An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Christ the King Girls Senior NS
Anally Road, Cabra, Dublin 7
Uimhir rolla: 16989V
Date of inspection: 22 January 2008
This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Christ the King GNS, Anally Road, Cabra, Dublin 7. 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. 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 of the school 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.
Christ the King Girls’ National School is a seven-teacher school. It is situated close to the Church of Christ the King in the heart of Cabra. There are two other schools, a junior girls’ school and a vertical boys’ school on the campus. Christ the King GNS, built in 1934, is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Archbishop of Dublin and has a current enrolment of 92 pupils. Enrolment figures over recent years have remained constant and projected enrolments up to 2010 indicate continuance at this level. The school qualifies under band 2 of the Department of Education and Science, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) initiative. The home-school-community liaison (HSCL) co-ordinator identifies pupils at risk of poor attendance at an early stage. The school’s document, Promoting Good School Attendance, was formulated in April 2004. Most pupils have excellent attendance records. The school has a number of commendable strategies in place to encourage regular attendance. However, some pupils have a pattern of poor attendance and it is recommended that in its continuing review of the attendance policy the school examine new strategies for improving school attendance.
2. Quality of school management
The new board of management (BOM) has been recently appointed and is properly constituted. Board meetings are held at least five times a year. Minutes are recorded and a financial update is prepared for each meeting. School accounts are maintained carefully and are presented for inspection to the patron annually. The board has appointed a firm of accountants to maintain all accounts. New members of the board bring a range of expertise to its work. Continuity is assured by members who have served on the board in the past and have an intimate knowledge of the school. Relevant legislative and agreed procedures are followed in the employment of teachers, ancillary staff and in the allocation of special duties posts. Some board members have attended training courses provided by the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association and further training is expected to be provided for the new board members during its term. The board is involved in the drawing up and the formal ratification of organisational and policy documents and oversees the maintenance and upkeep of the school. Major work on the school’s roof and heating system has been completed in recent years. The board is committed to continuously improving the school and to further develop the DEIS programme. It has applied for money from the Dormant Accounts Fund to provide parents’ facilities and a library. The board carries out its functions as an employer with due diligence. The board’s attention is drawn to the terms of Department circular PC_17/00, section 13(b), regarding the deployment of the principal teacher to a special education post.
The in-school management team consists of the principal, the deputy principal and two special duties post-holders. The principal is a dedicated and committed teacher who has the respect, loyalty and support of the staff, pupils and parents. She is valued by the parents and teachers as a person of compassion and fairness. Prior to her appointment as principal she was a member of the teaching staff. She is familiar with the school context and displays considerate and perceptive leadership. The school functions well under her guidance: the board of management is kept fully informed of all developments in the school, staff is well motivated and parents express satisfaction with and appreciation of the openness and approachability of all staff members.
Special duties posts have been allocated for curriculum planning for Science, Physical Education (PE), Music, Social Personal and Health Education, Mathematics and English. Curriculum leadership roles in Irish, the Visual Arts and Social Environmental and Science Education (SESE) have been undertaken by other members of staff in a spirit of collaboration with the in-school management team, which is highly commended. Duties have also been assigned in organisational areas. Other duties, attaching to special duties posts include the management of school accounts, roll books and registers, the recording of board of management minutes, the organisation of staff rota, homework club, agenda for staff meetings, and the purchase, coordination and maintenance of PE equipment. Responsibility for information and communications technology (ICT), the organisation and distribution of visual arts and library resources also form part of the special duties posts. Pastoral duties include teaching practice mentoring, the organisation of guest speakers, Green School activities, the school choir and communications. The principal and deputy principal lead the development of planning for English and Mathematics respectively.
The in-school management team reports that special duties posts are reviewed “on a continuous basis when the need arises.” It carries out its duties with due diligence and meets informally on a regular basis. The in-school management team should hold formal meetings from time to time, during the school year and keep a record of decisions taken.
