An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Lassara Naofa

Ballinacarrow, County Sligo

Uimhir rolla: 17774F

 

Date of inspection:  10 October 2008

 

 

 

 

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 Lassara Naofa was undertaken in October, 2008. 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 History.  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 Lassara Naofa is a four-teacher, Catholic, co-educational school located in the village of Ballinacarrow, Co. Sligo. The school was constructed in 1951 as a two-teacher school. In 1971, due to school amalgamations in the parish, it became a four-teacher school which required the building of a two-roomed chalet to the rear of the main building. The school is involved in the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative. Attendance levels are generally good. Enrolment patterns have remained similar for a number of years.

 

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

69

Mainstream classes in the school

3

Teachers on the school staff

4

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

1

Special needs assistants

1

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

Scoil Lassara Naofa is under the patronage of the Bishop of Achonry. The mission statement highlights the school’s commitment to the holistic development of each child. The school aims to achieve this through the provision of a broad and balanced programme of work and the creation of a happy, vibrant learning environment for the pupils. There is a strong sense of community purpose in the school. The school involves itself in the Green school’s programme, the Heritage in School’s scheme and it supports charitable organisation such as the local Bóthar charity and the hospice. The parents, board of management, staff and pupils embrace these initiatives which focuses on improving the pupils’ learning experiences and fosters a caring attitude among the pupils.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted, meets regularly and is very effective in executing its duties. All meetings are appropriately recorded. The board is commended for the work undertaken and completed to date pertaining to the ongoing maintenance of the building and grounds. The creation of the main entrance to the school on the side road, the development of the entire school yard and the installation of a CCTV system all merit particular mention. The board is commended for its rapid response to a maintenance problem that arose in August causing significant damage to the main building and some loss of teaching resources and materials. The staff and pupils had to be relocated in the staffroom of the chalet and in a portacabin. The commitment of the board to the major restoration project in the main building is noteworthy. The board of management, the staff and the parents have worked together to compile a list of maintenance priorities for the next four years. This constitutes very good practice.

 

The board of management is committed to collaborative whole-school planning. Policies are reviewed regularly. The board engages with the staff productively in relation to improving the quality of teaching and learning. The board actively supports the professional development of staff. The chairperson carries out his duties competently and visits the school frequently. The board members provide effective leadership, are progressive and comply with their statutory obligations.

 

1.3 In-school management

The in-school management team comprises the teaching principal, deputy principal and one special duties holder. The principal, who was appointed to the post in September 2007, is diligent and conscientious in carrying out all her duties. This competent leader has established very effective communication systems with the parent body. She uses text-a-parent messaging system and circulates regular notices and fliers to them. Her leadership style is clearly empowering and members of the teaching staff  give generously of their time to support the work of the school. The teachers are committed, dedicated and professional. They work as a cohesive unit and share ownership of all matters relating to the school.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Strong links exist among all of the educational partners in the school. Open, collaborative relationships prevail. There is an active and vibrant parents’ association in the school. The parents are enthusiastic and supportive of the school. The members have involved themselves in activities such as attending information evenings, organising the uniforms for the school band, participating in pupils’ celebrations and in discussing school policies. They have provided the funding for the supplementary readers who facilitate the shared-reading programme that operates in the school. At meetings held during the evaluation, the parents’ representatives stated that they were very happy with the education provision in the school.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

The pupils are managed very effectively. There is a positive atmosphere in the school which is child-friendly, open and respectful. During the evaluation, pupils were observed to be co-operative in their play and they were supervised appropriately. Clearly, a caring, inclusive environment has been created for the pupils.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The teachers have engaged collaboratively in the whole school planning process. The plan includes a comprehensive range of documents relating to organisational, curricular and administrative areas. The school plan is reviewed at intervals. The quality of the curricular polices is very good. They are practical and user-friendly. However, some of the curricular policies require the insertion of action plans to reflect areas for development in the subjects evaluated. A number of organisational policies require some modification to take account of the outcomes of the school’s own self-evaluation. The inclusion of a development section in the school plan is commendable. Overall, the quality of the whole-school planning is very good.

