An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Scoil Naomh Fhiachna
Gleann Garbh, Contae Chorcaí
Roll number: 19420D
Date of inspection: 9 March 2006
Date of issue of report: 26 October 2006
Whole School Evaluation
This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Scoil Fhiachna. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspector held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.
Scoil Fhiachna's is a four-teacher school situated in Glengarriff an area of exquisite natural beauty and a renowned tourist location. It serves the immediate hinterland and village. The new central school was officially opened in 1977 incorporating the old Glengarriff, Derryconnery and Youngfield schools. The modern building heralded a new beginning for the children of the neighbourhood. The school is a single storey, modern structure on a confined site adjacent to the church and presbytery. It is well maintained inside and outside. It has a tar macadam area, a grass play area and a hard court area. The school has the use of a community hall in the village and the use of a playing pitch near the school. This arrangement is not entirely satisfactory due to traffic and public road hazards. The last School Report was furnished in 1997. The current enrolment is 67 and includes 29 boys and 38 girls. At present there are four teachers on the staff. The learning support teacher on the staff is shared with two schools. A visiting resource teacher attends the school for 8 hours weekly.
Scoil Fhiachna’s is under the patronage of the Bishop of Kerry. The board of management meets once a term and more often if requested to do so. The board is exacting and rigorous in fulfilling its obligations and its functions. The minutes and reports are up to date, concise and readily available. The members express their recognition of and appreciation for the education provided to the pupils in the school. The board is supportive of the school staff and there is close cooperation between the board and the teachers. The staff in consultation with the board of management has defined the school’s mission statement. It endeavours to “celebrate the uniqueness of the child as it is expressed in each child’s personality, intelligence and potential for development.” The mission statement takes cognisance of the changing nature of knowledge and society and caters for the needs of individual children adjusting to change.
The board members at their meetings have discussed in great detail the policies related to health and safety issues. They review regularly and update all policies. In the recent past as part of the phased maintenance programme, the board has seen to the laying of a tar macadam surface in the school yard and the replacement of some windows and doors in the interest of health and safety. The board has serious concerns about the continuing traffic congestion outside the gate morning and evening. The school minibus is permitted to enter the precincts of the school to allow the children to get on and off close to the door of the building. Staff members park their cars within the school grounds close to the children’s play area. It is apparent that there are significant hazards attaching to the car and bus arrangements currently in place. It is recommended that the board of management initiate steps to provide for better safety arrangements as regards the arrival and departure of pupils and staff.
The board shows strong commitment in supporting the principal and staff of the school in practical ways. The members play an important role in initiating and maintaining worthwhile communication and rapport with the parents’ association and with the parent body in general.
Board members play a significant part in policy making thereby contributing to the development of the school plan. The board considers school planning documents and ratifies them. A review date is specified and all policies are duly signed.
Since January 2006 the board has actively promoted a healthy eating policy. The board has adopted a dress code and sets out certain criteria pertaining to the appropriate type and suitability of the school uniform. Depending on the occasion and the time of year pupils can mix and match selected sets of garments in keeping with activities undertaken. Among the health and safety practices overseen by the board are regular staff supervision of the children on their arrival and dismissal and the prohibition of the use of mobile phones during school hours.
There is ample evidence that the board of management provides a valuable forum for the expression of views and for the concerns of the different interests it represents. Effective communication between the different interests is maintained at all times. The school has a very active parents’ association and maintains close links with board members. There is a healthy spirit of partnership among teachers, parents and management. Consultation and co-operation are evident in the board’s endeavours to see that the needs of individual children are catered for. A manifest sense of duty prevails within the school.
The in-school management team includes the principal, the deputy principal and the special duties post-holder. The principal carries out the administrative and organisational functions effectively and shows practical concern for the well-being of the staff and all the pupils in the school. The principal and staff work well together as a team and are committed to the overall aims and philosophy of the school. Staff meetings take place once a term and informal meetings are arranged as the need arises. Records of the issues discussed are kept to assist planning. A happy rapport exists between the staff members. The principal is a notably effective, caring and capable leader who has the full support, the confidence and trust of the board, the staff and the parents.
