An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Chríost Rí

Enniscrone, County Sligo

Uimhir rolla: 13940W

 

Date of inspection: 30 April 2009

 

 

 

 

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 Scoil Náisiúnta Chríost Rí, Enniscrone was undertaken in April, 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 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

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Chríost Rí is located on a three-acre site in the seaside resort of Enniscrone, Co. Sligo. In 2008, the school celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. This Catholic co-educational school is led by a proficient principal and involves itself in activities such as the Green Schools Programme. It engages in a range of sports and supports many charitable organisations. This is a a progressive school where information and communications technology (ICT) is well advanced. A website has been developed and is updated by the in-school management team. The school enjoys the support of the local community, the recent response to the fundraising campaign to raise funds to replace the roof on the school being just one example of this.

 

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

105

Mainstream classes in the school

4

Teachers on the school staff

5

Mainstream class teachers

4

Teachers working in support roles

1

Special needs assistants

1

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

Scoil Náisiúnta Chríost Rí is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Killala. There is a strong sense of community in the school which is nurtured by the collegial board of management and the collaborative teaching staff. The school’s mission statement outlines its commitment to education in a caring environment and the commitment to caring for others through events such as the annual visitation by the pupils to the local nursing home. In this regard, the contribution of the school secretary to creating a warm, welcoming ambiance along with her kindness to staff, pupils and visitors are worthy of the highest commendation.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and operates very efficiently. It invests significantly in educational resources and has supported the development of ICT. Its decision-making procedures are open and transparent. The board members are committed to collegiate whole-school planning. The board complies with Department of Education and Science regulations and requirements. The board members give continued dedicated support to all school activities. They have enthusiastically overseen many maintenance projects and, more recently, the development of the junior playground. The upkeep of the school is a priority for the board and its present high standard of maintenance is a tribute to the dedicated caretaker. The key role played by the committed chairperson in promoting the school ethos and his visible presence in the school are valued by the staff and pupils. The main strengths of the board are the generosity of the time the members dedicate to their duties, the experience of its members, the good communication that exists between the partners in education and the board’s support for the local community.

 

1.3 In-school management

The principal teacher performs her teaching and administrative duties with dedication and she promotes the development of the school with enthusiasm. She has shown great commitment to the creation of a vibrant learning community within the school. The quality of the principal’s empowering leadership is a key strength of the school. She has established and maintained a collaborative working culture with all of the educational partners. She has proven herself to be  inspirational to the staff who work willingly with her in a collegial manner. She is committed to the promotion of hospitality and openness within the school.

 

Members of the in-school management team carry out their duties diligently. It is recommended that the curricular aspects of the posts of responsibility be reviewed annually to reflect the school’s chosen priorities for the year. All staff members undertake tasks willingly and co-operatively for the benefit of the pupils. The staff members are committed professionals who enjoy the goodwill and support of parents.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Communication is very good in this school. Newsletters are disseminated regularly. Parents are actively involved in a fundraising committee and support all activities. The parents on the board of management liaise with the general body of parents. The school participates in many community initiatives such as the community games, the Tidy Towns committee’s national spring clean, the Gaelic Athletic Association’s coaching scheme, the Shoebox appeal  and the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in the town. There is a strong sense of belonging to the Enniscrone community within the school.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

The pupils are valued members of the school community, are very well behaved and interact respectfully with staff, fellow pupils and visitors. The senior pupils partake daily in the school warden scheme and this dedication is acknowledged. The pastoral care of pupils is managed sensitively and effectively through a commendable SPHE programme. Supervision rotas are managed consistently. It is recommended that the yard supervision policy be reviewed, with a view to reducing the play area, to ensure that  pupils are more easily supervised by the teacher on yard duty.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1  Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is very good. School policies are devised collaboratively by the staff and, commendably, they follow the School Development Planning Support (SDPS) guidelines. The policies are then discussed, clarified and ratified by the board. Target dates for reviewing policies are included. The majority of the policies are of a very high standard. Copies of relevant policies are disseminated to parents. A praiseworthy planning diary has guided the school’s planning over the years. Policy formation has been managed very effectively and planning goals have been admirably achieved. Some curricular policies need a degree of modification, as discussed at the post evaluation meeting. For instance, the Irish policy needs to include the order in which grammar and verbs are taught throughout the school. The mathematics policy needs further reference to linkage and differentiation. The partners are commended on the overall quality of the formulation and the content of the school policies.

