An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

CBS Primary School

Nenagh, Co. Tipperary

Roll number: 16727O

 

Date of inspection:  22 November 2006

Date of issue of report:  26 April 2007

 

 

 

WHOLE SCHOOL EVALUATION

Introduction

2. Quality of school management

2.1 Board of management

2.2 In-school management

2.3 Management of resources

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

2.5 Management of Pupils

3. Quality of school planning

3.1 School planning process and implementation

3.2 Classroom planning

4. Quality of learning and teaching

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

4.2 Language

Gaeilge

Irish

English

4.3 Mathematics

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE)

Geography

History

Science

4.5 Arts education

Visual Arts

Music

Drama

4.6 Physical Education (PE)

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

4.8 Assessment

5. Quality of support for pupils

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs (SEN)

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

6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

                                

WHOLE SCHOOL EVALUATION

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of CBS Primary School Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. 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 the parents’ representatives on the board of management. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and teachers, examined students’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. The inspector 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.

 

Introduction

CBS Primary School, is a sixteen teacher school situated in the town of Nenagh in Co. Tipperary. Since the last evaluation was carried out in 1999 the enrolment figure has remained relatively static. The school was opened in 1969 with an extension added in 1989. The interior and exterior of the school are structurally sound and well maintained. The school caters for boys from the town of Nenagh. Some of the pupils come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. The school has seen an increase in the numbers of non-national and minority group children in recent years. 

The staffing arrangement includes nine class teachers, two special classes, one junior and one senior, for pupils with mild general learning disabilities, two resource teachers, one learning-support teacher and a recently appointed teacher for language support. Four special needs assistants are employed who provide support for a number of pupils with special educational needs. A GAA coach visits the school weekly to coach pupils in football and hurling skills. The pupils interact well with visitors. The school community as a whole appears active and diligent with a strong focus on co-operation, friendliness and collegiality. The principal and staff, in particular, work towards the creation of a safe and peaceful learning environment for the pupils and a genuine sense of mutual respect is evident. The school engages successfully with the local community through the delivery of programmes aimed at encouraging all pupils to develop a greater understanding of a variety of careers and professions.

 

2. Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The school is under the patronage of the Christian Brothers. The board of management is properly constituted and meets regularly. Compliance with statutory regulations is evident. Minutes of meetings are maintained and are made available for inspection. Accounts are well maintained and presented to the board regularly. The work of the board is carried out diligently and members display a strong commitment to the school. The board is supportive of the work of the teachers and is developing plans to support the relationships between itself and all people employed in the school in order to foster as positive a school culture as possible. Plans are also being developed at the moment with the intention of expanding the amount of land available for outdoor activities. The board is in discussion with the Department of Defence with a view to purchasing land adjacent to the school. If successful, this would enhance the playground space available for the pupils.

 

It is recommended that the board would now develop an action plan for the school. Such a plan needs to address two key areas. Firstly, there is a need for a long-term approach to the upgrading of the interior of the school. A planned programme of work over a number of years can be put in place to improve, decoration, flooring and overall attractiveness of the environment. The furniture has not been updated and is now in urgent need of replacement. Secondly, the board should involve itself more directly with policy and plan development from both the organisational and curricular perspectives. The role of the parents in this work needs to be examined with a greater emphasis on how the school community, as a whole, can contribute to the academic and pastoral progress of the pupils. A range of strategies to facilitate access to the curricular plans should be considered.

 

2.2 In-school management

The principal carries out his duties efficiently and professionally. Records are organised well and maintained appropriately. Staff members are consistently supported and innovative strategies are encouraged and facilitated. The planning process has been established and a number of curricular plans are being reviewed and redeveloped.. Monitoring of teachers’ individual plans is also ongoing. A good relationship is seen to exist between the principal and staff and a sense of collegiality has been created.

