An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



Bofield National School

 Ballina,County Mayo


Uimhir rolla: 14418O


Date of inspection: 3 December 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 Bofield National School was undertaken in December 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 and Mathematics. 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


Bofield National School is situated eight kilometres east of Ballina near the village of Bonniconlon. It is a co-educational two-teacher school that has undergone significant change in staffing in recent years, with all of the current staff having been appointed in the last two years. The local community takes great pride in the school and much credit is due to past and present boards of management for the very high standards of maintenance and presentation of the school. School attendance is very good. The school participates in Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), part of the Department of Education and Science’s programme to alleviate educational disadvantage.


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

This is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of Achonry. Its mission statement states that the school “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 met”. There is evidence that this vision is clearly reflected in daily school activities.


1.2         Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and meets at least once a term. The board and staff are to be commended for the provision of high-quality resources for teaching and learning in the school. Strong effective links exist among the board, staff, parents and the wider community. The board is proud of the central role of the school as a key institution in the local community. Finances are managed carefully and there is a clearly defined system for tracking income and expenditure.


The board stated that it was happy with the way the curriculum is taught and with the achievements of the school’s pupils. In particular, the board noted the history of achievement by past pupils of the school and the high regard in which the pupils are held when they transfer to second-level education.


 1.3         In-school management

The in-school management team consists of the principal and special-duties teacher. The principal, who was appointed in September 2008, has great enthusiasm for his new responsibilities and is keen to discharge them in an effective manner.  He is involved in the Misneach programme for newly appointed principals which will assist him in his new role. The principal promotes a positive school climate.

The special-duties teacher has been appointed in a temporary capacity. She shares the day to day administrative duties with the principal. A culture of co-operation and collaboration prevails, which contributes significantly to the positive, friendly atmosphere that is evident in the school. The openness with which the entire school staff engaged with the evaluation process is particularly praiseworthy. The board is advised to review posts of responsibility regularly to ensure that they meet the changing needs of the school.


1.4         Management of relationships and communication with the school community

A very positive relationship is evident between the school and the local community. The people of the area provided funding to construct an additional classroom for the school. The school also has the use of an indoor handball alley provided by the local community. The parents’ association is very active in supporting the school through fundraising and providing practical help with sports activities. Parent representatives were interviewed as part of the evaluation process and expressed a very high level of satisfaction with the quality of education. Parent-teacher meetings are held annually and written reports on pupils’ progress are provided for parents at the end of each school year.


1.5         Management of pupils

The management of pupils in this school is praiseworthy. High expectations have been established in terms of both behaviour and learning and pupils consistently strive to fulfil these expectations. During the course of the evaluation mutually respectful pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil relationships were evident. A useful code of discipline has been developed, which clearly outlines procedures to be followed in the event of a breach of the code.



2.          Quality of school planning


2.1         Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is fair. Curricular plans for Irish, English, Mathematics, Visual Arts and Social, Personal and Health Education are in the current school plan. Those policies that are available are of a good standard and are specific to the needs of the school. However, there are significant omissions in both the organisational and curricular policies. The school has adopted an action plan to address the development of the school plan. It is advised that this work be undertaken as soon as possible.


All teachers provide long-term and short-term classroom plans and monthly progress records. Currently a commercially produced planning diary is used to record short-term plans and monthly progress records. This limits the detail that can be recorded in terms of learning activities and differentiation.  It is recommended that the staff devise templates for planning and recording that would more closely match the needs of Bofield NS. It is further recommended that teachers differentiate learning targets, resources and activities appropriately for pupils at both ends of the ability spectrum.


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



The teaching of English in this school is of a high standard. An appropriate emphasis is placed on oral-language development. Most pupils can talk about themselves, their interests and their activities fluently and confidently. Pupils in all classes can recite a suitable range of rhymes and poems, many with actions and movement.

