An Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna

Department of Education and Skills

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Íosa

Tymon North, Tallaght, Dublin 24

Uimhir rolla:  19577N

 

Date of inspection: 16 December 2009

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils

Conclusion

 

 

                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                               
Whole-school evaluation

  

A whole-school evaluation of Scoil Íosa, Tymon North, Tallaght was undertaken in December 2009. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Mathematics and History. 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.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

  

The following table provides an overview of the enrolment and staffing in the school at the time of the evaluation:

 

 

Number

Pupils enrolled in the school

74

Mainstream classes in the school

 4

Teachers on the school staff

7

Mainstream class teachers

4

Teachers working in support roles

2

Special Class (ASD Unit)

1

Special needs assistants

5

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision

Scoil Íosa is a seventy-four pupil, co-educational Catholic primary school operating under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. The school receives funding under Band 1 of the Department of Education and Science’s DEIS (Delivering Equality in Schools) initiative. Its mission is to develop the pupils’ emotional, social, physical and intellectual needs and to promote self-worth. The staff members fulfil this mission by implementing a wide range of curricular and extra-curricular programmes for the pupils. They succeed in creating a positive learning environment in which all pupils are treated with fairness, respect and equality. Attendance levels are generally good.  Effective strategies are in place to promote attendance and punctuality among the pupils.

 

1.2 Board of management

The board of management is properly constituted and functions in a competent manner. Meetings are convened regularly, at least once a month. Detailed minutes of meetings are maintained. School finances are audited annually. The board complies with statutory requirements, departmental guidelines and circulars and ensures that regulations regarding the length of the school day, the retention of pupils and class size are observed.  Board members are proud of their school and are aware of, and very committed to, their duties in supporting the work of the school. The board plays an active role in developing and reviewing the school’s organisational and curriculum policies. All policies are ratified by the board. The chairperson of the board is very involved in school-life.  She visits the school regularly and demonstrates a very good knowledge of school issues and context.

 

1.3 In-school management

The quality of leadership in the school is very good.  The principal has a long association with the school and has given dedicated and committed service.  She manages the school competently and efficiently and combines her teaching and administrative duties very well. She is very focused on teaching and learning and monitors achievement levels of the pupils carefully.  The in-school management team gives commendable support to the principal. High levels of communication are evident within the team and between staff members. Individual post-holders have responsibility for a wide range of pastoral, curriculum and organisational duties. These responsibilities are carried out diligently and thoroughly. Post-holders willingly take on additional duties as they arise.  It is recommended that the posts be formally reviewed under the terms of Circular 07/03 Appointments to Posts of Responsibility. This is to ensure that all duties meet the needs of the school as identified in the school’s three-year DEIS action plan.

 

1.4 Management of resources

Teaching personnel are deployed appropriately and work effectively together.  Five special needs assistants, under the guidance of the teachers, work effectively and considerately with pupils with special educational needs. In addition to her secretarial duties, the school secretary plays an important role in sustaining the positive atmosphere in the school. The accommodation, including the school building and grounds, are clean, maintained to a high standard and provide a safe and stimulating environment for all. The school has an extensive range of resources and these are used effectively by the teachers to support learning and to meet individual needs of pupils. These include books and materials for languages, the Visual Arts, Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE), equipment for Mathematics, various other charts and visual aids, computer equipment and well-stocked classroom libraries. The classrooms are bright and attractive and provide mathematics-rich and print-rich environments.

 

1.5 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The principal, staff and board cultivate positive relationships with the school community.  The teachers provide parents with an end-of-year report and provision is made for annual parent-teacher meetings. In addition, parents are welcome to make appointments to meet the teachers if concerns arise. Through the use of homework journals, notes and newsletters parents are kept informed of various aspects of school life. The school recently was granted the services of a home-school-community liaison teacher (HSCL) shared with Greenhills Community College.  Since his appointment, the HSCL teacher has done commendable work in establishing links with parents and encouraging parental involvement in school-life and activities such as Story Sacks, Maths for Fun, Literacy for Fun and shared reading.

 

1.6 Management of pupils

The teachers demonstrate effective classroom management skills. The promotion of positive self-esteem among the pupils is a priority for all staff members and they are highly affirming of pupils’ efforts and achievements. The pupils are mannerly and respectful and they engage with enthusiasm in their learning.