The in-school management team consists of five special duties post-holders. Duties have been allocated according to curricular, pastoral and organisational issues in the school. These duties include the co-ordination of curricular planning and acting as PRO for the school to liaison with the parents of special needs pupils and management of audio-visual equipment. All post-holders carry out their duties responsibly and diligently. However, it is now timely to examine the current priorities of the school and adjust the duties of the posts of responsibility accordingly. More formal structures need to be created where the principal and the in-school management team meet regularly to assess the quality of teaching and learning in the school. Staff meetings and board meetings should be synchronised to enable the in-school management team the opportunity to communicate effectively with the board through the principal and teacher representatives and report on the work of the post holders.

 

2.3 Management of resources

The school is well-resourced. Financial resources are carefully managed and accounts are kept up to date by a treasurer and presented to the board annually. Long-term planning now needs to be organised to enable the board to sustain its commitment to the action plan. Regular and relevant communication between staff and the board is required to support this work. The school benefits from a wide range of material resources, which is effectively used by teachers and pupils. A large array of teaching materials is available. These include posters for all subject areas, Science equipment, computers and Physical Education (PE) equipment. Games, puzzles, library books, a teachers’ reference library and a plentiful supply of visual arts materials are also in evidence. A range of musical equipment has been purchased to support learning in this area. Resource planning for the future should consider the amount and variety of reading material available to the pupils. These materials need to be displayed prominently in all areas of the school and pupils access facilitated as much as possible.

 

The school is maintained with great care. Cleaning is carried out daily and the overall  standard of cleanliness internally and externally is very good. A plan should now be put in place  for the school to pursue Green Flag status. There is ample evidence that the necessary communication and leadership mechanisms are in place for this work to occur and it would further enhance the sense of pride among the entire school community.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school enjoys the support of a parents’ association. Work carried out by this organisation focuses principally on fundraising for specific learning materials. Currently, the association is not affiliated with the National Parents’ Council. It is recommended that this affiliation should now be encouraged. Greater involvement of the parents and guardians of the pupils can be developed through the development of regular communication between home and school. The school has the capacity to issue a regular newsletter to parents where curricular and organisational issues can be explored and the involvement of the parents can be planned and supported. A positive relationship between home and school is very evident and there is real potential for this to be developed further if it is planned, promoted and shared in a sensitive and realistic manner.

  

2.5 Management of Pupils

Management of pupils in this school is very positive. A deep sense of mutual respect is seen to exist between pupils and teachers and discipline is positively managed. Reward schemes are in place in most classes and the pupils interacted very well with the inspectors. The school should seek to build on this positive and important work through the development of a student council. This was discussed at staff level and there was a genuine interest in exploring the possibilities which could result from such an initiative. Linking the issues which might arise at student meetings with parent and staff meetings and then sharing this information at board level would provide the school with a really meaningful in-school communication structure and would do a great deal for the development of pupils’ self-esteem.

 

3. Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The school plan outlines a wide range of curricular policies. A number of organisational and administrative policies have also been developed. Staff collaboration in the formulation of this documentation is commended. Included in the school plan are policies in respect of, mission statement/philosophy, enrolment, learning support/special needs, information and communications technology resources and substance misuse, behaviour, anti-bullying, attendance strategy, health and safety, supervision, internet usage, and homework. A data protection policy should be developed by the school.

 

Curricular policies are outlined in Gaeilge, English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Science, Physical Education, Music, Visual Arts, Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE). Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Music, SPHE and Visual Arts are currently under review.

 

The teachers and principal are to be commended on the planning documentation generated to date and it is recommended that the further development of curricular policies in this collaborative manner be continued. It is also recommended that, in relation to the development and review of curricular policies, consideration be given to outlining the content to be taught at each class level in all subject areas, as is evident in some curricular policies at present. This practice would provide a systematic overview of the content to be taught at each class level ensuring progression in all areas of the curriculum. It is also advised that the continued development of curricular plans, as identified by the school staff, be addressed.

 

It is also advised that a more concentrated focus and emphasis be placed on the implementation of school plans in each of the curricular areas. To this end, it is recommended that consideration be given to reviewing and extending the scope of individual post-holders' existing responsibilities, where duties pertaining to specific areas of the curriculum have been assigned to the members of the middle management team. This strategy should be addressed with a view towards ensuring that the implementation, co-ordination and review of curricular policies are undertaken in a structured manner.

