An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



Cahermurphy National School

Kilmihil County Clare

Uimhir rolla:  15327Q



Date of inspection: 06 March 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 Cahermurphy National School was undertaken in March 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 (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

Cahermurphy National School is a two-teacher, co-educational rural school situated approximately three miles north of the town of Kilmihil in West Clare.


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



Over the past eight years the number of pupils attending this school has remained close to the present level. It is expected that this level of enrolment will continue into the immediate future. Classes are divided equitably between both teachers. The school has access to secretarial support.


1.     Quality of school management


1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

Cahermurphy National School is under the patronage of the Catholic bishop of Killaloe. In its mission statement the school sets out to develop “an environment of mutual respect among all of the partners in the education process.” This vision permeates all aspects of school life and its effects are clearly seen in the efforts made to include parents in the workings of the school. The school’s ethos promotes “the full and harmonious development of all aspects of the pupils.”


1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and includes designated posts of chairperson, secretary and treasurer. Training was provided for these roles by the patron body. The board meets at least once a term and at other times as deemed necessary. Minutes of all meetings are kept. The board is in a good financial position and year-end accounts are certified.


The board is commended for the very good facilities it has provided for teaching and learning. The board of management has a maintenance plan in place and the school is maintained to a good standard. All classrooms are cleaned regularly and the grounds are well presented. The board is now considering its options in relation to the provision of extra storage facilities and the provision of a general-purposes room for the school.


The board of management is very active in the development of all school policies. All policies are ratified following discussion and inputs from teachers and parents. It is now recommended that the board supplies a yearly report on the operation and performance of the school with particular reference to the achievement of objectives as set out in the school plan.


The main strengths identified by the board include the very good communication among all stakeholders, the very good education provided for all pupils and the active involvement of the pupils in their own learning. The board members would like to see an increase in the number of pupils attending this school.


1.3 In-school management

The in-school management team consists of the principal and special duties post-holder. There is very good co-operation between post-holders who work diligently to provide a very high standard of education for all pupils in the school. The principal is highly effective in carrying out all of her duties. She has established a very good relationship with members of the board, the parent body and the pupils. The principal provides very good leadership skills in the development of school policies and in the establishment of clear procedures for all aspects of school life.


1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The management of relationships and communication within the school community is of a very high standard. The school has a very active parents’ association and its members participate fully in all aspects of school life. The parents in this school contribute confidently and collaboratively to the formation and review of all school policies. Parents assist the school in many extra-curricular activities and many parents give generously of their time in assisting in the development of aspects of the curriculum. 


The school’s policy on home/school links sets out the framework for very good communication strategies. Parents are furnished with a comprehensive information manual on enrolment of pupils. This manual includes the school’s code of behaviour, rules and policies on homework, enrolment and attendance. Other communication strategies used successfully in the school include notes in homework journals, regular information bulletins and newsletters which are distributed three times a year.


A parent-teacher meeting is held annually in February. Written school reports are furnished to parents in June of each year. Parents are encouraged to meet with teachers to discuss pupil progress at other times if deemed necessary. 


1.5 Management of pupils

Pupils are valued members of the school community and they are treated with equality, fairness and respect. The pastoral needs of the pupils are managed very effectively. Pupils co-operate fully with the school’s rules, code of behaviour and initiatives to prevent bullying.  Pupils are eager and motivated in their learning.


2.     Quality of school planning


2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is good. A very wide range of curricular and administrative policies has been ratified by the board of management.  The school is a member of a cluster of small schools which meets regularly to discuss and formulate school policies. This cluster receives support from national in-service training initiatives. All of these supports have contributed well to the school planning process in this school.


The involvement of parents in the process of policy formation is very good. All policies are supplied to the parents’ association for discussion and the views of parents are taken into consideration by the board prior to ratification of policies.


The school has an action plan in place covering curricular and administrative policies. In order to further enhance the policy development strategies in this school it is recommended that all policies have a review date and that these review dates are incorporated into the action plan. It is also recommended that the school’s enrolment policy should be amended in order to ensure that it meets with the criteria as set out in the Equal Status Acts 2000-2004.


All teachers provide appropriate long-term and short-term planning for their work. Monthly progress records are also maintained. This planning gives guidance to the teaching and learning taking place in the classrooms and demonstrates that a wide and varied curriculum is being presented. It is now recommended that long-term planning should focus more on the teaching aims and content objectives as set out in the Primary School Curriculum 1999. This planning should contain references to the teaching strategies and methodologies to be used, notes on opportunities for linkage and an outline of assessment strategies to be employed.  The teachers’ short-term planning should refer to the methodologies and the assessment strategies to be used.


