An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

 

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

 

Scoil Náisiúnta an Spá,

An Spá,

Trá Lí,

Contae Chiarraí.

Uimhir rolla: 18702I

 

Date of inspection:  25 April 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

Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Spa 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 inspectors held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of parents. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. They interacted with pupils and teachers and examined pupils’ work. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors 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.

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

Spa National School is under the patronage of the Bishop of Kerry and functions as a Catholic school serving the parish area of the Spa and Churchill. It is situated a few miles west of Tralee on the shore of Tralee Bay with a panoramic vista of the Sliabh Mish mountains close by. The school has a long history of service in the locality which has many historical associations.

 

The school has grown considerably in size and now has nine teachers and several ancillary staff. Accommodation, despite the best efforts of the school authorities over the years, has not kept pace with the growing enrolment so that there are various pre-fabricated classrooms in use to cater for the school’s needs. The original building was provided in 1963 and this has been extended notably in 1996 with the addition of four new classrooms. Latterly, the school has added two pre-fabricated mainstream classrooms and other temporary accommodation for special needs. The school has had to divide its general purpose room to provide two mainstream classrooms of modest size. One of these classrooms is used as a staff lunch area underlining the severe pressure on space within the building. Office space is very limited. The staff car park has spaces for six cars. It is evident that the school’s facilities are not sufficient to cater for all of the needs of the present day. Given the large enrolment and the increased number of staff, it is apparent that there is urgent need for a major improvement to the school’s accommodation. The school authorities have already taken steps to expand the school’s accommodation to meet present and future needs.

 

Pending the expansion of the school’s accommodation, it is suggested that the school might take some intermediate steps to increase the availability of staff car parking facilities. Also, the school might enter into discussion with the local authority concerning the rather precarious situation the school is in with regard to passing traffic and the volume of traffic at school opening and closing times.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is conscious of the significance of its role and assiduous in the pursuit of the welfare of the pupils and well being of the school. It meets regularly and provides with care for the needs of the school. The board members are well experienced in the affairs of the school and reveal good understanding of the overall issues that are pertinent at the present time. The board acts with purpose and with good judgement in the transaction of school business. The minutes of the board indicate that the members are au fait with the rules and procedures of the Department of Education and Science.

 

2.2 In-school management

The principal takes full account of the requirements of the curriculum and the needs of all the children in leading the business of the school. He brings qualities of good judgement and affability to all the aspects of school organisation and administration seeking consensus and balance in the school’s progression. Of particular account has been the school’s responsible approach to enrolment over a long period. A consistent and fair policy has been implemented with a view to serving the locality while curtailing the growth of the school and taking account of the limitations of the building and accommodation available. That said, the school has grown enormously so that it now approaches a full single-stream school. The principal is ably assisted by the deputy principal and a number of post-holders who participate in the in-school management of the day-to-day affairs of the school. The in-school management meets informally to oversee the overall business of the school. It is apparent that the post-holders make a major contribution to the work and success of the school. For the future, it is recommended that greater curricular responsibility might be attached to the various posts so that aspects of the school’s planning and development might be given specific leadership with a view to the further advancement of the school.

 

2.3 Management of resources

The school manages its resources with prudence and with care. An excellent range of equipment and aids is available in the school and display facilities are good for the most part. Resources are used effectively to assist teaching and learning and pupils benefit from the experiences given. On occasion, the pupils assist in the use and exploitation of the resources as, for example, with the information and communication technology. It is apparent that resources are used to very good effect to enhance the curricular work of the school. The school’s part-time caretaker and secretary make a very positive contribution to the work of the school and their role is of great value for its overall success.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school has many systems for developing good relationships with the parent body and with the general community. The school is fortunate in having a network of local clubs and groups that relate regularly with the school. The school for its part is anxious to contribute to the activities of the sporting and community organisations and a productive and cooperative atmosphere appears to underpin the multifarious activities that are carried on. A positive and helpful relationship has been developed over the years and this appears to be very successful and productive for all concerned. The pupils are the particular beneficiaries of what seems to be a very happy set of circumstances. It is apparent that parents have close association with various elements of school life and a very positive relationship exists with the school community. The parents’ association is very active and supportive of the work of the school. Good lines of communication are maintained and a relaxed and positive spirit is discernible.

