An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

 

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Ballygarvan NS

Ballygarvan,

County Cork

Uimhir rolla: 16746S

 

Date of inspection:  15 May 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

Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Ballygarvan NS. 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 inspectors 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 inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. They interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. The board of management was given the 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 to this report.

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

Ballygarvan NS is situated approximately thirteen kilometres from Cork City. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross. The school caters for boys and girls from junior infants to sixth class and serves a wide catchment area. There are 228 pupils currently on roll and numbers should increase further as there has been considerable housing development in the village of Ballygarvan. Originally it was a four classroom school built in 1926

The school’s motto Growth Through Learning underpins the staff’s worthy efforts to develop its pupils to be happy, self-confident and caring individuals. They aim to implement a broad and balanced curriculum and to provide an atmosphere that is safe and welcoming with strong community links.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and has a clear understanding of its roles and responsibilities. Meetings are convened monthly, minutes are maintained and accounts are documented to track income and expenditure. Current concerns of the Board include the acquisition of suitable accommodation for the school. Discussions are ongoing with Cork County Council, local parish personnel and the Board of Works to acquire a site for a new school. The board is committed to the regular upgrading of facilities and to providing a  comfortable premises that is conducive to quality learning for pupils and staff. Duties are assigned to individual board members and these duties are discharged effectively and efficiently. A review of the minutes indicates that the board makes a worthwhile contribution to the successful operation of the school. Policies, both curricular and organisational are discussed and ratified. It is recommended that hard copies of all policies be signed and dated. The board encourages and fosters positive relations with the teaching staff. To this end, the chairperson maintains regular contact with the principal and staff and gives freely of his time in addressing needs of a practical nature. It is reported that members of the board are due to receive training shortly and this will further enhance their contribution to the school.

 

 

2.2 In-school management

The in-school management team is comprised of the principal, her deputy and three members of staff with special duties. The principal, appointed in 2004, is committed to the development of a supportive learning environment that facilitates the learning needs of all pupils in the school and she, herself provides additional support to a number of pupils. She communicates regularly with staff and has succeeded in developing a positive team spirit throughout the school. In the further development of her leadership role, the principal is advised to delegate responsibility for ongoing curricular development and implementation to curriculum coordinators.

 

The deputy principal and post holders are very supportive of the principal. Each member of the in-school management team are assigned specific duties and these duties are carried out efficiently and conscientiously and contribute positively to the effective operation of the school. A review of duties took place recently and some duties were re-assigned. While these new arrangements facilitate some development in particular aspects of school life, it is recommended that a further review be undertaken to ensure that each post holder has a responsibility for a curricular, an organisational and a pastoral care area, as outlined in circular 07/03. The members of the in-school management team meet once a term. It is recommended that these meetings should be convened more regularly and that decisions reached should contribute to ongoing school development.     

 

2.3 Management of resources

The teaching staff comprises an administrative principal, eight mainstream class teachers, a learning support and a resource teacher. The school has four special needs assistants and a part-time resource teacher. A policy on allocation of classes has been devised which affords staff regular opportunities to experience a variety of class levels every three years. However, this three-year time frame is not strictly adhered to and change is facilitated when feasible.

 

Teachers’ professional development is enhanced through regular participation in a variety of courses ranging from short summer courses to those at diploma level. Special needs education has been identified by staff as an area for further professional development. Staff is encouraged to develop a policy on continuous professional development with the priority needs of the school taken into account in the selection of courses. Five staff meetings are convened in the school year. Appropriately an agenda is circulated to all staff members in advance of these meetings. Organisational and curricular issues are regularly discussed and minutes are recorded.  

 

Special needs assistants provide valuable support for pupils and ensure their effective participation in the daily routines of school life. The school’s part-time secretary provides a high measure of administrative support and her efforts are greatly appreciated by principal and staff. The school’s additional ancillary staff such as cleaners and caretaker are effectively deployed and their diligence in carrying out their duties is acknowledged.    

 

The main school building accommodates two classrooms with a further eight prefabricated classrooms situated throughout the school grounds. These prefabricated buildings have gradually eroded the play areas for pupils and this space is to be further reduced in the forthcoming school year with the addition of a further two prefabricated classrooms. The school has access to the nearby GAA pitch for recreational purposes and for after-school activities. Samples of pupils’ work on display in the corridors and classrooms contribute aesthetically to the school environment and provide a context for celebrating pupil achievement. Displays of pupils’ work throughout the school and the development of class libraries would further enhance the learning environment. Information and Communication Technology is utilised effectively in a number of classrooms in supporting pupil learning.

