An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta

 Department of Education and Science

 

 Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

  

Saint Gabrielís School

Crabtree House, Springfield Drive

Dooradoyle, Limerick

Roll number: 19603L

 

 Date of inspection:  05 May 2006

Date of issue of report:  15 December 2006

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

1.     Introduction Ė school context and background

2.     Quality of school management

2.1 Board of management

2.2 In-school management

2.3 Management of resources

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

2.5 Management of pupils

3.     Quality of school planning

3.2 Classroom planning

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

4.1 Language

4.2 Mathematics

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

4.4 Arts Education

4.5 Physical Education

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

4.7 Assessment and achievement

5.     Quality of support for pupils

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

School Response to the Report

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of St. Gabrielís School. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the reporting-inspector held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the schoolís board of management, and parents. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. They interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupilsí work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachersí written preparation, and met with in-school management personnel, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

 

 

 

1.     Introduction Ė school context and background

 

St. Gabrielís School is a co-educational special school designated for pupils, aged four to eighteen years, with multiple disabilities. The school is under the patronage of St. Gabrielís Executive Committee, which is a voluntary body. The most recent school report issued in 1996 and affirmed the commitment of management and staff to providing a good quality education for pupils in the school. There are currently thirty-three pupils enrolled in the school. The inclusion of pupils with multiple disabilities in mainstream schools has resulted in an increasing number of pupils with more complex needs enrolling in the school. In the coming school year, six additional pupils have applied to enrol in the school. The school currently serves pupils in the mid-west region and Limerick city, within a radius of up to thirty-four miles. Pupils avail of the transport service provided through the Department of Education and Science and several pupils travel long distances to attend the school.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management is involved in the management of the school at both a functional and strategic level and demonstrates a commitment to promoting a philosophy of continuous improvement in the school. The board is concerned to support staff and pupils, contribute to policy development and provide guidance and support for the principal teacher. As the board of management has been recently constituted, members have not as yet availed of extensive training. Board members expressed a willingness to avail of accessible training opportunities in the future. A high level of satisfaction was articulated by the board in relation to the quality of the schoolís existing accommodation and resources, pupilsí curricular access, home-school relations and the quality of education being provided in the school. The variety and balance of the curriculum being provided by the school and the social integration programmes organised by the school with local primary and second-level schools were commended by the board.

 

2.2 In-school management

The board of management devolves the in-school management function to the principal and to teachers with posts of responsibility. The principal displays a high degree of commitment and enthusiasm in the performance of her role and consistently seeks to implement the schoolís mission statement in providing pupils with an education that is challenging and appropriate to their needs in a safe and caring environment. A range of effective organisational policies and procedures are in place, which contributes successfully to the efficient and effective operation of the school. The principal is concerned to motivate and involve staff in collaborative planning and practice. Parental involvement in the school is welcomed and facilitated by the principal.

 

The in-school management team consists of one post at deputy principal level and two special duties posts. The in-school management team is concerned to support the work of the school in accordance with individual team membersí roles and duties as outlined in the school plan. Elements of curricular, organisational and pastoral responsibilities are discernible in the activities assigned to posts. These elements include development of senior cycle curricula, organisation and maintenance of attendance records, induction of new teachers, liaison with agencies related to school leavers, organisation of the school library and shared classroom resources and information and communication technology provision, and the organisation of associated repairs. Post holders are concerned to develop their posts in order to provide enriched teaching and learning experiences for pupils in the school. It is recommended that all posts are delineated in terms of curricular, organisational and pastoral elements and are reviewed in accordance with the terms of Circular 07/03 to reflect the changing needs of the school. It is also recommended that the role of in-school management is further developed in accordance with the themes for self-evaluation documented in Looking at Our School (Department of Education and Science, 2003). Three staff meetings are held each term, which necessitates pupils being transported home. The present frequency with which staff meetings are held should be reduced in accordance with Department of Education and Science guidelines in relation to staff meetings.

