An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



Scoil Mhuire

Kilvemnon, Mullinahone,

Co. Tipperary

Uimhir Rolla:18459C


Date of inspection: 5 December  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







Whole-school evaluation


A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Mhuire was undertaken in December 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 Science. The board of management was given the opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report. 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


Scoil Mhuire is a two teacher co-educational school, situated in the foothills of Slievenamban in Co. Tipperary. The building consists of three classrooms surrounded by extensive grounds which include a basketball court and a pitch. The school is under the patronage of the Bishop of Cashel and Emly. A secretary works part-time in the school and also fulfils duties of cleaning and maintenance. There are two special needs assistants (SNAs), one assigned to each mainstream classroom.


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


Mainstream classes in the school


Teachers on the school staff


Mainstream class teachers


Teachers working in support roles


Special needs assistants




1.     Quality of school management


1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The school, as stated in its vision statement, strives to ensure that each child develops morally, emotionally, socially and intellectually, building self-confidence and pride in personal achievement.


1.2 Board of management

The school is managed by a committed and enthusiastic board of management. The chairperson is particularly supportive of the work of the school and maintains regular contact with staff and pupils. The board, which is properly constituted, meets regularly and maintains minutes of all meetings. A number of board members have attended training seminars organised by the patron and further training is planned. The board ensures that the maintenance of the building and grounds is carried out as need arises. In general, the school and grounds are in good order though the board should give consideration to further improvements to the physical fabric of the school. The purchase of modern school furniture, the carpeting of classrooms, the conversion of the existing lunch room to a learning-support room and the provision of a staff room would greatly enhance the teaching and learning environment. Finances are managed carefully though it was reported that accounts are not currently certified. It is recommended that accounts be submitted for certification in line with Section 18(1) of the Education Act, 1998.


1.3 In-school management

The in-school management team of this two-teacher school comprises a principal and a special duties post-holder. The principal, who was appointed to her post in November 2008, displays an insightful awareness of the strengths of the school. She has a clear vision with regard to further developments to enhance education provision in the school. The special duties post holder is equally committed to continued school improvement and both teachers work collaboratively towards this goal. It is recommended that duties assigned to the post holder be reviewed to reflect current curricular needs.


1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school promotes good communication and endeavours to build trust between parents and teachers. Although there is no formal parents’ association in the school, a representative group reported satisfaction with the level of communication between school and home, facilitated through frequent newsletters, invitations to school events and direct involvement with sporting activities and religious ceremonies. They reported that the twenty two families in the school, though provided with the opportunity to form a parents’ association, saw little need for such a formal committee. Parents reported that they are pleased with education provision and commented very favourably on the holistic development of their children at Scoil Mhuire.


1.5 Management of pupils

Relationships between school staff and pupils are very positive. Interactions observed with pupils and all adults working in the school, including ancillary staff, show high levels of mutual respect and appreciation. The pupils are very well behaved and display pride and interest in their work, co-operating willingly and engaging enthusiastically in class activities.



2.     Quality of school planning


2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The school plan comprises both curricular and organisational policies. Curriculum content is outlined in all plans but it is now recommended that a strategic review of all planning be commenced to include whole-school decisions on methodologies, differentiation strategies and procedures on assessment. An inventory of resources to support the implementation of curricular plans would also be useful, prioritising resources needed in some areas of the curriculum. It is recommended that the board of management play a more active role in school planning and extend their involvement to include curricular plans which should be signed and dated at ratification stage.   


All teachers prepare short-term and long-term plans for their teaching. Teachers are focused on delivering a broad and balanced curriculum which is rich and challenging. Mainstream class teachers use different formats to document their planning. It is recommended that the detail provided in teacher planning be more closely linked to curriculum objectives. The use of an agreed format would facilitate greater continuity and more efficient monitoring of achieved learning outcomes.




