An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



SN Pádraig Naofa Renvyle,

Co. Galway.

Uimhir rolla: 14420B


  Date of inspection: 07 November 2007

  Date of issue of report: 22 May  2008





Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils






Whole School Evaluation


A whole-school evaluation of SN Pádraig 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, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.




Introduction – school context and background


This three teacher school is situated in the picturesque Renvyle peninsula overlooking Tully lake some fifty five miles north-west of Galway city and adjacent to Connemara National Park. The influence of this school, with its current and former principal teachers along with colleagues from adjacent schools and in conjunction with community representatives, has had considerable impact on the socio-economic and cultural development of this north-west Connemara region. Together they have transformed a sparsely populated area with traditional high dependence on the State, to a dynamic and vibrant community using education, State and voluntary agencies and self-help principles as their vehicles for development. Education is held in very high regard in the area and parents hold high expectations for their children to participate at all three levels. The provision of education at this school therefore is at a very high level with pupil respect and dignity being central to its modus operandi.


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


Education is valued in this school for itself as well as a purposeful vehicle for both personal and communal development. The principal is a committed hard-working leader who promotes open communication with all the partners and has a clear coherent vision for the future development of the school. She is highly regarded by the board of management, by parents’ representatives and staff and she displays professionalism and leadership in her promotion of school activities. She is to be commended also for her pioneering work in promoting the general development of the area through her active and sustained involvement in community development which she sees as a core responsibility of an educator.






1.2 Board of management[h1] 


The board of management is duly constituted according to article 14 of the Education Act, 1998 and the Rules and procedures of Boards of Management (November2003). Board meetings are well attended. Board members display their commitment and dedication through their voluntary activities, their willingness to share their expertise and their diligence in performing their designated roles. Relevant correspondence, policies and agenda are prepared and distributed in advance of each meeting, records of decisions taken are maintained and financial accounts are certified at the end of the school year. The duration of the Board is now at an end and preparations are in hand to select a new Board as per the requirements of the Education Act 1998.  

The board has provided a range of teaching aids and technological equipment for every classroom. These include information communication technologies (ICT) equipment, as well as classroom libraries and a selection of resources for using in specific curricular areas such as Mathematics, Social and Scientific Education (SESE) Physical Education and Music. These are well used to augment the learning experiences of pupils. The school building is maintained to a high standard and it is cleaned twice a week. The main building dates from 1966 and currently considerable refurbishment to the building and playground is required. It is situated on a sloped site which presents difficulty in developing it adequately. The ground area immediately to the rear of the school however creates health and safety issues for pupils and requires immediate attention.

The Board should ensure that all school buildings and services are available for the current enrolment of pupils.



1.3 In-school management


The in-school management team consists of principal, deputy principal and one grade B post and collectively they respond to the ongoing management of the organisation, welfare and curricular requirements of the school. They operate primarily on an informal basis although formal termly meetings are used to determine policies. Minutes are kept and progress is recorded and a definite structure is identified for implementing decisions. In the current review of the school plan it is important to involve the parents proactively in the process and to have their role formally recorded. During this process, it is also important to review the responsibilities allocated to the posts to include a balance of organisational, pastoral and curricular activities particularly in this current phase of curricular and pedagogical change. The school has made good use of the Primary School Support Service (PSSS) in the review and development of school services over the last number of years. The school staff regularly participates in in-service provision. There is considerable voluntary support available especially for library duties and also for part-time secretarial work.



1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community


Very effective and constructive use is made in this school of the Department of Education Inclusion Scheme (DEIS) programme, through the energy of the shared rural co-ordinator. Parents are currently involved in partnering their children’s education in English and Mathematics as well as organising after school club, fund-raising, field sports, swimming and extra-curricular activities throughout the school year. Parents support all school celebrations such as school concerts, intergenerational day and public activities and they acknowledge the school’s place as the centrepiece of the community.




