An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Bridgetown National School

O’Brien’s Bridge,

Co. Clare

Uimhir rolla:   18467B

 

Date of inspection: 25 October 2007

  Date of issue of report:  22 May 2008

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

1.     Quality of school management

2.     Quality of school planning

3.     Quality of learning and teaching

4.     Quality of support for pupils

5.     Conclusion

School Response to the Report

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

A whole-school evaluation of Bridegtown NS was undertaken in October 2007. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and Physical Education [PE].   The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

 

Introduction – school context and background

Bridgetown NS is a six-teacher school situated in the village of Bridgetown, approximately 10 kilometres north of Limerick city. The school serves a rural area with most of the pupils coming from the immediate environs of the village and the neighbouring villages of Montpelier and

O’ Brien’s Bridge.  Enrolment figures are predicted to remain stable in the medium term. There are no newcomer or minority pupils currently enrolled. Attendance rates at the school are extremely high.

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

99

Mainstream classes in the school

4

Teachers on the school staff

6

Mainstream class teachers

4

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special needs assistants

2

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

The school is under the patronage of the Bishop of Killaloe. It serves a predominantly Catholic population. The school mission statement refers to providing a safe and secure learning environment where the child can develop its personality comprehensively. The atmosphere in the school is extremely positive with the entire school community working effectively together to promote the aims of the mission statement.

 

1.2 Board of Management

The board of management is properly constituted. It meets regularly with a minimum of five meetings per year. Minutes of meetings are maintained and a financial report is presented at each meeting. Curricular plans and administrative policies are appropriately ratified by the board. The board is compliant with its responsibilities regarding admission, codes of behaviour and management of the school plan. A good relationship is seen to exist between the board and the school community. The board is knowledgeable about the work of the school. To build on this, it is recommended that the board would seek standardised assessment information from the teaching staff regarding the pupils’ learning achievements. Action planning based on this information should assist the board in the consequent identification of supports required for the school in order to improve pupil achievement in particular curricular areas. Board knowledge of and participation in annual reviews of the posts of responsibility will assist this work also.

 

 

1.3 In-school management

The principal was appointed in 1968. He has successfully nurtured a culture of collaboration, diligence and commitment from the entire school community. Planning processes have been developed which link purposefully with the Primary School Curriculum 1999 and which inform whole school planning documentation and individual teachers’ written preparation. The principal leads instructionally, by example with all teaching staff encouraged to adopt new methodologies and rely on more traditional approaches whenever appropriate. The high achievement rates of the pupils and the manner in which they relate to the adults in the school are clear indicators of the effectiveness of the approach to teaching and learning of this principal.  

There is a deputy principal post and a special duties post in the school. Both sets of duties are carried out responsibly and diligently. Specific areas of responsibility for curricular, pastoral and organisational issues have been allocated. Regular reportage of the work of the posts should occur between the post holders and the board of management. 

 

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

A very positive relationship is evident between the school and the local community. The parent body works closely with the school to provide logistical, funding and moral support. It is now timely for the school to consider the formation of a parents’ association. The development of such a structure would enhance the capacity of the school, both at board of management and teaching staff levels, to communicate regularly with parents regarding the social and educational experiences of their children. Regular newsletters, building on the current good practice of sharing some curricular information and advice can be initiated.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

Pupils in this school are very motivated and participative in their learning. During the evaluation, they were engaged with the teaching and they displayed imaginative skills in their contributions. Behaviour was excellent. Resources were carefully and purposefully manipulated. Questioning and answering opportunities were exploited and there was a good awareness of the rationale behind all activities.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

There is a well-developed planning culture in this school. The quality of whole-school planning is very good. Whole school plans are clear, delineated for each standard and link well with the individual planning process. The plans reflect closely the principles of the Primary School Curriculum 1999. When reviewing the plans in the future, it is recommended that more detail on assessment be included. There is a need for the plans to provide indicators for the class teachers describing the various levels of achievement of pupils at the various abilities and age levels in each classroom. Linkage with the monthly progress report will assist the school in compiling whole school data on achievement rates across the curriculum. 

