An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Kealkill National School
Kealkill, Bantry, County Cork
Uimhir rolla: 16087E
Date of inspection: 25 October 2006
Date of issue of report: 26 April 2007
This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Kealkill National School. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspector held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. She interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. She 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 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.
Kealkill N.S. is located six miles north east of Bantry, Co. Cork. It is one of ten schools in the parish and it serves a well-established rural community, catering for both boys and girls from infants to sixth class. The present enrolment of 64 pupils is drawn primarily from a cohort of 41 families living in Kealkill and its general hinterlands. Enrolment in the school has remained constant over the past few years reflecting little change in demographic trends. However, increased housing in the area may change this pattern of development as plans exist for the building of approximately 20 houses in close proximity to the site of the school.
The school is under the patronage of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross. The characteristic spirit, as exemplified in the general atmosphere throughout the school, is one of caring inclusiveness where all pupils are encouraged and motivated to learn. The staff are committed to the holistic development of pupils and provide a supportive educational environment for them.
Kealkill N.S. is a participating school in the Department of Education and Science initiatives which include “Giving Children an Even Break” (GCEB) and School Completion Programme (SCP). It appears that pupils enjoy school and their levels of attendance are high. The last school report was furnished in 1997 and since then a new principal has been appointed.
The board of management is properly constituted, functions effectively and has a clear and shared understanding of its responsibilities in the management and development of the school. Meetings are convened regularly and formal minutes are recorded. Procedures are in place to track income and expenditure on a regular basis and the treasurer presents a financial report at each meeting. Although financial statements are furnished, it is suggested that accounts should be audited annually. A review of the minutes of meetings confirms that a range of issues is addressed and that the board makes a very positive contribution to the successful operation of the school.
The board is committed to developing a climate of continuous improvement in the school. The acquisition of a site for the purpose of extending the play area and providing a field has almost reached completion. The board is to be commended for their vision and dedication to this project.
Primarily, the board of management has directed its attention to the development of a number of organisational policies. It is now considered advisable that, in collaboration with the teaching staff, the board becomes more actively involved in the development of all policies including curricular, in their ratification and review. Currently the principal acts as secretary to the board of management, recording the minutes of meetings and setting agendas. It may now be possible to delegate secretarial duties to other board members to alleviate some of the administrative work of the teaching principal.
The board is most supportive of the work of the school and co-operation between school and board is fostered continuously. The board ensures meaningful communication with parents and ensures that policies are available to them as they are devised. While parents are encouraged to be actively involved in school life, it is recommended that clear procedures and strategies are established to facilitate greater involvement of parents in both the curricular and organisational aspects of the school.
The in-school management team consists of a principal, a deputy principal and a special duties teacher. The principal, appointed in 2001, plays a pivotal role in leading and managing the school and is committed to its progressive development. The promotion of a positive school climate where there is open communication, mutual respect and collaborative decision making is central to the management style. The principal enjoys the support of the teaching staff, board and parents. School leadership has successfully progressed a range of curricular and organisational policies through fostering teamwork and collaboration.
Duties for the deputy principal and special duties teacher have been agreed. The team execute their duties in a professional manner and are committed to making a genuine contribution to the overall effectiveness of the school. Duties are primarily of an organisational nature with some responsibilities for curricular areas. In facilitating a productive matching of duties to a constantly changing school environment, further responsibilities in matters curricular and pastoral should be assigned and reviewed regularly. Posts of responsibilities have not been reviewed recently. It is therefore recommended that review procedures are put in place and that the board collaborate regularly with post-holders to enhance their contribution to the overall management of the school.
The in-school management team might also consider conducting after school meetings to facilitate further collaborative decision-making, to assess progress and to plan for further development.
Human resources are deployed gainfully throughout the school. The staff consists of a teaching principal, two mainstream class teachers and a learning support teacher shared with two neighbouring school. Teachers participate in regular in-service programmes and in continuous professional development in response to the perceived needs of the school. While very little staff rotation has taken place, sharing of staff knowledge and expertise has been formally initiated through teachers exchanging classes for particular subjects. Further consideration might now be given to the provision of opportunities for increased staff mobility. A part-time secretary, who is also employed as a special needs assistant (SNA), provides valuable administrative support to the teaching staff. As an SNA she is deployed judiciously to attend to the needs of one child. She undertakes her duties with diligence and care to ensure the full inclusion of this pupil in all mainstream classroom activities.