 

The school fosters good relationships in effective ways. Photographic records are maintained of particular events and occurrences in classrooms. Albums of class events such as class concerts and shows, outdoor activities, charitable collections, classroom decoration, visits, Christmas shows and other notable school items are maintained so that there is a pictorial record of important features of school life. Similarly, scrapbooks with samples of individual pupils’ work in various aspects of the curriculum are maintained to produce a compendium of work over the course of a year so that an overview of children’s work may be seen by parents at the end of a year in school. Homework journals are kept and these along with occasional letters and communications to parents are assistive for good home school links. The school has a newsletter called An Spapear and this provides many items of news and views concerning school life and associated elements of local and club news. The newsletter serves to draw together the school and local community in a manner that is productive for the pupils of the school. It is very evident that there are clear and open lines of communication with the parents and with the general community and this provides an excellent network for interaction and mutuality. The school is to be highly commended for its outgoing and beneficial engagement with the local community.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

The pupils are given very good training in terms of applying themselves to their work in school. At the infant and junior levels, the youngest pupils are given excellent foundational assistance so that they may benefit from all that is provided for them in school. Through the junior classes and beyond, good discipline and training are provided as a matter of routine. As the pupils advance they are accorded additional roles of responsibility and significant growth and development in terms of maturity is clearly apparent. The senior pupils show excellent responsibility and good sense in their interactions with each other and with adults. The school has a most creditable approach to the management of the pupils.

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The school has developed a substantial school plan. This is kept in a series of folders and provides guidance on most aspects of school business. The administrative element of the plan includes a mission statement, attendance policy, home school links, homework policy, policy for staff meetings, the safety statement, code of behaviour and anti-bullying policy. According to its mission statement, the school seeks to nurture the pupil in all dimensions of his or her life – spiritual, cognitive, imaginative, emotional, aesthetic, physical and social. The school also values highly its relationship with parents and the local community and seeks to continue to work in partnership with parents/guardians to ensure the best interests of each pupil are provided for. The enrolment policy is in the process of being updated. There is good linkage between the content of the school plan and the overall implementation of the curriculum in the school. It is evident that the planning process is beneficial for the work of the school.

 

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. The policy might be signed and dated.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

The teachers furnish appropriate preparation and planning material. It is apparent that all members of staff give thought and effort to outlining their programmes of work and keeping account of work completed. The monthly progress records are done by a tick-off system on planning templates. It is suggested that this system might be reviewed and consideration given to a new template that would provide more precise information about work and progress. Equipment and aids for learning are provided in rich supply and display material is used freely in classrooms and in passageways. Every effort is made to match learning experiences with the level of maturity and knowledge of the pupils.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

The school provides very fully for learning and teaching. All members of staff devote energy and commitment to their classroom practice. Pupils are given exposure to a broad range of learning experiences with class work, group work and pair work featuring as regular elements in the classrooms. The school provides an atmosphere that is most conducive to learning and growth in a secure and well ordered system. Pupils show high levels of interest in their work at school and there are excellent opportunities for engagement and challenge in the day-to-day activities. It is apparent that the pupils have splendid prospects for success in their education.

