An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Náisiúnta Iosef Naofa

Roscrea, Co. Tipperary

Roll number: 18345K

 

Date of inspection:  19 October 2006

Date of issue of report:   26 April 2007

 

 

This Whole School Evaluation report

Introduction

2. Quality of school management

2.1 Board of management

2.2 In-school management

2.3 Management of resources

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

2.5 Management of Pupils

3. Quality of school planning

3.1 School planning process and implementation

3.2 Classroom planning

4. Quality of learning and teaching

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

4.2 Language

Gaeilge

English

4.3 Mathematics

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE)

Geography

History

Science

4.5 Arts education

Visual Arts

Music

Drama

4.6 Physical Education (PE)

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

4.8 Assessment

5. Quality of support for pupils

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs (SEN)

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

6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

            

 

This Whole School Evaluation report

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Scoil Náisiúnta Iosef Naofa. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspectors held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and the parents’ representatives on the board of management. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which the inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspectors interacted with students and teachers, examined students’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. The inspectors reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. 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

Scoil Náisiúnta Iosef Naofa is a nine-teacher school situated on the southern edge of the town of Roscrea in Co. Tipperary. Since the last evaluation was carried out in 1999 the enrolment figure has declined. However, in recent years this number has begun to increase steadily and now stands at 112 pupils. The school was opened in 1962 with three classrooms and an extension was added in 1976 to provide two extra classrooms and a general purposes room. Currently, there is a prefabricated building accommodating one classroom and the learning support room. The interior and exterior of the school are well maintained.

 

The staffing arrangement includes six mainstream class-teachers, one resource teacher, one learning-support teacher and a part-time learning support teaching post shared with Lismackin NS. Two special needs assistants are employed who provide support for two pupils with special educational needs. A GAA coach visits the school weekly to coach older pupils. A trained “Rainbows” programme facilitator also visits the school weekly to support pupils who have experienced bereavement. The pupils interact well with visitors. The school community as a whole appears active and diligent with a strong focus on co-operation, friendliness and collegiality. The principal and staff, in particular, work towards the creation of a safe and peaceful learning environment for the pupils and a genuine sense of mutual respect is evident in the school.

 

 

2. Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Killaloe. The board of management meets regularly. Minutes of meetings are maintained and are made available for inspection. Over the past two years the number of meetings has increased significantly with issues such as policy development dominating the agenda. Attendance at meetings is good and active participation by all members is reported by the chairperson. All statutory obligations are being met and there is a strong commitment to ensure compliance with the Rules for National Schools. At all stages of the evaluation it was clear that this is a supportive and committed board with clear leadership from the chairperson and principal, supported by all other board members. Good communication was seen to exist between the chairperson and the principal. At present, the board is not properly constituted. Plans are in place to complete the membership quota of the board. This work should proceed without delay.

 

Policies regarding a range of issues such as health and safety, anti-bullying, homework and healthy eating have been compiled. These documents are clear and detailed. The policies are drawn up by the staff and are ratified by the board and then disseminated to the parent body. Greater involvement in this work by the parents is recommended. It is now appropriate for the board of management to increase its involvement in the development of curricular policies in the school. A greater knowledge of the school curricular plans will enhance its understanding of the work of the school. The board should also expand the role of the parent in the education of the pupils in the school.

 

The board should consider the creation of a written action plan outlining the timetable for the completion of the school’s curricular portfolio, development of a financial planning strategy to facilitate long-term planning and the provision of relevant training for itself and the school community regarding the action plan over the coming years.

 

2.2 In-school management

The principal of the school, appointed in 2004, carries out his duties with great energy and commitment. The pupils are assisted in developing their self-esteem through a series of initiatives which aim to encourage participation, respect and enjoyment. A great deal of effort has been expended by the principal in developing a positive environment for the entire school community and a real sense of pride has evolved. The planning process has been progressed and plans are in place for this work to continue. There is a growing awareness of the need to match the pastoral management of the school with a curricular focus which will now form the basis for school development over the coming years. The staff size has increased significantly in recent years. The collegiality evident in the school can now be harnessed to continue to progress the curricular agenda with leadership focusing on language and literacy programmes. The principal is to be commended for his commitment to the development of the physical infrastructure of the school. Plans are nearly ready for a major extension to the school and if completed will provide significant resources to the school community for the implementation of the action plan. 

