An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Templemary National School

Killala, County Mayo

Uimhir rolla: 13758K

 

Date of inspection: 28 February 2008

Date of issue of report:

 

 

 

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 Templemary N.S. 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.  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

 

Templemary National School is a rural two-teacher school, situated five kilometres north of Killala. It is a good school with a dedicated and professional teaching staff. There is a strong culture of close links with the community and a policy of openness and transparency is evident. In 2007 the school participated in the making of a documentary for RTE about the work of the two-teacher school. The building dates from 1891 and although it is well maintained, it is inadequate in size. This poses challenges for the delivery of the Primary School Curriculum. The site itself is approximately half an acre.

 

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

34

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

2

Mainstream class teachers

2

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

1

 

The school participates in Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), an initiative of the Department of Education and Science to address educational disadvantage.

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The school is under the patronage of the Bishop of Killala and espouses a Christian ethos which is evident from the respectful and caring relationships that exist between the pupils themselves and also between pupils and teachers. The vision for the school is of a learning community that encourages the holistic development of pupils.

 

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted. Members of the board, particularly the chairperson, are a visible supportive presence in the school. Members of the board have been allocated various tasks and they show commitment to their roles and carry out their duties very efficiently. It is recommended that the board now consider improving the facilities at the school. The school lacks facilities such as staff toilets, staff room, office space or storage space. It is recommended that the board make an application to the Planning Section of the Department of Education and Science with a view to extending and refurbishing the school building.

 

 

1.3 In-school management

The in-school management team consists of the principal and the special-duties teacher.  The principal is highly commended for his commitment and capacity in leading and managing the school. He promotes a positive school climate. Excellent working relationships exist among the school staff, members of the board of management and parents.

 

The principal is ably assisted in his role by the special-duties teacher and a very positive working relationship is in evidence.  There is effective collaboration on whole-school planning activities.    The enthusiasm and dedication of the in-school management team is to be commended.  

 

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

It is apparent that the school fosters good relations and open communication with the school community. Home-school links are promoted through parental involvement in a range of school activities. Parent-teacher meetings are held annually and written reports on pupils’ progress are provided for parents at the end of each school year.

 

The inspectors met with representatives of the parents as part of the whole-school evaluation process. The parents commented on the openness and welcome afforded to all by the staff. They praised the manner in which the staff provides support for pupils, and especially those with special educational needs.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

The management of pupils in this school is excellent. Relationships between school staff and pupils are very positive. There are very good arrangements in place to support the pupils and to care for them. The school has established useful links with outside agencies.

 

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is good. The plans presented during the evaluation were clear and comprehensive. Plans have been developed for all the curricular areas except Drama. These plans are specific to the needs of Templemary N .S. and reflect the ethos and aims of the school.

 

A wide variety of organisational policies has been put in place. It is recommended that a policy on tackling educational disadvantage be included in the school plan. A strategic plan identifying future priorities has also been devised. The board of management discusses and ratifies all administrative policies prior to their inclusion in the school plan. The school plan is available for parents to consult.

 

The quality of classroom planning is good. All teachers have comprehensive long-term and short-term plans which reflect the principles of the Primary School Curriculum and the school plan. The quality of the support teachers’ planning is to be commended. The detailed, accurate plans to address the special educational needs of pupils are very worthwhile. It is recommended that the classroom teachers provide for differentiation in their planning and teaching.

 

 

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

Gaeilge

Léiríonn na hoidí dícheall, cumarsáid agus iarracht mhacánta grá don Ghaeilge a chothú sna daltaí. Déanann siad iarracht choinsiasach struchtúir na teanga a theagasc agus foclóir na ndaltaí a leathnú. plean cuimsitheach i bhfeidhm agus rinneadh athbhreithniú air le déanaí. Baintear feidhm éifeachtach as drámaíocht, ceistiú, tuairisciú, rince, cluichí teanga, filíocht agus amhráin chun feidhmeanna teanga a chleachtadh agus a dhaingniú. Is léir go mbaineann na daltaí taitneamh as na ceachtanna. Déantar freastal ar an réamh-léitheoireacht agus ar an réamh-scríbhneoireacht. Léann formhór na ndaltaí le cruinneas agus déantar plé ar ábhar na léitheoireachta. Déantar cúram den scríbhneoireacht Ghaeilge agus is léir ó na cleachtaí go bhfuil caighdeán maith á shroichint ag na daltaí. cnuasach deas filíochta curtha le chéile atá in oiriúint do na grúpaí éagsúla agus aithrisíonn na daltaí go beoga é.