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Múintear an Ghaeilge go rialta is go díograiseach. Díríonn na múinteoirí go léir ar an obair go cúramach is go fuinniúil agus éiríonn go maith leo ina gcuid iarrachtaí sa teanga. Feictear go bhfuil prionta, postaeir agus lipéid go forleathan ar taispeáint agus go bhfuil cabhair agus spreagadh ar fáil chun tacú leis an dteagasc. Sna naíranganna, dírítear go cliste ar na bunstruchtúir cainte le ceisteanna agus freagraí ar an aimsir agus ar ghnóthaí laethúla. Úsáidtear bréagáin agus fearas chun cur leis an dtuiscint agus déantar cleachtaí go rialta chun taithí na ndaltaí a fhorbairt. Cuirtear béim cheart ar chomhrá agus ar ghníomhaíocht agus cothaítear taitneamh san obair le cluichí agus le drámaíocht. Sa bhunroinn, déantar forbairt agus leathnú ar an obair le teagasc spreagúil cruthaitheach. Cuirtear prionta ar fáil go fial chun treoir a thabhairt i gcúrsaí scríofa. Tugtar dúshlán an-mhaith leis an nuacht agus leagtar amach nuachtán ar bhealach an-thorthúil ionas gur féidir leis na daltaí píosaí beaga a chur de ghlanmheabhair ar bhealach simplí éifeachtach. Sroichtear caighdeán ard sna gnóthaí seo. Foghlaimítear véarsaí agus rannta go críochnúil agus cláraítear iad go tarraingteach sna cóipleabhair. Sna meán ranganna déantar leathnú ar an obair agus feictear go bhfuil dul chun cinn cuí á dhéanamh. Déantar cleachtaí scríbhneoireachta go rialta agus cuirtear béim oiriúnach ar amhráin agus ar fhilíocht. Léiríonn na daltaí eolas agus tuiscint áirithe ar cheachtanna éagsúla. San ard roinn, tugtar dúshlán an-bhreá san obair le téamaí suimiúla agus le gnéithe comhaimseartha. Déantar an teagasc go fuinniúil agus baintear feidhm chliste as an nua-theicneolaíocht chun rudaí áirithe a chur i láthair. Léiríonn na daltaí suim sna ceachtanna agus déanann siad dícheall sna cleachtaí éagsúla. Múintear na briathra agus aimsirí go rialta agus léiríonn na daltaí eolas maith ar a bhfuil déanta. Béimnítear cluastuiscint agus léitheoireacht go hábalta. Leagtar amach an obair scríofa go néata is go tairbheach agus sroichtear caighdeán breá sna cóipleabhair ar an iomlán.

 

Meastar go bhfuil obair rialta táirgiúil ar siúl. Moltar béim sa bhreis a chur ar chumarsáid agus ar chomhrá laethúil. Freisin meastar go bhféadfaí úsáid níos leithne a bhaint as phictiúir agus maisiú sna cóipleabhair le linn obair scríofa ionas go mbeadh na daltaí ábalta taitneamh sa bhreis a bhaint as an nGaeilge. D’fhéadfadh an scoil forbairt sa bhreis a dhéanamh ar úsáid na Gaeilge i réimsí áirithe na scoile go neamhfhoirmiúil.

 

Irish

Irish is taught regularly and willingly. All the teachers focus on the work with care and energy and they succeed well in their efforts. Print, posters and labels are displayed widely and help and stimulation are available to support the teaching. In the infant classes, the foundational elements of the language are cleverly taught with questions and answers on weather and daily features. Toys and equipment are used to assist understanding and exercises are done to broaden the experience of the pupils. Conversation and activity are given appropriate emphasis and pleasure is cultivated with games and drama. In the junior division, the work is developed and extended by means of creative and stimulating teaching. A print-rich environment is provided to give direction for written work. Very good challenge is given with news items, and a news journal is laid out in a very productive way so that the pupils are able to memorise certain pieces in a simple effective manner. A very high standard is achieved in these activities. Verses and rhymes are learned very well and these are recorded attractively in copybooks. In the middle grades, the work is further expanded and suitable progress is to be found.  Written work is done regularly and appropriate emphasis is placed on songs and poetry. The pupils reveal certain knowledge and understanding of various lessons. In the senior division, splendid challenge is given with interesting themes and contemporary aspects. The teaching is energetic and clever use is made of new technology to present selected material. The pupils display interest in their lessons and they give of their best in various exercises. Verbs and tenses are taught regularly and the pupils show good knowledge of material covered. Aural and reading work are emphasised capably. Written work is laid out neatly and valuably and a good standard is reached in the copybook work on the whole.

 

It is considered that regular and productive work is undertaken. It is recommended that additional emphasis might be given to communicative and conversational approaches. Also it is suggested that pictures and decoration might be availed of more widely in copybooks in the course of written work so that the pupils may be able to experience more pleasure in their work in Irish. The school might develop further the use of Irish in particular facets of school life in informal ways.