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



Tá plean scoile curtha le chéile don Ghaeilge ina rianaítear snáitheanna agus snáthaonaid an churaclaim. B’inmholta, áfach, plean níos cuimsithí a leagan amach don Ghaeilge chun a chinntiú go bhfuil spriocanna teanga an churaclaim á mbaint amach ar bhonn uile-scoile. Tá suíomh prionta shaibhir cruthaithe agus tá ábhar léirithe ar taispeáint go tarraingteach i dtimpeallacht na scoile. Úsáideann oidí modhanna gníomhacha múinte, ach, is léir nach bhfuil ag éirí leo an fhíorchumarsáid a fhorbairt i measc na ndaltaí. Baineann na hoidí úsáid as puipéidí, as gníomhaíochtaí, as cluichí agus as teicneolaíocht faisnéise agus cumarsáide chun an teanga a theagasc ach tá mórchuid de na daltaí ar fhíorbheagán líofachta. Múintear roinnt rann agus dánta sa bhun-roinn agus baineann na daltaí taitneamh as na gníomhaíochtaí seo. Ní mó ná sásúil atá caighdeán na léitheoireachta sa Ghaeilge sna meán agus sna hard ranganna. B’fhiú réimse leathan de théacsanna feiliúnacha a chur ar fáil chun suim na ndaltaí a spreagadh agus chun forbairt córasach a dhéanamh ar a gcumas léitheoireachta. Cláraíonn na daltaí an t-ábhar scríbhneoireachta sna cóipleabhair go slachtmhar ach is gá, áfach, eispéireas níos leithne scríbhneoireachta trí mheán na Gaeilge a sholáthar dóibh ar bhonn rialta. Is gá don fhoireann béim sa bhreis a leagan ar fhorbairt cumas labhartha agus léitheoireachta na ndaltaí sa Ghaeilge ar bhonn uile-scoile.



There is a plan for Irish in which strands and strand units of the curriculum are outlined. It is recommended, however, that a more comprehensive plan for Irish be devised to ensure that the language objectives of the curriculum are taught. A print-rich environment is provided and there are attractive displays of Irish posters throughout the school. The use of active teaching methodologies is evident in both classes, however, it is apparent that pupils are not developing communicative skills appropriately. Various methods and resources, such as puppets, games, activities and ICT technology are used to encourage pupils to communicate in the language yet, a significant number of pupils have a very basic level of fluency. The pupils in the junior section are taught and enjoy reciting some rhymes and poems. The standard in Irish reading is less than satisfactory in the middle and senior classes. It is recommended that a wider range of suitable books be provided to motivate pupil interest in reading and to systematically develop their reading skills. Pupils’ written work is presented neatly, however, pupils should be exposed to a wider experience of writing in Irish on a regular basis. It is now necessary for staff to place greater emphasis on the development of pupils’ Irish language competency and reading ability throughout the school.




The teaching of English is carried out in a proficient manner with pupils achieving good standards across strands. Computers, camcorders and digital cameras enrich the teaching and learning of language considerably. An extensive programme in oral language is undertaken where suitable emphasis is placed on the acquisition of vocabulary and the development of pupils’ oral competency. This programme is purposefully integrated with other curricular areas. Pupils enjoy regular experiences of rhyme and poetry and a language-experience approach is promoted in a competent manner. Commendable attention is directed to the structure of rhyme and poetry in the senior classes. An interest in reading is actively promoted throughout the school. Approaches and methodologies employed provide valuable stimulus for discussion and exploration of chosen texts. Very good use is made of large format books in the junior classes where pupils’ phonological skills are being developed in a structured manner. Class novels complement the structured reading scheme in the senior section. Pupils produce and direct a range of filmed dramatisations in response to literature. A developmental approach to writing is implemented. Infants engage in a range of pre-writing activities while frequent writing experiences are promoted throughout the school. A very large selection of anthologies of written work is compiled and displayed in classrooms and on the corridor, creating an environment which is both print-rich and stimulating. Pupils in the senior section issue a monthly newsletter and also update an impressive school web-site on a daily basis.


3.2 Mathematics

A positive attitude towards Mathematics is fostered throughout the school and the teaching of Mathematics is undertaken competently. Teacher-designed and commercial posters help to create a mathematically rich environment. Impressive group teaching is undertaken in multigrade classes. Pupils engage most enthusiastically in planned activities. Teachers are adept at setting classes a range of suitable tasks and at seeking out common themes which are differentiated to challenge each class level appropriately. Number facts are suitably consolidated through the judicious use of concrete materials. Purposeful use of manipulatives is a feature of both classrooms. The recent purchase of additional resources to support consolidation of mathematical concepts for infant pupils is commended. The creation of specific classroom areas for maths, equipped with a wider range of resources is advised to further progress achievement in early mathematical activity. Pupils are practised in collaborative group activities and display competence in skills of reasoning, connecting, recognising patterns and collaborative application of problem-solving skills. Pupils show particular ability in transferring mathematical skills, including measure and estimation, to other curricular areas. Overall achievement in Mathematics is very good.


