Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Cross, Skibbereen, County Cork
Uimhir rolla: 15563F
inspection: 1 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
Summary of findings and recommendations for further
This report has been written following a whole school
evaluation of Lisheen NS, Church Cross, Skibbereen, Co. Cork.
It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole
and makes recommendations for further development. During the evaluation, the
inspector held pre-evaluation
meetings with the principal, the teachers, the in-school management team, the
school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents’ association.
The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which inspector visited
classrooms and observed teaching and learning in Gaeilge,
English, Mathematics and History. He interacted with pupils and teachers,
examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. He reviewed
school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with
various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the
inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff
and to the board of management. The board of management was given the
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 to this
Lisheen NS is a rural, mixed national school
under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Cork and Ross. The
school is one of two schools serving the parish of Aughadown.
There are 66 children enrolled in Lisheen NS and this has risen consistently since
2000 when 34 pupils were in attendance. School projection figures indicate
further increases in the foreseeable future. Consistently high levels of attendance
are the norm in Lisheen
teaching staff of Lisheen NS
comprises five teachers. There are three full-time and one part-time special
needs assistants in the school. A part-time caretaker/cleaner and a part-time
secretary are available for ten and six hours, respectively. School
admission and enrolment policies are guided by the principles of inclusiveness,
equality of access and parental choice. The main school building which dates
back to 1906 was refurbished to a high standard in 2001 with Department of
Education & Science (DES) approval and support. The school now presents an
attractive, modern learning environment and plans are in place to replace all
existing prefabricated structures with permanent accommodation in response to
increased patterns of enrolment.
of management of Lisheen
NS is properly constituted in
line with DES guidelines. Meetings are held regularly, minutes are recorded and
a financial report presented. The board has a clear understanding of its role
and contributes effectively to the structural, organisational and curricular
development of the school in line with DES regulations and circulars. The
practice of auditing annual accounts is to be commended. The board of
management has an effective and committed chairperson. The chairperson of the
board has reviewed, ratified and signed all school organisational and
curricular policies on behalf of the board and in compliance with statutory
obligations. A commitment to partnership clearly guides the work of this
effective school board and their efficiency is evident from the manner in which
the infrastructural needs and the resource requirements of the school and of
individual pupils are attended to. Clear and effective lines of communication
are in place between the board, the principal and staff and the wider school
NS is a well resourced, properly
maintained, well ordered and secure educational facility providing an
appropriate context for learning within the unique school community it serves.
Curriculum provision is in line with the stated learning objectives of the
curriculum for primary schools and relevant pastoral care practices and special
needs provision are provided in response to the needs of individual pupils and
the school community.
role of the principal of Lisheen NS,
in the articulation of the agreed vision for the school, is widely acknowledged
by the board, the parents and the staff. In addition to her teaching role, she
plays a significant part in the fostering of a team approach to teaching and
learning and in successfully monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of
teaching across the curriculum. It became obvious during this external
evaluation process that the principal performs her duties to a high standard
whilst, at the same time modelling best practice in terms of inclusiveness and collegiality. Informal staff
meetings are held daily, before school commences Formal staff meetings with
agreed agendas are held at least once per quarter. The principal is assisted in
her work by all other staff members and the in-school management team. Though
specific duties with curricular, pastoral and administrative responsibilities
have been allocated to individual staff members, a whole school approach to
problem solving is evident. The daily challenges of this school are embraced in
a positive climate of mutual support and all staff members co-operate
purposefully in pursuit of optimum levels of pupil achievement and educational
attainment. Leadership was observed at all levels within the school and roles
and responsibilities are clearly delineated.
There are five teachers in Lisheen NS.
Individual teachers are assigned particular classes in order that their
collective talents are available to the majority of pupils
at the most opportune time. The current staff formation has been consistent for
a number of years. A degree of flexibility does pertain with regard to
particular teaching duties and where possible individual expertise is spread
across the broad range of classes. This practice results in an improved focus
on whole school planning and promotes team teaching as a viable alternative to
the traditional ‘one teacher one class’ approach. The resource and learning
support teachers engage in a variety of effective teaching practices. These
include whole-class teaching, focused group work and student withdrawal which
enables them to maintain close links with their colleagues in mainstream roles
and furthers their ability to analyse their own respective contributions to
teaching and learning.