 


2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

The quality of whole-school and individual teacher planning is high. The school has developed a wide range of curriculum and organisational policies. The organisational policies address procedural issues and legislative requirements and were drawn up in consultation with staff, board of management and parents. The school has compiled a detailed three-year DEIS action plan. The plan sets out specific targets for the school in the areas of literacy, numeracy, parental involvement and attendance. Good progress is being made by the school towards achieving its targets. The school’s curriculum policies are comprehensive and reflect the content, skills and methodologies of the Primary School Curriculum (1999) adapted specifically for this school.  These plans provide very good guidance to the teachers and they use them to inform their individual planning. There is an agreed whole-school approach to individual classroom planning.  The teachers use a common format for long-term and short-term planning. All teachers compile detailed monthly progress records.

 

2.2 Child protection policy and procedures

Confirmation was provided that, in compliance with Department of Education and Skills Primary Circular 0061/2006, the board of management has formally adopted the Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Skills, September 2001). Confirmation was also provided that these child protection procedures have been brought to the attention of management, school staff and parents; that a copy of the procedures has been provided to all staff (including all new staff); and that management has ensured that all staff are familiar with the procedures to be followed. A designated liaison person (DLP) and a deputy DLP have been appointed in line with the requirements of the guidelines.

 

 

3.    Quality of learning and teaching

 

3.1 English

The teaching and learning in English is of a high quality. Very effective teaching of oral language was observed during the evaluation. Clear learning objectives are set for discrete oral language lessons. The pupils engage confidently in these lessons. Poetry and rhymes are taught thoroughly. The pupils in the infant class can recite a range of nursery rhymes. In the middle and senior classes the pupils can recite a wide selection of poetry with expression and confidence. The pupils are afforded ample opportunities to compose their own poems and to respond to the poetry of others. A solid foundation of reading skills is laid down in the infant class. This foundation is built upon through the school with skilful teaching of phonics and word-attack skills.  A love of reading and an interest in literature are successfully fostered. Comprehension skills are well taught with pupils afforded opportunities to study and analyse the reading texts. At infant level very good provision is made for teaching pre-writing skills. As the pupils progress through the school the teachers enable the pupils to write across a variety of genres. Samples of these are attractively displayed in classrooms.

 

3.2 Mathematics

The quality of teaching in Mathematics is very good.  The teachers present very well-structured lessons based on clear learning objectives that enable the pupils to develop, apply and consolidate their understanding of mathematical concepts. Talk and discussion are features of all lessons. The pupils are encouraged to use subject-specific vocabulary to explain their strategies. In all classes learning objectives are shared with the pupils in advance. There are exemplary mathematical displays at infant level. The teacher uses effective questioning and provides ample opportunities for the pupils to engage in well-structured hands-on activities to develop their knowledge and understanding of concepts. The teachers in other classes use games, manipulatives, visual resources and group and pair tasks to enable the pupils to further develop their knowledge and understanding. Very good provision is made for the delivery of all curriculum strands with ample opportunities provided for the pupils to apply concepts to real-life situations. The teachers integrate their teaching of Mathematics with other curriculum areas where appropriate. Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that pupils are taught in single-class settings for Mathematics from first class upwards. The needs of the lower-achieving pupils are well catered for through the provision of differentiated tasks and individual help given by teachers. The school should ensure that the more-able pupils are consistently challenged through the provision of appropriately-differentiated learning tasks and activities.

 

The pupils display positive attitudes to Mathematics. The overall standard of achievement is very good.  In the infant and junior classes the pupils engage competently in mathematical activities including matching, ordering, counting, sequencing and number work. The pupils in the middle and senior classes display good computational skills. They demonstrate an appropriate ability to recall number facts.  They can articulate their strategies and approaches when solving problems and they use visual aids where appropriate. The pupils’ work in copies is neatly completed and regularly corrected. They apply themselves well to set tasks and engage effectively in paired and group activities.