The post-holders have certain responsibilities that they perform regularly. There are three areas of responsibility assigned and these include curricular, organisational and pastoral aspects. The elements selected include ensuring the implementation of the revised curriculum, compiling policies, responsibility for infants, school outings and Physical Education. Also included is overseeing the day-to-day running of the school along with the welfare and safety of the children. Safety rules for the pupils are in place regarding acceptable behaviour for the school bus. Informal meetings are a regular feature of school life. Official documents including the roll books and registers are accurately completed and safely kept. For the notification of absences, teachers report to the principal and pupil absence is noted in written form by the parents/guardians. The traditions of the school are maintained and valued. A positive and supportive climate is noticeable in the school. Mutual respect is evident between the school management, the staff and the parent body.
The staff includes three mainstream class teachers and one learning support teacher who is shared with two other schools. A part-time resource teacher is also engaged for eight hours per week. There is a part-time secretary who provides an efficient and reliable service and carries out her duties conscientiously. The school has three permanent classrooms, a general purpose room, a staff room, and toilets. A small storage area is available. The general purpose room has been sectioned and fitted out to serve for learning support and resource teaching as well as providing space for thirteen computers. In effect the general purpose room is unavailable for some of the activities that might take place there. In order to provide for the full range of the curriculum, there is a significant need for an improvement to the school’s accommodation. In particular there is a need for a learning support/resource classroom, a larger staff area and a major improvement to the toilet facilities for both adults and children.
The classrooms, the general purpose room and the hallways provide display areas where pupils’ artwork is exhibited. Included also are charts displaying aspects of the subjects taught, for example, our favourite poems, a St. Patrick’s Day display of hand made cards and St. Brigid’s crosses, photos of historical figures and maps of the world, Europe and Ireland. Also on display is a weekly awards chart celebrating the class worker of the week. This in turn encourages the apt use of language, vocabulary extension and an appreciation of the elements of art. An engaging range of attractive concrete materials is made available to all children. Pupils have access to computers, camcorder, scanner, musical instruments and engaging nature tables.
All rooms have well stocked libraries and this facility contributes enormously to the development of the children’s love of reading. A plentiful supply of print is displayed in the classrooms. Games, toys, and a dressing-up box make learning an exciting experience for the younger children. The school has installed a broadband internet facility. Mathematical, Scientific and Physical Education equipment is provided out of Department of Education and Science grants. Cork County Library annually gives a grant of €250 to the school. Teachers go to a book depot and select books for their classes to the value of the amount granted. The county mobile library visits the school once every fortnight. Each classroom has a nature table or corner of interest. On display are a number of interesting exhibits including birds’ nests, feathers, seeds, stones, shells from all over the world, lichen covered twigs, snakes’ skin and a collection of spiders and insects. The teachers work earnestly in providing a secure and comfortable teaching and learning environment for the pupils. The resources as provided make the lessons more meaningful for the children.
The school and its grounds are maintained in a clean and attractive way.
There is a very supportive parents’ association in the school. The members give practical help. They are actively involved in the school’s policy making and in upholding the school’s vision and aims. They act as a support group for the board of management through fund-raising and school related functions.
Contact is made with the home through parent-teacher meetings, newsletters, homework diary, note system and open days. The parents’ association holds regular meetings each year to plan certain events. Communication between parents and school is both formal and informal. The principal attends the annual general meeting of the parents’ association and other occasions as needed. The school’s policies are made available to parents for review. Parents are represented on the RSE committee. Parents arrange fund-raising occasions, for example, cake and toy sales, family days, and stage performances in the local hotel. Among the activities funded are swimming lessons, the provision of shrubs, flowers and vegetables for the school garden, and new computers.
The parents support an annual open day and they are involved in football and hurling games. A homework policy is being drawn up in association with the parents’ group. An annual formal parent teacher meeting takes place each year. The school’s code of discipline is sent to the parents on the enrolment of each child. In general communication is excellent. The parents are high in their praise of the teachers. They express their satisfaction and gratitude for the secure and happy learning environment created by the staff in the school. They are kept up to date as regards their children’s progress and this further strengthens the home school links.
