An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



SN Fiontain Naofa,

Rathmore, Tullow, County Carlow

Uimhir rolla 18609S


Date of inspection:  22 September 2008





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






Whole-school evaluation


A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Fiontain Naofa was undertaken in September 2008. 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 and Mathematics.  The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.



Introduction – school context and background


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


Teaching in support roles (1 shared post, 1 part-time post)


Special needs assistants




1.     Quality of school management


1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision


Scoil Fiontain Naofa is under the patronage of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. The school’s mission statement highlights its commitment to developing each child to his or her full potential in a happy, safe and secure working environment. The school seeks to educate its pupils for their future academic lives and to prepare them for their active participation as citizens of the state. Pupils’ understanding of their responsibilities along with their rights is integral to the school’s stated mission. The supportive, happy school environment, coupled with an interest in raising standards, indicates the school’s commitment to its stated mission.


1.2 Board of management


The board of management is properly constituted. It meets once per term and more frequently if necessary. Minutes of these meetings are maintained. Board members indicate a knowledge of their statutory obligations. An admissions and enrolment policy is in place. A review of this policy is recommended to ensure adherence to equality legislation in relation to the enrolment of pupils with special education needs. While attendance is good, it is recommended that a statement of strategies and measures be prepared to comply with section 22 of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000. It is also recommended that accounts be audited in line with section 18(1) of the Education Act 1998. The board has signed and dated a significant number of policies. This practice should be extended to all policies. The development of an action plan which will include a review date for each policy is advised in order to ensure a cyclical approach to planning. Department of Education and Science regulations regarding the length of the school year, class size and the integrity of the school day are upheld.


Some board members have availed of training provided by the Catholic Primary Schools Managers Association. Fundraising is a high priority for the board so that suitable resources can be provided. Much good work has been undertaken by the board to ensure pupils’ safety on arrival to and departure from the school grounds. It is now timely for the board to focus on the accommodation needs of the pupils and to engage in a building programme that would enable pupils to access all elements of the Primary School Curriculum 1999 more fully.


1.3 In-school management


The newly appointed principal is committed to the overall development of the school and is dedicated to ensuring suitable provision for all pupils. Positive relations have been forged with the whole-school community and the principal sees school leadership and curriculum development as high priority areas. It is her aim to effect positive change through a collaborative, consultative process. An enthusiastic special-duties post holder supports the principal in the execution of her duties. It is recommended that specific duties, covering curricular, organisational and pastoral duties, be defined for this special-duties post to ensure compliance with Department of Education and Science Circular 07/03.


1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community


Parents endorse the work of the school. They are actively involved in fundraising and they support the school in many extra-curricular activities. Parents are informed of their child’s progress through annual parent/teacher meetings and end of year reports. Parents play a minor role in the development of the school plan. Strategies should now be formulated to allow for optimal parental involvement in the whole-school planning process. Parents note that they are treated with respect and courtesy in all school interactions and they welcome the opportunity to be involved in the implementation of the school’s anti-bullying policy.


1.5 Management of pupils


The central tenet of the school’s code of behaviour is respect. All staff members adhere dutifully to this principle. A large majority of pupils are mindful of their responsibility in this regard. The challenge now for the school is to ensure that all pupils remain on task during instruction and behave courteously to their peers and to the adults they encounter during their time in school, so that the school’s mission statement can be realised in its totality.



2.     Quality of school planning


2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning


The quality of whole-school planning is satisfactory. Planning is undertaken for all curriculum and many organisational areas. It is recommended that a review of the curriculum plans now takes place to certify that each of these plans includes all elements as required by the Primary School Curriculum 1999. There is a satisfactory special education needs policy in place. It is recommended that the whole-school plan is used consistently to inform individual teacher’s planning and preparation.


The quality of classroom planning is fair. In some instances, planning is content based and does not adhere to the principles of the curriculum in relation to the development of skills and attitudes. Planning should be extended to allow for this in each curriculum area. Where external tutors contribute to curriculum provision, it is necessary to guarantee that this work is underpinned by the relevant curriculum guidelines. The work of external tutors should be recorded in class teachers’ monthly progress records. Individual teachers plan for each class level for which they have responsibility. This planning should also be cognisant of differentiating appropriately to support all pupils including pupils with special educational needs and more able pupils.