 

 

2.3 Management of resources

Staffing at the school consists of an administrative principal, seven class teachers, and sixteen special needs assistants. Due to restricted accommodation, one of the class teachers is currently deployed as a resource teacher and provides tuition for individual pupils on a withdrawal basis. It is recommended that this practice is consistently reviewed to ensure that it does not contribute to an increase in the number of pupils in classes. The contribution of funding provided by the Department of Education and Science, the proactive fundraising of the board of management and the generosity of the adjacent St. Gabrielís Centre provides for a full-time school secretary and housekeeper, a part-time cleaner, caretaking services and a part-time art teacher. A home-economics teacher is employed for twelve hours weekly and a physical-education teacher for five hours weekly. The Health Service Executive provides comprehensive support services that include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nursing care and assistive technology. The school also has the support of the National Educational Psychological Service. The positive and constructive contribution of these services is reflected in pupilsí Individual Education Plans and in the observed teaching and learning sessions. Staff is encouraged and facilitated in availing of in-service courses that are related to their work with the pupils in the school and have engaged in a variety of relevant continuous professional development courses. Teachers are committed to developing pupilsí potential and beneficially involve pupils in a variety of co-curricular projects and initiatives. Special needs assistants contribute sensitively and skilfully to supporting the pupils in the school, under the guidance of the classroom teachers.  

 

The school building comprises five permanent classrooms, one temporary classroom, a room used by the resource teacher, a library area, a dining and kitchen area, an art room, a principalís office and administration area, toilet and changing facilities, indoor and outdoor storage areas, an external prefabricated staff room and an outdoor play area. Teachers are to be commended for the creative and innovative manner in which they utilise restricted classroom areas in implementing the curriculum. Satisfaction was expressed by the board of management in relation to the quality of the existing accommodation. However, members of the board expressed dissatisfaction in relation to the lack of specific accommodation for home-economics, multi-sensory programmes, staff-room, physical education, music and comprehensive library facilities. Due to the location of the staff-room in an adjacent temporary structure, difficulties were identified during fire-drills in ascertaining the precise location of staff. It is advised that the board of management submit an application to the building section of the Department of Education and Science that reflects the current identified needs of the school. The ergonomic and versatile standard of the furniture provided in the school is particularly praiseworthy and emphasis is placed on ensuring that pupils are appropriately and comfortably positioned during all curricular activities. Teachersí preferences, qualifications and experience are considered annually in the allocation of class groups.

 

The quality and availability of accommodation, resources and standards of maintenance in the school are to be commended. Attention is directed to the responsible, efficient and effective management of material and staff resources. Both the board of management and in-school management adopt a proactive role in accessing necessary materials and personnel resources to meet the needs of all the pupils in the school. A secure, clean, comfortable, stimulating and accessible school environment is provided. The classrooms and corridor areas are attractively decorated and outdoor recreation areas are maintained to a very high standard.

 

A wide range of appropriate resources is available and used effectively to support the implementation of the curriculum. A comprehensive list of available resources is detailed in the school plan. Commendable attention has been directed towards the development of information and communication technology (ICT) and a minimum of two computers is available in each classroom in addition to a comprehensive supply of appropriate software and peripherals. The pupils have engaged in an Inclusive Learning through Technology project, which successfully promotes and develops community links and awareness. Consideration is given to pupilsí seating and posture when engaged in ICT activities. Stimulating, curriculum-related, commercial and innovative teacher-designed resources are used successfully in all classes to augment and to extend pupilsí learning.

 

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The parents support the work of the school through the parental nominees on the board of management. At present, the possibility of forming a parentsí association with an affiliation to the National Parentsí Council is being explored. The geographical location of pupils and the difficulties experienced by parents in attending evening meetings were cited as difficulties in the efficient operation of a parentsí association.  The parentsí nominees commended the planning and implementation of Individual Education Plans and affirmed the multi-disciplinary approach to meeting pupilsí needs adopted in the school. It was stated that all school policies were communicated to parents and the open-door practice in relation to parental involvement was commended. The commitment and dedication of staff in meeting pupilsí needs were referred to and pupils were stated to be motivated and happy in school. Concern was expressed by parents with regard to the long Summer recess and the unavailability of therapeutic and educational services during this time. At the post-inspection meeting, it was stated that St. Gabrielís Centre is actively seeking to redress this issue and hopes to be in a position to accommodate pupils for a period during the coming Summer recess. Parents affirmed the role of technology in childrenís teaching and learning and expressed a wish that the good practice in this area would continue to be developed. Parents also suggested that the restricted accommodation in the school might be addressed in the future.