The school plan has been prepared by school management, the staff and the parents’ association working together. It sets out the educational philosophy of the school, its aims and how it proposes to achieve them. The board has been involved in a true spirit of partnership in laying out this important document. Primary curriculum support facilitators have also given help. Basic work had already been carried out in a collaborative way through staff meetings for which records of issues discussed are available. The plan is easily accessible and is divided into a number of separate sections. General school details are covered including mission and vision statements, curriculum policies and organisational policies. The latter contains policies on the following aspects: code of behaviour, Relationships and sexuality education, anti-bullying, enrolment, child protection, health and safety, homework, attendance, learning support, healthy eating and administration of medicines. These policies have been ratified and dated by the board of management with built-in review dates. Policies in the process of ratification are History, Internet Acceptable Use Policy, Music, and Substance Abuse. The following subject policies for some of the main curricular areas have been endorsed by the board of management and have built-in review dates: Gaeilge, English, Science, Mathematics, Visual Arts and Social, personal and health education. The plan also contains information on teacher absence, supervision, absences of children, parent/teacher meetings, staff meetings, uniforms, illnesses and accidents. The teachers prepare short-term and long-term plans in all areas of the curriculum.
Appropriate use of timetables to guide the work in all subjects is evident. Provision is made to support the in-class opportunities for pupils with special needs and learning disabilities. The principle of differentiation is applied to ensure that all children reach their full potential in the classroom. Weaker pupils get extra help and extra time to go over what they have learned. Children who finish their exercises more quickly receive extra reading material for example, novels and different textbooks. At the senior class level, difference is evident in the developmental stages reached by individual pupils and commendable understanding is shown in managing these various stages with discretion. Each teacher keeps a meaningful record of the work completed. These records are collected and signed by the principal and stored in a filing cabinet. These records are valuable and support planning throughout the school.
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, September 1999) and Child Protection: Guidelines and Procedures (Department of Education and Science, April 2001). 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 Department guidelines.
The teachers have created a lively and encouraging environment for the children in their care to facilitate the implementation of the School Plan. The pupils benefit from a variety of methodologies that help them to develop their capabilities and to apply their skills in the learning process. The diversity of strategies in the learning areas, particularly those of science, art and music, claims the attention and interest of the pupils with learning difficulties. The teachers are successful in arranging group activities. Children are set to work collaboratively in groups and in classes. The questioning of the teachers in the multi-class situations in the school shows their awareness of the different levels of understanding and grasp of lesson content reached by particular pupils. The spirit of endeavour that prevails within the school enhances the teaching atmosphere. The pupils with special needs are supported and encouraged in their learning tasks and they are integrated well. All the children of the school are welcoming and are keen to interact with visitors.
Déantar an-dea-iarracht atmaisféar Gaelach a chothú sa scoil shéanmhar seo. Oibríonn na hoidí ar a seacht ndícheall chun grá agus tuiscint don teanga a chothú sna daltaí agus chun mioneolas ar an dteanga a spreagadh agus a fhorbairt iontu. Leagann gach oide béim láidir ar mhúineadh na Gaeilge agus déantar an-iarracht labhairt na teanga a chur chun cinn trí an Ghaeilge a úsáid mar theanga chaidrimh chomh forleathan agus is féidir i rith an lae i ngach seomra. Oibríonn na hoidí le dua inmholta agus cothaíonn siad atmaisféar an-spreagúil sna rangsheomraí. Léiríonn siad dearcadh fábhrach i leith na teanga.
Tá forbairt leanúnach na teanga le sonrú agus le moladh sa chomhrá, sa léitheoireacht, sa scríbhneoireacht agus sa pheannaireacht d’réir mar a théann na daltaí ar aghaidh sna ranganna. Tá na ceithre shnáithe á bhforbairt go féiltiúil agus tá toradh fóinteach fúthu. Ullmhaíonn na hoidí raon leathan d’ábhair theagaisc i ngach seomra. Moltar, ach go háirithe, an obair a déantar chun freastal ar chumas agus ar dhul chun cinn na ndaltaí ar na léibhéil éagsúla. Léirítear an-tuiscint ar riachtanais na bpáistí laga agus na ndaltaí nach de bhunaibh na háite iad ó dhúchas. Tugtar an-seans dóibh páirt a ghabháil i gceachtanna gníomhartha go forleitheadúil. Foghlamaíonn na daltaí gnéithe bunúsacha na teanga in atmaisféar gealgháireach.