 

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school has an active parents’ association and parents are called upon to organise and participate in fundraising activities as needs arise and have always responded generously. Parents are involved in some school activities such as the Art programme in infants and in the school’s shared reading initiative. Staff is urged to identify a range of strategies to encourage parents to become more actively involved in the life of the school.

 

Parents of new pupils due to enter the school are inducted by means of an open day at which information regarding school personnel, practices and procedures is issued. Parents are encouraged regularly to visit and discuss their pupils’ progress through formal parent-teacher meetings or through an agreed appointment system as concerns arise. The pupils’ journals are routinely utilised to communicate with parents. The issuing of a school newsletter would add considerably to developing further positive links between home and school. 

 

At a meeting with the officers of the parents’ association they reported their appreciation of teachers’ contributions to pupils’ learning. They expressed concerns, however, regarding the inadequacy of current accommodation, their desire for a new school building and greater provision for after-school activities.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

The school is praised for the mutual respect that is fostered and practiced among the school community. Pupils are well behaved and create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. Pupils cooperate willingly with staff and display a commendable willingness to engage with teachers in classroom activities. Classes are well organised, a factor that contributes to overall positive discipline and good behaviour in the school. Parents staff and pupils are to be congratulated on its pupil attendance levels, currently standing at 95.5%.  In the further promotion of pupil involvement in decision-making, staff might usefully consider the establishment of a student council.

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The school plan is devised through the collaborative activity of the principal and the teaching staff. The board of management also plays a role in the consideration of school policies prior to their formal ratification. Parental involvement in policy development is mainly obtained through the parents’ representatives on the board of management. Greater emphasis should now be placed on promoting the role of parents in the planning process. The school has availed of external curriculum facilitators to aid the school planning process.

 

Statutory policies have been developed in response to relevant educational legislation including policies on enrolment, heath and safety, bullying and a code of behaviour. A wide range of associated organisational policies are documented and these policies impact positively on the day to day management of the school. 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.

 

A range of comprehensive curriculum plans has been devised and systematic progress is being made in preparing a whole-school plan for Drama and Information and Communication Technology(ICT). Plans are regularly reviewed and as a result of action planning, teachers have prioritised certain areas for development in accordance with the identified needs of the school.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

Teachers prepare long and short-term plans of work. Suitable detail is evident in long-term plans. A template for documenting short-term plans and the recording of monthly progress in curricular areas has been designed. Some planning is detailed and provides an outline of curriculum content while other short-term plans are textbook based. This template, as a short-term planning document, requires further elaboration placing greater focus on learning outcomes in terms of the development of pupils’ skills and conceptual understanding. A range of teaching strategies and approaches for differing abilities should also be noted in this template. The use of this document for recording monthly progress needs to be reviewed to ensure greater accessibility of information and to promote further progression and continuity in pupils’ learning from class to class.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

The quality of teaching throughout the school is good. Teachers adopt a range of strategies in addressing pupils’ learning needs. Well-structured whole-class teaching together with challenging higher-order questioning was a feature of methodologies observed. Pair and group work was noted in a number of classes throughout the evaluation. In the further development of productive classroom practices staff is advised to consider further opportunities for group work activity and for greater differentiation in pupil learning. Classroom climate is positive, interaction between teacher and pupil is productive and pupils are interested and eager for challenge. The quality of pupils’ learning outcomes indicates an appropriate progression that is commensurate with age and ability. 

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá plean scoile leagtha amach don Ghaeilge ina n-áirítear aidhmeanna na scoile i leith na teanga agus straitéisí oiriúnacha chun í a fhorbairt mar theanga chumarsáide. Is inmholta mar a leagtar síos go céimnithe eiseamláirí teanga áirithe atá feiliúnach do gach rang leibhéal mar bhunús do Ghaeilge neamhfhoirmiúil na scoile. B’fhiú tógáil ar an bplean oibre seo agus na heiseamláirí teanga do na ceachtanna foirmiúla a fhorbairt i gcomhthéacs na dtéamaí sa churaclam. B’inmholta, chomh maith, plean uile-scoile a dhréachtadh do fhorbairt na héisteachta agus na scríbhneoireachta.

