An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

  

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

  

Lisgriffin National School

 

Goleen, Skibbereen, County Cork

Roll number: 18100D

  

Date of inspection:  13 June 2007

Date of issue of report:  6 December 2007

 

Whole-school evaluation

1.     Introduction – school context and background

2.     Quality of school management

3.     Quality of school planning

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

5.     Quality of support for pupils

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development


Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of SN Lios Ghrífín. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of that work. During the evaluation, the inspector held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers and the school’s board of management. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. He interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. He reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation. Following the evaluation visits, 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; a response was not received from the board.

 

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

Lios Ghrífín NS is a two-teacher rural co-educational school situated on one of the most westerly points of the Mizen peninsula. The school also benefits from the services of a shared learning-support teacher. It is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross and currently has an enrolment of 33 pupils which is an increase  on the levels of previous years. This figure is likely to remain stable for the foreseeable future. A strong sense of community is evident in the school and it is noted that the various parties collaborate well to meet the pupils’ needs.

 

The principal and staff collaborate well and are to be commended for their interest in their pupils’ welfare. The school has successfully participated in a number of projects and received an Award of Excellence for Science in 2005.  In addition the school has worked fruitfully with the Place-names Authority, with heritage specialists and with the sea-food industry.

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and manages the school carefully. Meetings are convened at least once a term and minutes are recorded. The board’s financial affairs are certified on an annual basis. The school building is maintained to a high standard. The advantages of appointing a part-time secretary were discussed during the evaluation and progress in this regard is expected shortly. Training has been provided for board members.

 

The board is involved with some aspects of whole-school planning especially in the areas of discipline, attendance and health and safety. The importance of being involved in the other aspects of the planning process was emphasised during the evaluation. It is felt at board level that the school provides good quality education in a caring environment.

 

While the board encourages the involvement of parents in their children’s education, the importance of facilitating the establishment of a Parents’ Association was emphasised during the evaluation.

 

  

2.2 In-school management

The principal discharges his duties in a caring manner. He collaborates well with the other staff members and is conscious of their particular skills. Accordingly, he has put procedures

in place so that these skills may be more fully utilised. Advice on these matters was provided during the evaluation.

 

2.3 Management of resources

As already outlined the teaching staff comprises the principal, one mainstream-class teacher and a shared learning-support teacher. Some effective sharing of expertise was noted during the evaluation. However, other possibilities for same were also highlighted during the discussions especially in relation to Music.

 

The school’s physical environment is well managed and maintained both internally and externally. Special education support is provided in a well-maintained prefabricated room. Considerable efforts are made at various levels to provide stimulating learning environments for the pupils. The importance of such provision on a whole-school basis was discussed. A good variety of teaching resources is available which are frequently used to good effect. Some stimulating centres of interest significantly enrich the pupils’ learning and are commended. The classrooms contain an attractive range of reading material especially in English, and fruitful strategies are in place to promote the pupils’ interest in English reading. The school has made substantial progress in relation to the use of Information and Communication Technology and senior pupils display impressive skills in this regard.     

  

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Some effective structures are in place to promote positive relations among the school community and to communicate with parents regarding their children’s education. Procedures for addressing parents’ concerns are in place.

 

The school does not have a Parents’ Association at present. The importance of establishing such a facility was discussed during the evaluation and it is understood that efforts to facilitate same will be made shortly.  

 

2.5 Management of pupils

The quality of pupil management is impressive and the staff is to be commended for their contribution to this important aspect of school life. The staff and board have set out a code of behaviour. However, some modifications were recommended during the evaluation. The pupils are well behaved and display a keen interest in their work generally.

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1   School planning process and implementation

 

The school has availed of assistance from the curriculum support services in relation to the whole-school planning process and accordingly the School Plan places the school’s overall work in an appropriate context. Policies have been prepared for English, Irish, Mathematics, Music, Social Personal and Health Education, Visual Arts and Science. The teachers and board together with a School Development Planning facilitator have been involved in the process to date. The remaining areas of the curriculum have been identified for future development.

 

Aspects of the School Plan were discussed during the evaluation and specific advice was offered in relation to areas such as health and safety, code of behaviour, and child protection. The importance of clarifying the stage of development for each policy as well as its ratified status was highlighted. The additional use of the Support Services in this regard was recommended. The Department of Education and Science publication on school self-evaluation Looking at our schools is also recommended.

A Child Protection Policy was formally ratified by the Board of Management on 01.06.’07 in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2004). A designated liaison person and deputy liaison person had previously been appointed by the Board

 

 

3.2 Classroom planning

 

Effective long-term and short-term planning together with appropriate monthly progress records are provided in relation to various class-levels in the school. The importance of such planning was discussed and it was recommended that the templates already prepared by the Support Services merit serious consideration regarding classroom planning in the future.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

 

Some very effective approaches to the teaching needs of the school were noted during the evaluation and many positive examples of learning outcomes were apparent. Commendable samples of pupils’ work in their copybooks and on display throughout the school were also noted. In addition, the use of print-rich materials as well as materials that assist with hands-on teaching approaches at classroom level and in the support classroom is highly commended.  

 

Gaeilge

 

Déantar iarrachtaí creidiúnacha maidir le teagasc na Gaeilge ag leibhéil éagsúla sa scoil. Moltar an úsáid a bhaintear as an drámaíocht agus as an scéalaíocht ag leibhéil ar leith ach meastar gur na dea-chleachtais seo a fhorbairt a thuilleadh ar bhonn na scoile ina hiomláine feasta.Moltar chomh maith díriú níos ar an gcaint chumarsáideach san am atá le teacht.