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



The standard of teaching and learning in English is satisfactory. Oral language development is consistently prioritised at all class levels through the use of news and story. Pupils interact confidently with each other and with relevant adults in offering opinions and suggestions on a particular topic. Teachers manage oral discussions competently through the imaginative use of well-structured questions. They are also aware of the importance of developing pupils’ listening skills and much good work has begun in this regard. Further emphasis on this area of the curriculum is advised to ensure the co-operation of all pupils in listening and turn-taking activities. There is a good standard in relation to the teaching of reading and the majority of pupils read with competence. It is advised that those pupils experiencing difficulty in reading are differentiated for appropriately. Pupils explore many aspects of poetry at senior level. It is suggested that pupils throughout the school have access to a wider variety of poems and rhymes. Pupils are afforded opportunities to write in a variety of genres in the senior classes. This work is attractively displayed in the classroom. There is an over-reliance on workbooks in some classes. Pupils in these classes should be afforded opportunities to develop their creativity through well-structured writing activities. In order to benefit optimally from workbook activities it is advised that pupils have a sound understanding of the requirements of the task before commencing activities. Due emphasis should be placed on the development of pupils’ penmanship skills throughout the school. 


3.2 Mathematics


Mathematical language is prioritised consistently during the delivery of lessons. Pupils demonstrate competence in the number strand. There is, however, an over-emphasis on this strand throughout. It is recommended that a more balanced delivery of all strands of the mathematics curriculum be provided for at each class level. There is need for the school to acquire additional mathematics resources to support teaching and learning. These manipulatives should be available consistently to support pupils’ learning in all the strands. The development of a mathematics-rich environment across the school is advised to consolidate learning. It is recommended that mathematics teaching be differentiated at each class level in relation to the specific needs of individual pupils. The development of pupils’ problem-solving skills requires immediate and continuous attention at all class levels. Copybooks are corrected consistently and work is affirmed positively throughout.


3.4 Assessment


Annual standardised test results record pupils’ progress in literacy and numeracy. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is used to identify infant pupils in need of extra support. It is recommended that an assessment policy be formulated to ensure the consistent assessment of all curriculum areas. Strategies for interpreting standardised test results to inform teaching and learning should be an integral part of this policy.



4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs


Department of Education and Science guidelines are adhered to in relation to the selection of pupils for learning support. Due to the small size of the mainstream classrooms, support is provided on a withdrawal basis. Learning-support and resource teachers (LS/RT) liaise with the class teacher in the formulation of each pupil’s individual education plan (IEP). If parents suggest changes to the draft IEP these changes are incorporated into the final document. Learning targets are reviewed twice yearly. Learning support is withdrawn if a pupil achieves the learning targets as set out and if a pupil with a more pressing need is identified. Consideration might be given to the creation of a system where parents are more formally involved in the IEP process.


The quality of planning in this special education setting varies. It is recommended that all the required elements be included in each special education teacher’s planning and that this planning relates more specifically to the identified needs of individual pupils. The recording of pupil attendance at learning support is advised for all LS/RT teachers. One special needs assistant (SNA) ably supports two pupils with specific learning difficulties in the senior classroom. It is advised that a policy on the role of the SNA be formulated to inform those providing such support as to their specific role and responsibilities.


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


There are no pupils from minority or disadvantaged groups in attendance at present. It is advised that the school’s commitment to the inclusion of pupils from minority groups, as required by the Equal Status Act 2000, be incorporated into its mission statement.



5.     Conclusion


The school has strengths in the following areas:


·         The board of management is committed to the welfare of pupils and staff.

·         The school principal is dedicated to the overall development of the school.

·         Staff members are committed to effecting whole-school improvement.

·         Parents endorse the work of the school.

·         There is a happy, supportive school atmosphere which enables the development of each pupil’s full potential.


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


·         It is recommended that the board’s statutory obligations around enrolment, admissions and the auditing of accounts be addressed without undue delay.

·         It is recommended that specific duties be defined for the special-duties post to ensure compliance with Department of Education and Science Circular 07/03.

·         It is recommended that a review of curriculum plans takes place and that these plans be used consistently to inform all teachers’ planning and preparation. The development of an assessment policy should form part of this process to ensure the consistent assessment of all curriculum areas.

·         It is recommended that suitable differentiated approaches be implemented at each class level in relation to the specific needs of individual pupils.

·         It is recommended that a more balanced delivery of all strands of the mathematics curriculum be provided for at each class level.


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 February 2009