An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

 

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

 

Scoil Ghobnatan

Bellevue, Mallow, County Cork

Roll number: 19256Q

 

 

Date of inspection:  28 September 2006

  Date of issue of report:  22 February 2007

 

Whole-school evaluation

1.     Introduction – school context and background

2.     Quality of school management

2.1 Board of management

2.2 In-school management

2.3 Management of resources

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

2.5 Management of pupils

3.     Quality of school planning

3.1 School planning process and implementation

3.2 Classroom planning

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

4.1 Language

English

4.2 Mathematics

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

History

Geography

Science

4.4 Arts Education

Visual Arts

Music

Drama

4.5 Physical Education

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

4.7 Assessment

5.     Quality of support for pupils

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

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

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

School Response to the Report


 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Scoil Ghobnatan. 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 the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during the early weeks of the first term. Inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. They interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. 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 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

 

Located 35 km north of Cork City on the Cork - Limerick Road, Mallow is an important growth centre. The town has witnessed significant expansion in recent years. Hundreds of non Irish nationals have also settled in Mallow in recent years and this development will have a further impact on the growth of the town and on the pressure on schools to provide student places. Scoil Ghobnatan plays a central role in the life of this growing community. In the main the school serves an urban area and enrolment is rising. The school has twenty-six teachers with an enrolment of 440. Pupils come from across the whole socio-economic spectrum and the school receives support under the School Completion Programme. There is a very pleasant atmosphere in the school attributable to excellent rapport between the teachers, between staff and pupils and among the pupils themselves. Pupils are courteous to visitors and reflect the very good level of discipline that exists in the school. They are responsive and motivated and the teachers and the parents are to be commended for the excellent behaviour that is maintained throughout the school.

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is highly effective. The board adopts a proactive role in the management of the school, members are allocated specific tasks and the board is provided with a termly report by the principal. The board is appropriately involved in the development of the school plan and a number of important policies have been devised including a code of discipline, a health and safety statement and a policy of reporting and management of child protection concerns as recommended in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999). The board has ensured that resources are provided to support pupils with special educational needs, or those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those from ethnic minorities. Most recently an application has been made for the appointment of a second language teacher for non-English speaking children. The board is engaged in strategic planning for educational provision in the context of population growth in Mallow. An excellent working relationship has been developed between the principal with the chairperson and with members of the board of management and a comprehensive range of procedures for the effective management of the school has been put in place. An admissions and enrolment policy is in place for some time now. In its review the board could now examine this policy to ensure that board is satisfied that it complies with recent legislation around the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs.

 

2.2 In-school management

The principal provides effective leadership and the middle management team gives able and committed support, and takes responsibility for a number of important aspects of school administration. The in-school management structure provides for principal, one post at deputy principal level, three assistant principals and six special duties posts of responsibility. Areas of responsibility include: assessment, health and safety, the management of resources, curriculum development, liaison with the Parents’ Association and external agencies as well as the organisation of a range of other activities including extra curricular activities. In order to reflect the evolving needs of the school, consideration is now being given to reviewing these posts in accordance with the terms of Circular 17/00. The effective leadership and purposeful management of the principal and senior teachers provide clear educational direction for the work of the whole school community.

 

The principal displays the highest degree of professionalism and dedication in the performance of her duties. It is evident that the staff co-operates closely with the principal in the organisation of the work and a range of procedures has been put in place for the effective running of the school.  The in-school management of the school is made up of able, committed and enthusiastic teachers who demonstrate a willingness to develop the various middle management roles. To a large extent teachers in middle management undertake a variety of roles which include devising or operating organisational structures including the management of pupil behaviour, compiling required documentation and methods of record keeping, facilitating the continuous development of newly appointed and experienced staff, evaluating the quality of the service and planning strategies for change. It is now timely to review the various middle management roles in order to coordinate this work in a more structured manner. In school management meetings could be held on a regular basis to coordinate the work of the school, to plan curricular strategies for the school and to review existing policies.

