An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Carnageehy National School

Milltown, Tuam, Co. Galway

Uimhir rolla: 18222R

 

Date of inspection: 13 November 2007

  Date of issue of report:  22 May 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

Conclusion

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Carnageehy National School was undertaken in November 2007. 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 Physical Education (PE).  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.

 

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

Carnageehy N.S. is a small rural school in the parish of Milltown in north Galway. The school is very close to the county boundary and much of its catchment area is in county Mayo. The teachers and pupils are involved in numerous local and national initiatives, especially in the area of Science (which was not a focus of this evaluation). The school is participating currently in the Department of Education and Science’s Modern Languages in Primary Schools initiative. 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

20

Mainstream classes in the school

2

Teachers on the school staff

2

Mainstream class teachers

2

Teachers working in support roles

0

Special needs assistants

1

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The school has a family atmosphere that is attributable to the close relationship that it has fostered with parents and the wider community. The teachers are to be commended for the child-centred ethos that is evident in the general life of the school. The school principal reports that one of the school’s main aims is that pupils will leave the school with good self esteem, regardless of their academic ability. The school plan contains a useful statement of the school’s philosophy.

 

1.2 Board of managementThe board of management is properly constituted and meets regularly in accordance with the Department of Education and Science’s Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure. The chairperson of the board has regular communication with the teachers, who speak highly of the support that they get from the board members. The board is to be commended on the manner in which the school building and the recreation area have been maintained and improved over the decades. Work undertaken recently includes the demolition of external toilets, resurfacing of the recreation area, the provision of a small computer room and an outside store, and the installation of ramps to make the building accessible to wheelchair users. The school is well-resourced with regard to information and communications technology (ICT) and is used as a training centre by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC). It is recommended that the school consider making an application to the Department’s Planning and Building Unit regarding the provision of a general-purposes room and some ancillary rooms.


 

1.3 In-school management

The principal teacher oversees the day-to-day operation of the school as well as teaching four classes. She deserves credit for the high morale that is evident in the school community and the high standards achieved by pupils. The teachers communicate and co-operate effectively with each other, which ensures progression and continuity in the pupils’ learning as they move from class to class. The teachers are to be commended on the open, constructive way in which they engaged with the evaluation process. The teacher of the junior classes has a special-duties post that includes certain whole-school responsibilities in addition to her own classroom obligations. The post has an appropriate balance of curricular, organisational and pastoral duties and these are outlined clearly in a written contract.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Although the school does not have a parent association that is affiliated to the National Parents Council, a close relationship is fostered with parents and the wider community. On their first contact with the school, parents are given a ‘welcome pack’ that includes information on key school policies. New or revised policies are circulated among parents for their comment as part of the school planning process. The channels of communication with parents include a newsletter and a parents’ notice board in the school corridor. Parent-teacher meetings are held in the first term of the school year and an annual written report is issued in June. It is recommended that the contents of the ‘welcome pack’ be revised so that they reflect recent policy changes as well as the recommendations made in section 2.1 of this report.

Parents assist with the maintenance of the school building and ICT equipment. They are also involved in shared-reading; the Christmas concert and the preparation of the school’s quiz teams. The quiz teams have enjoyed huge success, usually against teams from much larger schools. There is evidence that the school is well regarded among parents and the wider community. The roll books show that pupils’ attendance is excellent.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

The school provides an orderly learning environment. The teachers show great skill in managing the pupils and foster good habits with regard to behaviour and work. The school’s code of discipline includes strategies that are used to promote positive behaviour as well as strategies for responding to challenging behaviour.


 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The school plan contains organisational policies as well as policies for curricular areas. Most of the organisational policies are specific to the needs of the school and are an accurate reflection of actual practice. The policies on enrolment, infant education and the school library are particularly useful. The board reports that it has never received a complaint from a parent. It is recommended, however, that the procedure outlined in the school plan for dealing with parental complaints be revised, with a view to providing a clear transparent procedure for resolving such issues at local level, should they occur. The school is reminded of the procedure that has been agreed by the Irish National Teachers Association (INTO) and the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA).