 

Good channels of communication are maintained between the school and parents and formal parent-teacher meetings take place on an annual basis. Additional meetings with parents may be arranged as the need arises. Telephones are installed in individual classrooms to facilitate parents in contacting classroom teachers. A home-school journal system is beneficially used and the parents are actively encouraged to support their childrenís learning. The board of management referred to the benefits that would accrue from the appointment of a home-school community liaison teacher to the school. Pupilsí medical and therapeutic needs generate a considerable level of non-attendance. The school displays a commitment to supporting pupils through regularly liaising with the Education Welfare Officer and parents/carers during pupilsí prolonged absences. This school retains students up to eighteen years of age and older. It is advised that the necessity of retaining students beyond eighteen years of age is raised with the Department of Education and Science and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). It is recommended that the schoolís policies and procedures in relation to school attendance strategies, pupil retention and maintenance of school records are detailed in the school plan in accordance with the Education Welfare Act, 2000. It is further recommended that the practice in relation to fostering home-school relations is also documented in the school plan and disseminated to parents.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

A code of discipline is in place and conscientiously implemented. Pupils demonstrate courtesy, respect and deference in their relationships with each other, staff members and visitors to the school. Teachers display high-expectations in relation to pupilsí behaviour and on-task engagement. It would be beneficial to display school rules in an easily understood format that is in accordance with the needs and abilities of the pupils in individual classes. Stating school rules from the pupilsí perspectives and involving the pupils in the compilation of a code of behaviour could also be considered. Reference to ascertaining the communicative and functional nature of behaviour should also be included in the code of behaviour. A commitment to implementing the code of behaviour in accordance with the Equal Status Act, 2000 should also be articulated.

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

A school plan as required by S.21 of the Education Act, 1998 is available. The school is proactive in undertaking a process of school development planning and a praiseworthy range of school policies has been developed in both organisational and curricular areas. Among the extensive range of planning documents are policies and key statements on school mission and aims, enrolment, health and safety, discipline, data, staff induction, management and relations, continuous professional development, individual education plans, school trips and child protection, and curricular areas. An action plan for future development has been developed. Recent school policies are signed and dated. A commitment to reviewing all policies annually or as the need arises is articulated in the school plan. It is recommended that attention is directed towards the importance of dating and signing all policies and documenting procedures in relation to the compilation and dissemination of the school plan.

 

Curriculum plans are variously stated in terms of rationale, vision, aims, curriculum planning, curriculum integration, skills development, approaches and methodologies, staff development, parental involvement, community links, success criteria, implementation, resources, review and ratification. Reference is made to the strand and strand units of curriculum areas and the senior cycle curricula in place in the school. Curriculum plans are based on the needs of the pupils in the school, and a differentiated approach to curriculum planning is adopted. A clear link is discernible between the content of the school plan and the learning and teaching sessions observed. It is recommended that a streamlined approach to curricular planning is adopted that includes a summary of the content of the programme and consistently refers to the strand and strand units of the curriculum and the draft curriculum guidelines for teachers of pupils with general learning disabilities.

 

Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2004). Policies have been developed in relation to staff recruitment and training. A clear protocol has been developed for the delivery of personal and intimate care. Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

Individual teachers conscientiously engage in long-term and short-term planning and preparation for their work with reference to the curriculum programmes being accessed by pupils. These programmes include the Primary School Curriculum, the Junior Certificate (JC), Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP) and course-modules accredited by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC).

