An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Moyasta National School
Moyasta, Kilkee, Co. Clare
Roll number: 18565 B
Date of inspection: 4 October 2006
Date of issue of report: 15 December 2006
This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Moyasta National School. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspector held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which an inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. 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.
Moyasta National School is a two teacher co-educational primary school situated in west Clare on the main N 67 route approximately half way between the towns of Kilrush and Kilkee. The school serves mainly the families living locally and the number of pupils now attending is 26. It is expected that the number of pupils enrolled should remain close to this figure in the immediate future. Pupils’ attendance at this school is excellent. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic bishop of the diocese of Killaloe. The school mission statement reflects its Catholic ethos and also promotes partnership between the school, parents and the wider community in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
The board of management provides strong and effective leadership and ably supports the staff and parents across all school activities. The board is properly constituted and officers have been appointed to the positions of chairperson, secretary and treasurer with all members having specific assigned duties. The board of management meets regularly and has a minimum of one meeting a term and arranges other meetings to deal with important issues as they arise. Minutes of all meetings are maintained, financial reports are compiled and the finances of the board are certified each year. The school has adequate finances to meet present needs. A number of board members have attended seminars arranged by the patron to assist them in their duties. All board members have ease of contact with the principal and staff and meetings between chairperson, principal and staff are regular. The board has recently completed a refurbishment project and is now ensuring that the school is being maintained to a very high standard. At the moment the board is actively engaged with the National Roads Authority (NRA) and the County Council concerning issues of safety and related car parking facilities as the members of the board consider the present facilities to be posing severe safety hazards.
The board of management supports the running of the school by ensuring that finance is available to meet the purchase of resources. In addition the board maintains good relationships with parents and ensures that there is very good communication among board members, the parent’s council and the general parent body. Board members discuss all school policies presented for ratification, make recommendations where deemed necessary, and ratify plans when finally agreed by the partners. Regular newsletters and information notes are distributed to parents and there are meetings between the parent representatives on the board of management and the officers and members of the parents’ association. The board of management considers the school to be a well run, welcoming, place where the contributions of all are valued. The board members lauded all the teachers for their diligence, enthusiasm and hard work in providing a broad well-balanced curriculum. The board considers that pupil achievement is high and it believes that pupils are well prepared for the transfer to second-level schools. Each year a number of social functions are organised by the board in conjunction with the teachers and parents. Pupils with special needs are well supported through the resources and teaching supports available in the school. The board of management very effectively carries out its work which is evidenced by the resources provided for teachers and pupils, the communication strategies that are in place and reported parents’ satisfaction with the running of the school.
The in-school management team consists of the principal and deputy principal. Duties are clearly defined for these post holders and contracts are in place. The principal provides the school with effective leadership and has developed very good working relationships with the chairperson of the board of management, members of the board, all members of the teaching and ancillary staff and with parents. Since her appointment in 2001 the principal has prioritised the development of a caring, inclusive and stimulating learning environment and it is evident from the atmosphere in the school that she has succeeded in effectively implementing this objective.
The principal has introduced the whole school planning process to this school and has suitably engaged the partners in this process. To date a number of very relevant administrative policies have been structured and are being successfully implemented. Plans in a number of curricular areas have been developed with due emphasis placed on using the local environment to enhance teaching and learning experiences for the pupils. The principal promotes good communication with parents through newsletters and by encouraging parents to visit the school on a regular basis thus ensuring that their concerns are managed promptly and efficiently.
The deputy principal ably assists the principal in fulfilling her duties. The responsibilities ascribed to the deputy principal include curricular, organisational and pastoral duties. These duties are executed diligently and conscientiously. The duties assigned to this post were ascribed some time ago. It is recommended that they are reviewed on a more regular basis in order to ensure that they meet the immediate priority needs of the school. Each member of the staff takes an active part in running the school and in promoting the welfare of the pupils. Staff meetings take place regularly and a number of meetings are held after school to deal with issues as they arise. The management and staff are commended for their efforts in ensuring that the school is run efficiently and in a caring and inclusive manner.
