An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



Parochial National School

Boyle,County Roscommon

Uimhir rolla:  17329H


Date of inspection: 10 February 2009





Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils




Whole-school evaluation


A whole-school evaluation of Parochial NS was undertaken in February 2009. 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 Visual Arts. 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


Parochial NS is a two-teacher school located in the town of Boyle. The school caters for boys and girls from infants to sixth class. The school is under the patronage of the Church of Ireland Bishop of Elphin, Kilmore and Ardagh. The school building is owned by the Church of Ireland Representative Body and the school shares it with the Parish of Boyle. The catchment area of the school is wide due to its Church of Ireland patronage.


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




Pupils enrolled in the school


Mainstream classes in the school


Teachers on the school staff


Mainstream class teachers


Teachers working in support roles


Special needs assistants



1.     Quality of school management


1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The school has a very welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. The staff is committed to ‘nurturing the potential of each pupil’ as stated in its mission statement. This is evident in the very positive pupil-teacher relationships and in the breadth and balance of the curriculum delivered. Teachers recognise and value the individual needs and talents of each pupil. The school motto is ‘learning for life’ which is manifest in the focus on skill development in all curricular areas. The school promotes a Church of Ireland ethos but welcomes pupils of other or no religious denominations.


1.2 Board of management

The board of management works very effectively. Meetings are held twice termly and minutes are maintained. Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Members of the board have availed of training for their roles. The chairperson is a regular visitor to the school. Board members are very involved in the school planning process. School policies and plans are presented to the board for discussion and ratification. The board ensures that such policies and procedures are followed at all times.


1.3 In-school management

The school community is led by a very dedicated and professional leader. She is very effective in her role as principal. She promotes open communication and has established very good relationships with the parent body. She is conscientious and committed in her day-to-day running of the school while continuing to teach four classes. She promotes best practice in all aspects of school life. Her promotion of the school development planning process is particularly praiseworthy. She is supported in her work by an equally hardworking teaching colleague.


1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school has established high-quality relationships with the local community. An open meeting for parents is organised at the beginning of each school year to familiarise parents with the school’s policies and procedures. New parents are given a copy of the main school policies. The school plan is also left in the entrance hall of the school for parents to refer to. Formal parent-teacher meetings are held annually. Parents expressed great satisfaction with the level of communication received and with the level of individual attention each pupil receives at school.


1.5 Management of pupils

Pupil behaviour is very good. Pupils communicate in an open and respectful manner with adults in the school. Older pupils in each class display friendly and considerate communication with the younger pupils. They demonstrate sensitivity to pupils with different learning needs in the school. 



2.     Quality of school planning


2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is very good. The staff has engaged with support services on an ongoing basis, hence a very comprehensive school plan has been developed. All plans and policies are based on the school’s context. They are reviewed on an ongoing basis. The school development planning process is followed, giving ownership of the school plan to the school community. Organisational policies set out very clear procedures. The staff has devised a long-term plan identifying the priorities to be addressed each year for a five-year period. The staff maintains records of school reviews and action plans. The quality of such procedures is highly commendable.


The quality of classroom planning has improved significantly this year. The staff has reviewed the approach to classroom planning and adopted a common framework. This new framework promotes continuity and progression. Planning is informative and practical. It details content to be taught, use of methodologies and resources, modes of assessment, and differentiation strategies for individual pupils.


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



Múintear an Ghaeilge go héifeachtach. Leagtar béim inmholta ar an nGaeilge neamhfhoirmiúil. Bíonn an Ghaeilge in úsáid go rialta sna seomraí ranga agus idir mhúinteoirí. De thoradh sin, tá dearcadh dearfach á chothú sna daltaí.