 

The quality of classroom planning is commendable. All teachers prepare comprehensive long-term and short-term planning in preparation for their work. Consideration should be given to the use of a common template for short-term planning and for the recording of work completed at the end of the month. It is recommended that teachers plan for further differentiation and for more pair work. The teachers create a wide range of learning experiences and plan an integrated programme of work.

 

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

Tá béim faoi leith ar na feidhmeannna teanga agus ar fhoclóir nua a mhúineadh sa scoil. Tá suim na ndaltaí le sonrú i bhformhór na ranganna. Stiúrtar idir chluichí, cheistiú, chomhráite réamhdhéanta, rólghlacadh, amhránaíocht agus aithriseoireacht le cumas. Tá gá le níos mó obair bheirte a chleachtadh. Baineann fuinneamh, cinnteacht agus éagsúlacht leis an teagasc i gcoitinne. Tá rainn agus amhráin ar eolas ag na daltaí sna ranganna go léir. Baineann na daltaí taitneamh agus tairbhe as na cluichí teanga. Cíortar ábhar na léitheoireachta go hoiriúnach. Léirítear ard-chaighdeán i saothar scríofa na ndaltaí sna hardranganna. Tá físeán féin-deartha ag na daltaí sa seomra seo agus is inmholta an obair atá déanta. Moltar athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an bpolasaí Gaeilge chun clár leanúnach a leagadh síos don ghramadach, do scríbhneoireacht chruthaitheach, don léitheoireacht agus do na briathra a mhúineadh sa scoil. Chuirfeadh sé seo le leanúnachas foghlama ar fud na scoile. B’fhiú ábhar eile a mhúineadh trí mheán na Gaeilge. Is féidir téarmaíocht sa Stair nó sna hAmharcealaíona a mhúineadh trí Ghaeilge.

 

Irish

There is a particular emphasis on the teaching of the language functions and on new vocabulary in the school. The interest of pupils in Irish is apparent in most of the classrooms. Games, questioning, pre-prepared conversations, role-play, singing and recitation are ably directed. There is need to develop further pair work. Overall, there is energy, certainty and variety in the teaching observed. Pupils in all classes know poems and songs. They benefit from and enjoy language games. The reading content is appropriately discussed. There is a high standard in the written output in the senior classroom. Pupils in this section have produced their own video in Irish, which is commendable practice. It is recommended that the Irish policy be reviewed to include a sequential approach to the teaching of grammar, creative writing, reading and verbs. This would help with the continuity of learning across the school. It would be worthwhile to teach another subject through the medium of Irish. For example, one could teach terminology in History or in the Visual Arts.

 

English

The quality of teaching and learning in English is very good. Lessons are very well implemented. Role-play, games and brainstorming are employed successfully to develop oral language skills. Poetry, grammar and spelling are all very well developed. Teachers make very good use of the flipchart, ICT and videos to support teaching and learning. There is a distinct emphasis on oral language development, which is worthy of commendation. Guided school trips and visits to the school by a visiting environmental officer provide other valuable oral language development opportunities for the pupils. The pupils engage in many commendable projects, such as the project on Lagos in Africa. This approach facilitates the development of skills in oracy, reading and writing.

 

The school organises an annual book fair and it is reported that this event is well supported by parents. Class libraries are suitably stocked and all of the classrooms display print-rich environments. The provision for pre-reading in the school and the early-intervention measures implemented in the school are highly praised. Very positive reading standards are in evidence in the school, with large-format books, reading schemes, shared reading events, class novels and silent reading activities being effectively employed. Overall, reading lessons are very well taught, with a noteworthy emphasis on skill development. 

 

The pupils are commendably exposed to writing in a variety of genres. The standard of their output is commendable. They participate in sponsored handwriting competitions with success. Ample writing opportunities are provided for them across the various curricular areas. ICT is successfully used in classes to promote writing process activities. The pupils also participate in the local education centre’s Write-a-Book Project.