Whole-school plans for curricular areas list the objectives to be achieved at each class level and also contain various resources produced by the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PCSP). Although much good work has been done on these plans, some remain too generic. It is recommended that the plans for curricular areas be revised so that they will reflect and consolidate the existing good practice in Carnageehy N.S.

The quality of the classroom planning done by each of the individual teachers is very good. The teachers’ long-term and short-term schemes of work present useful information in a user-friendly way. The effectiveness of the classroom planning is reflected in the high quality of the teaching observed.

 

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 Language 

Gaeilge

Is í an Ghaeilge an teanga amháin a úsáidtear le linn na gceachtanna Gaeilge agus cloiseann na daltaí Gaeilge ó na múinteoirí go minic i rith an lae. Tá moladh ar leith tuillte ag na múinteoirí as úsáid na Gaeilge sna ceachtanna Corpoideachais. Sonraítear flúirse d’ábhair chlóbhuailte i nGaeilge sna seomraí ranga, idir chairteacha agus lipéid. Cuireann na hábhair seo go mór le héascú agus daingniú na foghlama. Is éifeachtach go háirithe an obair a dhéantar sa tréimhse réamhchumarsáide den fhoghlaim. Baintear feidhm thairbheach as an drámaíocht, an bhfilíocht, an amhránaíocht agus an scéalaíocht. Cuirtear focail, frásaí agus múnlaí teanga nua i láthair na ndaltaí go sciliúil agus úsáidtear raon de ghníomhaíochtaí taitneamhacha chun an fhorbairt foclóra a dhaingniú. Is léir, ó cheistiú na ndaltaí, go mbíonn cúlstór deas focal acu ach nach mbíonn dóthain taithí acu ar úsáid ghníomhach na teanga le haghaidh cumarsáide. Moltar do na múinteoirí tascanna cumarsáide a thabhairt do na daltaí ina mbeirteanna nó i ngrúpaí beaga mar chuid den cheacht Gaeilge. Moltar freisin gá a chruthú le húsáid na Gaeilge i measc na ndaltaí taobh amuigh den cheacht Gaeilge.

 

Irish

The pupils are immersed in the Irish language during Irish lessons and they hear the teachers speak Irish frequently during the day. The teachers deserve particular praise for their use of Irish during PE lessons. There is an abundance of printed material in Irish in the classrooms, including charts and labels. These materials make it easier for pupils to understand and remember what is taught.  The work that is done during the pre-communicative phase of the learning is particularly effective. Drama, poetry, song and story are used to good effect. New words, phrases and structures are introduced skilfully and a range of enjoyable activities is used to consolidate vocabulary development. It is evident from questioning the pupils that they have a good passive vocabulary but that they need more experience of using the language actively for the purposes of communication. It is recommended that the teachers give pupils communicative tasks in pairs or small groups as part of the Irish lesson. It is recommended also that the teachers create a need for the use of Irish by the pupils outside of the Irish lesson.

 

English

There is an appropriate emphasis on oral-language development as a foundation for the development of literacy in the junior classes. Both teachers do excellent work in the areas of grammar and vocabulary development. It is recommended that there be more frequent use of pair work in all curricular areas with a view to enhancing the pupils’ communicative skills. The provision of a dressing-up box and mirror would provide further opportunities for socio-dramatic play and language development in the infant classes.

 

In the teaching of reading, both teachers make good use of appropriate activities to develop the pupils’ phonological awareness. There is a wide range of printed material on display in both classrooms. Reading activities are based on a variety of texts, including local newspapers. Each classroom has a pupils’ library and there is good use of real books in the classroom, learning-support and resource settings. Both teachers read aloud to their classes and audio books are also used regularly. The school’s buddy-reading initiative involves older and younger pupils reading to each other twice a week. Pupils in the senior classes have made books for those in the junior classes. A range of appropriate poetry is presented to the pupils. The school organises regular visits to local libraries for special events such as readings by established authors.

 

Pupils’ writing is displayed in both classrooms. It is recommended that the pupils be given more opportunities to use the computer to draft, edit, print and share their written work. It is recommended also that the school consider entering the Write-a-Book project, which is organised through local Education Centres.

