An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

 REPORT

 

Meenkilly National School

Abbeyfeale

County Limerick

Uimhir rolla: 16239B

 

Date of inspection: 1 October 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

School Response to the Report

 

 


Whole-school evaluation

A whole-school evaluation of Meenkilly N.S. was undertaken in October 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 Science. The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

 

Introduction – school context and background

Meenkilly N.S. is a rural mixed mainstream school situated 6 km from the town of Abbeyfeale. The school reports excellent pupil attendance. The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:

 

 

Number

Pupils enrolled in the school

78

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

4

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

1

Special needs assistants

1.5

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

Meenkilly N.S. is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of Limerick. The school’s mission statement outlines its commitment to cherishing “the uniqueness of each individual” and to the provision of “a holistic approach in developing each child’s full potential, while respecting the culture and religion of all”. A very supportive school community succeeds admirably in the creation of a positive school climate which is conducive to the realisation of this mission statement.  

 

1.2 Board of management

The board is very proactive in its management of the school. Meetings are regularly held, finances are audited annually and board members have availed of training opportunities. A good strategic plan has been devised in which organisational policies requiring review have been identified. Excellent relationships exist among the board, the school staff and the parents. The school building, despite its limitations, is very well maintained. The board expressed concern regarding the suitability of present school accommodation and it has identified the need to develop the school building as a major priority. Summer works schemes have been availed of in the past and the board has submitted an application to the Department for the “Devolved Grant” to meet the cost of improving and extending present school accommodation.

 

1.3 In-school management

The principal displays excellent managerial, administrative and instructional leadership skills. He is highly professional in discharging his duties. His strong curriculum leadership and his focus on meeting the needs of the individual pupil have a very positive impact on pupil achievement and progress. The principal is ably assisted by the deputy principal to whom a range of administrative, pastoral and curricular responsibilities have been assigned. Together the in-school management team work collaboratively and co-operatively to ensure that the pupils benefit from a range of valuable educational experiences and opportunities.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The parents and the wider school community are highly commended for the support which they offer the school. Parents actively engage in a series of school activities which support pupil learning. These activities include organising and financing swimming lessons, arranging for pupil attendance at a wide variety of sporting events and the establishment of an innovative annual induction course for infants being enrolled in the school for the first time. Care is taken to ensure that the community and the school work together in the best interests of the pupils and to ensure that the school remains at the heart of the local community.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

An atmosphere of courtesy and mutual respect permeates the school. The pupils are respectful and they co-operate willingly with their teachers. The teachers effectively identify and develop the talents of individual pupils. An extensive range of extra-curricular and co-curricular events and activities are organised and the pupils are regularly provided with opportunities to engage in meaningful decision making through their engagement in the “Green School” committee, project work, and school based activities.

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

A good whole-school plan includes a range of organisational policies which are compliant with statutory requirements and reflective of the school’s mission and values. Whole-school curriculum plans effectively guide learning and teaching in the school. These plans assist in ensuring the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum to the pupils and they facilitate continuity and progression of learning between classes. It is recommended however that the absence of a policy relating to Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) be addressed in the short term. It is further recommended that the school now commence a process of school self-evaluation in order to ensure the continuous evaluation and improvement of educational provision in the school and to identify key priorities for development to be addressed over an identified period of time.

 

All teachers undertake effective long-term and short-term planning and monthly progress records are maintained. This planning guides the teachers’ work in the classroom and contributes to successful learning. Teachers’ planning, particularly in the infant classes, clearly details how the curriculum is adapted and differentiated for pupils with additional learning needs and this good practice is praised. All teachers plan for the employment of a range of learning strategies to cater for pupils’ learning needs and styles. These strategies facilitate the pupils to work in group activities and to engage in active and participative learning. Teaching and learning resources, including Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), are well utilised. In order to further enhance the impact of teachers’ individual planning on pupil learning outcomes it is now recommended that long and short-term teacher planning which is presently focussed on outlining content to be covered, would be adapted to include the identification of curriculum objectives and learning outcomes.

 

2.2 Child protection policy and procedures

Confirmation was provided that, in compliance with Department of Education and Science Primary Circular 0061/2006, the board of management has formally adopted the Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2001). Confirmation was also provided that these child protection procedures have been brought to the attention of management, school staff and parents; that a copy of the procedures has been provided to all staff (including all new staff); and that management has ensured that all staff are familiar with the procedures to be followed. A designated liaison person (DLP) and a deputy DLP have been appointed in line with the requirements of the guidelines.

 

 

3.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

3.1 Language

 

Gaeilge

Múintear an Ghaeilge go han-éifeachtach sa scoil seo. Baintear feidhm as modhanna éagsúla chun an t-ábhar a cur in iúl go héifeachtach. Aithrisíonn na daltaí rainn agus amhráin go muiníneach cumasach. Labhraíonn said Gaeilge go nádúrtha ag léiriú stór leathan focal, cruinneas agus saibhreas cainte i gcomhthéacsanna oiriúnacha. Úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar mheán teagaisc i rith na gceachtanna Gaeilge agus moltar anois, mar a ndéantar sna hardranganna, feidhm níos leithne a bhaint as an nGaeilge le linn gníomhaíochtaí laethúla agus ceachtanna eile sna rangsheomraí.   