 

The quality of classroom planning is good. Teachers complete a short-term planning template which also serves to record monthly progress in curricular areas. This is used by the entire staff. It is recommended that all staff members plan for a variety of methodologies and resources in their short-term planning and document the skills to be developed in each of the subject areas in the curriculum.

 

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 don Ghaeilge á chothú ar fud na scoile. Úsáidtear éagsúlacht straitéisí agus modhanna múinte i ngach seomra. Baintear dea-úsáid as cluichí, rainn, amhráin agus as achmhainní oiriúnacha chun cumas na ndaltaí sa teanga labhartha a fhorbairt. Moltar, áfach, béim sa bhreis a leagan ar úsáid leabhar móra, ar dhrámaíocht a chleachtadh agus ar obair bheirte a fhorbairt ar fud na scoile. Forbraítear scileanna na héisteachta go hábalta le tascanna cuí a úsáid. Léann formhór na ndaltaí le líofacht agus le cruinneas agus léiríonn siad a dtuiscint ar an ábhar léitheoireachta trí cheisteanna a fhreagairt ó bhéal. Tá éagsúlacht le sonrú sna cleachtaí scríbhneoireachta agus tá caighdeán sásúil bainte amach ag na daltaí. Cuirtear béim ar an ngramadach, ar na briathra, ar an litriú, ar na feidhmeanna teanga agus ar fhoclóir á mhúineadh sa scoil. Tá an chuid is mó de na daltaí ag déanamh go maith sna codanna seo.

 

Irish

Irish is promoted positively throughout the school. A variety of approaches and methodologies is used in every classroom. Good use is made of games, rhymes, songs and suitable resources to improve the verbal ability of the pupils. However, it is recommended that more emphasis is placed on the use of large format books, the use of drama as a methodology and the development of pair work across the school. Teachers develop listening skills capably through practising appropriate listening tasks. The majority of pupils read competently and accurately and display their level of comprehension through their ability to answer questions orally. Pupils’ writing tasks are varied and standards are satisfactory. Emphasis is placed on the teaching of grammar, verbs, spelling, and the language functions and on the teaching of vocabulary in the school. The majority of pupils are making good progress in these areas.

 

English

Lessons in English are focused and instructions are clear. Phonological awareness, grammar and spelling are taught very well. All teachers encourage the pupils to actively participate in lessons. Discussion, games and brainstorming are used regularly during oral work. Consideration should be given to the focused development of language skills during oral lessons. It is recommended that the teachers also place emphasis on the strand of emotional and imaginative development of oral language. The frequent use of drama, memorisation and recitation of poetry, role play, pair work and group work will facilitate its development.

 

The class libraries are used successfully to foster interest in reading. The use of the novel and the effective shared-reading programme enriches the pupils’ experience in reading. It is recommended that the board invests in extra large format books to support teaching and learning. In general, reading lessons are taught well. Pupils develop appropriate word-attack skills and teachers listen to reading regularly. The teachers place an emphasis on phonological awareness which is well grounded in the junior classes. The systematic development of basic language skills, vocabulary acquisition and preparation of word games to supplement the reading would enhance this provision. It is therefore recommended that the school develops additional activities to support the development of literacy in the school. A commendable emphasis is placed on the promotion of good handwriting in the school. A suitable range of written activities is organised for the pupils. They are encouraged to write in a variety of genres where the writing process is appropriately promoted. Drawing is emphasised during the writing process.

