An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Mhuire gan Smál, Convent Primary School

Claremorris, County Mayo

Uimhir rolla: 18070U

 

Date of inspection:  1 May 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

Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole-school evaluation of Scoil Mhuire gan Smál, Convent Primary School, Claremorris, County Mayo. 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 inspectors 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 inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. They interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management.  The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

This school, which was established in 1957 by the Sisters of Mercy, is located in the town of Claremorris, County Mayo. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Tuam. Boys and girls are enrolled from junior infants to first class, while girls only are enrolled from second to sixth class. The school has seventeen teachers, including an administrative principal, eleven mainstream class teachers, one learning-support teacher, one resource teacher for pupils with special educational needs, and three part-time language support teachers. There are 293 pupils enrolled in the school. There has been an increase in enrolment in recent years. It is expected that enrolment figures will remain at current levels for the medium to long-term. Pupils from 12 countries are enrolled in the school at present.

 

Teachers foster a welcoming, positive, inclusive and respectful atmosphere in the school. The school’s vision, mission statement and aims indicate that emphasis is placed on developing pupils’ self-confidence and sense of personal responsibility. All members of staff make an effort to implement the school’s vision, mission and aims.

 

The school register indicates that there is very good attendance by the pupils. Attendance is continually monitored in accordance with the school’s clearly laid out attendance strategy.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is constituted in accordance with agreed Department of Education and Science procedures. The chairperson of the board of management visits the school frequently and there is constant contact between the principal and the chairperson to discuss school matters. The board of management meets at least once every two months, and sometimes monthly. Members of the board are assigned specific roles in line with best practice.

 

Minutes are recorded at each meeting of the board of management. Matters arising from previous minutes are discussed at each board meeting. According to the minutes of the most recent board meetings, the main issues discussed have included school planning and the provision of improved facilities and resources in the school to further enhance the learning experiences provided for pupils. The principal gives a report on issues concerning the day-to-day running of the school and relevant school matters. A financial report is also delivered at each board meeting. It is recommended that the school accounts be audited or certified annually in future, as required by section 18 (1) of the Education Act (1998).

 

It was confirmed that the board’s current priority is to provide a quality education for all pupils through the increased use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and the further development of the recently-renovated school library. It is proposed to invest in interactive whiteboards for each classroom in the future. The board’s other main priority is to develop the area adjacent to the school to include a parking area, a playing field, a garden with a wetlands area, and a place of prayer. In order to guide this work, the board of management has developed a comprehensive plan with the assistance of local expertise in the community. This impressive and ambitious plan is indicative of the forward-thinking attitude of the board of management. The school is fortunate in having ample space available for such a development.

 

The board of management is proud of the work of the school. During the whole-school evaluation, board members articulated their satisfaction with the achievement of the pupils and the standards of education provided by the school. The board is to be commended for its continuing determination to support the educational experiences available for pupils in ensuring that standards are maintained and improved in all areas of school life.

 

2.2 In-school management

The principal, who was appointed in 1998, has a clear vision of the school as a place where a high quality education is delivered in a positive and happy atmosphere. The principal is diligent in carrying out the administrative and management aspects of her role. Particular praise is warranted for her leadership demonstrated in the school planning process and in overseeing curriculum implementation. The principal’s current priorities include the continuous improvement of the quality of education provided for pupils with special educational needs and for newcomer pupils. The principal is also committed to expanding the range of facilities and resources available in the school. She is particularly committed to providing better ICT resources. In this regard, the board of management is to be commended for the support it gives to the principal.

 

The principal, deputy principal, assistant principal and five special duties teachers make up the school’s in-school management team. This team works well together and the duties attached to these posts of responsibility are carried out diligently and conscientiously. The contracts for these posts indicate that curricular, administrative and pastoral duties form part of each post of responsibility. All teachers with posts of responsibility report on their work at staff meetings. In addition, a termly written account is provided by each post-holder of the work covered. These conscientious efforts are praiseworthy.

 

Staff meetings are held once a term and minutes are maintained. Decisions are made by consensus when appropriate. The work of special needs assistants, the school secretary, the caretaker and cleaner contribute well to the smooth running of the school.