 

It is recommended also, that as an immediate priority, an action plan be developed, which would focus in the short term, on the teaching and learning in English. The setting of targets on an annual basis to assist the incremental improvement in standards should be included in the action plan. The practice of having regular review and discussions at whole school level, followed by agreement on priorities and would ensure that the whole school planning process is both systematic and ongoing.

 

Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 1999, updated issue May 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, April 2001). 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.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

Individual teacher planning is undertaken in the form of long term and short-term preparation in accordance with Rule 126 of the Rules for National Schools. All teachers are commended for the consistent work undertaken in this regard and for the manner in which long term and short-term planning is linked to the strand and strand units of the Primary School Curriculum (1999). General content objectives are outlined in each short-term plan and these are identified by number. While the inclusion of such general objectives is commended, it is recommended that these objectives be outlined in a written format at the beginning of each term. The inclusion of one or possibly two specific content objectives in the short-term plan will help to focus the teaching and learning for that period of time.

 

It is recommended that greater linkage between the school plan and individual teacher planning be developed and that each teacher’s planning would indicate how whole school curricular planning is adapted to the needs of the pupils. Monthly progress records, in the form of Cuntais Mhíosúla, are maintained by individual teachers. There is evidence of a template being utilised at most class levels, it is advised that consideration be given to the creation of a common school-designed template, which might indicate how a balance between content-based planning and learning objectives has been reached and the extent to which teaching and learning objectives have been achieved.

 

 

4. Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

The quality of teaching and learning in this school is good with some very good lessons observed in some classes. Overall, the teachers display a good understanding of the principles of the 1999 Primary Curriculum. A variety of methodologies is undertaken in all classes including teacher-directed learning, activity based learning, guided discovery, pair work and group work. The quality of questioning by the teachers was generally good. In some classes, however, insufficient attention was paid to the need for differentiated activities to cater for the various abilities present. In general attainment levels throughout the school are good. Some very good examples of inclusion were observed during the evaluation. It is recommended that the use of activity and discovery based learning be extended and that a further emphasis be placed on the use of the local environment.

During the evaluation, teachers were observed to facilitate active learning opportunities for most pupils. Guided discovery methodologies were in evidence in most of the classrooms.

 

Pupil engagement with the teachers and with the methodologies in use was commensurate with the degree to which teachers differentiated the activities. A range of active learning opportunities was observed, pupils were enthusiastic and achieving well. Where questioning was properly researched and differentiated, pupil responses were accurate and appropriate. There is a need for the school as a whole to ensure that the learning environments created are attractive, relevant and supportive of pupil achievement. It is recommended that more attention be paid to the creation of print-rich and maths-rich environments in all classrooms. Selection of a specific learning target for each lesson is vital in the attempt by all teachers to support the wide variety of learning styles present. Proper assessment of the achievement of all pupils in all classes in relation to the learning targets selected is required also.

    

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Múintear an Ghaeilge go coinsiasach sa scoil seo. Déantar iarracht mhacánta dearcadh dearfach a chothú i ngach rang. Ó thaobh na léitheoireachta de, sonraítear caighdeán sásúil. Léann na daltaí le cruinneas agus le tuiscint. Moltar don scoil anois, scéim grádaithe foirmiúil a úsáid go rialta gach lá i ngach rang. Tá géarghá ag gach dalta sa scoil breis ama a chaitheamh ag léamh go foirmiúil. Cabhróidh sé seo le forbairt foclóra, cruinneas labhartha agus foghraíochta agus le tuiscint.

Cloistear an teanga go bríomhar i roinnt de na ranganna le húsáid chliste á bhaint as dramaíocht, filíocht agus scéalaíocht. Glacann na daltaí go taitneamhach leis an obair seo. Úsáidtear gníomhaíochtaí phéirí agus ghrupaí agus caint idir an oide agus an dalta chun feabhas labhartha a chothú. Le linn  na héisteachta, baintear úsáid as dlúthchéirníní go díograiseach i gcuid de na ranganna. Sroichtear caighdeán maith i labhairt na teanga agus chun tacaíocht breise a thabhairt don obair mhaith seo, moltar aire a dhíriú ar úsaíd neamhfhoirmiúil an teanga timpeall na scoile.