The four Special Needs Assistants in Lisheen NS
under the guidance of the resource teacher and the principal contribute
effectively to the general emotional and educational development of the pupils
in their care. Their contracts are unambiguous and their respective roles are
clearly defined and in the best interest of the pupils. The quality and focus
of special needs provision, underpinned by careful planning, review and
analysis, is a marked feature of the school.
School accommodation consists of two permanent
classrooms, a resource room, an office, toilet facilities for staff and pupils,
a prefabricated classroom/staff room and a smaller prefabricated learning
support room. All classrooms and corridors are decorated with appropriate
displays of pupil’s work and the general environment is print rich, attractive
and a stimulus to learning and creativity. Plans are underway to replace all
existing temporary accommodation with permanent structures and new grounds have
been purchased to facilitate this process. The school grounds, buildings,
records and files are maintained to a high standard by the part-time ancillary staff
and with community assistance, when appropriate.
There is a comprehensive range of support materials
and resources available in Lisheen NS.
These materials are audited regularly, managed efficiently and used purposefully in support of teaching and learning.
Each classroom has been equipped with a computer and these are used on
occasions to enhance the learning of pupils. Outdoor recreational facilities
include a well maintained secure playing area, a basketball court and a green
field area. All surfaces are maintained to a high standard in line with
appropriate Health & Safety regulations.
relationships and communication with the school community
NS is an
important focal point in a rural community and a strong sense of pride and of
ownership exists. An open door policy is apparent with regard to parental
involvement and the quality of relationships that permeates this school are admirable. Parents are, clearly, valued as partners in
education and regularly informed with regard to the academic, social, emotional
and physical development of their children. The local parents’ association
provides an added focus for home school dialogue and it is an important source
of financial support to the school. It is affiliated to the National Parents’
Council. Representatives expressed high levels of satisfaction with
the educational provision in the school and with the breadth and balance of the
curriculum on offer.
busy working atmosphere is evident in the school. Excellent pupil behaviour is
the norm. The professionalism of the staff contributes to this positive
environment and their use of a wide variety of learning strategies and
methodologies allows for maximum levels of pupil participation and achievement.
Teachers provide clear instructions and clarify and set high learning
objectives. The pupils display a pride in their work and in their school and
willingly cooperate with their teachers during class, eagerly taking part in
discussion and participating fully in guided and discovery based
learning. A pleasant, agreeable working atmosphere is palpable in Lisheen NS and the pupils display confidence and
maturity commensurate with their age.
Whole school planning is at an advanced stage in Lisheen NS. Through a collaborative process a
comprehensive range of curricular and organisational plans has been developed
in line with DES regulations and guidelines. These plans have been ratified by
the school board and are subject to review at regular intervals in line with
best practice. The planning process is well managed and a strategic plan has
been developed which identifies priorities, and implements, reviews and
monitors all aspects of the school planning process.
Curricular and organisational plans have been
developed with the assistance of support programme personnel where available,
and are both relevant and informative. Curriculum strands and strand units have
been identified and teaching methods and resources have been listed in an
individual class context. These plans are relevant and clearly influence
individual teacher preparation. The impact of good planning, review and
evaluation is also evident in the area of special needs education.
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.
At classroom level all teachers present a broad and
balanced curriculum and adhere to appropriate timetabling arrangements.
Individual teachers undertake long-term and short-term planning which is
generally informed by whole school planning documents and school policies. The
general focus of individual teacher planning is the monthly record of learning
outcomes which is comprehensive and detailed. The process would be further
improved by the development of individual planning templates which might
ideally identify strands and strand units and make specific reference to
learning objectives, differentiation, methodologies, resources and assessment.
