An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Mhuire National School,

Brusna, Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon

Roll number: 17904P

 

Date of inspection: 18 May 2007

Date of issue of report: 12 March 2008

 

 

Whole school evaluation

1. Introduction-school context and background

2. The quality of school management

3. Quality of school planning

4. Quality of teaching and learning

5. Quality of support for pupils

6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

7. School Response to the Report

 

 

 

 

Whole school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Scoil Mhuire National School, Brusna, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspector held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and teachers, examined students’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. 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.

 

 

 

1. Introduction-school context and background

 

Scoil Mhuire NS is a six-teacher, co-educational Catholic primary school situated on the Mayo/Roscommon border in Co. Roscommon. It is one of four schools in the parish of  Ballaghaderreen which is under the patronage of the Bishop of Achonry. The characteristic spirit of the school, as stated in the mission statement is one of a caring, positive and stimulating environment which is obvious on entry to the school building. The school population has changed dramatically in the last few years. The last School Report was furnished in 1997. During the intervening period, a learning support teacher was appointed on a shared basis, a resource teacher was appointed and more recently a resource teacher for Travellers was appointed. The staff of the school has changed significantly and the majority of the staff are newly qualified teachers who together with their experienced colleagues deliver a broad, balanced and cohesive educational experience for the pupils.

 

 

2.  The quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management provides strong and effective leadership in the school. The highly efficient chairperson visits the school approximately once a week to liaise with the principal on school management issues. Meetings of the board are held on a regular basis. The board fulfils its duties diligently and conscientiously and ensures that the buildings and its environs are very well maintained. The board has a clear understanding of the school’s needs and works strenuously with the staff and parents’ association to acquire the necessary resources for the school. The board is commended on the innovative use of space and layout of the school which creates a very welcoming ambiance. 

 

The board has been involved in an impressive maintenance programme over the years as the school grew from a one-teacher school in 1986 to its present six-teacher status. Since the last inspection, the cloakroom has been extended and converted into an office/resource room, a new front office and entrance have been built, a new resource room has been added and the entire playground has been tarmacadamed. Very recently, a fourth classroom, a principal’s office, staff toilets, cloakrooms and storeroom have been built. The school is warm, welcoming and child-friendly. The commitment of the board is noteworthy. The board is involved in the whole-school planning process and discusses and ratifies school policies. It has been involved in a recent review of the majority of policies. The board deals with issues effectively and is highly supportive of the principal and other staff. 

 

In-school management

The school principal, appointed in 1986 performs her duties with complete dedication and promotes the development of the school with energy, enthusiasm and justifiable pride. This highly capable principal has embraced her new teaching colleagues in a collegial, cordial manner, has provided mentoring for them and has engaged them in school matters as appropriate. She maintains a keen interest in the welfare of all in the school community and she helps foster mutual respect for each person and strives to provide equality for all. She undertakes a notable share of responsibilities but delegates according to staff strengths and has won the support and confidence of staff and pupils. All staff, including ancillary staff work collaboratively and therefore a very happy, industrious atmosphere prevails in the school. Communication among the various partners is excellent. The principal is ably assisted by a dedicated secretary and together they perform the administrative tasks with commendable zeal and maintain school records carefully and accurately. The principal discharges all her duties in a professional manner.

 

The deputy principal and the one special duties teacher undertake their in-school management duties conscientiously and diligently. The duties attached to their posts deal with organisational and administrative activities in the main. It is recommended that posts are reviewed on a regular basis to meet the needs of the school. It is suggested that posts include a curricular dimension with a particular emphasis on the management of curricular policies and planning throughout the school. There is a strong work ethic in the school. The staff contributes enormously to the wide range of extra curricular activities provided in the school. The lives of the pupils are enriched by the quality of the interactions between staff and pupils and by the complementary skills of staff members. The staff works as a very effective team.

 

2.3 Management of resources

There are currently ninety-seven pupils on rolls. In addition to four mainstream class teachers, the school is the base for a resource teacher for Travellers (RTT), shared with one other school and a full-time special education teacher (SET) who works with pupils with learning difficulties and with special educational needs. A capable special needs assistant (SNA) works sensitively with a pupil who has special educational needs, to ensure full inclusion in the mainstream classroom and in the life of the school. A part-time, committed care-taking and secretarial staff complete the staffing roster. The school is cleaned daily and maintained in very good condition.