Go ginireálta, ní thaispeántar obair scríbhneoireachta na ndaltaí sa Ghaeilge. Tá roinnt scríbhneoireacht le sonrú sna cóipleabhair, ach tá an obair seo bunaithe ar pointí ghramadaí de ghnáth. Tá géarghá toipicí suimiúla a roghnú agus scríbhneoireacht chruthaitheach a chumadh dá bharr. Cuideoidh taispeantas na hoibre sin timpeall na seomraí agus timpeall na scoile go mór le dul chun cinn a dhéanamh ar chumas sa teanga agus le fein-mhuinín na bpaistí freisin.

           

Irish

Irish is taught conscientiously in this school. The school makes a sincere effort to foster a positive attitude in each class. The standard of reading is satisfactory. Pupils read with accuracy and understanding. It is now recommended that the school uses a formal graded reading scheme daily in all classes. Extra time is needed to develop each child’s formal reading skills. This will help vocabulary development, pronunciation and comprehension. Drama, poetry and story are cleverly used to encourage vibrant use of the language in some classes. The pupils engage enthusiastically with this work. Pair, group and teacher’ pupil activities are used to foster language improvement. CDs are well used to develop listening skills. There is a good standard of spoken Irish evident in the school and to support this work further it is recommended that Irish is used informally throughout the school.

In general, pupils’ written work in Irish is not displayed. Some grammatically based written work can be seen in the copybook. There is a real need to select interesting topics and to facilitate creative writing exercises based thereon. The display of this work around classrooms and the school will contribute significantly to language competence and the development of pupil self-esteem.

 

English

In general, planning is carried out effectively in respect of the teaching of English. 

Most teachers incorporate the strands/strand units and content objectives in number format in their written preparation. It is recommended that specific content objectives be identified in written format in short-term planning and that general objectives that would be relevant in most lessons be outlined in written format at the beginning of the long-term plan. There is some evidence of direct linkage between the school plan and individual teacher’s preparation and practice. 

 

In the junior classes children engage in a range of oral language activities. It is recommended that a discrete oral language programme be introduced that is explicitly linked to the oral language objectives as set out in the English curriculum. Specific topics for oral language development should be planned for and explored by the pupils at all class levels. The development of a system which will monitor pupils’ progress in this area of the curriculum is recommended.

 

A very good programme in reading is organised throughout the school. Standards of attainment  are very good. A wide variety of methodologies is utilised in all classes. Phonological awareness training is in use in some classes and it is recommended that this programme should be delivered in a consistent and progressive way throughout the whole school. A variety of reading material is used including the classroom textbooks. Visits to bookshops to meet with authors are organised. Middle and senior classes use the novel to respond to characters, situations and story details and in general are given broad experiences in terms of articulating a shared response to fiction. Where appropriate this work is integrated very effectively with other subjects. The links developed between English, History and Drama were particularly praiseworthy. A wide repertoire of poems is explored and the pupils are encouraged to respond in different ways.

 

Classroom libraries have been created in most rooms and efforts are made by most teachers to ensure that classrooms provide a print-rich environment. It is now recommended that a print rich environment be fostered in all classrooms. A range of books is provided in each classroom and shared reading initiatives are undertaken. It is advised that consideration be given to the provision of a wider range of storybooks, which would facilitate an interactive storybook reading approach, particularly in second class. This would ensure that all children’s receptive and expressive language skills are appropriately developed thus providing them with opportunities to engage in higher order thinking.

 

There is a good balance achieved between functional and creative writing at all class levels. Personal and creative writing commences in the junior classes. Pupils write short personal accounts and it is planned that they complete simple book reviews. Writing skills are further developed and emphasised in middle and senior classes where some book reviews, character reviews and a range of writing for different purposes and audiences is undertaken. Children are encouraged to write in varying formats and writing is effectively integrated with other subjects. Some teachers use computers skilfully to support and present the work undertaken by the children.