The school has a teaching staff of seven, including the principal. There are five mainstream class teachers and the principal who is the learning support/resource teacher. A teacher of English as an additional language (EAL) is based in the school and is shared with the junior school. The HSCL teacher is shared among the three schools on the campus. The allocation of teaching duties is decided by the principal in consultation with the teachers and most of them have had the opportunity to teach a variety of classes. In addition to the professional development provided by the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PCSP), School Development Planning Support (SDPS) and Leadership Development for Schools (LDS), a number of teachers have availed of a variety of summer courses as part of their continuing professional development. The staff has also attended extra training in aspects of Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE), in the arts, in assessment techniques, in writing and in the use of interactive white boards.
A secretary and caretaker are both employed on a part-time basis. The caretaker performs his duties conscientiously. He carries out regular maintenance audits and reports to the principal. He has responsibility for school security, does urgent repair work and keeps the school grounds litter free. The school secretary is a considerable asset to the principal and the board of management and carries out her administrative and financial tasks efficiently. The corridors, classrooms, staffroom and toilets are cleaned every day. The school has the services of Gaelic games coaches from the local Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club to develop the games skills of fifth and sixth class pupils over a six week period each year. All pupils receive speech and drama lessons from a visiting teacher and these lessons are funded by the School Completion Programme (SCP). At present the school has a French language teacher, funded by the Comenius Language Assistantship, who takes each class once a week.
The school has five mainstream classrooms, a computer room, an all-purpose room which is used for gymnastics, assemblies and choral work, a learning support room and a staff room, part of which is used for the teaching of English as an additional language (EAL). There is also a principal’s office and a secretary’s office, indoor and outdoor storage areas and pupil and staff toilets. The school has the use of a large hard-surfaced area and a very well appointed hall, both of which are shared with the two other schools on the campus, for play and for PE. The hall is also used by a number of local organisations in the community including the local Credit Union and Cabra community groups. The school provides after-school activities for a number of pupils including a homework club three days a week for a selection of pupils from second to fifth class and for sixth class pupils. This is funded by the Cabra/Finglas partnership fund.
An extensive range of curricular resources is available in all classrooms and extra resources are centrally stored and catalogued. There is a plentiful supply of teaching and learning equipment for all curricular areas. A storage area contains an impressive array of equipment for the implementation of a comprehensive PE programme. Equipment is checked regularly and stock is replenished as often as budget allows. The school and class libraries are also well stocked; an adequate supply of big books and parallel readers is accessible, together with a number of graded series suitable for learning support. Materials for Science, Visual Arts, Mathematics, Music, History and Geography have been acquired, catalogued and are available to teachers. The school has a store of drama costumes for stage and class performances. Of particular note is the range of resources for music including a piano, tuned and non-tuned percussion instruments and guitars. Many classrooms have nature, history, and investigation areas. Pupils’ work is exhibited in all classrooms and the corridors are attractively presented with photographs and displays of pupils’ artwork.
The school has a dedicated ICT room with sixteen networked computers which have access to broadband. Each classroom is equipped with one or more computers and these also have access to the internet. All classrooms have interactive white boards which the teachers and pupils use very effectively during lessons. A very comprehensive range of suitable software packages is available in the computer/library room. These packages focus on Mathematics and English but also include a number of other suitable curriculum support packages. There is a mobile television, video and digital video disc player available for use by all teachers. All resources were purchased using curriculum grants from the Department, grants received under the DEIS and School Completion Programme (SCP) and from local community-funded initiatives.