 

3.2 Mathematics

Lessons in Mathematics are well-structured. There is a praiseworthy degree of accuracy and understanding evident in the oral and written responses of the pupils. The development of mathematical language is given due emphasis. There was very good use of concrete materials and activities in most lessons observed. Teachers employ a range of active teaching methodologies that that give opportunities to the pupils to engage in games, ICT and target boards during lessons. It was noted that in some cases, the supplies of concrete materials require augmentation. The pupils’ problem-solving abilities are being developed but need to be progressed further throughout the school. Tables are consistently taught and neatness is promoted in written activities. There was noteworthy evidence of the pupils in the senior classes integrating their learning with the local environment. It is recommended that mathematics trails be developed to promote linkage and the use of the environment in all classes.

 

3.3 Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

SPHE is very well taught as a subject throughout the school. Lessons are very well paced and structured and facilitate group work through focused talk and discussion. The pupils’ existing knowledge is used as a starting point in the learning and the teachers use incisive questioning. Talk and discussion is complemented by a range of active-learning methodologies including story, circle time, use of pictures, photographs and writing and drawing activities.

 

The SPHE programme is delivered in the context of an observable positive school climate where the self-esteem of pupils is enhanced through effective inclusion measures. Respect is fostered and diversity is valued. Pupils from other countries are immersed very well in the school. The middle classes are participating in a Dissolving Boundaries Project which develops effectively principles of good citizenship through a collaborative project with schools in the North and the South. The effective use of ICT in this project has been instrumental in its success. The school has been involved in a Comenius project where the school worked on a combined project with schools in Europe. The school promotes the involvement in community competitions and participates in many projects and trips to give the pupils a broad and balanced education.

 

3.4 Assessment

Pupils’ progress is assessed on a systematic basis. Sigma-T and Micra-T standardised tests are administered in Mathematics and English to pupils in first to sixth classes each year. The results are recorded and carefully analysed to identify the pupils who require supplementary teaching. The overall attainment of pupils is very good. Annual progress records are sent to parents and parent-teacher meetings are convened once a year. Teacher observation, checklists, work samples, portfolios, teacher-designed tests and weekly spelling tests are the most common forms of commendable assessment records maintained by class teachers.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The quality of provision for pupils requiring supplementary teaching is very good. The school’s comprehensive learning support policy gives clear direction in relation to provision for pupils with additional educational learning needs. A full-time learning support/resource teacher and a part-time learning support/resource teacher based in a neighbouring school provide intensive, quality sessions for the pupils in their care. The teachers are dedicated and conscientious. Provision is planned and co-ordinated making best use of expertise and material resources. The teachers focus on the development of language in both English and Mathematics. The pupils are identified early through the administration of the Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST). A specific programme is tailored to address the needs of those pupils requiring supplementary teaching. A wide range of resources, appropriate to the needs, abilities and interests of the pupils are used judiciously to support learning. Very effective individual education plans (IEPs) and individual pupil learning profiles (IPLPs) are drawn up, as appropriate, for all those pupils receiving additional supports. At the end of an instructional term the programme is evaluated thoroughly and modified accordingly. Accurate records of achievement are maintained. The special needs assistant works successfully under the direction of the class teacher. She attends carefully and diligently to the care needs of the pupils to whom she is assigned.

 

Withdrawal is the most common approach used by the personnel in delivering support. At present, Mathematics is very well supported in the withdrawal sessions and the pupils are making very good progress. However, it is recommended that the greater opportunities for in-class support be investigated. Consideration might be given to using collaborative mathematics trails to support teaching and learning.

 

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

A part-time language support teacher provides dedicated, intensive support in a caring learning environment. Activities are organised purposefully to meet the needs of each child in her care. Very good use is made of pictures, games and interactive learning to support the pupils’ learning. A commendable integrated programme for pupils is provided. The language teacher supports the work of the classroom teacher, prepares work in advance for the pupils and at times revises the material covered in class. This collaboration is praiseworthy practice and, consequently, the pupils are making laudable progress.

 

 

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:

 

(It is recommended that the Irish policy be reviewed to include a sequential approach to  the teaching of grammar, creative writing, reading and verbs).

 

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 January 2010

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

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 staff of Scoil Chríost Rí, Enniscrone, thank the Department of Education and Science inspector for the courteous and professional manner in which she carried out the Whole School Evaluation. We are particularly pleased that the report acknowledges the “warm, welcoming, collaborative school culture” that exists in Scoil Chríost Rí; the dedication and commitment of the principal and staff; our commitment to the wider community and the high standards of learning that are being achieved.

 

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