 

Déantar iarracht mhacánta dearcadh dearfach i leith na Gaeilge a chothú i measc na ndaltaí sa scoil. Is inmholta mar a úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar theanga bhainisteoireachta i roinnt ranganna agus moltar an cleachtas seo a leathnú tríd an scoil. Tacaíonn seifteanna ar nós cleachtadh na bhfrásaí seachtaine leis an gcur chuige seo chomh maith. Don chuid is mó, labhraíonn na hoidí Gaeilge go leanúnach le linn na gceachtanna. Éiríonn leo suim na ndaltaí i bhfoghlaim na Gaeilge a mhúscailt agus a rannpháirtíocht sna ceachtanna a chothú trí úsáid a bhaint as straitéisí spreagúla.

 

Sna bunranganna baintear feidhm as rainn agus as amhráin chun fuaimeanna agus rithim na teanga a chur ar chluasa na ndaltaí. Déantar a scileanna éisteachta a chothú go rialta ach ní mór dúshlán níos mó a thabhairt dóibh san cleachtaí éisteachta seo. Baintear feidhm as drámaíocht, rólghlacadh agus cluichí cainte chun foclóir na ndaltaí a leathnú agus chun a gcumas labhartha a fhorbairt. Úsáidtear réimse áiseanna teagaisc ar nós puipéid agus cairteacha go hoiriúnach le linn an teagaisc. Is féidir le daltaí ceisteanna simplí a chur ar a chéile go hábalta agus iad a fhreagairt. Tá sé ar chumas cuid de na daltaí abairtí a struchtúrú agus cumarsáid a dhéanamh sa teanga. Is gá na heiseamláirí agus na struchtúir theanga a fhorbairt go córasach, i gcomhthéacs na dtéamaí, ar bhonn uile-scoile, chun cumas cumarsáide na ndaltaí a fheabhsú. Chun tacú leis an obair seo is gá deiseanna rialta cumarsáide a chruthú do na daltaí ar bhonn leanúnach agus spriocanna níos airde a aithint ó thaobh forbairt cumas labhartha na naíonáin, ach go háirithe.

 

Cuirtear béim chuí ar chothú na léitheoireachta sna meán ranganna agus sna hard ranganna. Baintear úsáid, den chuid is mó, as leabhair saothar mar théacs don léitheoireacht. Léann formhór na ndaltaí go cruinn agus le tuiscint. Moltar téacsanna éagsúla agus fíor leabhair a úsáid chun suim na ndaltaí a spreagadh sa litearthacht agus taithí níos leithne léitheoireachta a thabhairt dóibh. B’fhiú clár ullmhúcháin céimnithe a chur ar fáil do thús na litearthachta ina mbeadh straitéisí d’aithint focal agus d’fhorbairt fhóineolaíochta chomh maith le cur chuige chun bunscileanna na léitheoireachta a theagasc go céimniúil. B’fhiú réimse níos leithne de leabhair leabharlainne a chur ar fáil i ngach rangsheomra.

 

Cleachtann na daltaí téacsanna éagsúla scríbhneoireachta. Éiríonn le daltaí i roinnt ranganna scéalta simplí a scríobh le scafláil ón oide. Baintear feidhm fhónta as nuacht an lae mar uirlis chun cabhrú leis na daltaí saor scríbhneoireacht a chleachtadh. Moltar, áfach, níos mó béime a leagan ar an scríbhneoireacht phearsanta. Chun tacú leis an obair seo, b’fhiú deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí a bheith ag obair go comhoibritheach i ngrúpaí agus iad ag cleachtadh a gcuid cumadóireachta. Chuirfeadh sé go mór leis an obair dá ndéanfaí plean uile-scoile de phróiseas na scríbhneoireachta a dhearadh agus a chur i bhfeidhm.

 

 

Irish

The school plan for Irish outlines the aims of the subject and suitable strategies for its implementation as a communicative language. Appropriate language exemplars for using Irish informally have been outlined for each class level. It is suggested that language exemplars for formal Irish lessons be developed similarly in the context of the themes in the Irish curriculum. It is also advised that the development of pupils’ listening and writing skills be documented in the school plan.

 

A positive attitude to Irish is nurtured among the pupils in the school. The use of Irish informally within the classroom is a highly commendable feature of some classrooms, a practice that should be extended throughout the school. The use of phrase of the week as a strategy to further enhance the use of Irish informally is praiseworthy. For the most part teachers conduct the lessons through Irish. Teachers also successfully promote pupils’ interest and participation in the lesson through the use of a range of stimulating strategies.

