An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Moibhí

Milverton, Skerries, County Dublin

Uimhir rolla: 15569R

 

Date of inspection: 30 April 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

Conclusion

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Moibhí was undertaken in April, 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 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

 

Scoil Moibhí is located in Milverton, Skerries, Co. Dublin. The school was founded in 1903. The main building is complemented by two prefabricated buildings. Pupils’ attendance is very good. Enrolment has been increasing to the extent that a fourth classroom teacher will be appointed in September, 2008.

 

 

Number

Pupils enrolled in the school

78

Mainstream classes in the school

3

Teachers on the school staff

4

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

1

Special needs assistants

1

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

A very warm, pleasant and supportive atmosphere is in evidence in Scoil Moibhí. Relationships in the school are characterised by mutual respect and support. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. As part of its Catholic ethos, religious instruction is delivered each day for thirty minutes. Teachers are commended for the effort and enthusiasm they devote to the celebration of sacraments. At different stages throughout the school year, the local Catholic priest visits and gives talks to the pupils.

 

1.2 Board of management

 

The school is managed by a committed board of management. Duties and offices have been appropriately assigned. Meetings are held on a regular basis. The school’s accounts are audited on an annual basis. Informative minutes are kept for all meetings. The board is involved to some degree in the formulation of policies, most notably organisational policies. It is recommended that greater board involvement be elicited in the future development and review of school policies. To date, the board has undertaken a number of successful and laudable initiatives such as the provision of a boundary fence and the upgrading of the school playground area. The board indicates that one of its main priorities at present relates to the management of the expansion of the school and the necessity for meeting the accommodation needs of the school as a result. In so doing, the board is developing a strategic plan which includes the review of some of the existing accommodation and its abilities to meet the growing needs of the school. It is recommend that, in the further development of this plan, consideration be given to the style and nature of class and support rooms, resource storage areas, toilet facilities, secretarial accommodation and the quality of staff room facilities. With the continued expansion of the school, it is also recommended that the board investigates the possibility of acquiring secretarial services for the school. The board endeavours to support the work of the school by managing resources, assisting with fundraising activities and facilitating the work of class teachers in reaching their educational goals.

 

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 supportive and caring atmosphere 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 school principal, a deputy principal and a special duties post-holder. The duties attaching to these posts are distributed across a range of areas. It is recommended that, in reviewing these posts, a more balanced distribution of curricular, organisational and pastoral responsibilities be considered for each post. Team members approach their leadership functions in a committed manner. They make an important and pivotal contribution to the smooth and efficient operation of the school on a daily basis. A strong team spirit exists, characterised by collaboration and cooperation.

 

The school principal plays a central and pivotal role in providing strong leadership for the school. He is closely attuned to the ambience of the school and actively seeks to create and foster a school climate of encouragement and affirmation. In so doing, the school principal is keenly interested in the progress of all pupils and their work application. Such interest leads to an open and empowering approach which supports the work of all school staff.  

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

Scoil Moibhí has established a very open and friendly relationship with the school community. It addresses and responds to parental queries and concerns in a prompt and efficient manner. Parents are regularly apprised of their children’s progress; this takes place formally at an annual parent-teacher meeting. A written progress report is sent to parents in the summer of each year. The school communicates with parents through the parents’ association newsletters and by way of school memos and fliers.

 

The school has an active and vibrant parents’ association. Elected parents attend training when available and when appropriate. The association endeavours to support the work of the school in a variety of commendable ways such as fundraising activities, the issue of newsletters and the organisation of swimming classes. It is recommended that the nature of this swimming provision be reviewed, with a view to ensuring all pupils have equality of access. The association cites as its priorities issues concerned with fundraising, school accommodation, school maintenance and health and safety concerns regarding parking in the school environs. It also envisages future opportunities for its involvement in some school curricular activities such as paired reading.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

The concerted and active interest which teachers take in their pupils, coupled with the warm, affirming and respectful manner in which they interact with them, serves to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and contentment in the school. This warm and pleasant atmosphere permeates all aspects of the school’s operation. As such, organisational and procedural practices are undertaken in a very organised and cooperative manner, serving to maximise efficiency within the school. Throughout the inspection, pupils were unfailingly courteous and pleasant, showing interest and pride in their work.