The teaching staff of Moyasta National School comprises teaching principal, teaching deputy principal and a learning-support/resource teacher based in the school who also has resource teaching hours in Bansha N.S. Classes in the school are divided along traditional lines with the principal teaching the senior section comprising fourteen pupils and the deputy principal caters for the twelve pupils in the junior section. The learning-support/resource teacher gives assistance to a cohort of eight pupils. Pupils with special education needs are well catered for in this school and the staff has engaged in a number of courses which has expanded its expertise in this area. At present there are two special-needs assistants in the school. The duties of the special-needs assistants are clearly laid out and they make a valuable contribution to the education of the pupils in their care and in assisting them progress towards becoming independent learners. The school has assistance from a part-time secretary who also carries out caretaking duties. The school is maintained to a very high standard of décor and cleanliness and is a credit to the work of the caretaker and all involved in its maintenance.
The first permanent school structure in Moyasta was built in the 1850s by the local landlord. The present school dates from the 1960s and major refurbishment took place in the years 2002 to 2003. The school is very well set out to cater for the curricular and educational needs of the pupils. The building is comprised of two classrooms of adequate size for existing pupil numbers, a general-purposes room, learning-support room, staff room, principal’s office, adequate toilet and cloakroom facilities and indoor and outdoor storage areas. The grounds of the school encompass a large tarmacadam play area, a playing pitch, running track, hard-court area and a large grass area. All of these areas are maintained to a high standard.
The range of resources on hand in the school is of a very high standard with a plentiful supply of equipment available to assist the learning process across all curricular areas. All classrooms have well-stocked libraries and have available a wide range of reference books, novels and story books. The school is currently building up a store of artefacts and records to assist it in the development of its history curriculum and of particular note are the quality and diversity of physical education equipment available in the school. The school has developed an information and communication suite with six computers networked and a range of suitable software available. During lessons the teachers effectively use a wide range of charts and other illustrative material to enhance lesson presentation. The efforts of the pupils, especially in the area of Visual Arts are displayed in the classrooms and in the school corridor. Overall the school presents a stimulating learning environment and portrays the implementation of a broad and balanced curriculum.
The school has an active parents’ association which has built up close ties with the board of management. Parental involvement in many of the school’s activities is at a high level with parents assisting in organising church and social activities. Parents also support the school by the provision of transport to games and events and by their involvement in fundraising activities. Parents’ association officers liaise regularly with parents’ representatives on the board of management and also with the principal and individual teachers. Parents’ association members have some input into developing school policy especially in the area of homework and in the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) policy. Parents are also involved in the Green Schools’ Environmental Project. Parents support a shared reading scheme and the development of reading strategies in general. Parents lauded the work of the teachers in providing a very good education for the children under their care. Especially important to parents was the ease of access to teachers who are reported to deal with concerns professionally and courteously. Communications are very good within the school and newsletters, information notes and homework journals are effectively used as tools for communication.
Pupils in this school are very well behaved, mannerly and courteous to visitors, staff and to each other. All pupils take care of their environment and steps are taken to ensure that it is clean and well cared for. Pupils willingly and confidently answer questions and engage in a meaningful way in debate and discourse. The school’s code of behaviour is implemented fairly and all pupils adhere to its tenets. The school successfully implements appropriate steps to prevent bullying behaviour. Discipline in the classrooms and indeed throughout the whole school is very well maintained at all times. Pupils willingly and eagerly take an active part in projects, curricular tasks and in the general learning process. It is evident that the contributions of all pupils are valued and respected.
Under the overall direction of the principal all teachers play an active part in the development of the school plan. In its development assistance was given by cuiditheoirí and curriculum facilitators from national in-service training initiatives. The board of management reports that it provides comment in particular, on organisational policies formulated by staff. A number of plans are also presented to the parents for discussion and their input is sought. All plans are ratified by the board of management and a number of plans presented have review dates. Overall the school plan is a well laid out document organised in two parts and covers organisational and curricular areas.