 

In the infant classes rhyme and poetry is employed to familiarise pupils with the sound of the language. Pupils’ listening skills are fostered on a regular basis. However, these exercises need to be more challenging. Appropriate use is made of  drama, role-play and language games to develop pupils’ vocabulary and to foster their communicative abilities. A range of resources such as puppets and charts are gainfully used. Pupils have the ability to ask and respond to questions appropriately. Some pupils succeed in structuring simple sentences and communicate in the language. To improve pupils’ oral competency in the language, it is recommended that a whole-school approach to the development of language structures and exemplars in the context of the curriculum themes be designed and implemented. To support this approach pupils must be provided with regular opportunities to use the language in a communicative context. Higher expectations with regard to pupil ability to communicate in the language should be set, particularly for those pupils in the junior classes.

 

Appropriate emphasis is placed on fostering reading in the middle and senior classes. For the most part reading excerpts from workbooks are judiciously used to develop reading skills. Most pupils read accurately and with understanding. A broader range of reading materials would further engage pupils in the reading process. An early literacy programme should be devised in which approaches for the development of early reading skills, word identification strategies and phonological awareness are delineated. A wider range of library books in the Irish language should be available in each classroom.

 

Pupils are provided with opportunities to write in Irish. In some classes pupils succeed in writing simple stories with the support of teachers. Pupils’ news is used regularly as a basis for their creative writing. It is recommended that pupils are provided with greater opportunity to engage in personal writing activities. It is also advised that more emphasis be placed on collaborative group writing activities. The development and implementation of a whole-school plan for Irish writing would greatly enhance the work in hand and facilitate progression of pupils’ writing skills from year to year.

 

English

The whole-school plan for English is currently under review. Considerable progress has been made in the delineation of content and skill development for the different class levels. In the delivery of the English programme, a good range of teaching methodologies was noted including whole-class teaching, group work and pair work. Lessons are well-structured, paced and developed. Content is suitably selected for the age and range of ability of pupils. Commendable emphasis is placed on the development of pupils’ oral language skills using a variety of suitable approaches, supported by commercial resources. In the infant classrooms rhyme and song is used productively to enhance oral language development. Pupils are afforded opportunities to engage in talk, discussion and debate. Higher order thinking skills are actively developed during class debates. Pupils in the middle and senior classes are exposed to a range of poetry and are afforded regular opportunity to respond to a range of poems. Greater use of the language experience charts would further complement existing provision in the infant classes. It is also recommended that a more co-ordinated whole-school incremental language programme would further promote pupils’ oral competency.

 

Emergent reading skills are gainfully developed in the junior classes supported by the systematic use of a phonological and phonemic awareness programme. Emphasis is placed on the development of a sight vocabulary based on the structured class reader. Large format books are judiciously used to develop pupils’ interest in reading. It is suggested that more pre-reading activities precede the introduction of a formal reading programme. It is also suggested that a greater range of library books be provided in the junior classes to ensure that pupils reading experiences are enriched. In other classes, reading is based on the varied use of reading schemes, graded readers, library books and novels. Many pupils are independent readers and read with accuracy. However, attention should now be given to developing pupils’ ability to read aloud thereby increasing their level of fluency. In senior classes pupils have access to a range of reading materials which enable them develop such reading skills as prediction, scanning and summarising. Comprehension skills are also appropriately developed through a range of suitable strategies. Shared reading initiatives, involving parents, is also undertaken as is paired reading programmes in the middle classes. Such initiatives are commendable and further enhance the reading culture in the school.

 

Pupils engage in both functional and creative writing activities and write in an age-appropriate register of language. Early writing is stimulated in the infant classes through the teacher acting as scribe and modelling writing for pupils. They are enabled to compose simple sentences and they engage in a variety of workbook activities. Pupils in the junior classes should be provided with greater opportunities to engage in their own compositions. In other classes, pupils are exposed to a range of genre and engage productively in process writing. It is recommended, however, that greater opportunities be provided for all pupils to further develop their personal writing skills. In general, pupils observe the conventions of grammar, punctuation and spelling in their written work and good handwriting is a positive feature in most classrooms. Further attention should be given to the systematic development of the younger pupils’ penmanship skills. Increased usage of ICT would also further enhance and celebrate pupils’ writing.

