An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Mocomhog National School
Kealkill, Bantry, County Cork
Roll number: 17011W
Date of inspection: 31 March 2006
Date of issue of report: 26 October 2006
This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Mocomhog National School, Kealkill, Bantry, County Cork. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspector held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. She interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. She reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.
Mocomhog N S is located eleven miles north east of Bantry, Co. Cork. It is one of eight schools in the parish of Bantry and it serves a well-established rural community, catering for both boys and girls from infants to sixth class. At present, this two-teacher school has an enrolment of 31 pupils from a total of 18 families. Enrolment in the school has remained constant over the past few years reflecting little change in demographic trends in the locality. Just over half of the pupils are children of foreign-national parents, the majority of whom come from England. The school welcomes and provides a supportive educational environment for families of all social, cultural and religious backgrounds. It celebrates diversity where differences in values, beliefs and traditions are acknowledged and respected. Mocomhog NS is a participating school in the Department of Education and Science initiative “Giving Children and Even Break” and it has designated disadvantaged status. The school also enjoys the support of the School Completion Programme(SCP) and has recently qualified for the DEIS programme (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools).
The school community strives to provide a caring, inclusive and secure environment for pupils where their holistic learning needs are identified and addressed in a supportive and non-judgemental manner. A warm and welcoming atmosphere was evident during the period of inspection. This characteristic spirit of the school is reflected in the daily positive interactions among pupils and teachers. The school’s mission statement emphasises the development of each child to fulfil their own individual potential so that they leave the school as balanced, considerate and able individuals. It appears that pupils enjoy school and their levels of attendance are high.
The school is under the patronage of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork. The board of management is properly constituted and meets regularly. It is reported that the agenda for meetings is agreed in advance and circulated to board members. Financial statements are furnished at every meeting. It is clear that the board of management is keenly interested and pro-active in promoting the welfare of the school. Close links have been developed with the local community and co-operation between school and community is fostered assiduously.
Primarily, the board of management has directed its attention to the development of organisational policies and board members have been instrumental in developing and ratifying these policies. To further enhance the planning process, it is recommended that the board of management build on present practice and develop curriculum policies in collaboration with staff. Ongoing communication between the board of management and parents is effected through the attendance of some board members at parent’s association meetings and by continuous communication between staff and both committees. Communication may be further enhanced by the publication of a regular newsletter detailing school activities.
The in-school management team consists of the principal and the deputy principal. The principal is to be commended for her innovative leadership style. She discharges her duties in a professional manner, communicating effectively with the board of management, staff, pupils and parents. She plays a pivotal role in communicating a shared vision to all stakeholders. The principal promotes a culture of cooperation and collaboration and acknowledges the commitment and support of staff members. She is sensitive to the needs of pupils and she reinforces strong links with the local community by fostering a spirit of inclusiveness in all aspects of school life.
The deputy principal very capably supports the principal in matters related to school administration, planning and curriculum development. Duties have been determined through discussion and are reviewed on a regular basis thus facilitating a matching of duties to a constantly changing school environment. The shared commitment and dedication of the staff is a most notable and commendable feature of the school. This collaborative team atmosphere positively influences the attitudes of pupils, parents and board members alike.
All necessary resources, both material and personnel, are deployed effectively. One full-time temporary shared special-needs teacher and one shared learning-support teacher cater for the special educational needs of a number of pupils in the school. The secretary carries out her duties in a competent manner, providing valuable administrative support to the staff. Management also employ personnel who clean the school to a very high standard. To date school maintenance has been undertaken on a voluntary basis by parents to whom the board of management is indebted. Expertise on the staff is used prudently to enhance certain areas of the curriculum particularly in the area of Visual Arts. It is suggested that this practice be extended to include other curricular areas, where appropriate. The teaching staff is to be highly commended for their engagement and participation in a wide range of continuing professional development courses. The special needs assistant is deployed judiciously to attend to the needs of one child. She undertakes her duties with great care and attention and works continuously to ensure the full inclusion of the pupil in mainstream classroom. A number of external teachers and tutors are deployed under the various support programmes sanctioned by the Department of Education and Science. The school enjoys the services of a co-ordinator under the Giving Children an Even Break Programme. Staff is ably supported by additional personnel in the areas of Music, Visual Arts, Drama, home-school liaison, learning support and pre-school provision. Staff meetings are held from time to time. While staff discuss school matters daily they might now consider more regular staff meetings in accordance with Department and Science (DES) Circular 14/04 to assist them with ongoing planning and review.