There is no formal parents’ association in the school but the parents’ representatives on the board of management take an active role in school events. Parents’ representatives expressed satisfaction with the school and with the availability of the school staff to meet with parents when the need arises. Contact with parents is maintained on a regular basis through a variety of initiatives that form part of the HSCL programme. Letters are sent home frequently and key administrative policies are communicated to parents of new pupils on enrolment. Parents frequently visit the school and they value informal contacts with teachers and the friendly nature of the school. Homework notebooks are used to communicate with parents regularly. A number of initiatives have been undertaken recently by the school to keep parents informed of curriculum developments in Mathematics and to encourage parents to read with their children. Attempts have been made to establish a formal parent’ association and it is recommended that consideration be given to continue these efforts to establish such a committee in line with the Education Act (1998). Formal parent-teacher meetings are held in February each year and end of year reports are sent to parents.
During the evaluation all pupils behaved with great courtesy and respect and engaged very well with the tasks set for them by their teachers. They are fully aware of and observe the class rules and the general school procedures. The teachers’ classroom management and the management of pupils were excellent. The commitment of the staff to the pupils’ welfare is apparent throughout the school. The code of discipline is ratified and supported by the board of management and is available to parents in booklet form.
The school has developed a number of procedural and organisational policies. These include a discipline and anti-bullying code, school rules, a health and safety statement and a school substance misuse policy. Plans for all curricular areas except Drama have been developed. The plan for Drama is being developed and is informed by ongoing in-service provision and the support of a cuiditheoir. Curricular plans show commendable engagement by the teachers with the primary curriculum and with support services. Plans show a depth of understanding of the principles of the curriculum and the staff is to be commended for the quality and relevance of the school’s planning documents. These plans are comprehensive, have been contextualised to the school’s needs, and there is ample evidence throughout the school that these plans are being implemented effectively.
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.
All teachers formulate long-term and short-term schemes of work and keep monthly progress records. The level of detail provided in individual teachers’ plans varies, and so consideration should now be given to revising the template in use for individual planning, in order to include curricular prompts, references to objectives, methodologies, differentiation and assessment. Teachers devote considerable time and energy to preparing and organising resources for their classrooms, thus ensuring attractive and engaging learning environments for their pupils. Teachers have embraced new technologies enthusiastically and have used these creatively to prepare interesting and inspiring lessons for the pupils, including those pupils with special needs. Of particular note is the innovative use which has been made of the recently acquired interactive whiteboards.
4.1 Overview of learning and teaching
Good examples of the promotion and facilitation of active learning and teaching in small groups, investigation as part of science teaching, the use of a communicative approach in Irish, the centrality of local features in the teaching of SESE and the use of process writing as an integral part of the teaching of English from an early stage, were observed during the evaluation. Excellent use is also made of manipulatives, materials from the environment and teacher-sourced and created resources, particularly in Mathematics lessons. The practice in some classes of allowing pupils the opportunity to identify their own learning goals each week helps to maintain their interest and focus on their own learning.
Tá sé mar aidhm sa phlean Ghaeilge leanúnachas a chothú i dteagasc na Gaeilge tríd an scoil agus freastal ar éagsúlacht chumais na ndaltaí i ngach rang. Is léir go ndéantar iarracht chreidiúnach an plean sin a leanúint sna ceachtanna Gaeilge. Cuirtear an Ghaeilge neamhfhoirmiúil chun cinn le héifeacht agus cuidíonn sé seo le dearcadh dearfach don teanga a spreagadh.
Úsáidtear áiseanna oiriúnacha teagaisc chun foghlaim na Gaeilge a spreagadh. Ina measc siúd tá ábhar comhrá agus léitheoireachta, cairteacha, puipéid agus dlúthdhioscaí, agus tá na múinteoirí á n-úsáid go héifeachtach de réir a chéile. Ar a bhformhór, múintear na ceachtanna i slite taitneamhacha, agus baintear dea-úsáid as straitéisí teagaisc agus acmhainní oiriúnacha chun suim na ndaltaí a choimeád. Léiríonn na daltaí tuiscint mhaith teanga agus tá cumas labartha maith acu. Aithrisítear rainn agus píosaí filíochta go bríomhar agus le tuiscint. Baintear úsáid éifeachtach as Gaeilge neamhfhoirmiúil ag amanna i rith an lae i ranganna ar fud na scoile. Gaeilge amháin a bhí in úsáid mar theanga chumarsáide i rith na gceachtanna Gaeilge i ranganna áirithe. Moltar an cleachtadh seo a leathnú ar fud na scoile. Feictear forbairt inmholta sna hardranganna i dteagasc na Gaeilge ó bhéal. Tugtar deiseanna cuí do na daltaí Gaeilge a labhairt agus a chleachtadh i rith an lae. Úsáidtear na briathra atá foghlamtha acu i ndrámaí beaga agus i gcomhthéascanna cuí eile.