 

Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative

French is taught to pupils in fifth and sixth class under the “Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative.” The school is currently preparing a school plan for the teaching of French. The quality of teaching observed was of a high standard and the level of pupil communication through French was commendable. The variety of teaching strategies adopted ensured pupils’ engagement and enthusiasm in classroom activity. The pupils responded to teacher questioning with suitable fluency and understanding.

 

4.3 Mathematics

The school has prepared a school plan that is clear and concise and embraces the main areas of interest and concern that are central to the mathematics curriculum. It draws attention to key aspects such as skill development, problem solving and facilitates a whole school approach to the teaching and acquisition of mathematical language. The schools assessment strategies are outlined and a variety of tests are identified, including teacher devised tests and standardised tests. The quality of teaching and learning overall in each class is good. Exercises in the memorisation of number facts and engagement in mental mathematical activities are a feature in most classes. The pupils enjoy regular engagement in mathematical games and this activity is worthy of praise in developing enthusiasm and understanding. Teachers give clear explanation to pupils, present content clearly and in general, provide appropriate and structured learning activities. Well-structured whole class teaching, together with challenging and varied questioning is in evidence. The regular grouping of pupils is recommended in the context of addressing pupils’ diverse learning needs. The use of concrete material is widespread and purposeful and is recognised by staff as a productive means of developing the pupils’ understanding of mathematical concepts. Pupils display age-appropriate ability to perform computation at each class level. Problem-solving is attempted with enthusiasm in a number of classes. Staff might gainfully consider the further development of problem-solving strategies. Increased emphasis should be placed on linking the work in progress to the pupils’ own experiences and to real life practical situations. The pupils written work is regularly monitored by teachers and quality of presentation is promoted. However, in some classes copybook activity is limited and greater engagement in recording of work in copybooks is advised to consolidate pupils’ knowledge and skills.

 

 

 

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

Discussion, interviews, examination of historical documents as well as the study of textbooks are among the approaches productively used to engage pupils in historical enquiry. Storytelling and project work also feature positively as a means of further developing pupils’ historical understanding. Appropriate emphasis is placed on local history and the staff is to be highly commended for their preparation of historical trails suitably designed for the different class levels. Good use is made of ICT to present lesson content in a stimulating manner and to enable pupils access information. Well-structured lessons with good opportunities for pupils to work in groups as historians, as well as at whole-class level, were observed. Work in this area is beneficially integrated with other curricular areas.

 

Geography

Pupils are afforded opportunities to engage in a range of geographical activities in order to develop their sense of place and space and to deepen their awareness of the local environment. Topics are introduced and developed through discussion that is relevant to pupils’ lives and experiences. Appropriate use is made of visual aids and maps in communicating geographical knowledge. Map reading skills are keenly developed. Integration of Geography with other subject areas is promoted. Commendable use is made of ICT and project work to develop pupils’ research skills. Most lessons observed were well-structured and delivered in a stimulating manner.

 

Science

Simple investigations in Science were observed during the evaluation in which pupils were actively and enjoyably engaged. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of pupils’ scientific skills with appropriate linkage to pupils’ own experiences. Pupils are encouraged to record observations and the work is purposefully integrated with other curricular areas. A range of suitable materials to aid investigation is available. Particular projects focus pupils’ attention on aspects of the local area, countries in Europe and on the study of natural phenomena. It is suggested that in the SESE subjects in general, greater emphasis be placed on the recording of work in a variety of formats.

 

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

Teachers have embraced the principles of the Visual Arts curriculum in a comprehensive manner. Planning, which is currently under review, is based on the structure and content of the curriculum and this ensures a broad and balanced programme. Pupils experience a rich visual arts programme in which all strands are explored. Pupils are exposed to a variety of stimulating art activities using a range of media that allows them to express themselves imaginatively. Creativity and originality are notable features of pupils’ work. In some classes particular attention is focused on enabling pupils to use the language of art. Pupils appreciation of the visual arts is consistently enhanced and their critical faculties developed by opportunities afforded to them to respond to the work of artists. The involvement of parents’ in the delivery of the Visual Arts’ programme is acknowledged and commended. Art folders are maintained which include samples of pupils’ work. Teacher observation is used to assess pupils’ progress in this area. However, it is recommended that a broader range of assessment strategies be planned for and implemented. This will facilitate a whole-school approach to assessment in the Visual Arts and will further extend the progressive development of pupils’ skills. There is prudent integration of the visual arts with other curriculum areas.