The school which was built in 1934 comprises two classrooms. In 1994 and 2002 additional accommodation was built including toilets and a medical/library room. This medical room currently serves as a learning support cum resource and storage area. The reception area serves as a computer room and school office. Indoors, the school is bright and pleasant. A high standard of hygiene, neatness and order is in evidence throughout the building. Classrooms are attractively decorated with commercially produced and teacher-made charts, pupils’ writing, artwork and projects. Corridors are also used as display areas where art work, photographs and projects are a prominent feature. The school authorities have erected a portacabin on site to accommodate an after-school club and funds from the Better Ireland Fund AIB have enabled them to purchase suitable materials and equipment. This room is also used regularly by support teachers. The original shelter in the yard has also been restructured to store equipment. Pupils’ recreational space outdoors is restricted. The board of management recently undertook a project subsidised by CLÁR (Ceantair Laga Ard-Riachtanais) to upgrade the play area. The lack of green recreational space is of concern to parents. The staff have access to a sports field and a hall which is located seven miles from the school. In order to avail of such facilities the school must organise transport, the cost of which incurs a strain on board finances.
An appropriate range of teaching and learning resources is available in the school and is used to considerable effect. Resources have been purchased to support curriculum delivery particularly in the areas of Mathematics and Science. The school has acquired a range of suitable PE equipment through its recent participation in the Buntús programme. Some attention may now be directed to the provision of additional resources for the teaching of children with special educational needs. The school has acquired a number of computers which are used regularly and productively in teaching and learning. Through the school’s participation in SIP 2000 staff have developed considerable expertise in the use of ICT in the classroom. As a follow-on from this initiative, the school is one of ten schools throughout the country that is now involved in ICT and Literacy 2005-2007 Programme. The objective of this programme is to explore the value of ICT in supporting specific aspects of literacy. To achieve this goal, the school has been provided with additional ICT facilities including a data projector which is used effectively to enhance pupils’ literacy development.
The school endeavours to promote good communication and build trust and respect between parents and teachers. Home school links are promoted through parent/teacher meetings, school concerts, religious ceremonies, sporting activities and informal meetings between teachers and parents. Parent-teacher meetings are held annually to provide an opportunity for parents to discuss their children’s progress. Written reports on pupil’s progress are provided for parents at the end of each school year.
The parents’ association was established in 1998. It is not affiliated to the National Parents’ Council (NPC). The principal attends the parents’ association meetings regularly thus facilitating a worthwhile link between all the partners. The association enhances the work of the school and supports it through such activities as the organisation of fundraising events and local celebrations. Parents’ involvement in the school is further augmented by their attendance at a number of courses organised by the Giving Children an Even Break co-ordinator. A notably feature of the school is the range of in-school activities in which parents are involved which include gardening, wood work and art and craft. In view of parents willingness to be involved in many aspects of school life it is the intention of the staff to extend that involvement to the area of literacy in the near future.
The inspector met with representatives of the parents’ association as part of the whole-school evaluation process. The officers commented on the openness and welcome afforded to all parents by the staff. They reported that parents are pleased with the overall education provision offered to the children and commented on the manner in which staff support and encourage their children. Parents are satisfied with the quality and standard of teaching and the educational progress made by their children. Parents report that they are pleased with the level of communication between staff and parents. Regular written communication provides parents with information about school activities. Parents also stated that there are many opportunities, both formal and informal, for them to discuss their children’s attainment and progress with teachers.
The school’s participation in a variety of DES and local initiatives contributes greatly to enabling pupils reach their full potential in a caring and inclusive environment. The SCP provides a wide range of assistance including financial support to sixteen children attending the school. This programme also organises activities for pupils during the summer period thereby providing structured activities for those who choose to attend. A grant from the Southern Health Board covers the cost of meals prepared by the parents for pupils prior to the commencement of extra-curricular activities. Pupils’ excellent behaviour both inside and outside of the classrooms is a credit to the teachers and to the pupils themselves. They demonstrate care and respect for one another and for their school environment.
The school has a clear mission statement, which encapsulates the aims of the school. Statutory policies and a wide range of organisational policies have been devised systematically. Policies in respect of health and safety, enrolment, behaviour, homework, anti-bullying and acceptable internet use have been developed and ratified. Staff, board of management and parents collaborate in the formulation of some of these documents. This good practice should be extended to all policy development. 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, 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2004). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.