 

Planning is organised to reflect the strand and strand units of the Primary School Curriculum and second-level programmes and includes references to aims, objectives, methodologies, student activities, evaluation, assessment and resources. The thematic approach to planning profitably acknowledges the integrated nature of the curriculum. A detailed report on work completed in each class is submitted to the principal, on a monthly basis, in accordance with the requirements of the Rules for National Schools. It is recommended that consideration is given to adopting a pragmatic whole-school approach to long-term and short-term planning reflecting the requisite level of differentiation required for individual pupils, in order to ensure continuity and consolidation of pupilsí teaching and learning experiences.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Language

 

English

A praiseworthy emphasis is placed on promoting the acquisition of literacy for all pupils. Pupils are encouraged to develop receptive and expressive language skills in a variety of focused and incidental contexts throughout the school day. Pupilsí comprehension skills and communicative competence are nurtured and pupils are supported in articulating their ideas, feelings and concerns. Literacy skills are developed through the explicit teaching of basic concepts and skills including phonemic awareness and phonology as well as sight word recognition. Pupils recite a range of rhymes and poetry with enthusiasm and meaning. Voice pointing assists in the development of pupilsí left to right orientation skills. Literacy development is considered as a cross-curricular issue in both policy and practice. Pupils have access to a wide range of fictional and non-fictional texts and a language experience approach to reading is constructively adopted. A school library and classroom libraries contain a wide selection of motivating and attractive reading texts that cater for a variety of reading levels and stages of development. It is recommended that classroom libraries are further developed to include a wide range of age-appropriate and stimulating standard, electronic and aural reading material as an aid to further enriching the pupilsí literacy experiences. Pupils are provided with a variety of reading texts that have comprehension levels commensurate with pupilsí oral language skills and contain age-appropriate material. Parental involvement is facilitated through the promotion of literacy activities at home. Parents are guided in choosing appropriate books for paired reading.

 

Due attention is given to the teaching of spellings and pupilsí progress is regularly monitored and assessed. The adoption of a multi-sensory approach to spelling greatly assists the attainment of pupils in this area.

 

Pupils are sensitively supported in acquiring handwriting skills and the input of the occupational therapist in accessing suitable handwriting programmes for pupils is to be commended. A consistent use of verbal and visual cues is successfully employed in the teaching of handwriting. Pupils are justifiably proud of their achievements in presenting clear and legible handwriting. Pupilsí experience and interests are constructively used in developing the writing process.                                                                

 

Information and communication technology is beneficially used to augment pupilsí acquisition of literacy skills and to develop the communication skills of non-verbal pupils.

 

4.2 Mathematics

In Mathematics, the pupils are provided with a broad range of opportunities to develop an understanding of basic concepts and to acquire mathematical skills. In the junior classes, emphasis is placed on providing the pupils with a variety of activities, aimed initially at the development of sensory awareness and discrimination, leading to the recognition of colour, shape, size, the construction of basic number concepts and time. Concrete materials are used effectively in this work. In the senior classes, priority is given to the development of functional skills and the use of mathematics as a life-skill. A suitable emphasis is also given to the discussion of topics, the use of the language of mathematics and the application of mathematical activities to contexts relevant to the lives of the pupils including shopping and activities in the home.

 

A mathematics-rich environment is a feature of many classrooms throughout the school, with a range of motivating materials on display. Opportunities to integrate mathematical concepts and skills with other areas of the curriculum are pursued. Suitable emphasis is placed on oral work to extend mathematical thinking and teachers devise their own materials to support the mathematics programme. Pupils gain appropriate experience and display confidence while engaging in mathematical processes.

 

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

The history curriculum is planned in accordance with the developmental stages of the pupils. Pupilsí personal experiences are used to assist in developing an understanding of time and chronology, change and continuity, and cause and effect appropriate to their level of development. Pupils respond in a positive manner to the use of story and demonstrate a praiseworthy ability to sequence events, make connections and comparisons, interpret peopleís motivations, and suggest alternative outcomes. Commendable attention is directed towards displaying historical artefacts and project work in classroom areas. Pupilsí curiosity and imagination in relation to local and wider environments is reinforced and stimulated. A praiseworthy emphasis is placed on local history and pupils readily engage in discussion related to the historical elements of their environment.

