An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne,

Reenascreena, Rosscarbery, County Cork

Uimhir rolla: 17765E

 

Date of inspection: 20 January 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

Conclusion

School response to the report

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne was undertaken in January 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 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 of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne is a rural, co-educational, three-teacher primary school under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross. It is one of four schools in the parish of Rosscarbery. The school was constructed in 1951 at the eastern end of Reenascreena village and serves a small rural community. School refurbishment plans are at an advanced stage and will result in the complete renewal of the existing premises, the necessary addition of one extra classroom, an office, a staffroom, a learning support/resource room, an ICT facility and a library area.

School enrolment figures indicate growth and consistency in recent years and this pattern is set to prevail in the medium to longer term. Attendance rates for pupils compare favourably with published figures nationally.

 

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

49

Mainstream classes in the school

3

Teachers on the school staff

3

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

3

Special needs assistants

0

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1   Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne expresses a commitment to enabling pupils to achieve their academic, intellectual, moral, spiritual, social, cultural and physical potentials in a caring environment that promotes respect and personal responsibility. Observed practices in the school do not conflict with that commitment and pupils present themselves as confident and contented learners with a growing sense of place and community.

 

1.2 Board of management

  

The board of management of Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne is properly constituted and provides effective leadership to the school community. All members have availed of Diocesan training. The board meets at least six times a year. Minutes of meetings are carefully maintained and school finances are audited annually. Both principal and chairperson are in regular contact between meetings. Considerable time has been devoted by the board to the school refurbishment project and the importance of the school as a focal point in the local community is evident from their ambitious plans. The board expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the curriculum is mediated by the principal and staff and with the general levels of pupil achievement.

Board of management plans to facilitate the formation of a local parents’ association under the aegis of the National Parents’ Council were noted and approved.

  

1.3 In-school management

 

Since her appointment in 2001 the principal’s service has been marked by professionalism and a strong commitment to sharing leadership with colleagues and stakeholders in the best interests of the pupils. She has guided significant developments in the school in a calm and sensible manner. She has been a positive force within the school community and her collegial style of leadership has unified the board, parents and the wider community in support of agreed school objectives. The principal delegates effectively and appropriately and a variety of organisational, pastoral and curricular responsibilities are assumed by the deputy principal and other team members both formally and informally. The working atmosphere of the school is underpinned by teamwork and mutual support.

The principal is supported in her work by the deputy principal who assumes responsibility for a range of pastoral, administrative and curricular duties relating to current identified school needs.  Roll books, registers and all school records are accurately maintained and assigned tasks are reviewed regularly to reflect changing school needs.

  

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

The quality of relationships within the school community is commendable. Formal and informal channels of communication exist. Frequent written communication, formal parent/teacher meetings, sport and games, religious ceremonies, outings, school concerts and informal parent/teacher meetings facilitate regular dialogue and positive interaction between the school and the wider community.

The inspector met with the parent representatives on the board of management as part of the whole-school evaluation process. They expressed satisfaction with the overall educational provision offered to their children and with their levels of achievement.

The intention of the board to facilitate the formation of a formal parents’ association in line with departmental guidelines and best practice was noted and approved of during the course of the evaluation.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

Pupils in Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne are well behaved, courteous and respectful. A clear, prescriptive code of behaviour has been drawn up by the staff in consultation with the board. This code of behaviour has been discussed with parents. A positive caring learning environment now exists and basic rules are clear, and consistently implemented.

Pupils respond well to the provision of a broad curriculum, appropriate teaching methods, involvement in a variety of extra curricular activities and they work in a safe, pleasant and generally positive environment. The school’s commitment to the holistic development of each child through the provision of a broad range of pastoral, social, cultural and religious activities which mirror the habits and practices of the school community is commendable. Advice was given with regard to the possibility of reviewing the existing school rules so that they more accurately reflect the positive nature of relationships within the overall school community.

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

Whole school planning in this school is impressive. The plans presented during the evaluation were comprehensive and clearly outlined the values, practices and aspirations of the school. Plans were designed collaboratively, subject to regular review and a significant guide to individual teacher practice. Plans presented are in harmony with departmental guidelines in the 1999 revised curriculum for primary schools. All curricular and organisational policies in the school have been ratified and approved of by the board.

A common approach to classroom planning was observed throughout the school. All teachers presented long term and fortnightly plans of work. A monthly record of work completed is maintained. The long and short term documents presented for review to the inspector were consistent with expressed school objectives, specific in their content, grounded in the principles of the curriculum and useful in the context of classroom practice.

 

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

 

Múintear an Ghaeilge go héifeachtach i Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne. Úsáidtear modhanna múinte agus straitéisí foghlama oiriúnacha chun suim sa Ghaeilge a chothú agus bíonn luas agus struchtúr na gceachtanna le moladh. Úsáidtear an Ghaeilge go héifeachtach ó am go cheile mar theanga bhainistíochta ranga. Is léir go bhfuil iarracht fhiúntach a dhéanamh ag an bhfoireann teagaisc cumas cumarsáide na ndaltaí á fhorbairt ar fud na scoile.

Bhí réimse leathan de dhea-chleachtais le sonrú ar fud na scoile ó thaobh múineadh agus foghlaim na Gaeilge de agus bhí toradh na hoibre le sonrú sna hardranganna, ach go hairithe.