Moltar leanúint leis an mbéim a chuirtear ar an dteanga. Moltar tuilleadh béime a leagan ar shaorchomhrá simplí agus ar úsáid nathanna cainte i gcomhthéacsanna úra lasmuigh de chomhthéacs an cheachta fhoirmiúil. Moltar don scoil dul i dteagmháil leis an gClár Tacaíochta don Churaclam Bunscoile chun a thuilleadh feabhais a chur ar an obair.

 

 

Irish

The teachers display diligence, competence and a sincere effort to cultivate a love of Irish among their pupils. They make a conscientious effort to teach the structure of the language and to extend the pupils’ vocabulary. A comprehensive plan, recently reviewed, is in place. Effective use is made of drama, questioning, reporting, dance, language games, poetry and songs to practise and to consolidate language. It is obvious that the pupils enjoy the classes. Pre-reading and pre-writing activities are explored. Most pupils read accurately and discuss the content of their reading. Care is given to written activities and a good standard is achieved by pupils. A good collection of suitable poetry is available for each grouping and the pupils recite with enthusiasm.

It is recommended that the current prominence afforded the language be strengthened. It is recommended that emphasis be placed on the development of simple unstructured conversations and on the employment of common language structures in new contexts outside of the formal language lesson. It is recommended that the school contact the Primary Curriculum Support Programme to further extend the work.

 

English

The teaching of English in this school is of a high standard. Appropriate emphasis is placed on oral communication. A praiseworthy emphasis is placed on the development of pupils’ vocabulary and language on a cross-curricular basis. Pupils at all class levels can recite a selection of rhymes and poems, many with actions and movement.

There is a print-rich environment in all classrooms. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of phonological awareness as part of the foundation of basic reading skills in the junior classes. Emphasis is placed on developing reading skills and on nurturing a love of reading. This ensures that a very high standard of reading is achieved by most pupils, as demonstrated by the most recent standardised testing undertaken in the school.

Writing skills are suitably developed in all classes and pupils are encouraged to write in a variety of genres and for different purposes and different audiences. Class work is presented neatly and corrected regularly by the teachers. It is recommended that greater use be made of information and communications technologies (ICT) in both the writing process and in presenting pupils’ written work.

 

3.2 Mathematics

The standard of achievement in Mathematics is very good and this is reflected in impressive standardised test results. In the infant and junior classes the lessons are well structured and the language of Mathematics is carefully promoted.  The mathematical activities are successfully explored through practical tasks and small-group work is used to good effect. In the middle and senior classes, opportunities to relate Mathematics to real life contexts are explored. Teacher-devised tasks and commercial and standardised tests are used to assess and promote progress in Mathematics.    

 

 

3.3 Social Personal and Health Education

The principal and staff are to be commended on their efforts to create a positive school and classroom environment in which pupils are respected, valued and cared for.  Many aspects of the Social, Personal and Health Education programme are taught effectively in a cross-curricular manner. Pupils are conscientiously guided in developing respectful attitudes towards other people. Affirmation of achievements and delegation of responsibilities further develop the pupils’ self-esteem and confidence.

 

Teachers implement a balanced programme within their classrooms, with regular use of circle time and other appropriate methodologies. A good understanding of health and safety issues is demonstrated by pupils’ answers and in their written work.