Léitear le brí agus le cruinneas sna ranganna uilig. Cothaítear fonn scríbhneoireachta i measc na ndaltaí trí thaithí spéisiúil í scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil a sholáthar dóibh. Sna meánranganna bunaítear an scríbhneoireacht ar ábhar an chomhrá le héifeacht agus cruthaíonn na daltaí sna hardranganna scéalta pearsanta ar ríomhairí agus cuirtear ar taispeáint iad. Baintear úsáid éifeachtach as an mbord bán idirghníomhach i dteagasc na Gaeilge i gcuid ranganna freisin. Déantar cúram rialta de na cleachtaí seo agus úsáidtear luas cártaí oiriúnacha chun tacaíocht a thabhairt don scríbhneoireacht.
The school plan aims to provide continuity in the teaching of Irish throughout the school and to match the varied learning abilities of the pupils. A creditable effort is made to follow the plan in the teaching of Irish. Informal Irish is effectively taught and contributes to the positive attitude to the language among the pupils.
Appropriate resources are used effectively to stimulate interest in the learning of Irish. Among these are suitable conversational and reading materials, charts, puppets and discs, which the teachers use effectively. The use of varied strategies and resources by most teachers ensures that the pupils interest is maintained. The pupils show a good understanding of Irish and are able to converse at an acceptable level. They recite poems and rhymes with enthusiasm and understanding. Effective use is made of informal Irish at various times during the day in all classes. The practice of using Irish as the language of communication during lessons was apparent in some classes. The extension of this to all classes is recommended. Oral Irish in the senior classes is developed very effectively. Pupils are provided with opportunities to speak and to practice Irish throughout the day. The verbs they have learnt formally are used in small dramas and in other appropriate contexts.
Pupils read with enthusiasm and accuracy in all classes. The impulse to write is nurtured in the pupils through providing them with interesting functional writing topics. In the middle classes the writing tasks are based effectively on the conversational Irish and pupils in senior classes use computers to write their own personal stories, which are displayed in the classroom. Very effective use of the interactive white boards in the teaching of Irish was observed in some classes also. The writing tasks are well scaffolded by the careful use of appropriate flash cards.
The quality of teaching and learning in English is good throughout the school. Topics in oral language, reading and writing are integrated in a logical language learning process. Purposeful oral interaction involves the teachers engaging the pupils in discussion on topics drawn from diverse curricular areas. The pupils respond well during these classroom discussions, which feature well-structured learning activities and are supported by effective stimuli provided by the teachers.
In junior classes the pupils’ phonological awareness is systematically developed and they are provided with extensive opportunities to become familiar with print in the environment. A buddy reading system is in place and this provides suitable opportunities to junior pupils to extend their reading experience. In the middle and senior classes, graded reading schemes are supplemented by very effective use of class novels. A wide variety of independent reading material is also available to the pupils, both in classroom libraries and in the school library. Pupils’ attainments in standardised reading tests are broadly in line with expectations and with their ability levels. The school takes part in special initiatives such as World Book Week to encourage pupils to read for enjoyment.
Pupils undertake a range of suitable writing activities which include an appropriate blend of functional and creative exercises. A range of genres is explored and samples of pupils’ work include fact files, stories, news, character profiles and poetry. Writing tasks are differentiated to cater for pupils’ individual learning needs. Excellent use of the internet as a learning resource during literacy lessons was observed during the evaluation. Some good examples of the use of ICT were noted in the presentation of written work. This approach should be developed further to facilitate enhanced engagement with the process of writing in all classes.