 

There are four special duties post-holders in the school with responsibility for the management of Science, History and Geography, Mathematics and enrolment. This work is carried out diligently.  It is recommended that the duties attaching to these posts be reviewed regularly and altered as new priorities are identified. There is a need for the school to formalise the work of the post-holders to create a template for focused planning and programme delivery. The in-school management team needs to liaise with the principal once a term and inform staff and board at appropriate times during the school year of the activities organised to develop the school in a systematic and cohesive manner. All posts should be designed to have a clear curricular focus with particular emphasis on language acquisition and literacy.  

 

 

 

2.3 Management of resources

Financial resources are carefully managed in this school. Accounts are kept up to date by a treasurer and presented to the board annually. More prudent planning would benefit the school and a clear system needs to be put in place to ensure that funds are available for elements of the action plan on an ongoing basis. The school benefits from a wide range of resources, which is effectively used by teachers and pupils. A wide variety of concrete materials are available. These include posters for all subject areas, science equipment, computers and  Physical Education (PE) equipment. Games, puzzles, library books, a teachers’ reference library and a plentiful supply of Visual Arts materials are also in evidence. A range of musical equipment has been purchased to support learning in this area. Resource planning for the future should consider the amount and variety of reading material available to the pupils.

 

The school is maintained with great care. Cleaning is carried out daily and the overall  standard of cleanliness internally and externally is very good. The school employs a part-time maintenance worker. Given the recommendations made pertaining to school maintenance in the last report, there is great credit due to all concerned with the school for the manner in which the campus is presented.  On numerous occasions during the evaluation it was obvious that the contribution of  the pupils to maintain their clean  environment is ongoing and purposeful. A plan is now in place  for the school to pursue Green Flag status. There is ample evidence that the necessary communication and leadership mechanisms are in place for this work to occur and acquisition of the Green Flag would further  enhance the sense of pride in the school among the entire community.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

This school manages the relationship between itself and the school community extremely well. Regular newsletters are sent out to inform parents of events and issues relating to pupil welfare. Significant work has been done to make the school as welcoming as possible for parents and during the evaluation it was evident that a close bond based on respect exists among the staff, parents and guardians. It is now vital that the school proceeds without delay in the formation of a Parents’ Association and seeks to engage with this group in a meaningful manner. The recent allocation of a shared Home School Liaison Co-ordinator (HSCL) post for the school is expected to forge even more positive relationships between home and school in the near future. 

 

2.5 Management of Pupils

A relaxed relationship based on mutual respect exists between the teachers and the pupils. A real sense of co-operation and diligence has been successfully created and is reflected in the policies as drafted by the school. A positive outlook is promoted in all aspects of the learning process and pupils respond very well to this approach. Discipline was seen to be excellent during the evaluation and pupils responded to interaction with the evaluation team positively and confidently. As part of the school plan for the development of its relationship with the wider community, the formation of a student council should now be considered. While a significant amount of time might be required in the initial stages to support this development, the outcomes of such work will be worthwhile and the inclusion of the pupils in this way will provide them with an authentic voice in the school development process.

 

3. Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The principal and staff are commended for the whole school plans developed to date. They have worked collaboratively to develop a range of curricular and organisational plans which are presented in an accessible format. Final drafts of the plans are presented to the board of management for ratification. Review dates have been included in some plans and it is recommended that in future review dates are included in all plans. While draft policies are available for parents to view, to date the parents have not had an input into the development of the policies. It is recommended that a more collaborative role for parents in the formulation of relevant policies be facilitated. All ratified policies should be disseminated to the parents.

 

The schools’ mission statement is clearly articulated and the plans detail a range of organisational and administrative policies including, health and safety, enrolment, code of behaviour and the anti-bullying policy. It is recommended that the board ensure that the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) policy be developed in accordance with the RSE  guidelines.

 

Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 1999, updated issue May 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, April 2001). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.

