An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Scoil Náisiúnta Eoin Baiste
Ballyvaughan, County Clare
Uimhir rolla: 17633K
Date of inspection: 13 March 2009
A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Náisiúnta Eoin Baiste was undertaken in March, 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 Drama. The board of management 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.
Introduction – school context and background
Scoil Náisiúnta Eoin Baiste is a co-educational mainstream school situated in a secluded location on the edge of Ballyvaughan village. At present the pupil population, comprising 26 boys and 35 girls, is drawn from 40 families. There has been a significant turnover of teaching staff since 2005, due to retirements and a leave of absence. Pupil enrolment has increased marginally since the issue of the last school report in June 1999, and staff has increased from two teachers to four teachers and one part-time special needs assistant. It is expected that pupil enrolment figures will be sustained for the foreseeable future, despite declining demographics and planning permission restrictions for housing in the surrounding catchment area.
The majority of pupils display very good attendance patterns, while the attendance of a small number of pupils is a cause of concern. Attendance is monitored vigilantly by school management and whole-school strategies are in place in an effort to consistently improve pupil attendance. The school secretary also provides valuable administrative and caretaking support to the school.
The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:
Total number of pupils enrolled in the school
Number of mainstream classes in the school
Teachers on the school staff
Mainstream class teachers
Teachers working in support roles (shared)
Special needs assistant (part-time)
Part-time secretary cum caretaker
1. Quality of school management
The school operates under the patronage of the
Catholic Bishop of
of management meets regularly and is actively committed to the work of the
school. The chairperson gives a high level of support to staff and visits the
school frequently. While the board is representative of the various
stakeholders in the school community, it is advised that the board ensures that
its membership conforms to the procedures and requirements of Section 6(a)
of Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure (2007).
Department-funded training has prepared board members well for the effective
discharge of their roles. This training was organised by the
Since the commencement of its term of office, much of the board’s time has been taken up with the management of a significant school refurbishment project. This building project has greatly enhanced the school’s physical environment. The board and staff are commended on the impressive outcome of this work resulting in a bright, well-designed school building and well-maintained surrounding play areas.
The board has now set as its main priority the further development and review of the school plan and has recently been actively involved in the development and ratification of various administrative policies. Responsibility for the development of curricular policies is largely devolved to the teaching staff. The board ensures that parents of new entrants receive pertinent policies relating to the code of behaviour, enrolment, anti-bullying and child protection. The possibility of establishing a parents’ association affiliated to the National Parents’ Council is currently under negotiation by the board. This would facilitate greater parental involvement in policy development and review. The school has plans to develop a school website as a means of highlighting the achievements, developments and successes of the school. It is recommended that parents and the wider school community be kept informed of the ongoing work of the school through the provision of an annual report, in accordance with Section 20 of the Education Act, 1998.
The board is very supportive of the enthusiasm, strong community spirit and committed work ethic of teachers and ancillary staff, and actively supports the professional development of staff in line with Section 9j of the Education Act, 1998. It is recommended that a staff development policy be developed to incorporate details of training received by individual staff members and to identify future emerging training needs.
The in-school management team comprises the principal, deputy principal, and a special duties post-holder, who is currently in an acting-up capacity. The principal, appointed in September 2005, has successfully managed the school at a time of considerable change. He possesses a professional and dynamic leadership style and has established very effective communication systems with the parent body. He is clearly empowering and motivating staff to give generously of their time to enhance the work of the school and to improve learning outcomes. As well as leading learning in senior classes, he is conscientious in attending to his organisational, supervisory and liaison duties and demonstrates concern for the welfare of pupils. The principal’s personal vision for the school is reflected in the school’s mission statement and in his strong commitment to the Irish language and the arts. The principal is very capably assisted by the deputy principal and special duties post-holder, who provide effective leadership in several organisational, curricular and pastoral areas. Posts of responsibility are reviewed annually in light of existing practice and emerging school priorities. The staff works as a cohesive unit and displays a strong level of commitment, dedication and interest in continuously improving practice and in enriching the learning experiences of all pupils.
A comprehensive parent-teacher communication policy has been developed. Effective open lines of communication and regular dialogue are maintained between home and school through written correspondence, a text a parent messaging system, an information pack for new parents and the regular use of homework diaries. The parents contribute to various art, sport and music projects and provide valuable assistance with the organisation of the school library and swimming classes. Many parents engaged enthusiastically in a very successful fund-raising initiative to support the school refurbishment project. Information sessions for new entrants and various class groupings are organised by individual class teachers to afford parents the opportunity to engage in discussion on issues related to teaching and learning. This practice is commendable and could be beneficially extended to all classes.