 

4.3 Mathematics

The high level of pupil attainment in Mathematics reflects the very good work carried out by the teachers throughout the school. Pupils are active in their learning, using a wide range of school-made and purchased resources. Significant pair and group work settings are created and there is a strong emphasis on problem-solving. Some time ago, the school itself recognised the need to address concerns regarding the standard of Mathematics and the remediation strategies introduced have improved the overall standard considerably. This work is commended.

 

Orally, the pupils are enthusiastic, capable and alert in their answering. In some classes, innovative methodologies are in place which foster in the pupils a real understanding of the relevance of Mathematics in their lives. This is especially evident in relation to the teaching of money in the curriculum. This work is reaping rich rewards and these successful methodologies should be examined and extended throughout the school.

The school is also to be commended for the successful inclusion of pupils with special educational needs in the mainstream Mathematics lessons. Effective class and specialist teacher liaison assists the work and pupils experience real success. Teachers also develop the language of Mathematics well.

 

It is recommended that all class teachers would build on this good work by creating a real maths-rich environment in the classrooms. These areas should be relevant to the topic being covered, include the resources used in the teaching and display the efforts of the pupils that result from the various activities facilitated.

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE)

 

Geography

The quality of teaching and learning in Geography is good. Teachers provide an appropriate focus on the local environment of the school and the surrounding area. Care is taken to alert the pupils to the richness of the locality and pupils’ awareness of the elements of living in a town is appropriately emphasised. Active learning opportunities are provided. Pupils use a range of technologies to gather and assimilate information. Project work is regularly undertaken and pupils are assisted in the presentation of their work to their peers. This work is of a high standard. The degree to which the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs in these activities is promoted and supported is to be commended. In some classes, peer appraisal of work done in Geography is carried out effectively. The linkage with the oral language development of the pupils is meaningful and this work should be extended throughout the school.

It is recommended that the school would plan to provide the pupils with an even wider range of technologies to present their work, such as a digital projector and that greater amounts of time be given to the total process of gathering, analysing and presenting the topic investigated rather than relying too much on the textbook as the primary learning source.

 

History

Teaching and learning in this area of the curriculum are very good. Pupils are afforded the opportunity of engaging with themes of local, national and European relevance. In some classes, the practice of dedicating specific areas of the room to the development of centres of interest and time lines in History is commended. The practice of developing pupil skills and encouraging pupil participation in History through discovery methods, undertaking work in the local environment, group-work, discussion, pupil manipulation of artefacts and active learning strategies, is commended. Cross-curricular links have been established with other subject areas particularly English and Drama. The development of pupil knowledge regarding national and world history, stories and legends is also emphasised. Some excellent examples of pupils’ project work were observed during the evaluation period. Pupils’ interest and enthusiasm in this area of the curriculum are commendable.

 

It is recommended that the development of pupils’ skills as historians be further expanded through the extended use of information and communications technology. Project work could be undertaken by enabling pupils to access and analyse primary sources of data. Further consideration should now be given, therefore, to extending the use of ICT to support learning experiences in History.

 

Science

A broad and balanced curriculum in Science is taught in all classes. The programme is based on the strands and strand units of the Science curriculum. Knowledge and concepts linked with seasonal changes are explored in junior, middle and senior classes. Studies of plants, animals and weather phenomena in the immediate and local environment also constitute part of the children’s learning experience in this curricular area. Centres of interest have been developed in some classes and this practice is to be commended. Pupils are capable of discussing items displayed on the nature/discovery table in a competent and knowledgeable manner.

Simple and effective experiments are undertaken, good use of scientific equipment, effective use of audio-visual equipment and pupil engagement with the discovery/investigative process was observed in the classes visited during the inspection. In many classes practical investigation is the focus of scientific activity and this is achieved through the development of a broad range of enquiry skills including, observing, hypothesising, predicting, experimenting, planning fair tests and analysing results. The programme of learning is planned in such a way that children in all classes are enabled to develop a framework of scientific ideas and concepts about Living Things, Energy and Forces, Materials, Environmental Awareness and Care.

The Science curriculum in this school provides children with opportunities to understand the physical and biological aspects of the world and the processes through which these are developed.