The staff is to be commended for their work in the area of curricular planning. Considerable progress has been made and a range of policies have been formulated. Staff are continuously aware of the need to adopt the school plan to meet the needs of the pupils and the changing school context. Strategic planning identifies those immediate needs and ensures ongoing review of policies. As some curricular policies are incomplete, continued work in this area will enhance the overall curriculum provision in the school and ensure appropriate continuity and progression from class to class. Copies of all school planning documents are made available to parents.
Individual teacher’s planning is undertaken in the form of long-term and short-term preparation. Teachers’ timetables are organised to facilitate the implementation of curriculum plans and appropriate attention is afforded to linkage and integration within and between subjects. It is evident from an examination of individual teacher planning that pupils experience a broad and balanced curriculum. A whole-school approach to short-term planning has been adopted. It is suggested that a similar approach be adopted with respect to long-term planning. Teachers maintain records of monthly progress in an informative and systematic way which clearly delineates continuity of learning.
Teachers use a wide range of methodologies in the delivery of the curriculum. Whole-class teaching, group and pair work and activity-based teaching and learning were evidenced during the inspection. Teachers seek to differentiate topics for their multi-class groupings especially with regard to the teaching of Mathematics.
Éiríonn leis na hoidí suim na ndaltaí i bhfoghlaim na Gaeilge a mhúscailt agus a gcumas cumarsáide sa teanga a fhorbairt trí úsáid a bhaint as straitéisí éagsúla fiúntacha. Bíonn idir gheáitsíocht, cluichí, filíocht, aithriseoireacht ar siúl chun spéis na ndaltaí a spreagadh sa teanga. Úsáidtear fearas agus ábhar corpartha go taitneamhach chun scileanna éisteachta na ndaltaí a fhorbairt agus chun a dtuiscint ar an teanga a éascú. Léiríonn formhór na bpáistí cumas maith tuisceana. Leathnaítear foclóir na bpáistí go céimniúil agus dírítear béim ar chleachtadh múnlaí cainte. Tá caighdeán labhartha creidiúnach sroichte ag na páistí. Chun cur leis an obair seo, b’fhiú na páistí a spreagadh chun úsáid a bhaint as an teanga i gcomhthéacsanna cumarsáideacha le linn na gceachtanna comhrá. Bheadh sé ina chabhair chomh maith an Ghaeilge a úsáid níos minicí mar theanga bhainisteoireachta ranga agus mar theanga chaidrimh scoile. Ní mór plean uile-scoile a fhorbairt a chruthóidh leanúnachas agus forbairt na n-eiseamláirí teanga ó rang go rang. B’fhiú na heiseamláirí a fhorbairt i gcomhthéacs na dtéamaí atá sa churaclam agus iad a bhunú ar ábhar suime na bpáistí. Aithrisíonn na páistí cnuasach deas dánta go fonnmhar.
Ullmhaítear na páistí don litearthacht luath go fónta trí bhéim a chur ar an bhfocal aithint agus ar dheiseanna rialta scríbhneoireachta a sholáthar. Léann formhór na ndaltaí le cruinneas oiriúnach. Is inmholta an timpeallacht litearthachta shaibhir atá cothaithe ag an scoil agus an réimse leathan leabhar atá curtha ar fáil sna ranganna éagsúla. Moltar feidhm níos mó a bhaint as leabhair leabharlanna agus irisleabhair chun cur le scileanna léitheoireachta na ndaltaí agus taithí níos leithne léitheoireachta a thabhairt dóibh. Faigheann na daltaí cleachtadh fiúntach ar an scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil agus scríobhann siad téacsanna éagsúla faoi threoir. Is inmholta na leabhráin nuachta atá curtha le chéile ar mhaithe le scileanna léitheoireachta agus scileanna scríbhneoireachta na ndaltaí a fhorbairt. Is fiú cur leis an dea-chleachtas seo agus deiseanna sa bhreis a thabhairt dóibh smaointe a ghiniúint agus a dhréachtú le cur lena gcumas cumarsáide scríofa.
