An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

 

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

 

Clogagh National School

Clogagh, Timoleague,

County Cork

Uimhir rolla:18444M  

 

 

Date of inspection: 11 March 2008

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

 

1.     Quality of school management

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

1.2 Board of management

1.3 In-school management

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

1.5 Management of pupils

 

2.     Quality of school planning

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

2.2 Child protection policy and procedures

 

3.     Quality of learning and teaching

3.1 Language

3.2 Mathematics

3.3 Physical Education

3.4 Assessment

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

5.     Conclusion

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Clogagh National School was undertaken in March, 2008. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and Physical Education. 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

 

Clogagh National School is situated in the village of Cloga gh in West Cork, approximately eight kilometres from Clonakilty. The school was built in 1961 and has undergone considerable refurbishment over the years.  This three-teacher school caters for boys and girls, and pupils in the main are drawn from the immediate environment. The current enrolment is seventy-three and this figure should increase over the coming years as a new housing development is planned for the locality.

 

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

73

Mainstream classes in the school

3

Teachers on the school staff

5

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

4

Special needs assistants

1

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

Clogach National School seeks to create a happy working environment for pupils and staff. The staff encourage respect for the dignity, worth and individuality of each person within the school. They aim admirably to provide a curriculum which will enable pupils to achieve to their potential and make a fruitful contribution as adults to society.  The holistic development of the pupil is central to this process.

 

1.2 Board of management

 

The board of management constitutes an effective group and its members are committed to the work of the school and to the ongoing welfare of its pupils. Meetings of the board are convened regularly and its members have a clear understanding of the school’s needs. In addition, in accordance with her supportive role, the chairperson maintains regular contact with the principal and staff. Finances are managed carefully and there is a clearly defined system for tracking income and expenditure. The board is involved in the whole-school planning process and ratifies school policies as they are devised. The board welcomes the contributions of parents to the development of these policies. It is now recommended that all policies brought before the board are signed and dated at ratification stage. The board is committed to the continuous improvement of facilities within the school and has identified the need for an extension to the current building as a priority. This is due in part to the envisaged growth in the school-going population and also due to the restrictions of space within current classrooms. The three classrooms each measure thirty six square metres in area and this leads to restrictions of activity in pupils’ learning. Members of the board have not received training over the years and the sourcing and provision of such training would further enhance their contribution to the management of the school.

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The in-school management team consists of the principal, the deputy principal and a special duties teacher, who works in the school on a job-sharing basis. A collegial and supportive atmosphere permeates the school. A warm rapport exists between the principal, teachers and other members of staff and together they create a happy and welcoming environment in the school. Appropriate roles have been identified for the deputy principal and special duties teacher and these are reviewed regularly. Duties are carried out conscientiously and the work of the in-school management team contributes positively to the effective operation of the school. The principal was appointed to this position two years ago. His leadership style is purposeful and visionary and he enables others to contribute meaningfully to school development. He fosters a strong sense of ownership among staff of the aims of the school, policies and achievements.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

A meeting with the officers of the parents’ association during the course of the evaluation reveals a very positive relationship exists between the board of management, the teachers and the general parent body in the school. The school recognises the value of good communication in building trust and respect between home and school and to this end a newsletter is issued twice a year, detailing school activities and notable successes. An end of year report is also issued to parents. Parents of new pupils due to enter the school are inducted by means of an open day at which information covering personnel, practices and procedures is issued. Parents are encouraged regularly to visit and discuss their pupils’ progress through formal parent-teacher meetings or through an agreed appointment system as concerns arise.

 

The impact of parents’ involvement in the work of the school is very positive. The parents’ association organises classes in French and in Irish dancing as after-school activities. Classes in Music and Speech and Drama are also organised in school and these activities are jointly funded by the parents and by the board of management. They also involve themselves in fundraising activities and in supporting school events and in the acquisition of resources. There is a general sense that parents have been appropriately consulted on all aspects of school policy development. At the meeting with parents current accommodation provision and road safety were cited as concerns.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

Interaction between staff and pupils is very positive. The school aims to provide a caring learning environment which facilitates the nurturing of each pupil’s potential. This is a school where pupils are happy and are valued. The pupils are encouraged to take pride in their school and to respect both adults and peers. Teachers demonstrate a thoughtful understanding of the backgrounds and experiences of their pupils and have a genuine concern for their welfare and progress. This positive disposition is reciprocated in the respect and cooperation which pupils offer to teachers and to other members of staff.

