An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Killea BNS,

Dunmore East, Co. Waterford

Uimhir rolla:  14568K

 

Date of inspection: 6th March 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

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Killea BNS was undertaken in January 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 Physical Education. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

Killea BNS is located on the outskirts of the seaside and fishing village of Dunmore East in Co. Waterford. The school is under the patronage of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. 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

109

Mainstream classes in the school

4

Teachers on the school staff

6

Mainstream class teachers

4

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

2

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

Killea Boys’ National School is a Catholic primary school which aims at promoting the full and balanced development of all aspects of the child as a person; intellectual, physical, cultural, moral and spiritual, including a loving relationship with God and other people. The school vision is that each child feels secure and content and that they will develop into well-adjusted individuals who will succeed in life and actively contribute to the wider community.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and generally meets on a monthly basis. Members of the board have taken on specific roles such as treasurer, assistant treasurer, secretary, maintenance officer and fundraising officer, and duties are carried out with dedication and efficiency. Minutes are maintained at each meeting and a financial report is provided. The board of management maintains regular links with the parent body, especially with regard to finance issues. Accounts are audited and a copy of annual accounts is made available to the parents’ association and to parents who request it. A number of minor maintenance projects have been undertaken over recent years including the refurbishment of the toilets under a summer works scheme, replacement of the heating system and the partitioning of a small general purpose room to provide accommodation for the resource teacher as well as a computer room. Much maintenance around the school has been carried out on a voluntary basis by parents. Some members of the board of management are asked to read over policies and plans prior to ratification. This process should now be developed further to ensure that all board members are clear on the content of policies and plans.

1.3 In-school management

The in-school management team comprises the principal, the deputy principal and one special duties post. The principal has given loyal service to the school both as a teacher for many years and as principal since 2004. She carries out her duties with dedication and efficiency and is committed to school improvement and to the provision of a safe, healthy and clean school for all pupils. She has led school planning activities effectively and enables the full participation of all members of staff in the process. The duties of the deputy principal and special duties post holder include responsibility for the roll books, the Green Schools Committee, special needs education and management of ICT. Members of the management team meet after school on a daily basis to discuss issues, to share advice and to make decisions regarding the daily running of the school. This arrangement is proving very effective and shows the dedication of the members involved. It is now advised that the duties of all post-holders should be reviewed to include curricular, organisational and pastoral care duties. In this way, coordination roles for curricular areas can be assigned to evaluate current provisions and to further develop particular subject areas. These duties should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are in line with school needs.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Good links exist between the school and the parent body. The school has an active parents’ association offering noteworthy support to the school. Members organise regular fundraising activities to help with school funding and provision of resources. They also help with the running of the annual sports day, provide transport to school matches and assist with maintenance around the school. The representatives of the association also reported that they are asked to input into certain policies and plans. Regular newsletters are compiled by the school and distributed to parents with the assistance of the parents’ association. This is a very positive means of communication for the school. Parent teacher meetings are held on an annual basis to discuss the progress of pupils but parents are aware that they are welcome to meet teachers at any stage during the year.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

During the course of the evaluation, pupils were very courteous and mannerly at all times. They engaged in discussions and answered questions confidently. It was evident that pupils are proud of their school and have respect for all members of staff. Pupils engaged well in the lessons observed and this contributed to the creation of positive learning environments in the classrooms. 

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is very good. Policies are generally drafted by the principal and the teachers, and following this they go through a consultative process where they are discussed with parent and board of management representatives. It is advised that the code of behaviour and the anti-bullying policy be reviewed to ensure that they are in line with the guidelines issued by the National Educational Welfare Board. The enrolment policy should also be reviewed to ensure that it complies with equality legislation. Curricular plans have been well developed for most subject areas. The plans for English, Mathematics and Irish provide evidence of some key decisions taken by the teachers regarding the development of many aspects of these programmes. This work is valuable and efforts should continue to ensure that these are being fully implemented in the classrooms. The plan for Physical Education (PE) was finalised following input from the Waterford Sports Partnership, the GAA development officer and the FAI development officer.

 

All teachers prepare commendably for their teaching and provide long-term and short-term plans. A common template is in use for short-term planning. However, this should be kept under review to ensure that it is of use to teachers and that it guides the implementation of the curriculum rather than simply recording the content to be covered in each subject. This document also acts as the cuntas míosúil (monthly report) and these are collected and stored centrally in the school by the principal.