Parents’ representatives from the board of management are very supportive of the school and praised in particular the openness and approachability of staff, the high standards of singing reached by senior pupils who participate in the National Children’s Choir, the support provided for pupils with additional learning needs, the extra-curricular activities provided in sport and traditional dance, the school’s involvement in scientific and environmental initiatives and the open-door home-school atmosphere. Other important social events for the school community include school concerts, Green Flag celebrations, religious ceremonies and art exhibitions. A very good spirit of collaboration has been fostered between the school and parents, which would provide a solid basis for the establishment of a parents’ association and the greater involvement of parents in the whole-school planning process.
members foster a welcoming school climate and create a caring, ordered and safe
learning environment based on the principles of respect and tolerance. Clearly,
there is a strong commitment to the pastoral care and general welfare needs of
pupils. High expectations of behaviour are set, classroom rules are drawn up in
collaboration with pupils and clear supervision systems are in place. Pupils
are confident, motivated, cooperative and eager in their learning and display
exemplary standards of behaviour. The fortnightly assemblies contribute very
effectively to building positive relationships within the school community and
allow for the celebration of pupils’ talents and achievements, the
consolidation of curricular themes and the modelling and reinforcement of
appropriate social behaviour. The maintenance of an assembly folder provides a
valuable timeline and record of school events. As well as having equal access
and participation in extra-curricular activities, pupils are provided with
meaningful decision-making responsibilities through their engagement in the
Overall the quality of whole-school planning is good. Policies are discussed, agreed and ratified by the board of management and signed and dated by the chairperson. The school plan includes a comprehensive range of curricular policies and organisational policies that are required by legislation or by Departmental circulars. A considerable number of policies require the insertion of review dates and related action plans to take account of the outcomes of the school’s ongoing self-evaluation practices and areas for further development. The teaching staff has recently availed of the ongoing support of curriculum advisors from the relevant Department-funded national agencies to review teaching strategies and approaches in Mathematics, Irish, Geography and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE). This training is evident in the review work undertaken by the teaching staff to enhance curriculum implementation. It is now recommended that structures be developed to facilitate the greater involvement of parents in the planning process, in accordance with Section 21(3) of the Education Act 1998 and Circular 18/99. Policies should be circulated to parents for comment prior to ratification by the board of management. Subsequently a school information booklet containing a condensed version of relevant policies should be provided for parents.
All teachers devise long-term and regular short-term planning with appropriate reference to the strands and strand units of the curriculum. Very good attention is given to differentiating the curriculum for pupils with additional learning needs in most classes. There is variable practice in the quality and level of detail of classroom written preparation, which ranges from very good in most classes to scope for development in a small number of classes. In these classes the very good teaching and learning outcomes achieved by pupils are not reflected in the quality of written preparation presented. As teachers’ short-term planning schedules also serve as monthly progress records, there is a need to ensure that sufficient detail is recorded in all classes to reflect the high standards of learning achieved, and to facilitate the use of these records as an effective tool in monitoring pupils’ progress. It is recommended that the whole-school approach to short-term planning be reviewed and agreed to ensure that the very good focus on clear learning targets in some classes is extended to all classes.
Confirmation was provided that, in compliance with Department of Education and Science Primary Circular 0061/2006, the board of management has formally adopted the Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2001). Confirmation was also provided that these child protection procedures have been brought to the attention of management, school staff and parents; that a copy of the procedures has been provided to all staff (including all new staff); and that management has ensured that all staff are familiar with the procedures to be followed. A designated liaison person (DLP) and a deputy DLP have been appointed in line with the requirements of the guidelines. A comprehensive child protection policy has been developed and is available to parents.
The recently reviewed whole-school plan for English endorses the aims and principles of the Primary School Curriculum and provides a clear statement to support whole-school curriculum implementation. The practice of regularly reviewing the implementation of various elements of this plan is commended. It would be beneficial in the next review to include a structured whole-school oral language programme using a range of themes to guide continuity of approach and to further consolidate existing classroom practice.