The teaching of Mathematics in the school is very good and involves the matching of learning tasks to pupils’ individual learning needs. Whole-class elements in each lesson are augmented by the use of group work, in which pupils engage in carefully selected activities. These activities are designed by teachers to provide each child with opportunities to experience success in Mathematics. Accordingly, the use of differentiated learning tasks is a feature of mathematics education in the school. Within each class group teachers prepare a range of activities which are tailored to match the learning needs of the pupils within the classes. These activities encompass the full range of the Mathematics curriculum, and are designed to enable the pupils to think and communicate quantitatively and spatially and to solve problems. They are encouraged to think of situations where mathematics can be applied and to use appropriate technology to support such applications. The use of technology is evident in senior classes and pupils make excellent use of the interactive whiteboard, of the internet and of mathematics software, including Logo to explore and to solve mathematical problems.
Colourful and relevant mathematics charts and posters, covering a range of curricular strands, are in evidence in each classroom. In addition to the use of an appropriate range of textbooks and of other suitable resources from a range of websites, teachers make interesting and creative use of resources from the pupils’ immediate environment in order to design stimulating lessons. A variety of real-life timetables are used to enhance the learning opportunities for pupils and to enable them to deal more effectively with everyday problem solving tasks. Pupils’ written work is monitored consistently and appropriate feedback is offered. Formal assessments of the pupils’ progress in Mathematics are carried out each term and the results are recorded systematically.
The Primary School Curriculum emphasises a rounded historical education which incorporates gaining knowledge and interpretations of people in the past and learning something of the way in which historians go about their work. The successful manner in which History is taught in the school honours both of these aspects of the history curriculum. The range of topics encountered by the children in their time in school allows them to gain knowledge of past human experiences at family, local, national and international levels. For each level, a range of appropriate resources is provided to arouse pupils’ curiosity about the past. Learning activities are constructed in a manner which fosters active learning. Pupils are encouraged to investigate, to explore and to interpret their immediate environment and aspects of the lives of their ancestors. Timelines are displayed to good effect in classrooms, a good range of historical artefacts is available in the school, and teachers prepare an excellent array of teaching resources to promote pupils’ learning on a variety of themes from lives of people in the past. Pupils’ investigative skills are developed through engaging them in finding, selecting and analysing evidence from a variety of sources. Of particular note is the manner in which technology is used by pupils in project work. The results of their individual and collaborative investigations are highly commendable and they take pride in offering feedback in the whole-class setting.
The school provides a very comprehensive range of resources to support the teaching and learning of Geography and the pupils achieve an overall high standard across the various strands of the subject. In lessons observed, pupils explored modes of communication and followed the general outline of the school plan. Junior classes were encouraged to develop an awareness of the variety of homes in which people live. The junior pupils had some basic knowledge about recycling as part of the Green Schools’ project. They work on projects that help them to understand the roles of familiar people in the environment. Familiarity with the locality is further developed through a range of curricular and extra-curricular activities. Local features are identified as rich sources of information in the school plan and pupils visit the Botanical gardens as part of their study of trees and plants. The Liffey, the canal, the Phoenix Park and the school garden are also identified as potential areas for further study. Trips outside the school environment serve to stimulate their interest in the wider world. Senior pupils work on weather projects and are participating in a Green Wave project by recording signs of spring on computer. This project develops the pupils’ awareness of daily changes in weather, temperature and the emergence of new buds and flowers. Opportunities of a similar nature should be created in all classes to allow pupils observe weather conditions and to record it daily using objects of reference, simple equipment and picture symbols. Displays of pupils’ work around the school indicate that the human environments and environmental awareness and care strands of the geography programme are adequately addressed.