 

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 cleachtas maith i leith múineadh na Gaeilge sa scoil. Tá béim ar scileanna éisteachta i roinnt ranganna ach moltar do gach oide gníomhaíochtaí a úsáid chun na scileanna seo a fhorbairt go céimniúil. Tá béim ar rainn agus ar fhilíocht shimplí i ranganna na naíonán agus sna bunranganna. Cé go bhfuil liosta de dhánta do gach rang sa phlean scoile, ba chóir féachaint ar chur i bhfeidhm an phlean seo agus an fhilíocht a chur chun cinn a thuilleadh sa scoil. Bíonn deiseanna cainte ag na daltaí i ngach rang agus baineann siad lán-taitneamh as na gníomhaíochtaí difriúla. Moltar gan mhodh an aistriúcháin a úsáid agus an rang go léir a stiúradh trí Ghaeilge. Moltar chomh maith a thuilleadh d’ábhar léirithe agus nithe concréiteacha a úsáid leis na daltaí óga chun cabhrú leo an teanga nua a thuiscint. I roinnt ranganna, cruthaítear drámaí beaga bunaithe ar scéalta simplí agus bíonn na daltaí páirteach iontu go fonnmhar. Is éifeachtach an cleachtas seo. Sna bunranganna, tá an-bhéim ar scileanna réamh-léitheoireachta agus tosnaítear ar scileanna léitheoireachta a fhorbairt le scéalta cumtha ag an oide agus leabhair scéalta. Úsáidtear an téacsleabhar chomh maith chun cleachtadh a thabhairt. Úsáidtear úrscéalta simplí leis na daltaí sna meánranganna agus sna hardranganna chun iad a spreagadh agus chun suim a mhúscailt. Moltar an dea-chleachtas seo a fhorbairt a thuilleadh fós agus réimse de leabhair a chur ar fáil as Gaeilge i ngach seomra ranga. Sna bunranganna, tosnaítear ar an scríbhneoireacht leis an nuacht a scríobh go rialta leis na daltaí. Sna meánranganna agus sna hardranganna, tá an scríbhneoireacht bunaithe don chuid is mó ar chleachtaí sna téacsleabhair agus ar fhocail a chur in abairtí. Moltar an scríbhneoireacht a fhorbairt a thuilleadh sa scoil agus seans a thabhairt do na daltaí scríobh faoi rogha d’ábhair agus éagsúlacht thascanna a chruthú dóibh. Ba chóir plean forbartha a chruthú chun scríbhneoireacht a fhorbairt ar bhonn céimniúil sa scoil.

 

Irish

There is good provision for the teaching of Irish in the school. There is an emphasis on listening skill in some classes but all teachers are advised to use activities to develop these skills systematically. There is an emphasis on rhymes and poetry in infant and junior classes and some poetry work is undertaken in middle and senior classes. While a list of poetry for each class is included in the school plan, the implementation of this plan should be examined and Irish poetry should be further promoted in the school. In all classes, pupils are given opportunities to converse and pupils very much enjoy the activities. It is advised not to use translation and to conduct the entire class through Irish. It is also advised that extra visual and concrete materials be used with the younger pupils to help them to understand the new vocabulary. In a few classes, little dramas are created based on simple stories and pupils participate in these enthusiastically.  This is effective practice. In junior classes, there is a major emphasis on the development of pre-reading skills and teachers start to develop reading skills through use of stories composed by the teacher as well as story books. The textbook is also used to give practice. Simple novels are used with pupils in middle and senior classes to inspire the pupils and arouse interest. This should be developed further and a variety of books should be made available in Irish in all classrooms. In junior classes, written work begins with pupils writing the news regularly. In middle and senior classes, written work is mainly based on activities in textbooks as well as putting words in sentences. It is now advised that written work should be further developed in the school and opportunities should be provided for pupils to write about a range of topics and undertake a variety of tasks. A plan should be developed to ensure the progressive development of writing throughout the school.

 

English

The quality of provision for English is generally good throughout the school. Oral language skills are developed in a number of ways. In junior classes, there is clear emphasis on the development of discrete oral langauge objectives and a variety of strategies are used effectively. Teachers at all levels should now plan for lessons based on discrete oral language objectives on a weekly basis as oral langauge skills development would benefit all pupils. While the school plan encourages the memorisation and recitation of poetry, it is an area that needs further development in middle and senior classes to ensure that the plan is implemented effectively.

 

There is a strong emphasis on the promotion and development of literacy in the school and many school-based initiatives focus on this area. These include a well-stocked school library, an annual book fair and weekly paired reading sessions throughout the school. The provision of adequate supplies of suitable reading material for all levels is a challenge but it is important that all pupils are provided with appropriate material. ‘Drop everything and Read’ (DEAR) time is organised in the third term, where pupils have a half hour of silent reading each day. This is supplemented by the use of various literacy software programmes in the computer room. The availability of a computer in each classroom would allow for extra access to these programmes. Suitable and stimulating print-rich environments have been created in all classrooms. The ‘Jolly Phonics’ programme is delivered to pupils from infants to first class by the learning support teacher four days a week. The approach is proving very successful. Some aspects of phonological awareness training are covered through this programme but it is advised that a more comprehensive phonological awareness programme be implemented. Big books are used successfully in infant and junior classrooms and these are used to develop many reading skills. A reading programme is used for pupils from infants to second class and there is an emphasis on the class novel from third to sixth class. Commendable exploration of the novel was observed in senior classes and pupils were keen to discuss the story. There is good use of dictionaries in some classes.  

