An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Finglas Parochial National School

Finglas, Dublin 11

Uimhir rolla: 18205R

 

Date of inspection: 23 March 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

Conclusion

 

 


Whole-school evaluation

 

 

A whole-school evaluation of Finglas Parochial NS was undertaken in March 2009. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and Science. 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.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

Finglas Parochial NS is a three-teacher school which operates under the patronage of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin. It caters for pupils from the locality and from other areas of north Dublin.

 

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

 

 

Number

Pupils enrolled in the school

61

Mainstream classes in the school

3

Teachers on the school staff

5

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

0

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The school’s mission statement articulates a vision for the school that is based on principles of inclusiveness and respect for diversity. Although it operates under Church of Ireland management, many of its pupils are of other religions or of none. The school aims to be one in which the traditions and teaching of the Church of Ireland inform the position taken with regard to moral issues that arise in the teaching of secular subjects.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and works diligently in the interests of the school and its pupils. It meets regularly and takes an active role in making provision for the maintenance and improvement of the school. The school’s financial resources are managed efficiently and accounts are certified annually. Whole-school plans and policies on a range of organisational and curricular matters have been drafted and ratified by the board. A cyclical review of all policies should be commenced, in order to ensure that the continually evolving needs of the school are catered for. As this review commences, the board should examine its enrolment policy and satisfy itself that the policy meets the requirements of all relevant legislation.

 

1.3 In-school management

The principal has given many years of committed service to the school. She is supportive of staff and has developed positive working relationships among teachers. She shows a commitment to continuing professional development. Her commitment to the pupils is evident in the caring manner in which she fulfils her duties. The acting deputy principal deputises for the principal and assists with a number of responsibilities, particularly in relation to the use of information and communication technology in the school. In order to further develop shared leadership in the school, a specific schedule of duties should be agreed for the deputy principal. These duties should be allocated in order to allow the deputy principal to develop leadership skills in curriculum, administrative and pastoral areas, as advised in Department Circular 07/03, Appointments to Posts of Responsibility.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Parents are kept informed of their children’s progress through formal parent-teacher meetings and through annual written reports. The pupils’ school journals are used for regular communication between teachers and parents. Notes are sent home informing parents of upcoming events. There are clear procedures for arranging additional meetings, which are made by appointment and are held in the afternoons. The school responds promptly to requests for meetings with parents to discuss issues that arise. The parents’ association issues a newsletter and holds an annual general meeting for all parents. Parents’ representatives express their strong satisfaction with the attainment of pupils and with the quality of teaching in the school.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

The principal and staff set high expectations of pupils’ behaviour, and parents’ representatives compliment the consistent manner in which high standards are set and met. Pupils are very well behaved and respectful towards each other and towards their teachers, other staff and visitors. They cooperate fully with school rules and they participate attentively in curricular activities.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school planning is fair. To date, members of the school community have been engaged to a limited extent in the development of the school plan. There is significant scope to develop structures to encourage more active and collaborative participation of the board of management, teaching staff and parents in the further development of school policy. While parents are informed of policies, they are not provided with opportunities to collaborate in the development and review of policies. It is recommended that the board of management develops more systematic ways of including parents in the planning process, in order to capitalise on their skills and the goodwill which they show towards the school.

 

The quality of classroom planning is generally satisfactory. All teachers provide written preparation for each area of the curriculum. However, this planning is not coordinated on a whole-school basis. Classroom planning in some classes is linked to the whole-school plan and to the Primary Curriculum. It is recommended that all plans be closely aligned with curriculum strands and strand units. Teachers should consider the use of a common planning template throughout the school to ensure continuity and linkage between the programmes followed in each classroom.

 

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. As the person named as deputy DLP is on career break at present, the policy should be adjusted to show that another member of staff is acting as deputy DLP.

 

 

3.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

3.1 Language

 

Gaeilge

Déantar cúram maith de mhúineadh na Gaeilge sa scoil. Tríd an scoil, forbraítear scileanna éisteachta agus labhartha go córasach, agus múintear an léitheoireacht agus an scríbhneoireacht ó rang a dó ar aghaidh. Eagraítear raon leathan gníomhaíochtaí foghlama i ngach rang agus baintear feidhm éifeachtach as áiseanna tarraingteacha, an-chuid díobh de dhearadh na n-oidí féin. Bunaítear ceachtanna ar théamaí oiriúnacha a éascaíonn cumarsáid bunaithe ar eispéireas na ndaltaí. Sonraítear úsáid mhinic á baint as mhodh an aistriúcháin i ngach rang chun tuiscint na ndaltaí a mheas. Moltar an cleachtas seo a sheachaint agus slite eile a chuardach, mar shampla, tascanna éisteachta nó scríbhneoireachta nó pictiúir a tharraingt, chun an measúnú a dhéanamh agus chun fócas na gceachtanna Gaeilge a dhíriú ar úsáid  na teanga. Tá éagsúlacht mhaith san raon chleachtaí scríbhneoireachta a eagraítear do dhaltaí sna meánranganna agus sna hardranganna, agus cuirtear samplaí de shaothar scríbhneoireachta na ndaltaí ar taispeáint sna seomraí ranga. Is gné inmholta í i múineadh na léitheoireachta ná an cleachtas atá ag oidí sleachta a chumadh do na daltaí bunaithe ar na téamaí reatha. Cabhraíonn sé le sealbhú na teanga agus cuireann sé le cumas na ndaltaí an teanga a úsáid agus stór níos leithne focal a chur le chéile óna dtaithí féin.

