An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



St. Joseph’s BNS,

Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Uimhir rolla:  15628H


Date of inspection: 5 October 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






Whole-school evaluation


A whole-school evaluation of St. Joseph’s Boys National School was undertaken in October 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, Mathematics and Geography. 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


St. Joseph’s BNS caters for boys from second class to sixth class. It is located in Boyle. It is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Elphin. The school’s last evaluation was carried out in 1999.


The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:




Pupils enrolled in the school


Mainstream classes in the school


Teachers on the school staff


Mainstream class teachers


Teachers working in support roles


Special needs assistants




1.     Quality of school management


1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision


The school’s mission statement is published in the school plan. The school recognises its overall responsibility to provide for the holistic development of its pupils. The school has a very welcoming atmosphere. A positive school climate prevails which nurtures self-confidence among the pupils. It promotes respectful and caring relationships throughout the school.


1.2 Board of management


The board of management is very effective. It meets five times a year, although in the past year, due to a building project, it met twice a month.  Minutes are maintained. Roles and responsibilities have been assigned to members of the board and each role is carried out assiduously. The chairperson is a regular visitor to the school and supports the principal in the day-to-day running of the school. The board is commendably involved in the planning process. All members display a knowledge and understanding of all key school policies, relevant legislation and Department circulars. The board has a strategic plan for the school which is updated regularly and which shows clear efficiency and efficacy as targets are achieved.


1.3 In-school management


The principal is a highly efficient leader. He displays clarity of vision which is shared with the school community. He leads and manages the school very effectively by setting organisational, curricular and pastoral priorities. He is very keenly aware of the value of the school planning process and uses this to ensure continual school improvement. His promotion of self-evaluation is particularly commendable. Learning and pupil welfare are at the heart of all school decisions. A very positive school climate prevails and the principal has established a collaborative, inclusive working environment for all staff. He is particularly effective as a curricular leader. He displays keen leadership in teaching and learning. He ensures there is regular review of classroom practice, and the monitoring and evaluation of educational initiatives. New members of staff are very well supported. Staff meetings are held fortnightly, outside of school hours. The level of dedication and commitment of the staff in promoting good practice is highly commendable. The principal is assisted by a diligent and industrious in-school management team. Responsibilities are clearly laid out, contracts are reviewed on a regular basis and duties are adjusted to meet the ongoing needs of the school.


1.4 Management of resources


The school community have just secured a new building on the school grounds. This modern, spacious and clean building ensures there are adequate learning environments for both mainstream and special education classes. The school is very well resourced. Resources are carefully stored and accessed easily. Of particular significance is the school library funded by the parents and friends of St. Joseph’s.


1.5 Management of relationships and communication with the school community


The quality of management of relations and communication with the school community is very good. The school has established a ‘parents and friends of St. Joseph’s’ committee who help further the development of the school. This promotes a strong community link. This group has done commendable work in fundraising for a school library and for the refurbishment of the school. Parents are very satisfied with the level of communication from the school. They receive a school booklet on enrolment, which contains key policies. They receive regular newsletters and notices regarding school activities, new school plans and policies and updates on school development. Parents are involved in fundraising initiatives, curricular initiatives and in policy formation. They are very interested in supporting the school and their children. They are particularly complimentary of the level of pastoral care for the boys in this school.


1.6 Management of pupils


The quality of pupil management is very good. Pupils are very well behaved at all times and show a clear understanding of school and classroom rules. They interact appropriately with their peers, teachers and school personnel. The staff has established a number of procedures to aid appropriate pupil-pupil interaction. It has also created an impressive code of behaviour which promotes positive behaviour. The high quality of pupil management contributes significantly to the effective learning in each classroom.



2.     Quality of school planning


2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning


The quality of school planning is very good. A very successful planning process is adhered to, with a highly commendable focus on self-evaluation. There is clear collaboration with all members of the school community. A strategic plan is in place, supported by an array of action plans, which ensures continual school improvement. Curricular plans provide useful information on key staff decisions. They reflect curricular principles and focus on the school context ensuring relevance to the needs of the pupils. Plans and policies are reviewed regularly as part of the school development planning process.


The quality of teacher planning is very good. Schemes of work, both long-term and short-term are based on the strands and strand units of the curriculum. Teachers use the decisions in the school plan as a reference for their classroom planning. All teachers plan for content, resources, assessment and methodologies. While all teachers also plan for approaches to differentiating support for pupils with additional needs, it is recommended that they specify the learning outcomes for such pupils. A majority of teachers plan explicitly for skill development in different subject areas, a practice which is very effective. Monthly progress reports are compiled by each teacher and are maintained centrally 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 English


The quality of teaching in English is very good. Lessons are very effectively structured and paced. There is very good breadth and balance in all strands of the taught English curriculum. Teachers place a praiseworthy emphasis on oral language development. A majority of teachers plan for specific vocabulary development and skill development in oral language. Language games are also used to very good effect. The pupils can express themselves very effectively. The strong relationship between teachers and pupils greatly aids honest talk and discussion. Poetry is used very effectively in all classes. Pupils can recite poems with energy and emotion. They can also discuss the conventions of poetry competently.


