An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Naomh Cholmcille

Clouna, Co. Clare

Uimhir rolla:   17270A

 

Date of inspection: 11 October 2007

  Date of issue of report: 21 February 2008

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

1.     Quality of school management

2.     Quality of school planning

3.     Quality of learning and teaching

4.     Quality of support for pupils

5.     Conclusion

 

 


Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Naomh Cholmcille, Clouna was undertaken in October 2007. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and Physical Education.    The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Naomh Cholmcille is a two-teacher school located in the parish of Ennistymon in North Clare. In addition to the class teachers the school also receives support from a learning support teacher, resource teacher and rural co-ordinator.  The school is well presented and in very good condition. The board of management, teachers and pupils are commended for their efforts in maintaining the school to its present high standards.

 

The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:

 

 

Number

Pupils enrolled in the school

34

Mainstream classes in the school

6

Teachers on the school staff

2

Mainstream class teachers

2

Teachers working in support roles

3

Special needs assistants

1

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1   Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The school is under the patronage of the Catholic bishop of Galway. The school promotes a Catholic ethos which manifests respect and consideration for pupils, staff and parents. The school’s motto, “Fás agus Foghlaim,” aims to maximise the talent and potential of all pupils.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted with roles and functions of the members clearly defined. Meetings of the board are held regularly and minutes of these meetings are maintained.  The board is in a good financial position. The chairperson of the board actively promotes involvement of all members in board activities and board members carry out their responsibilities effectively. The chairperson and board members effectively support the principal in her role. During the past year the board was very active in promoting the repair, refurbishment and redecoration of the school.  The board is commended for its efforts in this regard. The board sees its immediate priority as the provision of improved parking facilities at the school. This is necessary in order to alleviate the dangerous congestion that exists currently due to the narrow road leading to the school.  The board is applying for Department of Education and Science (DES) funding for this initiative under the Summer Works Scheme.

 

1.3 In-school management

The in- school management team consists of the principal and one special duties post-holder. The principal was appointed to this school in September 2006. She carries out her work diligently and conscientiously and there is very good rapport among the principal, the other teachers in the school, the board of management and the parents.  The principal provides effective leadership and carries out all of her duties in accordance with the Rules for National Schools and all relevant DES circulars. Appropriate roles are assigned to the special duties post and these are executed well.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

There is good communication between the school and the school community. A monthly newsletter is used effectively to inform parents of school events. In addition, homework diaries and additional information bulletins are also used. The school has recently established a parents’ association and its members are involved in a number of school activities.  Parent-teacher meetings are arranged annually and written reports are provided to parents each year. Teachers make themselves available on request to meet with parents.  

 

1.5 Management of pupils

In this school a positive, relaxed relationship exists between teachers and pupils and excellent discipline is in evidence.  The pupils respect each other, the staff, visitors to the school and the school environment.  Pupils are valued members of the school community and they are treated with equality, fairness and respect. The pastoral care needs of the pupils are managed effectively.

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is good. Under the guidance of the principal teacher, the teachers and board of management have collaborated in developing a wide range of curricular and organisational policies for the school. Parental input to policy formulation is made through the parents’ representatives on the board of management. Copies of the policies are available for review by parents and other members of the school community. It is reported that all policies are presented and ratified by the board of management. It is recommended that all policies are signed and dated by the chairperson of the board of management after ratification.  All policies are appropriately monitored and reviewed by the staff. A number of policies, including the Code of Discipline and the homework policy, are sent to parents annually. It is recommended that the parental input to all policy formulation and policy review is expanded further. A number of policies, including the Health and Safety Statement, are currently under review. It is recommended that the review process be extended to include the enrolment policy to ensure it meets with the criteria as set out in the Equal Status Acts 2000-2004.

 

The quality of classroom planning is of a good standard with all teachers preparing appropriately for their work.  Long-term and short-term planning ensures that high quality learning experiences are presented and that the activities provided reflect the learning needs of the pupils. There is evidence that classroom planning gives clear direction for the use of a wide range of resources and methodologies.