Pupils’ language skills are developed successfully through cross-curricular approaches, discussion, language games and the many opportunities provided for pupils to respond to story, rhyme and topical news items. Overall, pupils display good to very good standards of competence and confidence in the use of language. The highly developed and sophisticated vocabulary used by pupils in responding to poetry in a number of classes is to be commended. Pupils have memorised and can recite a wide selection of poetry using very good expressive skills in all classes. In order to ensure a more structured approach to oral language development, there is a need to document clear learning targets reflecting the specific content and vocabulary to be taught at each class level. Such an approach would make communication about pupils’ progress easier between teachers. A discrete time for oral language should be included in all class timetables.
culture of reading for pleasure is promoted and the well-stocked central
library and classroom libraries are used regularly. The important contribution
of parents towards the development of an interest in books and reading among
pupils is acknowledged. The school is currently participating in the WOW
Reading Challenge, which is organised annually over a six-month period in
conjunction with Clare County Library. Local authors and well-known writers are
invited to speak to pupils about their work at various times. Pupils have
attained a very good mastery of phonological and phonemic awareness skills,
word-identification skills, word-attack strategies and the conventions of
print. Pupils read with competence and very good levels of fluency,
comprehension and expression, appropriate to their abilities. Very good
attention is given to the development of pupils’ cognitive, imaginative and
emotional development through listening and responding to story.
Good attention is given to the development of pupils’ pre-writing skills. As pupils progress through the school, commendable emphasis is given to the writing process using a language-experience approach across a variety of genres. Pupils’ writing samples arising from drafting, editing and redrafting are displayed and are a source of pride for pupils. Information and communication technology (ICT) is effectively used to enhance the quality of final presentations and to support the process of editing and redrafting in most classes. The extension of more regular free imaginative writing experiences for pupils in infant and junior classes requires additional attention. Grammar, spelling and word study are taught systematically. Good standards of handwriting are achieved by pupils and commendable attention is given to correct letter formation and neat presentation of work. Cursive handwriting is currently introduced in fourth class. The earlier introduction to cursive script should be considered in order to support pupils’ writing speed and fluency. The school has participated successfully in the Write-a-Book Project and in various handwriting competitions.
Ba léir le linn na meastóireachta go raibh ag éirí leis na hoidí spéis agus dearcadh dearfach a chothú sa Ghaeilge i measc formhór na ndaltaí. Is inmholta na deiseanna tairbheacha a thugtar do na daltaí damhsaí Gaelacha a fhoghlaim chomh maith le raon leathan d’amhrán Gaelacha do Chór Náisiúnta na Leanaí. Moltar forbairt a dhéanamh ar phlean uile-scoile na Gaeilge chun an t-ábhar teagaisc a rianú do gach rang leibhéil agus gnóthachtáil na ndaltaí a shoiléiriú thar raon na scileanna teanga i ngach snáithe den churaclam.
Tugann na hoidí faoi ionchur teanga cuí a mhúineadh ar bhonn díograiseach agus baintear feidhm as raon d’acmhainní, gníomhaíochtaí, sceitsí drámaíochta agus cluichí teanga chun an t-ábhar foghlama a chur i láthair na ndaltaí agus a scileanna tuisceana a éascú. Tá sé ar chumas na ndaltaí cnuasach deas rann, amhrán agus filíocht a aithris go muiníneach. Baintear feidhm leanúnach as an gcur chuige cumarsáideach sna ceachtanna Gaeilge agus dá bharr sin léiríonn na daltaí, ar an mórmhór, tuiscint an-mhaith ar an teanga. Is éifeachtach sciliúil an leas a bhaintear as druileanna, ceistiúcháin oidí agus modh na scéalaíochta chun na briathra agus na réamhfhocail a chleachtadh agus feidhmeanna teanga eile a dhaingniú. Is léir ó cheistiú na ndaltaí go bhfuil caighdeán an-ard bainte amach ag na daltaí sa Ghaeilge i bhformhór na ranganna agus go bhfuil siad in ann saorchomhrá a dhéanamh ar théamaí éagsúla an churaclaim. I gcuid de na ranganna, áfach, is léir nach bhfuil go leor taithí faighte ag na daltaí abairtí iomláine a chumadh agus a úsáid i suímh éagsúla. Moltar go gcruthófaí níos mó deiseanna do na daltaí sna ranganna seo tabhairt faoi thascanna comharfhoghlama i mbeirteanna chun foghraíocht chruinn a chleachtadh agus a líofacht teanga a neartú i gcomhthéacsanna éagsúla cumarsáideacha.