 

2.3 Management of resources

The board of management and the principal regard staff deployment as a matter of priority in the school and careful attention is paid to providing for particular groups within the school community. The teaching commitment and teamwork of the staff provide Scoil Ghobnatan with its prime resource and a climate of mutual support is a noticeable feature of the culture of the school. This commitment and joint effort ensure that a pleasant teaching and learning atmosphere is prevalent throughout the school. The pupils were observed to be adequately supervised during playtime.

The level of support provided by the school secretary and special needs assistants is commendable and the teachers are appreciative of the enormous contribution they make to the efficient administration of the school and to the lives of the children. A school caretaker is employed for twenty hours per week and the school buildings and grounds are kept in good condition. Significant improvements have taken place in the school’s accommodation since the last inspection was carried out. All available accommodation is fully utilised and the school is able to cater for the current enrolment and for the additional internal and external supports that have been provided in recent years. The school was built in three phases. It was officially opened in 1970, an extension was added incorporating a fine hall in 2001. A further permanent extension was completed in 2005 and the provision of a suite of prefabricated classrooms completes the accommodation. The quality of the accommodation is very good and provides an attractive and educationally stimulating learning environment. Windows, floors, walls, roofs are in very good condition. The school secretary’s office doubles as a reception area and is situated beside the principal’s office. The school does not have its own playing field but uses a field nearby for team games. Swimming lessons are also arranged in the local swimming pool. School corridors and classrooms are attractively decorated with samples of pupil art-work and other curriculum-related visual materials. The rooms that are set aside for special needs teaching are for the most part centrally located. An extensive amount of storage space is available in the school basement. Classrooms are adequately furnished with suitable furniture which is well maintained. There are more than thirty pupils in the care of a small number of teachers in the school. Attention is drawn here to Circular 21/99 which points to the staffing schedule that is structured to ensure that schools will operate to a maximum class size of 29 pupils. The school should now make appropriate adjustments in class allocation. As a consequence of having so much open and freely accessible space surrounding the school, the buildings have been exposed to a limited level of vandalism at night time. The school authorities are quite concerned about this and are currently considering ways of reducing such anti-social activity. These circumstances act as a disincentive to the development of a school garden or the planting of trees and shrubs. Space in the staff-room is limited. The board seeks to provide a safe, secure and educationally stimulating environment.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school has established an active and dedicated parents’ association which meets regularly. The reports that accompany each young person’s annual review provide parents with an informative and accessible picture of their children’s progress. The parents association also organises fund raising events. These contributions are appreciated by the board of management and staff of the school. The parents association is keen to ensure representation of the various groups that make up the whole school community including minority groups Although informative talks for parents on educational topics are organised occasionally it is reported that the level of parental attendance at these meetings is sometimes disappointing. Parents’ consultation meetings and the schools’ open-door policy ensure a good level of parental involvement in their children’s education.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

Relationships between school staff and children are positive. There are very good arrangements in place to support the pupils and to care for them. The school has established useful links with outside agencies. Pupils behave well and relate constructively towards their peers and adults.

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The board of management has approved the planning documents and the plans are communicated to the Parents Association when appropriate. Very useful documentation is provided at a whole school level to assist individual teachers in their long term and short term preparation. A school plan has been developed in an inclusive, collaborative manner over recent years and it sets out the main policies and procedures that guide the operation of the school. The documentation within the School Plan is divided sensibly into administrative policies and curriculum policies.  Among the main policies documented regarding administration are Anti-bullying, Health and Safety, Substance Use, Acceptable Use policy in relation to Information and Communication Technology, and the organization of Special Needs provision. Documentation on curriculum outlines a whole school approach and informs classroom planning. Policies include Gaeilge, English, Mathematics Visual Arts, Music and Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Physical Education, and Science. There is no doubt that this school takes its statutory obligation to prepare policies for its work very seriously. The high standards maintained in the preparation and finalization of the documentation is due to the positive leadership of the Principal and to the commendable degree of collaboration and consultation among teachers. Several teachers have been involved and taken on leadership roles in planning. Organizational policies provide the detail necessary to guide staff in implementing them. Curricular documents are useful and laid out systematically. They have the potential to inform classroom planning.