 

The school avails of the services of other experts in their field who complement the curriculum. A talented and enthusiastic music teacher visits the school on a weekly basis and teaches traditional music to all pupils from second to sixth class. A small voluntary contribution from parents funds this service which affords pupils the opportunity to learn the button accordion, piano accordion, tin whistle, fiddle or drums. A skilled art teacher works voluntarily with all the pupils in the area of Visual Arts in the school on a rota basis throughout the year. In 2007, the school availed of the services of a céilí dancing teacher who came from the Céilí Dancing Association of Ireland. He provided classes over an eight week period for all the pupils in the middle and senior end of the school. The Mayo County Board in conjunction with Cumann na mBunscoil provides a coach to teach GAA skills one hour per week for eight to ten weeks. The quality of the programmes delivered by these external tutors is very good as was noted during the evaluation. The teachers engage in continuous professional development and the school has availed of the services of various personnel from the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PCSP) and the School Development Planning Support (SDPS) over the years. This year a number of newly qualified teachers have been involved in the probationary process.

 

The school building was constructed as a two-teacher school in 1953 with a long corridor at the back of the two classrooms. Enrolment decreased initially but then increased to its present level. In 1994, a general purpose room was built but has been used as a classroom since it was built. The school uses the local hall and the church for school performances. In 1998, the roof of the school was replaced and the corridor at the back of the school was extended to become a wide hallway. This area is invaluable for storage, for wet day activities and for collaborative teaching. At present, there are four classrooms, one of which was the original general purpose room, one support room, and a staffroom which is used for support teaching, a principal’s office, staff toilets, an office and a wide hallway.

 

The school has a wide array of material resources, particularly in abundance in the infant classroom and these are used effectively to enhance teaching and learning. There is a plethora of suitable library and reference books available in the school. A rental book service is provided for the pupils. The principal has facilitated a highly successful buddy reading system involving all of the pupils in the school for twenty minutes a day over an eight week period. Teachers use information and communications technology (ICT) very successfully in their planning and preparation and to a lesser degree in teaching and learning. Access to ICT is limited and it is recommended, in line with the staff priorities, that there is further investment in both hardware and software in the school in the near future. The digital camera is used regularly and videos are used occasionally to support teaching and learning. Commercially produced materials together with teacher-designed equipment and games are all used appropriately. The local environment is used creatively in the teaching of Science and the school avails of the church next door for liturgical services and dramatic performances. The school’s outdoor facilities are weather dependent. The green grass area to the rear of the school needs to be drained to facilitate usage for a greater part of the year and work on this is due to commence in the summer of 2007. Parents, board of management and parents are all working diligently to raise the necessary money to supplement the funding for this project.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school has a relatively new parents’ association which makes a significant contribution to school life. The parents’ association, the board of management and the staff work in a spirit of collaboration. They involve themselves in activities such as arranging costumes for the St Patrick’s Day parade, the communion party and participating on the Green Schools Committee. The association has been actively involved in fundraising activities to supplement departmental grants and in drafting and discussing school policies. There is a parents’ notice board in the entrance hall of the school and notices and information of interest to parents are posted there. Wednesday is a designated newsletter day in Scoil Mhuire NS and all important notes and messages are sent home from the school on this day. There is a strong sense of ownership in all that happens in the school. Communication is excellent. Parents welcome the opportunity to be involved in discussing policies and found the task of reviewing policies very useful. A joint meeting of the parents’ association and the staff will take place in October 2007 for the parents of the new entrants. Parents note the child-centred approach employed by teachers in the school. Parents are satisfied with the quality of teaching and learning and of the support for the individual pupil in the school.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

Many examples of effective caring pupil teacher relations were noted. Pupils are well behaved and respectful towards each other and their teachers and they are motivated to learn. Supervision is well managed but further modifications to the present arrangements were discussed with the staff at the post-evaluation meeting. Teachers use praise and affirmation to promote positive behaviour. A happy atmosphere permeates the school.

 

 

 

 

3. Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning, process and implementation

A whole school plan has been developed and reviewed recently which manifested considerable efforts from the staff, board of management and parent body. The active involvement of all the partners in the school planning process is highly commendable. The school’s vision is clearly outlined and the school succeeds in fulfilling its aims effectively. The school plan is detailed and comprehensive and all of the policies are of a very high quality. Both curricular and organisational policies are pertinent to the needs of the school. Some require some modifications as noted during the post evaluation meeting. The inclusion of a policy on phonics is highly recommended. A review of the policy on supervision, Irish, assessment and learning support is necessary. Other policies require some changes which have been noted by the staff. This work will form part of the school’s planning dairy and will link with their school developing planning for the future. All policies are formulated according to SDPS guidelines and the school had access to appropriate professional development support during its work on these policies.