The organisational section of the school plan contains the school’s mission statement together with policies and procedures for the following aspects of the life of the school: school rules and discipline, enrolment, safety statement, administration of medicines, equal opportunities, gender equality, home-school partnership, special education needs, assessment, RSE, substance use, supervision of internet usage, information and communications technology (ICT) and anti-bullying policies. Statements are also made on a number of areas including, record keeping, staff meetings as well as the role and duties of the board of management. Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2004). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines. It is recommended that the board of management review the enrolment policy provided in order to clarify that it meets with the criteria as set out in the Education Act 1998.
The curricular areas of the school plan reflect very well the principles of the Primary School Curriculum (1999) and they include policies for English, Mathematics, Gaeilge, Visual Arts, Science and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE). These policies have been developed over the past six years and the staff and the board of management are commended on the level of reflection on the work undertaken to date and for their inputs to the process. From the school development plan it is noted that policies in Physical Education (PE), History, Geography, and Music are in the process of being formulated. It is recommended that a common approach now be adopted in the presentation and review of all future policies incorporating the same headings and format. Each year the school provides parents with an enrolment pack containing the school’s homework and discipline policies together with a number of information booklets dealing with school books in use, school procedures in the case of accident and an overview of the curriculum. This practice is commended.
All teachers present detailed short and long-term plans and monthly progress records are also maintained. Teacher planning makes reference to the school plan and content to be taught is set out under the strand and strand units for each curricular area. Differentiation strategies are set out in a number of curricular areas and a diverse range of suitable learning experiences is presented to the pupils. Strategies for assisting pupils with special educational needs are developed in some areas. However, these plans are mainly content based. It is recommended that teachers’ planning should now focus on the objectives of the lessons to be taught and should also include reference to the principal methodologies to be used as well as the assessment for learning strategies to be employed. This revised focus should provide a valuable tool to this diligent and experienced staff in enabling them advance still further the quality of learning experiences presented to the pupils
The quality of teaching and learning was evaluated on the basis of observation of teaching, discussion with, and questioning of pupils and review of samples of pupils’ work and projects. The quality of teaching across all curricular areas was of a very good standard. A variety of suitable methodologies, including whole-class teaching, team-teaching, group work, brainstorming and discussion was used effectively during lessons. Teachers presented new material clearly, suitably developed themes and provided opportunities for pupils to become active in their learning. In many areas differentiation was used successfully and integration strategies were also in place. The quality of pupils’ learning was very good especially in the areas of Social, Environmental and Scientific Education where very good use is made of the local environment, Social Personal and Health Education, Music and Physical Education. In the areas of literacy and numeracy good progress is in evidence in all classes. Teachers monitor the work of the pupils carefully and a range of assessment strategies is in place. Pupils’ work is corrected conscientiously and appropriate feedback is given. Pupils’ written work is of a high standard and this work demonstrates good progression at each class level.