 

The staff has developed curricular plans in the areas of English, Mathematics, Visual Arts, Geography and Science. It is commended for outlining the overall aims and objectives for each curricular area and for describing methodologies, content, and resources that contribute to the learning and teaching. The school plan for English is comprehensive and the approach undertaken in this plan could serve as a template for the review of the existing plans and the development of the Irish, Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Music, Physical Education and History school plans. The school plan should also show evidence of the consideration the staff has given to pedagogic principles, organisational arrangements and the assessment and evaluation of pupil progress in each curricular area.  A strategic planning framework is now required in order to focus on the development of specific organisational, curricular and resource plans for the next three years. It would be appropriate at this stage to consult the Department of Education and Science’s document Developing a School Plan – Guidelines for Primary School (page 33).

 

Allied to the phased introduction of the Primary Curriculum (1999) it would be appropriate to introduce a formal school-based self-evaluation process. Consideration should be given to the suggestions contained in the Department of Education and Science publication “Looking at our School.” The prompt documents and templates developed collaboratively by the Department of Education and Science, the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PSCP), the School Development Planning Support (SDPS) and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) which are available on the PCSP website should also be consulted during the preparation of curricular plans. Further support is available in Chapter 3 Primary Curriculum Teacher Guidelines and in the chapter on assessment in the Curriculum Statement document. The school plan will need to be continually reviewed and will also require further updating as more subjects of the curriculum are fully implemented.

 

It is advised that a more concentrated focus and emphasis be placed on the implementation of school plans in each of the curricular areas. To this end, it is recommended that consideration be given to reviewing and extending the scope of individual post-holders' existing responsibilities, where duties pertaining to specific areas of the curriculum have been assigned to the members of the middle management team. This strategy should be addressed with a view to ensuring that the implementation, co-ordination and review of curricular policies are undertaken in a structured manner.

 

It is recommended also, that, as an immediate priority, an action plan be developed, which would focus in the short term, on the teaching and learning in English and Mathematics. The setting of targets on an annual basis to assist the incremental improvement in standards should be included in the action plan. The practice of having regular review and discussions at whole school level, followed by agreement on priorities, will ensure that the whole school planning process is both systematic and ongoing.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

Teachers diligently prepare long-term, short-term planning and progress records using school developed templates. Long-term planning details specific content objectives utilising a list of numbers and short-term planning details content use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and assessment questions.  Teachers should outline clearly the specific objective of the curriculum which is the focus of the work for the term and for each fortnight. Reference should also be made as to how differentiation will be incorporated into all subject areas to ensure that pupils are afforded the opportunities to access the curriculum that is appropriate to their level. Specific strategies for assessing the pupils’ achievement of this concept should be outlined and records of teacher-designed tests and tasks maintained. As the children progress through the school, additional emphasis should be placed on the recording of written work in copies and the monitoring of this work.  Excessive use of worksheets and other photocopiable resources should be avoided.

 

 

4. Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

The principles of the 1999 Primary Curriculum are well understood in most classrooms. Teachers use questioning effectively to elicit answers from the pupils who are thoroughly engaged in and enthusiastic about their learning. In several rooms space has been managed very well to facilitate the use of a wide range of methodologies which support active learning and group or pair work. This classroom management works well and should be extended to all classrooms. Allocation of dedicated reading and literacy areas and the creation of maths-rich environments need to be prioritised by the school as a whole in order to encourage learning as much as possible. Pupils’ achievement levels in most subject areas are satisfactory and there is a need for all teachers to ensure clarity and specificity around teaching aims so that assessment of the learning outcomes can be measured easily and regularly. Choice of topic, resources, methodologies and amount of content must be identified carefully if a clear understanding of attainment rates is to be reached. Future investment in ICT must be made in order to make active learning and guided discovery strategies meaningful and real for the pupils.

   

4.2 Language

Gaeilge

Níl plean scoile don Ghaeilge forbartha fós. Tá dearcadh dearfach á chothú i leith na Gaeilge tríd an scoil. Bunaítear na ceachtanna ar théamaí.  Tá dul chun cinn sásúil á dhéanamh agus ar an iomlán tá cumas sásúil ag na daltaí i labhairt na teanga. Úsáidtear modh na cumarsáide agus raon leathan d’ábhar corpartha  chun an foclóir a chur i gcrích.