 

2.3 Management of resources

Human resources are deployed effectively in this school. The school has a clear policy for staff rotation and staff allocation. Opportunities are provided for teachers to experience teaching in a variety of class levels. The board of management supports the professional development of the teaching staff, and teachers attend courses that are relevant to their professional roles.

 

The school is well maintained and is clean and tidy both inside and outside. The board of management is committed to the continuous development of the amenities offered. All classrooms are equipped with modern furniture.

 

The school has a variety of material resources for each curricular area, and these are used very effectively to enhance teaching and learning. The school library and the ICT room provide evidence of the board’s commitment to the provision of additional educational resources.  While most class libraries are equipped with a good range of reading material and reference books, it is recommended that the stock of books in some class libraries be replenished to ensure that an increased variety of books is available in every classroom. The board of management has invested in a commendable range of mathematics resources. Mathematical posters and concrete materials are available at each class level. These are used effectively to enhance teaching and learning in Mathematics.

 

A wide range of resources is available to enhance the provision of a varied physical education programme. An impressive variety of music resources, including melodic and percussion instruments, is available. The commendable use of a wide range of visual arts materials is in evidence at each class level.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school’s parents’ association is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council. The parents’ association meets once every six weeks. The most commonly raised discussion items at these meetings include issues related to fundraising, the proposed plan for the development of the school grounds, and preparation for first Holy Communion events. The parents’ association’s current priority is to ensure that the school has access to a wide range of high quality teaching resources to enhance the education provided for pupils.

 

The principal attends each meeting of the parents’ association and in this way is kept well informed of the opinions of parents and the matters that are of concern to parents. It was reported during the whole-school evaluation that there are very good communication systems in place in this school. Parents are kept well informed of school matters. The principal issues frequent newsletters. Parents are aware that the principal and class teachers are always available should they wish to discuss any issue.

 

Parents’ involvement in the work of the school has mainly been in fundraising activities. The school planning process provides an opportunity for parents to contribute their opinions on school policies prior to their adoption by the board of management. Parents were involved in the formulation of the school’s social, personal and health education, and relationships and sexuality education (RSE) policies. Parents’ input was also actively sought on the school’s enrolment policy and on the homework policy. It is recommended that the input of parents in the school planning process be extended further to enhance parental involvement in their children’s education.

 

Parents are involved in supporting the school in extracurricular activities, such as sports events and school tours. Parents and grandparents regularly visit classrooms to talk to pupils about their professions or about times past. Parents expressed satisfaction with the quality of education provided in the school. Parents reported that they welcomed the provision of the recently-established well-equipped computer room.

 

A formal parent-teacher meeting is held annually where parents are given an oral account of their children’s progress. A written report is posted to parents at the end of each school year.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

The behaviour and general conduct of the pupils in this school are commendable. Pupils are respectful to their teachers, to visitors and to each other. There is a spirit of co-operation evident in the work they carry out in groups and in pairs. Pupils are enthusiastic during lessons and activities. They answer questions about themselves, their work and their interests confidently and articulately. Work samples on a wide range of work covered in the various curricular areas are displayed at each class level throughout the school. Pupils are appropriately supervised during recreation periods.

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The quality of whole-school planning in this school is very good. The school has availed of the assistance available from the national support services in developing a clearly-laid out and comprehensive school plan. Policies are developed in draft form by the school staff. The board of management discusses the draft policies and makes amendments as necessary, prior to their ratification. The chairperson of the board of management signs school policies to confirm ratification. Most policies contain the date on which they are due for review. As part of the planning process, the school has adopted a three-year action plan to address policy development and review. Parents should be more actively involved in the school planning process in the future to enhance parents’ role in their children’s education.

 

The school plan comprises a wide range of administrative policies and appropriate curricular plans. The administrative policies include an enrolment policy, a code of behaviour, an attendance strategy, and a health and safety statement. The school has also ratified an equality policy that includes the school’s commitment to gender equality. These polices have been formulated in accordance with Departmental guidelines and relevant legislation. Curricular plans provide useful information on the programme of work for each subject at each class level. These plans help to ensure continuity and progression throughout the school. A policy has been adopted on the supervision of pupils during teacher absences. This policy provides a clear framework for addressing the school’s needs during such absences. The policy should be kept under constant review, however, to ensure that it is sufficiently flexible to deal with unexpected supervision needs.