 

Geography

The teaching of Geography enables pupils to explore and record aspects of the environment. An understanding of locality and community is successfully cultivated, which contributes to pupilsí sense of belonging, social competence and self-esteem. Field trips provide pupils with valuable opportunities to observe a variety of human and natural environments. Maps, globes, diagrams, project work and photographic records are constructively used to record, interpret and communicate geographical information. The use of music related to particular geographical areas contributes in a positive manner to pupilsí sense of place.

 

Science

The science curriculum seeks to maintain a balance between the development of scientific knowledge and understanding and the processes of working scientifically, insofar as is relevant and appropriate to the strengths and needs of pupils. Seasonally appropriate thematic displays and attractive exploration tables are a feature in almost all classrooms and assist in directing pupilsí attention to their immediate environment. Plants and animals are examined in their natural habitat and pupils demonstrate a commendable understanding of their associated interrelationships and interdependence. Practical and experiential learning opportunities encourage pupils to observe, test, confirm or modify their conceptual understanding of environmental phenomena. Pupils demonstrate an ability to interact appropriately with their environment in acquiring new knowledge and understanding.

 

A Home Economics programme affords opportunities for pupils to practise and acquire essential life, self-help and independence skills. Valid and enjoyable activities including the preparation and serving of food and a range of other essential skills for daily living are planned and implemented. These skills are appropriately integrated into other areas of the curriculum through   maintaining relevant links with class teachers. Active and varied methodologies are employed and the use of assistive technology to support pupils with specific physical disabilities is particularly commendable. Issues of health and safety are given serious consideration. Special needs assistant support is used effectively to optimise pupilsí engagement in their respective tasks.

 

4.4 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

Visual Arts provides pupils with a broad range of enriching and sensory experiences. The creative process is emphasised and pupils are encouraged to explore, manipulate and be sensitive to the visual elements in the environment. Suitable attention is given to the development of visual literacy through the strands of drawing, paint and colour, print, construction and fabric and fibre. Samples of pupilsí finished products are attractively labelled and displayed in classrooms and corridors and signal the importance and value of Visual Arts for the school community. Pupils were observed to participate meaningfully and gain satisfaction and enjoyment from visual arts activities. A process of linking classroom planning with the visiting art teacherís planning should be considered. Additional opportunities to repond to the work of well-known national and international artists would further enhance the visual arts curriculum provided.

 

 

Music

In Music, pupils were observed participating with enjoyment in a broad range of activities related to listening and responding, performing and composing. The programme provides pupils with opportunities in which they are enabled to engage in important creative, recreational and expressive experiences at a level appropriate to their needs and abilities. Pupils are encouraged to participate actively in a wide variety of activities including singing, percussion, movement to music, and musical games. Music is effectively integrated into other subject areas and successfully enriches pupilsí access to the curriculum. The imaginative way in which music ia used to promote the personal and social development of the pupils is to be commended. The use of actions and innovative props greatly assists pupils in musical performance. Consideration could be given to extending pupilsí musical literacy through adopting a whole-school approach to using pictorial/graphic musical notation.

 

Drama

Drama is used as an active learning strategy in the teaching of curricular areas, and pupils are provided with a range of learning and developmental drama experiences that are linked to curriculum areas. A variety of imaginative and purposefully constructed situations effectively promotes pupilsí confidence in making decisions, considering ideas from different perspectives and solving problems within a structured framework. Innovative materials and appropriate musical cues are used to support pupilsí transition from reality to fictional environments. Pupils are encouraged to value drama as an art form in its own right. Differentiation is effected with regard to process and outcome and all pupilsí responses are duly acknowledged and valued. It is recommended that the school plan reflects the opportunities currently being provided for in this curriculum area.