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

The quality of whole-school planning is of a good standard. School plans were drafted on a consultative basis, making appropriate use of cuiditheoirí from the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PCSP) and advisors from the School Development Planning Service (SDPS). The school has created a wide range of organisational plans. These plans set out in a clear and defined manner the various organisational and procedural practices relevant to the smooth operation of the school. The school has devised plans for all curricular areas with the exception of Drama which was recently in-serviced. Curricular plans are set out in a clear manner, the aims and objectives to be achieved and the appropriate approaches to achieving these aims. Consideration should be given to the establishment of an action plan to direct and guide the review of these plans. It is also recommended that all plans have a date of ratification and review.

 

In the main, the quality of classroom planning is very good. In their long-term plans, teachers set out the content to be covered in a progressional and developmental manner. In some cases, teachers’ plans are very detailed and specific, with appropriate emphasis on methodological approaches and activities. It is recommended that such commendable practice be examined with a view to sharing and extending it on a school-wide basis. All teachers write short-term plans which serve to inform and direct their teaching. These plans make suitable provision for the delineation of content and, in some cases, make very good provision for activities and methodologies. It is recommended that teachers’ short-term plans make more specific reference to differentiation, integration and assessment practices. All teachers complete detailed monthly reports on their work, as required. 

 

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

 

The quality of teaching and learning in Scoil Moibhí is of a very good standard. Teachers deliver their lessons in a creative and stimulating manner, seeking to involve all pupils and setting high standards for their work. They reveal a keen interest in pupil progress, carefully monitoring pupil achievement and application. The lessons observed had very good pace and structure. Pupils reveal a natural curiosity in their learning and apply themselves to their work with pride and enthusiasm.

 

 

3.1 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá an plean scoile don Ghaeilge leagtha amach go soléir agus go cruinn. Sa phlean, déantar cur síos ar aidhmeanna, ábhar, modheolaíocht agus straitéisí chun scileanna éisteachta, labharta, léitheoireachta agus scríbhneoireachta a fhorbairt. Moltar, le linn athbhreithniú an phlean seo, go ndeanfaí forbairt níos leithne ar liostáil na scileanna seo. Éiríonn leis an bhfoireann scoile dearcadh dearfach a chothú sna daltaí i leith na Gaeilge agus tá caighdeán ard á bhaint amach acu maidir le labhairt agus éisteacht sa teanga. Ba léir le linn na meastóireachta go bhfuil stór leathan focal ag na daltaí agus léiríonn siad saibhreas agus líofacht ina gcuid cainte. Bunaítear na cuspóirí foghlama ar shaol agus ar thimpeallacht na ndaltaí agus de bharr sin músclaítear suim na ndaltaí sna ceachtanna. Baintear an-úsáid as acmhainní éagsúla cosúil le cártaí, pictiúirí agus puipéid. Baineann na hoidí úsáid as modhanna éagsúla teagaisc, cosúil le dramaíocht agus rólghlacadh agus éiríonn go samhlaíoch leo spéis agus aire na ndaltaí a mhúscailt. Léiríonn na daltaí an-suim sna ceachtanna agus glacann siad páirt fhonnmhar iontu. Go háirithe, baintear an-úsáid as obair bheirte agus teagasc grúpa. Ag tógáil ar an obair sin, éagraitear tascanna agus gníomhaíochtaí chun deiseanna a thabhairt do na paistí an foclóir a chleachtadh. Baintear úsáid éifeachtach as amhránaíocht, go mórmhór sna bunranganna. Ar an iomlán, baintear an-úsáid as comhrá neamhfhoirmiúil le linn an lae, go mórmhór maidir le bainistíocht an ranga. Moltar go ndeanfaí forbairt níos leithne ar an dea-chleachtais seo.