 

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.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

All teachers provide regular written preparation to guide teaching and learning in each area of the curriculum. The comprehensive planning provided by almost all teachers includes clear long-term and short-term schemes, monthly progress records, and appropriate timetables. Planning is prepared with reference to learning outcomes consistent with the strands and strand units of the curriculum. A suitable account of teaching methods is included in most teachers’ schemes. Reference is also made in most schemes to the resources, integration strategies, and assessment approaches used to ensure continuity of learning and teaching. Individual learning programmes are prepared for pupils who require additional support. These plans provide useful information on pupils’ assessment results and learning targets. Monthly progress records are maintained by every teacher, using a whole-school template to facilitate the continuous monitoring of the learning experiences at each class level.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

A broad range of teaching methods is used to respond to the different needs of the pupils in the school. Additional support is provided through learning-support and resource teaching, when necessary, to assist pupils with learning difficulties and special educational needs to reach their learning potential. Account is taken of differences in pupils’ abilities in most mainstream classes. Lessons in these classes are frequently differentiated to cater for the variety of pupils’ educational needs. It is recommended that a more structured approach to differentiation be provided in every mainstream class in the future. A strategy should be devised to address differentiation issues on a whole-school basis as a means of enhancing the learning process for all pupils.

 

Pupils demonstrate creditable knowledge of the work covered across all curricular areas. Pupils’ achievement levels are especially evident in the work covered in Irish, Mathematics, Geography, Science and the Visual Arts. Project work, experiments, portfolios and written work in copybooks and workbooks provide evidence of the impressive breadth of work covered across the curriculum. Pupils at each class level answer questions and make presentations on a variety of topics confidently and competently. A wide variety of resources and strategies, such as charts, illustrated prompts, drama and concrete materials is used commendably to enhance teaching and learning in mainstream classrooms and in support rooms.

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá cáilíocht na foghlama agus an teagaisc sa Ghaeilge sa scoil seo le moladh. Tá plean scoile don Ghaeilge leagtha amach a léiríonn go soiléir an dearcadh dearfach a chothaítear i leith na Gaeilge. Tugtar aitheantas oiriúnach d’fhorbairt scileanna labhartha, éisteachta, léitheoireachta agus scríbhneoireachta na ndaltaí sa phlean. Tá na daltaí i ngach rang in ann iad féin a chur in iúl go muiníneach as Gaeilge agus tuigeann siad na ceisteanna a chuirtear orthu ar thopaicí éagsúla. Forbraítear scileanna labhartha na ndaltaí go céimniúil ó ranganna na naíonán go rang a sé. Faigheann na daltaí ag gach leibhéal ranga deiseanna inmholta chun dul i mbun oibre le chéile i mbeirteanna agus i ngrúpaí. Sna hardranganna, tugtar moladh ar leith do na hagallaimh spéisiúla a eagraítear do dhaltaí. Cothaítear spéis na ndaltaí san fhilíocht go héifeachtach agus múintear dánta go cumasach ag gach leibhéal ranga. Aithrisíonn na daltaí i ngach rang rainn agus dánta le muinín agus brí, agus go minic le geáitsíocht inmholta chomh maith.

 

Tá cló sa Ghaeilge le sonrú i ngach seomra ranga agus i dtimpeallacht phoiblí na scoile. Ó rang a dó ar aghaidh, leagann na hoidí béim inmholta ar mhúineadh na léitheoireachta sa Ghaeilge. Tá na daltaí sna ranganna seo in ann sleachta a léamh go soiléir líofa agus taispeánann siad a ndea-thuiscint ar an ábhar tríd a gcumas ó bhéal agus i scríbhinn. Tá samplaí oiriúnacha de shaothar scríofa na ndaltaí i ngnéithe éagsúla den churaclam Ghaeilge le sonrú sna cóipleabhair agus ar taispeáint sna seomraí ranga. Tá caighdeán na hoibre seo an-mhaith ag gach leibhéal ranga. Déantar maoirseacht rianúil ar na cleachtaí scríbhneoireachta agus tá an obair curtha i bhfeidhm go néata soiléir.