 

4.5 Physical Education

In Physical Education, a programme of activities is undertaken that includes athletics, dance, gymnastics, games and outdoor and adventure activities in which pupils participate willingly. A diversity of skill and learning is fostered and the practical use of acquired skills is promoted in group and individual activities. The enthusiasm of the pupils was evident in the lessons observed, and they were fully engaged in all activities. Lessons are well paced and differentiated appropriately for individual needs. A range of suitable resources is used creatively and the management of special needs assistant support is particularly effective. Good discipline and task engagement are well maintained throughout the lessons. Pupils were observed to acquire personal satisfaction and enjoy achievement in accordance with their individual needs and abilities. Advice from the physiotherapy and occupational therapy departments is constructively incorporated in the planning and implementation of programmes of activity. The effective integration of Physical Education with other areas of the curriculum creates meaningful curricular links and assists in consolidating pupilsí learning. Pupilsí self-esteem is promoted and pupils demonstrate a positive attitude towards participating in a wide range of activities. 

 

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is timetabled by the teachers and is seen as an important aspect of the pupilsí education. While much of the SPHE programme is taught informally, formal lessons are used to teach areas such as building self-esteem, life skills training, making choices, feelings, diet and safety. Functional and daily living skills, including mobility, personal hygiene, eating and drinking, dressing appropriately, leisure and work are all carefully attended to. Care is taken to respond to the needs of each individual student as social and independence skills are promoted. Commendable links and relationships have been established with local mainstream schools. Cross-curricular thematic planning successfully integrates SPHE with other curriculum areas. Turn-taking, empathy and respect are cultivated. All teachers employ participative teaching and learning approaches. Planning of designated SPHE lessons is complemented and modelled by the caring and supportive manner in which staff members interact with the pupils. It is evident that the pupils in the school respond positively to the interest which staff members show in their personal development and their educational progress.

 

Due attention has been directed towards the development of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and aspects of the programme are being implemented in the school. A RSE committee comprising the principal, two class teachers, the occupational therapist and the paediatric nurse has been formed with the support and advice of the board of management.  It is recommended that parents and representatives of the board of management are now invited to join the committee.

 

4.7 Assessment and achievement

All teachers are conscious of the importance of assessing, recording and monitoring pupilsí progress. Teachers continuously assess pupils in all aspects of their work, behaviour and personal development, which beneficially informs teaching and learning opportunities. A range of assessment tools is used that includes teacher observation, teacher-devised tests, criterion checklists, standardised assessments, retention of samples of pupilsí completed work and photographic records. Reports are shared with parents, and with relevant professionals when this is required and appropriate. Portfolio assessment is a key feature of the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP) and modules accredited by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC). Detailed monthly progress reports are compiled to reflect pupilsí progress in relation to identified priority educational goals. It is recommended that an annual educational profile is compiled in respect of each pupil that records the pupilís achievement in relation to the diagnostic, formative and summative purposes of assessment. The compilation of an annual summative report detailing the progress of pupils with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) in relation to the social interaction, communication and imagination deficits of the triad of impairments should also be considered.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

All pupils have special educational needs and Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are devised for each student in consultation with parents/guardians. The contribution of the multidisciplinary team to the IEP process assists in effecting an effective transdisciplinary approach to meeting the needs of pupils in the school. Individual Education Plans are variously detailed in terms of a commencement and review date, an analysis of each pupilís strengths and needs, identified priority learning needs and targets, materials and resources, teaching strategies, contribution of special needs assistants and parents/carers. Students are included in the IEP process on a readiness basis. Teachers successfully employ a range of methodologies in implementing the curriculum that includes teacher-modelling, role-play, direct teaching, guided discovery, project work, activity learning, games, talk and discussion, circle time and environmental learning. The use of multi-sensory approaches that address the visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile and kinaesthetic learning modalities enables pupils to sustain attention, filter out competing stimuli and interact purposefully with the environment and each other. The continued development of a collaborative approach in the preparation of IEPs for individual students is now essential in the context of the provisions of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, 2004.