The teachers succeed in motivating pupils to learn Irish and to develop their competency in the language through the use of effective strategies. Language games, poetry and dramatization is effectively deployed to maintain the interest of pupils. Listening and comprehension skills are further enhanced by the use of suitable resources and materials. Most pupils’ comprehension skills are of a good standard. Language structures are taught systematically and appropriate emphasis is placed on the extension of pupils’ vocabulary. A credible standard of oracy is achieved. To assist in this work it is recommended that pupils are motivated to use the language in a communicative way during the lesson. It would also be beneficial if Irish was used informally in the day to day activities of the school. A whole-school plan which outlines the progression and development of language exemplars from class to class is also recommended. Consideration should be given to the development of these exemplars in the context of using the themes of the curriculum and the interests of the pupils. A range of suitable poems is recited with enthusiasm.
Pupils are well prepared for early literacy by the systematic use of appropriate strategies for word recognition. Regular opportunities are provided for the integration of writing and reading skills. Most pupils read with suitable accuracy and fluency. The school has successfully created a print-rich environment coupled with a wide range of reading material in all classrooms. It is recommended that greater use is made of library books and magazines to further develop the reading skills of pupils and to provide them with a wider experience of reading. Pupils are provided with valuable opportunities to engage in functional writing. They write their own stories under the guidance of their teacher. Noteworthy is the news-time booklets that have been compiled to enhance and develop both the reading and writing skills of pupils. It is worthwhile to consider extending this good practice by providing opportunities for pupils to generate and to draft their own thoughts in writing.
Pupils’ oral language skills are well developed during a range of well-structured lessons across many curriculum areas. Pupils demonstrate a good understanding of challenging vocabulary and are encouraged to express their opinions and thoughts competently and articulately. Poetry is presented in a stimulating manner and well-managed discussion of themes in poetry supports the development of pupils’ emotional response. The pupils engage actively during poetry lessons and recite a broad range of rhymes and poems clearly and with expression.
In general, a variety of teaching approaches and methodologies is used to develop literacy. In the classrooms, pupils have access to a library corner which is stocked with a range of stimulating reading materials. Library facilities are constantly updated to encourage reading. Reading for pleasure is cultivated and pupils are encouraged to select, read and comment critically on a range of suitable material. Reading readiness activities in the junior classes provide a foundation for the teaching of reading through the use of large format books, teacher-made resources and illustrative materials. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of phonological awareness which coincides with the programme promoted in learning support. It is recommended that a more extensive use of the above-named strategies be extended to eliminate the need for a structured reading programme in the infant class. In all other classes reading is based on the varied use of suitable reading schemes, graded schemes, library books and novels. It is recommended that the introduction of the novel as an approach to the development of reading skills should extend beyond being an activity for third term only. To further enhance pupils’ oral presentation skills reading aloud with clarity should be encouraged.
The ability to write clearly and expressively is developed through the writing process and pupils are exposed regularly to the experience of drafting, editing and redrafting. Pupils are given the opportunity to write for a variety of purposes, for different audiences and in a range of genres. The use of ICT in the development of pupils writing skills is promoted successfully particularly through the ICT and Literacy programme. By way of fostering pupils’ writing competencies even further, staff are currently been trained in the use of the First Steps Programme and initial results appear promising. While good penmanship skills present as a notable feature in some classes, it is recommended that a whole-school approach to fostering handwriting and presentation skills should now be adopted.
In Mathematics, lesson content is presented clearly and emphasis is placed on teaching appropriate mathematical language. Concrete materials and activity-learning methods are used effectively to support pupils’ understanding of concepts. Many pupils display a good understanding of number facts and an ability to apply them to solve problems. To further develop pupils’ mental processing skills it is recommended that emphasis be placed on oral Mathematics across all strands and strand units on a regular basis and that pupils be encouraged to make links between concepts already learned.
Work in Mathematics is recorded accurately and through observation and teacher-devised tests pupils’ attainment is monitored. The manner in which some test results are recorded is praiseworthy. Standardized testing should be used to identify those pupils requiring assistance in Mathematics and it is recommended that additional support should then be provided by the special needs team, where appropriate.
Interesting programmes in History are planned and lessons are presented in a clear well-structured manner. Pupils’ understanding of the lives of people in the past is well developed through story-telling, project work, examination of photographs and documents from the past and from presentations made by visitors to the school. A number of nature walks and trails which incorporate a visit to many of the environmentally rich features of the immediate area are organised to enable pupils to understand and interpret their environment. Lessons are carefully integrated with other curricular areas, notably Drama. Group and pair work are used to good effect to provide opportunities for pupils to share their insights into what they have learned. Pupils display some knowledge of the local community, of monuments of note and of a range of historical characters and events. However, the core elements of the History lesson are based on textbook content. It is recommended that the content of the History programme be extended to achieve a greater balance between textbook content and skill development. Greater emphasis should also be placed on the consolidation of knowledge acquired. Recent in-service in History will prove beneficial in supporting teachers implement the revised programme.
