An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



Scoil Naomh Atrachta, Kingsland, Boyle, County Roscommon

Uimhir rolla: 18182I


Date of inspection: 5 November 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


School Response to the Report





Whole-school evaluation


A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Naomh Atrachta was undertaken in November 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 and Mathematics.  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 Naomh Atrachta is a small two-teacher school located six kilometres from Frenchpark. It caters for boys and girls from infants to sixth class. It is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Elphin. The school receives funding and the services of a co-ordinator under the initiative Delivering Equality of Opportunities in Schools (DEIS). Attendance in the school is good and the staff is very active in promoting positive attendance strategies.


The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:




Pupils enrolled in the school


Mainstream classes in the school


Teachers on the school staff


Mainstream class teachers


Teachers working in support roles


Special needs assistants




1.     Quality of school management


1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision


Teachers promote the school’s mission statement in their daily interactions with pupils and parents. Pupils experience a broad and balanced curriculum. The staff constantly strives to provide a school environment which embeds the principles of equality and inclusion. Teachers support all pupils in reaching their potential. During the course of the evaluation, the atmosphere and climate of the school proved to be positive, respectful and caring. The school’s characteristic spirit upholds Catholic values. 


1.2 Board of management


The board of management is properly constituted in accordance with Department of Education and Science guidelines. It meets at least once a term and maintains minutes of every meeting. Board members are assigned specific responsibilities which they discharge conscientiously. Finances are managed carefully and there is a clearly defined system for tracking income and expenditure. The principal’s report keeps the board informed of day-to-day developments in the school. The board supports all initiatives and projects that enhance teaching and learning in the school. The chairperson maintains regular contact with the principal and staff and is known by all the pupils. The board is very effective in its management of the school building and grounds.  The time and effort that has been invested in health-and-safety issues is particularly praiseworthy.


1.3 In-school management


The principal is very effective in his role. He is commended for his commitment and capacity in leading and managing the school.  He is conscientious in the discharge of his duties and is ably supported by his teaching colleague. He is successful in setting and achieving curricular and organisational priorities. Whole-school planning activities are effective, with an appropriate emphasis on learning and continual school improvement.  There is evidence of a highly collaborative approach to monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of learning outcomes in curricular areas.  The principal fosters a co-operative atmosphere and team spirit among the staff. It is recommended, however, that in-school management duties be reviewed in line with the identified school priorities from year to year to maximise the school’s capacity for improvement.


1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community


The school fosters very good relationships and open communication with the school community. On enrolment, parents are issued with an information pack containing the school’s main policies and procedures. There is regular communication with the parents through notes, newsletters, annual parent-teacher meetings and annual school reports. The staff values the support and opinions of parents. It sends out questionnaires to seek parental views prior to engaging in policy-making decisions. There are very strong links forged between the school and the parish. The school hall which was built in 1999 was funded by the local community with grants from Roscommon Partnership Board and from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. It provides a valuable community resource.


1.5 Management of pupils


The quality of pupil management is very good. Pupils display very good confidence and maturity. Pupils are well-behaved and mannerly in their interactions with school staff, peers and school visitors. They engage readily in school activities. The teachers give the pupils very good training in habits of behaviour, listening and learning. The staff implements a very effective reward system across the school for pupils who attend school regularly and who adhere to classroom and school rules. All pupils are succeeding with this system.



2.     Quality of school planning


2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning


The quality of whole-school planning is very good. The staff has worked consistently on documenting policies, plans and procedures based on priorities identified during a school review. A long-term plan documents their priorities for a four-year timeframe. Teachers also use action plans to address areas of concern. The quality of organisational policies is particularly high. These documents are clear, concise and reflect the school’s context. The school has consulted with personnel from the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PCSP) and the School Development Planning Support (SDPS). The consultation process with parents in the drafting of school planning documents is highly commended. The draft documents are presented to the board for consideration and subsequently ratified, dated and signed.


The quality of classroom planning is very good. The staff has established a whole-school approach to planning and preparation. All teachers prepare long-term and short-term plans and record progress in each of the curriculum areas. The content, resources, methodologies and assessment procedures are included in such plans. It is recommended, however, that teachers plan for differentiation of tasks for individual pupils in their short-term plans. In long-term plans reference should be made to the Primary School Curriculum to ensure textbooks do not dominate the content to be taught. Monthly progress reports are submitted by all teachers, signed by the principal and maintained in the school.


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 English

The quality of teaching in English is very good. Oral-language development is appropriately emphasised. The majority of pupils can speak about themselves, their interests and a variety of other topics articulately and enthusiastically. It is recommended that teachers use more pair-work activities to stimulate discussion and to ensure new vocabulary is used in a variety of contexts. Listening skills are developed systematically. This is done with particular success using an interactive storytelling approach. Teachers use resources to good effect as a way of engaging and stimulating the pupils. It is recommended that teachers place a greater emphasis on poetry throughout the school.

There is a print-rich environment in all of the mainstream classrooms and throughout the school. The teachers have developed strategies to promote reading for pleasure. An appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of phonological awareness in the junior classes as part of the foundation of basic reading skills. The school library is very well stocked and attractively laid out. It provides a supply of books for readers at all levels of age and ability. The senior pupils take on the role of librarian. Class novels are read in the senior classes. A wide variety of picture books are read to pupils in the junior classes. Teachers promote higher-order thinking through their questioning. They stimulate pupils to predict, analyse and think critically. Drama is used as a very effective methodology to enhance understanding of texts read. Shared reading takes place in the school and records are kept to ensure that pupils read a number of books each year. It is recommended that the school consider implementing a ‘buddy reading’ system.