The quality of English reading is very good. All classrooms are rich in print with stimulating displays. An appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of phonological awareness. All classes read a class novel. Some teachers also promote such initiatives as paired reading, listening and responding to children’s literature, DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) and library time. A wide range of methodologies is used to ensure pupils experience success in reading.


The quality of writing is very good. Pupils are presented with a variety of writing tasks over the course of the year yielding very good results. While pupils can discuss the conventions of different genres, pupils would benefit from the ongoing development of each genre. The writing process is taught very successfully. All pupils engage in drafting, editing and redrafting exercises. The use of information and communication technologies for the development of such skills is commendable as the pupils can also discuss the benefits of such resources. A majority of teachers emphasise cursive handwriting with very good results. The use of class libraries and of the new school library is proving very effective. Pupils enjoy discussing books and favourite authors across both fiction and non-fiction.


3.2 Mathematics


The quality of teaching and learning in Mathematics is very good. Teachers promote a very effective blend of activities across all strands. Concrete materials, calculators and computers are used to further pupils’ understanding. There is a clear promotion of Mathematics in the environment with display areas and investigation tables in all classes. Mathematics trails, games and quizzes are used advantageously to stimulate interest in Mathematics. Topics and concepts are linked to pupils’ lives. Pupils display competence across all strands. They are interested in mathematical enquiry and their questions are welcomed. Teachers place a very good emphasis on number facts, mental Mathematics and mathematical skills. While the language of Mathematics is taught systematically, it is recommended that teachers make additional use of group work and pair work to provide opportunities for pupils to use new vocabulary.


3.3 Geography


The quality of teaching and learning in Geography is very good. A broad range of methodologies is effectively employed to support teaching in all strands. An integrated approach to Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) is successfully promoted at all class levels and this ensures a balanced programme is implemented. Lessons are efficiently sequenced. Pupils’ knowledge and ideas are taken as starting points for lessons. Teachers place a praiseworthy emphasis on the vocabulary associated with this subject area. Language development forms an explicit part of lessons. Very good use is made of maps in each class and pupils’ mapping skills are appropriately developed. A whole-school approach to the use of the environment is implemented very successfully. The pupils enjoy SESE trails that develop their investigative skills. In a majority of classes teachers use a variety of textbooks to support the content objectives of the Geography curriculum. There is an active ‘green schools’ committee and it is evident from pupils’ behaviour that they eagerly assume responsibility for this project. Teachers have developed a variety of tasks within this project to link Geography with other areas of the curriculum. Particularly praiseworthy is the link with Mathematics, where pupils graph the results of school surveys. Posters promoting good environmental practice are designed in Irish. The Geography curriculum is also supported by a number of community initiatives such as Roscommon County Council’s ‘Tidy Towns’ competition, Discover Primary Science (for which the school has received recognition each year) and the National Wildlife Service. The Irish Aid Award was won by the school last year. While pupils can discuss a variety of geographical topics confidently, it is recommended an additional focus be placed on higher-order questioning, particularly regarding the comparison between the local environment and other environments.


3.4 Assessment


A variety of assessment modes is used to good effect in the school. Teachers monitor pupils’ work through the correction of written tasks, through observation of behaviour and learning and through the maintenance of profiles in certain subject areas. Teachers document the results of tests and tasks and differentiate work accordingly for pupils with specific learning difficulties. It is recommended that teachers examine the results of standardised tests in English and Mathematics to establish a clear picture of the school’s strengths and areas for development in these subjects. It is further recommended that the staff build on the good practice of assessing key curricular areas and develop assessments for each subject.



4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs


The pupils of St. Joseph’s BNS receive the services of a learning support and a resource teacher. Both teachers prepare conscientiously and diligently for their pupils. Individual education plans are prepared for all pupils and shared with parents. An appropriate emphasis is placed on the use of a variety of resources for learning. Pupils are withdrawn individually or in small groups. The learning support teacher also provides valuable in-class support where appropriate. There are clear procedures for the commencement and ending of support classes for individual pupils. It is recommended that a greater range of methodologies be used to further motivate pupils in receipt of support classes.


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


There are currently no pupils in the school availing of other supports.   



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, March 2010