 

4.5 Arts education

 

Visual Arts

The teachers are commended for the implementation of the Visual Arts curriculum. The school has developed a plan for the Visual Arts that outlines the content objectives and content outline for each class level that will be provided under each of the six strands and two strand units.

A range of activities utilising all of the strands of Visual Arts was evident in the practice of teachers during the evaluation process. It is evident from the work completed to date that a range of activities outlined in the plan is being implemented. This work is integrated with other areas of the curriculum such as Science and History. Samples of the children’s artistic work are attractively displayed in all classrooms and the corridors. Displays of children’s work completed in the areas of drawing, paint and colour, print, construction, clay, fabric and fibres were observed.

In general, emphasis is placed on the creative developmental process that affords pupils the opportunity to express their understanding of their world in a creative rather than in a passive or imitative way. This process should continue to be the main focus for the work in all classes.

Teacher observation is used to assess pupils’ work and portfolios including samples of pupils’ work are maintained in some classrooms. The implementation of a range of assessment strategies such as the use of digital portfolios would support the progressive development of pupils’ skills as part of a whole school approach.

 

Music

All strands of the curriculum are satisfactorily covered. In some classes, the Listening and Responding strand, in particular, is taught with imagination and commitment. Pupils are taught in a deliberate manner how to listen and the elements of the music selected for attention are pointed out. Pupil responses in these classes were seen to be of a very high standard and the linkage to the language development of the pupils was effective. The choice of music presented to the pupils also played a significant part in the success of this work. Pupils experience a wide range of genres and integration with SESE was good. In all classes, the pupils sing a range of appropriate songs in Irish and English well and they clearly enjoy the activity.

The school needs to ensure that all pupils are afforded the opportunity to participate in instrumentation as often as possible. Reference to the school plan as a starting point for teachers when organising the class plans will assist this process. Pupils need regular exposure to composing and performing music, individually and as part of a larger group. The example of the pupils from the school who are members of the CBS band can be used to encourage all pupils to expand their learning opportunities in this aspect of the curriculum.

 

Drama

Teachers are aware of the unique contribution of Drama to the self-development of pupils and this is reflected in the regular promotion of dramatic activity throughout the school. Generally, work in this area of the curriculum is integrated with other subject areas. Pupils, especially those in the junior classes, respond well to the prompts given. Teachers are willing to explore role play as a learning strategy and this methodology works very effectively.

 

4.6 Physical Education (PE)

There is a strong commitment to the development of games and the skills attached to these games in this school. The school has access to a large hall in the adjacent secondary school as well as having a smaller general purposes room in its own building. Teacher expertise is used effectively to ensure that small groups of pupils are encouraged to participate in these activities. This is very good work and achievement rates are high. There is a wide range of resources available to the teachers and pupils and it is well used.

The school has recently begun to experiment with some short sessions in neuro-developmental therapy with one class. Results so far are very encouraging with very keen interest and achievement evident among the pupils. The effect of this therapy on the subsequent work of the pupils when they return to their class is clear and access to the programme through a qualified staff member is now being organised for other classes. The school is to be commended for this work as it provides pupils with opportunities to develop their concentration levels and to focus more effectively on their learning.

It is recommended that the school would strive to ensure that all pupils experience all strands of the PE curriculum on a regular basis. More focus on the Dance strand of the curriculum is recommended and this work can be linked to the Listening and Responding strand in Music.

   

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

The school plan provides an overview of the programme of work at each class level in the area of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE). All aspects of the SPHE programme have been addressed in the school plan and good use is made of resources including the Walk Tall, RSE, Stay Safe, and Bí Folláin education programmes.

 

The curricular area of SPHE in this school provides for the promotion of a positive and favourable atmosphere in the pupils’ environment at all class levels. Affirmation of achievements and delegation of appropriate responsibilities are implemented throughout the school.

There is evidence of active pupil involvement in the SPHE programme through engagement with activities relating to healthy eating, media and communication, growing and changing, understanding differences, the exploration of feelings and senses and the promotion of pupils’ self-esteem. Lessons are implemented in an effective manner and curricular linkage with English (Oral Language) and SESE Science is in evidence at some levels.