 

Music

There is a strong tradition of Music in Ballygarvan. A comprehensive whole-school plan has been developed and creditably informs the delivery of the programme at each class level. The programme enables all pupils to participate in a wide range of enjoyable music-making activities, that provides for their sensory, emotional and creative development. Work in the main follows the content and sequence outlined in a commercially produced scheme. Pupils are afforded valuable opportunities to perform in annual concerts, in the school choir, at liturgical events and in Cór Fhéile na Scol.  Participation in the Cór Fhéile is rotated between classes from year to year, thus enabling all pupils to experience  public performance during their school life. Many teachers have a particular talent for Music and generously share their expertise with colleagues. The recorder is commendably taught to pupils in second class and it is envisaged that this practice will be extended further. Pupils sing a variety of songs in English and in Irish with enthusiasm. Pupils’ singing is accompanied by productive percussion work. The school employs an external tutor whose costs are funded through contributions from the parents’ association. This activity takes place within school hours and all pupils participate. Her work commendably complements the school’s programme.

 

Drama

An integrated approach to Drama is adopted to complement the discrete time allocated to the drama lesson. Pupils are exposed to a wide range of dramatic experiences. Pupils are encouraged to enter physically, emotionally and intellectually into the drama world and are provided with opportunities to solve problems creatively in the real or fictional world. Teachers successfully create a supportive environment which facilitates full participation of all pupils and where ideas, feelings and experiences can be expressed. New perceptions, insights and knowledge are further enhanced by the engagement of pupils in post drama discussion. High quality props and resources are provided to enhance the drama process. Mime, role play, games and hot-seating are among the strategies used skilfully to integrate dramatic activity with other curricular areas. Both whole-class and group work are productively organised to enable pupils to communicate through drama and to enter into role. The work in this area is highly commendable.

 

4.6 Physical Education

The school is well resourced in terms of PE equipment. Activities in the main are conducted in the school’s playground. The school also has access to the local GAA pitch. A range of activities is conducted by teachers and pupils engage with energy and enthusiasm. Creditable attention is given to the development of skills in gymnastics, in athletics, in orienteering, in court and field games and in dance. The school regularly participates in Sciath na Scol hurling and football competitions and in athletics at the Cork City Sports. The generous contribution of personnel to these activities is acknowledged and commended. The pupils in fifth and sixth class are worthy of particular mention as they organise the school sport’s day annually. Participation in aquatics is limited to the pupils in second class, due in part to the costs involved and additionally to the long distance the pupils have to travel to the nearest swimming pool. The school enjoys the services of a GAA and a tag rugby coach whose contribution to pupil skill development is much acknowledged.

 

 

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

The school plan in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) aims to foster the holistic development of all pupils, enabling them to maintain supportive relationships and become active and responsible citizens. The Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Stay Safe programmes are considered integral parts of the SPHE programme which enhance pupils’ knowledge and skills in this curriculum area.

 

In accordance with the school’s vision pupils are afforded opportunities, through SPHE, to develop a framework of values, attitudes, understanding and skills. The promotion of a positive atmosphere in the pupils’ environment is in evidence at all class levels and this nurtures pupils’ self-confidence and self-esteem. A conscious effort is regularly made to encourage pupils to respect human and cultural diversity. The teaching staff are vigilant in providing a secure, safe and healthy environment for all pupils in their care.

 

Some learning in the area of SPHE is addressed through cross-curricular work. The SPHE discrete programme explores a variety of topics and address pupils needs. A range of methodologies is employed to allow pupils explore topics. Consideration might now be given to further extending the range of active learning strategies used in the delivery of this curricular area and the manner in which pupil progress may be recorded.

 

4.8 Assessment

The school’s assessment policy ratified in 2007 allows for a range of approaches that includes standardised testing, diagnostic testing, and teacher-devised tests. The staged approach as outlined in circular 02/05 is included in the policy and is being implemented throughout the school. Relevant information is relayed to parents at parent-teacher meetings and in the annual report on pupil progress, furnished at the end of the school year.

 

In general, ongoing monitoring is taking place within classes and the correction of written work is carried out on a consistent basis. All teachers maintain portfolios of pupils’ work and in some classes good examples of pupil progress records are in evidence. Standardised tests in literacy and numeracy are utilised to varying degrees. The Micra-T  is administered to pupils from first to sixth class and the Sigma-T is administered to first, fifth and sixth classes. In line with the school’s commendable policy of early intervention, the Mist is administered to infants. Subsequent programmes of work devised for pupils with special educational needs are informed through further diagnostic testing.