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.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

Throughout the school preparation for learning and teaching activities is undertaken in a professional manner. The principal maintains all policies in the school plan. Teachers ensure that the school plan is implemented through general compliance with Rule 126 which governs preparation for schoolwork and progress records. Teachers retain the progress records in their folders and copies are forwarded to the principal on a monthly basis for central filing within the school. Praiseworthy long-term and short-term schemes of work are prepared by the teachers. These schemes demonstrate high levels of dedication on the part of the teachers and the delineation of specific objectives in most cases is in keeping with the revised curriculum. This results in focused learning opportunities and activities for the pupils. A number of standard planning and recording templates are provided to promote consistency of practice. These templates could now be reviewed in order to facilitate ease of preparation.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

Teachers demonstrate a secure knowledge of the integrated nature of the curriculum. Secure and attractive classroom environments are created. Approaches to learning and teaching in the creative and aesthetic areas are presented with skill and imagination and pupils are provided with a range of opportunities to participate in activities which are intrinsically rewarding and enjoyable. Pupil participation, meaningful engagement and purposeful learning are actively encouraged and promoted. The inspection visits took place in the early weeks of the school year when the teachers were becoming acquainted with the children. The predominant organisational strategy observed was effective whole class teaching. Going forward it is anticipated that a wider variety of suitable methodologies including group, pair and individual work will be used more extensively. The issue of the provision of tuition by external specialists in certain areas of the curriculum was discussed with the school principal. The principal explained that the board of management supports all pupils in accessing these activities. The school should now review the method through which the funding of these activities is organised, in order to fully comply with Departmental regulations.

 

4.1 Language

 

Irish

Is léir go ndéanann na hoidí an-mhacnamh ar straitéisí spreagúla chun an Ghaeilge a chur cinn ar fud na scoile. Tá caighdeán Gaeilge an-ard ag formhór mór na n-oidí agus cothaítear dearcadh dearfach i leith na teanga. Tuigeann na hoidí go maith an tábhtacht a bhaineann leis an nGaeilge a bheith in úsaid mar theanga bhainisteoireacht ranga agus i ngnáthchaint an lae. Díríonn na hoidí ar amanna faoi leith i rith an lae chun an Ghaeilge a úsáid mar theanga chaidrimh agus tá an dea-chleachtas seo go mór le moladh. Sa chur chuige bíonn teagasc ranga, teagasc grúpa, obair bheirte agus obair aonair ar siúl. Chomh maith le sin sonraítear éagsúlacht sa chur chuige  agus i measc na modhanna éagsúla bíonn drámaí, rólghlacadh agus cluichí teanga. Tugann na daltaí faoi reimsí eagsúla scríbhneoireachta agus cinntíonn na hoidí go mbíonn samplaí scríbhneoireachta le sonrú sna rangsheomraí. Cuirtear próiseas na scríbhneoireachta chun cinn go rialta agus eagraítear cleachtaí scríbhneoireachta faoi threoir. Cothaítear féiniarrachtaí na ndaltaí sa cheapadóireacht scríofa freisin. Is léir go mbaineann na daltaí taitneamh agus tairbhe as na himeachtaí. Tá raon de phíosaí filíochta agus amhráin curtha de ghlan mheabhair ag na daltaí. Sna ranganna sinsearacha tá na daltaí in ann ceisteanna a fhreagairt agus a chur. Is féidir le roinnt daltaí labhairt go leanúnach faoi ábhair oiriúnacha: nuacht a thabhairt agus scéalta a insint. Amach anseo d’fhéadfaí machnamh a chaitheamh ar straitéisí chun an Ghaeilge a chomhghaolú le gnéithe eile an churaclaim.