1.5 Management of pupils


A caring attractive learning environment is evident in the school. Pupils are given a position of partnership in ensuring that the school remains a safe and happy place for all the pupils. The senior pupils are exemplary in their care and support of the junior classes. Interactions between pupils and teachers are very positive and constructive. A considerable emphasis is placed on promoting the intrinsic value of each pupil. The current enrolment of forty six pupils is divided according to class groupings between the two mainstream teachers. The infant to second class grouping is allocated to the substitute teacher and the senior pupils allocated to the principal teacher with even numbers between them. The school has access to a part-time learning-support teacher for eleven hours per week. A part-time secretary provides invaluable support to the school as well as carrying out routine administrative duties.




2.     Quality of school planning


2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning


The process of whole-school planning requires re-structuring in this school to be inclusive of all the partners and collated in a unified format. The existing school plan has been compiled primarily by the two classroom teachers and it contains useful corporate policies for the operation of the school. It has been agreed that elements in the plan now need to be updated and that a more consultative process should be engaged in with all the parties as an integral part of this review process. Areas such as a health and safety audit should take precedence in the organisational areas and pedagogical approaches and differentiated learning strategies should take priority in the curricular areas. An action plan for this activity should be drawn up identifying the personnel involved and a clear time-frame for its conclusion.


Classroom planning is of a long-term and short-term nature, use is made of a wide range of supportive illustrative and concrete resources. Definite investigative opportunities are provided for the pupils to develop their skills as independent learners. Planning by learning support teacher and rural co-ordinator is also of an exemplary nature, with a structured approach to planning relevant activities for different purposes and documenting progress academically, socially and emotionally. 



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[h2] 




Cuirtear béim chreidiúnach ar mhúineadh na Gaeilge sa scoil seo. Is inmholta an úsáid a bhaintear as ócáidí scoile, tionólacha agus deiseanna seachtainiúla comhrá, chun stáitse a thabhairt do na daltaí a ndul chun cinn sa Ghaeilge a léiriú. Déantar leathnú forásach ar chláir teanga na ndaltaí sna naíonáin, baintear úsáid as rolghlacadh, obair beirte, drámaíocht agus grúpobair chun idirchumarsaíd a chothú agus comhghaoltar na téamaí cainte le gnéithe eile curaclaim. Tá na daltaí sna hardranganna ag bordáil líofachta agus iad ag ceistiú agus ag freagairt a chéile. Tá dearcadh dearfach ag na daltaí orthu féin mar chainteoirí agus bíonn siad sásta dul sa tseans ag úsáid frásaí nua le linn ócáidi cumarsáide eatarthu féin.

Úsáidtear an clár léitheoireachta agus scríbhneoireachta mar chláir tacaíochta teanga agus baintear úsáid as sraith leabhair go príomha mar ábhar léitheoireachta sa teanga. B’fhiú anois breis infheistíochta a dhéanamh i leabhair Ghaeilge sna leabharlainn scoile agus breis cláir teanga a sholáthar chun raon taithí na ndaltaí sa teanga a leathnú.




Commendable effort is placed on the teaching of Irish in this school .Excellent use is made of school events to provide pupils with opportunities to positively present their command of the language during assembly times and other school activities. The pupils’ language register is positively extended in the infant section; use is made of role play, and paired interactions, drama, and group work to provide language interactive occasions. The pupils is the senior classes are broaching fluency in their interactive question and answer sessions The pupils have a positive view of themselves as Irish speakers, they interact confidently within a restricted language register and they can extend and vary their learned sequences to new and appropriate circumstances. 

Reading and writing activities are used as supportive learning elements in the language programme. Further investment in appropriate and graded reading materials is recommended for the school libraries, to support the interactive language programme and to extend pupils’ experiences in Irish.





Provision is made for all four curricular strands including developing cognitive ability through the use of language. Basic reading skills are well taught in the junior section through the development of phonemic awareness and whole word sight vocabulary. The school uses a structured reading programme, supported by the use of shared-reading activities and novels and attention is placed on developing strategies to foster pupils’ independent reading by the pupils at an early age. A high standard in reading is attained by almost all pupils and the senior classes frequently engage in independent research through projects and pursuit of personal interest areas.