Múintear an Ghaeilge go coinsiasach sa scoil seo agus tá dul chun cinn maith déanta ag an bhfoireann ó thaobh spéis a chothú i leith na teanga. Feictear foclóir agus frásaí Gaeilge ar na ballaí agus úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar theanga bhainistíochta i rith an lae. Baintear úsáid fhónta as cluichí, rainn, amhráin agus as acmhainní oiriúnacha chun cumas cainte na bpáistí sa teanga labhartha a fhorbairt. Baintear úsáid forleathan as ceisteanna agus freagraí chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn agus tá tuiscint an-mhaith ag na daltaí ar an ngné seo den chlár. Moltar anois tuilleadh béime a leagan ar fhorbairt chumas cumarsáide na bpáistí eatarthu féin. Moltar freisin úsáid a bhaint as an nGaeilge le linn cuid de na ceachtanna eile, ach go háirithe sa Chorpoideachas. Bheadh sé tairbheach na tuismitheoirí a spreagadh a bheith páirteach sa Ghaeilge chomh maith trí iad a mhealladh frásaí agus foclóir Ghaeilge a úsáid sa bhaile. B’fhiú lá Gaeilge a eagrú sa scoil ó am go chéile. Tá cnuasach oiriúnach filíochta ar eolas ag na daltaí agus forbraítear na scileanna léitheoireachta agus scríbhneoireachta go cúramach freisin. Léann na daltaí go cruinn agus léiríonn siad a dtuiscint ar an ábhar léitheoireachta trí cheisteanna a fhreagairt ó bhéal. Tá an scríbhneoireacht bunaithe, den chuid is mó, ar an ábhar léitheoireachta agus ar na ceachtanna comhrá. Scríobhtar píosaí cruthaitheacha freisin agus tá caighdeán maith le feiceáil sna samplaí seo. Tá ceangal cuí idir an obair ó bhéal, an léitheoireacht agus an obair scríofa agus tá ag éirí go maith leis an ngné seo den chlár.
Irish is taught conscientiously in this school and the teachers have made good progress in promoting interest in the language. Irish phrases and vocabulary are displayed on the classroom walls and Irish is used daily as a classroom management strategy. The pupils’ oral language abilities are aptly promoted using a range of suitable resources including games, rhymes and songs. There is widespread use of question and answer technique to promote Irish and the pupils have acquired a very good understanding of this aspect of the language. It is now recommended that further emphasis be placed on the development of the pupils’ conversation skills through pupil interactions. It is also recommended that Irish be used during the teaching of some of the other curricular areas especially during Physical Education. It would be beneficial if parents could be encouraged to participate in the Irish experience by using some Irish words and phrases at home. It would be of benefit to organise an Irish day occasionally in the school. The pupils have a good knowledge of a suitable body of poetry, and reading and writing skills are carefully developed. The pupils read accurately and their understanding of the reading material is in evidence through their responses to questions posed. Writing exercises are generally based on the reading material and on the oral language lessons. The pupils also write creatively using a good standard of Irish. There is suitable integration between oral work, reading and writing and these elements of the Irish programme are developing well.
The teaching of English in this school is of a high standard. An extensive programme in oral aspects of English is undertaken throughout the school and the children are encouraged to ask and answer questions and to express their thoughts and feelings using a wide and varied vocabulary. The acquisition of vocabulary and the development of oral language skills is also suitably integrated with other curricular areas. All classes have regular experiences of rhymes and poetry. The poems chosen for the classes are interesting and topical and effectively broaden their language experiences. In the junior classes admirable care is taken to develop the pupils reading skills and these are further developed across all classes. The development of phonological awareness, the blending of sounds in words for reading and the segmenting of words into sounds for spelling are appropriately progressing across all classes. Differentiation strategies are also effectively used. Pupils read text material fluently from a variety of books and novels and they are encouraged to use the well-stocked classroom libraries. A print-rich environment is developed in all classes using a variety of commercial charts, teacher-prepared materials and the work of the pupils. Pupils engage in a range of writing activities and writing skills are suitably developed in all classes. Pupils are encouraged to produce assignments where both creative writing and functional writing are presented to a high standard and these are corrected consistently by the teachers. Samples of children’s completed work are displayed attractively and celebrated in all classes. Opportunities for children to draft and edit their own writing are facilitated by the use of computers and ICT.