Reading is very well taught in this school. Emphasis is placed on developing reading skills and on nurturing a love of reading. This ensures that a high standard of reading is achieved by many pupils, as demonstrated by the most recent standardised testing undertaken in the school. In the middle and senior classes, a wide range of novels is used and pupils can speak knowledgeably about their favourite genres and authors. All classrooms have an extensive range of books in attractively presented libraries. Buddy-reading and shared-reading strategies are successfully implemented. Greater use of large-format books and the language-experience approach would enhance the development of emergent reading skills in the infant classes. 

An appropriate emphasis is placed on the writing process and technology is successfully used to publish the pupils’ completed projects. There are very attractive displays of pupils’ writing in the school lobby. Pupils are encouraged to write in a variety of genres for different audiences. Class work is very neatly presented and regularly corrected by the teachers.


3.2         Mathematics

A useful school plan informs teaching and learning in Mathematics. The standard of achievement in Mathematics is very good and this is reflected in impressive standardised-test results. All classrooms have displays of charts and number-rich environments. An appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of the language of Mathematics and pupils are encouraged to ask questions about topics in Mathematics. Commendably, a mathematical trail has been developed. This type of integrated approach shows pupils how Mathematics is useful throughout the curriculum. A wide range of resources for teaching Mathematics is available in the school, including class textbooks. There is evidence of over-reliance on the textbook for programme and lesson content in some cases. Very good use of technology was observed in the middle and senior classes for both the presentation of topics during class and for the preparation of worksheets appropriate to the ability level of individual pupils. This effective practice is highly commended.


 3.3         Assessment

The quality of assessment is good. Formal procedures are well established in the school to record progress in literacy and numeracy as pupils move through the classes. It is recommended that test results be analysed to assist in programme evaluation and review. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is undertaken in senior infants and the Forward Together programme is provided for those pupils who need it. This early-intervention strategy is highly commended. Very comprehensive records of pupil achievement are maintained. It is advised that the system for the maintenance of these records be streamlined to facilitate data management.  



4.           Quality of support for pupils


4.1         Pupils with special educational needs

The school’s special-education team consists of a shared learning-support teacher and a part-time resource teacher. There is an attractive learning environment in the learning-support and resource room. Both teachers foster a very affirming atmosphere and great care is taken to encourage and motivate their pupils. The quality of the planning and recording done by the special-education teachers is fair. It is recommended that the school agree on a common format that will be used by the special-education teachers for planning and recording. An individual learning programme is completed for each pupil. It is advised that individual education plans (IEPs) be devised for those pupils who have been assessed as having a special educational need, following the procedures outlined in the National Council for Special Education’s publication Guidelines on the Individual Education Plan Process. It is also recommended that greater use be made of diagnostic tests to ensure progress is carefully monitored and recorded.


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

Very effective work is undertaken by the DEIS co-ordinator in this school. Detailed planning, preparation and progress records are maintained. The co-ordinator undertakes the Forward Together programme in the infant classes. Her focus is on Mathematics in the middle classes and on bringing the parents into the school to support the Maths for Fun programme. Very good work is undertaken with the senior classes in social and personal development in preparation for transfer to post-primary education. Close working links have been established with the local agencies that provide support to families in need. Home visits are undertaken successfully.



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.





Published May 2009







          School Response to the Report


Submitted by the Board of Management



Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report


 We the Board of Management welcome this positive report and thank the inspector for the advice given. We were particularly happy that the strengths of the school were noted in the report. We welcome its affirmation of the dedication of all the staff in the school and its recognition of the support and involvement of the parents and community in the running of the school. The board welcomes the recognition in the report that the standard of teaching and learning in the school is of a high standard.



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


 Post evaluation meetings were held with staff and with the Board of Management


The board accepts and appreciates the recommendations of the inspector. In response to the recommendations the Action Plan for planning is being reviewed so as to respond to and address the gaps identified in the Plean Scoile.


Planning in the school now specifically accounts for differentiation in the preparation and teaching of lessons and as curriculum plans are reviewed they will also be modified.


The use of the agreed templates for planning in special education has been adopted and will continue to be used in the school.