Baineann struchtúr agus luas maith leis na ceachtanna. Tá caighdeán na Gaeilge labhartha go han-mhaith. Baintear úsáid éifeachtach as nuacht an lae chun na daltaí a chur ag caint. Úsáidtear réimse leathan de mhodhanna múinte a chuidíonn go mór le rannpháirtíocht na ndaltaí. Déanann na múinteoirí cleachtadh rialta ar bhun-fhoclóir agus iad ag múineadh téama nua. Bíonn na daltaí in ann ceisteanna a chur ar a chéile go han-éifeachtach. Bíonn na daltaí sinseareacha in ann caint go leanúnach agus go cruinn ar théamaí éagsúla. Baineann siad taitneamh as dánta a rá le chéile agus ina n-aonair. Déantar obair rialta ar úsáid chruinn na mbriathra. Cé go gcuirtear an cur chuige cumarsáideach chun cinn sa scoil moltar níos mó ama a chaitheamh ar chumarsáid idir na daltaí.


Tá caighdeán na léitheoireachta go maith. Léann na daltaí go muiníneach. Bíonn neart ábhair chlóbhuailte sna seomraí ranga chun léitheoireacht neamhfhoirmiúil a chothú. Úsáidtear leabhair móra, leabhair leabharlainne agus úrscéalta chun suim a mhúscailt sna ndaltaí i réimse de théacsanna.  Tá caighdeán na scríbhneoireachta Gaeilge go maith. Faigheann na daltaí deiseanna chun obair scríofa a dhéanamh go rialta tríd an scoil. Tá na daltaí in ann iad féin a chur in iúl tríd an scríbhneoireacht. Moltar, áfach, éagsúlacht sna tascanna scríbhneoireachta a chur chun cinn ar bhonn rialta agus béim sa bhreis a leagan ar an scríbhneoireacht chruthaitheach.




Irish is taught effectively. An exemplary emphasis is placed on the informal use of Irish. It is used regularly within classrooms and between teachers. As a result, pupils are positively disposed to the language.


Lessons are well structured and paced. The standard of oral Irish is very good. Effective use is made of oral news to encourage pupils to talk. A wide range of methodologies is used, which helps pupil participation. Teachers regularly review basic vocabulary when they teach new themes. Pupils are able to ask questions of one another very effectively. The senior pupils are able to speak at length and fluently about various themes. Pupils enjoy reciting poems chorally and individually. Regular work is carried out on the accurate use of verbs. While the communicative approach is promoted throughout the school, it is recommended that more time be spent on pupil-pupil interactions.  


The standard of reading is good. Pupils read confidently. Classrooms are rich in print, in order to promote informal reading. Big books, library books and novels are used to stimulate an interest in different genres of Irish writing. The standard of writing in Irish is good. Pupils get regular opportunities to engage in written work in each class. Pupils are able to express themselves in writing. However, it is recommended that a greater variety of tasks be used on a regular basis to promote different writing skills and that a greater emphasis be placed on creative writing.



The quality of teaching and learning in English is very good. Teachers effectively promote oral language development. Pupils display confidence and competence in their oral presentations. Lessons are focused and instruction is clear. A very good emphasis is placed on nursery rhymes in the infant classes.


The teaching of reading is effective. Teachers have successfully created a culture of reading in the school. Both classrooms have very attractive and comfortable library areas. The teachers are commended for the emphasis placed on reading for pleasure through use of big books, class novels and supplementary reading books. Pupils have opportunities to listen and respond to children’s literature. Phonological awareness and early-literacy skills are developed to very good effect in the junior classes with the result that pupils have established good word-attack skills. A majority of pupils at all levels read extensively and display a great interest in books. All teachers have provided classrooms rich in print. 


The quality of pupils’ writing is very good. Writing activities are presented in a very effective way, giving pupils adequate time for discussion and vocabulary development before engaging in written tasks. A good emphasis is placed on the writing process, although a more consistent use of information and communication technologies could be promoted. Senior classes publish a well-designed, informative school booklet every second year. Pupils are given opportunities at all levels to express themselves in a variety of genres. These are produced to a high standard. However, it is recommended that each genre be developed further to ensure that pupils have mastered the conventions of that genre. Teachers teach spellings and grammar systematically. Pupils have a personal dictionary from first class, which they are encouraged to use to develop their vocabulary. This practice is praiseworthy. Pupils at all class levels enjoy the recitation of poetry and rhymes. Pupils’ own poetry-writing shows imagination and an understanding of the various conventions of poetry.