Tugann na hoidí faoi theagasc na léitheoireachta ar bhealach córasach agus tugann siad aird an-mhaith do dhifreálú an ábhair theagaisc do na hilranganna. Tá sé ar chumas formhór na ndaltaí léitheoireacht Ghaeilge a dhéanamh le luas, le muinín agus le cruinneas. Is léir, afach, go bhfuil deacrachtaí ar leith ag mionlach beag de na daltaí maidir le fogharluach na litreach sa Ghaeilge. Ba thairbheach scéim léitheoireachta céimniúil a aithint agus béim bhreise a chur ar mhúineadh fhogharluach na litreach ar bhonn córasach.
Déantar forbairt an-mhaith ar mhúineadh scileanna scríbhneoireachta neamhspleácha na ndaltaí sa Ghaeilge tríd an scoil. Tugtar aird mhaith do chleachtaí feidhmiúla agus déantar monatóireacht rialta ar an obair. Ba inmholta an fheidhm a bhaintear as frámaí scríbhneoireachta chun scríbhneoireacht chruthaitheach a chleachtadh i ranganna ar leith. Ba thairbheach treoir chinnte a chlárú sa phlean uile-scoile maidir le cur i bhfeidhm an phróisis scríbhneoireachta ar bhonn córasach uile-scoile.
It was evident during the evaluation that the teachers have succeeded in fostering positive attitudes and an interest in the Irish language among most pupils. Beneficial opportunities are provided for pupils to learn Irish dance and a wide selection of Irish songs for the National Children’s Choir. It is recommended that the whole-school plan for Irish be further developed to delineate the teaching content for each class level and to clarify the expected attainment of pupils across all language skills in each strand of the curriculum.
Appropriate language input is taught in a conscientious manner and a range of resources, activities, dramatic sketches and language games is used to present lesson content and facilitate pupils’ understanding. Pupils can recite with confidence a good range of rhyme, song and poetry.
Teachers make continuous use of the communicative approach during Irish lessons. As a result, most pupils display a very good understanding of the language. There is effective and skilled use of drill, teacher questioning and story-telling to practise the use of verbs and prepositions and to consolidate other language functions. It is evident through questioning that pupils in most classes have attained a very high standard in Irish and can hold free conversations about the various themes of the curriculum. It is apparent in some classes, however, that pupils are given insufficient opportunity to structure and use full sentences using different scenarios. It is recommended that additional opportunities be created for pupils in these classes to engage in cooperative learning tasks in pairs to practise correct pronunciation and to strengthen pupils’ fluency using different communicative situations.
Teachers employ a systematic approach to the teaching of reading and attend very well to the differentiation of content in multi-class contexts. Most pupils can read in Irish with fluency, enjoyment and accuracy. It is evident, however, that a minority of pupils are experiencing difficulty with regard to phonetic pronunciation. It would be beneficial to identify a suitable graded reading scheme and place a greater emphasis on the systematic development of phonological and phonemic awareness skills.
Pupils’ independent writing skills in Irish are developed very well throughout the school. Good attention is given to functional writing activities and pupils’ work is monitored regularly. The use of writing frames in some classes to practise creative writing is to be commended. It would be beneficial to provide clear advice in the whole-school plan regarding the systematic implementation of process writing on a whole-school basis.
The quality of teaching and learning in Mathematics is very good. General principles of effective teaching of Mathematics have been teased out and agreed at whole-school level. There is a unified approach to the teaching of mathematical concepts and tables, which has resulted in a recent increase in standards, as indicated by an analysis of available standardised test scores. Pupils respond very well to oral questioning on each strand of the curriculum and have attained a very good understanding of mathematical concepts and terminology. Pupils’ computational skills are very well developed. Good emphasis is placed on the neat presentation and regular monitoring of pupils’ written work. Features of very good practice include the appropriate use of mathematical manipulatives and visual prompts, the daily opportunities provided for mental arithmetic, the use of drama and mathematical games, the emphasis on the development of pupils’ estimation skills and the continuous reinforcement of mathematical language. Effective whole-class teaching is the dominant methodology used during mathematics lessons and activities are differentiated for different class groupings. An extension in the use of cooperative learning would provide an additional motivation for pupils to develop their problem-solving skills.
The whole-school mathematics policy is specific and reviewed on an annual basis and provides a useful guide for staff. It is recommended that, in the next review, attention should be given to the design of various mathematical trails and the specific breakdown of content and mathematical language to be covered at each class level.
