An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Cloghogue National School

Castlebaldwin, County Sligo

Uimhir rolla:  18543O

 

Date of inspection: 10 October 2007

Date of issue of report: 12 March 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

 


Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Cloghogue National School 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 Music.  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

 

The school participates in the School Support Programme of Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), the action plan of the Department of Education and Science to address educational disadvantage.

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

80

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teachers on the school staff

3

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support roles

3

Special needs assistants

0

 

 

1. Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

 

There is a strong common sense of purpose among the school community. The vision for the school focuses on the holistic development of all pupils. The school facilitates the nurturing of each child’s full potential. The chairperson supports the school effectively by visiting the school regularly.

 

1.2 Board of management

 

The board of management meets regularly and members gives generously of their time. The board is highly supportive of the teachers and discharges its role in a positive manner. It is commended for supporting education in the challenging situation that arises due to the high numbers of pupils in limited space during this current year. This situation will be alleviated when the school gets four mainstream classroom teachers in the next academic year. The board members collaborate with the principal and under his guidance discuss and ratify school policies. It is recommended that policies are reviewed on a cyclical basis. The board works effectively on behalf of the staff and pupils.

The board’s financial decisions and actions lead to clear improvements in the school environment. Recent upgrading included the development of the yard, the levelling of the basketball pitch and the rewiring of the school. It is recommended that the board should focus, as resources allow, on the purchasing of larger format books in both English and Irish, on acquiring further information and communications technology (ICT) and on accessing additional pre-reading materials and mathematical activities. The board should make an application for a building project to cater for its increasing enrolment.

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The principal teacher has served in this school with enthusiasm and energy for almost thirty years. His considered approach to the provision of education is praiseworthy. He carries out his duties with care and is courteous to all the professionals who work in the school. He has initiated and progressed sports and organisational developments that reflect his vision and management skills. Very good professional relationships exist between the principal and the other staff members.

The deputy principal, who was unavoidably absent at the time of the evaluation, has given almost forty years of commendable and dedicated service to the school. She works in a collegial manner with the principal and together with the second assistant teacher has fostered a positive climate in the school. They have facilitated the involvement of pupils in Cumann na mBunscoil competitions with success over the years. Both boys’ and girls’ teams have won county titles and have represented Sligo in the Connacht mini-sevens competitions. The teachers in collaboration with the parents enter the pupils in both hurling and camogie competitions. Teachers facilitate the pupils to participate in Credit Union quizzes and in local art competitions.

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

A warm, welcoming and caring atmosphere permeates this school with the well-being of the pupils being the principal concern of all the staff. The self-esteem of pupils is promoted with care. Enrolment has increased in the last few years and, due to the large number of houses now being built in the area, numbers are likely to increase yet again. The principal harnesses an atmosphere of mutual support in the school community. The parents are informed of matters in relation to the school. They, in turn, give undivided support to the school when requested as has been evident in the various maintenance jobs undertaken by the school and in the annual party organised by the parents on First Holy Communion day. The teachers and parents work co-operatively to encourage healthy lunches and to support the school book loan scheme.

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

Class allocation on the whole takes account of pupils’ achievement, abilities and needs. Emphasis is placed on early intervention and reducing the numbers at the junior end of the school. Pupils are well behaved, courteous and co-operative for their teachers. Pupils appear eager to learn and participate enthusiastically in extra-curricular activities.

 

 

2. Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

The quality of whole-school planning is satisfactory. The board of management is engaged to a limited scale in the development of the school plan. The principal and other members of the teaching staff formulate the school policies which are in turn taken to board meetings for discussion. In order to fully comply with the Education Act 1998, it is recommended that the board of management discusses, ratifies and reviews the policies on a systematic basis. Some sections of the plan are disseminated to parents through an information pack. Organisational polices have been formulated to fulfil the legislative requirements outlined in the Education Act. Some of the curricular policies require review and the insertion of additional guidance for teachers to enable the pupils to achieve even higher standards in school. Methodologies, resources, assessment tools and strategies for differentiation need to be listed in each of the policies to ensure variety and consistency in the delivery of the curriculum.