 

Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 1999, updated issue May 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, April 2001). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

The teachers provide bright, attractive and interesting learning environments for their pupils. All teachers prepare diligently for their work and are highly dedicated to their teaching task. The teachers’ personal planning reflects whole school priorities and teachers ensure that the pupils receive a broad and balanced curriculum. The pupils experience a diverse range of learning activities and an appropriate balance between whole class teaching and active teaching methodologies. The teachers plan their work on their own personal templates according to the content objectives of the curriculum and plan for content, methodologies, resources, assessment, differentiation, linkage, integration and skill development. All teachers compile monthly progress records. Teachers’ personal planning is excellent and it is recommended that the staff devises a common planning template and monthly report template which can be used by all teachers.

 

 

4. Quality of teaching and learning

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

The quality of teaching is very good at all levels. Pupils are highly challenged by the variety of appropriate activities organised for them. Teachers present content clearly, using a variety of resources and methodologies. Pupils are actively involved in their own learning and judicious use is made of the outdoor environment and of external tutors. All of the teachers display enthusiasm and energy for their work and this has a very positive impact on the pupils. All lessons observed were highly structured, well-paced and adequately developed and of a very high quality. Overall, pupils receive a broad, balanced, integrated curriculum.

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Múintear an Ghaeilge go hanamúil agus go taitneamhach. Cothaítear grá don teanga sa scoil le gníomhaíochtaí á n-eagrú mar cheachtanna ceoil, na ceachtanna rince agus an taispeántas don mhórshiúl ar Lá Fhéile Pádraig. Ta dóthain focail clóbhuailte agus scríofa le feiceáil timpeall na scoile. Tá an-chuid nathanna cainte foghlamtha ag na daltaí sna hardranganna. Ullmhaíonn na hoidí ceachtanna a oireann d’aois agus d’ábaltacht na ndaltaí. Úsáidtear modh na drámaíochta agus rólghlacadh go rialta i múineadh na Gaeilge. Baintear feidhm as cluichí, as scéalaíocht agus seanfhocail chun foclóir agus nathanna a dhaingniú. Tá caighdeán sásúil bainte amach ag na daltaí sa Ghaeilge labhartha. Moltar do na hoidí, áfach, níos mó obair bheirte a chur ar siúl. Leantar clár cuí i snáithe na héisteachta.

 

Déantar cúram de theagasc na léitheoireachta agus cíortar ábhar na gceachtanna go hoiriúnach. Ta caighdeán na léitheoireachta go maith. Tá muinín agus tuiscint ag na daltaí ar an ábhar. B’fhiú athbhreithniú a dhéanamh arís ar an bpolasaí sa Ghaeilge agus clár leanúnach a leagan síos  chun an ghramadach, na feidhmeanna teanga agus na briathra a mhúinedh sa scoil. Cuirtear na cleachtaí scríofa in oiriúint do chumas na ndaltaí agus sonraítear dul chun cinn san obair. Tá cur amach ag na daltaí ar chineálacha difriúla scríbhneoireachta mar scéalta, cártaí, litreacha, teachtaireachtaí, ailt agus dialanna. Déantar comhtháthú an-mhaith idir na snáitheanna.

 

(Irish is taught in a lively and fun manner. The love of the Irish language is fostered through the organisation of music lessons, dance lessons and the display for the St Patrick ’s Day  parade. There is a print-rich environment in the school. Pupils in the senior classes have learned lots of phrases. The teachers prepare lessons that suit the age and the ability of the pupils. Drama and role-play are used regularly in the teaching of Irish. Games, storytelling and proverbs are used to consolidate vocabulary and phrases. Pupils have a satisfactory standard in spoken Irish. However, it is recommended that more pair work is organised. An appropriate programme is delivered in the strand of listening

 

Good attention is given to Irish reading and the content is appropriately discussed. The standard of reading is good. Pupils display confidence and understanding of the content. It is recommended that the Irish policy is reviewed again to plan out a sequential programme for the teaching of grammar, verbs and the language functions. The written exercises are suited to the ability of the pupils and progress is evident in the work observed. Pupils write in a variety of genres which include stories, cards, messages, paragraphs and diaries. There is evidence of very good integration across the strands.)