 

Tá caighdeán ard á bhaint amach ag na daltaí sa léitheoireacht. Tá lipéidí agus cairteanna le focail agus briathra le feiscint sna seomraí ranga. Léann na daltaí le brí agus le líofacht. Spreagann an t-ábhar léitheoireachta suim na ndaltaí. Sna hardranganna baintear úsáid as léitheoirí breise chun idirdhealú a dhéanamh. Moltar go ndéanfaí forbairt níos leithne ar an dea-chleachtas seo, go mórmhór sna hardranganna agus sna meanranganna. Tugtar deiseanna éagsúla do na daltaí chun saorscríbhneoireacht a dhéanamh. Tugann siad faoin obair seo le fonn agus tá ag éirí go geal leo a scileanna scríbhneoireachta a fhorbairt. I gcásanna áirithe ba chóir níos mó béime a chur ar ghraimeár foirmiúil. Cuirtear béim óiriúnach ar fhilíocht.

 

Irish

The school plan for Irish is laid out in a clear and specific manner. The plan outlines aims, content, methodologies and strategies for the development of speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. It is recommended that, during the review of this plan, greater delineation of these skills be undertaken. The school team succeeds in promoting a positive attitude towards Irish among the pupils and the children are reaching high standards in relation to speaking and talking in the language. It was evident during the inspection that the pupils have a wide store of vocabulary and they show richness and fluency in their conversations. Lesson objectives are based on the life and environment of the pupils and as a result pupil interest in lessons is awakened. A variety of resources such as cards, pictures and puppets is used very well. The teachers use a variety of teaching methods, such as drama and role-play and they succeed in an imaginative way to awaken the interest and attention of the pupils. The pupils are very interested in lessons and partake enthusiastically in them. In particular, very good use of group and pair work is made. In building on such work, activities and tasks are organised to provide pupils with opportunities to practise the vocabulary. Singing is used effectively, especially in the junior classes. In the main, informal conversation is very well used throughout the day, especially in relation to classroom management. It is recommended that such good practice be further developed.

 

The children are reaching a high standard in their reading. There are labels and charts with verbs to be seen in the classrooms. The pupils read with fluency and meaning. The content of the reading material stimulates pupil interest. In the senior classes differentiation is undertaken by way of supplementary readers. It is recommended that such good practice be further developed in the middle and senior classes. Pupils are given varied opportunities to write freely. They undertake this work with enthusiasm and are succeeding admirably in developing their writing skills. In some cases, more emphasis could be placed on formal grammar. Appropriate emphasis is placed on poetry.

 

English

Overall, the standard of teaching and learning in English is very good. The teaching of English is guided by a whole school plan which is strong in terms of aims, objectives, learning experiences and lesson activities. Appropriate reference is made to integration and linkage. It is recommended that in developing the plan further, more specific reference be made to differentiation, the role of parents and curriculum leadership. The school is commended on its recent analysis of the role of phonics in learning to read and the resulting changes it has made to certain practices and programmes. It is recommended that such changes be delineated in the whole school plan, with reference to the progressive development of this new programme from the junior classes to the senior classes.

 

Teachers present English lessons in a creative and stimulating manner. They design activities to motivate pupils to read and to use the language. Using a variety of stimuli such as pictures, teddies, text, drama and poetry, pupils are stimulated to develop their use of language and to share ideas. In so doing, pupils are also encouraged to ask questions and to research ideas. In the more junior classes, this approach to language development is intertwined with a very comprehensive and well-structured phonic programme. This structured approach to developing word recognition is further developed in the middle and senior classes through specific lesson objectives aimed at refining the pupils’ abilities to recognise words and to spell them.