Overview of learning and teaching
The teachers in Lisheen NS
are competent, professional practitioners and share a common purpose to achieve
high standards of teaching and learning. Some excellent practice was observed
in the course of this external evaluation. Learning objectives were generally
clear and teachers were observed using a variety of age-appropriate
methodologies which ensured that the vast majority of pupils were on task and
actively engaged in the learning process during most of the time. Learning was
target driven and outcome focused and the inclusion of children with special
educational needs was praiseworthy. All pupils willingly engaged when prompted
to do so and a clear picture of calm purposeful activity presented.
classrooms provide a suitably stimulating environment for teaching in the
school. The quality of teaching observed was generally high. Pupils were motivated and actively participating in the learning
process. Classes observed were well structured and appropriately paced.
Learning was consolidated by appropriate revision and a wide range of
age-appropriate resources and strategies was used in each class to promote
understanding of concepts. Whole-class
teaching and grade-level teaching are generally used in delivering the
curriculum but some very good group-work using differentiated learning tasks
was also observed during the evaluation. The levels of teacher
interchange practices brought added diversity and variety to the learning
process and facilitated meaningful group work, at appropriate times.
Ta dáiríreacht fhoireann teagaisc na scoile
seo faoi theagasc na Gaeilge
le moladh agus forbraítear cumas cumarsáide na ndaltaí
go torthúil ar fud na scoile.
Sna bunranganna spreagtar na
daltaí chun cainte le rainn agus le habairtí a oireann do na haois-ghrúpaí
seo. Úsáidtear múinteoireacht dhíreach chun an comhrá
a chur i bhfeidhm sna meán
agus sna hardranganna. Múintear abairtí oiriúnacha agus cuirtear an
teanga i bhfeidhm trí dhrámaíocht
Moltar caighdeán na
léitheoireachta agus na scríbhneoireachta sa scoil agus
san iomlán bíonn atmaisféar na scoile
seo fabhrach don Ghaeilge. B’fhiú, anois, breis béime
a chur ar úsáid teanga agus
deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí
an foclóir agus na frásaí atá
ar eolas acu a úsáid chun
a líofacht a fhorbairt. Moltar don fhoireann cur leis na deiseanna
scríbhneoireachta agus samplaí den obair scríofa a chur ar taispeáint sa
timpeallacht. Moltar, chomh maith, ábhar
amháin eile nó gné d’ábhar
a mhúineadh trí Ghaeilge chun
úsáid teanga a fhorbairt níos mó.
dedication of the teaching staff to the teaching of Irish is commendable and
the conversational ability of the pupils is developed fruitfully throughout the
school. In the junior classes the pupils are encouraged to express themselves
through rhyme and age-appropriate phrases. In the middle and senior classes
more direct methods are employed which include repetition and group responses.
Suitable language is presented and developed
effectively through drama. The standard
of reading and writing is satisfactory throughout the school and a favourable
attitude to the language is evident. The range of writing genres and displaying
such material could be extended. In addition, it would be worth considering
teaching another subject area or aspect of a subject area through Irish in
order to further develop the use of the language.
There is appropriate and consistent emphasis on
literacy development in Lisheen NS.
An emphasis on language development is apparent across the curriculum in all
classes. Pupils are exposed to an appropriate
variety of reading material in print rich environments. They generally read
fluently and basic reading skills are taught effectively. There is a structured
approach to phonological awareness in the junior classes and reading skills are
further refined throughout the school by virtue of a wide variety of reading
material which is available to all pupils. Pupils written work in a
variety of genres and to a wide selection of audiences is displayed and
celebrated and is generally of an impressive standard. Sufficient
emphasis is placed upon the conventions of grammar, punctuation and spelling in
the context of English teaching practices in this school. Standardised
tests indicate high levels of achievement in literacy and the results are
analysed carefully with a view to appropriate intervention, when necessary.
mastery of the relevant mathematical concepts and skills at all age levels is
apparent in Lisheen
NS. A variety of resource
material in support of Mathematics was available to all teachers and concrete
operations and active learning methodologies were effectively used to further
mathematical understanding. The structured incremental approach to whole school
planning for Mathematics was a factor in the achievement of a satisfactory
level of competence and pupil achievement. There is a high level of
mathematical teaching and learning apparent and concepts are developed
incrementally and firmly embedded.