 

 

Ba chóir anois forbairt chéimniúil, chórasach a dhéanamh ar an bhfoclóir atá i seilbh na ndaltaí, ó rangleibhéal go rangleibhéal agus daingniú rialta a dhéanamh ar an obair seo. Tá géarghá Éisteacht a fhorbairt mar shnáith den churaclam trí chleachtaí éisteachta a chur os comhair na ndaltaí go minic agus béim níos treise a chur ar phrionta sa timpeallacht agus ar scéalaíocht (leabhair bheaga/mhóra, úrscéalta, iarscéimeanna grádaithe) a sholáthar. Moltar freisin modh an aistriúcháin a sheachaint.

 

Tá tús curtha leis an léitheoireacht fhoirmiúil. Léann na daltaí go tuisceanach as scéim ghrádaithe léitheoireachta sna meánranganna agus ag leibhéal na hardranganna agus léiríonn siad tuiscint mhaith ar an ábhar. B’fhiú anois taighde a dhéanamh ar na scéimeanna léitheoireachta atá foilsithe chun scéim atá níos oiriúnaí a fháil a cabhródh leis na daltaí scileanna níos leithne léitheoireachta a fhorbairt. Moltar raon níos leithne modhanna múinte a chur i bhfeidhm chun scileanna na léitheoireachta a bhunú. Moltar freisin focalbhriseadh a chleachtadh agus plé a dhéanamh ar bhrí na bhfocal; straitéisí fóineolaíochta a chur i bhfeidhm agus plé rialta a dhéanamh ar mhianach an téaics. Cláraíonn na daltaí cleachtaí sa scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil ina gcóipleabhair, agus is léir go ndéantar ceartúchán agus monatóireacht rialta ar an saothar seo. Ba chóir freisin rainn a chur de ghlan mheabhair i ranganna áirithe.

 

Irish

The school has not developed its own plan for Irish. A positive outlook on the language is promoted throughout the school. Lessons are largely theme-based. Satisfactory progress is being made and in general pupils’ spoken ability is satisfactory. Conversation methods and a wide range of practical resources assist learning here. There is now a need for a systematic, graded development of pupil vocabulary which should be consolidated at all class levels. Listening exercises as outlined in the Listening strand of the curriculum need to be carried out more often.

A greater emphasis on the use of print in the school environment as well as more storytelling in Irish (big and small books, novels and graded schemes) will support learning also. It is recommended that the use of the tranlsation method of teaching be avoided completely.

Formal reading has begun and pupils read the formal graded scheme with understanding in the middle and senior classes. The school should now seek a more appropriate reading scheme that would assist the pupils develop a wider range of reading skills. A wider range of teaching methods aimed at developing reading skills is also recommended. Word analysis and discussion around the meaning of words and text as well as phonological strategies are also to be encouraged. Pupils’ functional writing is monitored and corrected regularly. It is recommended that more work is done to commit some rhymes and poems to memory.

 

English

There is a genuine whole school awareness of the importance of effective teaching and learning in English for the pupils in this school. In general, the teaching of this subject is carried out with diligence and some creativity. The school is to be commended for its comprehensive plan for teaching and learning in English. Some good examples in respect of the teaching of reading were observed in the school and some interesting work in creative writing is also evident. Despite these committed efforts, attainment in reading, oral language and writing is low. There is a need now for the school to examine how the plan can be further progressed in a way that will prioritise oral language achievement as much as possible. The creation of a range of specific learning objectives at classroom level will provide the impetus for the identification of successful strategies which will allow for oral language to be developed comprehensively throughout the whole school.

  

All classes must continue to prioritise the development of oral language. Each subject area should be seen as providing opportunities for the teacher to encourage the pupils to use an ever expanding range of vocabulary in as wide a set of contexts as possible. This work must be based on the creation of specific targets. Collaboration between mainstream and support teachers is vital to facilitate this work. Joint in-class teaching strategies need to be further developed to ensure that these targets are realistic and relevant to the experience of the pupil and easily assessed. A whole school plan to create an effective print-rich environment both in the classrooms and in the public areas of the school is needed to create a climate where pupil success in literacy is celebrated. A wider range of reading materials is essential to the implementation of this plan. Pupils will benefit from maximum exposure to as wide a range of material as possible. The use of story-time, novel analysis and reading for pleasure initiatives such as Child and Pupil Enjoying Reading (CAPER) can support this work meaningfully. Subsequent writing experiences using ICT where appropriate can also serve this purpose. Pupils can contribute to the publication of the school newsletter. The good work begun already in creative writing can now be expanded to cater for all abilities and ages.   