A number of external teachers and tutors are deployed under the various support programmes sanctioned by the Department of Education and Science. The school enjoys the services of a rural co-ordinator under Giving Children an Even Break Programme. Under the auspices of this programme the teaching staff is ably supported by additional personnel in the area of Music, Visual Arts, Drama, home-school liaison and learning support. The SCP also provides additional support in the areas of Physical Education, Gaeilge and Science. Staff meetings are held at least once a term. The provision of an agenda to include curricular and organisational matters, would provide a clearer focus for the discussion at these meetings.
The school, which was built in 1909, extended in 2000, currently consists of three mainstream classrooms. Other facilities include a staff room, toilets, and a small office which is also used as a storage area. The staff room accommodates the learning support teacher and resource teacher. Some GCEB and SCP tutors also use this room in the absence of any other available space in the building. A number of computers have also been installed in the staff room. The provision of another classroom and, in particular, a learning support room is urgently required. The board of management is confident that a portacabin will be erected soon. The board are urged to continue in their efforts to provide these facilities as current arrangements for pupils who require additional support is not adequate. Furthermore, the board have indicated their intention to apply for an extension to the school given the potential growth in the general locality. The local hall is also available for school activities when required. The maintenance programme of the school is reviewed regularly and a number of refurbishment projects have been undertaken in recent years including the resurfacing of the school yard. Fundraising by the parents’ association has augmented these renovation schemes.
The attractive physical learning environment in classrooms is praiseworthy, in particular the stimulating displays of pupils’ work and teacher-generated materials. A high standard of hygiene, neatness and décor is in evidence throughout the building which contributes to the creation of a welcoming atmosphere and a pleasant working environment. A wide range of material resources is available to support curriculum implementation. Each classroom has an organised supply of suitable library books supplemented by the mobile library service. The school has acquired a wide range of PE equipment. Computers are available in some classrooms. However, it is recommended that more extensive use is made of information communication technology (ICT) as a pedagogical tool on an ongoing basis.
Management consult parents regarding school events through written communications. Parents are afforded opportunities to discuss their childrens’ progress at formal parent/teacher meetings twice a year or at any other appointed time if necessary. While written progress reports are not issued annually staff are considering the possibility of doing so in the future. New pupils are inducted by their attendance at the school for one morning prior to their commencement. To enhance the induction process it is recommended that a formal meeting with new parents is held. The school authorities might also consider meeting parents at the beginning of the academic year to inform them of curricular and organisational issues, thereby promoting greater communication with the general parent body.
The parents’ association supports the school by fundraising for additional resources for pupils, facilitating school initiatives and supporting inter-school competitions, school concerts and sporting occasions. The present committee has plans to organise education evenings for parents now that fundraising activities have been reduced. Communication with the board of management is effected through the attendance of the parents’ representatives, principal and chairperson of the board at the parents’ association meetings. Informal meetings are also convened with the principal when required. Communication is augmented by the issuing of a newsletter which keeps parents informed of school activities.
A copy of school plans is made available in the school for parents to view on request. While invitations have been issued to parents to contribute to its design, to date parents have had little involvement in policy development with the exception of the RSE Policy, healthy eating policy and in more recent times a recycling policy. In order to progress the consultative nature of the school planning process and to foster an appropriate level of parental involvement, emphasis should now be placed on promoting greater understanding of the role of parents in policy and curriculum development.
Parents’ representatives reported that they were satisfied with the educational provision in the school and with the management of pupils’ behaviour. They expressed their satisfaction with the provision of a wide range of activities both in school and outside school hours through the school’s participation in number of Department of Education and Science initiatives. Parents are required to raise monies on a weekly basis to finance various school programmes including the ongoing development of the school playground. The collection of this money is organised effectively by the parents with the support of the board of management.