 

3.3 History

Overall the quality of teaching and learning in History is very good with some exemplary practice observed. This practice includes the sharing of specific learning objectives, well-structured lessons, use of artefacts and differentiated, collaborative group tasks. In some classes pupils are afforded ample opportunities to work as historians using the locality and other sources of evidence. Talk and discussion are features of all lessons with good emphasis placed on the acquisition and use of history-specific language. The teachers demonstrate effective questioning techniques. Story is used effectively in the infant classes to develop the pupils’ sequencing skills. Across the school the teachers enable the pupils to develop an appropriate awareness of chronology. Timelines are features of most classrooms. There are very attractive displays of the pupils’ work around the school. Commendable project work is undertaken by the pupils in the senior class.  The pupils can speak knowledgably about the history of their local area and about their projects. They demonstrate good understanding of chronology and continuity and change over time. They can discuss the characters and key events in a range of myths, legends and stories. Guest speakers are invited to the school to speak to the pupils about life in the past.  The pupils are regularly brought on tours and trips to areas of historical interest. To build on the very good practice in the school it is recommended that the provision for pupils to work as historians in active-learning tasks be extended to all classes.

 

3.4 Assessment

There is very effective assessment practice in the school. Across the school the teachers employ an appropriate range of assessment modes, including teacher-designed tests, checklists and observational records to monitor and track the pupils’ progress. In addition, the school administers a screening test to all pupils in senior infants and standardised tests in both English and Mathematics to pupils from 1st class to 6th class. The data are used to identify pupils who will receive additional support. The school analyses this data in a comprehensive manner to track the impact of teaching initiatives and to monitor the school’s progress against its DEIS targets. To complement this effective use of data, consideration should now be given to enabling the pupils to engage in self-assessment against specific criteria. It is also recommended that this data be used to inform provision for differentiation within classroom settings, particularly for the more-able pupils. Across the school, test results are recorded carefully and standardised results are filed appropriately.  In the support settings, the teachers employ an appropriate range of diagnostic tests to establish the specific needs of pupils and to inform their formulation of individual education plans (IEPs).

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The quality of the support given to pupils with special educational needs is very good. The special educational needs (SEN) team comprises one learning support/resource teacher (LSRT), one part-time resource teacher, and one special class teacher for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Policy formulation and planning approaches for pupils with special educational needs are very good.  The SEN policy gives clear directions on the identification of pupils, the organisation of supports, the planning of programmes and on monitoring, assessment and review.  The policy prioritises the provision of supplementary teaching for the lowest-achieving pupils and for those in junior classes for defined periods.  The teachers prepare detailed IEPs for each pupil availing of support.  Their individual learning targets guide and inform the content of the lessons and the methodologies used by the teachers.  They are drawn up in consultation with the class teacher, support teacher and parents.  The support rooms are print-rich and celebrate the pupils’ efforts and achievements through displays. The quality of teaching observed in support settings is of a very high standard. Lessons are very well structured and the teachers adopt a variety of active learning methodologies to maximise pupil learning. The pupils’ progress is reviewed in detail at regular intervals. Diagnostic testing is carried out during that review. A number of pupils are effectively supported through individualised programmes in Reading Recovery and Maths Recovery.

 

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

Pupils from disadvantaged, minority and other groups are effectively supported in keeping with the school’s ethos of inclusion. All grants and additional fundraising monies are purposefully used to ensure all pupils access the full range of school activities. The board and staff have a thorough knowledge of the pupils’ backgrounds and support funding for books and other resources where necessary. The school has a care team in place to identify and assist pupils experiencing family and emotional difficulties. A support teacher carefully plans and effectively implements individual programmes for these pupils. The school has a well-attended homework club and breakfast club.

 

 

 5.     Conclusion

 

The school has strengths in the following areas:

 

 The quality of leadership in the school is very good.

 

 The school has a diligent, committed and highly effective teaching staff.

 

·         There is a positive learning atmosphere in the school.  Pupils are mannerly and respectful and they engage with enthusiasm in their learning.

 

·         The pupils’ levels of achievement in English, Mathematics and History are very good.

 

·         The quality of whole-school and individual teacher planning is high.

 

·         There is very effective assessment practice in the school.

 

·         The quality of the support given to pupils with special educational needs is very good.

 

·         The board of management functions in a competent manner.

 

 The quality of the school accommodation is very good.

 

 

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

 

 It is recommended that the posts be formally reviewed under the terms of Circular 07/03 Appointments to Posts of Responsibility. This is to ensure that all duties meet the needs of the school as identified in the school’s three-year DEIS action plan.

 

 It is recommended that classroom teachers use the data gained from assessment to inform provision for differentiation within classroom settings, particularly for the more-able pupils.

 

           

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and the board of management where the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.

 

 

 

  

Published June 2010