An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Scoil Mhuire Lourdes
Loughglynn, County Roscommon
Uimhir rolla: 18536R
Date of inspection: 30 March 2009
A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Mhuire Lourdes was undertaken in March, 2009. 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 Drama. 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.
Scoil Mhuire Lourdes is a rural school located ten kilometres from Castlerea. It caters for boys and girls from infants to sixth class. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Elphin. It receives funding and a co-ordinator under the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) initiative. The school has a significant number of pupils who have moved to the area under the rural resettlement scheme. Enrolment in the school is steadily increasing. Attendance in the school is carefully monitored and encouraged.
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
The staff strives to provide a welcoming, supportive and inclusive school environment. Teachers promote the school’s mission statement by providing an educational experience which values and supports all pupils. The sensitivity and care of the staff are commendable features of the school.
The school’s atmosphere and climate are very positive and respectful.
The board of management is very effective. Meetings are held at least once per term. Members of the board have been allocated various tasks. They show commitment to their roles and carry out their duties very efficiently. The board is well informed about all school issues and is actively involved in running the school through its decisions on appointments and policy development. The board is particularly effective in supporting the school staff with issues concerning pupil behaviour, resources and maintenance.
The principal is very effective in his running of the school. He plays a vital leadership and management role which is acknowledged by the school community. He fulfils all duties to the highest standards in a courteous and democratic manner. He is particularly adept at supporting teachers who have pupils with different needs. He maintains high levels of communication with other professionals to ensure optimal supports are in place for pupils with different needs. His commitment to promoting very good practice in all aspects of school life is commendable.
The quality of communication with the school community is very good. The parents’ representatives expressed a high level of satisfaction with the school. Teachers meet with parents for an annual parent-teacher meeting. Parents are also invited to a meeting each September where school plans and policies are presented and discussed. School reports are issued at the end of the school year. Parents are actively involved in fundraising for the school. Individual parents share their skills with the staff, particularly with sports, craft activities and the school garden. There is also a very good relationship between the school and the Loughglynn community. The school has access to the large community hall. Pupils are involved in the Junior Wardens competition each year. They also participate in the Green Schools initiative and the Discover Primary Science initiative.
The management of pupils is very good. Pupils are encouraged to behave appropriately through a very pupil-friendly code of behaviour. All staff members are very consistent in their management of pupils. Pupils are managed with great care and sensitivity. They are friendly and courteous in their interactions and display an enthusiasm for the different school activities organised.
The quality of whole-school planning is very good. The emphasis placed on the development process is praiseworthy. The staff has devised a long-term plan to ensure planning, review and development of curricular, organisational, resource and maintenance priorities. Plans are very relevant to the context of the school. It is clear that the planning process in the school is inclusive. All teachers are involved and some have taken on leadership roles. Decisions which are noted in the school plan are implemented by all teachers.
The quality of classroom planning is very good. Conscientious planning and preparation are evident in the work of individual teachers throughout the school. The school has developed a common template to assist with short-term planning. This is very effective. It ensures continuity and progression in learning and facilitates the development of a system for monitoring progress. Teachers note content, methodologies, integration and resources. While teachers also note strategies for differentiation, it would be beneficial to document the content to be covered for individual pupils with different needs.
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.
Múintear an Ghaeilge go han-éifeachtach. Cothaítear dearcadh dearfach sna daltaí maidir leis an teanga. Tá tuiscint mhaith ag na daltaí. Cuirtear gníomhaíochtaí spreagúla éisteachta os a gcomhair le cuspóirí cinnte iontu. Baintear feidhm chuí as rainn, amhráin, puipéid, drámaíocht, postaeir agus cluichí teanga chun na daltaí a spreagadh. Úsáidtear réimse acmhainní chun comhthéacs cainte a chruthú. Bíonn an Ghaeilge in úsáid go héifeachtach mar theanga bhainistíochta an ranga. Úsáidtear caint na maidine ar bhonn leanúnach i ranganna áirithe. Leagtar béim inmholta ar obair bheirte agus ar ghrúpobair chun an cur chuige cumarsáideach a chur chun cinn. Tá caighdeán na ndaltaí an-ard maidir le labhairt na Gaeilge. Tá siad in ann iad féin a chur in iúl go muiníneach. Tá siad in ann ceisteanna a chur agus a fhreagairt. Úsáideann siad briathra go cruinn sna haimsirí difriúla agus iad ag caint go leanúnach faoi réimse théamaí.