The positive attitude and behaviour of pupils is most praiseworthy. Teachers are committed to the general welfare and pastoral needs of children. Great care is taken by staff to promote the personal development and well-being of pupils and to foster in them a sense of care and respect for themselves and others. Pupils reciprocate by cooperating willingly with staff during lessons and by contributing positively to the quality of school life. They engage in discussion with enthusiasm and participate fully in their learning. The school’s code of discipline is implemented effectively and pupils’ good behaviour is commendable.
Much work has been undertaken in the development of the school plan. The school has received the support of Cuiditheoirí and facilitators from national in-service training initiatives and this support and advice has contributed to the schools’ planning process. The school plan has been devised through the collaborative activity of the principal and the teaching staff. It is commendable that each staff member has provided leadership for some curricular area. Teachers engage in action planning and as a result prioritise certain areas for development in accordance with the needs of the school.
Statutory policies have been developed in response to relevant educational legislation including policies on enrolment, equality, health and safety, anti-bullying, substance use and a code of behaviour. Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provision in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2004). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.
A wide range of organisational policies has also been designed to assist in the day-to-day management of the school. A range of curriculum plans has been developed concurrent with the implementation of the revised curriculum and includes plans for Gaeilge, English, Mathematics, Science, Visual Arts, Music, Physical Education and Social, Personal and Health Education. It is recommended that current policies are reviewed with particular emphasis on documenting content which will ensure progression and continuity in teaching and learning from class to class.
While all teachers engage in long-term and short-term planning, there is considerable variation in its format and content. While some teachers outline content under the curriculum strands and strand units, state teaching objectives and make reference to various methodologies, approaches, and resources to be used, in other instances planning is predominantly based on the content of textbooks and other resources. It is recommended that a whole-school approach to classroom planning be devised. Long-term plans need to be contextualised in the strands and strand units of the curriculum and based on the school plan. Short-term planning should place greater focus on the expected learning outcomes to be achieved in terms of pupil skills and concepts. An agreed approach at a whole-school level regarding the functionality and format of monthly progress records would enhance self-evaluation and contribute to the review of the implementation of the school plan. It is therefore recommended that the present approach to classroom planning be reviewed.
Curriculum provision is broad and balanced and is adapted to the developmental needs of pupils. Teachers efficiently manage the organisational demands of multi-class groupings. The quality of teaching observed during the whole school evaluation was of a high standard at all levels. Teachers presented lesson content clearly, accompanied by well-structured learning activities. A variety of teaching methodologies was observed at each class level, including whole-class teaching, group work and work with individual pupils. The teaching staff have embraced the principles of the primary curriculum with enthusiasm and they have established some innovative strategies to complement the teaching and learning process.
Classroom climate is positive, interaction between teacher and pupil is lively and the pupils are open, friendly and eager for challenge. The level of success enjoyed by pupils in reading is positive. Numeracy skills are well developed and indicate that pupils in general are making good progress. Samples of pupils work in copybooks and on display are presented to a high standard and indicate that considerable progress is made in written work at each class level. The widespread use of project work where pupils self-direct their own learning is highly commended. Effective integration of subjects was evident across a number of curricular areas. Differentiation is practiced diligently to cater for the varying needs of all pupils. Teachers monitor pupils’ work and corrections are made in a positive and constructive manner.
Sa Ghaeilge sonraítear teagasc do caighdeán ard tríd an scoil. Tá feidhm thairbheach á baint as an gcur chuige cumarsáideach chun an Gaeilge a chur chun cinn ag gach rang leibhéal. Éiríonn leis na hoidí suim na ndaltaí i bhfoghlaim na Gaeilge a mhúscailt agus a bpáirtíocht sna ceachtanna a chothú trí úsáid cheardúil a bhaint as straitéisí éagsúla ar nós drámaíochta, agallaimh beirte, filíochta, rann, rólghlacadh, puipéad agus cluichí. Eagraítear imeachtaí éagsúla ar nós Seachtain na Gaeilge chun timpeallacht Ghaelach a chothú. Tacaíonn an t-oide ón gclár SCP leis an obair seo trí scéalta as Gaeilge a léamh.