 

English

English is accorded careful and methodical treatment throughout the school. Lessons are featured with clarity and success and overall progress is consistent and creditable. In the infant classes, the work is very well structured to meet the needs of the children. Stories and big books are used with skill to give the pupils interest in reading and attractive arrangements are in place to allow pupils to browse and to sample books in a small library setting. Sounds and phonic work are attended to with care and laminated aids are affixed to desks to assist the pupils. Print is placed on view and pupils’ own work is displayed to very good effect. The children respond very well to their lessons and they show excellent progress with rhymes and with early reading activities. The work is animated and purposeful and the pupils derive pleasure and satisfaction from their lessons. In the junior grades, the pupils show excellent progress in their work. Some of the work reaches a very high standard as for examples, the development of word banks for vocabulary extension, the use of book reports and reviews, the recitation of poetry with expression and the emphasis on creative writing. The pupils show very good progress in their learning. In the middle grades, the work is continued and various features are developed with care. Certain story elements are given special focus while poems and written pieces are produced by the pupils in their copybooks. Handwriting might be given further emphasis and the organisation of written work in copybooks might also be strengthened with more training given and more suitable and varied tasks assigned to the pupils. In the senior classes, the pupils experience a broad and challenging curriculum with many elements that are most engaging. Poetry is given prominent treatment and the pupils recite with enthusiasm and understanding. The pupils show strong valuation and appreciation of poetry and it is apparent that they have benefited from their studies. Oral competence and confidence is clearly apparent and the pupils are forthcoming and articulate in expressing their views. Novels are given prominent focus in the work and many useful exercises have been developed from these. It is apparent that the pupils enjoy reading and have experience of wider reading. Many elements of the pupils’ work are placed on display in an attractive way while samples of the written work reveal good handwriting, varied exercise material and valuable creative elements. The pupils take pride in their work and they have had excellent training as regards order and layout. It is apparent that the dictionary and the thesaurus are used to good effect and the pupils are adept at exploiting these resources. Overall, the school registers very good progress in the teaching and learning of English.

 

4.3 Mathematics

Mathematics features as a prominent aspect of the work in all the classrooms. The work is well gauged to meet the needs of the pupils and lessons are well taught and suitably extended. All classrooms feature mathematical display material and equipment though some of the display material might be further developed and number lines should also be given more prominent attention generally. Number work and games are well emphasised and the pupils show ready knowledge of number and of number facts. The youngest pupils are given very good training in shopping simulations with number rhymes and ordering given close attention. Equipment is used to excellent effect and story elements are capably introduced. Junior pupils are given challenges with measuring and with data collection and representation in graph format. The pupils are given very good training in laying out their written work and this reaches a very high standard in many instances. The middle grades are given suitable work with time and with number and written work is well arranged and supervised. The senior pupils show good understanding of number and can manage easily to convert decimals to fractions and percentages. The language of mathematics is well emphasised and featured and the pupils show clear grasp of complex terminology. Work is methodically laid out in copybooks and overall progress is creditable. It is apparent that the work in Mathematics is successful and well directed and that there is good progression in the subject generally from class to class. Of particular merit is the written work that reaches a high standard in virtually all the classrooms.

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

Teachers display imagination and creativity in their approach to the teaching of History. Highly engaging strategies are employed in most classrooms to promote interest in historical enquiry. Artefacts, photographs, newspaper cuttings and old documents are provided as an evidence base for pupils to practise and develop skills of investigation, analysis and deduction. The use of story and the skilful integration of History with other curriculum subjects in the junior classes is very good practice. Pupils exhibit interest in local history and eagerly explain the story of the Tralee-Fenit railway, the events of Ballyseedy and similar themes. In middle classes, pupils write and display books entitled “My Parish” that are based on local historical events. This work is to be commended. The use of debate and drama in the senior classes to explore themes in national history and the links with local historical events of the same period are to be commended. Pupils are guided thoughtfully in recounting memories and in tracing personal and family histories. Myths and legends are explored, life in early societies researched and events in national history investigated. Pupils are enthusiastic about their historical research and give a very good account of the topics explored at each class level. In some classrooms artefacts and ICT are used to good effect in developing the pupils’ knowledge and skills. It is recommended that this good practice be extended to all classrooms.