3.2 Mathematics

The quality of teaching in Mathematics is very good. Lessons are characterised by clear explanations, use of concrete materials and an emphasis on skill development. They are appropriately structured, sequenced and paced. Pupils’ work is carefully monitored. A good emphasis is placed on the learning of number facts and the development of mental mathematics. Estimation skills are promoted to very good effect. New concepts are related advantageously to the lives of pupils. Early mathematical skills are highly developed and the school has invested in a variety of appropriate materials and resources, which are used effectively. Pupils are interested in mathematical enquiry and their questions are welcomed. They display a very positive attitude to Mathematics. While the language of Mathematics is taught systematically, it is recommended that teachers make additional use of group work and pair work to provide opportunities for pupils to use new vocabulary.


3.3 Visual Arts

The quality of teaching in the Visual Arts is very good. Teachers select a range of effective starting points for pupils’ art including working from observation, personal experience and imagination. A strong emphasis is placed on skill development. There are very good opportunities for pupils to explore art activities through guided discovery. Pupils’ work is attractively displayed. Their work in Clay, Construction and Fabric and fibre is particularly commendable. The project for the strand Construction is used to emphasise the recycling of material to support the school’s Green School ethos. While language is developed during these lessons it could be formalised to ensure pupils can discuss their work succinctly. It is recommended that a whole-school approach to the strand unit Looking and responding be adopted. 


3.4 Assessment

The quality of assessment is good. Pupils’ work is carefully and consistently monitored. A range of assessment tools is used by the teaching staff to inform teaching and learning.  This includes class tests and quizzes, standardised tests in English and Mathematics and diagnostic tests. While teachers engage in observation of pupil progress it is recommended that teachers agree on a common format for recording their observations of pupil progress in all curricular areas. It is further recommended that teachers examine the results of standardised tests in English and Mathematics to establish a clear picture of the school’s strengths and areas for development in these subjects.



4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The school avails of the services of a learning-support teacher for supplementary teaching in literacy and numeracy. One pupil avails of the services of a resource teacher. While an individual education plan is in place for each child, the quality of such plans is fair. It is recommended that the format of planning be revised. Where in-class support is provided, teachers should document clearly the aspects of the curriculum being taught. Support teachers meet with parents on a regular basis, a practice which is commended. However, it is recommended that parents be given a copy of their child’s education plan.


The quality of teaching in the support setting is good. Pupils are encouraged in their work and affirmed. In some instances information and communication technologies are used to very good effect. A good emphasis is placed on oral work and the development of skills. Work is carefully structured. It is recommended that pupils engage in more peer discussion during support classes.



5.     Conclusion


The school has strengths in the following areas:

·         The board of management is active in supporting the work of the school.

·         The principal is very committed and conscientious in her role.

·         The staff is hard-working and dedicated to teaching a broad and balanced curriculum to all pupils.

·         There are very strong links between the school and the parish, which ensures that all local resources are maximised.

·         The quality of pupil management is very good.

·         The quality of whole-school planning is exemplary. The planning process in the school promotes collaboration and continual school improvement.

·         The quality of teaching and learning in the subjects observed is very good.

·         The quality of skill development across all subject areas is commended.

·         The school atmosphere is welcoming and open.


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

·         It is recommended that the format for presenting individual education plans be revised and that parents be given a copy of this plan.

·         It is recommended that teachers agree on a common format for recording their observations of pupil progress in all curricular areas.

·         It is recommended that more extensive use be made of information and communication technologies throughout the school.


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.




Published October 2009