 

 

3.4 Assessment

All teachers implement a variety of teacher-designed tasks and tests and pupils’ written work in copies is closely monitored. Standardised attainment tests in literacy and numeracy are administered annually. Very effective monitoring of pupils’ early social and academic progress is undertaken in the infant classes through the use of checklists and criterion-referenced tests such as the Middle Infant Screening Test. It is recommended that the school plan on assessment be revised to reflect this good practice. This will enable the school to maintain high standards in the event of personnel changes. Copies of test results are maintained centrally and by each class teacher. It is advised that files on individual children be maintained to allow for tracking and analysis of progress.

 

Further testing is carried out by special-education teachers, using a wide range of diagnostic tests. Pupils are selected for support teaching in accordance with the staged approach in the Learning Support Guidelines. Very impressive individual education plans (IEPs) indicate pupils’ learning strengths and identify priority learning needs. Parents are invited to meet with special education teachers when these plans are formulated. Class teachers are given copies of the plans. It is recommended that parents be provided with copies of IEPs.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The quality of the support for pupils with special educational needs is very good. The support teaching staff consists of two part-time teachers, both of whom are highly skilled and experienced in special education. It is recommended that consideration should be given to rationalising services so that Templemary N.S. would have its own special education teacher based in the school.

 

The special-needs team approaches its work in a professional manner and has developed positive working relations with the pupils in its care. The programmes of learning focus on the development of language, literacy, numeracy, and social and behavioural skills. A very effective range of teaching strategies is implemented and there is clear evidence of pupil progress. The wide range of teacher-made resources is highly commended.

 

A special-needs assistant (SNA) provides valuable support to an individual child with special educational needs. It is recommended that the school plan outline the role and responsibilities of the SNA. It is further recommended that greater flexibility be used in the deployment of the SNA to ensure that greater independence on the part of the child with special needs is fostered.

 

 

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

At present there are no pupils from minority groups attending the school. Healthy eating is encouraged in the school through the provision of healthy meals for each child at break time every day. The meals are provided with grant aid from the Department of Social and Family Affairs. It is recommended that the school, in consultation with the other four schools in the DEIS cluster, devise a plan to ensure that the best possible use is made of the funding provided under the DEIS scheme.

 


 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

  • The board of management and parent body are supportive of the work of the school.
  • The school has an enthusiastic, professional and committed principal.
  • The staff members are talented and dedicated.
  • There is a positive relationship between teachers and pupils.
  • The quality of support for children with special needs is of a high standard.
  • The school has achieved very good standards in Mathematics and literacy.
  • Teachers successfully use a range of suitable methodologies during lessons.

 

 

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

 

  • It is recommended that the board make an application to the Planning Section of the Department of Education and Science with a view to extending and refurbishing the school building.

·         Moltar a thuilleadh béime a chur ar an nGaeilge mar theanga chaidrimh i rith an lae chun líofacht na ndaltaí a chur chun cinn.

·         It is recommended that the school develop a policy on the deployment of the special-needs assistant.

  • It is recommended that the school review the structure of its provision for pupils with special educational needs, with a view to having one special education teacher serving Templemary N.S. on a full-time basis.
  • It is recommended that parents of pupils for whom individual educational plans have been prepared be given copies of these plans.

 

 

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.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report

 

The Bord of Management of Templemary N.S. accept the WSE document that you forwarded to us, dated the 20th May 2008 for our comments and thank you for doing so.

 

We have just one reservation regarding the recommendations which states “It is recommended that the school review the structure of its provision for pupils with special educational needs, with a view to having one special education teacher serving Templemary N.S. on a full-time basis”

 

The basis for our reservation is that we were faced a number of weeks ago, with a decision about whether or not to accept the present arrangement for the two special education teachers that we have.  In fairness to their “base” schools the decision had to be made quickly.  In the circumstances we thought it prudent, because of the quality of the two special education teachers, to accept the present arrangement for the coming school year.  In the light of your recommendation and possible changing circumstances, we decided that we would review the situation in regard to the special education needs of the school on an annual basis.

 

In every other way we accept the full WSE report without reservation

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published September 2008