A comprehensive whole-school policy guides the effective teaching of Drama throughout the school. Pupils in all classes are encouraged to explore the full potential of the drama process as a learning experience. Drama contracts are developed at classroom level and lessons are very well structured. Role-play is very well developed and pupils display a high level of confidence and enthusiasm in exploring character and various attitudes using a range of imaginative scenarios. Other strategies used on a whole-school basis include games, mime, still image, frieze frames, thought-tracking, conscience alley and teacher-in-role. Very good attention is given to setting the dramatic scene and to the elements of Drama. Story is skilfully used in a number of classes to guide pupils through make-believe play and to reflect on the dramatic action. Pupils successfully enter into role and are enabled to express their ideas and feelings and to respond to various scenarios. Pupils use a good range of props in order to enrich the dramatic impact. Teachers are highly commended for their enthusiasm in engaging with the dramatic process and in facilitating the active engagement of all pupils. In addition to the discrete time allocated to drama lessons, Drama is also incorporated into many aspects of the curriculum.
Very good attention is given to the organisation and daily monitoring of copybooks, workbooks, teacher-designed tasks and homework. Teachers give constructive feedback to pupils and encourage continuous improvement in learning outcomes. A strong emphasis is placed on class-based early intervention strategies and a systematic analysis of learning outcomes is undertaken. Standardised tests are administered annually to pupils from first to sixth classes to inform future planning in English and Mathematics. A good variety of diagnostic tests is used to identify pupils’ specific learning difficulties and to set learning targets. Teacher observation, spelling and table tests, oral questioning, teacher-designed tests, checklists and homework are among other assessment tools used. In accordance with best practice, formal parent-teacher meetings are held annually at the beginning of each school year to discuss pupils’ progress. Informal meetings are also facilitated, as required. Annual written progress reports are provided to parents of all pupils, in line with best practice. The possibility of assessing standards in Irish and of developing pupil profiles across a range of curricular areas should now be considered. At the post-evaluation meeting attention was drawn to the positive benefits of using the learning objectives of the curriculum as benchmarks for pupils’ learning and progress in Irish. It is recommended that a discrete assessment policy be constructed in order to guide the whole-school implementation of identified priorities and to review the effect of planned change on teaching and learning.
4. Quality of support for pupils
Provision for learning-support in this school is of a very high standard and is guided by a comprehensive and clearly laid out whole-school plan. The staged approach to intervention is effectively implemented in accordance with Circular SP ED 02/05. A combined approach is adopted using both a whole-group and withdrawal model of support. Supplementary support in literacy and numeracy is mainly provided by the learning-support teacher based in the school, while a shared resource teacher provides nine hours of additional support for two pupils with low incidence disabilities. A part-time special needs assistant works collaboratively with staff.
The quality of individual education planning is commendable. Provision is very well coordinated between class teachers and support teachers and short-term lesson plans are shared between teachers. Assessment data is appropriately used to specifically inform the teaching and learning process. Teachers interact with pupils in a very supportive manner and lessons are highly structured and well planned. Careful records of pupils’ progress are maintained and it is evident that pupils are gaining in confidence and making good progress academically and socially, commensurate with their abilities. The emphasis placed on literal and inferential questioning in the development of oral language is noteworthy. ICT is used particularly skilfully to develop pupils’ comprehension, oral language and writing skills. This practice is highly commended. The stimulating print-rich environment and teacher-designed visual displays provided in the learning-support room, in particular, greatly assist in motivating pupils and in scaffolding and consolidating pupils’ learning.
The school’s pastoral care statement provides a safeguard for pupils at risk and highlights the staff’s commitment to ensuring that all pupils’ social, emotional and academic needs are sensitively met. Equality of access is a key determinant in the school’s admission’s policy and the participation of all pupils in all school activities is encouraged. In planning for the future, consideration should be given to the development of an equal opportunity and gender equality policy to reflect the school’s inclusive ethos and strong awareness of gender parity.
The school has strengths in the following areas:
The following key recommendations are made in order to further improve the quality of education provided by 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
School Response to the Report
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1: Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board of Management wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the good work of the inspector, the clarity of the report and the fairness of its recommendations.
Area 2: Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection
The Board of management will address all recommendations of this report. Already, the recommendation that "a structured whole-school oral language programme and a whole-school policy be developed to build on existing good practice" has been addressed, and this programme will be introduced in September 2009. The provision of an annual report to parents and the wider community will occur in January 2010.