An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

SN Naomh Bríd

Errew, Co. Mayo.

Uimhir rolla:185 03C

 

Date of inspection: 16 November 2007

 

 

 

 

Whole School Evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils

Conclusion

 

 

 

Whole-School Evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of SN Naomh Bríd was undertaken in November, 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.  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

 

This three teacher school is located in Errew ‘a place apart’ some five miles south of Castlebar Town in a historic rural setting with a long tradition in education since the Franciscan Monks set up a monastery there for the education of boys in 1840. In 1887 a school for the education of girls opened and both were amalgamated in 1975. In the absence of a community centre the school provides the focal hub where all the community’s activities take place. It is within this expression of community that the school operates and there is a common concept of ownership between the community and the activities of the school. The school garden is cared for by a close neighbour and an interactive musical sculpture titled Monk with Candle alongside a large wooden Xylophone in the playground, has attracted musicians and artists to the school over the last year.

 

 

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

70

Mainstream classes in the school

08

Teachers on the school staff

03

Mainstream class teachers

03

Teachers working in support roles

02

Special needs assistants

01

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

The school is an open interactive centre where a warm welcome is extended to all who visit. The central operative mission of the school is to provide a child-centred formative education experience based on best practise to all the pupils who attend this school. In the mission statement of this school reference is made to the aims of creating a spiritually-sound learning environment where each individual is cherished equally regardless of creed, social circumstance or difference. The school also aspires to create individual thinkers within the framework of social interactive classrooms, where a sense of self and self-worth pervades the process. Active and well thought out interventions are identified in this school to transfer the aims and aspirations identified into school and classroom practise at every level.

 

1.2 Board of management

 

The board of management is currently being replaced under the procedures of article 14 of the Education Act; it assumes corporate governance for the school and operates under the patronage of the Archdiocese of Tuam. The board supports the community spirit of the school, it facilitates the formulation and adoption of policies as necessary, it encourages parental involvement and supports the initiatives of school staff as well as participating actively in various school initiatives as support staff and facilitators. There is close communication between the chairperson and the school staff through regular visits and this ensures proactive support for the school. The school building is kept in exemplarary condition thanks to the local pride in its functioning as well as the efforts of the caretaker and pupils and staff. The recent division of first class on gender basis at the beginning of this school year requires changing as soon as practicable. The board recorded their gratitude to the principal and staff at the pre-evaluation meeting and indicated their satisfaction with the quality of education available in the school.

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The principal of this school has excellent leadership qualities, he mentors and supports school staff initiatives and fosters change and development by example. The deputy principal participates and supports school development planning and takes charge of the induction programme for the infant section annually. All the members of the school staff are excellent professional practitioners with an open proactive approach to school development and problem solving. All the staff members regularly undertake professional development courses and the assistant teacher requires positive mention on her philosophical and pedagogical input to classroom practice. The school is currently involved in a three year project to develop literacy levels as part of a school development initiative. The school is held in high esteem locally and this is evident in the regular visitations of past pupils and parents. The school staff recorded their professional appreciation of the sustained and constructive involvement of the parents in all of the schools’ activities. The provision of learning support and resource teaching hours in the school requires review to ensure that the pupils receive the appropriate allocation of hours per week. Also duties engaged in by the post holders should now be recorded as part of the general review of the school plan being pursued as a result of this inspection process.

 

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

There are excellent and open communication structures operating in this school both within the school partnerships and with the greater community. Parental involvement in the pupils’ education is positively encouraged and active interventions are in place to support pupils learning and skills development. Home-school support projects are in place such as shared reading, novel review, Maths activities and summer work schemes the middle section for particular pupils. The school has been involved with ‘Food Dudes’ a programme promoting healthy eating habits sponsored by Department of Agriculture and Food and An Bórd Bia and a rota of parents ensured the distribution of food on a daily basis. This school has an open and welcoming ethos and mutual respect and dignity pervades school activities. During the post evaluation meeting the teachers expressed their gratitude to the parents for their ongoing support.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

A caring warm work ethos is the characteristic spirit of this school and it is underpinned by the Dignity at Work charter drawn up by the various school partners and ratified by the school board of management. The charter outlines the respect and dignity that’s to be afforded to all who work in the school as well as recognising the individual dignity of all participants. The board is commended for the continued investment it has made for accessing pupil support and the provision of educational materials and resources. The numerous displays on corridors are testimony to the variety and quality of pupils work and the pupils take great pride in showcasing their individual contributions.

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

There are over fifty five separate policy documents created for the organisational aspects of this school as well as discrete plans for the various curricular areas and an agreed development plan covering different aspects of school life to be implemented over the next five years. The plan has been ratified by the board and now requires a structured provision to ensure that the parents can peruse the plan and comment on aspects of interest. The plan is in line with Department of Education and Science policies and is reviewed every two years.

 

Long term and short term classroom planning is characterised by agreed templates. Frequent use is made of education resources and structured materials and the central principles of the curriculum are implemented in all the classrooms. A variety of assessment techniques is employed to guide differentiated activities and thematic exploration of concepts can pervade the whole school. Emphasis is placed on developing independent learners and the programme is tailored to be commensurate with the pupil’s abilities.

