An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Iosagáin

 Upperchurch Central NS, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

Roll No: 19677R

 

Date of inspection:  30 November 2006

  Date of issue of report:  26 April 2007

 

Whole-school evaluation

1.     Introduction – school context and background

2.     Quality of school management

2.1 Board of management

2.2 In-school management

2.3 Management of resources

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

2.5 Management of pupils

3.     Quality of school planning

3.1 School planning process and implementation

3.2 Classroom planning

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

4.1 Language

Irish

English

4.2 Mathematics

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

History

Geography

Science

4.4 Arts Education

Visual Arts

Music

Drama

4.5 Physical Education

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

4.7 Assessment

5.     Quality of support for pupils

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

 


Whole-school evaluation

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Scoil Íosagáin, Upperchurch, Co. Tipperary. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspectors held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during 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 and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. The board of management 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.

 

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

Scoil Íosagáin, Upperchurch is a seven-teacher school under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Cashel and Emly. The school is located in the village of Upperchurch approximately eight miles from Thurles and caters for the education of children from Upperchurch, and surrounding rural hinterland.

Scoil Íosagáin outlines in its mission statement that it is a “Centre of Learning” in the community, and that its facilities are available for the betterment, fulfilment and education of all children and adults in the area recognised as the Tipperary Uplands. The school strives to provide a caring, well-ordered environment that supports the intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and cultural needs of the pupils and the professional and personal development of teachers. The school ensures the continued development of the pupils’ self esteem. Gender equality is promoted among students, teachers and parents. 

The ethos of the school is reflected in the warm and welcoming atmosphere that was evident during the period of inspection. There is a happy, stimulating learning environment provided by the principal and staff. The teachers work as a team and are committed to ensuring that the welfare and education of their pupils receive commendable attention. The characteristic spirit of the school is also reflected in the positive interactions evident among pupils, parents and teachers. Pupil behaviour during the course of the inspection was excellent at all times.

There were 137 pupils enrolled in the school on the 30th September 2006. It is projected that the number of pupils in September 2007 will increase to 141. A major sewerage development is being completed at the moment and a large number of houses are planned for construction in the village and areas surrounding the school. It is expected that this may result in an increase in enrolment in the school in the near future. Attendance patterns in this school for the previous term were very good.

 

An ethos of mutual respect is evident among pupils, teachers and parents in this school. The school provides an appropriate education for a diverse range of pupils including some pupils with special educational needs.

 

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management meets at least twice per term and provides effective leadership to the school community. Statutory obligations are fulfilled and the board endeavours to ensure compliance with Department of Education and Science regulations. The board monitors financial expenditure very carefully. Board members have been assigned specific responsibilities which they carry out with dedication and commitment.

 

The members of the board of management bring a range of personal expertise to the decision-making process in the school. The members of the board are commended for their high level of interest in the management of the school and for their role in the provision of a high-quality education for its pupils. At the pre-evaluation meeting the board of management expressed its satisfaction with the quality of educational provision in the context of the broad and balanced curriculum being delivered in the school.  The board of management has been involved in the development of parking for the school bus, and the painting of the school. The development of the school pitch is the project which has been targeted for the current school year.

The board ensures that parents are informed of policies as they are devised and welcomes the input of the parents’ association on these policies

 

2.2 In-school management

The in-school management team consists of the principal, the deputy principal and two special duties post-holders. The duties as outlined in the school plan are clearly defined and the staff share organisational, curricular and pastoral responsibilities. Ongoing communication between the post-holders and the principal is a feature of the good practice in evidence in this school.

 

The principal undertakes his management and teaching duties in a professional and competent manner. He ensures that official documents including the attendance book, roll books and the register are maintained accurately. He monitors the work of the school and ensures this through compiling and maintaining custody of the teachers’ progress records. He demonstrates a caring and sensitive attitude towards all his pupils. He has excellent interpersonal skills and relates well to his colleagues, members of the board of management and parents.

 

The in-school management team has effective procedures in place for keeping pupil records and in managing pupils with special educational needs. Staff meetings are held once a term. The principal, in consultation with the staff, draws up agenda and the minutes are recorded at each meeting. The teachers have worked very effectively as a team in meeting the challenging demands of the planning process. It is evident that they have shared their ideas and have developed a common approach to short-term planning. This work is to be commended.

 

2.3 Management of resources

The school has a fulltime staff of five-mainstream class teachers, a learning support teacher and a resource teacher. All classes are composite classes and are organised in the following manner, junior and senior infants, first and second class, second and third class, fourth and fifth class and fifth and sixth class.

The board of management employs four special needs assistants who support the needs of children in the school. A caretaker is employed on a part-time basis to clean the school. It is recommended that the board of management consider the employment of a school secretary to support the work of the principal and staff.

The accommodation currently consists of five mainstream classrooms, a general purposes room, an administrative office and staffroom. All classrooms have male and female toilets en-suite. One of the classrooms is currently in use as a technology centre and the general purposes room is in use as a classroom. The school is in a very good state of repair structurally. It is recommended that the board seek funding under the Summer-works scheme to replace the existing windows, some of the light fittings and the existing flooring. The school grounds are maintained to a very high standard and the school is cleaned thoroughly. Internally the heating system and maintenance are of a high quality.