 

English

The overall provision in English is impressive. The classroom environments support pupils’ learning in English with many posters displaying grammar terms, language experience charts, vocabulary and samples of poetry and rhyme. Pupils encounter a range of poetry and nursery rhymes at the junior end. There is a commendable development of the pupils’ oral language skills. Pupils are given ample opportunities to actively explore topics and concepts through structured discussion, brainstorming, circle work and debating activities. Pupils learn through games, drama, talk and poetry. The structure and pace of lessons are very good. There is an emphasis on listening and responding to stories and big books at the junior end and to novels at the senior end. Oral work in English is integrated with other subject areas. The development of grammar, spelling and handwriting is noteworthy in the school. 

 

The pupils are exposed to a regular writing experience. The work on pre-writing is very well established and formal writing skills are appropriately nurtured. The teachers are effectively creating and fostering the impulse to write among the pupils. The pupils write for a variety of purposes, for different audiences and in a variety of genres. They have mastered a range of word attack skills and are achieving well in their reading. A reading buddy system is in operation over eight weeks which involves all the pupils in the school. It is highly successful and motivates and encourages pupils to read. A paired reading programme is also in operation between home and school. Phonics is very well taught at the junior end. It is recommended as noted earlier that a whole school policy in phonics is developed to ensure continuity of teaching and learning in this area.

 

4.3 Mathematics

The pupils generally show a good grasp of the language of Mathematics which is well taught and consolidated. Concepts of Mathematics are well developed as pupils are actively involved in activities. Good use is made of concrete examples. The pupils’ application of Mathematics to everyday life is being consistently and effectively developed. Problem solving is being developed but this could be prioritised even further in the teaching of the subject. It is recommended that the learning support teacher could provide support in an area such as problem solving during the teaching of Mathematics. This would enhance learning for the pupils. There is a Mathematics print-rich environment in the school with relevant charts, games, vocabulary and equipment on display. Talk and discussion are features of all lessons and appropriate emphasis is placed on active learning methodologies. A range of assessment tools is employed such as teacher-designed tests, standardised tests, work samples and correction of written work. It is recommended that further written work be done in the pupils’ copies and emphasis be placed on the presentation of work.

 

4.4 Social Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE)

 

Geography

The local town and environment are both used effectively in the teaching of Geography. The pupils have worked on an interesting project on their vision of Ballaghaderreen in 2020. The pupils have engaged in many laudable projects on various countries. Teachers use maps, globes and atlases in the teaching of mapping skills. Good use is made of the local environment and contrasts are explored with other centres in Ireland.

 

The pupils are facilitated in developing a sense of place and space during the teaching and learning of the subject. Pupils display good knowledge of natural and physical features of Ireland, Europe and the world. The pupils’ environmental awareness is enhanced through the Green School’s Project. Teaching methods used in the teaching of the subject include group work, whole-class and individual teaching. Many useful resources are used such as ICT, videos, pictures, photographs and models to support learning in the subject.

 

History

Artefacts, excavation boxes, photographs, story, pictures, timelines and the internet are used frequently to enhance the teaching and learning in history lessons in the school. The teachers motivate pupils through the use of story and legends and integrate History very creatively with other subjects of the curriculum. Pupils engage in many projects on the strand Early peoples and ancient societies such as the Celts, Normans, Romans, Egyptians and others peoples. Pupils are facilitated in using reference books, extracts, ICT and other evidence to explore History. The teachers place good emphasis on skill development and use drama and role play to develop skills of empathy. Other sources of evidence utilised by the staff and pupils in the teaching and learning in History include newspaper cuttings, posters, memorabilia, songs, diaries and fieldtrips to local ring forts. The pupils have visited places such as Athlone castle, Kilmainham gaol, the museum of country life in Castlebar and the Douglas Hyde centre on various educational outings which supplement their learning. The quality of teaching and learning in History is very good.