 

Irish

The standard of learning and teaching of Irish in this school is praiseworthy. The school plan for Irish reflects the positive attitude to Irish that is fostered in the school. Appropriate recognition is given in the plan to the development of pupils’ listening, oral, reading and writing skills in Irish in the plan. The pupils in all classes are able to introduce themselves confidently in Irish and they understand the questions they are asked on a variety of topics. Pupils’ oral language skills are developed in a systematic manner from infant classes to sixth class level. Pupils at each class level are given commendable opportunities to work together in pairs and in groups. In the senior classes, the interesting dialogues that are organised for pupils are particularly praiseworthy. Pupils’ interest in poetry is fostered effectively and poems are taught competently at each class level. The pupils in every class can recite rhymes and poems with confidence and expression, and on many occasions with commendable actions.

 

There is a print-rich environment in Irish to be seen in every classroom and in pubic areas of the school. The teachers place commendable emphasis on the teaching of Irish reading from second class onwards. The pupils in these classes can read passages clearly and fluently and they demonstrate their understanding through their ability to answer questions orally and in writing. Appropriate samples of pupils’ written work in various aspects of the Irish curriculum are in evidence in copybooks and on display in classrooms. This work is very good at each class level. Writing exercises are regularly monitored and the work is presented neatly and clearly.

 

English

The whole-school policy for English is linked to the principles and structure of the curriculum and it emphasises the importance of developing pupils’ oral, reading and writing skills. A structured oral language programme is implemented effectively and pupils’ listening and speaking skills at each class level are commendable. Good use is made of debate, discussion, language games, brainstorming, circle time, group work and pair-work in the various classes. Pupils’ vocabulary is developed skilfully across a range of themes in every class. Pupils’ thought processes, imagination and higher-order thinking skills are emphasised appropriately. The pupils in every class can recite a broad range of rhymes and poems with confidence.

 

The overall quality of the teaching of English reading in this school is very high. In the junior classes, commendable emphasis is placed on developing pupils’ phonological awareness. The Jolly Phonics scheme is used effectively to introduce letter sounds and blends to pupils. Flashcards are regularly used to teach new words and to ensure that pupils understand and comprehend the language prior to commencing formal reading. A print-rich environment has been developed in each classroom and in public areas of the school. Good use is made of a variety of reading material at each class level. Novels are used effectively in most classes to enhance pupils’ interest in reading and to foster the development of pupils’ independent reading skills. The school library contains a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles. Classroom libraries are well-stocked on the whole. It is recommended that the libraries in some classrooms should be reorganised and replenished with an updated range of reading material. This should enhance the teaching of reading in these classrooms. It should also stimulate pupils’ interest in reading and foster independent reading skills. Reading records are maintained in a number of classes throughout the school, most notably in several of the junior classes. It is recommended that this practice be extended to every classroom to promote pupil self-evaluation. This should assist in encouraging reluctant readers to broaden their reading experience.

 

Pupils’ copybooks and classroom displays contain impressive samples of pupils’ written work. There is good evidence that pupils are exposed to writing in a variety of genres. Pupils’ writing samples are clearly and attractively presented and regularly monitored in every class. A commendable standard of handwriting is also evident in each classroom.

 

4.3 Mathematics

There are many positive and praiseworthy aspects to the teaching and learning of Mathematics in this school. Most pupils achieve high standards in Mathematics and a positive attitude towards Mathematics is fostered at each class level. A practical approach is adopted in mathematics lessons throughout the school with pupils given regular opportunities to use concrete materials to enhance learning. Pupils in each class demonstrate good levels of attainment in mental arithmetic and they have a good knowledge of number facts. Pupils’ problem-solving ability in Mathematics is impressive and pupils enjoy the challenge of this work. A maths-rich environment has been developed in every classroom.

 

Pupils at most class levels regularly work in pairs or groups to enhance learning. The development of pupils’ vocabulary in Mathematics receives due attention in most classes. It is recommended, however, that more effective differentiation strategies are used in lessons at some class levels to provide improved learning opportunities for pupils who find Mathematics difficult. It is recommended that in some classes more emphasis be placed on developing pupils’ mathematical language to ensure that concepts are fully understood.