The resource teacher implements learning and teaching programmes related to Social, Personal and Health Education, information and communication technology, social, personal and communication skills, fine and gross motor skills and aesthetic and creative development. Programmes are constructively planned and monitored with reference to curricular area and in collaboration with the principal and class teacher.

Teachers are aware of the social, communication and imaginative deficits associated with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Methods devised by Division TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped CHildren) and elements of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) are among the approaches used with pupils with ASDs. It is recommended that the approach to meeting the needs of pupils with ASDs is documented in the school plan.

 

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

The school is conscious of the importance of providing support strategies to enable the full inclusion of the diversity of pupils in the school. School funds assist in meeting the costs of preparing pupilsí lunches, photocopying, materials and school outings. The school assists necessitous pupils to access necessary assistance from local health clinics, relevant therapists and social services. It is suggested that the Guidelines on Intercultural Education in the Primary School (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, 2005) are utilised to augment pupilsí curricular experiences and to assist in planning for creating an intercultural school environment.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths and areas for development identified in the evaluation:

 

The board of management adopts a proactive approach in the management of the school and provides valuable direction and support for the school community.

The quality and availability of accommodation, material resources and standards of maintenance in the school are of a high standard.

The school is proactive in undertaking a process of school development planning and a praiseworthy range of school policies has been developed in both organisational and curricular areas.

Individual teachers conscientiously engage in long-term and short-term planning and preparation for their work with reference to the curriculum programmes being accessed by pupils.

Individual Education Plans are efficiently planned, implemented and reviewed in the context of a transdisciplinary approach to meeting the needs of pupils.

A code of discipline is in place and conscientiously implemented.

An eclectic range of teaching methodologies is successfully implemented.

Posts of responsibility, in-school management, records of pupil-attendance and retention issues require consideration.

The possibility of pupils being enrolled in classes in excess of the recommended pupil teacher ratio due to the necessity of deploying a class teacher as a resource teacher should be monitored.

Addressing the difficulties associated with fire-drill due to the location of the staff room in an adjacent temporary pre-fabricated structure.

The importance of adopting a streamlined and consistent approach to whole-school planning and assessment.

 

 

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

Delineating posts of responsibility in terms of curricular, organisational and pastoral elements in accordance with the terms of Circular 07/03, further developing the role of in-school management, maintaining accurate records of pupil-attendance and addressing pupil-retention issues and organising staff meetings in accordance with Department of Education and Science guidelines.

Consistently reviewing the necessity of deploying one of the class teachers as a resource teacher to ensure that it does not contribute to an increase in the number of pupils in classes.

Submitting an application to the building section of the Department of Education and Science that reflects the current identified needs of the school and the difficulties associated with the fire-drill process.

Adopting a streamlined approach to whole-school planning and assessment that includes a summary of the content of the programme and consistently refers to the strand and strand units of the curriculum and the draft curriculum guidelines for teachers of pupils with general learning disabilities.

Directing attention towards the importance of dating and signing all policies and documenting procedures in relation to the compilation and dissemination of the school plan.

 

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

 

 


 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

 

Area 1   Observations on the content of the inspection report

 

 

In paragraph 6 summary: P.T.R. can increase while one teacher is deployed as a resource teacher due to lack of accommodation.  This teacherís present accommodation is unsuitable for resource and could not be used as a classroom.

 

We fulfil the terms of circular 25/03 by having one staff meeting per term extended outside of school hours.  We are not aware that DES has limited the number of staff meetings per term to any specific number.

 

We are pleased that accommodation issues were noted and the fact that these issues give rise to the dangers associated with fire drill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Area 2   Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection  

               activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection         

 

 

In response to article 4.6 the Board of Management of St. Gabrielís School has been invited to select a member(s) to join the RSE Committee.  Parent reps. on the Board of Management are encouraging parents to join the committee.

 

As suggested in recommendations for further development an application that reflects the current identified accommodation needs of the school will be sent to Department of Education and Science.  In school management and posts of responsibility are currently being reviewed.