Úsáidtear áiseanna closamhairc agus ábhar corpartha go stuama chun scileanna éisteachta na ndaltaí a fhorbairt agus chun a dtuiscint ar an teanga a éascú. I gcoitinne, léiríonn na daltaí cumas maith tuisceana agus is inmholta mar a chuirtear ar a gcumas ceisteanna a chur agus a fhreagairt. Leathnaítear foclóir na ndaltaí go céimiúil agus caitear dua le múineadh nathanna cainte. Sna bunranganna baintear feidhm éifeachtach as rainn, amhráin agus scéalaíocht chun rithim agus fuaimeanna na teanga a chur ar chluasa na ndaltaí. Tagann forbairt creidiúnach ar chumas labhartha na ndaltaí sna meánranganna agus sna hardranganna. B’fhiú na daltaí a mhealladh tromlach na cainte a dhéanamh le linn na gceachtanna agus gan srian a chur lena gcaint nádúrtha ar mhaithe le cruinnis gramadaí. I gcoitinne, tá caighdeán labhartha creidiúnach sroichte ag formhór na ndaltaí. B’fhiú iad a spreagadh chun a thuilleadh úsáide a bhaint as an teanga i gcomhthéacsanna cumarsáideacha ar mhaithe le húsáid níos leithne teanga a sholáthar dóibh.
Cuirtear tús fiúntach leis an litearthacht luath agus múintear scileanna léitheoireachta go céimiúil. Tá iarracht choinsiasach déanta prionta i nGaeilge a chur ar taispeáint i dtimpeallacht na scoile. Éiríonn go stuama le formhór na ndaltaí an t-ábhar léitheoireachta a léamh le brí agus le tuiscint. Tá iarracht inmholta déanta ar an t-ábhar léitheoireachta sa Ghaeilge a leathnú, go háirithe sna meánranganna. Ba thairbheach anois, feidhm a bhaint as raon d’fhíor leabhair tharraingteacha, iris agus cineálacha difriúla téacsanna chun a scileanna léitheoireachta a chothú a thuilleadh fós. Baintear feidhm éifeachtach as an drámaíocht le linn na gceachtanna chun scileanna léitheoireachta agus labhartha na ndaltaí a fhorbairt.
Éiríonn leis na daltaí scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil de chaighdeán creidiúnach a sholáthar. Déantar scafláil ar scríbhneoireacht na ndaltaí agus cuirtear leabhráin dá gcuid oibre le chéile bunaithe ar na téamaí éagsúla ón gcuraclam. Ní mór, áfach, próiseas na saor scríbhneoireachta a fhorbairt go córasach agus deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí smaointe a ghiniúint agus a dhréachtú le cur lena gcumas cumarsáide scríofa. Múintear an fhilíocht go céimiúil agus is léir go mbaineann na daltaí tairbhe nach beag as an saothar seo.
In general a high standard in the teaching of Irish is in evidence throughout the school. The communicative approach is deployed effectively at all class levels. A range of strategies such as drama, poetry, rhyme, role-play, the use of puppets and games are all used effectively to maintain pupils interest in the language and to ensure their engagement in the Irish lesson. To assist in the creation of an environment that promotes Irish a number of activities are organised during the year, for example, Seachtain na Gaeilge. The teaching of the language is also supported by the GCEB coordinator who reads stories in Irish to pupils on a regular basis.
A range of materials and resources is used to augment and develop pupils’ listening skills and to facilitate their understanding of the language. In general, pupils display a good understanding of the language and their ability to ask and answer questions is commendable. Pupils’ vocabulary is extended in a structured manner and appropriate emphasis is placed on the teaching of suitable phrases. In the junior classes story, song and rhyme are taught in an effective manner to familiarise pupils with the rhythm and sound of the language. Pupils in the middle and senior classes develop an appropriate competence in the language. However, it is suggested that more emphasis be placed on pupils communicating in the language and correction of grammatical errors is deemed unnecessary in such situations. In general most pupils attain a credible standard of oral competency in the Irish language. However, it is recommended that pupils are encouraged to communicate more frequently by creating communication contexts thereby providing them with a wider language experience.
Early literacy skills are developed systematically and reading skills are taught in a structured manner. Sincere efforts have been made to create a print-rich environment to assist pupils in their reading. Most pupils learn to read with meaning and understanding. The range of materials that is available to pupils in the middle classes is commendable. In other classes the use of a wider range of texts would expose pupils to a richness and variety of reading material. Effective use is made of drama to promote pupils reading and oral language skills.
Pupils’ functional writing indicates a credible standard of accuracy. In general pupils written experiences are scaffolded. Booklets of pupils’ written work are produced based on themes from the curriculum. It is recommended that pupils are afforded more regular opportunities to engage in the writing process where they are encouraged to draft their thoughts and improve their writing skills through the medium of Irish. Poetry is taught in a systematic manner which pupils enjoy.
A whole-school plan has been developed for English which takes due cognisance of the strand and strand units of the English curriculum. As part of the review process it is now necessary to identify appropriate content for each class level in the English school plan to ensure continuity and progression of learning.
Due attention is paid to the development of pupils’ oral language skills and opportunities for engaging in discussion across a wide range of curricular areas are exploited. Development of pupils’ confidence through expressing their views on a range of topics is central to the oral language lesson. Greater emphasis should be placed on enriching pupils’ vocabulary during the discrete language lesson. Pupils are enabled to listen to and respond to a variety of story, rhymes and poems. Poetry is presented in a stimulating manner and pupils engage actively by reciting a range of poems clearly and with expression.
Basic reading skills are well taught and the reading culture that has developed throughout the school is praiseworthy. A variety of teaching approaches and methodologies is used to develop literacy. Pupils in junior classes, where a print-rich environment is created, display age-appropriate phonological and phonemic awareness. A good knowledge of frequently-used words and proficiency in word-identification strategies was also noted. Activities for reading readiness provide a foundation for the teaching of reading through the use of large format books and a good selection of age-appropriate reading books. Class readers are used and in some classes they are supplemented by the novel. It is suggested that earlier exposure to small books and the novel would greatly augment the current reading programme. Emphasis is placed on reading for pleasure and many pupils are independent readers and read with high levels of fluency.
Pupils engage in a range of writing activities, both functional and creative. In the junior classes written activity includes daily news. Book reviews, letter writing, poetry and stories are in evidence as well as comprehension and workbook exercises in the higher classes. An examination of pupils’ copybooks indicates that the process of creative writing is emphasised. A variety of genre using an age-appropriate register of language was also noted. It is recommended that pupils in all classes be given further opportunities to write creatively on a regular basis and for a variety of purposes. While good penmanship skills present as a notable feature in some classes, it is recommended that a whole-school approach to fostering handwriting and presentation skills should now be adopted.
Pupils achieve well and are enthusiastic about their work in the area of Mathematics. Teachers plan their lessons wisely, making sure that there is a variety of activities that meet pupils’ varying levels of understanding. Lesson content is presented clearly in a well-structured manner. Exercises in memorisation of number facts and problem-solving activities are a feature in some classes. Most pupils present an age-appropriate ability to perform computation tasks. Concrete material is used in the teaching of concepts. There is evidence that some pupils in the junior classes have developed a dependency on concrete materials in order to undertake computational tasks. To counteract such a dependency, pupils should be afforded some opportunities to complete tasks without concrete aids and to verbalise their actions. Pupils in the senior classes would benefit from more exposure to concrete materials. Pupils’ written work is well presented and is regularly monitored by teachers. Pupils in the higher classes also engage productively in self-correcting. The re-introduction of standardized testing in the area of Mathematics would be beneficial as an evaluative tool to inform planning, teaching and learning.
A range of topics is explored to ensure pupils develop a balanced understanding of family, local, national and world history. In junior classes suitable emphasis is placed on pupils’ own past and that of their families. In the middle and senior classes, pupils are given opportunities to develop their sense of chronology and learn about key events in selected periods of History. Worthwhile project work, with an appropriate focus on local history, enhances pupils’ ability to source and record information independently. Pupils present their findings through a variety of media including photographs. Pupils’ understanding of the past is also well developed through story-telling. Commendable emphasis is placed on pupils acting as historians, working with partners, participating in fieldwork and looking for evidence about life in the past. The history programme is well integrated with other areas of the curriculum and the sharing of expertise among staff enhances the delivery of the SESE programme.