The teaching and learning in Science is generally good and the school provides a wide range of resources suitable for use in all strand units of the programme. Each strand of the curriculum is addressed at each class level, and appropriate attention is given to the skills of working scientifically and of designing and making. The spiral approach upon which the curriculum is based means that topics are revisited in increasing depth in different classes as the pupils progress through the school. The pupils are encouraged to apply the skills and concepts they have learned in new situations, as they design, make and evaluate their creations. The emphasis on collaborative small group investigative activities ensures that all pupils have opportunities to handle materials and to discuss their learning with their peers. Pupils engage purposefully in these activities: the clear and motivating introductions to lessons by teachers and the setting of suitably challenging but manageable tasks for the pupils result in their ready and enthusiastic involvement in science lessons. The practice in senior classes of recording pupils’ project work on electronic media is commended: not only does it allow for the keeping of pupils’ work in a compact format, but it also allows them to compare their increasingly sophisticated project work with earlier efforts, and to be aware of their own developing skills of working scientifically.
Teachers’ planning for the Visual Arts indicates that all six strands of the programme are covered in each class. Good examples of integration with other curricular areas were observed. The effective use of ICT as a stimulus for discussion during lessons is commended. Many fine samples of pupils’ completed work including paintings, fabric and fibre creations, collages, construction pieces and work with clay are displayed in the classrooms and in the corridors. Pupils also retain samples of their work in their portfolios. A suitable range of materials and media for making art is available to each class and pupils also have opportunities to look at and respond to works by famous artists. Overall the standard of teaching and learning in Visual Arts is high.
Music plays a very important part in the life of the school and pupils achieve good standards in the subject. All strands and strand units are taught successfully in all classes and there is particular emphasis on choral and instrumental work from third to sixth class. The school’s participation in Córfhéile na Scoileanna over many years is a particular source of pride for the school. The extensive range of equipment procured by the school effectively supports the music programme which includes activities in listening and responding, performing and composing. It is evident from the lessons observed that the very comprehensive school plan in music is implemented systematically and very successfully throughout the school. The children perform a wide variety of songs in Irish and English which are age-appropriate and which they enjoy singing. Classes from third to sixth perform together regularly and pupils show excellent control of pitch, dynamics and rhythm. The pupils engage competently with a variety of tuned and non-tuned percussion instruments. All pupils receive recorder lessons in three age and ability appropriate groups and they perform suitable tunes with considerable skill. Guitar lessons have been provided for a number of pupils also. All pupils are given opportunities to compare different types of Music. They showcase their talents during the church ceremonies, nativity plays and at Córfhéile na Scoileanna. They have also participated in a digital music workshop in The Ark as part of their exploration of links with music and ICT.
Good standards are reached in the teaching of Drama and the school is in the process of developing a school plan in Drama which is being informed by recent in-service and the assistance of a Cuiditheoir. In the interim the school has adopted a generic plan produced by the Cuiditheoir as a framework for the development of a contextualised programme of work for each class. In developing the plan, cognisance should be given to the importance of an integrated approach to the teaching of Drama. The school has the services of a speech and drama teacher and each class receives a thirty minute lesson weekly paid for from DEIS grants. Teachers’ planning highlights the good range of approaches and methodologies used in the Drama lessons. The school has an area designated for role play, sketches and short plays. An extensive range of resources for Drama including props, dramatic stimuli, music and costumes, are stored centrally and catalogued in planning documents.
The school is very well resourced with PE and general sports equipment, which is stored in a room off the general purposes room. Included in theses resources are hoops, bean bags, cones, markers, a parachute, batons and skipping ropes. Classes use the general purposes room for some gymnastics work and the school also has the use of a large hall shared amongst other schools on the campus. Outdoor activities take place in the hard-surfaced playground. The school also uses the local park facilities and its adventure accommodation. During active school week parents interact with the pupils in demonstrating playground games. The school actively encourages the pupils’ participation in physical activities outside of the PE programme and pupils have taken part in a range of activities including Irish dancing, the skipathon, danceathon, Brain Gym, horse riding, school sports day and adventure park activities.