Teachers use the local environs as an effective context for learning. Pupils learn a variety of facts about animals and their habitats and interesting visual displays support this work. ICT is effectively utilised in the presentation of this subject. Some lessons are book-based and consequently pupils’ knowledge and understanding of regional and wider communities and their interrelationships need further development. Therefore, a more judicious use of textbooks is recommended. A number of worthwhile projects, with an appropriate focus on the locality supported by photographic records have been completed. Project methodologies present an excellent basis for enriching learning and providing pupils with a broad range of experiences, which stimulate and reinforce their curiosity about the wider communities. The pupils, staff and parents are to be complemented on their past success in the ESB Environmental Awareness Award.
A suitable programme of work has been devised for the teaching of Science. The provision of resources to support this aspect of the programme enables the setting up of simple science experiments in which pupils are actively and enjoyable engaged. Experiments are well planned and lessons are taught in a logical sequence. Photographic records of pupils’ engagement in experiments and in cookery lessons provide evidence of a wide range of work covered in this subject area. There is an appropriate focus on the development of pupils’ basic skills and due emphasis is placed on scientific vocabulary during the lessons. Pupils record the outcomes of scientific experiments in an age appropriate manner but in some cases the presentation of this work deserves greater attention. Integration of this subject with other aspects of the curriculum is commendable.
Effective whole-school planning underpins the successful delivery of a broad and balanced Visual Arts programme in all classes. Art activities are organised with competence, skill and enthusiasm. Pupils engage in an extensive range of suitable activities across all the strands of the curriculum. They are exposed to a wide range of media, techniques and skill and it is noted that opportunities for integrating the Visual Arts with other curricular work are exploited to considerable effect. Painting, printing and drawing activities are given greatest prominence and this work is complimented by well-chosen craft and construction work, an area that staff plans to emphasise further. Particular attention is focused on enabling pupils to use the language of Art in describing techniques employed. This aspect of the work is emphasised under the strand of looking and responding. A specific programme of work in this area is delivered in a very successful manner, incorporating the effective use of ICT facilities. The Visual Arts curriculum is supplemented by the provision of an art programme under the auspices of the SCP. Samples of pupils creativity across a variety of art media is celebrated by means of attractive displays on classroom walls and in corridors. A noteworthy feature of the Visual Arts programme is the involvement of parents who have a particular interest in this subject. Photographic records are maintained and consideration is been given to the use of portfolios as a means of recording pupil progress in this area of the curriculum.
The teaching of Music is of a very high standard throughout the school. Pupils participate enthusiastically in Music lessons and teachers afford them regular opportunity to engage in musical exploration. The elements of Music are explored through a range of clearly enjoyable activities incorporating pitch and rhythm work, song singing, instrumental work, exploration of sound and simple composition. Pupils sing an appropriate range of songs sometimes accompanied with gesture, body or instrumental percussion. Music appreciation is also developed while integration with other curricular areas is a feature of all classroom practice. Teachers’ expertise in this area of the curriculum is acknowledged.
Additional support is also provided by the SCP team in the area of Music. Through this programme all pupils from first to sixth class are encouraged to play the tin whistle and other instruments. Annual school concerts and regular liturgical ceremonies enhance pupils’ opportunities to perform publicly.
An integrated approach to drama is mainly adopted. Mime, role-play and hot seating are among the strategies used to skilfully integrate dramatic activity with the exploration of topics in other curricular areas. Additional support is also provided through the SCP to enhance the dramatic and creative development of pupils. The school is to be commended for the recent production of a school play in which all pupils played an active role.
Pupils’ physical development is fostered through a range of experiences that can sometimes be curtailed due to the lack of appropriate indoor and outdoor facilities. However, pupils experience enjoyment and achievement through the planned activities of the physical education programme. The school has recently developed a draft policy document which provides good initial guidance to teachers for the planning of this subject area. Well-structured lessons promote group and team work effectively. Clear instructions for tasks are given and active participation of all pupils is encouraged. A wide range of suitable equipment is used to considerable effect and teachers actively promote integration opportunities with other subject areas. The use of Gaeilge in organising and directing these activities is to be highly commended. It is reported that team games also feature on the physical education programme supported by the local GAA club and parents. Pupils participation in local sports competitions augments the schools’ provision for Physical Education as does a six week programme of aquatics.