 

Geography

The standards of teaching and learning in Geography are very good throughout the school with excellent work being carried out in many classes. Teachers are to be commended for their balanced implementation of the geography curriculum. The whole school plan provides a practical guide to facilitate effective implementation. Lessons are well presented and pupils are skilfully motivated with the aid of stimulating resources. A selection of resources is used including textbooks, library materials, maps, charts and timelines. There are attractive displays of resources throughout the school. The children reveal a knowledge and understanding of natural and human features in their immediate environment, in Ireland and further afield. Aspects of the lives and environments of people in other countries are studied and the pupils learn to compare and contrast. Attention is drawn to the importance of developing the pupils’ geographical skills in school planning and some mapping of the school’s immediate environment is under way. The pupils display a keen interest in and respect for their environment and they speak knowledgeably about the aspects of geography they have studied. In most classes the pupils work in pairs and groups and this is to be commended. It is recommended that the school should consider the wider possibilities for the use of group and pair work in the teaching and learning in Geography. The further use of ICT as a teaching resource and methodology is also recommended.

 

Science

The Science lessons sampled were clearly structured. Active pupil involvement is encouraged and there is a breadth and balance in curriculum implementation in most classes. It is recommended that this active learning be extended to all classes. The main teaching methodologies used include guided discovery, active learning, teacher modelling, talk and discussion, direct whole class teaching, active learning and some pair work and group work. A number of teachers with a specific interest in Science have shown leadership in promoting, supporting and encouraging the successful implementation of the science curriculum through the Discover Science project which the school has been involved in recent years.  During that time the school has received a number of awards for science excellence. This work has facilitated the development of a discovery log containing annotated photographic records of work undertaken. A range of resources has been acquired to support this curricular area. This has facilitated pupils’ access to a wide variety of scientific investigations and experiments. Pupils can confidently speak about the outcomes of their investigations using well developed scientific vocabulary. They clearly enjoy Science and are motivated in their learning. The teaching and learning of Science is progressing very well in the school.

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

The children in general are afforded regular opportunities to develop their creative and artistic skills. They engage with a range of materials and there are many opportunities for integrating art and craft activities with other curricular areas. This leads to an appreciation of art through exploring and responding to the work of their peers and to the work of the artist. The study of the work of some artists is commendable but is confined to some classrooms and should now be extended throughout the school. The children’s interesting and colourful work on display throughout the school creates a bright and cheerful environment. However, art activities in some classes seem limited with an over-reliance on the use of templates during the Visual Arts lessons. This practice does not allow for individual creativity. Pupils tend to copy the sample displayed by the teacher and not develop their own creative abilities. It is advised that a focus be maintained on ensuring a balance between all strands of the curriculum and on the creative process in each classroom.

 

Music

Music is taught with care and precision in the school. Where sampled it is apparent that the teaching is methodical and effective. The teachers plan their lessons with careful regard for the curriculum and the various strands of the programme are given suitable focus and attention. Musical notation is taught in a meaningful way and the pupils reveal good knowledge of material studied. Rhythm is explored in suitable contexts and the pupils respond willingly with clapping exercises and using percussion instruments both of their own making and those provided as part of school equipment. Creative elements are introduced also and the pupils derive pleasure and satisfaction in their work and in performance. Listening to music is a strong emphasis in the work and the pupils manifest a good knowledge and understanding of material explored. Some advanced work has been undertaken among the senior pupils with interesting items of pupils’ own work featured using new technology. This is commendable and well matched to the pupils’ levels of development. Song singing is a prominent aspect of work throughout the school and in many areas of the curriculum. Songs in Irish and in English are taught with very good results and the pupils are tuneful and accurate in presenting their pieces. The tin whistle is featured in one of the classes and the pupils show very good progress in their work in this regard.