 

Irish

Good care is given to the teaching of Irish in the school. Listening and speaking skills are developed systematically throughout the school, and reading and writing are taught from second class onwards. A wide range of learning activities is organised in each class and effective use is made of attractive resources, many of which are designed by the teachers. Lessons are based on appropriate themes which facilitate communication based on pupils’ experience. Frequent use of translation is noted in each class to assess pupils’ understanding. It is recommended that this practice be avoided and that other methods, such as listening or writing tasks or the drawing of pictures, be used to conduct this assessment and to maintain the focus of Irish lessons on the use of the language. There is a good variety in the range of writing exercises that are organised for pupils in middle and senior classes, and samples of pupils’ written work are displayed in the classrooms. A commendable aspect of the teaching of reading is the teachers’ practice of composing passages for the pupils based on current themes. This helps in the acquisition of the language and develops pupils’ ability to compile a broader store of vocabulary relevant to their own experience.

 

English

The quality of teaching in English is good. Teachers plan a broad range of activities to develop pupils’ oral language, reading and writing skills in lessons that are generally well integrated. All classrooms are print-rich environments and are equipped with class libraries containing a suitable variety of books for pupils at each class level. Discrete oral language lessons are taught. At infant level, good use is made of big books, rhymes and traditional tales to stimulate pupils’ imagination and to encourage them to participate in discussion and to develop their abilities to recount events. Pupils’ reading skills are developed systematically. A structured phonics programme is in place, and high frequency words are identified and used in pupils’ own writing. In all classrooms pupils’ written work is corrected regularly and teachers give constructive feedback to pupils on their efforts. Guided reading strategies are used very effectively in some classes, while in other classes there is an over-reliance on round robin reading as a teaching strategy. The most effective reading lessons observed featured skilful teacher questioning, high levels of collaborative activity by pupils and very good and focused examples of pupils working independently. Pupils’ attainment levels in reading are very good.

 

The quality of pupils’ handwriting is commendable. Pupils write in a good variety of genres. Their copybooks are very well presented and other samples of their writing are displayed to good effect in classrooms. Some use is made of ICT to publish samples of poetry and stories written by pupils, and it is recommended that this practice be extended.

 

3.2 Mathematics

Good approaches are used in the teaching of Mathematics. All curriculum strands are taught and lessons are well structured. Teachers in each class introduce lessons clearly and provide appropriate resources for use by the pupils to support their learning. Pupil attainment levels are very good. Active learning methods are used effectively, and all mathematics lessons feature purposeful and sustained engagement by pupils. Multigrade classes are well managed, and pupils show a good ability to work independently on tasks assigned by the teachers. Effective use is made of appropriate textbooks and activity sheets. Small group work is utilised well to enable pupils to collaborate in problem solving. The creation of a mathematics-rich environment through the display of mathematics posters, charts and samples of pupils’ work is a commendable feature of some classrooms and should be extended to all, in order to aid in the consolidation of work currently being done in Mathematics.

 

3.3 Science

Teachers’ planning, monthly progress records and photographs of pupils at work on science activities indicate that all strands of the science curriculum are covered. Lessons are linked well across the strands and are integrated effectively with other areas of the curriculum. In the lessons observed, good materials and resources, including high quality teacher-designed worksheets, were used to develop pupils’ investigative and analytical skills. Pupils are afforded opportunities to apply the skills and knowledge they have learned in science lessons to design and make models and artefacts, which they test and evaluate. Pupils are confident in discussing their work in Science. They use scientific terminology accurately and they display very good understanding of a range of topics.

 

3.4 Assessment

Teachers use a range of formal and informal assessment methods. Standardised tests in both literacy and numeracy are administered annually and are used to monitor pupils’ progress. Teachers also assess pupils on an ongoing basis through observation of their engagement during lessons and of their ability to complete assigned tasks. Checklists are maintained for some subjects. The retention of samples of pupils’ work and the use of teacher-designed tests are used regularly to track pupils’ progress in several curricular areas. The results of assessments are communicated to parents at parent-teacher meetings and in end of year reports. In some classes these results are analysed to inform planning. It is recommended that teachers consult Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum: Guidelines for Schools (NCCA 2007) in order to seek ways of extending the scope and effectiveness of assessment throughout the school.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

Support for pupils with special educational needs is provided by a teacher shared with a neighbouring school and by a teacher who works in the school part time. These teachers confer with mainstream teachers to ensure that work is linked closely to the work the pupils are doing in their classrooms. Support is provided in literacy and in numeracy, and is primarily provided on a withdrawal basis. Some team teaching takes place in order to provide focused support for pupils at specific class levels in reading comprehension. The school secretary also performs part-time duties as a classroom assistant and provides valuable in-class support to groups of pupils. A card-index system has been developed for keeping records of pupils’ identified learning needs and of their progress. Pupils are selected for or withdrawn from learning support based on the regular consultations between the principal, learning support and mainstream class teachers. It is recommended that information gathered during such consultation and through ongoing assessment be used to formulate individualised plans which should then be used to indicate proposed specific learning activities for pupils in both mainstream and learning support settings. It is recommended that more systematic use be made of concrete materials in Mathematics support sessions to give pupils more opportunities to engage in purposeful hands-on activity.

 

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

All pupils are well integrated in the school. The school is not in receipt of any additional grants or supports for disadvantaged pupils. Any additional activities involving costs are funded by the parents’ association.

 

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Published, November 2009