Tá caighdeán na léitheoireachta ard. Sonraítear neart ábhar léirithe sna seomraí ranga. Léann daltaí go muiníneach. Moltar, áfach, béim a leagan ar fhoghraíocht na Gaeilge chun cruinneas na léitheoireachta a fhorbairt sa bhreis. Tá scríbhneoireacht na ndaltaí an-mhaith. Tá taithí fiúntach faighte acu i raon leathan de thascanna scríbhneoireachta. Bunaítear na cleachtaí scríbhneoireachta ar théamaí na gceachtanna. Bíonn na daltaí in ann scríobh go cruinn agus go líofa faoi théamaí áirithe.
Irish is taught very effectively. A positive attitude to the language is promoted among the pupils. Pupils have a good understanding of Irish. They are presented with stimulating listening activities with specific learning objectives. Appropriate use is made of rhymes, songs, puppets, drama, posters and language games to motivate the pupils. A range of resources is used to create a suitable language context. Irish is used effectively as the language of the classroom. Ongoing use is made of daily news in certain classes. A commendable emphasis is placed on pair work and group work to promote the communicative approach. Pupils’ standard of spoken Irish is very high. They can express themselves confidently. They can ask and answer questions. They use verbs accurately in different tenses when speaking at length about different topics.
The standard of reading is high. Print-rich environments are provided in each classroom. Pupils read confidently. It is recommended, however, that an emphasis be placed on the phonetics of Irish to further develop the accuracy of reading. Pupils’ writing is very good. They have valuable experiences of writing in a variety of genres. Writing activities are based on the themes of lessons. Pupils can write accurately and fluently on specific themes.
The teaching of English is very successful. The standards achieved in English are very good. Teachers promote oral-language development through appropriate activities and ensure pupil-pupil interaction. Pupils speak confidently. Language is developed effectively across the curriculum. A language-experience approach is promoted in a competent manner in the infant classes. These pupils also participate in a variety of laudable language activities which involve parents. It is recommended that teachers plan for specific vocabulary development in their oral-language lessons.
The standard of English reading is good. All learning environments are rich in print. Pupils are generally confident readers. Class libraries are well stocked, attractively presented and regularly restocked. Pupils are encouraged to research topics and to read for pleasure as they progress through the school. Pupils’ phonological skills are developed in a structured manner and a broad emergent-reading plan is implemented. Parents of infants get valuable advice sheets on how they can support their child’s learning. Pupils respond well to a range of class novels, which are used very effectively to complement the use of formal reading schemes. All classes have experiences of rhymes and poetry. A very successful and highly commended ‘buddy reading’ system is in place in the school. Pupils also engage in shared reading with parents.
There is good development of English writing through the school. Pupils are proficient at writing in a variety of genres. Written work is carefully monitored and corrected. Teachers promote the writing process very successfully across the curriculum. There are examples of pupils’ writing in a variety of genres on display throughout the school. Pupils’ handwriting is neat, well organised and is monitored regularly. Pupils have achieved a good understanding of writing conventions. A cursive handwriting style is introduced at second class and most pupils have developed a fluent and legible personal style of handwriting in senior classes.
The quality of teaching in Mathematics is very good. Lessons are carefully sequenced and paced. Teachers use a variety of games, visual aids and concrete materials to engage pupils in activities. Topics are revised regularly to ensure that pupils retain knowledge of each strand. All classrooms display a Mathematics-rich environment. Activities are fruitfully linked to pupils’ lives and experiences. Very effective use is made of mathematical trails. A commendable emphasis is placed on the development of mathematical language. In some classes, teachers emphasise pair work and group work to ensure pupils can discuss their work accurately. A very good emphasis is placed on mental computation. A whole-school approach to problem-solving is used by each teacher. In the senior classes, pupils document rules and vocabulary associated with each strand in a reference copy.