 

Drama

The quality of teaching and learning in drama is good. Where sampled it is taught effectively as a discrete subject and as a methodology to teach 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. They explore and assimilate experiences in groups, in pairs and in role. Children are afforded opportunities to experiment with drama and to improvise in order to explore how characters they have encountered in history felt in given situations. This work is very effectively carried out and is commendable.  There is adequate talk and discussion before, during and to after drama lessons. The content is appropriate to the class level and full participation is both encouraged and facilitated. A range of strategies such as hot seating, role play, voices and games is employed carefully in the teaching of this subject.  The level of pupils’ understanding and achievement is very good. Pupils demonstrate how they enter physically and emotionally into the drama world. They display how they co-operate with their peers “in role” and “out of role”. Good questioning, clear conclusions and teacher observation are some of the tools of assessment employed in the school. This curricular area has been identified by the school as a priority for future development planning.

 

4.6 Physical Education

It is apparent that Physical Education (PE) is well taught in the school. A broad programme of PE is provided and this includes games, dance and orienteering. The teachers make effective use of age-appropriate activities and equipment. The school promotes a healthy attitude to sport and exercise. All pupils have access to the PE programme. The school has established links with outside individuals and agencies that provide specialist coaching to the pupils in G.A.A. games, rugby and Irish dancing. 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 and teachers collaborate in these activities. The lessons observed were well organised and placed appropriate emphasis on the routine warm-up, drill and skill practice, games, relays and cool-down. Irish is used as the medium of instruction and communication between teachers and pupils in the PE lessons. Pupils seek clarification on instructions using the Irish language. This practice is commendable.

 

 

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

The school gives careful and regular attention to Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE). The teachers combine very well to give the pupils excellent training in terms of behaviour and conduct. From the junior classes the pupils are trained to work and apply themselves to the best of their ability. A strong work ethic is fostered throughout the school and a high standard of expectation obtains. Class rules are given appropriate focus in many classrooms and the pupils are well acquainted with school norms. Pupils give of their best in their lessons and a striking and very creditable level of maturity is in evidence among the senior pupils of the school. The school is to be commended very highly for the degree to which the pupils have been educated in terms of cooperation and mutual respect.

 

The formal lessons in SPHE where sampled indicate a graduated and steady approach to aspects such as safety, health, appropriate behaviour and bullying. Classroom displays include school and class rules, posters, group work and special features. Circle time, songs and stories are used to develop pupils’ awareness of particular items, aids and equipment are produced to assist in various facets of work while pupils are given ample exposure to key issues of concern. Discussion is well matched to pupils’ level of understanding and suitable differentiation is made for particular purposes. Healthy eating is a prominent focus of the work and this is well consolidated by all the teachers.

 

A strong focus of work in the school is the time committed to the Green School movement. The school is working towards acquiring its first flag and to this end has put much effort into cutting down on waste, recycling, composting and promoting these issues locally with practical benefits for the community. For example, virtually all the Christmas trees of the school community were sent for shredding in January as an element of the school’s drive to ensure appropriate disposal of waste. The school has a committee representing the pupils from senior classes with parents and other school representatives also involved. The committee has formulated an impressive action plan with fifty activities listed and completion dates set for many months to come. The pupils in all classes in the school are associated with this work and exemplary cooperation has been obtained even from the youngest pupils. Though the school is short of space in many respects, this initiative is accommodated by rotas and rosters of pupils working collaboratively even in very confined areas. The result overall is most impressive and the pupils are to be commended for their skills and endeavours in advancing this whole school initiative.

 

4.8 Assessment

A range of assessment instruments is used in the school. The school makes use of various tests and these include MIST, Micra-T and Sigma-T. The teachers employ spelling tests, checklists, portfolios of work, monitoring of written work, teacher designed tasks and teacher observation. Observation records might be further strengthened as part of the overall provision for assessment in the school. Parent teacher meetings are usually held in November. The school provides parents with written reports on pupils’ individual progress.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