 

Múintear scileanna na léitheoireachta agus na scríbhneoireachta go dícheallach ar fud na scoile. Baintear úsáid bhreá as prionta cuí mar thaca do bhunscileanna na léitheoireachta ach moltar anois go ndíreofaí a thuilleadh ar ábhar léitheoireachta níos oiriúnaí in áiteanna. B’fhiú go mór ábhar breise a sholáthar don léitheoireacht mar chaitheamh aimsire. fáil ar roinnt samplaí den scríbhneoireacht neamhspleách ach meastar gur -bhéim ar fhreagairt ceisteanna a sheachaint feasta.

 

Pléadh riachtanais na Gaeilge sa scoil agus moladh go mbainfí úsáid bhreise as na Seirbhísí Tacaíochta chuige sin.

 


Irish

Creditable efforts are made at various levels in the school regarding the teaching of Irish. The use of drama and storytelling at some levels is to be commended. However this good practice should now be more fully developed on a whole-school basis Additional emphasis on communicative language is also recommended.

 

The relevant reading and writing skills are taught diligently throughout the school. Appropriate print is effectively used support elementary reading skills.  However it is felt that more appropriate reading material should be utilised at certain levels in future. Additional materials to support reading for pleasure would benefit the reading process significantly .Some good quality independent writing was noted but undue emphasis on responding to questions should be avoided in future.

 

The school’s needs in relation to Irish were discussed and additional assistance from the Support Services was recommended.        

 

English

 

Important aural and oral skills in English are fruitfully developed at various levels throughout the school frequently through the purposeful use of language enrichment exercises. The emphasis placed on sustained speech as well as teaching language across the curriculum in some instances is also very effective.

 

The relevant skills of reading and writing are taught purposefully in many cases. Reading for information as well as for pleasure are suitably attended to on a whole-school basis as is apparent from the confident manner in which many pupils discuss a range of texts.

 

The writing process is carefully promoted on a whole-school basis and several examples of the pupils’ work in genres as recommended in the curriculum were available during the course of the evaluation. The use of separate copybooks for the creative / independent aspects of the Irish and English writing programmes was recommended. 

 

4.2 Mathematics

 

The Mathematics plan provides some useful guidelines in relation to the school’s approaches to teaching this key aspect of the curriculum. However it is felt that additional emphasis could now be placed on describing specific methodologies. Nevertheless many examples of good practice were noted during the evaluation. In particular the monitoring of concept mastery in some instances is commendable. The use of manipulative materials is also a fruitful feature of the work at various levels. Additional emphasis on the higher-order skills of Communicating and Expressing, Reasoning and Applying and Problem Solving is recommended as areas for future development.

 

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

Pupils at various class-levels display a keen understanding of the history programmes. They take particular pride in some attractive project work which is used to significantly enhance aspects of their literacy and technology skills. Aspects of local history are dealt with very competently. Additional attention to the development of the history plan is recommended.   

 

Geography

The pupils’ immediate environment is dealt with very effectively within the context of the Geography programmes and generally they display a good understanding of the other areas that have been taught. The development of a geography plan is recommended.

 

Science

As already noted the school emphasises the importance of this aspect of the curriculum in a praiseworthy manner and its efforts have been duly recognised. This work has raised the pupils’ levels of interest significantly and they discuss their work with enthusiasm.

 

4.4 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

Visual arts education is suitably attended to on a whole-school basis and plays an important part in the overall educational provision. Work in the various strands is carefully executed and is attractively displayed throughout the school. The pupils are trained to respond meaningfully in relation to the different activities.

 

Music

Some important areas of the Music programme are taught in a competent manner and the pupils clearly enjoy the work involved. The further development of the music programme was discussed during the evaluation in the context of the expertise available among the staff.

 

Drama

Some fruitful work was noted regarding Drama during the course of the evaluation. However this aspect has been recognised as an area for future development planning.

 

4.5 Physical Education

A range of very purposeful activities is carefully organised based on the requirements of the curriculum. The pupils engage with enthusiasm and some important skills are systematically developed. Aquatics is now recognised as an area for development.

 

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

A school plan has been prepared for this area and purposeful work was noted in relation to important aspects of the programme.

 

4.7 Assessment

A useful range of standardised tests is administered in the school. The tests in question are Micra-T, Sigma-T, MIST, and Drumcondra (reading) and results indicate significant levels of achievement. Diagnostic tests that might be considered include Neale Analysis and Aston Index. Teacher-designed tests and checklists are also used.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

A number of pupils with special educational needs receive support twice weekly. A praiseworthy feature of this provision is the quality of written preparation as well as the extent of effective collaboration with all the relevant parties. Evidence of significant progress arising from this provision was noted during the evaluation. The advantages of varying the manner in which the support is provided were discussed during the evaluation.

 

It is understood that cluster-related issues raised during the evaluation have been clarified with the Special Education Section of the Department.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

  • Effective collaboration exists among the principal and staff.
  • Attention is paid to Science and the environment generally.
  • The board of management is committed to the further development of the school.
  • Reading for pleasure in English is suitably promoted.
  • Provision for pupils with special educational needs is effective.

 

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

 

  • It is recommended that the School Plan should be modified and developed.
  • It is recommended that a Parents’ Association be established.

 

 

 

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.