In Lisheen NS pupils acquire a broad and balanced
understanding of local and world history through the effective and
age-appropriate study of people and events. Local study is given appropriate
prominence and lessons are linked to other curricular areas where appropriate.
This study is structured in a whole-school planning context and is in
conformity with the principles of the curriculum for primary schools. A
range of appropriate teaching methodologies is employed including effective use
of the local environment, ICT, project work and archival research.
practices in Lisheen
NS are very good and the data
gathered is analysed carefully and used
effectively to inform teaching and learning. A range of approaches, including
monitoring and correction of work, teacher-devised tests and tasks, diagnostic
and standardised tests in English and Mathematics, is used.
variety of test instruments is used including BIAP checklists, Middle Infants
Screening Test and Checklists, Neale Analysis,
Informal Error Analysis in Maths & Reading, Quest, Aston Index, Micra-T, Sigma T, Rain Sentence Test and criteria
referenced tests. Results of Micra-T and Sigma-T
tests are carefully tabulated and analysis of the tests informs teaching on an
ongoing basis. Results are effectively used to address the learning deficits of
weaker pupils and parents are regularly informed of progress.
Pupils with special educational needs are very well
supported in Lisheen
NS. Purposeful collaboration
between mainstream class teachers and support teachers in the development of
individual education plans underpins the very good support provided. These
plans set clear, specific and relevant learning targets within defined
timescales and progress towards identified goals is consistently and carefully
monitored. Close links
are maintained with outside agencies and professionals in the interests of the
pupils. This excellent practice might be further enhanced by more direct
collaboration with parents at the design stage in the future.
no pupils from disadvantaged or minority groups currently enrolled in Lisheen NS.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
- The quality of relationships at all levels within
the school are exemplary and a caring and inclusive atmosphere is
- Leadership is distributed throughout the school and collaboration
and collegiality underpin all activity therein.
- The board of management and the parents’ association are actively
involved in all aspects of school life and view the school as an important
focal point in their community.
- There is a focus on learning outcomes in the school and the
principal and staff are dedicated and
professional in their efforts to enable all children achieve optimum
- High levels of care are afforded to pupils with learning
difficulties and to those with special educational needs.
- The school principal is a dynamic and conscientious professional
who sees opportunity in every challenge and who articulates the vision of
this school community with enthusiasm.
As a means
of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the
following key recommendations are made:
- An agreed template for individual teacher planning would be worth
developing to ensure greater clarity, continuity and progression in
teaching and learning in the school.
- Further opportunities to use
Irish communicatively would further enhance the good work of the school in
- The development of higher order
thinking skills, through a structured whole school approach to problem
solving, would further develop mathematical abilities and reasoning skills
- The school should consider
liaising with their local Education Centre in order to explore and further
develop ICT as a teaching and learning tool in their school.
- A school website, if developed,
and an annual school report which formalises existing reporting practice
in written form, would be suitable vehicles in which to celebrate school
achievements and important developmental milestones.
meetings were held with the staff and 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
Inspection Report School
Area 1 Observations on the content of the Inspection Report
The Board of Management and staff of
wish to acknowledge the professional approach of the inspector during the whole
school evaluation process, and the manner with which he interacted with both
the staff and pupils of our school. The Board also welcomes the positive
and constructive nature of the report.
Area 2 Follow-up actions
planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to
implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection
· The agreed template for individual
teacher planning, as recommended, has been implemented.
· The use of Irish in the teaching of a
second subject is being explored. The school has arranged for in-school support
with the P.P.D.S. for this.
· A staff planning day, facilitated by
the P.P.D.S. will be held in 2009 on the development of higher order thinking
skills through a structured whole school approach to problem solving.
· We have liaised with the West Cork
Education Centre on the development of a school website.
· The further development of I.C.T. as a
teaching and learning tool in our school is being explored by the staff.