A full-time learning support teacher and a part-time resource teacher are providing support for pupils with special education needs. The learning support teacher has charge of a mainstream class until midday approximately each day. At that time the teacher begins learning support teaching duties. In effect almost half of learning support time is devoted to mainstream class teaching. It is recommended that the school should review the deployment of the learning support teacher. The school has documented policies on the admission, enrolment and participation of pupils with special educational needs in the school plan. These are in accordance with the school’s caring ethos and have been drawn up in line with the Learning Support Guidelines (DES, 2000) and Special Education Circular 02/05. The policies outline two instructional terms of approximately twenty weeks, of intensive frequency, both on a withdrawal basis and with in-class support. They also outline the roles and responsibilities of support teachers, class teachers, parents, pupils and board of management. Support for pupils with special educational needs is provided primarily in the area of literacy. It is recommended that the school should consider including support in numeracy also.  Supplementary teaching takes place on a withdrawal basis both on an individual and small group basis. Provision for in-class support is detailed in the school plan but it is not being implemented in practice. It is recommended that this be initiated and implemented.

 

Individual profile and learning programmes (IPLPs) have been devised for each pupil in receipt of learning support and resource teaching.  The teachers reported that these were compiled in consultation with the principal, class teachers, parents and pupils.  The IPLP is maintained by the learning support teacher. It is recommended that a copy of the IPLPs be made available to the principal, class teachers and to parents. Teachers engage in short term planning and pupil progress is regularly recorded and reviewed at suitable intervals throughout the school year. Teachers’ preparation is based on the needs of the children as identified in the individual IPLPs. Teachers maintain weekly planning and progress reports.  Fifteen pupils are currently availing of learning support and one pupil is availing of resource teaching. Of the fifteen attending learning support only one pupil is under the 12th percentile in literacy as per the school test results. The interactions observed between teachers and pupils receiving supplementary teaching were very affirming and encouraging to the pupils. The use of ICT in the lessons is commendable.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

  • The board of management of the school is to be commended for the manner in which it oversees the work of the school and particularly for the manner in which it ensures that the needs of the school are met in a timely and appropriate way. The high quality of the education provided is a feature of special merit and the school’s strong relationship with the local community is a distinctive and important dimension of great benefit to the school.

 

  • A creditable and impressive standard of work is to be found in the overall work of the school and this is attributable in large measure to the skill and commitment of the principal and the teachers who collaborate and cooperate in a positive and willing manner for the best interests of the pupils of the school. Impressive standards of success and achievement on the part of the pupils are to be found in all aspects of the curriculum.

 

  • The school’s work in regard to the green school movement seems to be highly meritorious and the pupils and the community have benefited notably from the varied activities that have been undertaken.

 

As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:

 

  • In view of the increased enrolment and additional staff numbers, there is an urgent need for a major improvement to the school’s accommodation to meet present and future needs. It is recommended that the school’s classroom and staff accommodation be significantly improved to meet the needs that are apparent. It is recommended that the board should consider an increase in on-site staff car parking facilities and also explore safety issues as regards the public road particularly at school opening and closing times.

 

  • The school might seek to enhance its curricular work and planning with the further development and improvement of teaching and learning. Posts of responsibility might be broadened to include curricular responsibilities so that future development and leadership may be given due emphasis. Elements of Irish, SESE, and aspects of work in copybooks might be given additional emphasis in accordance with the suggestions made in this report.

 

  • As a further development of the work in respect of the green school project, the school might consider setting up on a formal basis a school student council to allow the pupils a broader role in participating in the life of the school.

 

  • The school should review its arrangement for the work of the learning support teacher and in particular the deployment of the teacher as a mainstream class teacher for some of the day. It is recommended that this might be altered next year.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Published, October 2008

 

 

 

 

Appendix

School Response to the Report

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

           Inspection Report School Response Form

 

 

            Area 1 Observations on the content of the Inspection Report

 The Board of Management welcomes the Whole School Evaluation report and is happy to accept that it is a fair and accurate assessment of the work of the school.  The Board of Management and the staff are very pleased that the report affirms the excellent practices in the school, the positive role that it plays in the community and that it acknowledges the dedication, commitment and hard work of the principal, the teachers and indeed the whole school community. We would like to thank the team of inspectors for their courtesy during the evaluation and for the professional manner in which they dealt with the school and communicated their findings.

 

 

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

The Board of Management notes the key recommendations of the report and is currently considering and addressing the issues raised.