An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

S.N. Naomh Pádraig

Cill Chais, County Tipperary

Uimhir rolla:18326G

 

Date of inspection: 27April 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

School response to the report

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of S.N. Naomh Pádraig, Cill Chais was undertaken in April 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 Irish, English, Mathematics and Geography.  The board of management of the school 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

 

S.N. Naomh Pádraig is situated in the village of Kilcash on the southern slopes of Slievenamon overlooking the Suir Valley in Co. Tipperary. It is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore. Built in 1958, it is a two-teacher school and caters for the needs of the children in the local area.

 

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

42

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

2

Mainstream class teachers

2

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

0

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1   Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

S.N. Naomh Pádraig is, as its mission statement outlines, a caring community in which the pupils have the opportunity to achieve academically and to grow spiritually, emotionally, socially, creatively and physically in a healthy environment.

 

1.2 Board of management

 

The board of management functions effectively and it provides committed support to the successful operation of the school. It is properly constituted and meets regularly. Minutes of meetings are maintained and accounts of expenditure are audited annually. The board addresses the key priorities of the school in a focused and diligent manner. The board, with the support of the staff, the parents and the pupils, recently organised the successful celebration of the school’s golden jubilee. The board plays an active role in the development of the school plan and each element of the school plan is considered prior to ratification. At the current time, the school’s enrolment policy provides for the deferral of enrolment of pupils with special educational needs. It is recommended that this policy be reviewed to ensure it is in full compliance with pertinent equality legislation. Strong and effective links are in evidence between the board, the staff, the parents and the wider school community. Despite the considerable limitations of classroom size, the board is praised for its role in ensuring the ongoing maintenance and attractiveness of the school building and grounds.

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The in-school management team consists of the principal and the special-duties teacher. The principal is highly commended for his commitment and capacity in leading and managing the school.  Due to his efforts, the school is characterised by its constructive learning atmosphere, in which positive pupil engagement and open communication with the wider school community are cultivated.  He is ably assisted in his role by the special-duties teacher and a very positive working relationship is in evidence. The duties of the special-duties teacher include an appropriate balance of curriculum, organisational and pastoral responsibilities. All duties are carried out with diligence and professionalism. It is recommended that the duties attached to this post be reviewed on a regular basis in response to the evolving needs of the school.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

Excellent relationships are in evidence between the school and the parents and wider school community. The school is characterised by its open and welcoming engagement with parents. Home-school links are effectively promoted through formal and informal parent-teacher meetings, school concerts, religious ceremonies and sporting activities. Formal parent-teacher meetings are held annually to provide an opportunity for the parents to discuss their children’s progress. Written reports on the pupils’ progress are provided for parents at the end of each school year.

 

There is an active parents’ association in the school. The association enhances the work of the school by supporting school endeavours such as the eco-garden, the school concert and sporting activities. It also organises fundraising events and local celebrations. The parents’ association is lauded for its significant contribution to the range of activities provided in the school.   

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

A sense of care and concern for the holistic development of the pupils is evident in the school. During the course of the evaluation the pupils displayed courteous, friendly and respectful behaviour. Their behaviour and respect for each other enhance the quality of learning in each classroom. It was noted that the pupils are highly skilled at working independently and apply themselves diligently to their work.

 

The school is involved in a wide range of extra-curricular activities which include Gaelic games, basketball, music, Irish dancing and quizzes. Every two years the school stages a very successful concert in the community hall in which all pupils are provided with the opportunity to develop and display their talents.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

The school plan addresses each area of the curriculum and it includes a wide range of organisational policies. While the overall quality of school planning is good, the further development of curriculum planning is advised. Current curriculum plans are broad and general in nature. In order to ensure their usefulness, it is recommended that they adequately reflect the context of the school and that they incorporate the many examples of good practice observed in individual classrooms during the course of the evaluation.

 

The teachers display a strong commitment to the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum that is rich and challenging in content. Their engagement in individual long-term and short-term planning assists them in managing the multi-class context capably and efficiently. Monthly progress records are maintained consistently by all teachers. As a means of further assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of whole-school curriculum plans, it is recommended that the teachers’ individual planning and monthly progress records be collaboratively reviewed on a regular basis

 

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

Caitear dua le teagasc na Gaeilge sa dá sheomra agus tá moladh tuillte ag an bhfoireann as ardchaighdeán na hoibre. Léirítear na ceachtanna go bríomhar cuspóireach agus mealltar na daltaí chun cainte ar bhealach samhlaíoch tarraingteach. Déanann na daltaí aithris ar bhunmhúnlaí comhrá, mar aon le rainn oiriúnacha, le muinín. Baintear úsáid fhiúntach as an drámaíocht agus obair bheirte chun an obair a shaibhriú. Cothaítear an léitheoireacht go cúramach agus léann na daltaí i gcoitinne le brí agus le cruinneas. Cuirtear cleachtaí scríbhneoireachta orthu go tráthrialta agus ar an iomlán sroichtear caighdeán creidiúnach.

 

Irish

In both classrooms considerable effort is devoted to the teaching of Irish and the staff is praised for the high standard achieved. Lessons are presented in a lively, purposeful fashion and imaginative and engaging ways are employed to encourage the pupils to participate in dialogue. The pupils draw on suitable conversation phrases and they recite appropriate poems with confidence. Drama and pair-work are used to good effect to enrich lessons. Reading is cultivated carefully and in general the pupils read with understanding and accuracy. The pupils regularly engage in writing activities and on the whole a creditable standard is achieved.