 

(It is clear that the teachers reflect carefully on the development of motivating strategies to promote Irish in the school. The majority of teachers display high standards in the language and a positive attitude is inculcated. The teachers understand the importance of using Irish in classroom management and in everyday contexts. The teachers set aside specific time during the day when Irish is used as the language of communication and this good practice deserves praise. Teaching approaches include whole class teaching, group work, paired work and individual instruction. In addition there is variety in the overall approach to teaching the language that includes drama, role play and language games. The children tackle a variety of topics in writing and the teachers ensure samples are displayed in the classrooms. The writing process is developed through regular practice and teacher directed activities. Personal writing is fostered as well and it is clear that the children both benefit from and enjoy the activity. The children have learned poetry and songs and in the senior classes can ask and answer questions. Some pupils can converse on suitable topics: reciting stories and telling news. In the future, consideration could be given to linking Irish with other aspects of the curriculum.)

 

English

The teaching of English benefits from a variety of instructional arrangements including whole class teaching, group work as well as paired and individual work. Whole class discussion and story are used effectively to foster listening and expressive skills. While a class reader is in general use throughout the school teachers are aware of the limitation of this approach and they endeavour to promote the development of independent reading both at functional and recreational levels. Younger children benefit from the use of language experience charts, big books and real books and pupils are introduced to class novels as they advance through the school. The pupils engage in the composition of and recitation of poetry and they experience Drama across the curriculum particularly in History and Gaeilge. A reading corner is a welcome feature of many classrooms. Careful and systematic attention is paid to the development of technical reading skills, phonological awareness and word study. Comprehension exercises figure prominently also. There is a commendable emphasis on writing as a process and elements observed include scaffolding, drafting and editing the work The majority of pupils demonstrate a suitable competence in reading, with general accuracy, fluency and understanding. Pupils are keen to describe their book reviews, the teachers maintain extensive lists of books read by pupils while a parental involvement programme in children’s reading, CAPER, offers opportunities for children and parents to engage in shared reading activities at home. Pupils show well presented handwriting, accurate spelling and punctuation. Pupils write in a variety of genres and their functional writing skills are applied widely across the curriculum. In future Information and Communication Technology could be used to a greater extent to process pupil work

 

4.2 Mathematics

Information gathered from assessment procedures including standardised tests is used to inform practice in the teaching of Mathematics. The staff has recognised the need for concrete and structured materials and they have assembled a wide selection of useful equipment and attractive resources.  These are maintained in a central store that is easily accessed and carefully managed. In mathematics a broad and balanced programme is taught. At all levels but particularly in junior classes there is a commendable emphasis on teaching the language of mathematics. Play and practical work with concrete materials in real situations is very much in evidence. Problem solving strategies involving estimation in real situations are utilised profitably. Mental work is well attended to and pupils have much practice in oral and written computation. Pupils’ work is well presented and they apply the appropriate number operations to solve problems. The teachers have identified Mathematics as an area for development in the short term and high quality in planning is in evidence throughout the school. In order to provide for appropriate differentiation, team teaching involving resource teachers is now taking place. While pupils are given opportunities to use calculators to learn, computers could be used more extensively to reinforce and to apply mathematical knowledge/skills. Mathematics could also be used more extensively to enrich and vary the learning experiences of the pupils in history, geography and science.

 

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

Pupils show an interest in History and they demonstrate appropriate historical knowledge. Pupils engage in whole class, and group historical projects and they provide impressive reports on their research. Resources include audio-visual artefacts, visits, books and visual materials. There is some integration with other aspects of the curriculum including Geography and English. Timelines are used successfully to support development of pupils’ concept of chronology. There is an emphasis on the use of human and other resources in the locality and the study of women in history is a commendable feature of practice.