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



Éiríonn leis na múinteoirí an Ghaeilge a mhúineadh ar bhealach taitneamhach, éifeachtach sa scoil seo. na daltaí gníomhach sna ceachtanna agus na snáitheanna ina iomláine á bhforbairt le toradh maith. dul chun cinn leanúnach le sonrú sa chomhrá, sa léitheoireacht agus sa scríbhneoireacht de réir mar a théann na daltaí ar aghaidh sna ranganna.  Baintear dea-úsáid as an gceol chun atmaisféar Gaelach a chothú sna ranganna agus   seinnt na ndaltaí ar raon uirlisí ceoil go han-mhaith.


Déantar gach iarracht an teanga labhartha a chur chun cinn i measc na ndaltaíÚsáidtear pictiúir, póstaeir agus luaschártaí chun foclóir nua a mhúineadh. Baintear sár-úsáid as comhrá beirte agus as an drámaíocht i rith na gceachtanna agus dul chun cinn suntasach le feiceáil i gcumas cumarsáide na ndaltaí sa Ghaeilge. Leagtar béim chóir ar an gcomhrá neamhfhoirmiúil i rith an lae agus baintear feidhm tharraingteach as rainn, dánta, amhráin, scéalta agus cluichí chun cur leis na scileanna sa chomhrá.  


Déantar cúram cuí de na gnóthaí réamhléitheoireachta agus forás breá le sonrú i scileanna léitheoireachta na ndaltaí.  Éiríonn go maith leis na daltaí ceisteanna a chur agus a fhreagairt agus comhrá a dhéanamh ar ábhar na scéaltaMoltar anois raon níos leithne d’ábhair léitheoireachta a chur ar fáil, maille leis na téacsleabhair atá in úsáid.


Déantar cúram maith de na scileanna scríbhneoireachta a chothú sna meánranganna agus sna hardranganna. Treoraítear na daltaí san obair scríofa trí fhoclóir an-chinnte a mhúineadh agus trí dhruileanna briathra a dhéanamh go rialta. Scríobhann na daltaí abairtí agus altanna beaga ar bhonn rialta agus déanann siad saorscríbhneoireacht ó am go chéile chomh maithMoltar an dea-chleachtas seo a fhorbairt a thuilleadh fós.



The teachers in this school succeed in teaching Irish in an enjoyable and effective manner.  The pupils are active during the lessons and all of the strands are being developed with good results. There is continuous development of the pupils’ oral reading and writing skills in evidence as they advance through the classes.  Very good use is made of music to foster an Irish atmosphere in the classes with the pupils playing a range of instruments to a high level of competence. 


Every effort is made to promote the spoken language among the pupils. Pictures, posters and flashcards are used to teach new words.  Excellent use is made of pair work and of drama during lessons and there is very good development to be seen in the ability of the pupils to converse in Irish. Appropriate emphasis is placed during the school day on incidental conversation and rhymes, poems, songs and games are used effectively to develop conversational skills.


Appropriate care is given to pre-reading activities and there is good development to be seen in reading skills.  The pupils can ask and answer questions and discuss the material being read with ease.  It is now recommended that a wider range of reading material is used in conjunction with the workbooks.


Good care is taken to develop writing skills in the middle and upper classes. The pupils are guided in this writing through the teaching of specific vocabulary and through regular drill work on verbs. The pupils regularly write sentences and paragraphs and they also engage in creative writing experiences from time to time.  It is recommended that this good practice is further developed.



The standard of English in this school is very good. All strands of the curriculum are very well developed and pupils are achieving very high standards. Lessons are very well structured and there is very good differentiation of learning tasks. Many of the lessons are suitably integrated with other curricular areas.


There is very good development of the oral language strand through the skilful use of word games, talk and discussion, drama and poetry. Pupils use language creatively and there is a strong emphasis on the development of listening and responding skills. 


Reading is very well developed in all classes. The classroom setting supports reading with a print-rich environment in evidence. All classrooms have very well stocked libraries and a love of books and reading is fostered from a very early age. Pupils are encouraged to read from a wide range of books and the pupils can discuss the stories read with appropriate reference to character and plot. There is effective use of a phonics programme throughout the school to develop reading skills. 


The writing skills of the pupils are of a high standard. The pupils are given regular opportunities to develop their skills of drafting, redrafting and editing as part of the writing process. The pupils are encouraged to write in different genres and many have produced their own books. The standard of poetry writing is to be commended. There is some good use of information and communication technologies (ICT) during the writing process. Pupils are encouraged to proof read their work placing due emphasis on grammar and writing conventions. Care is also taken to develop good handwriting skills.


3.2 Mathematics

The standard in Mathematics in this school is very good and lessons are well structured. There is a variety of teaching methods used including whole-class teaching, group work and pair work. There is an appropriate emphasis placed on the acquisition and consolidation of mathematical language. Oral mathematics is an integral part of each lesson. There is good use made of computation exercises and concrete materials to enable pupils to explore concepts.  Mathematical concepts and skills are consolidated and revised constantly. Pupils successfully apply a range of mathematical skills in a variety of learning contexts. Pupils’ oral work and written work reflect a very good knowledge of number facts and a good understanding of concepts across all strands of the mathematics curriculum. A variety of assessment strategies, including teacher-designed tasks, homework and standardised tests, provides a clear record of pupil progress. The results of standardised tests are very good in this school. Pupils’ work is monitored and corrected regularly.