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

The school plan is devised through the collaborative activity of the principal, the staff and the board of management. The parents have participated in the formulation of a number of organisational plans. The services of the cuiditheoir have been availed of in the further development of these policies. This approach to policy development is welcome as it facilitates the inclusion of the broadest range of perspectives and it encourages commitment to policy implementation. The development of curriculum plans is undertaken primarily by the principal and teaching staff. A full copy of completed plans is available in the school for parents to view on request. The plans, both curricular and organisational, are of good quality and are informative. A clear programme of work is outlined for each class level. The school plan gives clear guidance to teachers’ individual long-term and short-term planning and outlines the approaches to be adopted and content to be covered.  The school is now advised to devise an action plan with the purpose of developing, reviewing or redrafting policies, both curricular and organisational.

 

All teachers prepare effective long and short-term plans. Good quality detail is recorded in the fortnightly schemes and this is documented on a common school template. The fortnightly plans are subsequently utilised to record work completed at the end of each month and these records are placed on file.  Schemes include clear objectives and are clearly referenced to Primary School Curriculum (1999). Teaching methodologies, assessment, differentiation and integration are clearly identified in the attainment of these objectives. All teachers have copies of individual education plans (IEPs) in their files and these provide for the varying abilities of their pupils. Staff might usefully consider recording the work completed under curricular headings. This would facilitate the tracking of progression in the programmes covered and therefore contribute to the regular review of curriculum implementation.

 

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

Déantar iarracht  fhiúntach an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn sa scoil. Úsáidtear raon leathan straitéisí mar cluichí teanga, úsáid puipéid agus drámaí chun rannpháirtíocht na ndaltaí a chothú.  Eagraítear gníomhaíochtaí go rialta chun scileanna éisteachta agus labhartha a chur chun cinn. Leantar clár sistéamach de nathanna cainte agus feidhmeanna teanga atá in oiriúint do chumas agus d’aois na ndaltaí i ngach rang. Bíonn rainn, dánta agus amhráin Gaeilge á n-aithris go hanamúil ag na daltaí. Tá saibhreas prionta le sonrú timpeall na scoile le fógraí agus le lipéid ar taispeáint, cleachtas a chruthaíonn bunús éifeachtúil do thús na léitheoireachta agus na scríbhneoireachta. Eagraítear cleachtaí foirmiúla léitheoireachta go rialta sna meánranganna agus sna hardranganna. Baintear leas torthúil as fíor leabhar le linn na foghlama agus léann cuid mhaith de na daltaí le brí agus le líofacht. Saothraítear an scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil agus chruthaitheach go coinsiasach agus déantar an obair a chlárú go hordúil. Is dúshlán anois é d’fhoireann na scoile leanúnachas cainte a chothú i ngach rang agus straitéisí a roghnú chun a gcumas cumarsáide a fhorbairt a thuilleadh fós.

 

Irish

A creditable attempt is made to promote Irish in the school. A range of strategies such as language  games, puppetry and drama is organised to foster the participation of pupils in the learning process. Activities are organised frequently to develop their skills in listening and speaking. A systematic programme of phrases and functions of language  appropriate to age and ability levels is taught in each class. Poetry, verse and song are recited regularly with fervour. A print-rich environment is discernable throughout the school with signs and labels, a practice that serves as an effective basis for reading and writing activities. Formal reading lessons are organised in the middle and senior classes. Productive use is made of the real books during learning activity and many pupils read with satisfactory levels of understanding and fluency. Functional and creative writing tasks are developed conscientiously and work is recorded neatly. The challenge for staff in the future is to develop in pupils in each class a greater fluency in language and to employ strategies to ensure the  development of  communication skills.

 

English

The staff implements a broad and balanced programme in English. Clear learning outcomes are identified for the development of pupils’ oral language. In each classroom teachers encourage pupils to engage in regular discussion, based on age appropriate topics. Poetry is presented in an interesting manner and pupils recite a range of verse and rhyme with vigour, clarity and expression. The effort that is expounded on the development of reading throughout the school is laudable. From an early age pupils are exposed to a useful sight vocabulary and this is paralleled by a promotion of phonic activity. Graded books from a published scheme form the core of the reading material and, is appropriately supplemented by the use of the novel and by the promotion of library book reading. The staff and parents are to be commended for their engagement in worthwhile initiatives such as Children and Parents Enjoy Reading (Caper) and a Buddy Reading Programme. An examination of reading scores attained in standardized tests demonstrates that pupils are making systematic progress in accordance with age and ability. Pupils engage in a range of writing activities, both functional, interactive and creative, and this work is productively complemented with the pupils’ engagement in project work across a number of curricular areas. The standard and presentation of written work is good. Pupils are afforded regular opportunities to use Information Communication Technology (ICT) to print samples of work and these are displayed attractively in classrooms.