Geography is well taught throughout the school. Interest in the local environment is appropriately emphasised in all classes and most pupils can talk about their local area confidently. Field trips and nature walks are organised to enable pupils understand and interpret their environment. The knowledge of local geographical features should be used more extensively to compare and contrast with other areas thereby extending the knowledge base of pupils. In the junior classes pupils’ graphical skills are developed effectively through lessons that enable them to observe and explore plans and develop an awareness of maps. In the middle and senior classes effective use is made of project work to enable pupils to develop their investigative and research skills. A number of worthwhile projects supported by photographic record, have been completed. These projects are displayed attractively in the school environs. Lessons are successfully integrated with other aspects of the SESE programme and other curricular areas.
The pupils follow a suitable Science programme that is grounded in the child-centred and activity principles embodied in the curriculum. Activity learning features frequently in tandem with discussion. Lessons are well-structured and a range of material is available to pupils to engage in simple scientific investigations. Practical age-appropriate experiments are conducted by pupils enthusiastically. The Bord Dúlra is a stimulating feature in some classrooms and bulbs and seeds have been planted to form part of the attractive science table. In some classes ICT is employed to enhance pupils’ research and investigative skills. However, greater use could be made of ICT as an aid to the teaching and learning of all subjects of the SESE programme.
An effective whole-school plan guides the teaching and learning for Visual Arts. Planning is based on the structure and content of the curriculum which ensures a broad and balanced programme. Teachers have embraced the principles of the curriculum in a comprehensive manner. A range of effective starting points for purposeful teaching is employed and pupils are afforded opportunities to explore the elements of art using a variety of art media. In the lessons observed, talk and discussion featured considerably and pupils developed an appropriate visual arts language. The integration of Visual Arts with other curricular areas is duly exploited. Examples of pupils’ work are displayed attractively in classrooms and corridors. To further expand the opportunities to look at and respond to the Visual Arts, prints of artists’ work could be displayed and appropriate resources used to inform pupils of different art forms. As a developmental issue attention could now be given to a whole-school approach to assessment. Consideration should be given to the maintenance of pupils’ work in portfolios which would include repeated pieces of art to allow teachers assess the progress of each individual pupil. The Visual Arts curriculum is supplemented by the provision of an art programme under the auspices of the SCP.
The teaching of Music is of a very high standard throughout the school. Pupils participate enthusiastically in music lessons and teachers afford them regular opportunity to engage in musical exploration. The elements of Music are developed through enjoyable and well-structured musical activities incorporating pitch and rhythm work, song singing, instrumental work, exploration of sound and simple composition. Music appreciation is also developed while integration with other curricular areas is a feature of all classroom practice. Teachers’ expertise in this area is acknowledged. The use of a range of percussion instruments during lessons is productive. Pupils in the senior classes demonstrate a credible understanding of musical notation and engage enthusiastically in composition. Pupils at all class levels sing a repertoire of songs in both Irish and English in a melodious and cheerful manner. Staff might usefully undertake a review of songs taught throughout the school and decide on a core compilation to become part of each pupil’s repertoire. School concerts and regular liturgical ceremonies enhance pupils’ opportunities to perform publicly.
Additional support is also provided by the SCP team in the area of Music. Through this programme all pupils from first to sixth class are encouraged to play the tin whistle and other musical instruments. Pupils in sixth class produce a compact disc of instrumental music prior to their transfer to post primary school. This has proven to be a most successful and worth while project.
Teachers promote dramatic activity enthusiastically and are aware of its unique potential in the development of a range of skills. An integrated approach to drama is mainly adopted. Mime, role-play, story and hot seating are among the strategies used to integrate dramatic activity with the exploration of topics in other curricular areas. Pupils engage in the creative process of drama very skilfully and display a great interest in its promotion throughout the school. Additional support as an after-school activity is also provided through the SCP to enhance the dramatic and creative development of pupils. Last year pupils participated in the Fís programme which enabled them to produce their own film. The outcome of this work was of a very high standard and all involved are to be commended.