3.3 Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

There is very good development of the SPHE curriculum in this school. A school plan is in place for SPHE and the school is currently reviewing its relationships and sexuality education (RSE) policy. A varied and interesting curriculum is presented based on a number of resources including Be Safe, Stay Safe and Walk Tall. These programmes are supplemented, where necessary, by teacher-designed lessons. Lessons are well presented with the topics for discussion clearly set out and the work undertaken well focused. The school develops strand units over a two-year period. It is noted that elements of the strand Myself and the Wider World are not covered until the last term of each year. It is now recommended that elements of all strands are delivered in each term. There is a very good inclusive atmosphere in the classrooms. A variety of teaching methodologies including, talk and discussion, group work, pair work, drama and circle time, is used successfully during lessons. The responses of the pupils to questioning is good with pupils taking turns, respecting the contributions of their peers and taking an active part in the work. There is a very good range of assessment strategies in use in this school including the recording of teacher observations, checklists and self and peer review. The annual school report contains sections on the social and personal development of the pupils as well as comments on the pupils’ development in this curricular area. The school is commended for this good practice.


3.4 Assessment

This school successfully implements a range of assessment strategies as outlined in the comprehensive assessment policy. The range of assessment procedures used include the recording of teacher observations, the routine correction of homework, the regular use of teacher-designed tasks and tests, the appropriate use of checklists, and the use of standardised tests in English and Mathematics. These assessment strategies facilitate the monitoring and recording of pupils’ progress and the setting of appropriate learning targets for the pupils. Parents are kept informed of the progress of the pupils.


4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

There is good provision in this school for pupils with special educational needs. The school is in receipt of five hours learning-support from the general allocation scheme and an additional five hours resource teaching. All of this support is supplied by the same teacher on a daily basis. Support is given both on an in-class and on a withdrawal basis. Individual pupil learning profiles (IPLPs) and individual education plans (IEPs) are in place for these pupils.  The school has recently refined these IPLPs and IEPs.  The learning targets outlined are specific and relevant to the learning needs of the pupils. The school should continue this good practice. These profiles and plans are reviewed twice a year in conjunction with class-teachers, the support teacher and parents. The interventions observed are supportive and very positive teacher-pupil interactions are in evidence. Lessons are structured and a range of suitable approaches is used effectively during teaching sessions. Progress is monitored and recorded. There is also one special needs assistant (SNA) employed in the school on a part-time basis.  The SNA supplies positive support to the pupils and class teacher.


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

Funding is granted to the school through the programme Giving Children an Even Break to address the needs of disadvantaged pupils. All monies received from this scheme are spent appropriately to enable the optimal participation of pupils in the teaching and learning process.


5.     Conclusion

The school has strengths in the following areas:

·         There is a very caring, positive and inclusive atmosphere in this school supported by a dedicated and hardworking staff.

·         There is an excellent spirit of collaborative leadership in this school which enhances the work of all involved.

·         The board of management is very supportive of the staff and pupils and it has provided very good resources for teaching and learning.

·         Parents and the parents’ association work collaboratively with the board of management and staff in supporting the work of the school especially in the area of policy


·         The quality of teaching and learning in this school is very good in all of the areas evaluated.

·         Pupils’ learning is enriched by the range of very effective teaching methodologies in use.

·         The pupils are commended for their dedication to their work and for the courtesy and respect that they show towards fellow pupils, teachers and visitors to the



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

·         The board of management should supply a yearly report on the operation and performance of the school with particular reference to the achievement of objectives as

       set out in the school plan.

·         In the area of school planning all policies should have a review date. This information should be incorporated in the school’s development plan. There should be review

      of the school enrolment policy.

·         In the area of classroom planning teachers’ long-term planning should focus more on the aims and content objectives as set out in the Primary School Curriculum

      1999.  The teachers should also include in their short-term planning references to the methodologies and assessment procedures intended to be used.

·         Sa Ghaeilge moltar raon níos leithne d’ábhair léitheoireachta a chur ar fáil.

 In Irish it is recommended that a wider range of reading material is made available.


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 of Cahermurphy National School would like to thank the inspectorate for the professionalism and support given in this whole school evaluation.  We found it a valuable and worthwhile experience and are delighted that it reflected the work and ethos of our school.


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


·         Our enrolment policy has been reviewed.


·         A yearly report on the performance of the Board of Management will be supplied in the school newsletter annually


·         We are presently looking at other Irish reading material to expand the oral language experience of the children





Published June 2008