 

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The parents’ association meets regularly, and makes a very significant contribution to school life and is very supportive of the work of the school, the principal and the board of management. The parents’ association is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council. The parents’ association maintains close communication with the principal and the board of management. A teacher representative is present at all parents’ association meetings. The association also facilitates social activities such as the Christmas Concerts and is involved in a wide range of school activities, including the provision of transport to matches, assistance at functions, purchase and sale of school tracksuits. Parents also provide support in the maintenance and development of the school grounds.

Nominees of the parents have been involved in the development of school policies in the whole-school planning process and have contributed to the development of policies including in recent times healthy eating and relationships and sexuality education. The representatives of the parents’ association reported that they were very satisfied with the educational provision in the school and in particular, parents reported that a broad curriculum is provided and a range of extensive extra-curricular activities is organised. Parent-teacher meetings are organised annually and parents receive a report on their children’s progress.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

Pupils are managed in a very positive way in this school and a deep sense of mutual respect is evident among pupils. Pupils’ behaviour is excellent in all classes. Pupils were responsive and very cooperative with the members of the evaluation team during the inspection process. It is recommended that the school should consider the setting up of a student council in the future to enhance the very positive atmosphere that currently exists between pupils and teachers in the school.

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The school planning process is collaborative in nature and the school plan is reviewed on a regular basis.  The teachers have formulated a very wide range of high quality organisational and curricular policies and individual staff members have taken responsibility for the development, co-ordination and implementation of various aspects of the curriculum. Policies are reviewed and ratified by the board of management. Relevant policies are disseminated to parents regularly through the school’s internal communication systems.

 

The school plan, in non-curricular areas, is comprehensive and includes policies in respect of special education, assessment, anti-bullying, enrolment, homework, health & safety statement, code of discipline and substance use. 

 

The staff has also developed curricular plans in the areas of Gaeilge, English, Mathematics, Visual Arts, Social Personal and Health Education, Music, Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (Science, History and Geography) Drama and Physical Education. These plans include an outline of the aims, strands/strand units, content objectives, specific methodologies, resources required and assessment strategies in respect of each curricular area at each class level.

 

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 2001). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

All the teachers undertake comprehensive long- and short-term planning. It is evident that teachers have collaborated effectively in the design of a short-term template for all of the curricular areas and this work is highly commended. They maintain monthly progress reports that are primarily content based. Very good work is evident in the implementation of the plans and very good practice was observed in all areas of teaching and learning and the high level of pupil attainment reflects the consistent and progressive implementation of the curriculum plans in this school. It is recommended that the teachers might consider recording pupil attainment in the context of the objectives outlined in individual teachers’ planning and might also include reflective comments where appropriate.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Language

 

Irish

Tá ardmholadh tuillte ag na múinteoirí as an obair a dhéantar chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn mar theanga bheo chumarsáide. Éiríonn leis na hoidí suim na ndaltaí i bhfoghlaim na Gaeilge a mhúscailt agus a bpáirtíocht sna ceachtanna a chothú trí úsáid cheardúil a bhaint as straitéisí éagsúla mar shampla drámaíocht, agallaimh beirte, filíocht, rainn, rólghlacadh, puipéad agus cluichí.  De thoradh na hoibre seo, bíonn sé ar chumas na ndaltaí an Ghaeilge a úsáid go muiníneach, líofa i ngnáthchumarsáid an lae. Is inmholta go háirithe an bhéim a leagtar ar an gcur chuige cumarsáideach.

 

Tá iarracht choinsiasach déanta prionta i nGaeilge a chur ar taispeáint i dtimpeallacht na scoile. Éiríonn go stuama le formhór na bpáistí an t-ábhar léitheoireachta a léamh le brí agus le tuiscint. Tá iarracht inmholta déanta an t-ábhar léitheoireachta sa Ghaeilge a leathnú. Ba thairbheach, anois, feidhm a bhaint as raon d’fhíorleabhair tharraingteacha idir bheag agus mhór, iris agus cineálacha difriúla téacsanna chun a scileanna léitheoireachta a chothú a thuilleadh.

 

Éiríonn leis na daltaí scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil de chaighdeán creidiúnach cruinnis a sholáthar. Déantar monatóireacht rialta ar an obair seo. Ní mór, áfach, próiseas na saor scríbhneoireachta a fhorbairt go córasach agus deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí smaointe a ghiniúint agus a dhréachtú le cur lena gcumas cumarsáide scríofa.

 

Irish

The teachers are praised highly for the effort they have made in promoting Irish as a living communicative language. The use of a variety of strategies such as drama, pair work, rhymes, role play, puppets and games enable teachers to awaken pupils’ interest in Irish and promote their involvement in lessons. As a result, pupils’ are capable of using the language confidently, and fluently in everyday interactions. The emphasis placed on the communicate approach is praiseworthy.