Individual teachers implement specific elements of the school plan. Emphasis in the plan should be placed on continually improving classroom practice and enhancing pupils’ achievement. The use of action plans in dealing with priorities needs to be considered. Teachers provide monthly reports, long-term plans and short-term plans as part of their planning and preparation. All teachers plan according to the content objectives of the curriculum. A good deal of the classroom planning observed does not outline adequately the skills, methodologies, integration opportunities, differentiation strategies and resources which are being used in the school. Planning is inconsistent throughout the school. A uniform planning template would help to give the consistency required.

 

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

Tá dearcadh dearfach á chothú i measc na ndaltaí i leith na Gaeilge agus cloiseann na daltaí an teanga in úsáid i rith an lae. Baintear úsáid as cluichí, dánta, rainn agus amhráin go rialta sa teagasc. Déantar cúram de shnáithe na héisteachta. Déanann an scoil freastal cóir ar an léitheoireacht. Tá na daltaí cruinn ó taobh gramadaí, foghraíocht agus aimsirí de. Léann formhór na ndaltaí le tuiscint. Téitear rómhór i muinín na scéime Inis Dom agus acmhainní a ghabhann leis an scéim mar fhoinsí teagaisc sa phleanáil. I gcomhthéacs na scoile uile sa todhchaí, tá gá le plean ghnímh don Ghaeilge ina mbeadh fócas níos cinnte ar áiseanna, ar na feidhmeanna teanga, ar mhodheolaíocht, ar straitéisí teagaisc agus ar chuspóirí agus ar spriocanna cinnte foghlama.

Déantar freastal maith ar leathnú foclóra agus ar struchtúr na teanga a theagasc trí úsáid a bhaint as an sluafhreagairt san iomlán. Moltar don scoil níos mó deiseanna a chur ar fáil do na daltaí chun obair a dhéanamh ar thascanna i mbeirteanna. Moltar chomh maith drámaíocht agus scéalaíocht a dhéanamh go foirmiúil sna ceachtanna Gaeilge. B’fhiú Gaeilge a úsáid in ábhar eile an churaclaim mar chorpoideachas. Tá gá le níos mó cairteacha teagaisc agus lipéidí a chur ar fáil chun cur leis an bhfocal scríofa sna seomraí ranga. Cothaítear éagsúlacht sa scríbhneoireacht. Tá caighdeán na foghlama sa Ghaeilge go maith sa scoil.

 

 

Irish

A positive attitude to Irish is promoted among the pupils in the school and the pupils hear Irish being spoken during the day. Games, poems, rhymes and songs are used regularly in the teaching. Attention is given to the strand of listening. Reading is attended to properly. Pupils display accuracy in relation to grammar, pronunciation and to the tenses. Most pupils read with comprehension. The teachers depend on Inis Dom scheme and its ancillary materials as the starting source in their planning. In the context of the future of  the whole school, it is necessary to have an action plan for Irish where there will be a more certain focus on resources, on the language functions, on methodologies, on teaching strategies and on definite teaching objectives and targets.

Good attention is given to the extension of vocabulary and on the teaching of the structure of the language through the use of class responses in the main. It is recommended that more opportunities for pair work be provided where pupils can work in pairs on tasks. It is also recommended that drama and story telling are used formally in Irish lessons. Consideration should be given to using Irish in some other subject of the curriculum such as Physical Education. There is a need to provide more teaching charts and labels to complement the written word in classrooms. Variety is sustained in the written work. The quality of learning in Irish is good in the school.

 

English

The teachers facilitate talk and discussion in all curricular areas, thus promoting the development of oral English skills. They use a variety of strategies to do this. During the evaluation, senior pupils were able to talk confidently about their excellent project on local history. Field trips had been organised to source the information and local historians had been invited to visit the school and talk to the children about their life experiences. An artefact table was on display in another classroom which stimulates discussion. It is recommended that a greater emphasis is placed on nursery rhymes, pre-reading skills and listening skills at the junior end. The use of drama as a useful methodology in oral language needs to be explored.

The foundations of reading are solidly established and reading skills are taught very successfully throughout the school. Spelling and phonics are very well taught in the school. The board of management needs to consider the provision of more library books and large format books to facilitate both silent reading and reading modelled by the teacher.