 

Geography

At each level pupils display an appropriate standard of geographical knowledge. In Geography pupils are given opportunities to develop skills as geographers using maps globes and atlases. Geography is integrated with some other aspects of the curriculum. Younger pupils show an appropriate understanding of seasonal and environmental change. The older pupils display appropriate geographical knowledge at local, national and international levels. While there is some emphasis on the local environment and on field work this work could now be extended to carrying out of some environmental surveys.

 

Science

The school has set out an ambitious programme for Science. Teachers are conscious of the importance of pupils’ working scientifically and of developing their ideas by testing them in structured investigations. Schemes of work are carefully prepared and provide effective guidance to teachers on how to sequence the work to be covered.  A very impressive range of equipment has been assembled which allows for a wide range of practical work that pupils can carry out in small groups and promotes the development of the skills of scientific investigation. Where practical work was observed, the teachers drew on pupils’ own experiences, involving them in an active way at all stages and promoting the skills of scientific investigation. Pupils were well motivated and participated with enthusiasm in activities including practical teacher demonstrations, whole class discussion, experimental work and recording of findings. Further opportunities will emerge during the year for children to work scientifically and to engage in practical experiments. Teachers will maximise the opportunities for pupils to apply their scientific knowledge and skills to other areas of the curriculum.

 

4.4 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

The pupils are enthusiastic and keen to undertake practical and creative work in the Visual Arts. There is evidence of a broad, balanced and systematic programme across all strands. The school has invested in providing prints of famous works of art. Pupils work extensively in two and three dimensional media.  Pupils show that they know about the ideas of some of the great artists. Work in the visual arts is successfully integrated with elements of the Social Environmental and Scientific Education programme. Teacher records indicate that there is more emphasis on making than on responding to Art and further opportunities could be planned to allow pupils to explore and use the ideas of the artists and craftspeople from different cultures and times.

 

Music

In Music pupils participate with enthusiasm in a broad programme across all strands, listening, responding, composing and performing. Pupils sing a wide variety of unison songs accurately and expressively from different styles and cultures with appropriate pitch, rhythm and dynamics. There is a praiseworthy emphasis on systematic development of specific vocal and instrumental skills and techniques. Pupils are also developing an ability to write music using appropriate notation. They listen to and enjoy a wide variety of music and respond in a variety of ways. Members of the staff contribute to whole-school music activities according to their strengths including those staff with particular instrumental skills. Many children play in the school band which puts on a very impressive performance in traditional music. The instruments are carefully maintained and the costs involved are sensitively managed. The school band and choir participate in Cór Fhéile na Scol, and in Feis Maitiú. The school is proud of its involvement in the St Patrick’s Day parade and a performance is put on for the elderly in the local Day Care Centre. The school has established valuable links with outside agencies such as the Vocational Educational Committee and the specialist tuition provided in tin whistle is a strength of the school.

 

Drama

It is noted that the work in drama is both formal and informal and teachers are particularly commended for their imaginative approach in this area. Drama is used to enhance the work in some areas of the curriculum and the children enjoy the opportunities provided. An external tutor is also employed to assist in teaching drama. The work drama sessions are provided to classes up to third class. Pupils were observed as they engaged in enjoyable relaxation exercises and they were encouraged successfully to give imaginative responses to prompts. The pupils were enthusiastic about expressing their emotions through mime and role play. The ongoing programme of inservice for teachers in the revised curriculum will focus next on the area of drama. It is anticipated that this will provide teachers with additional confidence to develop the drama programme further

 

4.5 Physical Education

The school has taken significant steps to ensure a full and balanced implementation of the physical education curriculum and the pupils are experiencing a wide range of activities in physical education. The school has organised swimming in the local swimming pool. Links have been established with outside individuals and agencies providing specialist coaching in games.  Physical education is well organised and effectively managed. Pupils display a willingness and enthusiasm to participate in the various activities. The involvement of local club personnel in Gaelic games and rugby allow for an emphasis on the systematic development of specific skills and techniques. Skills taught in this context are in keeping with the primary curriculum and the class teacher attends appropriately to safety issues by maintaining responsibility for discipline and by supervising the work. Extra-curricular activities play a substantial part in the extension of the curriculum and school staff are to be commended for the support provided in arranging a range of activities. Teachers give substantial amounts of free-time after school to school clubs and teams. The school participates in inter-school competitions including Gaelic games for boys and girls. Playing pitches and swimming pool are located some distance from the school. This creates difficulties in inclement weather.