Tá na seomraí maisithe go gleoite le cairteacha úsáideacha. Téann áilleacht an ábhair léiriúcháin agus na healaíne a ullmhaíonn na hoidí go mór i bhfeidhm ar na leanaí. Saibhrítear tionchar na foghlama trí sholáthar cabhrach ábhair phriontáilte a chur ar fáil i dtimpeallacht na scoile. Leagtar an-bhéim ar na cleachtaí réamh-fhoirmiúla agus múintear clár foirmiúil le cur chuige an-shamhlaíoch sna naíonáin agus sna bunranganna. Baineann siad sásamh agus tairbhe as na rabhcáin agus na rannta. Ina theannta san baineann na leanaí an-taitneamh agus fiúntas úsáideach as an scéalaíocht agus as an drámaíocht. Cuireann na daltaí leabhair shimplí le chéile ar ábhar a thaitníonn leo féin.
Is léir go dtéann modh na gníomhaíochta go mór chun maitheasa do na leanaí sna ranganna uile. Baintear úsáid as go leor foinsí closamhairc agus tá na daltaí ar bís chun cainte mar gheall ar an gcaitheamh aimsire is fearr leo, na cluichí a imríonn siad, na leabhair a thaitníonn leo agus na peataí is aoibhinn leo. Déantar cúram ceart de theagasc na léitheoireachta Gaeilge. Pléitear an t-ábhar go soineanta sna bunranganna, sna meánranganna agus sna hárdranganna. Féachtar chuige go dtuigeann na daltaí a bhfuil léite acu. Úsáidtear na cleachtaí seo go forleathan chun fiúntas an teagaisc a phréamhú. Déantar cúram rialta de na cleachtaí scríbhneoireachta.
Gach seachtain eagraítear cluichí clóis faoin aer trí mheán na Gaeilge amháin leis na hardranganna. Léiríonn na daltaí bá inmholta don teanga sna hócáidí spórtúla. Chomh maith le sin tugtar le fios cé chomh aoibhinn agus cé chomh nádúrtha i dteannta a chéile iad spórt agus teanga. Daingnítear na ceachtanna go breá. Moltar saothar na n-oidí ar son na teanga. Sroichtear caighdeán creidiúneach sa Ghaeilge sa scoil seo.
A very good effort is made to foster a Gaelic atmosphere in this happy school. The teachers give of their best in promoting love, understanding and knowledge of the language among the pupils. Every teacher gives strong emphasis to the teaching of Irish and every effort is made to promote the speaking of the language by making it the language of interaction as much as possible during the day in each classroom. The teachers work painstakingly, they cultivate a very stimulating atmosphere in their classrooms and they demonstrate a favourable disposition towards the language.
The methodical development of Irish in conversation, reading, writing and penmanship is to be encountered and to be praised as the children progress through the classes. The four strands are being developed regularly and practical results ensue. The teachers prepare a wide range of teaching materials in each classroom. The work that is done to assist pupils at varying levels of ability to make progress is to be praised especially. Good understanding is shown for the needs of weaker pupils and for those pupils who are not native to the locality and they are given good opportunities to engage widely in activity lessons. The pupils learn the basics of the language in a cheerful atmosphere.
The rooms are decorated delightfully with useful charts. The beauty of the display and art material prepared by the teachers influences the children notably. The learning is enriched by a helpful supply of printed materials in the school environment. Good emphasis is placed on pre-formal exercises while a formal programme with an imaginative approach is pursued in the infant and junior classes. The pupils are satisfied with and benefit from the songs and rhymes. Also, the pupils enjoy and derive value from stories and drama. The pupils compile simple books on topics that they like.
It is apparent that activity methodology is beneficial for the pupils in all the classes. Audio-visual sources are used widely and the pupils are keen to talk about their favourite pastimes, the games they play, the books they enjoy and the pets that delight them. Careful regard is had for the teaching of reading in Irish. The reading material is discussed pleasantly in the junior, middle and senior classes and understanding on the part of the pupils is ensured. These lessons are used widely to consolidate the effectiveness of the teaching. Written exercises are a regular element of the work.
Each week outdoor games are arranged for the senior pupils and use is made of Irish as a means of communication. The pupils reveal a praiseworthy liking for the language in their sporting activities and demonstrate also how naturally and happily sport and language may be combined. The lessons are well consolidated. The work of the teachers in respect of the language is to be praised. A creditable standard is achieved in Irish in this school.