The programme planned by the staff in Physical Education is weather dependent. Teachers endeavour to organise activities on a regular basis using the school yard. Activities are well structured, group and team activities are promoted and lessons begin and finish with appropriate warm-up and cool-down activities. Stations are well used to provide all pupils with opportunities to engage in a variety of activities during lessons and pupils’ creativity is developed through encouraging them to explore ways of moving using a range of apparatus. Discussion of activities is central to the Physical Education lesson. A wide range of equipment is available and deployed effectively. The use of Gaeilge in organising and directing these activities is to be commended and the extension of this practise is encouraged. A swimming programme is organised for classes and pupils are also provided with opportunities to participate in inter-school competitions. The local community hall and pitch are available for use when required. Additional support for Physical Education is provided through the SCP. It is noted that it is difficult to cover all strand units of the Gymnastics programme due to the lack of facilities. However, it is intended to extend the range of experiences in the strand Games with the introduction of volleyball. Due care is taken with regard to safety during lessons and pupils enjoy the range of activities provided.
The school ethos is characterised by a caring interactive relationship between teachers and pupils. A respectful school atmosphere permeates the school community where individuals are cared for and valued. Teachers ensure a well-ordered, secure and healthy environment and pupils respond in a positive manner. A variety of teaching approaches and active learning strategies are used in discrete SPHE lessons. Story is used to good effect to enhance listening skills and to enable pupils to explore and to discuss emotional and personal issues.
An assessment policy has been devised and implemented. Teacher observation, teacher-devised tests and monitoring of pupils’ written work are some of the assessment modes used regularly. These are complemented by the administration of formal standardized tests namely Micra-T from first class upwards. Staff are considering the re-introduction of standardized testing in the area of numeracy. The MIST and Belfield tests are also administered to pupils in senior infants to assess pupil attainment in literacy and to identify those pupils who may require supplementary support. In addition, teachers maintain records of individual achievement on class tests and other aspects of the curriculum. A wide range of diagnostic tests is administered regularly by the learning support teacher to determine appropriate learning programmes for those pupils with special educational needs. Formal procedures are established to record pupil progress as they move through different classes. As a further development of assessment procedures the school might usefully direct attention to the plotting of trends and the creation of a whole-school perspective on pupil achievement in literacy and numeracy and use the analysis to devise further programmes of learning.
Both teachers who cater for pupils with special educational needs are shared with neighbouring schools. Some of the work of the support teachers is characterised by detailed planning aimed at addressing the identified needs of individual pupils. A suitable range of school-based testing is used to determine these needs. Appropriate educational plans are prepared in consultation with class teachers and parents. Some comprehensive and informative records of progress are maintained. It is recommended that a review of pupils’ learning targets and a record of their progress should be detailed in a systematic way for all pupils attending support teaching. Structured and purposeful teaching strategies are adapted appropriately and suitable resources are deployed to support learning. The implementation of a wider range of approaches and methodologies would contribute positively to the achievement of pupils’ learning targets. Support teachers work in collaboration with class teachers in the classroom on selected topics as part of the early intervention programme. Appropriate accommodation is required to ensure that pupils with special educational needs are taught in an undisturbed and well resourced environment.
The rural co-ordinator of the School Completion Programme works in close collaboration with the principal, staff and parents. All activities are managed effectively. A team of tutors provide expertise and additional support in the area of Visual Arts, Drama, Music and computers. The services of a learning support teacher is also provided under the auspices of this programme. Some activities are organised within the school day while other activities take place after school hours. Tutors work in close collaboration with staff members to ensure that the service they provide meets the needs of pupils. Parents have reported their high level of satisfaction with such a wide and varied programme of activities and they believe that it contributes significantly to the holistic development of their children. Similarly the co-ordinator of the DES initiative Giving Children an Even Break works in collaboration with the teaching staff and provides additional support in a number of areas, namely, Gaeilge and Physical Education. Proposals to develop additional structured input in the area of Science will further enrich the quality of pupils’ learning.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.