 

Baintear feidhm cheardúil as raon leathan de mhodhanna múinte chun scileanna na léitheoireachta a fhorbairt agus a dhaingniú. Léann na daltaí go cruinn muiníneach agus baineann said úsáid as raon scileanna chun focail, frásaí agus abairtí a aithint, a léamh agus a thuiscint.  Moltar anois feidhm a bhaint as réimse níos leithne d’ábhar léitheoireachta agus fíorleabhair chun scileanna éisteachta agus léitheoireachta na ndaltaí a fhorbairt níos mó.

 

Léirítear ard-chaighdeán i shaothar scríofa na ndaltaí go mór mhór sna h-ardranganna. Múintear scileanna scríbhneoireachta go córasach mar chuid lárnach den chlár teagaisc sa Ghaeilge. Tugtar deiseanna rialta do dhaltaí dul i mbun scríbhneoireachta agus réimse leathan téacsanna a chruthú idir scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil agus cruthaitheach.

 

Irish

Irish is taught very effectively in this school. Use is made of a range of methodologies to effectively present content. The pupils recite poetry and songs confidently and competently. They speak Irish naturally displaying a wealth of vocabulary, accuracy and richness of language in suitable contexts. Irish is used as the management language throughout the Irish lessons and it is now recommended, as is the case in the senior classes, that more widespread use is made of Irish in the daily activities and lessons of the classroom.

 

 

Skilled use is made of a range of teaching methodologies to develop and consolidate reading skills. The pupils read accurately and confidently and they employ a range of skills to identify, read and understand words, phrases and sentences. It is now recommended that a wider range of reading materials and real books be used to further develop the pupils’ listening and reading skills.

 

A high standard is displayed in the written work of the pupils especially in the senior classes. Writing skills are systematically taught as a central part of the Irish programme. The pupils are given regular opportunities to write and to create a wide range of texts involving creative and formal writing.

 

English

English is very successfully taught in this school and the pupils have, in general, attained very high standards.  Oral language development is successfully addressed in discrete lessons, through the provision of opportunities for pupil-pupil and pupil-teacher interaction and through the effective development of language skills across the curriculum. The pupils engage confidently and expressively in discussions. Poetry is very well addressed throughout the school and the pupils recite and respond to a diverse variety of poems at each class level.

 

English lessons are well structured and paced and they focus on the development of selected reading strategies. Large format books and a phonological awareness programme are used effectively in the infant classes. The school and classroom libraries are well resourced with an impressive selection of books. Throughout the school pupils are encouraged to read for pleasure and to keep a record of the books they read. In the middle and senior classes this record is developed to include a reflective account of the readers’ evaluation of the book. Shared and paired reading is practiced to good effect particularly in the infant and junior classes. The novel is effectively utilised in the middle and senior classes. Pupils’ higher order thinking skills are skilfully developed throughout the school and the pupils display a clear comprehension of material read.

 

Pupils are given regular opportunities to develop their creative and functional writing skills at all class levels and very good standards are generally achieved by the pupils. Written work is very neatly presented and reflects a variety of writing genres. Examples of pupils’ written work are attractively displayed in most classrooms and selected samples are maintained in the pupils’ portfolios.

 

3.2 Mathematics

The quality of teaching and learning in Mathematics is of a very high standard. The language of mathematics is well explored and developed. Good class discussions enable the pupils to develop an understanding of mathematical concepts and praiseworthy efforts are made to relate learning in this area to the real life experiences and the immediate environment of the pupils. Good learning activities are organised which facilitate the active engagement of the pupils with a range of concrete materials. Lessons are well structured and paced and topics are consolidated and revised effectively. An equitable balance is struck between knowledge and skills acquisition. Estimation and problem solving strategies are systematically addressed at all class levels.

 

3.3 Science

All teachers ensure that the pupils are active participants in the Science lessons. Innovative and imaginative activities are planned and delivered by the teachers. The inherent curiosity of the pupils, their local environment and their interests provide a springboard from which the pupils’ knowledge of the biological and physical world is effectively developed. In each lesson observed the pupils were encouraged to work scientifically and the skills of observing, predicting, hypothesising and interpreting were successfully addressed and developed. The successful integration of the Science curriculum with other curriculum areas ensures that pupil learning is effectively consolidated and that pupil achievement in Science is of a very satisfactory standard.

 

3.4 Assessment

The practice in relation to the assessment for learning and of learning in this school is commendable. A wide range of assessment modes is utilised by the teachers. Pupils’ written work is regularly monitored and evaluated. Using a combination of teacher observation, teacher designed tasks and tests, criterion referenced tests, portfolios containing samples of work completed by the pupils and standardised tests in literacy and numeracy, the teachers effectively assess and record pupil progress across the curriculum. A variety of diagnostic tests is administered by the support team. Assessment data are commendably utilised by the resource and learning support teacher to plan appropriate learning programmes and interventions for the pupils who have learning difficulties. Pupil progress is communicated to parents at the annual parent teacher meeting, in the end of year school reports and as the need arises. It is recommended, to further enhance provision in this area, that the school consider engaging the pupils in self-assessment activities thereby enabling them to develop an awareness of their own learning needs and strengths.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The provision for pupils with special educational needs is of a high standard. Using assessment data and through effective collaboration with the parents, suitably challenging learning programmes are devised for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities. Pupils are withdrawn individually or in small groups for instruction. Some in-class support is also provided where appropriate. Lessons are carefully organised using a variety of materials and teaching methodologies, including ICT. Careful records of pupil progress are maintained and it is evident that all pupils are making progress commensurate with their abilities. It is now recommended that clearer objectives be set for the provision of in-class support and that consideration be given to the provision of an early intervention programme in the infant classes.

 

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 January 2009


 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 


Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report