 

All pupils show an interest in reading and can talk expansively about books they have read. They read with fluency and meaning. In some classrooms, the teachers make use of a ‘buddy system’ to foster interest in reading and to develop the pupils’ reading fluency. Such practice is laudable and has potential on a school-wide basis. Teachers make suitable provision for listening to the pupils’ reading and for closely monitoring their progress in this regard. They make very good use of stories and the novel to promote interest in reading. In the senior classes, the specific study of the novel, with a focus on plot, language usage and character analysis deserves specific commendation. In promoting reading, the school encourages parental involvement by asking parents to listen to their pupils’ reading and to comment on such work. An example of such practice is the bookworm club. Throughout the school, libraries with a wide selection of book titles are in evidence. Every second year, the school hosts a book fair which serves to augment library stocks and which serves to celebrate books. Such augmentation of school library stocks is also complemented by the school’s use of a visiting mobile library. In some cases, additional differentiated reading material and supplementary readers are in use. It is recommended that the school investigates further opportunities for the development of such laudable practice on a school-wide basis. Classrooms are suitably print-rich and teachers make appropriate use of resources, with commendable use of the internet for research purposes being noted.

 

Pupils write in a variety of genres. Teachers make good use of the writing process and, in so doing, direct appropriate attention towards grammar and punctuation. In some cases, it is recommended that further opportunities for the celebration and display of pupils’ creative writing be examined. Pupils present their written work in a neat manner, with some very good handwriting being noted in a number of classrooms. Teachers regularly correct such work, providing formative and affirmative comments. Teachers devote praiseworthy attention to the study of poetry. Pupils reveal a keen appreciation of poetry, being able to recite and discuss poems with verve and meaning. Teachers assess pupils’ progress by means of tests and observation.

 

3.2 Mathematics

 

The standard of Mathematics is good in all classes, with some very high standards being noted in certain instances. The whole-school plan for Mathematics carefully and comprehensively sets out aims and objectives to stimulate pupils’ curiosity and enjoyment of Mathematics. The plan recognises the importance of creativity in Mathematics and the necessity for actively using resources to develop an understanding of particular concepts. In the next review of this plan, more specific delineation of assessment and differentiation practices should be undertaken. Such a review should also make greater provision for mental arithmetic and maths trails.

 

Pupils participate enthusiastically in mathematics lessons which are presented in a stimulating manner. Content is frequently integrated in a creative manner with other curricular areas such as Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Social Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE), Art and Physical Education. In the main, classrooms are presented in a maths-rich manner. Teachers make very good use of resources, which include the use of the internet, to present and develop concepts. Equally, pupils are given hands-on experiences to engage in open-ended investigation and to apply concrete resources to developing their problem solving skills. Such work is commended. The school has a good selection of mathematics resources. It is recommended that this selection be reviewed with a view to developing and augmenting existing resources. In a number of classes, pupils are encouraged to hypothesise and question particular concepts. Such practice also involves discussion, collaborative learning and the creation of problems. It is recommended that the school builds on such commendable approaches to problem solving by considering greater possibilities for such practices on a school-wide basis. Lessons make good provision for the use of language and for the development of the pupils’ estimation skills. Concepts are linked to the environment and experience of the pupils. Teachers make suitable provision for mental arithmetic, with some very commendable work in this regard being noted. Pupils’ written work in Mathematics is of a high standard. Teachers systematically assess progress through the use of tests and observation. 

 

3.3 Physical Education

 

The implementation of the curriculum in Physical Education is guided by a very comprehensive school plan. This plan makes commendable provision for tailoring the curriculum to the unique context of Scoil Moibhí. Teacher planning makes suitable provision for skill development. The quality of teaching and learning in physical education lessons is of a very good standard. Teachers are commended for the creative manner in which they approach these lessons. Creative provision is made for integration most especially in relation to Social, Environmental and Scientific Education, Social Personal and Health Education, Music, Mathematics and Drama. In particular, lessons on the Dance and Games strands afforded pupils opportunities to respond imaginatively to musical and dramatic stimuli. Lessons involve whole-class teaching and collaborative learning. Teachers make good use of guided discovery and the exploration of physical activities. They make appropriate provision for warm-up and cool-down activities. In some cases, greater emphasis should be placed on cool-down activities. In presenting these lessons, teachers make praiseworthy use of resources and provide the pupils with varied opportunities to use equipment. It was noted during the inspection that strong codes of sportsmanship and equality of access are advocated by the teachers. Pupils respond positively to such codes and engage in team events in a cooperative and skilful manner. Pupils are given a variety of opportunities to practise and develop particular skills. Teachers appropriately model these skills and check that pupils have mastered their intricacies. In this regard, some teachers displayed very praiseworthy subject knowledge.