 

In the further development of assessment, the staff is urged to re-examine its current practice of administering standardised tests in numeracy to a select number of classes. The administration of such standardized tests to all classes would allow for a more comprehensive overview of pupil achievement in this area of the curriculum. A renewed emphasis on the use of assessment information to impact teaching and learning is recommended, and in this context staff is urged to embrace the concept of assessment for learning as outlined in the guidelines on assessment from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The special education team comprises of a full-time learning support teacher, a full-time resource teacher and a part-time language support teacher who are all committed to addressing the learning needs of pupils in a conscientious and professional manner. A sincere effort is made to ensure that all pupils displaying difficulties in literacy and numeracy are provided with some level of support. A whole-school policy on the provision of support for pupils with special educational needs has been drafted. Results from standardised and diagnostic testing are used purposefully in the identification of pupils with learning difficulties. The system of support operates primarily on a withdrawal basis whereby pupils are taken either individually or in small groups for focused tuition. Staff is encouraged to make provision for more in-class support. An early intervention programme is in operation focusing on developing the reading skills of pupils in both junior and senior infants. Careful individual and group education plans are prepared and programmes of work are organised in consultation with parents and with class teachers. Judicious use is made of a range of suitable resources to consolidate learning. A range of appropriate active learning approaches is used purposefully. While some learning targets are identified in individual education plans, it is now necessary to ensure that these specific learning targets are more closely linked to the prioritised needs of the pupil. In formulating and reviewing learning programmes, a greater level of consultation should take place to ensure that classroom practice provides a differentiated curriculum. It is also highly recommended that a systematic approach to detailing and recording pupil progress and the achievement of targets be maintained.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

  • The principal fosters a productive team spirit and is clearly committed to the ongoing development of the school.
  • The teachers and ancillary staff are caring and dedicated and offer effective support for the pupils.
  • The pupils are responsive and courteous.
  • The involvement of parents in classroom life is noteworthy.
  • The school community benefits positively from the ongoing support of the board of management and the parents’ association.
  • The work in the curricular areas of Drama and Visual Arts is worthy of particular praise.

 

 

As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:

 

  • A review of posts of responsibility should include the allocation of responsibility for curricular, organisational and pastoral care areas to each post holder.
  • The short-term planning template and the method by which work is recorded monthly merits review.
  • Meetings of the in-school management team should be convened more frequently.
  • Moltar a thuilleadh béime a leagan ar chumas cumarsáide na ndaltaí sa Ghaeilge a fhorbairt mar aon le réimse níos leithne d’ábhar léitheoireachta a chur ar fáil.
  • Standardised testing in numeracy should be administered annually to classes from first to sixth.
  • A systematic approach to detailing and recording the progress of pupils with special educational needs is highly recommended.

 

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.

 

Published, October 2008

 

 

 

 

Appendix

School Response to the Report

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

 

Inspection Report School Response Form

 

 

            Area 1 Observations on the content of the Inspection Report

 

 The Board of Management welcomes the WSE report and appreciates the professionalism and courtesy of the two inspectors who carried out the evaluation.

The report affirms the professionalism of the teaching and ancillary staff and the positive contribution of members of the Board of Management and the Parent’s Association which adds to the success of the school.

The report highlights the areas of good practice observed by the inspectors despite the limitations of the currents school premises.

Their identification of the areas of Drama and Visual Arts as praiseworthy is particularly significant given the lack of an indoor hall/GP room in the school.

In the area of PE, the BOM members would have expected the report to mention the fact that the delivery of the programme is entirely weather dependent, for the reason mentioned above.

 

Area 2   Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection

·         A review of the posts of responsibility has taken place as recommended in the report

·         The short-term planning templates and methods of keeping monthly records is under review in conjunction with the Primary Professional Development Service

·         The in-school management team have undertaken to meet at least twice termly

·         Tá cuiditheoir ag tabhairt tacaíocht dos na múinteoirí sa Ghaeilge i mbliana

·         A decision has been taken to administer standardised tests in numeracy to all classes from 1st to 6th form the present school year.

·         The method of recording the progress of pupils with Special Educational Needs is currently being reviewed.