Pupils are enthusiastic about engaging in various writing activities. Pupils’ work is carefully scaffolded in the junior classes and there are some exceptional examples of personal writing in all the classes. Writing skills are well integrated into most other curricular aspects, pupils’ skills are


developed creatively and consideration is given to presentation and handwriting skills. The pupils experience an extensive programme in story and verse, they engage enthusiastically in creative writing and their work is on display in the very restricted display areas in the classrooms and corridor.



3.2 Mathematics


Due emphasis is placed on using concrete material to support and develop pupils’ understanding. Number concepts are explored in a carefully sequenced programme aided by number line and number charts. Maths-rich environments are promoted in all classrooms and mathematical resources are displayed in mathematics corners. The pupils are afforded regular opportunities to collaborate on tasks and to co-operate in their learning activities. Assessment techniques include teacher observation, teacher designed tests and standardised assessment. Greater emphasis should now be placed on differentiation of tasks during problem solving activities and on the recording and interpretation of assessment results in a sequential manner as a guide for pupil learning.




3.3 Physical Education


Although the gradient of the school site is not conducive to physical education, it is nonetheless developed into three separate play areas with their own unique features. The hard-court is lined for games so that tag-rugby and Olympic hand ball games are routine. The small pitch at the very top of the site is used for practising field sports and both the front play area and the prefabricated building are used by the infant classes and also for dance for all pupils. The pupils participate and enjoy games provision primarily in the physical education programmes, with emphasis on skills development and physical activities as central elements. Physical education with all its inherent strands should now be reviewed in the current school policies review programme and the primary school support service should be used also in this process.



3.4 Assessment


A variety of assessment approaches is used including teacher observation, profiling, diagnostic as well as teacher-devised tests in particular curricular areas. Standardised assessment tests are also used in English and Mathematics. The results are collated on either a class or on an individual basis according to class level. Results indicate the attainment of good standards by the pupils generally. Further analyses of test results could be used to guide differentiated activities and the provision of tailored tasks and learning opportunities for pupils at both ends of the ability spectrum. The close collaboration between mainstream and support teachers is recommended in developing the revised school plan and assessment records should be shared with all the teaching professionals involved in the process. Parents and pupils should also be involved in the revision of individual education plans. End-of-year progress reports on pupils should be supplied to parents on an annual basis.









4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs


An effective co-ordinated developmental learning-support programme is delivered is this school in accordance with the Learning-Support Guidelines (2000) for teachers. A strong collaborative approach is evident through team teaching and different strategies are implemented following the receipt of various professional development courses and tangible support from National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS). Individual learning and teaching programmes are developed in conjunction with class teachers and priority targets are set and monitored for the individual pupil. Pupils frequently experience success in the process and are fully integrated with their peers in a gradual manner. The range of work modules could be extended to include specific modules on developing self-esteem and confidence to complement existing excellent practices.


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


This school provides considerable additional supports to pupils and parents through the wide ranging interventions organised through the DEIS programme. The school has a well structured policy on selected interventions with clear procedures and strategies for supporting focus groups and for communicating with the parent body. These include, pre-school induction, home visits, provision of training and further education opportunities for parents, informal interactions with parents, annual parent-teacher meetings, school notices, induction meetings and concerts. The involvement of parents in the organisation and support of school activities is actively encouraged in the school.


5.     Conclusion


The school has strengths in the following areas:


·         The impact of school personnel on the socio-economic and cultural development of this area over recent decades has been considerable

·         The excellent structures created among the partners help to deliver a comprehensive education service to the school and community


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


·         The upgrading of school building, school yard, amenities and resources should be addressed.

·         School plans should be reviewed to include parental and management inputs, pedagogical practises, roles and duties of posts and physical education.


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 Board of Management are very pleased with the content of the inspection report on the Whole School Evaluation.  The W.S.E. provided the school community with the opportunity to evaluate the present state of education being provided.  We welcome the comments and recommendations of the inspector.  We look forward to building on our strengths and we will continue to endeavour to provide for the needs of every child in our school community.





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



·         Upgrading of the school yard is in the process of being completed.

·         Roles and duties of posts have been reviewed

·         School plans are being reviewed




 [h1]Insert blank line after each of the sub headings. I have only done this for this heading – you need to repeat throughout the document.

 [h2]Note changes to language section.