 

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

Cothaíonn an scoil seo cionn agus cumas sa Ghaeilge sa dóigh go mbíonn formhór na ndaltaí in ann ról idirchaidrimh a ghlacadh leis na hoidí, cuairteoirí agus daltaí eile roimh dheireadh na bunscoile dóibh. Baintear úsáid chreidinúnach as ról aithris, agallaimh agus drámaíocht ar fud na scoile chun comhrá a fhorbairt agus baineann na daltaí taitneamh as a gcleachtaithe sa teanga ar ócáidí scoile agus phoibhlí. Baintear usáid fhóinteach as cleachtais comhpháirtíochta léitheoireachta idir daltaí i ranganna sóisearacha agus sinsearacha agus síntear a dtaithí léitheoireachta dá réir. Bhéadh sé ábharach ath-bhreithniú a dhéanamh ar chlár scríbhneóireachta na ndaltaí d’fhonn raon oibre agus cur chuigí na ndaltaí a leathnú a thuilleadh fós. Is inmholta  freisin an cleachtas atá sa scoile cuid den chlár corpoideachais a reachtáil sa teanga chomh maith leis an úsáid fheidhmiúil a bhaintear as an teanga san idirchumarsáid scoile.

 

 

 

Irish

This school concentrates on developing regard and competence in Irish and most of the pupils can engage in fluent language exchanges with teachers, visitors as well as other pupils before leaving the primary school. Commendable use is made of role play, interviews and drama to foster language usage and the pupils enjoy and benefit from their presentations during school and communal activities. Excellent use is made of shared reading practices ’léamh le chéile’ between junior and senior pupils as part of their school experiences in reading. It would be opportune to review the pupils’ current writing programmes to extend their experience of different genres and literature contained in the language. Excellent use is made of functional Irish as part of the physical education programme as well as in the day to day communication practises within the school.

 

 

English

This school presents a structured sequenced programme in English inclusive of all the curricular principles and using a range of suitable curricular methodologies. Effective practise is evident in the implementation of the different aspects of the programme. The centrality of oral language is developed as a thinking and communicating tool and reading is emphasised for research and information gathering and as a source for recreation and pleasure. The middle classes in particular exemplify a well thought out understanding of the core principles of an integrated curriculum.

 

 

 

3.2 Mathematics

 

Concrete materials are used to develop the pupils’ understanding of mathematical concepts and computation. Appropriate emphasis is placed on using terminology during discussions and during collaborative problem solving activities. Exercises in mental arithmetic are a regular feature of classroom activities and task differentiation and mathematical resources are used during problem solving workshops. Pupils in the school achieve creditable standards on standardised assessment tests and individual profiles of attainment are collated on a sequential basis.

 

3.3 Physical Education

 

 The principal takes primary responsibility for physical education in this school. The activities are regular and well structured and emphasis is placed on health and safety issues during practise periods. The pupils derive great pleasure and agility from their engagement with physical education and exercises and skills practise are appropriate to individual pupils. Efforts at ensuring adequate balance between the strands are restricted by school facilities such as size of school yard and lack of a general purposes room. School equipment is used regularly and well maintained. Bilingual usages are central to the programme and exchanges between pupil and pupil as well as using Irish as a language of instruction features. Structured and progressive lessons were evident that were inclusive of all pupils. Pupils worked well together in pairs and groups independently of teacher.

 

 

3.4 Assessment

 

The school uses a range of assessment modes to engage in both formative and summative assessment including commercially produced standardised norm-referenced and criterion-referenced test as well as school based assessment tools. Copies of the assessments are shared with the relevant parties including parents and curriculum is frequently mediated in a differentiated format. It is recommended that norm-referenced test results are collated on a sequential basis and that criterion-referenced test results are copied to individual pupil profiles. A regular review of assessment procedures should be addressed within individual case conferencing sessions inclusive of parents and pupils in the middle and senior classes as well as in whole–staff meetings. Good standards of attainment are a feature of this school and the use of attainment assessment in the wider curriculum provision is laudable.

 

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

Both of the support teachers in this school provide tailored and structured interventions for pupils in this category. Parents and classroom teachers are included in these discussions. Pupils receive additional support on a whole class basis in the senior infant section and both individually and in small groups throughout the school. It was noted during this inspection process that the relevant pupils are not in receipt of either the required general allocation hours or resource service hours as determined by the Department of Education and Science. This provision should be reviewed and corrected as a matter of urgency. Also it was noted that the current cluster of schools within the provision does not lend itself to cost or service efficiencies and should be reviewed to remedy this situation also. The current evaluation of the pupil with low incidence needs should be reviewed as well the allocation of duties to the Special Needs Assistant to be inclusive of drill and practise as guided by speech therapy.

 

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

 

This school has partial inclusion in the DEIS programme which ensures additional funding of a thousand euro to the school. The current enrolment of pupils is reasonably homogenous and therefore no additional staffing allocation is required for minority groups. The school however provides an inclusive programme based on identified needs to all the pupils and is to be commended for the range of both curricular and extra curricular supports it provides throughout the school year.

 

 

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 Board of Management and staff would like to thank the Inspector for the professional sensitive and courteous manner in which the W.S.E. was carried out.  We are particularly pleased that, the report reflects the positive work being undertaken in our school and that the professionalism, commitment and dedication of our teaching staff has been recognised.  It portrays an accurate picture of the school and reflects the high standard of education provided for the children and the positive contribution of teachers, parents, B.O.M. and wider community.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published June 2008