A positive approach to the teaching of Mathematics is being developed throughout the school and the pupils are acquiring a good knowledge of basic skills and concepts. A commercially produced series of textbooks and workbooks, supplemented by teacher-designed worksheets and activities form the basis of the mathematical programme. Teachers display very good competencies in the management of multi-class learning situations. The learning-support teacher assists in team-teaching activities in the senior classes and this practice is commended. Great care is taken to develop the pupils’ knowledge and understanding of mathematical language and terms. At all class levels concrete materials are used effectively during the lessons and this activity-based learning is commended. The teachers use good questioning techniques and, in general, the pupils answer confidently and accurately. However, oral mathematical skills need further development and it is recommended that a range of strategies to prompt success in this area be introduced. More thought could be given to the application of Mathematics in a variety of real-life situations and across the curriculum. Assessment of progress in Mathematics is regular and thorough and all work is corrected diligently.
The school ably assists the pupils in developing an interest in and a curiosity about the past. Through very good use of the local environment and of local History the pupils are developing the skills associated with the historian. The pupils engage in a number of projects in the senior classes which has assisted them in developing a sense of time and chronology as well as change and continuity. There is an appropriate emphasis on personal history in the junior classes where suitable integration across all of the subjects in the curricular area of Social, Environmental and Scientific Education takes place. All classes have taken part in field trips to areas of local interest and to historical sites. The school is presently accumulating a range of artefacts, old photographs and a selection of old documents which will be an added stimulus to assist the pupils’ use evidence to explore the past.
The school provides a range of maps, reference books, resources and atlases to enable pupils develop competencies in Geography. In addition the school aptly uses the local environment to assist pupils in developing a sense of place and of space. In the junior classes the pupils have successfully engaged in exercises to develop their mapping skills. In the senior classes lessons enable pupils in developing a knowledge and understanding of natural and human environments. In the lessons presented the pupils engage in activities that assist in the development of the skills of questioning, observing, analysing, recording and communicating. In the area of environmental awareness and care opportunities are provided for pupils to actively care for their immediate environment through their involvement in the Green Schools’ Environmental Project. Overall, a very good standard of achievement results from the learning processes being presented.
A broad programme of learning is undertaken in Science and pupils are very interested in this aspect of the curriculum. The exploration of basic scientific concepts forms the basis of the learning activities and pupil participation in discovery-based learning is enhanced through group work, discussion and involvement in scientific experimentation. Science lessons are well planned, with clear learning objectives and teachers provide a range of relevant, motivating tasks for the pupils. Nature tables and discovery areas are also in evidence in all classrooms. Overall, in this school, a good foundation of knowledge and understanding of the basic skills of scientific enquiry is being developed.
The pupils have achieved commendable standards in all areas of the visual arts curriculum. In achieving these standards the school was fortunate in receiving assistance from parents who have expertise in this area. The pupils are aptly encouraged to develop an awareness of, and sensitivity to the visual, spatial and tactile world. The school provides opportunities for pupils to develop their creative skills in a broad range of media. The pupils enthusiastically take part in the activities and have developed an appropriate awareness of line, shape, colour and tone. All strands are very well developed with the strand unit of Looking and Responding particularly well advanced. Activities in Visual Arts are also suitably integrated across the curriculum and the work of the pupils is attractively displayed in the classrooms and corridors of the school.
Pupils in this school have achieved admirable standards across the Music curriculum especially in the strand of performing. Pupils in all classes have an extensive repertoire of songs in both English and Irish. Pupils sing expressively in unison and pupils demonstrate good control of pitch, dynamics and rhythm. Very good use is made of percussion instruments during lessons. Pupils also learn to play the tin whistle to a high standard, and read simple rhythms and melodies. There are regular opportunities for pupils to listen and respond to music in various traditions and styles.
In Drama various elements are explored effectively. Pupils give imaginative responses to prompts. as they enter appropriately into the dramatic context while engaging in enjoyable exercises. Drama is used to facilitate activities in both Gaeilge: Comhrá, and English: Oral Language. It is expected that, following the receipt of in-service for teachers in this curricular area, the implementation of the drama curriculum will be further expanded.