The quality of individual teacher planning is also of a high standard. Teachers provide short and long- term plans which outline the intended teaching content. More meaningful reference to the learning outcomes of the pupils should be considered. The monthly report and the school plan can be adapted to support this analysis. Selected areas can be analysed in depth by the assessment tools available to the school. This information can then be tabulated on a whole school basis and appropriate interventions planned and implemented.

 

 

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

Múintear na snáitheanna churaclama sa scoil seo go sciliúil. Forbraítear dearcadh dearfach don teanga trí húsaid chliste a bhaint as acmhainní suimiúla agus gníomhaíochtaí taitneamhacha. I ngach rang, labhrann na daltaí le cumas agus le tuiscint. Léitear le cruinneas agus feictear ard-chaighdeán sa léitheoireacht le cabhair leabhair shuimiúla a sheoltar isteach san fhoghlaim sna meánranganna. Cuidíonn an straitéis seo leis an léitheoireacht tríd an scoil. Sna hardranganna, tá cumas léitheoireachta na ndaltaí go han-mhaith dá bharr. Déantar an-iarracht an scríbhneoireacht a fhorbairt agus sroichtear caighdeán maith trí húsáid chliste a bhaint as taithí na ndaltaí chun smaointe chruthaitheacha a mhealladh.  Tagann na daltaí go dtí an t-ábhar go croíúil. Oibríonn na hoidí go díograiseach chun an teanga a úsáid mar theanga chaidrimh leo féin agus leis na daltaí. Is léir go gcothaítear ard-chaighdeán i bhfoghlaim na teanga le stíl múinteoireachta atá bunaithe ar úsáid agus taitneamh.

Irish

The curricular strands are skilfully taught in this school. A positive outlook on the language is developed through clever use of interesting resources and enjoyable activities. In all classes, the pupils speak well and with understanding. Reading is accurate. High standards in reading are achieved through the use of a range of attractive books, particularly in the middle classes. This strategy helps with reading throughout the school. In the senior classes the standard of reading in Irish is very good as a result. A lot of effort is made to enhance the writing skills of the pupils through good use of the life experiences of the pupils. The pupils embrace the language wholeheartedly. The teachers work diligently in using Irish as the language of  interaction among themselves and with the pupils. It is evident that a high standard of learning in Irish is achieved through usage and enjoyment

 

English

Very high learning standards are achieved by the majority of pupils in English. Teachers implement oral language programmes effectively. Most of the pupils can speak about themselves, their interests and activities with fluency and confidence. The ability of pupils to listen and interact appropriately is commendable. Standardised test results in reading are good. All classes have well stocked libraries. Pupils are keen to display their understanding of plot, character analysis and prediction. English writing is systematically developed throughout the school. Pupils are enthusiastic about engaging in various writing activities and are familiar with the skills of drafting, redrafting and editing. It is recommended that they are now encouraged to utilise information and communication technologies (ICT) to a greater extent than at present, to assist in this process. In some classes, there is evidence of a lack of care and attention regarding pupils’ handwriting skills and written preparation. It is advised that consideration should also be given to encouraging better handwriting standards from some of the pupils.

 

3.2 Mathematics

The quality of the teaching of Mathematics in this school is very high. All teachers work purposefully in line with the principles of the curriculum to enable pupils of the various ages and abilities to engage with the subject matter. Differentiation of questioning and activities was evident. The wide range of resources available in the school was skilfully used to encourage independent learning. Mathematical language was well developed. In all classes, the pupils were very competent orally, engaged in co-operative learning situations enthusiastically and efficiently and displayed a good understanding of the concepts being taught. The high levels of understanding of the pupils are reflected in the standardised test results.

 

3.3 Physical Education [PE]

The standard of teaching and learning in all classes in Physical Education is very high. Integration opportunities with other subjects are successfully exploited. Resources are plentiful, are carefully and effectively manipulated by the pupils and are selected on the basis of their relevance to specific lessons. There is a good emphasis on participation. All strands of the curriculum are covered with teachers emphasising the same strand at particular times of the year. Movement lessons were observed during the evaluation and all pupils displayed high achievement rates. Success was further facilitated by clear direction and a wide variety of interesting activities.