 

Science

There is a good range of appropriate resources available for the teaching of Science in the school. Pupils visit the mini-wood prepared by one of the teachers and her pupils during science lessons. The school was supported by a grandparent in planting vegetables in large containers. Other pupils sow flower seed in boxes and at a later stage transplant them outside in summertime. Attractive window boxes are carefully arranged and cared for by the SNA and pupils in the school. This links in with the Green Schools Project. There is a bird table outside the infant classroom for pupils and this creates an interest in living things. The school achieved the Green Flag award in 2006 and staff and pupils actively participated in a litter management programme which involved composting and recycling. Pupils continue to follow this programme by recycling milk cartons, pencil toppings and paper.

 

The teachers employ a variety of effective methodologies. Good use is made of group work, pair work, experiments and the local environment in the teaching and learning of Science. There is appropriate attention given to the development of scientific language. During lessons teachers make good provision for skill development in both working scientifically and in designing and making. The overall quality of learning in Science is very good. Pupils were actively involved in all of the lessons observed during the evaluation. The teachers are skilful in engaging the pupils with open-ended and closed activities. However it is recommended that the pupils are more actively involved in planning and recording experiments and in conducting fair tests.

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual arts

The teachers use a variety of methods such as pair work, group work and individual teaching during visual arts lessons. A range of effective stimuli is employed in lessons which include working from the pupils’ own experience, working from observation, integration with other subject areas and using the work of famous artists. Excellent work was in progress during the evaluation which involved exploring the works of the painter Paul Henry. The structure and pace of lessons is very good. Concepts of art are carefully explored and there is evidence of a range of techniques being explored across the various strands. Talk and discussion are features of visual art activities. There is effective use of materials and resources. There is creative use of the classroom and the school environment with attractive displays of art activities. Pupils also participated in a Christmas decoration competition run by Roscommon County Council achieving first prize in the competition. Pupils experience a sense of achievement and are active in exploring, experimenting, expressing and enjoying art. The visiting artist assists the teacher during the integrated art lessons. Teachers maintain samples of pupils’ art in folders and in photographic format.

 

Music

There is a strong tradition of music in the school. There is a very supportive environment for music with musical instruments such as big drums, percussion instruments, musical resources and books available for use in the school. Each St Patrick’s Day, the majority of pupils participate in the school band. The pupils play an array of musical instruments taught by the visiting musician. The band performed part of their repertoire during the course of the evaluation and the standard is very good. They also participate in a showcase of traditional music in June for their parents and the community. Pupils have the opportunity to use percussion instruments during song singing. Some parents have a particular talent in playing drums. A number of them and their friends visited the school during the evaluation and put on a demonstration for the various classes in the school. The pupils were given the opportunity to play the drums during the visit. 

 

The pupils from third to sixth class are members of the school choir who perform on Christmas morning and during the First Holy Communion Mass. Full participation is encouraged and facilitated in music. The musical elements are developed through interrelated activities. The pupils are exposed to music of different styles, periods and cultures. The strand of listening and responding is effectively developed. Music literacy is linked with song-singing and instrumental work. All strands of the music curriculum are attended to appropriately. Music plays an important role in the life of the school and is one of the strengths of Scoil Mhuire NS.

 

Drama

The quality of teaching and learning is very good. Integrated activities are used to explore feelings, knowledge and ideas leading to understanding. The Normans, world wars and the story of St Brigid in History are some examples of stimuli used to teach Drama. Emphasis is placed on exploring and making drama and co-operating and communicating in making drama. Teachers use a variety of strategies, which include circle time, conscience alleys, hot seating, games, improvisation, partner work, story and dialogue. Teachers enable the pupils to solve problems creatively in real and fictional situations. Each Christmas, the school prepares a production involving all the pupils in the school. Biennially pupils perform for the parents and community and on alternate years they perform for the other classes. Theatre visits are arranged so that pupils experience a live performance which supports the implementation of the drama curriculum. The pupils in the junior half of the school dress up and dramatise as part of the school display in the annual St Patrick’s Day parade in Ballaghderreen. Pupils are developing an appropriate level of confidence as they engage in the drama activities.

 

 

4.6 Physical Education

The emphasis in Physical Education in the school is on health, participation and skill development. The school places emphasis on football for both boys and girls, hurling training, cúilí (indoor hurling), swimming and céilí dancing. It also involves its pupils in soccer, basketball, volleyball, tag rugby, community games, athletics, badminton and rounders. One of the in-school management team co-ordinates a particular sport in the third term and all pupils engage in developing the skills associated with that sport over a specific period of time. This has proved successful as it develops interest in a new game each year. The pupils are afforded the opportunity to explore and engage in activities through guided discovery. They are actively involved in pair work, station work, group work or individual work with an emphasis on skill development. The use of Irish during the teaching of the subject is laudable. Pupils demonstrate a positive attitude to Physical Education.