 

3.2 Mathematics

Both class teachers provide classroom displays that make it easier for pupils to understand and remember what is taught in Mathematics. The school has a good supply of mathematical equipment, which is used effectively. The teachers show great skill in the preparation and implementation of Mathematics lessons. There is effective use of drills to consolidate learning and pupils are given practical tasks that require them to apply the concepts and skills that have been taught. There is appropriate differentiation to cater for the various ability levels within each class group. The pupils in both classes respond well to questioning on a range of mathematical topics. They have developed good habits with regard to the presentation of their written work and it is evident that copybooks are monitored carefully by the teachers. Mathematical vocabulary is well taught and there are good opportunities, in general, for pupils to practise this vocabulary. The use of a sand/water box as part of the play rota for infant classes would provide further opportunities for the development of skills and language.


 

 

3.3 Physical Education (PE)

The quality of provision for this area is very good overall. The school has a grass pitch with goal posts and a hard court that has been resurfaced recently. There is also a range of appropriate PE equipment. The lack of an indoor general-purposes area, however, means that the weather has a major effect on the implementation of the PE curriculum. On the basis of activities observed, it is clear that the teachers prepare and implement well-structured PE lessons. Much of the school’s PE time is devoted to the strands Games and Athletics but some good work is done also in Dance and Aquatics. By the end of sixth class, boys and girls are able to perform an appropriate selection of dances, including traditional Irish dances. The Aquatics programme includes courses of swimming lessons in a local swimming pool. The teachers receive assistance with aspects of the Games programme from a visiting coach. Boys and girls represent the school on Gaelic football teams. It is recommended that the whole-school plan for PE be revised so that it reflects accurately the good practice observed during the evaluation.

 

3.4 Assessment

Standardised tests are administered to all pupils in English reading and Mathematics. The Belfield Infant Assessment Profiles and the Middle Infant Screening Test are used with a view to early identification of pupils with difficulties in particular areas. Both teachers also administer various teacher-designed tests and keep samples of pupils’ work. At the end of each month, each teacher records the portion of the class programme completed during that period.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

A visiting learning-support teacher provides supplementary tuition for pupils with difficulties in the area of literacy. The school also employs a part-time resource teacher to work with one other pupil. These teachers prepare an individual programme for each pupil with whom they work. The quality of planning is good, with fairly clear targets being set for each instructional term. The teachers keep useful records of pupil progress. Both teachers have a pleasant relationship with their pupils and there is a strong emphasis on social and personal development. It is recommended that targets relating to these aspects of the pupils’ development be included in the individual education plan where relevant. There is effective use of resources including ICT. The school has a part-time special-needs assistant who is assigned to one pupil.

 

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

There are no children of the Traveller community enrolled in the school at present. Nor are there any pupils for whom English is not their first language. The school ethos promotes respectful interactions between all members of the school community.


 

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas.

 

·         The school provides a welcoming, stimulating learning environment.

·         The teachers are to be commended on their professionalism and their commitment to meeting the needs of each individual pupil.

·         The school communicates effectively with parents and the wider community

·         Each teacher plans her work effectively and this is reflected in the high quality of the teaching.

·         While there are high standards in many areas of the school’s work, there is particularly good provision for English and Mathematics

 

 

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

 

·         It is recommended that the curricular section of the school plan be revised so that it will reflect and consolidate the existing good practice in Carnageehy N.S.

·         It is recommended that the contents of the ‘welcome pack’ given to parents be revised so that they reflect recent policy changes as well as the recommendations made in section 2.1 of this report.

·         It is recommended that the teachers give pupils communicative tasks in pairs or small groups as part of the Irish lesson. It is recommended also that pupils be given opportunities and incentives to use the Irish language outside of the Irish lesson.

·         It is recommended that there be more frequent use of pair work in all curricular areas with a view to enhancing the pupils’ communicative skills.

 

 

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.

 

 

 


 Insert blank line after each of the sub headings. I have only done this for this heading – you need to repeat throughout the document.

 Note changes to language section.