The quality of writing is good. Work is carefully monitored by class teachers. Pupils experience the process of writing in English and in other curricular areas. It is recommended that a wider range of genres be developed. It is further recommended that the school devise a whole-school approach to handwriting to ensure that, by the end of sixth class, pupils have achieved a legible cursive script.

3.2 Mathematics


The teaching of Mathematics is effective. Mathematical themes are related to the lives of the pupils and to the class environment. Both classrooms have a good range of concrete materials to facilitate the learning of new concepts. Opportunities to engage in activity-based learning are afforded to all pupils. Good use is made of concrete materials. Teachers engage in discussion with pupils and use the pupils’ existing knowledge as the starting point for lessons. Teachers link Mathematics advantageously with other subject areas to broaden pupils’ learning experiences. While a good emphasis is placed on mathematical language, it is recommended that pupils engage in pair work to use this language on an ongoing basis. Mental Mathematics is developed consistently throughout the school. Pupils learn number facts and show very good competence in this area. An appropriate emphasis is placed on early mathematical skills with the infant classes. Skills are developed sequentially from class to class.


3.4 Assessment


There is evidence of a clear understanding of the respective uses of formative and summative assessment. Standardised tests are administered annually to assess individual pupils’ performance in literacy and numeracy. These results are analysed and graphed to inform future teaching. A praiseworthy whole-school approach to communicating these results to parents has also been established. Early-intervention strategies include the implementation of the Middle Infants Screening Test (MIST). Teachers engage in very detailed observation, particularly of infant pupils to ensure support for pupils with additional needs is provided as quickly as possible. Teachers carry out routine tests and tasks across the curriculum. Records of progress are shared with parents and stored centrally to facilitate their accessibility and use. The special-needs assistant also carries out extensive and valuable documenting of observations of the pupil assigned to her. This information is used to ensure the most appropriate interventions possible can be implemented to support learning and teaching.



4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs


Supplementary teaching is provided primarily in the areas of literacy and numeracy. The quality of this support is very good. One pupil avails of the services of a resource teacher. All supplementary teaching takes place on a withdrawal basis. Detailed individual education programmes (IEPs) have been devised for each pupil in receipt of learning support and resource teaching. The clarity of the learning targets, which are based on the pupils’ priority needs, is to be commended. It is recommended that all support teachers meet with parents on a regular basis to involve them in establishing an IEP. All parents should also be given a copy of the completed IEP.


Stimulating, print-rich learning environments are created by teachers and a range of commercial and teacher-designed resources is effectively employed to support learning. Lessons are very well structured with teachers ensuring that pupils engage in appropriate learning activities. Pupils are challenged appropriately. The interactions between teachers and pupils are very affirming. Information and communication technologies are used to very good effect. The special-needs assistant provides valuable and skilful support to the teaching staff. It is recommended that the school’s policy on special education be reviewed to take into account the Department of Education and Science Circular 02/05.


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


As part of the DEIS initiative, the school has access to a co-ordinator who is shared with three other schools. A number of priorities have been identified for the school year. To date this involves supporting teaching and learning. Contact with parents has been in the form of an information night and meeting with the parents of infants who enrolled in September. It is recommended that the co-ordinator commence projects to promote literacy and numeracy in the school. 



5.     Conclusion


The school has strengths in the following areas.


  • The board of management is active in supporting school initiatives that promote teaching and learning. It has invested significant time and effort in ensuring a high standard of health and safety in the school.
  • The principal is very committed and conscientious. He leads and manages change very effectively.
  • The staff is hard-working and dedicated to teaching a broad and balanced curriculum to all pupils.
  • There are very strong links between the school and the parish which ensures that all local resources are maximised.
  • The quality of pupil management is very good.
  • The quality of whole-school planning is very good. The planning process in the school promotes collaboration and continual school improvement.
  • The quality of teaching and learning in the subjects observed is good.
  • The level of assessment in the school is very good.


The following key recommendations are made in order to further improve the quality of education provided by the school:


  • It is recommended that greater use be made of pair work across the curriculum.
  • It is recommended that teachers differentiate work clearly for pupils of different abilities in their short-term planning.
  • It is recommended that parents of pupils in receipt of supplementary teaching be involved in the process of devising an individual education plan for their child and that they be given a copy of the completed education plan.
  • It is recommended that pupils be enabled to write in a greater variety of genres in English.


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.







School Response to the Report


Submitted by the Board of Management






Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report


The Board of Management of Kingsland National School would like to thank the Inspector for the professional and courteous manner in which the WSE was carried out.  We find the report to be balanced and helpful.  It gives a fair and positive account of the Management, Teaching and Learning within our school.  We welcome the recommendations and we intend to implement them immediately.



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



Following the WSE report, the Principal and staff have undertaken to act on the recommendations as follows:-


  • A buddy reading programme is now in place
  • We have engaged in and plan to continue using a wide range and a variety of writing genre.
  • Parents of pupils attending support teachers have attended meetings to discuss and receive a copy of IEP
  • Our special education policy has been amended to include a staged approach, as outlines in Dept. Circular 02/05.
  • At our School Planning Day in March 2009 we plan to draw up a school Handwriting Policy as recommended in WSE report.
  • Projects to promote literacy and numeracy in the school are being organised by the DEIS co-ordinator.





Published February 2009