 

3.2 Mathematics

Very good practice was noted during the teaching of Mathematics. Lessons in all classrooms are highly structured taking due account of the multi-class context, including the use of very effective team-teaching approaches. Concepts are explained clearly and pupils engage in appropriate tasks. It is recommended that supplementary activities and games are prepared to allow for the consolidation of content. There is an emphasis on the development of mathematical language, on problem solving and on mental mathematics in all classrooms. It is recommended that there should be an even greater emphasis on developing oral problems further throughout the school. The use of pair work and group work would facilitate this. Written work is monitored carefully. Mathematics tables are well taught. Classroom interaction is very good and pupils participate and respond in the lessons. However, it is recommended that all teachers plan for linkage across the strands of the mathematics curriculum and develop maths trails for each classroom. Focused work on estimation, problem solving, use of the environment and information and communications technology (ICT) should enhance the pupils’ overall attainment in the subject.

 

3.3 History

History is taught competently in the school. There is very effective use of story to stimulate interest. There is an appropriate emphasis on the development of the learner’s skills as a historian. Timelines, pictures, photographs and drama are all used very effectively in the teaching of History. Prior to the evaluation, the senior pupils had undertaken a commendable local studies project using ICT, interviews and reference books. A trip to the local graveyard and a talk given by a local historian had clearly enhanced their learning. The pupils presented the project in groups during the evaluation and displayed very good knowledge of the content. It is recommended that the pupils are given further opportunities to engage in such projects so as to develop their competence and confidence in presentation skills. The school celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2001 and the committee published a comprehensive booklet on the history of the school. This useful historical document was used as a valuable resource during another project undertaken very effectively by the senior pupils on schools in the area. The quality of teaching and learning in History is very good.

 

 

 

3.4 Assessment

Pupils’ daily work is monitored through the correction of copies, workbooks and homework. Teacher observation, oral questioning, spelling tests, table tests, written tasks and checklists are also used frequently by the staff. The quality of record keeping is very good. The range of diagnostic assessments in use in the school is very good. The Sigma-T, Drumcondra Reading Test and the Micra-T are used to assess English reading and Mathematics. Teachers give constructive feedback to pupils about the quality of their written work. Pupils’ progress in reading is recorded systematically. Progress records are sent to parents on an annual basis and parent-teacher meetings take place once a year.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

A collaborative approach to the provision of support for pupils is in evidence in the school. Both the principal and another class teacher are qualified learning support teachers. The teacher who currently provides learning support is presently undertaking a course in special education. The quality of the pupil profiles and the planning templates is commendable. These were devised by the school’s previous support personnel.

 

For pupils with special educational needs, the quality of teaching and learning is very good. Provision is co-ordinated making best use of material and personnel resources. The dedicated special needs assistant works collaboratively with the staff. There was evidence during the evaluation that the staged approach is operating effectively in the school. A variety of resources is used appropriately and the support teacher plans according to the objectives of the curriculum. Supplementary teaching is provided through highly structured in-class support and well planned withdrawal sessions. A wide variety of diagnostic tests is used to assess pupils’ progress. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is used to identify pupils’ needs at an early age. The teacher interacts with the pupils in a supportive manner. They are making progress in accordance with their abilities.

 

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

The school does not receive any additional resources to promote educational inclusion and, at present, there are no pupils from minority groups attending. The open and inclusive climate in the school ensures that individual pupils are supported appropriately and sensitively. 

 

 

5.     Conclusion

 

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 March 2009

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School response to the report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report

 

The BOM of St. Lassara’s N.S. wishes to thank the Inspectorate for the recent Whole School Evaluation and Report on the teaching and learning in our school.

We acknowledge the Inspector for the professional, courteous and positive manner in which the WSE was conducted. The BOM appreciate the many positive comments made about characteristics in our school community.

We welcome these findings as an affirmation of the work and dedication of the whole school community. The BOM also thank the principal and staff of the school for their hard work and dedication.

.

 

 

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 following work has been undertaken in the school since the WSE:

 

A School Development Planning Day was held with the focus on the development of Oral Language throughout the school. A 3 year Plan and Action Plans for the development of Oral Language have been put in place.

 

In-class support from PPDS has been organised and used for further development of Oral Language and Oral Maths activities.

 

Maths trails and the development of same are a priority for planning for the next school year 2009-2010. Staff are collecting resources in this area at present.