 

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

There is evidence of balance in the SPHE programme between imparting knowledge, learning skills and fostering attitudes. SPHE lessons are covered in a cross curricular way and through discrete time. More sensitive aspects of the programme are presented by a medical professional. SPHE is integrated with other aspects of the curriculum. Pupils engage in the learning process by means of circle-time, drama, cooperative games, discussion, written activities, stories, music and visual arts.

 

4.7 Assessment

Pupils in this school benefit from the judicious approach taken by teachers to formative and summative assessment of learning. Assessment information is recorded systematically in the school and is used effectively for supplementary teaching. SEN teachers and class teachers share information generated through a range of standardised and diagnostic tests to facilitate prudent planning of tailored programmes. The guidelines on Individual Education Plans published recently by the National Council for Special Education should inform assessment practice in the coming years.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The school has developed a coherent policy in relation to special educational needs and is staffed in accordance with the criteria of the Department of Education and Science. Each Special Education Teacher (SET) is assigned to provide both learning support and more specialized help at each level in the school. A number of teachers have attended in-service related to special needs. An eclectic and flexible range of teaching approaches is used in meeting the needs of children with special educational needs. Teachers respond to a range of high incidence and low incidence disabilities and the advice and reports of external professionals are considered in planning and implementing the children’s educational programme. A suitable range of assessment procedures is used to inform the work. In the area of special support for pupils the approach is characterized by structure and routine. A wide range of teaching resources including audio-visual equipment and information and communication technology is available and used effectively to facilitate the learning and teaching. Teacher-pupil interactions are supportive, affirmative and encouraging. Special Needs Assistants play a significant role in facilitating the school in meeting the needs of pupil in their care. Learning activities are appropriately differentiated and particular emphasis is given to the provision of structured, individualized additional teaching in literacy and numeracy. There is evidence of strong liaison between mainstream and special education teachers.

It would be beneficial to compile an educational profile containing a summary and parents observations that relate directly to children’s learning and teaching and to provide a copy of this profile to both the class teacher and the special education teachers. Continued development is anticipated in the effective collaborative teamwork being undertaken in the preparation of educational programmes for individual pupils and is particularly appropriate in the context of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004).

 

In 2000 a special class was established for pupils with Specific Speech and Language Disorders (SSLD). A policy statement relating to the class is provided. The accommodation for teaching and for the provision of speech and language therapy is satisfactory and the classroom is centrally located within the main school building. The room is partitioned thus creating a room for therapy that is generally free from noise distraction. There is a good level of literature, a computer and various language development resources. At admission stage there is strict observance of the existing qualifying diagnostic criteria. Very close collaboration is in evidence between the class teacher, occupational therapist, who targets coordination work, and speech and language therapist in planning the work. A common planning template is used; there is comprehensive long-term and short-term planning with appropriate curriculum differentiation. Language development opportunities are exploited within curriculum subjects and there is systematic development of language competence. Progress across the curriculum is regularly assessed and recorded. Particular attention is paid to speech and language development. Speech and language therapy is provided to individuals and to groups. Regular communication is maintained with parents and appropriate information is provided for the new school when, following detailed review, a pupil is discharged from the special class. The inclusion of children in age appropriate mainstream activities is prudently organised Staff members express a genuine frustration among school personnel and parents around the issue of transport to the special class. Difficulties and delays are reported in arranging for escorts also.

 

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

This school works in the pupils’ best interests to safeguard their welfare and to promote their development; it works in partnership with other responsible agencies and values the input of parents-guardians.