Writing skills are taught well. Some fine examples of creative and functional writing are produced and the adherence to a cursive handwriting scheme would enhance the output. The pupils should experience a classroom environment that encourages writing and it is recommended that all teachers create a print-rich environment in their classrooms with word lists, dolch lists, charts, phrases and captions on display. Pupils should be encouraged even more in the junior and middle classes to write and draw about their experiences and feelings. Very good emphasis is placed on punctuation and grammar. Pupils experience success in oral, reading and writing activities.

 

 

 

3.2 Mathematics

 

The mathematical education provided for the pupils is developmentally appropriate. Pupils display competence in recalling number facts with accuracy. A range of mathematical problems was discussed and pupils responded with confidence. It was noted that emphasis has been predominantly on the strand of number in this first part of the term and it is now recommended that teachers plan for linkage with number so to give Mathematics a practical dimension. It is also recommended that more emphasis is placed on the use of the environment in the teaching of mathematics, on the promotion of mathematical language and on the development of problem solving. The further use of resources is recommended and in this regard further investment in equipment is warranted. The use of ICT in the teaching of Mathematics should be explored. The quality of the teaching in Mathematics is good and the quality of the learning is commendable.

 

3.3 Music

 

The quality of teaching in Music in some classrooms is praiseworthy. It is recommended that the expertise of staff in this subject area is shared. The acquisition of a musical keyboard should be explored as a resource for the school. Percussion instruments are used appropriately. Due attention is being given to the strand of listening and responding in some classes. Further work could be done in the area of responding to music. A visiting music teacher conducts singing lessons with the senior classes. The quality of this work is good. Pupils sing a variety of local, Irish and traditional songs. The pupils perform at the annual Christmas celebration. The strand of composing, improvising and creating needs to be explored further while the strand of literacy needs further nurturing. A school policy on Music, which has yet to be formulated, will assist in this regard. The overall structure and pace of lessons is good.

 

3.4 Assessment

 

A range of assessment modes is used in the school, most notably teacher observation. Records of standardised tests are carefully maintained. These are used to inform teachers and to communicate with parents of those pupils who may need supplementary teaching. Teachers have begun a profile on pupils’ attainment which they intend to build upon in the future. Reports are sent home to parents at the end of the academic year and overall pupils are performing well. Test results are  recorded systematically.

 

4. Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

The quality of support for pupils with educational needs is very good. Provision is planned and co-ordinated to make the best use of the expertise and material resources available. The policy in relation to support teaching has been formulated in a collaborative manner. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is used by the infant teacher to identify those pupils who may require support at an early stage. The learning support teacher works with those identified pupils on a specific programme of work. Support is provided by the support staff on both a withdrawal basis and in-class. Individual Profile and Learning Programme (IPLPs ) and Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are formulated to meet the needs of the pupils.

Resources are used effectively during the support sessions. Topics in History and Geography are differentiated by the support teacher in advance of the topic being discussed in class. This makes the material relevant and supports the self-esteem of such pupils. ICT is used occasionally in the support room. The co-operation between the class teachers and the learning support teachers is to be commended as this adds considerably to the quality of the support given in the school.

 

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

 

The school avails of the services of a co-ordinator who works in this school one day a week. She began working with the school in September 2007. This post has been provided under the DEIS initiative and training for this post is due to take place shortly. A three-year plan has been formulated recently during a school development planning (SDP) day but awaits implementation. The co-ordinator works in classrooms sharing her expertise in Drama. She is using this methodology to get to know the pupils in the school. Clarity in relation to her role will be discussed at the in-service days which have been arranged. She is willing to co-operate with the staff in addressing the targets set by the school in their DEIS action plan.

 

5. Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

·         The school has a dedicated and supportive board of management.

·         Interaction between the principal, staff, pupils and the school community is very positive and this helps secure high levels of co-operation, collaboration and commitment.

·         The care and welfare of the pupils is paramount to all those who work in the school.

·         The overall quality of pupils’ achievement in both English and Mathematics is commendable.

·         The quality of support teaching received by the pupils is praiseworthy.

 

 

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

·         The board of management should invest in further mathematical resources, in ICT and in large format books as resources allow.

·         The board of management should consider the re-establishment of a parents’ association.

·         Individual short-term and long-term planning should be more detailed.

·         The staff should review all policies on a systematic basis and address areas for development through action planning.

·         The teachers should create a print-rich environment for their pupils in both English and Irish.

·         The teachers should share expertise among the staff in the teaching of Music.

 

 

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.