 

English

The quality of teaching and learning in English is very good. Oral-language activity permeates all aspects of provision for English. Stories, rhymes and poems are successfully employed in the junior classroom in developing the pupils’ oral-language skills. In the senior classroom the pupils converse freely and confidently on a range of topics. All pupils willingly participate in oral discussion and they display a commendable level of aptitude and assurance in their use of language. The teachers demonstrate excellent questioning techniques and they ensure that the pupils are challenged appropriately in their multi-class environment. There is a strong emphasis on the teaching of poetry and the pupils recite a wide variety of poems with intonation and expression.

 

A stimulating, print-rich environment is provided in classroom and circulation areas. The teachers are successful in cultivating the pupils’ interest in reading and they are actively encouraged to read for pleasure as they progress through the school. Each classroom has a well-stocked library and a store of supplementary readers. The pupils’ phonological skills are developed in a structured manner and a broad emergent-reading plan is skilfully implemented. The pupils read fluently and they display good comprehension skills. They respond well to a range of class novels, which are used effectively to complement the use of graded reading schemes. Due emphasis is placed on the development of the pupils’ writing skills and the attention to the development of penmanship and presentation skills is noteworthy. The pupils experience writing in a variety of genres and for a variety of purposes and audiences at each class level. Examples of their completed work are attractively displayed.

 

3.2 Mathematics

 

In Mathematics, high-quality teaching and learning are in evidence. Mathematics-rich environments and a wide variety of resources support the teaching of this area of the curriculum. Suitable emphasis is placed on the development of the pupils’ mathematical language. The local environment and the pupils’ own experiences are used constructively to aid understanding. Lessons are well structured and the multi-class context is well managed. The pupils are provided with well-designed opportunities to engage actively in the exploration of mathematical concepts. Their written work is monitored regularly and the pupils are commended for the high standard of work completed by them.

 

3.3 Geography

 

The quality of teaching and learning in Geography is very good. A praiseworthy emphasis is placed on the promotion of environmental awareness and care. The school has received a number of awards for its recycling endeavours in the Tipperary S.R. County Council Tidy Schools Competition. The school has recently commenced its involvement in the Green Schools initiative. It has also begun an eco-friendly garden, which includes a play area constructed from recycled materials and a vegetable garden in which the pupils have planted a variety of fruit and vegetables.

 

In implementing the geography curriculum, appropriate emphasis is given to the study of human and natural environments. The pupils knowledgeably discuss features of their local environment. This work is purposefully extended to include study of aspects of the environments and lives of people in Europe and in the wider world. The teachers succeed in arousing their pupils’ curiosity about the world around them. Lessons are well presented and the pupils are skilfully motivated through the use of stimulating resources including maps, globes, pictures, photographs and relevant objects. Linkage across the geography strands and integration with related curriculum areas are regular features of provision.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

The teachers employ a variety of assessment tools in evaluating the pupils’ progress. These include the monitoring of pupils’ work, teacher observation and teacher-designed tasks and tests. The Middle Infant Screening Test is administered in senior infants to identify pupils who are experiencing difficulties in literacy. The Drumcondra Primary Reading Test and the Drumcondra Primary Mathematics Test are administered to assess pupil attainment in English and Mathematics. The results of these tests are used to select pupils in need of supplementary teaching. The teachers display a laudable understanding of the progress of their individual pupils. Every effort is made, with the support of the special education teachers, to provide appropriate support for all pupils.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

Provision for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) is very good. The school has the services of a part-time learning-support teacher and a part-time resource teacher for pupils with SEN. Support is provided on a withdrawal and an in-class support basis. Provision also includes an early-intervention initiative with senior infant pupils to address the development of their literacy skills.

 

The SEN teachers carefully prepare group and individual plans of work for the pupils who are in receipt of supplementary teaching. Individual education plans are devised in consultation with the class teachers and the pupils’ parents and they incorporate appropriately the recommendations of educational psychologists and/or speech therapists. The achievement of the learning targets specified for individual pupils are reviewed on a biannual basis and are adjusted accordingly. Informative records of pupil progress are maintained. Lessons for pupils with SEN are well structured, paced and implemented. The pupils engage in suitable learning activities and a variety of resources is utilised to good effect. The SEN teachers are successful in cultivating good working relationships with their pupils and they ensure that the pupils are purposefully encouraged and experience success in their learning. The learning environment is bright and stimulating, with a range of print-rich displays. It is recommended that the pupils’ work contribute to these displays as a means of celebrating their endeavours.

 

 

5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

·         A caring atmosphere is evident in the school and the quality of relationships within the school and between the school, the parents and the wider school community is commendable.

·         The board of management fulfils its role effectively and with commitment and the active parents’ association provides strong support for the work of the school.

·         The school has a dedicated and hardworking principal and staff.

·         The pupils are well behaved, co-operative and apply themselves diligently to their work.

·         The quality of teaching is very good and the pupils achieve high standards of learning.

 

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

 

·         It is recommended that the enrolment policy be reviewed to ensure it is in full compliance with pertinent equality legislation.

·         It is recommended that curriculum plans be further developed to ensure that they adequately reflect the context of the school and that they incorporate the many examples of good practice

      observed in individual classrooms during the course of the evaluation.

 

 

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 March 2010


Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

Area 1   Observations on the content of the inspection report     

 

The teachers, Board of Management and Parents of SN Naomh Pádraig are pleased with the report and feel it adequately reflects the quality of education provided by our school.

 

We take on board the report’s recommendations and will immediately act on them.

 

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

 

Re Recommendation concerning Enrolment Policy

 

A B.O.M meeting was held on 7/10/09 with a view to reviewing our Enrolment Policy and we are now satisfied that it is in full compliance with pertinent equality legislation.

 

Re Recommendations for further development of Curriculum Plans

 

As a staff we recently decided to review two plans in Curricular areas per year to ensure that they adequately reflect good practice observed in the classrooms during the evaluation.