 

Through the School Completion Programme the school has developed a number of focused attendance strategies as required under Section 22 of the Education Welfare Act 2000. Strategies include the provision of focused support. The operation of the School Completion Initiative is characterised by dedicated commitment on the part of the staff.  The Breakfast Club runs from 08.30 to 09.00 every day and from 09.00 to 09.45 parents are welcome to talk to the staff about any difficulties pupils involved in the Initiative may be experiencing. During this time also, the staff prepare lunch for the Lunch Club. Help in the classroom is a commendable feature of the Initiative and is a major feature of the work undertaken between Breakfast Club and Lunch Club. Activities such as circle-time, assistance with the school reading programme and Mathematics support the work of the class teacher and help integrate the target pupils in an unobtrusive manner. At lunch time games are organised and the Homework Clubs commence for Infants at 13.40 and cater for other pupils from school closing time to 16.00.  Four members of staff help with the Homework Clubs. Additional activities include the organisation of soccer teams for the girls as well as the two-week summer camps.

 

Commendable features of this laudable initiative include home visits, tracking of transition of pupils from primary to post-primary, monitoring of attendance and escorting of pupils to specialist support. The initiative co-ordinator submits reports on the operation of the initiative to the board of management and also attends meetings of community groups and inter-agency bodies in the interests of the pupils.

 

The school has two Resource teachers for Travellers (RTTs) and they devise individual learning plans in respect of each Traveller child availing of additional support. Class teachers and resource teachers for travellers hold consultation meetings at the start of the school year. There is a high level of collaboration between RTT and SET around a small number of exceptional cases where the support of more than one specialist teacher is necessary. There is a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy and careful records are maintained of the work completed. The staff is aware of the benefits to be derived when resource teachers for Travellers work alongside the class teacher in the mainstream setting and in-class support is provided in literacy and numeracy. Traveller children have access to the broad curriculum and teachers are careful to ensure that no particular part of the curriculum is neglected when withdrawal from mainstream class is considered. By way of further development Traveller culture and history could be further developed and celebrated as an integral part of an intercultural curriculum. Due to the increase in recent years of international pupils coming to the school, the Department of Education and Science has sanctioned a full-time English Language Support (ELS) teaching post for Scoil Ghobnatan.  Through the ELS programme the school has developed an inclusive support service for international pupils. At the time of the WSE international students in this school came mainly from two countries. An advantage of this is that the teacher can enlist the support of those international students with advanced English language skills to assist less experienced pupils. The English language support is carried out conscientiously and provides pupils with valuable integration support as well as language instruction.  The European Languages Portfolio (ELP) provides the base programme for implementing individual pupil support schemes and this programme is supplemented by individual plans for pupils based on needs. A very useful feature of the work includes the mechanism whereby international pupils bring an Irish friend from their class to the support class on occasions. This policy aids both language learning and integration. Very positive use is made of Mallow Library to garner resources for learning and parental support is enlisted as much as possible. Parents have shown their appreciation of the work of the school in its endeavours to teach their children English.

 

Liaison with class teachers is an important feature of work in this area and mechanisms for facilitating such liaison should now be put in place at a whole school level in order to ensure that the language of the classroom and class topics are covered in support teaching programmes. The advent of a full-time support post for international students as well as the RTTs provide the opportunity for the school to develop policies around intercultural education as part of the SPHE programme.  The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment’s recent publication ‘Intercultural Education in the Primary School Guidelines’ (NCCA: 2005) should be of help in the formulation of such a policy and this document could also help in developing language programmes. The English Profiles developed by the Educational Research Centre could also be used to help ascertain achievement levels of pupils.

 

The school should have regard to the policy of the Department of Education and Science with regard to age-appropriate placement of pupils and should ensure that pupils are taught in class groups where pupils are close in age.

  

The demand for the service has grown to such an extent in the school that numbers of international students now attending warrant the creation of a second English Language Support post.

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 B. O. M. on behalf of the staff wish to thank the Inspectors for their courtesy and professionalism.