 

This work is central to the success of the school. Committed leadership and management will assist the work significantly. The school should consider the allocation of a special-duties post, when a review of the posts takes place, to supervise the whole school implementation of an intensive literacy programme. Individual teacher planning needs to be adjusted to ensure that the targets identified for all classes are assessed regularly and that this data is compiled at whole school level to support review and alteration of specific programmes where necessary.  

 

 

4.3 Mathematics

 

The teaching and learning of Mathematics is good in this school. Lessons are well prepared and resourced. Pupils engage with the learning process and the language of the various mathematical concepts is well developed. Aims are appropriate for the different ages and abilities present in the classes and group and paired activities are carried out efficiently. Pupils’ oral abilities are well developed through the use of games and other enjoyable activities. Overall, standardised scores are good and the staff is to be commended for its commitment to the principles of the 1999 Primary Curriculum.

 

Further development in this area should include the creation of specific maths-rich environments in all classrooms. There is a need for the pupils to have access to relevant and well-resourced areas where their work can be displayed to complement the teacher’s work regarding the various concepts. An over-reliance on handouts should be avoided and greater differentiation of activities will enable all pupils to be more active in their learning and more involved in the work with their peers. The school, as a whole, can work to involve parents to a greater extent in the homework activities allocated and the Home School Community Liaison [HSCL] co-ordinator can assist this work.

 

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE)

 

Geography

While planning is linked to the Primary School Curriculum (1999) textbooks are also used extensively for planning purposes in this area of the curriculum. In some classes, pupils are afforded the opportunity of engaging with topics of local, national and European relevance in Geography, while exploration of the local environment and engagement with project work constitutes part of the programme of learning in Geography, particularly in the middle and senior standards. 

 

It is recommended that future planning and classroom work would include further development of local environmental awareness. A programme of relevant learning experiences that would be delivered on a whole school basis over the eight-year cycle might be considered in order to ensure developmentally appropriate experiences for pupils at relevant intervals during the eight-year cycle. The development of pupils’ skills as geographers is also recommended.

 

 

History

A plan for History needs to be developed. The development of a plan could include an outline of the learning experiences that will be provided at each class level to support the development of pupils’ historical knowledge, skills and attitudes. Individual teacher planning and classroom practice included studies from local, national and international contexts. Teacher planning is primarily text-book based. In the infant and junior classes emphasis is placed on personal and family history. Myths and legends are explored in junior and middle standards and this work is integrated with the Visual Arts and oral language in some classes. Pupils should be provided with relevant and authentic historical learning experiences, with opportunities to work as historians  facilitated through the use of materials that are linked to the local environment. The extension of these strategies is recommended in all classes.

 

In senior classes, pupil participation in learning/discovery methods is implemented through group-work and discussion. The further development of project work, local studies and activity-based methodologies in all classes is recommended. In order to ensure the consolidation of work completed, regular review is advised.

 

Science

The Science curriculum in this school provides children with opportunities to understand the physical and biological aspects of the world and the processes through which these are developed. A range of methodologies including group work, activity/discovery, project work are in use.

According to teachers’ planning, simple experiments are undertaken at all class levels. In one of the lessons observed good use of scientific equipment and effective pupil engagement through the discovery investigative process was observed. A broad range of enquiry skills including, observing, hypothesising, predicting, experimenting, planning fair tests and analysing results are developed. In general pupils are enabled to develop a framework of scientific ideas and concepts about Living Things, Energy and Forces, Materials, Environmental Awareness and Care.

Some nature tables are in evidence and it is recommended that nature/investigation tables should be a feature of all classrooms as it promotes interest and furthers discussion. The pupils have been involved in the creation and maintenance of a school garden. The further development of this school garden is recommended as an effective strategy in studying many of the strands of the Science curriculum.

 

The teaching of SESE throughout the school results in very positive learning outcomes for the pupils. Principally, these include the development of independent and co-operative work ethics, an understanding of the scientific process, a worthwhile knowledge of the world and a thorough grasp of the merits of active learning.