 

2.2 Child protection policy and procedures

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

 

 

3.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

3.1 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá dearcadh dearfach i leith na Gaeilge sa scoil seo. Déanann na hoidí iarracht mhaith atmaisféar fabhrach don teanga a chruthú. Tá plean scoile don ábhar curtha ar fáil ina leagtar amach aidhmeanna ginearálta, téamaí, feidhmeanna agus eiseamláirí teanga, modhanna múinte agus straitéisí teagaisc atá nascaithe, i gcoitinne, le prionsabail agus le struchtúr, snáitheanna agus  snáithaonaid an churaclaim.  Cuirtear an iomarca béime ar úsáid téacsleabhar sa phlean agus tá easpa treorach ann ar chonas a chinntiú go bhfuil an teanga  á fhorbairt.  Tá gá anois na téamaí sa phlean a fhairsingiú ionas go mbeadh forbairt chéimnithe le sonrú ó rang go rang.

 

I rith na gceachtanna Gaeilge, ach go háirithe sna bunranganna, baintear úsáid fheidhmiúil as drámaíocht, rainn, dánta, amhráin, scéalta agus cluichí. Bíonn na daltaí gníomhach, fuinniúil sna ceachtanna seo agus tá na snáitheanna ina iomláine á bhforbairt le toradh an-mhaith. Leagtar an-bhéim ar an gcomhrá neamhfhoirmiúil i rith an lae agus foghlaimíonn na daltaí bunstruchtúr na teanga in atmaisféar dearfach, gealgháireach.   Tugtar an-chúram do thús na léitheoireachta agus na scríbhneoireachta a chothú trí bhéim a leagan ar úsáid na Gaeilge mar theanga bhainistíochta  ranga maraon le dánta, fógraí, abairtí agus lipéid a chur ar taispeáint sa seomra ranga.  Ta gá anois seans a thabhairt do na daltaí uile a bheith páirteach ar bhonn rialta i ngníomhaíochtaí cumarsáide mar rólghlacadh agus agallamh beirte. Ta gá freisin na scileanna scríbhneoireachta go léir a chothú ar bhonn rialta  i rith na bliana.

 

Irish

A positive outlook is fostered in relation to Irish in this school. The teachers make a good effort to create a favourable atmosphere to foster the language. The school curricular plan for this subject area outlines general aims, themes, language functions and exemplars, teaching methods and strategies which are, in general terms,  linked to the principles, structures, strands and strand units of the curriculum. In this plan there is too much emphasis placed on the use of textbooks and there is a lack of direction on how to ensure that there is language development from class to class. There is a need now for the expansion of the themes in the plan to ensure a graded progression from class to class.  

 

During Irish lessons, especially in the junior classes, functional and regular use is made of drama, rhymes, poems, songs, stories and games. The pupils are active and energetic during the lessons and all of the strands are being developed with very good results. Very good emphasis is placed on daily informal conversation and the pupils learn the fundamental structure of the language in a positive and pleasant atmosphere. Great care is taken to foster pre-reading and pre-writing skills through emphasis being placed on the use of Irish as a language of management as well as through the use of poems, notices, and labels throughout the classroom. Opportunities should now be provided for all pupils to engage in communication exercises such as dialogue and role-play. There is a need for all writing skills to be developed on a regular basis during the year.

 

English

The oral, reading and writing strands of the English curriculum are appropriately developed in all classes. In the junior classes language lessons suitably develop the pupils’ oral abilities. Pupils are encouraged to talk about a wide range of everyday experiences and feelings, tell stories in their own words and answer questions about them.  Pupils listen to and respond appropriately to a wide range of stories. Language and vocabulary acquisition are also developed across all curricular areas. In the senior classes many of the pupils display appropriate language skills with pupils engaging in suitable dialogue and discussion. A number of pupils in all classes require further assistance in developing their competence and confidence in using language. To assist this development it is recommended that the school’s oral language policy be reviewed. In this review there should be a focus on enabling the pupils to acquire the confidence to converse freely and confidently on a range of topics, discuss ideas clearly using an expanded vocabulary and practice the common social functions in the everyday context of class and school. The school should ensure that specific oral language lessons are developed and are taught regularly in all classes.

 

Throughout the school good reading skills are effectively promoted.  A good foundation has been established for the teaching of reading in the junior classes where the pupils are presented with a print rich environment. Pupils are also encouraged to read and discuss a wide range of books from the well stocked library. This good work is further developed in the senior classes and most pupils have acquired satisfactory reading standards.

 

The writing process is appropriately developed throughout the school.  In the junior classes pupils are encouraged to write in different genres and many of the pupils have achieved a good standard. In the senior classes this work is further developed. The school is fortunate in having a number of computers, which have been recently updated. The pupils should be encouraged to further develop their writing skills, especially those of drafting, editing and re-editing using information and communication technologies (ICT).