The school participates in a wide range of team competitions for all pupils. Concern was raised during the evaluation about the future availability of the playing pitch beside the school. The board was advised to investigate the possibility of developing more modern facilities suitable for the teaching of PE over the coming years. 

 

3.4 Assessment

Assessment of the learning outcomes for pupils occurs regularly in this school. Micra-T, Sigma-T and the Middle Infant Screening Tests, MIST, [Senior Infants] are administered to all pupils at specific times during the school year. These data are compiled and maintained satisfactorily. For pupils with special educational needs, effective, regular use is made of the assessment data. Individual teachers use classroom observation and activity work outcomes to gather assessment information regarding short-term progress. Assessment of mainstream class pupils’ progress needs to be more formalised in the context of the whole school management of information gathered. Consideration should be given to using the monthly report as an ongoing recording mechanism of pupil achievement.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The school provides both learning support and resource teaching support for a number of pupils. Excellent work is being undertaken in the provision of support for these pupils. The pupils receiving support are very engaged with and enthusiastic about their work. Effective communication strategies are in place to support learning. The school has a well-developed learning support and special educational needs policy that identifies the staged approach as the preferred method of identification, analysis and implementation. Parents are regularly informed about their children’s progress. The school benefits from the services of one full-time learning support teacher and one shared resource teacher both of whom are based in the school. The teaching space allocated for this work is well-maintained, but there is a need for consideration by the board to expand the space available. This would allow for a greater range of strategies to be implemented.

 

The teachers who provide support in the school are commended for their commitment to the very wide range of strategies that are utilised in order to engage the pupils in their care. It is clear that the pupils respond very well to the opportunities provided and the enthusiasm and improved participation in the activities in the mainstream classes is commendable. During the evaluation, in-class intervention work was observed. Highly successful learning outcomes are evident. This is due to the purposeful preparation and the effective management of the supervision of the pupils’ work by the class teacher and the learning support teacher. It is recommended that this approach be expanded to the whole school. Both the learning support and the resource teachers prepare Individual Pupil Learning Profiles (IPLPs) or Individual Education Plans (IEPs), depending on the needs of the child. A wide range of diagnostic tests is systematically used to develop these plans. They are prepared in consultation with parents, class teachers, external agencies and the pupils themselves where appropriate. They contain specific targets and are reviewed bi-annually.

Two special needs assistants are employed to cater for the care needs of three pupils. Effective management of the work of the assistants is evident regarding the management of these pupils’ care needs. In order to build on the good work of the teachers both in and out of the classroom, the amount of contact time allocated to these pupils in the classroom should be analysed. It is important to ensure that all possible learning opportunities are afforded to these pupils.

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

There are no pupils from minority or other groups attending the school at present.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report  

 

The B.O.M. and teaching staff warmly welcome the findings of the Inspectorate in the W.S.E. report issued by the D.E.S. on the 13th of March.

We are delighted that the report acknowledges that:

 

 

 

·         The pupils, whose behaviour is excellent, are very motivated and participative in their learning and display imaginative skills.

 

·         The quality of whole school planning and individual teacher planning is very good.

 

·         In the four curricular areas examined in this evaluation, Gaeilge, English, Maths and P.E., teaching and learning is of a very high standard. In Gaeilge the pupils embrace the language whole heartedly and high standards are achieved through usage and enjoyment, very high standards are achieved by the majority of pupils in English, the quality of the teaching of Mathematics is very high and in Physical Education the standard of teaching and learning in all classes is very high.

 

 

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 appreciates the recognition contained in the report that a good working relationship exists between the board and the school community.

 

The advice given to the board re the development of more modern P.E. facilities and expanding the space available for special education needs would require D.E.S. funding.

 

We would like to acknowledge the positive, encouraging and progressive attitude of the inspector and we will make every effort to make progress in the key recommendations i.e.