Moltar don fhoireann an obair a chinntiú níos mó anois, béim bhreise a chur ar an tréimhse chumarsáide sna ceachtanna agus measúnú ar bhonn uile-scoile a fhorbairt mar is cuí.

Is inmholta an tslí ina nasctar an Ghaeilge leis an gCeol trí mhúineadh amhrán gaelacha agus trí fhoghlaim an cheoil traidisiúnta.

Irish

Irish is taught effectively in Reenascreena NS. Appropriate teaching methodologies and strategies are used to develop interest in Irish and the pace and structure of lessons are praiseworthy.  Irish is used effectively on occasions as the language of classroom management. Commendable efforts are made by the staff to develop the communicative abilities of pupils throughout the school.

A broad range of good practice was observed in the school with regard to the teaching and learning of Irish, the results of which were especially obvious in the senior classes.

The staff was advised to further develop this work, to emphasise further the communicative aspect of lessons and to develop assessment on a whole school basis, where possible.

The integration of Music and Irish through the teaching of Irish songs and traditional Irish music was a notable aspect of the work of the school.

 

English

 

The quality of teaching in English is commendable. There is appropriate and consistent emphasis on literacy development in the school and language development is apparent across the curriculum. The development of oral competence is a particular objective of the staff and effectively delivered discrete lessons were observed in some classroom settings in support of that objective. Standards of reading were observed to be commensurate with age. Standardised test scores indicate satisfactory levels of pupil achievement and appropriate interventions are employed in relation to the identification of pupils with additional and specific literacy development needs. Reading is encouraged through the availability of well stocked class libraries and print rich environments were evident in many areas throughout the school.

Pupils are taught appropriate word attack strategies through the implementation of a systematic phonological awareness programme. Pupils at all levels engage in a range of appropriate writing activities and the cumulative efforts of the team are evident in the quality of some of the written work observed in the senior classes. The quality and presentation of written work are acceptable and appropriate emphasis is placed on the conventions of grammar.

3.2 Mathematics

 

Effective practice with regard to the teaching of Mathematics was observed at all levels in Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne. Pupils engage enthusiastically with the subject and their achievements in teacher-designed and standardised tests are commensurate with age and expectations. Lessons are presented using appropriate methodologies and pupil understanding of mathematical concepts is consistently developed in all classes through the effective use of concrete resources. Pupils demonstrated understanding of mathematical concepts and suitable mastery of relevant mathematical skills in relation to all of the strands and strand units of the mathematics curriculum. Learning in mathematics is developed incrementally and consolidated regularly at all levels within the school. Lessons are appropriately differentiated to allow for a variety of individual pupil needs and teacher expectations are realistic. Children experiencing difficulties are supported, when necessary, by the learning support teacher within specific targeted timeframes. Written work is generally presented neatly and is carefully monitored.

Current practice might be further improved by allowing the learning-support team to provide in-class or whole class support to class teachers with a view to delivering more subtle support to targeted pupils in their own classrooms.

 

3.3 Physical Education

 

In spite of the absence of indoor facilities very good provision is made to give pupils access to a broad and balanced curriculum in Physical Education (PE). A comprehensive school plan for PE gives clear direction to teachers in the organisation of their schemes of work. All pupils are encouraged to derive maximum benefit and enjoyment from PE. Lessons are taught mainly on the tarmac area of the school grounds and the school also has access to the local hall. The PE curriculum allows for meaningful parental involvement in a range of activities which reflect the breadth and balance of the prescribed curriculum and which mirror community traditions and practices.

PE classes were not observed during the course of the evaluation due to inclement weather conditions and the unavailability of a suitable indoor PE area in the school.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

Current practice embraces a range of approaches including monitoring and correction of work, teacher-devised tests and tasks and standardised tests in English and Mathematics. Results of Micra-T and Sigma-T tests are carefully tabulated and analysis of the tests informs teaching on an ongoing basis. Results are effectively used to address the learning deficits of weaker pupils. Teachers carefully explain results to parents at the annual parent/teacher meetings. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) test is administered in senior infants to identify pupils in need of specific intervention in the development of early reading skills.

Other tests administered include Neale Analysis, Jackson Phonics, Young Reading Test and the Aston Index, where appropriate. Current staff members exhibit considerable expertise in the area of dyslexia screening and appropriate interventions.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

Pupils with special educational needs in Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne receive support from three shared teachers who are not based in the school. They are available for 5 hours, 7 hours and 9.5 hours respectively and provide supplementary support, primarily in literacy, but also in numeracy.

Support is provided on a withdrawal basis either individually or in groups and this practice is complemented by in-class support and, on occasions, by whole class teaching. The work of the special needs team is well managed, underpinned by collaboration and co-operation and frequent dialogue with classroom teachers and the principal is the norm.

However, given the complexity of timetabling and organisational challenges that occur it would be advisable if the school board was to re-examine current clustering arrangements with a view to maximising local efficiencies in this critical area of school activity.

 

 

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

 

There are no pupils from minority or other groups attending the school at present.

 

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

·         The school is a key focal point in the local rural community and reflective of local traditions, customs and practices.

·         The board provides leadership and strategic vision to the school community.

·         The principal is committed to a collaborative vision of instructional leadership.

·         Good practice in teaching and learning occurs within the school and there is an appropriate focus on the holistic development of individual pupils.

·         Parents are supportive of the school and a growing sense of community and purpose was observed.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School response to the report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

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 complete renewal and extension of the school premises was realised in August 2009.

·         A Parents’ Association, which is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council, is now in place.