Throughout the school admirable preparation is made for all language activities pertaining to the English curriculum. The curriculum content is planned so that pupils will experience oral language, reading and writing as enjoyable elements of an integrated programme while having regard for ability difference and class level. Teaching methods and organisational strategies are in accord with the school plan. Commendable work is done in all classes to increase the pupils’ word-power and their ability to converse and to communicate confidently in English. The teachers are aware of the importance of the development of the pupils’ oral skills through integration with appropriate aspects of the curriculum.
All classrooms have a wide range of suitable resources and these are made available to all the pupils to enhance the teaching methodologies employed and to encourage participation and enjoyment in the various activities. The school has accumulated fine library resources and pupils have access to a variety of reading materials including dictionaries to enrich their reading skills, thereby giving them an opportunity to become familiar with the printed word and to motivate them to read for pleasure and for information. The environmental print displayed is helpful and challenging. The development of oral language skills is promoted throughout the school. Reading is taught in a methodical manner so that pupils acquit themselves very well in their reading exercises. The library facilities are profitably utilised. The pupils show delight in their library activity. Books form an essential part of the pupils’ language experience. A range of readers from the class library supplements the formal reading schemes and this is commended. In the middle and senior classes, the reading programme includes the use of age appropriate novels and a structured reading scheme.
Written work is presented in attractive and well-kept copies. Functional and creative writing are integrated suitably with appropriate subject areas. These skills along with drafting and redrafting are developed at each class level. Poetry and recitation are encouraged and the children’s emotional and imaginative development is enhanced as a result. Work in copybooks is monitored and corrected regularly. Care is taken to promote a clear and legible style of penmanship. Computers are accessible to all pupils and they are encouraged to use specified times to engage in the exercise of editing, drafting and redrafting skills. In the middle and senior standards, pupils are introduced to different forms of writing for a variety of purposes. For example, they write letters to each other and to pen pals. They engage in imaginative written activities writing as journalists and autobiographers. A link with the History curriculum is made through getting pupils to converse with an historic personage. The pupils enjoy poetry writing as well. In the junior, middle and senior classes, a writer of the week is selected at the end of each school week. Children’s work is shared through reading individual written exercises aloud and partaking in discussion on the content. Throughout the school the pupils engage in dramatic presentations to celebrate various annual events based on historical happenings. The special needs pupils are very well attended to through thoughtful co-operation between class teachers, resource and learning support teachers. Samples of children’s work are celebrated and put on display. Overall, achievements in the English syllabus are praiseworthy.
Planning and preparation is carried out in line with the School Plan and the strand units are given due consideration. A plentiful supply of concrete and visual materials is provided at all class levels. Teachers use a commercially produced series of textbooks and workbooks to aid them in laying out their individual plans. Plenty of wall charts are on display for ready reference purposes. The teachers are complimented on their endeavours to produce engaging and useful aids made by themselves. Some use is made of the immediate environment but this might be further expanded and developed to consolidate concept formation and activity in mathematics. Further integration of Mathematics with Geography and the Visual Arts is recommended.
To help understanding, strong emphasis is placed on mathematical language at every class level. Class teaching and group teaching are engaged in and where necessary individual children are given support. Particular attention is given to the social value of working
together on various mathematical activities. To this end group work is planned so that all pupils can participate and be included in the learning activities. Emphasis is placed on oral work and on recording. Pupils engage in activities that include among others, analysis of number, classifying, matching, counting, exploring and using patterns. Other aspects of the mathematics syllabus include study of fractions, decimals, place value, 2D and 3D shapes, time and estimation. The use of calculators is introduced at an appropriate time. The pupils with special educational needs are helped in a very practical way, through co-operation between the class teacher and the resource and learning support teachers. The principle of differentiation is applied to cater for the needs of pupils at different levels. Written work is recorded in copybooks and in workbooks. Pupils’ work is carefully recorded and retained for reference. Written work is corrected and progress is monitored regularly. Pupils are happily engaged in their work in general. Overall, pupils show commendable progress in Mathematics.