3.3 Science


Teaching and learning in Science is excellent. The staff is commended for the delivery of a broad and balanced programme in Science. Teachers employ a variety of methodologies that embrace whole-class teaching, group work and individual tuition with a worthy emphasis on cooperative learning during hands-on activity. Pupils enjoy opportunities to plant bulbs, observe, monitor and record their growth. They engage in classification of living things, conduct investigations, actively support environmental awareness strategies within the school and speak confidently about the outcomes of investigations. The application of technology was evidenced throughout the evaluation when pupils were set tasks in design and worked collaboratively in the strand of energy and forces. Their achievement in adept use of technology to include laptops, digital cameras, camcorders, timing devices and measurement tools in the creation and recording of designs, is particularly commendable. Pupils confidently present their projects and include in their presentations problems encountered and strategies used to address such difficulties. The skills of working as a scientist are being developed to a very high standard throughout the school.


It is noteworthy that a member of staff has shown laudable leadership in promoting and guiding a most successful programme in Science. In October of this year a member of staff won third place in a world-wide competition in the ‘innovation and content’ category at Microsoft 2008 Worldwide Innovative Teachers’ Forum with a project entitled “Flying High, Exploring Aviation.” The project involved design and construction by pupils of working models of aeroplanes and hydraulic lifts to raise aircraft and simulate flight. Detailed and impressive documentation of the planning, process and outcomes of the project were observed during the evaluation. Pupils competently discussed their achievement with pride. 



3.4 Assessment


A range of assessment tools including teacher observation, teacher-designed tests and the frequent monitoring of written work is currently used to inform teaching and learning. As a means of further developing the effectiveness of assessment strategies, it is recommended that teachers’ planning and reporting be more closely linked to curriculum objectives and that monthly reports are used more systematically to monitor achievement of learning outcomes. Standardised tests are administered annually. Recent analysis of results on a whole-school basis is commended thereby highlighting current school trends and directing attention towards improvement in attainment. Diagnostic testing is conducted by the learning-support teacher and outcomes are used in the selection of pupils for supplementary support. The practice of building a cumulative profile on each pupil is very useful in monitoring progress in literacy and numeracy.



4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

A comprehensive plan for pupils with special educational needs has been developed. This plan supports the staged approach as outlined in circular 02/05 and clearly documents intervention and prevention strategies. There is one part-time learning support/resource teacher who works specifically with nine pupils from a range of classes. Comprehensive, targeted individual education plans (IEPs) are prepared for these pupils, reflective of parental input and pupils own perception of learning strengths and areas for development. Effective strategies were observed to promote consolidation of mathematical concepts. Active methodologies were suitably employed to develop phonological awareness. Support is provided both on a withdrawal and in-class basis, with all pupils in infants benefiting from supplementary in-class support. A senior class is currently in receipt of support in Mathematics under the system of rotated in-class provision of support, thereby allowing pupils throughout the school to benefit from targeted supplementary teaching. Professional discourse among all staff is actively promoted to effectively address current pupil needs.



5.     Conclusion


The school has strengths in the following areas:



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




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





Published, October 2009







School response to the report


Submitted by the Board of Management





Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report


The Board of Management of Scoil Mhuire, Kilvemnon, would like to thank the inspector for the professional and courteous manner in which she carried out the Whole School Evaluation. We are delighted to implement the recommendations advised and have found the practical advice has greatly benefited our school. Among the strengths identified and highlighted were the dedication and support of both Board of Management and parents and the standard of teaching and learning in the school. The pride and interest displayed in the pupils work, the excellent standard of technology and science and the high level of mutual respect and appreciation between staff were all areas commended in the report.


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


¨       The Board of Management are currently improving the physical fabric of the school by providing an extra tarmac play area to the rear of the school.

¨       Modern furniture has been purchased and classrooms have been freshly painted and carpeted.

¨       The lunchroom has been converted to a learning support/resource room and a staff room now exists in the school.

¨       A school planning day under the guidance of a cuiditheoir has taken place targeting the following areas

1.       Methodologies

2.       Curriculum objectives

3.       Differentiation strategies

4.       Procedures on assessment


¨       An inventory of school resources has been formulated, as has a priority list of resources needed in certain curricular areas.

¨       Teachers now use an agreed format, when documenting short-term and long-term plans and close links to curriculum objectives and monitoring of learning outcomes and targets achieved.

¨       Additional novels and reader sets have been purchased and a specific area for maths has also been set up in the classrooms.

¨       A pupil profile on each pupil in numeracy and literacy has commenced in the junior classes.

¨       A number of initiatives have been undertaken with a view to improving fluency in Irish; new books, Irish magazine (Breacadh) , dvd’s, cd’s and other resources have been purchased for use in all classes.

¨       Irish cuiditheoir has visited the school in June and has reviewed and updated the Irish plan.