 

4.5 Arts education

 

Visual Arts

The teachers have embraced the principles of the Visual Arts curriculum. Planning is based on the structure and content of the curriculum. Appropriate time is allocated to teaching of the Visual Arts. The classroom environment supports pupil learning and a range of materials and resources is used appropriately in the delivery of the programme. Teachers have developed stimulating classrooms utilising pupils’ work which is attractively displayed inside and outside the classrooms. Pupil engagement with activities is effectively organised.

 

The samples of pupils’ work that are in evidence in classrooms, combined with evidence from the school plan and teachers’ long- and short-term planning, indicate that pupils have explored a range of themes, topics and media from a number of the strands of the Visual Arts curriculum. Many of these are suitably linked with other areas of the curriculum. In general, emphasis is placed on the creative developmental process that affords pupils the opportunity to express their understanding of their world in a creative rather than in a passive or imitative way. This process should continue to be the main focus of the work in all classes and template/replicate art should be avoided. There is also evidence that, pupils as well as making art, are encouraged to look and respond to their own work, the work of their peers and the work of artists.

It is recommended that further emphasis be placed on Looking and Responding to the work of artists and working in the style of the artist and that resources be provided to teach this strand unit in all six strands. While teacher observation is used to assess pupils’ work, the inclusion of a range of assessment strategies into the school plan and into the long and short term planning would extend the progressive development of pupils’ skills as part of a whole school approach.  It is also recommended that all six strands should be developed in the Making Art strand to ensure the implementation of a broad and balanced programme.

 

Consideration might also be given to the development of digital portfolios, through a photographic record of work, which could be supported by ICT resources.

 

Music

The teaching of Music is of a very good standard in this school. All teachers display a commitment to the subject. Purposeful lesson preparation and interesting topic selection combine effectively to encourage participation and motivation levels. The pupils sing well and a good range of songs is selected by most teachers. Particularly commendable is the work done in the Listen and Respond strand of the 1999 Primary Curriculum. The pupils are exposed to a wide range of musical genres and meaningful discussion around the identification and relevance of the various genres allows pupils to relate to the topic. It is recommended that the school expands the work done in this area even further and also develops the Performance strand as fully as possible in the years ahead. There are clear opportunities here for the imaginative development of the pupils to be promoted and the school should seek to maximise this potential.

 

Drama

Teachers are aware of the unique contribution of Drama to the self-development of pupils and this is reflected in the regular promotion of dramatic activity in all classes. Generally, work in this area of the curriculum is integrated with other subject areas. Pupils, especially those in the junior classes, respond well to the prompts given. Teachers are willing to role play and this strategy works effectively. Given the focus on language and literacy in the school, it is important for the staff to remember the value formal drama lessons have for all pupils. The identification of specific aims regarding the expressive and self-esteem development of pupils as part of the SPHE programme should be prioritised. This will help them to cope with a wide variety of social interactions. The key role of Drama in the school action plan should not be overlooked.

 

4.6 Physical Education (PE)

There is great interest in this subject throughout the school. Teachers organise a range of activities for the pupils which encourage participation, achievement and fair play. Hurling, football, soccer, swimming and athletics are all developed. Lessons are well directed. Equipment levels are good and the use of specific coaches for individual sports is effective for those who participate.

The school must now look at the Physical Education (PE) curriculum from the perspective of those who do not excel at competitive games. There is a need to address the participation of the girls in the school, the activities identified and the value of Dance to the overall development of the subject. Skill development across the entire PE curriculum should be systematically implemented and assurances put in place that a graduated range of activities reflective of the curriculum in its entirety is delivered to all pupils as they progress through the school.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

In this school, commendable care is taken to promote the personal development and well-being of the pupils and to foster in the pupils a sense of care and respect for themselves and others. The promotion of a positive atmosphere in the pupils’ environment is in evidence at all class levels and this nurtures pupils’ self-confidence and self-worth. In the classrooms there is a strong commitment to discussion and oral presentation. Throughout the school, teachers are intent on helping the children to develop a sense of social responsibility, a commitment to active citizenship and an appreciation of a democratic way of life. In particular, this is evident in exhortations to value fair play and in programmes designed to develop an understanding of the local environment. All these strategies form a central part of the school’s SPHE programme. In keeping with the admirable principles inherent in the planning documents, a conscious effort is regularly made to encourage children to respect human and cultural diversity and to appreciate the interdependent nature of the world. In general, circle time is the chosen strategy to integrate SPHE with other areas of the curriculum. A high level of success is evident as a result of the implementation of this strategy.