A broad and stimulating programme in Social, Environmental and Scientific Education is undertaken in the school. These studies are firmly based on the rich, local environment. The teachers present the pupils at all class levels with themes and topics appropriate to their interests and ability level. Scientific investigations are part of the planned programme of work. The children in the infant and junior classes carry out some interesting experiments relating to energy and forces. A science curriculum that is broad and flexible is implemented in all the classrooms. Topics include living things, energy and forces. The pupils investigate the use of batteries as a form of stored electricity and they create buzzers and fans using battery power. These studies are elaborated further throughout the classes. The children are involved enthusiastically in a range of learning experiences related to recycling issues, for example, the disposal and recycling of paper, cardboard and organic waste. The children work in the school garden and follow the various forms of activity carried out during each season. The pupils are taken on walks to the local forest and to the seashore and the importance of conservation is instilled in the pupils.
Splendid work is completed in making the pupils deeply aware of their own locality. Excellent project work is carried out at all levels and its scope widens as the pupils progress through the classes. The children display a deep understanding of their locality, its physical features, history, traditions and folklore. Maps are used to aid the children’s understanding and they are engaged in creating their own local maps. Project work is undertaken in relation to the study of place names. The curriculum widens as the pupils learn about the lives and environments of people in other countries. The pupils are encouraged to use graphs, charts, globes and atlases in their studies. They visit centres of local, historic and environmental interest. The pupils record and write about their experiences. Geography and history studies are linked through project work carried out on aspects of the area.
Particular emphasis is placed on themes, events and characters from the locality. Excellent project work is undertaken and investigative skills are nurtured. In the middle and senior standards very interesting local historical research has been carried out. The studies covered a history of Glengarriff. The pupils in the middle classes interviewed local people to hear their story and illustrated their findings with photographs, drawings and models. The study undertaken is elaborate and will be a useful source for future reference. The senior classes undertook a study of the Great Famine with particular reference to the local experience. Overall these studies are comprehensive. Pupils were introduced to documentation that dealt specifically with the workhouse, soup kitchens and the living conditions of the local population at that time. Excellent preparation, research and the use of audio-visual aids provided the pupils with a deep understanding of the lives of adults and children during those times. A history of the local Catholic church has also been researched. While the pupils were engaged in these activities they were introduced to research and investigative procedures at a high level of competence.
The teachers work conscientiously to implement aspects of the curriculum in the visual arts. The pupils experiment and explore various media in the visual arts programme. Much of this work is integrated with other curricular areas. Earlier in this year, a guide took pupils for an art and science walk in the local wood. The pupils collected twigs and leaves to make an art presentation. During tree week an art activity was undertaken by a visiting artist to explore form, light and shade. Much interesting work has been done in the strands of paint and colour, fabric and fibre, clay and construction. The pupils’ work is displayed prominently in the classrooms and much of the artwork is exceptionally well integrated with other curricular areas, particularly History, Geography and English. A notable feature of the work is the use of photographs to enhance the content of other subject areas. The school board employs a visiting art teacher who teaches all classes over a four hour period each week. The parents’ association funds this activity and all pupils participate in these lessons. Children experience working with a variety of materials and tools. These include pencils, paint, crayons, clay, card, wool and papier maché. Class teachers are present when the visiting artist is in the classroom and they also take part in the presentation of art lessons. Special needs pupils participate beneficially in these lessons. Portfolios of children’s work are kept and this is creditable practice. The children’s work is celebrated throughout the school and the pupils experience a sense of enjoyment and fulfilment.
Each teacher pursues a music scheme in the classroom. The children sing a varied repertoire of appropriate songs. Early music literacy that includes clapping out rhythm and use of flash cards, is enjoyed by the pupils in the infant and junior classes. In the middle standards some fine singing is encouraged. In the infant, junior and middle classes the pupils receive suitable teaching in musical notation. The performance strand tends to receive the most emphasis. Throughout the classes rhythm and percussion are an integral part of the work undertaken in the school. The children perform at local and religious occasions and ceremonies. It is recommended that greater emphasis be placed on the listening and responding strand. The school will shortly begin to introduce the recorder.
Drama is used effectively as a teaching strategy throughout the school. Role-play, improvisation and movement play an important part as a means for developing imaginative responses among the pupils. Dramatic pieces are used and presented as a means of understanding more deeply particular themes in mythology and History. Every child is afforded the opportunity of performing and in particular the weaker children. The children perform enthusiastically.
The staff is to be commended for the wide range of physical education activities engaged in. All classes participate and the teachers endeavour to provide a balanced programme appropriate to the needs of the pupils and to the circumstances of the school. The programme is curtailed somewhat by the use of the general purpose room for certain activities as mentioned above. Gaelic football, athletics and aquatics are all part of the programme undertaken. For the past two years the children have been taken to a local amenity for water sports and during the first term of the school year they were taken for six swimming lessons. Attention is focused primarily on field games. The pupils take part in school tournaments and play with distinction.
The school sets out to promote the well being of students by providing a safe and healthy environment. Healthy eating is encouraged as part of the health promoting school initiative. The pupils are encouraged to maintain order and discipline within and outside the school. The children are involved in caring for the school environment through their involvement in the school’s litter campaign. The teachers are committed to fostering a school environment that promotes respect for diversity and mutual understanding. Pupils in the school are happy and well mannered towards school personnel and visitors. The school is characterised by a caring co-operative and enthusiastic atmosphere. A civic spirit is carefully nurtured within the school. The school has an RSE committee in place.
Assessment is regarded as an essential part of the school’s work in the teaching and learning process. The teachers employ a variety of assessment tools. Throughout the classes both formal and informal assessment is carried out in a worthwhile way on all the pupils on a regular basis. Informal assessment practices include teacher observation, teacher designed tasks and exercises in copy books. These comprise dictation, spellings, matching activities, and progress sheets given regularly in mathematics.
Throughout the classes standardised screening tests are carried out in English and Mathematics annually. These include Micra-T, Sigma-T and Mist. To identify pupils in need of supplementary teaching the learning support teacher and the class teachers administer the tests. School reports completed for each pupil are kept in the child’s file in the staff room. This is good practice. Should analysis of the screening results reveal further difficulties in a pupil’s performance parental permission is requested for the child to undergo additional diagnostic tests. The content of pupils’ individual education plans are in keeping with the particular learning difficulties disclosed through the testing. Regular testing is also carried out on aspects of the teaching of Irish.
Scoil Fhiachna has outlined its policy on the nature and provision of the resources and supports it provides to meet the educational requirements of particular children. When required policy amendments are made following on discussions between teachers and parents. In the recent reorganisation of learning support resources, Scoil Fhiachna gained an extra staff member. The shared learning support teacher is based there and visits two other schools as well. The base school has two and a half days each week. The pupils are drawn from junior and middle standards and they are taught individually and in groups. Some in-class teaching at the different levels is also undertaken and the school plan provides for the further development of this practice in the future. Effective use is made of helpful resources in teaching the pupils. Parents are invited to contribute to the devising of their child’s individual education plan and are welcome to communicate with the school in various ways to assist the children. The class teachers collaborate effectively with the learning support teacher and the parents in order to co-ordinate activities to optimise the learning for the pupils. Individual pupil records are maintained and pupils’ progress is monitored on a daily basis. A part-time resource teacher provides eight hours service per week in the school. The main focus of her intervention is related to a developmental programme dealing with social integration and language teaching. Both the learning support and the resource teachers employ a bountiful supply of helpful resources such as attractive charts, concrete materials, games and books. Computer programmes such as Word Shark, Sounds Abound, No Puzzles, Maths Attack and Creative Writer are used. The pupils’ priority areas are targeted carefully and progress is encouraged and rewarded. The teachers work conscientiously and the pupils are making steady progress. The teachers are commended for their thorough preparation. Regular consultation and collaboration takes place between mainstream, resource and learning support teachers.
The following are the main strengths and areas for development identified in the evaluation:
The board of management is to be commended for the notable quality of its work and for the collaborative manner in which it seeks to provide for the educational needs of all the pupils in the school.
The commitment and dedication of the principal and the teachers are praiseworthy. They succeed in creating a positive school culture in which the pupils are very highly motivated.
The positive and active parental support for the teachers enhances the educational opportunities for all the children and is highly commendable.
The welcoming and happy atmosphere in the school creates a stimulating and vibrant learning milieu.
Is léir go bhfuil foireann na scoile ag obair ar a seacht ndícheall ar son na Gaeilge.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
It is recommended that the board of management takes corrective action regarding the ongoing traffic hazard that is a cause of serious concern.
It is recommended that the inadequacy of the accommodation be addressed. It is advised that a learning support and special needs classroom, a staff room as well as extra toilet facilities and extra storage space be provided for.
It is recommended that aspects of Mathematics, Geography and the Visual Arts be further integrated to enrich and enhance the pupils’ understanding of features that are common to these curricular areas.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and board of management at which the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.