The school has extensive play areas and also a running track. In addition the school has a large hall and is very fortunate in having a wide range of equipment for use in the development of this curricular area. The school provides a broad programme of PE, which includes games, athletics, and swimming lessons. The teachers make effective use of age-appropriate activities and the school promotes a healthy attitude to sport and exercise. The school has established links with outside individuals and agencies that provide specialist coaching to the pupils. The teachers report that they take responsibility for all matters involving childcare and discipline during these external coaching sessions. The school participates in inter-school competitions and pupils, parents, teachers and members of the board of management become involved in the annual sports day.
The Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum is implemented effectively in the school and SPHE issues are also implemented on a cross-curricular basis The school promotes the personal development and well being of the pupils in a caring, considerate and inclusive way. The success of this aim is evidenced in the pleasant learning environment established in the school, the good relationship and communication between all the stake holders and pupils’ sense of happiness and courteous behaviour towards teachers, each other and visitors. In enabling the pupils make informed decisions about social, personal and health issues, excellent use is made of a range of teaching methodologies including circle time. Teachers also supplement work in SPHE with relevant material from a variety of associated programmes such as Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Stay Safe Programme, and they engage with the issue of substance abuse as a matter of policy.
The school has an assessment policy in place and a range of assessment strategies including teacher observation, teacher-designed tasks, work samples, projects, standardised tests and diagnostic tests, which are used effectively. The assessment approaches in place are used to inform teaching objectives and lesson presentation as well as in assisting differentiation strategies. Standardised tests are administered in English and Mathematics each year and they facilitate teachers in identifying pupils requiring extra assistance. Pupil reports are maintained and updated regularly. A parent-teacher meeting takes place annually and teachers make themselves available to discuss pupils’ progress with their parents at other times. It is reported that discussions between staff and the special-education teacher occur regularly, usually after school time and at staff meetings. At these meetings suitable interventions are discussed and designed. It is recommended that this laudable practice be formalised within the school setting. Overall, pupils are achieving at, or above, expected standards across all curricular areas.
The school is very fortunate in having a learning-support/resource teacher and a staff who have built up expertise in the area of special education in recent years. The school has adopted the staged approach to intervention with an emphasis on early intervention. At present the learning-support/resource teacher provides assistance to eight pupils in this school. Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and individual pupil learning profiles (IPLPs) are drawn up in consultation with class teachers and parents. In these IEPs and IPLPs pupils’ strengths are identified and well defined learning targets, teaching strategies and assessment procedures are presented. The IEP’s and IPLP’s are reviewed at intervals of between six to eight weeks and then suitably adapted and progressed.
The learning-support/resource teacher uses a very good combination of teaching approaches including, individual tuition, and small group work and in class assistance, to successfully assist pupils develop to their potential. The learning-support/resource teacher also assists the class teachers with students in the area of phonological awareness and in a shared reading scheme where parents are also invited to take an active part. The learning-support/resource teacher uses a range of exercises to assist pupils develop appropriate social and concentration skills as well as assisting them in developing their language and numeracy skills. The pupils’ language development lessons are usually based on their personal experiences and there is commendable use of ICT in this development. The school is commended for the care and commitment given by all staff members in assisting pupils with special educational needs and for their efforts in differentiating the curriculum. Two special needs assistants ably assist the teachers in this work and provide an invaluable service of care, not only to the pupils they assist, but also to the school community.
The pupils in this school come mainly from the local area. There is a very good community spirit in evidence and emphasis is placed on good neighbourliness and on caring for each other. There is no level of significant social disadvantage reported among the pupils enrolled in this school and there are no pupils from minority groupings in attendance.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1: Observations on the content of the inspection report
The B.O.M. and staff wish to acknowledge the comprehensive and balanced approach used by the inspectorate during the W.S.E. We are satisfied that the report reflects the high standards and ethos of our school.
Area 2: Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection
Currently the B.O.M. is reviewing the enrolment policy.
The teachers are focusing on developing further strategies associated with mental maths and problem solving.
The planning template currently in use will be used for all policies in the future.