All strands of the PE programme are implemented in accordance with the comprehensive school plan and lessons observed during the evaluation were well organised and of a good standard. Good use of equipment was evident, safety issues were attended to and the pupils participated actively. A notable feature of the PE lessons observed was the cooperative spirit in which the pupils participated in the tasks set for them. All pupils attend swimming lessons in ability appropriate groupings.
The caring relationship between teachers and pupils reflects the characteristic spirit of the school and its commitment to the developmental needs of its pupils in the comprehensive school plan for SPHE. The recently reviewed Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme is being actively implemented. A positive, respectful and caring atmosphere permeates the school community where individuals are valued and supported.
The school provides a well-ordered, safe and healthy environment for the pupils in its care and the teaching and learning reaches a high standard. A strong sense of mutual respect exists between pupils, teachers and parents. It is evident that the pupils respond positively to the teachers’ interest in their personal development, educational progress and responsible behaviour. A keen emphasis is placed on the growth of the pupils’ sense of social responsibility. A spiral approach to the teaching of the SPHE programme is adopted and a good variety of teaching approaches and active learning strategies are used during discrete SPHE lessons. Language skills are extended appropriately through the discussion of a range of topics pertinent to the social and health aspects of their lives. The programme also provides opportunities for pupils to develop an understanding of individual and group rights and responsibilities. Pupils are enabled to acquire and improve their communication and social interaction skills. Personal safety aspects of their lives are highlighted during SPHE lessons and suitable opportunities for informed decision making are provided.
The school policy on assessment reiterates the central role of assessment “in monitoring and enhancing the quality of education at the school”. Screening tests and standardised tests are administered each year. Pupils coming from the junior girls’ school are assessed when they enter second class. Test results are recorded and kept centrally. The school has a range of diagnostic test packages which are administered from time to time. Pupils in receipt of resource hours are diagnostically tested as part of their psychological assessment. The main tool used in the assessment of pupils’ progress in curricular areas is teacher observation. Informal testing observed during the evaluation included spelling tests, checklists, portfolios of work and monitoring written work in copies. Assessment of achievement and progress is successfully handled by the teachers and results are used judiciously to inform further planning.
The quality of support for pupils with special educational needs is satisfactory. The learning support programme in English is focused on optimising “the teaching and learning process to enable pupils with learning difficulties to achieve adequate levels of proficiency in numeracy and literacy.” A total of twenty six pupils receive daily learning support in literacy. Though no formal planned learning support is provided in Mathematics, the development of mathematical procedures and concepts are the focus of in-class support for pupils who experience difficulty in this curriculum area. These pupils are selected in accordance with the Learning-Support Guidelines. Priority is given to those whose attainment levels on standardised tests are at or below the 12th percentile. Most of those attending learning support in the senior school have been in receipt of support in the junior school. Group education plans are used for those receiving supplementary teaching. Support is provided by withdrawing pupils in groups.
Individual Pupil Learning Profiles (IPLPs) are devised using the template from the Learning-Support Guidelines. These plans summarise relevant information about pupils’ strengths and attainments, their priority learning needs, learning objectives for the period of support, activities to be completed with the teacher and at home and lists of materials to be used. IPLPs are formulated in September each year and are reviewed at the end of each term. Learning support lessons are carefully prepared and involve the effective use of suitable resources and teaching methodologies. Planning for pupils with special needs is detailed. Individual assessment folders are kept and include daily observational records. Withdrawal from class is the mode of delivery of assistance for pupils with special needs. The school policy on special needs has been in place for some time and it is recommended that it now be reviewed. This review should include provision for systematic in-school diagnostic testing and should also explore the variety of models of support suggested in the Learning Support Guidelines (2000). It should also ensure that school policy and practice take account of pupils’ needs in both literacy and numeracy. Learning-support provision for pupils with very low achievement in Mathematics should be provided in accordance with the recommendations of Literacy and Numeracy in Disadvantaged Schools: Challenges for Teachers and Learners” (2005).