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

History

History lessons are primarily based on story-telling, project work and teacher-designed tasks. Regular opportunities are given to pupils to develop their skills as historians. Artefacts are provided to encourage discussion and stimulate pupils’ interest in History. The project work completed by pupils in some classes is praiseworthy. Pupils in these classes demonstrate commendable knowledge of the topics studied for their project work. Effective emphasis is placed on the study of change and continuity. Timelines are provided in most classes to enhance this work. It is recommended that timelines be displayed and explored in all classrooms.

 

Commendable emphasis is placed on the study of local history at most class levels. Attractive displays have been developed in many classrooms based on local historical figures and events. Good use is made of the local environment in these classrooms to enhance pupils’ understanding of chronology. In the junior classes, interesting lessons are organised to develop pupils’ sequencing skills using stories. In some of the junior classes, it is recommended that the strand Myself receive greater attention in the future. Part of this work should include displays of old photographs and information about pupils, their parents and grandparents to help to make the study of History more meaningful for younger pupils.

 

Geography

The teaching of Geography is undertaken competently across the school. Emphasis is placed on developing pupils’ sense of place and space in most classes in the school. Pupils’ awareness of natural and human environments are well developed using story-telling, talk and discussion, brainstorming, active learning and project work. Good attention is given to the development of pupils’ mapping skills. An appropriate selection of maps and globes is on display in most classrooms. These are used regularly to enhance teaching and learning in Geography and across a wide range of other curricular areas. It is recommended that maps be displayed in every classroom in the future to enhance pupils’ sense of place. The school has been awarded the Green Flag for its efforts on environmental care.

 

Science

The whole-school plan for Science outlines the comprehensive programme that is in place to develop pupils’ scientific skills at each class level. Pupils are given regular opportunities to work as scientists and they engage in interesting and worthwhile experiments. Aspects of the local environment are examined as a basis for science activities at each class level and scientific research regularly takes place in the school grounds. Pupils are competent in discussing the work covered in the various strands of the science curriculum, such as the human body, the life cycle of the butterfly, Irish birds, magnetism and electricity. An investigation table has been established in every classroom. The items on display are used to stimulate pupils’ interest, reinforce learning and enhance the presentation of lessons.

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

The standard of teaching and learning in the Visual Arts in this school is very high. The visual arts policy provides a useful outline of the work covered at each class level. Emphasis is placed on engendering a positive attitude to the Visual Arts throughout the school. A wide range of art materials and resources is available in the school and teachers in every class use these effectively to provide a broad and balanced programme in the Visual Arts. An impressive selection of samples of the pupils’ work in the six strands of the visual arts curriculum is displayed inside and outside classrooms and in the public areas of the school. The attractive exhibits illustrate a variety of techniques that develop pupils’ observation skills, curiosity and imagination. There is a good balance evident between two-dimensional and three-dimensional art work. Pupils are given regular opportunities to look at and respond to art.

 

Music

The teaching of Music is of a very high standard in this school. The effective whole-school approach to the teaching of Music ensures consistency of provision. Aspects of music literacy including notation, rhythm, beat and pitch are explored effectively at each class level. The pupils in every class sing a wide range of songs tunefully in English and Irish, based on the school’s specifically selected programme of songs. Pupils are given opportunities to play a range of percussion and melodic instruments. Pupils in the senior classes receive creditable instruction in choral singing. Teachers provide regular opportunities for pupils to listen and respond to Music and it is clear that a love of Music is fostered at each class level.

 

Drama

Teachers’ classroom planning indicates a commendable breadth and balance in the range of approaches and methods used in teaching Drama. An extensive range of resources to be used during Drama is listed in planning documents. Drama is effectively taught as a discrete subject throughout the school. Drama is also effectively used to enhance the teaching of a range of other subject areas, such as Irish, English and History. Pupils are given regular opportunities to improvise and to experiment with Drama. They regularly explore how the characters in stories might act and react in various situations. Drama lessons provide beneficial opportunities for pupils to suggest possible solutions to a variety of issues and problems using role play.  