 

The school won the county championship and the county mini-sevens on numerous occasions. Two pupils from the school were chosen in the past to participate in a Croke Park exhibition game. These same pupils formed part of the Mayo U-21 All-Ireland winning team panel in 2006. These successes at national level are a great motivator to the present pupils in the school. Extra curricular activities are supported by the parent community. The quality of the tuition in both football training and céilí dancing given by outside personnel is very good. Pupils enjoy the formal lessons and the opportunity to represent their school in competitions. Parents co-operate with the school in supporting the healthy lunch campaign. Overall, the quality of the teaching and learning in Physical Education is very good.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

The pupils have been involved in St Patrick’s Day parade for many years. They participate in charitable events such as the Shoebox appeal at Christmas. Pupils are given opportunities to develop socially in and out of school settings through participation in school quizzes with notable success and educational trips each year. It is a tradition in the school that pupils dress up at Halloween. A variety of suitable teaching methods is used such as circle time, active learning, collaborative work, discussion, games and drama to support learning. Pictures, photographs, visual images and posters are used regularly to explore topics such as safety, feelings, community, friendship, nutrition and many other areas which form part of the curriculum. Pupils brainstorm, debate and reflect on the area under discussion. The quality of the learning outcomes including the interaction, level of discussion and collaboration is very good. The teaching is integrated with other subject areas very creatively and teachers deal with the topics sensitively. Worksheets are used frequently to summarise and to monitor pupils’ understanding. All successes are celebrated and the entrance hall and wide corridor display photographic evidence of the many achievements of both past and present pupils.

 

 

4.8 Assessment

Teachers maintain accurate records of standardised tests and other teacher-designed tests administered to pupils. Pupils are assessed on an annual basis in Mathematics and English. These results are used to note those pupils who may require additional learning support for the following academic year. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is conducted with the pupils in senior infants to diagnose those who may benefit from a Forward Together programme. This year, the infant teacher is carrying out the Belfield Infant Assessment Programme (BIAP) to identify those pupils in junior infants who may need extra support. This is worthwhile and will help note the pupils with learning difficulties at an earlier stage of their education. It is recommended that diagnostic assessments are carried out on all pupils receiving support to assess their progress and to identify the areas that require continued support. All mainstream class teachers maintain records of achievement and results of assessment.

 

 

5. Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Provision for pupils with special educational needs

Provision for pupils with special educational needs and learning difficulties focuses on the educational and social development of the pupils. Pupils are happy and contented and enjoy their supplementary teaching experience. The learning support teacher co-operates with the classroom practitioners and together they plan individual and group programmes of work for the pupils. Results of standardised tests assist the teachers in selecting pupils for support. However, it is recommended that the school invests in further diagnostic tests which will be administered to give quality data on pupils’ progress. The learning support teacher uses a range of resources to support teaching and learning. It is also recommended that an early intervention programme is implemented in the school. A whole school approach should be co-ordinated through the formulation of a phonics policy which will ensure continuity of provision for phonics in the school. Support is in the form of withdrawal. However, it is recommended that some in-class support be given when the timetable allows.

 

5.2 Other supports for pupils

Scoil Mhuire NS supports a culture of inclusiveness for all pupils and the school is the base for a resource teacher for Travellers (RTT) who works with a number of pupils. The principal has invested considerable time in relation to the education and support for all pupils requiring additional support. There have been a number of very good projects undertaken by the RTT with the pupils to foster their interest in learning. The use of a scrap book on the pupils’ interest is commendable. Excellent use is made of interactive methodologies which are well planned and structured. Learning experiences for the pupils are positive and there is an emphasis on the development of pupils’ self-esteem. The principal and the RTT are committed to intercultural education where the pupils are fully integrated in their classes. Individual programmes of work have been formulated to meet the needs of the pupils.

 

 

6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

 

As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

7.   School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

 

Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report

 

The B.O.M. of Brusna N.S. welcomes the report and is happy with its findings.

 

 

Area 2:   Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the   inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection

 

An early intervention programme has been implemented by the special education teacher and diagnostic assessments commenced.  A comprehensive phonics policy has been introduced throughout the school.