The school operates within an ethos of mutual respect and co-operation. It is evident that all teachers are committed to fostering a school environment that promotes respect for diversity and mutual understanding. Teachers demonstrate a thoughtful understanding of the backgrounds and experiences of pupils with a genuine concern for their progress. Pupils are encouraged to be confident, competent, caring individuals. Talk and discussion, circle time, role-play, story and games are used effectively to explore many aspects of the SPHE programme. During lessons the opportunity to debate a variety of issues in a sensitive manner further enhances pupils’ understanding of the topics presented. Classroom practice in respect of SPHE is based on a wide range of resources including the Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) which has recently been reviewed.
A range of assessment modes is in use throughout the school including teacher observation, teacher-devised tests and monitoring of pupils’ written work. These are complemented by the administration of formal and standardized tests namely Micra-T from first class upwards. Staff are considering the re-introduction of standardized testing in the area of numeracy. The MIST and Belfield tests are also administered to pupils in senior infants to assess pupil attainment in literacy and to identify those pupils who may require supplementary support. In addition, teachers maintain records of individual achievement on class tests and other aspects of the curriculum. A wide range of diagnostic tests is administered regularly by the learning support teacher to determine appropriate learning programmes for those pupils with special educational needs. Formal procedures are established to record pupil progress as they move through different classes. As a further development of assessment procedures, the school might usefully direct attention to the plotting of trends and the creation of a whole-school perspective on pupil achievement in literacy and numeracy, and use the analysis to devise future programmes of learning.
The teachers who cater for pupils with special educational needs are based in other local schools and adhere to a specified timetable to attend this school. In general, the work of the support teachers’ is characterised by detailed planning aimed at addressing the identified needs of individual children. A wide range of school-based testing or psychological reports is used effectively to determine these needs. Suitable education plans are prepared in consultation with class teachers and parents. Some comprehensive and informative records of progress are maintained. It is recommended that the practice of detailing the progress of individual pupils and a review of their learning targets in a systematic way is extended to all pupils who attend support teaching. Structured and purposeful teaching strategies are adapted appropriately and suitable resources are deployed to support learning. In most instances pupils are withdrawn from mainstream classes for support education. Support teachers work in collaboration with class teachers in the classroom on selected topics as part of the early intervention programme. This commendable practice should be extended to all classes. It is further recommended that support teachers are deployed to meet the needs of those pupils who are experiencing difficulties in literacy and in numeracy.
The following are the main strengths and areas for development identified in the evaluation:
Pupils display exceptional mannerly behaviour, ably supported by a teaching staff dedicated to the holistic development of each individual pupil.
A broad and balanced curriculum is made available to pupils and staff is committed to its effective implementation.
Through a culture of collaboration and co-operation, an innovative and enthusiastic staff succeeds in creating a very positive learning environment for pupils.
The board of management is truly pro-active and committed to the work of the school as is an appreciative parents’ association. Board members have expressed their full support for the development of and ongoing review of school policies.
The school’s participation in a variety of DES and local initiatives contributes greatly to enabling pupils reach their full potential in a caring and inclusive environment.
The effective teaching and learning in the areas of Visual Arts and Music, coupled with the innovative use of ICT, has led to high standards of achievements.
The school is seen as an integral part of the community and strong links have been established through the promotion of a wide range of local activities and events.
While much of the work with regard to policy development is commendable, a systematic review of some of the policies would result in more comprehensive policy statements.
The emphasis which is appropriately placed on the local environment should provide a context for extending knowledge to include regional, national and international dimensions.
In view of some of the excellent practice undertaken by teachers without the aid of a textbook, it is now an opportune time to review the role of the existing SESE text for this aspect of the curriculum.
Some excellent planning, preparation and implementation is a notable feature of the support programme. The recording of pupils’ progress and greater exploration of team teaching merits further attention.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
The development, ratification and review of policies by the board of management, in collaboration with teaching staff, would gainfully contribute to whole-school planning.
Some curricular policies contained in the school plan warrant review and consolidation.
Using a wider range of materials and resources other than the textbook and placing greater emphasis on consolidation of topics taught would greatly enhance the teaching and learning in the area of SESE
Deployment of support teachers within the classroom on a systematic basis to address specific educational needs of pupils is recommended.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and the board of management at which the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.