 

3.2 Mathematics

There is very good development across all strands of the mathematics curriculum in all classes. Mathematical procedures are well explained and pupils are aptly encouraged to develop problem-solving skills. The majority of pupils can readily recall basic number facts and, in general, pupils have developed a good understanding of mathematical terminology and definitions. Pupils express and communicate mathematical processes and results, in a clear fashion. In the junior classes there is very good use made of concrete materials in the development of concepts. Good questioning techniques are used in the senior classes and pupils display a good knowledge of mathematical facts in these classes.

 

3.3 Physical Education

The school makes a very good effort to present a broad and balanced curriculum in Physical Education. Very good use is made of a tarmacadam area to the side of the school for physical education lessons.  The tarmacadam area is set out for a number of games. The school has an adequate supply of physical education equipment. The school does not have a general- purposes room and it is restrictive for the school to use the classrooms for physical education activities. Despite these limitations the school makes very good use of the resources available to it to develop all strands and strand units of this curricular area.

 

Discrete time is set aside for physical education lessons. During lessons all pupils are encouraged to participate. Lessons are well defined with achievable learning outcomes set out. There is some good use of station teaching in the junior classes and in the senior classes the development of pupils’ skills is commended. 

 

3.4 Assessment

The school has developed an assessment policy in which a wide range of assessment strategies is listed. These include in-class assessment strategies such as teacher observation, teacher-devised tests, correction and recording of homework. In addition, standardised testing is carried out yearly on pupils from first to sixth classes in English and Mathematics. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is administered to pupils in senior infants. The results of these tests are used appropriately to inform teachers on the progress of pupils and to identify pupils who may need additional learning-support. Records of standardised and diagnostic tests are retained in the school and parents are kept informed of pupil progress at the annual parent teacher meeting and at other times, if deemed necessary.

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The learning-support teacher gives support for English to five pupils for a total of seven and a half hours per week.  The school follows the staged approach in the selection of pupils for support. A range of diagnostic tests is carried out by the learning-support teacher on pupils needing assistance to suitably inform the development of Individual Profile and Learning Programmes (IPLPs). In the learning-support setting, lessons are well structured and interventions are well focused and effective. The progress of pupils is assessed continuously with good records maintained. A full review of pupils’ progress is carried out twice a year when informed decisions on the effectiveness and the continuation of the interventions are made.  At present two pupils are supported in Mathematics by the rural co-ordinator. It is recommended that greater liaison between mainstream and learning-support teachers be developed. The resource teacher supports one pupil for a total of three and a half hours a week. An appropriate IEP is in place where the pupil’s strengths are identified, areas for development are set out, goals are established and clear learning outcomes are presented.

 

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

The school has the assistance of a rural co-ordinator who implements a comprehensive programme of activities. Included in this programme are actions relating to early intervention, literacy and numeracy needs and supports developed to promote parental participation in the school. Links are also developed with community support groups.  Literacy and numeracy are supported through the development of skills at junior infant level, the provision of support to individual pupils in Mathematics, the development of a shared-reading project and assisting parental participation in the Maths for Fun programme. The co-ordinator also assists in the delivery of aspects of the SPHE programme and co-ordinates a transition programme to second level schooling. The co-ordinator engages with parents through home visits and supports the formation and expansion of the role of the parents’ council. The work undertaken in this area is commendable.

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

·         The staff of the school is diligent, talented and committed.

·         The board of management is supportive of all school initiatives and it has provided very good facilities and resources for the education of the pupils.

·         Pupils are well behaved and engage willingly and eagerly in the learning process.

·         Teaching is in line with the principles of the Primary School Curriculum 1999 and seeks to maximise pupil progress.

·         Pupils with special educational needs receive very good learning-support.

·         There is very good use made of the limited facilities available to develop the strands of the physical education curriculum.

 

The following key recommendations are made in order to further improve the quality of education provided by the school:

 

·         Ta gá le scileanna cumarsáide na ndaltaí sa Ghaeilge a fhorbairt.

        There is a need to develop the communication skills of the pupils in Irish.

·         The school should ensure that oral language lessons in English are taught throughout the school with a focus on enabling pupils to discuss ideas clearly using an expanded vocabulary.

·         In the area of school planning there should be a review of the enrolment policy. There is need for further development of whole-school policies for Irish and oral language in English. All policies should, after ratification by the board, be signed and dated.

 

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and the board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.