The quality of teaching and learning in Drama is very good. It is effectively taught as a discrete subject and as a methodology in other subject areas. Pupils are provided with suitable learning opportunities to explore and make drama, reflect on drama and co-operate and communicate in making drama. There is a clear structure to each lesson with adequate time given to warm-up activities to create the fictional lens required for the lesson. Teachers ensure discussion before, during and at the end of drama lessons. The content is appropriate to the class level and full participation is facilitated. Social skills, language skills and communication skills are emphasised. Pupils respond creatively to stimuli through a variety of well-planned activities. The teachers are to be commended for embracing a wide range of strategies and approaches in the teaching of this subject.
Pupils’ progress in curricular areas is monitored and recorded on a regular basis. Teacher observation, teacher-designed tasks and tests, homework assignments, project work and portfolios are maintained in a number of classes. Some teachers have devised very effective practices to assess pupils’ attainment of objectives across the curriculum, a practice which could be implemented on a whole-school basis. Standardised tests in literacy and numeracy are carried out annually. Results from these assessments are used to analyse pupils’ progress and to assist in the identification of pupils requiring supplementary support and teaching. The teachers graph results and examine the overall school results, a practice which is highly successful. Pupils in infant classes are assessed using the Middle Infant Screening Test. The extent to which teachers have detailed insights into the abilities, learning styles and needs of the pupils in their care is praiseworthy.
The quality of supports for pupils with special educational needs is very good. Teachers have established very strong relationships with their pupils, which greatly aids their learning and self-esteem. Interactions are very encouraging and affirming. Detailed individual plans have been devised for each pupil. These are based on the pupils’ priority needs in consultation with pupils’ parents and class teachers. In some cases targets could be more explicit. Pupils’ progress is regularly recorded and reviewed. Lessons observed were very well structured with teachers ensuring that pupils engaged in appropriate learning activities. Very effective early-interventions strategies are implemented. The school should, however, consider formal in-class support for certain pupils.
The school is commended for the high quality of policy and practice to support pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and minority groups. The school avails of the services of a shared DEIS co-ordinator. Home visits to parents form the core work of the co-ordinator. The school has also identified priority targets for literacy and numeracy. The engagement with the project ‘One Book, One Town’ in conjunction with Roscommon County Library and the involvement of parents in literacy and arts programmes for their children is commendable. Where the teaching of specific curricular areas is done, it is recommended that specific objectives be documented.
The school has strengths in the following areas:
· The school’s board of management is hardworking and dedicated.
· The standards in all curricular areas are very high.
· Pupils are very carefully managed and cared for, particularly those with additional needs.
· The quality of school planning is very high with a very good emphasis on the planning process.
· The principal is highly commended for his skills in leading and developing very good practice in all aspects of school life.
· The quality of teaching across the school is very high.
· Teachers use a very broad range of methodologies and resources to ensure pupil engagement.
· Assessment of pupils’ progress is very good.
· The quality of supports for pupils with different learning needs is very good.
The following key recommendations are made in order to further improve the quality of education provided by the school:
· It is recommended that teachers document the differentiation of curricular tasks for individual pupils.
· It is recommended that teachers plan for vocabulary development in oral English.
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 November 2009
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1: Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board of Management are delighted that the hard work carried out by the staff of our school on a daily basis has been acknowledged. We find the many positive comments on every aspect of our school to be extremely encouraging. The WSE has been very beneficial to all involved. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our inspector fro all her hard work in carrying out thes WSE.
Area 2: Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection
Differentiation of curricular tasks for individual pupils is now documented in a clearer manner in teacher’s plans. Specific oral language targets are now being documented in planning.