 

4.6 Physical Education

The school provides a broad programme of work in Physical Education (PE). The programme places commendable emphasis on developing pupils’ skills in games, athletics, dance and swimming. Teachers use a range of age-appropriate activities and equipment effectively to enhance PE lessons. The school promotes a healthy attitude to sport and exercise. Warm up and cool down activities form part of each PE lesson. A strong emphasis is placed on ensuring active participation of all pupils during PE exercises and activities.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is taught very well in this school. A clear school plan has been developed for SPHE. The school’s positive and inclusive atmosphere ensures that pupils have the confidence to express their opinions and participate actively in SPHE lessons. Pupils are given regular opportunities to discuss safety and bullying issues. Pupils participate in interesting debates and their listening skills are well developed. Circle time, talk and discussion, and interesting teacher-designed activities are effectively used to enhance lessons. The school has put together and has begun to implement an effective policy on Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE).

 

4.8 Assessment

Teacher observation, teacher-designed tests, checklists, work samples, project work, portfolios are the main methods of assessment used in the school. Micra-T and Sigma-T standardised tests are administered to pupils once a year. The Belfield Infant Attainment Profile (BIAP) is provided for pupils in junior infants and the Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is administered to pupils in senior infants each year. These assessments assist in identifying pupils who require additional support. Teachers maintain the relevant standardised test results in their planning folder. It is recommended that more emphasis be placed on maintaining accurate assessment records for pupils in a greater variety of curricular areas. The use of checklists, for example, should be expanded to provide more specific information on pupil achievement and learning needs. Assessments should have a direct impact on teaching and learning. Specifically, knowledge gained from pupil assessment should inform differentiation approaches to enhance learning for pupils experiencing difficulty. Parents are provided with annual oral and written reports on their children’s progress.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The school ethos is very supportive of pupils with special educational needs. There is evidence of considerable whole-school commitment to this area. The school staff is committed to engaging in continuing professional development to enhance expertise in providing support for pupils with learning difficulties and special educational needs. There are two full-time learning-support and resource teachers in the school. The quality of support provided for pupils is of a high standard. Planning and preparation for teaching and learning in the learning-support and resource service is very good and the records kept of pupils’ progress are highly commendable. Co-operation is evident between learning-support and resource teachers, and mainstream class teachers. Parents are also kept well informed of their children’s progress. Teachers and parents collaborate effectively in the formulation and review of individual education and learning plans. These plans set out clear and realistic learning targets for pupils with special educational needs.

 

Most of the support teaching provided takes place in the learning-support and resource classrooms. These classrooms are decorated to provide an attractive and stimulating learning atmosphere. The classrooms are well stocked with visual displays and a variety of educational resources. The provision of learning-support in mainstream classrooms has recently been commenced. This initiative is to be commended. Additional models of support provision should now be considered to enhance the model already in operation. These models of support could include team-teaching and the extension of in-class support at each class level.

 

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

There are three language-support teachers in the school. These teachers provide support to pupils for whom English is an additional language. The quality of the planning and recording of progress for the language-support service is very good in most cases. It is recommended that a common format for language support planning be agreed to ensure greater consistency in plans and records of progress. Initial assessments for pupils requiring language support are carried out on a systematic basis and effective use is made of the Primary School Assessment Kit issued by the Department of Education and Science.

 

The quality of language support teaching is very good overall. Lessons are taught in an affirmative way and pupils are given positive feedback. Pupils in most language-support classes are encouraged to talk about themselves and about their interests to encourage active participation in lessons and increase vocabulary. Visual resources, games, concrete materials and appropriate references to pupils’ countries of origin are very effective in providing pupils with a context and stimulus for learning. In some cases, however, there is a need to place more emphasis on oral work and to place less emphasis on writing tasks in order to prioritise pupils’ spoken English. It is recommended that more focus should be placed on the communicative approach as a teaching method to assist in this regard. More opportunities should also be given to pupils to work together in pairs and in groups to contribute to the development of pupils’ fluency of expression and thought.

 

The school has an inclusive enrolment policy. Pupils from all backgrounds and pupils at all levels of learning ability are welcome to enrol in the school.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Published December 2009