 

It is especially commendable that this emphasis on the development of self-esteem is achieved in equal measure in informal interactions with the pupils and in the formal lesson element of the school day. The strategies employed in all curricular areas are specifically chosen to allow for the development of pupil confidence. By emphasising process learning, the teachers allow all pupils to find their niche in group, pair and individual settings and they celebrate achievement appropriately.

 

 

It is important that the school now links SPHE with the English programme. It provides an ideal portal for the development of oral language and literacy. The school can also enhance the experience by developing a visual policy in all the public areas where positive messaging around personality traits, respect issues and fair play can be promoted. The school does this in an oral context at present and all that is needed is that strategies and locations are found to ensure that pupils are exposed to the literal interpretation of the issues already focused on by the staff.

 

4.8 Assessment

Teacher observation, teacher-devised tests and monitoring of pupils’ written work are some of the assessment modes used regularly throughout the school. These are complemented by the administration of formal and standardized tests namely Micra-T, Sigma-T, standardised tests from first class upwards. The Belfield Infant Assessment Profile (BIAP) is administered in the final term to junior infants. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is also administered to pupils in the second term of senior infants to assess pupil attainment in literacy and to identify pupils who may require supplementary support. The Forward Together programme is implemented in the final term of senior infants to provide further support for pupils experiencing difficulty. Parents are also invited to support this programme at home. The soon to be appointed HSCL co-ordinator should now support the parents in the implementation of this programme. The Quest Number and Reading diagnostic tests, the NARA and the Jackson Phonics tests are administered to pupils. Appropriately, parents are consulted and advised of results at the annual parent-teacher meetings. The data on pupil attainment and performance is documented. Records are maintained in a methodical and consistent manner in the school.

 

As a further development of assessment procedures, the school might usefully direct attention to the plotting of trends and the creation of a whole-school perspective on pupil achievement in literacy and numeracy, and use the analysis to devise future programmes of learning.

 

5. Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs (SEN)

A deep sense of care and a thorough approach to planning underpin the work carried out with pupils with special educational needs in this school. Individual, pair and small group situations are used effectively to pursue specific goals for these pupils. A wide range of resources complements this work. The support for these pupils is very good and there is ample evidence of the success of the efforts of all teachers in this regard. Regular teacher liaison concerning the progress of these pupils is in place and the work is now beginning to look at how effectively the pupils concerned can learn in their own classroom environment beside their peers. Twenty five pupils receive learning support and seven pupils attend the resource teacher. This work is supported by a wide range of resources and ICT is central to strategies employed with these children.

 

The school implements a measured approach to the identification and support of the pupils. The BIAP and MIST diagnostic tests are used to support this work. Detailed individual education plans are created for all of the pupils in receipt of the services available. There is a need, as already referred to above, to plan more specifically for the in-class work of the support teachers. This should be done on a phased basis to maximise the in-class learning experience of these pupils. Work is well advanced for the introduction of support teachers in some classes and this now needs to extend to all rooms. Central to this work is the need to plan for short periods of time to facilitate regular analysis of progress. Ongoing support from the Special Education Support Service (SESS) should be considered as a means of furthering this aim.

 

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

There is a significant level of social disadvantage among a large number of the pupils attending this school. It has recently been included in the DEIS initiative and plans for the implementation of a wide range of strategies to support these pupils are in place. The school does excellent work in trying to create a positive school ambience where these pupils can feel secure and respected. There is ample evidence of an ongoing range of activities and facilities which are aimed at motivating the pupils to participate in their learning as fully as possible. The school is about to appoint a shared Home School Community Liaison Co-ordinator. It is hoped that this appointment will be central to the future plans of the school. Close collaboration will be required to ensure that the curricular goals set out by the teachers regarding all aspects of the pupils’ development will form the basis for the work done to encourage parental involvement and support for the work of the school.

 

 

6. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

 

 

 

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