 

The school has a good selection of equipment, most especially in relation to strand units for games and athletics. As the school does not have a gymnasium, physical education lessons are delivered in the school yard and as such are weather dependent. The school is commended for the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer to pupils, such as cricket, rugby, athletics, Irish dancing and Gaelic football. The school makes creative use of outside tutors such as a rugby coach from Skerries Rugby Football Club, a Gaelic Football coach from Man-O-War Gaelic Football Club and a cricket coach from The Hills Cricket Club. It is suggested that the school should consider formulating a policy on outside tutors. The school enters teams for various competitions such as the Fingal Gaelic Athletic Association League and the Dublin Cricket League.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

The school has devised an assessment policy which sets out the approaches and types of assessment to be undertaken throughout the school. This policy is clear, detailing the various types of assessment modes and their relevance to teaching and learning. The Sigma-T and Micra-T standardised tests are used in all classes from first to fifth at the end of each school year to monitor pupils’ progress in Mathematics and English reading. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is used in senior infants to identify pupils requiring early intervention. Junior infants and senior infants are also tested in the areas of word recognition and specific mathematical skills using teacher-designed tests. These tests are used formatively to select and identify pupils who require additional help or further diagnostic testing. The school indicates that it plans to further examine the use of these tests with a view to identifying the needs of very able pupils. Such plans are commendable.  Teachers also conduct their own assessment practices on an ongoing basis. Methods used include teacher observation, teacher-designed tasks and tests, pupil projects and portfolios, samples of the pupils’ work and self-assessment by the pupils.

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

The school has created a very comprehensive and detailed policy for providing for pupils with special educational needs. The school has a shared learning support teacher and a part-time resource teacher. Learning support is provided in the areas of numeracy and literacy. At present, eleven pupils avail of such support. Pupils are selected for support based on screening tests, diagnostic tests and teacher concerns. Examples of the diagnostic tests in use include the Neale Analysis test, the National Reading Intelligence test, the Staffordshire Maths test and the Norman France Maths test. In deciding on the nature of the intervention necessary, the learning support teacher consults with the class teacher and principal with a view to determining the most appropriate intervention. Individual Pupil and Learning Profiles (IPLPs) are drawn up for those pupils receiving this support. These profiles are detailed and are commendably specific in their targets. In particular, IPLPs which focus on the development of literacy skills are very strategic and comprehensive in design. Parents are consulted on the key learning targets in question and are encouraged to become involved in the support. Teachers maintain regular progress records and review pupil progress on a frequent basis. Parents are apprised of such progress on an informal and formal basis, depending on the nature of assessment data. Teacher planning is specific in nature.

 

Pupils with special educational needs are withdrawn for support. It is recommended that greater opportunities for the provision of in-class support be investigated. The lessons observed were delivered in a very warm, affirming and stimulating manner. They had very good pace and direction. Pupils enjoyed these lessons participating enthusiastically in lesson activities and discussions. They showed pride in their work. Teachers make good provision for the support of classroom work. Teachers make appropriate use of the available resources to stimulate the pupils. It is recommended that a review of the current resources be undertaken with a view to augmenting and developing these resources.

 

One pupil currently attends the resource teacher. Support in this context is provided in a very warm and affirming manner, with a strong sense of focus and purpose. In delivering this support, the teacher and special needs assistant (SNA) are commended on the integrated approach taken, making praiseworthy use of art and music to vary the stimuli and to develop specific skills. This teaching is guided by specific and well set targets as outlined in the Individual Education Plan (IEP). It is recommended that the IEP make more specific reference to the role of parents. Teachers and special needs assistants are praised for the interest they show in their pupils and for their creative endeavours to make lesson content stimulating and rewarding for the pupils.

 

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

 

The school receives a grant under Delivering Equality of Opportunity in our Schools (DEIS), the Department’s action plan for educational inclusion.  It is recommended that the board of management creates a rationale for the expenditure of this grant.

 

 

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 2008