Christ the King Girls’ School is in band two of DEIS. Some of the initiatives under this scheme are undertaken by the HSCL co-ordinator in collaboration with the school principal, the teachers and the local committee. The newly appointed School Completion Programme co-ordinator is based in Coláiste Eanna and serves a number of schools including the three schools on the campus. The DEIS development plan is being actively implemented in accordance with the guidelines. The five HSCL co-ordinators in the Cabra area work as a team serving a total of eight schools and form part of the local committee. The committee includes parents, principals and health, education, justice and community representatives. The aims of the school policy on home-school-community liaison are to develop the whole child through parent-teacher partnerships. The HSCL co-ordinator devises programmes to meet the personal, educational and leisure needs of parents and encourages them to become involved in the school life of their pupils in partnership with the school. She reports that one of the most successful aspects of the present scheme is the valuing of their children’s education by parents. Initiatives are focused on parents and aim to enable them to have positive influences on their children’s future in education. Opportunities are provided for parents, teachers and the local community to work together to promote a caring, open environment where information and guidance are provided.
Current priorities identified by the HSCL co-ordinator include the provision of conflict resolution courses. Funding is provided by Dublin VEC to facilitate this provision. The school also runs a Summer Transfer Programme in conjunction with Cabra Youth Service. This programme targets sixth class pupils for support and provides their families with a transfer pack. Funding has been provided under the School Completion Programme for the provision of additional supports. These include extra psychological services, the extension of the learning support programme through the use of a part-time teacher, and swimming lessons. Speech and drama, homework club, gymnastics, family support and an equestrian programme, Music, English classes for parents of newcomer pupils and suitable programmes for gifted pupils are also provided under this programme. The HSCL co-ordinator monitors pupil attendance on a regular basis and she has identified school attendance as a priority for the current school year.
An English as an Additional Language teacher who is shared with the junior girls’ school attends daily. Five pupils in the senior school are in receipt of this support, which is co-ordinated with class teachers through ongoing informal discussion. Pupils are selected for EAL using Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT) screening materials. Learning targets are identified for each pupil and a suitable range of activities are prepared. Pupils’ learning targets are reviewed each term, using IILT benchmarks. A strong emphasis on communicative approaches to teaching English is evident in the teacher’s preparation. An appropriate range of suitable resources is provided to stimulate discussion on everyday topics. The creative use of the internet by the teacher, as a source of visual stimuli for use in lessons, is noted.
Informal meetings with parents take place as required and formal parent-teacher meetings are held in February.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development the following key recommendations are made:
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Published October 2008
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1 Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board of Management would like to thank the inspectors for their courtesy during the evaluation. The Board of Management and staff are pleased the report affirms and acknowledges the commitment, hardwork and dedication of the whole school community.
Area 2 Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection
activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection.
• In response to recommendations in the area of learning support the Board of Management would like to point out that the school currently has a general allocation of 0.6 of a post in learning support. This amounts to 15 hours of learning support per week. This is an unfavourable allocation when to compared to similar schools in the area. It is insufficient to our needs and is the subject of negotiation with DES. Therefore the school has concentrated the use of 15 hours on the improvement of literacy levels for the pupils in the school (the school is DEIS band 2)
However the school takes on board the recommendation to provide maths support and will heretofore use the 15 hours of learning support allocated per week to meet the needs of pupils who are experiencing difficulty in maths and literacy. We have implemented in-class support for maths this year.
· The terms of Department of Education and Science Circular PC-17/00 section 13(b) is now being met.
· The attendance policy has been reviewed and additional measures have been put in place to continue to support good school attendance.
· The school has been satisfied with the short and long term plans which had been agreed at school level. It is in the process of implementing a more cohesive approach to Cuntas Míosuil.