 

Pupils in all classes engage in writing activities and many samples of these are displayed attractively in the classrooms. The development of independent writing at infant level is to be commended and should be further developed and expanded upon through the introduction of a wider variety of tasks and approaches. In junior and middle classes, many opportunities are created for pupils to write for different purposes and for different audiences. In senior classes, many writing activities are based on the novel. These include summaries, character exploration and personal reactions to particular events. A wide variety of genres has been explored in classes and approaches vary according to pupil ability. There is an emphasis on basic grammar throughout the school and some very good active learning approaches in this area were observed in junior classes.  A handwriting policy has been drawn up with clear guidelines for all classes. This should be reviewed to ensure that all teachers are clear on its full implementation.

 

3.2 Mathematics

Overall, the quality of teaching in the area of Mathematics is good. In the infant and junior classes, there is due emphasis on active learning and the linking of topics to the pupils’ environment. Pupils are provided with an array of concrete materials to help in the development and understanding of concepts. In middle and senior classes, good use was made of manipulatives to help pupils in grasping difficult concepts in place value. A well-organised maths trail was used effectively in applying the skills and knowledge acquired in the area of measurement. This provided an effective and fun lesson, which was structured to include work suitable for all levels of ability and obviously stimulated the pupils. Some teachers use daily practice in mental maths and tables to begin the lesson. It is advised that this practice be further developed and that regular time be devoted to this area on a daily basis in each class. The area of problem solving in Mathematics should be addressed to ensure that pupils are provided with suitable problem-solving opportunities at all levels and that they are taught strategies to deal with these problems. ICT is used effectively in the learning-support setting for practice in certain areas of the Mathematics programme.

 

3.3 Physical Education

There is good provision for the pupils in the area of Physical Education (PE). Despite not having access to a hall or general purpose room, the teachers make very good use of the school yard and the school field when weather permits for ball games, athletics and outdoor and adventure activities. The school has the use of the local GAA grounds. Lessons in dance are conducted in the classrooms when pupils cannot use outdoor facilities. Lessons observed during the evaluation were well structured and organised. All had appropriate warm up and cool down activities. Pupils are given instruction in skills and opportunities to practise these actively. A good supply of equipment is available for PE lessons and these are well utilised. After school activities are also organised and these include Gaelic football, hurling, basketball, athletics and soccer. The school participates in numerous inter-school competitions in these sports and they have had many successes through the years.

 

3.4 Assessment

A variety of assessment tools are in use by class teachers. These include pupil profiling, collection of samples of work, checklists, teacher observation, pupil self-assessment and teacher devised tests. A common approach to maintenance of this material should be discussed and systems put in place for sharing this information when pupils move between classes. Standardised tests in literacy and numeracy are used on an annual basis from first class onwards. The Middle Infants Screening Test (MIST) is administered to senior infants and the Quest Screening test is used at the beginning of first class. Results from all tests are analysed by the special education teachers in order to allocate resources. Each pupil has a centrally-stored file which contains the results of standardised tests. This enables teachers to track pupil performance in these tests and to intervene as necessary. To develop the area of assessment further, consideration should be given to further tracking and analysis of tests on a class and whole-school basis to enable more focused targeting of resources in the future.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

A full time learning-support teacher is based in the school and a part time resource teacher works with two pupils. The learning-support policy outlines some current practice but should be reviewed to ensure that it complies with Circular 02/05. Regular informal meetings as well as a formal termly meeting take place between the learning-support and the class teacher. Consideration should be given to the organisation of more frequent meetings between teachers. Support is currently provided to pupils through in-class support as well as withdrawal, on both an individual and group basis. Along with the Jolly Phonics programme, there is also in-class support provided in the junior classroom for literacy and in the senior room for comprehension skills. The sessions observed during the evaluation were well organised and beneficial. The teaching observed during the withdrawal sessions was of a good standard and focused on the needs of the pupils. A variety of diagnostic tests are used with pupils and programmes are devised based on the results of these. Individual Profile and Learning Plans (IPLP), as well as group learning profiles, are compiled for all pupils receiving support. Parents are encouraged to become involved in assisting with learning programmes. IEP’s are drawn up for pupils with special educational needs, in consultation with specialist outside agencies, class teachers and parents and these are currently reviewed every twelve weeks. There is due emphasis on early intervention and on preventing difficulties in literacy. Two SNAs work with pupils with special educational needs and their contribution is invaluable.

 

 

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, November 2009