 

 

4.8 Assessment

Pupils are assessed annually using Micra-T and Sigma-T tests. It would be beneficial for teachers to plan more specifically from an assessment perspective. Planning should be informed by the results of annual testing. While the assessment data is compiled, there is no regular tracking of the school’s overall performance. Such a mechanism would assist parallel mainstream classes in planning more co-operatively and the identification of prioritised needs would be more obvious. There is a need to set short-term goals for pupils with special educational needs in the context of their in-class learning. These goals can be used to analyse the progress of these pupils over a certain timeframe. It is important that the school prioritises the need for all staff to know the level of achievement for all pupils on a monthly basis. More reflective monthly reports targeting specific curricular areas will assist this work.

 

 

5. Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs (SEN)

The support team in the school focuses on the development of literacy, Mathematics, social and behavioural skills. A very good school plan has been developed that outlines the roles and responsibilities of the personnel working with pupils with special educational needs. Two resource teachers provide support for 13 pupils with special educational needs. The learning support teacher provides support for 22 pupils primarily in literacy and numeracy. One pupil with special educational needs is allocated to the learning support teacher. Provision is provided for 11 pupils with mild general learning disabilities in two special classes. A small number of pupils from these classes are integrated into mainstream classes for some subjects. The further extension of this practice is recommended. One of these classes caters for pupils from the junior classes in the school and the other special class supports senior pupils.

 

All of the teachers evaluated presented Individual Pupil Learning Profiles or Education Plans as appropriate in respect of the pupils in their care. Individual plans focus on phonological awareness training, spellings, comprehension skills and reading. These plans were of a high quality. Pupils’ profiles are reviewed on a termly basis and teachers maintain short-term plans on a forthnightly basis. Daily records of work completed are also maintained.

 

Some collaboration was evident among class teachers, resource teachers, special needs assistants and parents in the formulation of education plans for pupils with special educational needs. This practice is commended and its extension recommended.

 

All of the learning environments observed were stimulating and attractive with samples of pupils work displayed. There was also evidence of print-rich learning environments and a wide range of literacy and numeracy resources was available for use in these classrooms.

 

Teachers engage with external professional agencies and incorporate the advice provided in individual programmes when appropriate. A wide range of diagnostic tests is used to identify pupils’ needs and the results are used to focus the teaching and learning of pupils with literacy and numeracy difficulties.

 

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

The school has a number of pupils from the travelling community enrolled. A resource teacher for these children has been appointed. Currently, the board deploys this resource using an integrated model of intervention to support these pupils, to good effect. In the classes where these pupils are enrolled, there is a concerted effort made to ensure that they participate as fully as possible and according to their ability. This work is largely successful. In some classes differentiated programmes of work are in place and pupils are enabled to experience success regularly. Care is taken to ensure that these pupils experience a broad and balanced curriculum. In particular, SPHE is effective in assisting all pupils to develop a sense of respect and friendship. This is evident in observation of the pupils as they interact with each other.

 

The school has recently appointed a resource teacher for language support. The service is currently based on withdrawal of pupils from the mainstream setting to receive individual attention. Eight pupils currently are in receipt of the service and this number is increasing steadily. As yet, no whole school language policy has been developed but this work will commence shortly. The service is very pupil-friendly, relevant to the lives of the pupils and seeks to make learning the English language as enjoyable as possible. The pupils’ response is enthusiastic and achievement rates are high. Peer learning and co-operation strategies are regularly employed and this support for each other is a key element in the success of the work being done.

 

It is now recommended that greater attention is paid to the delivery of this service in the classroom settings of the pupils concerned. This work should reflect the work of the class and it should seek to support participation and achievement commensurate with the ability of the pupils. The service must attempt to ensure that the barrier of language to these pupils’ learning is broken down as much as possible. Ongoing assessment of pupil needs and progress needs to be promoted. Parental involvement can be developed more and the selection of a range of learning targets which are as specific as possible must be identified and implemented.

It is expected that the language policy will address these issues in greater detail.

 


6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

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: