An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT               

 

Scoil Chríost Rí Cloughleigh Road

 Ennis County Clare

Roll number: 19559L

 

Date of inspection: 27 February 2008

 

 

 

 

Whole school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

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 Chríost Rí, Cloughleigh, Ennis. 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 with representatives of the parents’ association. 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, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation, 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

 

This school, which was built in 1978, is situated on the perimeter of a local authority housing estate in the town of Ennis. The school operates under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Killaloe. The current enrolment of 256 pupils includes 119 international children representing 25 countries. There are ten mainstream classes in the school with a staff of 26 full-time teachers including the principal and one part-time teacher. An acting principal has assumed leadership of the school in the current school year.

 

As a result of its involvement in the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) action plan for educational inclusion initiative the school benefits from a number of significant additional supports. Central to the DEIS initiative, is an expectation on the part of the Department of Education and Science that the school will concentrate on the early identification of pupils at risk of underachievement; on improving literacy and numeracy standards; on supporting and engaging parents in their children’s education; on the adoption of a whole-school approach in addressing issues of educational disadvantage and social exclusion; on enhancing attendance; on educational progression, retention and attainment and on enabling smooth transition from primary to post-primary school.

 

A context factor which can have a detrimental effect on the work of the school and on the delivery of the curriculum, is the design and current condition of the school buildings, a matter which has been the subject of ongoing communication between the Patron, the school’s board of management and the Building Section of the Department of Education and Science. Aspects which have been raised for consideration are the inadequate dimensions of many of the classrooms, the absence of space for support work, the location of classrooms and of the school grounds on varying levels, the isolation from the main building of some of the school’s accommodation which is of the prefabricated variety and the perceived lack of potential of the current building for extension and refurbishment. It is understood that the board of management is in discussion with the Patron and the Department’s Building Section in regard to the possibility of relocating the school to a new site. Staff turnover is not generally high, but as a result of unanticipated events and new appointments, a particular additional context factor operating uniquely in the current school year, is the fact that there are seven newly qualified mainstream teachers on the staff, all of whom have been appointed in a temporary capacity.  

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of Management

The recently constituted board of management is fully compliant with statutory requirements and departmental guidelines and circulars. Overall, the board manages its proceedings in a prudent, efficient manner. The board is highly commended for the pro-active approach it adopts to encouraging the involvement of the school in national and local initiatives, such as the School Completion Programme and the Incredible Years Programme, working in partnership with the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), the Health Service Executive and Clare Care. In addition, the school has been involved in various initiatives undertaken by the Patron aimed at achieving consensus on the future of education in the Ennis area.

 

While the board meets regularly and works hard in the interest of the school and its pupils, members of the new board should now take steps to acquire a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in managing teaching and learning in the school. To ensure continuous school improvement and development, the board should support further development of the current process of frequent internal school self-evaluation by interacting frequently with in-school management, regularly seeking reports of learning outcomes and pupil performance, thereby also monitoring teaching and learning in the school on an ongoing basis. Board members should also engage more actively in the whole-school planning process. Structures should now be put in place which will build on the present information-giving process and which will support and encourage greater consultation and the active participation of parents, pupils and other members of the school community in whole-school planning.  It is recommended that the board would now draw up a long-term strategic development plan, paying particular attention to implementation of the DEIS plan. To expand upon and ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the successful practice that is occurring and will occur again in the future, a policy of vigorously celebrating and disseminating information on the manner in which successful outcomes were achieved should be adopted.

 

2.2 In-school management

The apparent seamless transfer of responsibilities from the principal to the acting principal in the current school year points to the fact that leadership in the school has clarified, shared and promoted a common vision for the school over a long period. The acting principal sets high expectations for her staff and makes herself accessible to all members of the school community, placing particular emphasis on ensuring the successful inclusion of newcomers. She actively promotes a culture of team work and of collaborative decision making. She is very supportive of and facilitates the professional development of her staff, adopting in the current year a “hands on” approach to personally assisting the mentoring of the newly qualified teachers on the staff. 

 

Curricular leadership is effectively devolved to the in-school management team of the deputy principal, three assistant principals and seven teachers with special duties. Assigned duties are reviewed periodically. The members of the in-school management team are proactive and committed to their roles. They prepare yearly plans and monthly reports. The team meets together prior to and subsequent to full staff meetings.  Decisions are made in a spirit of partnership. The current focus of the work of the team is rightly placed on full curricular implementation and on school improvement. It is now recommended that the responsibilities of individual team members be reviewed again so that responsibilities might in the future involve co-ordination of assessment measures undertaken by class teachers  to enable the school to effectively implement and monitor thee progress and effectiveness of the DEIS plan, specifically in the areas of literacy and numeracy.

2.3 Management of resources

The school has been successful in recruiting a skilled staff, many of whom have developed particular professional interests and expertise. A feature of the school is the effective way in which experienced staff members are deployed in a flexible manner to meet pupils’ needs, in many instances working within classrooms with their mainstream teaching colleagues.  Apart from the manner in which this sharing of expertise benefits pupils, this innovative approach enables each newly qualified teacher to draw upon the advice of a senior peer/mentor in a context which is immediate and with which both professionals are acquainted. Thus a collaborative and collegiate approach to teaching continues to be established. Several teachers have attended and are currently attending postgraduate courses and have been supported by the board of management in their endeavours. The board is to be congratulated on its approach to the ongoing professional development of all staff. Staff members individually and collectively reported that they feel valued, consulted and supported in the school.  Special Needs Assistants have clear job descriptions and are efficiently managed. As a result, they are making a valuable contribution to the inclusion, care and educational progression of the pupils in their care.

 

Financial resources are carefully and appropriately managed in this school. Accounts are regularly updated and are certified annually. Clear procedures are in place for monthly reporting to the board on current expenditure capacity and on the extent of day to day costs. Prudent planning for the future is undertaken. The school utilises a wide range of material resources benefiting from grant-aid and additional fund-raising which has been used to purchase teaching aids, resources and materials. A particular feature of the school is the interest taken not only in purchasing but in utilising information and communication technologies (ICT) hardware and software effectively. Notwithstanding the constraints of the building, the school is maintained with great care. The overall standard of cleanliness internally and externally is good. The maintenance of the external areas of the school is also of a high standard.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

Scoil Chríost Rí has successfully developed a very close relationship between home and school. This strong commitment to the meaningful involvement of the parents in many aspects of the work of the school results in effective collaboration within the school community. Both school staff and parents report a strong willingness to engage purposefully in tasks which are practical and focused on improving learning outcomes for the pupils. It would be beneficial to capitalise on these positive attitudes by initiating the joint development of a policy which would give recognition to the developmental and supportive role of the parent at every class level.

2.5 Management of pupils

The management of pupils in the school is of a very high standard. Relationships between staff and pupils are very positive and standards of pupils’ behaviour and discipline are very high. The pupils were observed to work conscientiously and co-operatively with their teachers and with one another. The importance of praise as a motivating and positive aspect of school life is well understood.  The promotion of equality of opportunity and a sense of fairness is strongly evident in the work of the school.  Religious, ethnic and cultural diversity is recognised, valued and promoted. Pupils engage in a wide range of extra-curricular activities including music, speech and drama, sport, homework clubs, Green Flag committees and the Incredible Years programme. It is now recommended that opportunities for involving pupils in a broader range of decision- making opportunities and the establishment of a student council be considered in order to further enhance progress in this area

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School Planning Process and Implementation

 

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 school has prepared a very good whole-school plan. All aspects of the plan have been ratified by the board and dates for reviewing the impact of these aspects have been specified. A wide range of comprehensive organisational policies, informed by the school’s context factors, has been devised and these impact effectively on practice throughout the school. Policies are expanded upon through the provision of specific information relating to roles, responsibilities and procedures which are regularly reviewed.  Generally, good whole-school curriculum plans are in place. These plans provide clear guidelines for practice in classrooms thereby ensuring the implementation of a broad and balanced curriculum and allowing for continuity and progression across classes. To ensure implementation and consistency of practice, curriculum co-ordinators engage with teachers at all class levels. Electronic copies of the school plan have been made available to all teachers. While some sections of the whole-school plan are available to parents, the school has not yet devised a fully effective system of informing all members of this diverse school community of these policies and plans. It is therefore recommended that alternative means of dissemination of the whole-school plan to the entire school community be now explored.  The role of the board and of the parents’ association could now be further delineated to allow both bodies to engage more actively in the development, dissemination and review of the school’s policies.

 

The school is in the process of completing its DEIS plan. The aspects which have been completed relating to literacy and numeracy are of a high standard and include examples of innovative practice. Clear lines of responsibility and accountability are delineated. There is a focus on the impact of the planned actions on achievement. Of particular note is the very good use that is made of assessment data in the selection of areas for pupil development.  It is recommended that the outstanding areas of the DEIS plan would now be completed and that the board ensures that responsibility for overseeing the impact of the plan on pupil learning and on school effectiveness is assigned.

3.2   Classroom planning

Classroom planning reflects whole-school planning and the quality of teachers’ long and short-term plans is good. An agreed format with regard to the recording of monthly progress is emerging and is gradually being adopted. The template being formulated is correctly focusing on reflecting the extent to which learning objectives have been achieved. While planning takes place with the purpose of providing a wide range of learning experiences, planning for differentiation, for group teaching and for assessment needs improvement. Agreement on appropriate modification of learning outcomes for children with special needs should occur where support teachers are working in-class in collaboration with mainstream teachers.

 

 

4. QUALITY OF LEARNING AND TEACHING

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching 

The quality of teaching is good in this school. Teachers have acquired a full understanding of the curriculum and of the learning process. In general, they employ a range of strategies which can occasionally be innovative. Approaches are generally well matched to pupils’ learning needs and stages of development. Emphasis is placed on continually improving teaching and learning through reflective practice. In their classrooms, teachers create stimulating learning environments and articulate positive expectations of the pupils and of their development. Good examples were observed of the integration of language literacy and numeracy. Very effective use is made of ICT to enhance learning.  In many classrooms, the pupils are encouraged to work independently and to become actively involved with others in collaborative learning activities.

 

Pupils were observed to be enthusiastically engaged in the learning process and there is good celebration of achievements. In most classrooms, teachers encourage pupils to ask questions and to express views, to share ideas and knowledge. Occasionally, pupils could be challenged to a greater extent to use higher-order and critical thinking skills. More independent learning should be encouraged. Whereas genuine efforts are made to ensure that the approaches and resources used appropriately challenge the diversity of pupils’ learning needs, there is a need for closer observation of the pupils as they learn. To ensure that all pupils are progressing, there is scope for development of closer tracking of pupil progress. In summary, the degree of use of formative assessment should match the use of summative assessment. Teachers are recommended to share the planned learning outcome of lessons with the pupils and to involve the pupils to a greater extent in self-assessment. More effective use of feedback would further assist in the promotion of learning.

 

In summary, considering the fact that some aspects of this school’s context could potentially militate against the achievement of some pupils, the school is to be commended on the fact that learning outcomes in the school reflect the national average.

4.2 Language

Gaeilge

caighdeán na múinteoireachta agus na foghlama sa Ghaeilge go han-mhaith i gcomhthéacs na scoile seo. Tá polasaí ar theagasc na Gaeilge leagtha amach sa phlean scoile agus tá moladh ag dul don díograis a thugann múinteoirí leo chun na pleanála seo. Cothaítear dearcadh dearfach i leith na Gaeilge sa scoil.   Leagann na hoidí béim chuí ar an dteanga labhartha. Cothaítear suim na ndaltaí sa Ghaeilge trí cheachtanna a chur i láthair go bríomhar, spreagúil. Bunaítear an t-ábhar foghlama ar théamaí a bhaineann le saol na bpáistí agus baintear úsáid as sraith téacsleabhar mar thaca sa teagasc agus san fhoghlaim. Ar an iomlán, baintear úsáid as an nGaeilge mar mheán teagaisc le linn na gceachtanna. Léiríonn formhór na ndaltaí tuiscint oiriúnach ar Ghaeilge bhunúsach.

 

 

Forbraítear cumas tuisceana na ndaltaí go hoiriúnach le linn na ngníomhaíochtaí éisteachta. I dteagasc an chomhrá baintear úsáid thorthúil as ábhar léirithe agus as fearas corpartha chun tuiscint na ndaltaí ar fhoclóir nua a bhunú. Cleachtaítear gníomhaíochtaí cainte agus obair i bpéirí go héifeachtúil chun an t-ionchur nua teanga a chur abhaile. Tá tús maith curtha leis an léitheoireacht fhoirmiúil sa Ghaeilge. Ag tógaint inniúlacht na ndaltaí san áireamh, tá na cleachtaí scríofa go sásúil.

 

 

 

Irish

The standard of teaching and learning in Irish is very good in the context of this particular school. A policy on the teaching of Irish is set out in the school plan and the enthusiasm with which teachers approach this planning is praised. A positive attitude to Irish is fostered in the school. The teachers place appropriate emphasis on oral language. Pupils’ interest in Irish is promoted through the presentation of lively, stimulating lessons. Learning content is based on topics that relate to the pupils’ lives, and a scheme of textbooks supports teaching and learning. In general, Irish is used as the medium of instruction during lessons.  The majority of pupils display an appropriate understanding of basic Irish.

 

Pupils’ understanding of the language is suitably developed during the listening activities. In the teaching of conversation, productive use is made of visual resources and concrete materials to underpin pupils’ understanding of new vocabulary. Pair-work and communication activities are used effectively to reinforce the new language input. A good start has been made with formal reading in Irish. Taking the pupils’ prior attainment into account, the written exercises are satisfactory.

 

 

English

The school plan in English is wide-ranging in its scope. It is evident that a high degree of commitment has been involved in devising and reviewing the current plan. The plan reflects the overall structure of the English curriculum and lists broad content objectives and planned approaches to achieving outcomes which correspond to the curriculum. The plan is positively influenced by First Steps in Writing, which operates throughout the school and by the Accelerated Reader Programme which is operational at fifth and sixth class levels.  The inclusion of a great deal of detailed teaching notes on aspects such as phonics, word recognition and handwriting in the current plan, clouds to an extent, the information it also contains on policy decisions taken. For example, there are notes in the current plan on the development of comprehension but there is need for further detail on how the strand unit developing cognitive abilities is to be developed throughout the school within each one of the strands of oral work, reading and writing.

 

It is recommended that the current plan should now be revised with a view to ensuring that policy decisions made by the school are clearly expressed within the plan. To ensure thorough and comprehensive implementation of the English curriculum, there is a need now to expand on the methods decided upon at each class level for achieving targeted outcomes within each of the strand units receptiveness, confidence and competence, developing cognitive abilities, emotional and imaginative development in the three strands of the English curriculum, oral work, reading and writing. The school’s approach to emergent literacy should be fully clarified and recorded. With a view to ensuring that policy decisions made by the school are understood by all, a systematic approach to review of current plan is recommended, using the trigger questions provided in the prompt documentation supplied by the support services. A clear distinction needs to be made between broad policy decisions taken on methodologies to be adopted in the school and the necessary supplementary detail on practical aspects of implementation at each class level. To avoid ambiguity, this supplementary detail should ideally, be recorded separately.

 

In each class there is a worthwhile broad emphasis on talk and discussion. To achieve clear results, however, teachers should now clarify and focus on specific short-term outcomes for discrete oral language lessons. Efforts should be made to organise for frequent one-to-one and group discussion so that teachers can become involved in sustained shared thinking, irrespective of the activity. Good attention is paid to poetry and drama is effectively used to support oral language activity. Overall, it is recommended that, throughout the school, the amount of teacher talk should be reduced and that greater focus be placed on planning and monitoring achievement through observation of specific outcomes.

 

Teaching and learning in reading is good and occasionally very good. The utilisation of a variety of teaching approaches was observed. A good selection of literature has been made available and there is ample evidence that the pupils are reading this material.  Effective questioning in regard to plot, characters and predictions around the reading material was noted. In some classes there is a need to maximize teaching time by planning for differentiation as, in these classes, an excessive amount of time was allocated to reading aloud. It is recommended that pair and group settings should be organised more frequently, to allow scope for more active responses from some pupils regarding their reading experience.

 

Some good examples of process writing were observed and pupils were encouraged to write about interesting topics. In the early years, children were being enabled to write on a developmental continuum varying through scribbles, drawings, labels, to the writing of full sentences. In practice, the writing process is effectively scaffolded by the teachers. The school’s policy on handwriting has had very beneficial effect on the quality of the final product.

 

 

4.3 Mathematics

The overall quality of learning and teaching of Mathematics throughout the school is very good.

The majority of pupils displayed age-appropriate ability to perform suitable mental and written computational tasks, to solve problems and to discuss results. The lessons observed showed that the teachers are making sincere efforts to implement the fundamental principle of constructivism and of learning through guided discovery. The approaches adopted involve the use of talk and discussion, active learning, estimation and the refinement of “guesswork” and mental work. Opportunities are provided for pupils to engage in worthwhile practical tasks and whole-class, group and individual settings are employed. The children are encouraged to record their work in a variety of ways using concrete materials, orally, pictorially and in diagrammatic and written formats. Teachers’ communication skills, involving questioning, explaining, responding are, in general, very good. Pupils’ skills are well consolidated and there is frequent revision of concepts taught. Written work is well presented and regularly monitored.

 

Some authentic experiences are provided but the frequency of such experiences could now be extended. In some classes, greater challenge was required in the problems posed. To allow for in-depth problem solving, the pace of lessons should be varied so that pupils can have opportunities to explain the strategies they have used. In some classes the match of work to pupil attainment could be improved. The teachers use a variety of assessment methods in Mathematics. These include teacher-devised and commercial tests, teacher observation, standardised tests, worksheets and checklists. It is recommended that the lesson objective should in the future, be shared with the pupils and that a system of pupil self-assessment would be gradually developed. 

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

History

A broad and balanced history curriculum is delivered to the pupils at all class levels in the school. Individual and group projects, historical artefacts, photographs and timelines are displayed in classrooms. Good emphasis is placed in the infant and junior classes on the study of personal and local history. The understanding of history gained by pupils in the middle and senior classes is enriched through the provision of opportunities to investigate the buildings, sculptures and common features of their locality. Information and communications technologies are used to good effect by enabling pupils to access the internet in order to conduct research for project work. A further supportive use of ICT involves the use of presentations using a data projector to bring objects and sites of local and national historical significance to the attention of the pupils. It is recommended that increased efforts would now be made to include detail of historical events and people which would reflect the historical backgrounds of as many as possible of the native nationalities of pupils in the school.

Geography

The quality of teaching and learning in Geography is good. Particular attention is paid to the strand environmental awareness and care. Through their engagement in the Green Flag project and through their active participation in the lessons delivered, the pupils have developed a sense of personal and community responsibility for the environment. Geographical skills and concepts are also well explored and pupils have acquired a keen sense of space and space. The purposeful use of maps, globes and graphical skills enables the pupils to use simple drawings of their immediate and local environments to good effect. It is now recommended that a future review of the whole-school Geography plan would aim at even more provision of more opportunities to actively explore concepts, knowledge and skills in a local context with extension to regional, national and international contexts.

Science

The teaching of science in the school is of a very high standard and pupil achievement in this area is very good. Individual teachers place a commendable emphasis in their planning on the development of concepts and skills and on the provision of learning activities. A wide range of teaching methods and approaches is utilised. Pupils frequently engage in paired and group work, in designing and making activities and in simple experiments, all of which facilitate the application of scientific knowledge and skills. Pupils are provided with the opportunity to plan and record experiments and to conduct fair tests. The pupils display a commendable ability to apply the knowledge and skills which they have acquired to every day life. When posed with a problem they are prepared to hypothesise and predict possible outcomes based on previous learning. The board of management is commended for the provision of a wide range of scientific resources and these are utilised to very good effect.

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

A wide range of visual arts experiences is provided to the pupils in all classes. Good teacher planning ensures that the pupils engage in each of the six strand units and that there is a balance between two-dimensional and three-dimensional work. Lessons observed during the evaluation period were well structured with due attention being paid to the development of selected skills and concepts. Art activities are imaginatively linked with other curricular areas, particularly in the infant and junior classes. Samples of pupils’ work are attractively displayed in the classrooms and the pupils are encouraged to talk about their work. Pupils’ skills in looking and responding to art are well developed in all classes and these skills are further developed by the praiseworthy provision of opportunities for pupils to visit local art galleries on an annual basis. Parents also assist in the delivery of lessons in the visual arts and they are encouraged to share their artistic talents and skills with the pupils. In the future the pupils should be facilitated to make a more personal response to the visual art forms of varying cultures.  Consideration should be given to assessing pupils’ progress throughout the school, through the use of art portfolios.

 

Music

The teaching of Music is of a good standard. During the evaluation period, well structured lessons involving all strands of the music curriculum were observed. In these lessons pupils were observed to play a range of percussion instruments, to sing a repertoire of songs enthusiastically, and to compose simple tunes using a variety of musical instruments including the tin whistle. A school band plays for school and local events. Pupils demonstrate a good knowledge and understanding of musical concepts and music literacy. Full participation is encouraged in all lessons and it is evident that the pupils enjoy and benefit from the music curriculum delivered in the school. Many of the teachers are skilled in the teaching of music and the pupils benefit from their expertise in this subject. It is now recommended that pupils be awarded the opportunity to hear and make personal responses to a wider range of musical styles, periods and cultures and that the music curriculum be more purposefully integrated with other curriculum areas.

 

Drama

Good practice in the teaching of Drama was observed during the evaluation period. Lessons were well structured and paced and lesson content was based on areas of interest to the pupils. Teachers are praised for the creation of safe classroom environments where the ideas, feelings and experiences of the pupils can be freely expressed. In these lessons the pupils are provided with opportunities to enter into and reflect on drama activities and to discuss elements of make-believe. A range of methodologies including hot-seating, class discussion, conscience allies, and story is employed. Pupils are facilitated to work in pairs and groups and they participate enthusiastically in the organised activities. Drama activities are well integrated with other areas of the curriculum, particularly oral English, Irish and History. Opportunities to attend Drama performances held locally are also availed of during the school year. To improve outcomes even further, drama contracts should now be devised in each classroom and an increased focus should be placed on developing the elements of Drama.

 

4.6 Physical Education

The pupils benefit from a broad and balanced Physical Education programme. Lessons are well structured and allow for the active and full engagement of the pupils in the organised activities. Opportunities are provided for group work and co-operation and a sense of fair play was promoted by the teachers in the lessons observed. Good attention is paid to the development of skills and a comprehensive range of resources is effectively utilised during the lessons. A member of the in-school management team co-ordinates the Physical Education programme and promotes the engagement of pupils in extra-curricular activities and school organised sports. This good practice is acknowledged. Also noteworthy is the use of Irish by some of the teachers during the lessons.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

The school is commended for its creation of a positive school climate where mutual respect and consideration among staff and pupils is actively promoted. Central to teaching and learning in social, personal and health education (SPHE) in the school is the explicit promotion of an attitude of welcome and respect for every culture represented in the school and the inculcation of the ideals of equality, respect, dignity and tolerance. The promotion of these values is also fore-grounded in the day to day life of the school. Whole school policies relating to inter-cultural education, anti-bullying, discipline for learning, attendance and healthy eating are conscientiously implemented. An integrated approach to the teaching of SPHE provides the pupils with a variety of learning experiences allowing them scope to develop learn and practise a good range of communication skills, including the ability to resolve conflicts, to empathise and to be assertive. However, it should now be ensured that discrete SPHE lessons are organised which focus on elements of the SPHE programme and of personal development that are not addressed through other means.

 

4.8 Assessment

A detailed and comprehensive assessment policy has been compiled in this school. It also outlines the more detailed procedures used for identifying the needs of pupils experiencing difficulty. The pupils are tested annually using standardised and diagnostic instruments and this approach is coupled with teacher observation to ascertain the rate of progress for all pupils. Commendably, the nature of the observation tools used by teachers is also outlined.

 

The school monitors pupil progress carefully to ensure that appropriate strategies are utilised to improve performance. Close linkage is evident between the assessment data itself and the short-term planning developed by the teachers supporting pupils with special educational needs. The inclusion of parents in this ongoing work is very commendable. It is recommended that extension of this work in formative assessment should now occur, drawing upon the recommendations contained in the recent publication of the Assessment in the Primary School – Guidelines for Schools (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) with particular reference to the means whereby formative assessment can support all pupils on an ongoing basis.

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

A very detailed and useful special education policy has been developed. This document sets out the methods, resources and programme content used in the education of pupils with special needs. Reference in the document to the enrolment of such pupils was discussed with the staff. It is recommended that the practice in the school of ensuring meaningful and effective equality for these pupils should be reflected in the policy documentation. 

 

The support given to pupils with special educational needs is very effective and is considered by all teachers to be a core teaching responsibility. The team of teachers dealing with these children at present comprises two full-time learning support teachers and four resource teachers, one of whom works on a part-time basis.  One full-time pupil support post, five language teachers and three resource teachers for Travellers complete the staffing schedule for supporting pupils with special educational needs. The skills of these individuals are efficiently pooled to minimise any excess disruption involved in withdrawing children frequently from classes.  Seven full-time special needs assistants are also employed and the work they undertake is carried out diligently and sensitively.

 

The children are taught in a combination of in-class support and withdrawal settings. This progressive approach to the delivery of special education programmes of work is commended. The rooms used for withdrawal work are well-equipped with innovative use being made of the limited space available. The pupils are comfortable and secure in these settings. Resources are plentiful and relevant and are easily manipulated by the pupils. Regular communication with parents is evident and the individual education plans take the parental contribution to the advancement of the pupils into account. Progress is closely monitored and records are used to inform planning in the short and medium terms. The engagement by the staff with the Reading and Mathematics Recovery programmes has been beneficial as excellent progress is being made by the pupils selected to participate.

 

The school has actively addressed the potential, as outlined in Circular 24/03, of carrying out much of the work undertaken by the support teachers in the mainstream classes of these pupils.

Occasionally, limited participation by a small number of the pupils with special needs in the work of the mainstream class was observed. The school should continue to be innovative in the arrangements which are made to meet the diverse needs of these pupils with the ultimate aim of fully integrating these children in mainstream.  In some cases, closer planning between the support teacher and the class teacher should occur with the aim of assisting the pupil to engage as much as possible with the work in the classroom. In other cases, it may be necessary to withdraw pupils with particular needs for longer periods of time in conjunction with peers who present with corresponding needs.

 

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

This school provides a range of supports for pupils from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. These supports effectively address the education, social, emotional and developmental needs of the pupils concerned. Through its participation in the School Completion Programme and as a result of the work of the school care team and child support office, a high level of awareness has been developed in the school around the needs of the pupils. Regular communication with parents and agencies and meaningful professional approaches to improving educational access and provision is evident. 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

·         The diligence, commitment, flexibility, professionalism and skill of the teaching staff in this school is fully acknowledged and commended.

 

 

·         There is a common vision for the school which has been clarified, shared and promoted within the school community over a long period.

 

·         A collaborative self-evaluative work ethic has been established among staff members resulting in teaching and learning of a high quality.

 

·         Concern for the welfare of the pupils is displayed by all staff members who are innovative and supportive in meeting pupil needs.

 

·         An excellent standard of pupil behaviour is apparent.

 

·         Whole-school planning, its implementation and the linked documentation which is emerging from the process impact effectively on the work of the school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published November 2008

 


 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report

 

 

Scoil Chriost Rí response to inspection report finding and recommendations.

 

The Board and teaching staff warmly welcome the findings of the Inspectorate in the W.S.E. Report issued by the D.E.S. on September 22nd, 2008. We are delighted that the report acknowledges that:

·         There is a very positive school climate with an attitude of mutual respect and equality of opportunity for all.

·         The staff is diligent, committed, flexible, professional and skilful.

·         The teaching and learning is of a high quality.

·         There is an excellent standard of pupil behaviour.

·         There is a high level of the awareness of the needs of the pupils and that staff are innovative and supportive in meeting these needs.

·         ICT is used very effectively to enhance learning.

·         The staff is pro-active and that there is a culture of team-work, collaborative decision making and innovative practice.

·         There is a wide range of extra-curricular activities.

 

 

 

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 appreciates the recognition in the report that the design and dimensions of the current school buildings and the large number of pre­fabricated buildings could have a detrimental effect on the work of the school and that despite these drawbacks the work continues and the school IS maintained with great care. The Board will continue its endeavors to relocate the school to a suitable site.

 

Following recommendations of the Inspectorate the Board has and will continue to:

 

·         Engage more actively in the whole-school planning process

·         Encourage the use of formative assessment

·         Continue the implementation of the D.E.I.S. plan

·         Acknowledge and celebrate the continued good practice taking place in the school.