3.2 Mathematics

 

The quality of teaching and learning in Mathematics is commendable, pupils reach a creditable standard and are enthusiastic about their work. An examination of standardized test scores demonstrates that achievement levels are good. Teachers plan their lessons wisely, ensuring there is good variety in activities that meets the pupils’ varying levels of ability and understanding. Exercises in the memorization of number facts feature in all classes and revision tests are regularly administered. Pupils’ understanding of concepts are addressed through regular linkage with everyday situations relevant to their own experiences. Pupils present age-appropriate ability to perform computation and problem solving, both mentally and in written format. The use of concrete material is widespread and is recognized by staff as a productive means of developing understanding. The pupils’ written work is well presented and is regularly monitored and marked by the teachers. In plotting the direction of future mathematics development, staff is advised to develop a whole-school approach to the teaching and acquisition of mathematical language.

 

3.3 Physical Education

 

The school is well resourced in terms of PE equipment. Outdoor facilities include a basketball court and a spacious grass area adjacent to the school. The school also utilises the local GAA pitch for competitive match purposes. The school achieves high levels of success in PE and the number of trophies on display is testament to the commendable work in this curricular area. PE activities, in the main, are conducted outdoors. Teachers introduce the pupils to a range of activities and these are engaged in with energy and enthusiasm. Commendable attention is given to the development of skills in gymnastics, in athletics, in court and field games and in dance. The school enjoys the services of a GAA and a tag rugby coach and their contribution to skill development is much appreciated by staff and the community. The school grass area is regularly utilised for the development of pupil skills in hurling, in football and in tag rugby. The pupils regularly engage in Sciath na Scol and in tag rugby competitions and their notable successes to date in Sciath na Scol, is worthy of praise. An external tutor in Irish dancing is funded by the parents’ association and all pupils take part. An annual sports day is organised, supported by parents and this is a much valued activity. The strand aquatics has not been engaged in to date, as the board considers the cost to be prohibitive.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

The school’s assessment policy allows for a range of approaches, that includes standardised testing, diagnostic testing and teacher-devised tests. Pupils work is systematically monitored and corrected by teachers. Information is collated and discussed by teachers and duly informs teaching and learning. Relevant information is relayed to parents at parent-teacher meetings and in the annual report which is furnished at the end of the school year. Standardised literacy and numeracy tests are administered regularly, notably the Micra-T and Sigma-T. In line with the school’s admirable policy of early intervention, the MIST is administered to infants. The results of these tests are used effectively to identify pupils who require supplementary support. The programmes of work subsequently devised are suitably informed through further diagnostic testing. In the further development of assessment, staff is encouraged to embrace the concept of assessment for learning as outlined in the guidelines from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

Clogagh is clustered with the neighbouring school in Kilgarriffe for learning support purposes. Two teachers operate the programme here in the school on a job-sharing basis. Supplementary support is provided in both literacy and numeracy that is characterised by high levels of effectiveness and relevance. Comprehensive education plans focussed on the needs of the pupils are prepared and effective progress records are maintained. The teachers regularly consult with class teachers, parents and relevant agencies in the preparation of individual education plans. Purposeful teaching strategies are adapted appropriately and suitable resources are deployed to support learning. Pupils are making good progress in accordance with their own competencies and abilities. Learning targets are set and reviewed at regular intervals in collaboration with class teachers and parents. Diagnostic tests are used purposefully to further inform the learning programmes. The school is to be complimented on its adoption of early intervention strategies to support pupil learning. The teachers display a commendable flexibility in the deployment of their duties. Support is provided both on a withdrawal basis, either individually or in small groups, and is effectively complemented with in-class support. Programme content is imaginative and targets a wide audience within the school.

 

The school employs a part-time special needs assistant, she makes an important contribution in supporting pupils under the careful guidance of the class teacher.

 

Two further resource teachers work part-time with two pupils in the school. Support programmes focus primarily on the areas of literacy and numeracy and tuition is provided outside of the classroom. Staff might consider extending this provision to include in-class support. Focussed individual educational plans are prepared and supportive records of progress are maintained. Effective collaborative practices are established with resource teachers working closely with class teachers in setting agreed learning targets. Structured and purposeful teaching strategies are adopted and suitable resources are deployed.

 

The school has documented policies on the admission, enrolment and participation of pupils with special educational needs in the school plan. These are informative and are in accordance with the school’s caring ethos. It is now appropriate that the elements relating to the acceptance of pupils with special needs be amended to comply with current legislation under the Equal Status Act (2000).

 

 

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:

 

·         Planning in Mathematics should allow for the further development of a whole-school approach to the teaching and acquisition of mathematical language.

 

 

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, September 2008