeilge every year.

 

English

Oral work is taught to good effect in the school. All teachers place an excellent emphasis on poetry. Discrete time is set aside for oral language development. Most teachers promote higher-order thinking skills in these lessons. A good range of resources is used to inspire pupils. Some teachers use the whiteboard or flipchart very effectively to reinforce new vocabulary during these activities. It is recommended that this practice be extended to all classrooms. It is also recommended that more use be made of pair work and group work in oral English lessons.

 

Pupils are reading successfully at all class levels. All classrooms provide a print-rich environment. Reading material is relevant for individual learners, their abilities and their needs. Class libraries are well stocked, with an attractive display of books of different genres. In the junior classes teachers are particularly effective in using big books to teach the conventions of books and to promote interest in reading. In senior classes, novels are well chosen to fit with pupils’ interests and to develop other areas of the curriculum such as History. Teachers should consider a whole-school approach to phonological awareness.

 

Pupils’ writing is carefully displayed in classrooms and in the school corridors. The skills of the writing process are developed effectively by the majority of teachers. Many pupils publish their work using the class computer. Research skills are developed through project work across the curriculum. The staff has identified handwriting as a priority this year and a cursive style has been introduced. It is recommended that pupils are given clear guidelines on the presentation of their work.

 

3.2 Mathematics

 

Pupils are achieving well in Mathematics. Material is carefully structured and sequenced by each teacher. Good use is made of concrete materials. In general, appropriate emphasis is placed on skill development, number facts and use of the calculator. The language of Mathematics is developed through talk and discussion. This area could be developed further through devising a structured whole-school approach to mathematical language and by providing language-rich mathematical displays in each classroom.

 

3.3 Physical Education

 

Physical Education is taught successfully at all class levels. Pupil participation is high and lessons are enjoyable. Equality of opportunity for all pupils is promoted. All teachers provide adequate warm-up and cool down activities. Each strand is taught effectively. Lessons are generally creative and allow pupils opportunities to express themselves physically. Some teachers make excellent links with other areas of the curriculum such as Mathematics, literacy and Gaeilge. It is recommended that Gaeilge be used more widely during Physical Education.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

The school uses an effective blend of assessment procedures across the curriculum. At whole-school level, standardised tests are administered in English and Mathematics, from first class to sixth class. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is administered to pupils in senior infants. Teachers also design their own tests and tasks in different subject areas and record results. There is some excellent practice by some teachers of documenting regular observations of pupil performance across the curriculum. It is recommended that teachers explore and devise ways of assessing subjects other than English and Mathematics on a whole-school level. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

The teaching of the special education team is stimulating and effective. A wide range of resources is available in the school and is used to very good effect. The use of information and communication technologies is particularly effective. It is recommended that teachers place a greater emphasis on pupils discussing their work and their thinking processes as an aid to oral language development. The support teachers work diligently to provide relevant and realistic programmes of work. In general, the individual education plans (IEPs) set out clear targets for each term. It is recommended that the practice of formulating IEPs be extended to include termly reviews with parents and that parents be given a copy of the plan.

 

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

 

A co-ordinator for the programme, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), works in the school for one day each week. The school has a plan laid out to get value from the service. A very good emphasis is placed on early intervention in literacy and numeracy. The co-ordinator takes small groups on a withdrawal basis and also provides in-class support. Home visits are being carried out successfully. Through the scheme, pupils are given many opportunities to participate in cultural and educational programmes. These include visits by specialists to the school. The co-ordinator has established a successful annual céilí mór for Seachtain na Gaeilge. It is recommended that the co-ordinator’s schemes of work be documented clearly to ensure accountability.

 

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas.

 

·         The board of management is very supportive and hardworking in ensuring pupils have a wide range of facilities available to support their learning.

·         The principal shows exemplary leadership and promotes curricular development.

·         The staff is dedicated and hardworking in its implementation of the Primary School Curriculum.

·         The staff engages fully with the school development planning process and is committed to implementing whole-school approaches.

·         All members of staff work consistently to meet the needs of individual pupils. They embrace new approaches and resources to help pupils reach their potential.

·         The school’s key strength is its openness to making changes to practices and procedures that will benefit the pupils.

 

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

 

·         It is recommended that the school formally adopt the Department of Education and Science’s Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2001) and record the names of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and Deputy DLP in the school plan.

·         It is recommended that teachers make more use of pair work and group work in their teaching to promote language development in all subject areas.

·         It is recommended that support teachers involve parents in termly reviews of individual education plans and that parents be given a copy of the plan.

 

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.