 

A conscientious effort is made to ensure that a print rich environment is evident in the school environment. The majority of pupils are able to read with expression and understanding. A praiseworthy effort has been made to extend the range of reading material throughout the school. It would be beneficial now to utilise a range of stimulating big and small books, magazines and different genres to develop rich vocabulary, children’s independent reading  and to increase the promotion of reading skills.

 

Pupils are provided with opportunities to engage in functional writing.  Pupils’ work is regularly monitored.  However, it is worthwhile to develop the creative writing process in a systematic manner throughout the school in order to provide opportunities for pupils to express their own thoughts and to practice their skills in order to develop their own personal writing styles.

 

English

The standard of literacy in the school is very good with the majority of pupils engaging in oral, reading and writing activities in a very competent manner in all classes. Very good lessons were observed in all classes. Planning is carried out effectively in respect of the teaching of English. All teachers incorporate the strands/strand units and content objectives in their written preparation. There is evidence of direct linkage between the school plan and individual teacher’s preparation and practice. Children express themselves confidently and fluently in English in all classes. In the infant and junior classes children engage in a wide range of oral language activities. It is recommended that a greater emphasis should be placed on story telling in the infant classes. A commercial oral language development programme is in use throughout the school. It is recommended that a discrete oral language programme should be introduced and specific topics for oral language development should be planned for and explored by the pupils at all class levels.

 

A very good programme in reading is organised throughout the school from the emergent reading stage to the senior levels. Emergent reading skills are developed and basic reading skills are established in infant and junior classes through the development of phonological and phonemic awareness. Very good use is made of books in promoting an interest in reading and shared reading is undertaken in the infant and junior classes. Further work at this level should extend the language experience approach. A wide variety of reading material is used including the classroom textbooks. The approach to teaching the novel is particularly praiseworthy in the middle and senior classes. The pupils are given opportunities to respond to characters, situations and story details and in general are given broad experiences in terms of articulating a shared response to fiction. A wide repertoire of poems is explored and the pupils are encouraged to respond in different ways through dramatising, writing and comparing poems.

There is a very good balance achieved between functional and creative writing at all class levels. The quality of writing in the children’s copies is of a very high standard. Personal and creative writing commences in the junior classes. Pupils write short personal accounts and undertake book reviews. In general, the teachers are cognisant of the importance of the writing process.  This skill is further developed and emphasised in middle and senior classes where book reviews, character reviews and a range of writing for different purposes and audiences is undertaken. Children also write their own poetry and the pupils are encouraged to write in varying formats. Some teachers use computers skilfully to support and present the work undertaken by the children. There is evidence of effective integration across a range of curriculum areas. Teachers use a range of assessment strategies including teacher observation, teacher designed tests, consistent monitoring of oral and written activities and standardised test results.

 

4.2 Mathematics

The school plan outlines the aims the broad objectives, content, resources, assessment and approaches to the teaching and learning of Mathematics. Further development is recommended in respect of the use of mathematical language, problem solving strategies, assessment and parental involvement. 

 

The teaching of Mathematics is undertaken effectively throughout the school and all of the pupils’ attainment is at a level appropriate to their age and ability. Overall the standard of teaching and learning in this school is very good. Very good teacher-pupil and co-operative pupil/pupil interactions were in evidence during the evaluation period.

 

Group teaching was in use in all classes and effective management of pupil application was observed while pupils were engaged in tasks/activities during lessons. Concrete and structured materials and experiential learning approaches are used productively in all classes.  Importance is placed on the explanation of basic procedures. Suitable emphasis is placed on the acquisition of number concepts, skills and the acquisition of mathematical language as outlined in school plan. It is recommended that mathematical language utilised in all of the strands of the Mathematics’ curriculum should be outlined in the school plan in order that continuity and progression can be ensured at all class levels within the school.

 

A range of concrete materials is available at all class levels and all the teachers use a range of resources to support their work including textbooks, charts, number lines and mathematical equipment. The teachers are to be commended for the application of strategies such as mathematical games in their teaching. Activity based learning, skills and problem solving in Mathematics are developed in all classes. Elementary mathematical concepts are well taught in the infant classes and this work is supported by the skilful use of concrete materials. In the junior classes, the children understand number and place value and are able to solve simple mathematical problems.

 

In the middle and senior classes, the understanding of number work is consolidated and extended.  Basic number facts and operations are well taught and most of the pupils can discuss and solve mathematical problems. In general, mathematical concepts are developed through the use of concrete materials and concepts are linked to the pupils’ own experiences. Emphasis is placed on the development of mathematical language in an incremental fashion from junior infants onwards particularly mathematical language related to the Number strand in the curriculum. Regular revision is undertaken and the children record their work neatly and appropriately in copybooks.

 

In general, pupils solve problems satisfactorily and continued emphasis on oral problem solving and the development of ‘investigation areas’ is recommended. It is evident from the children’s oral responses and written work observed that they are achieving a very satisfactory standard in this area of the curriculum. The further development of mathematical language, problem solving and assessment strategies should be considered on a whole school basis.

 

4.3 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

The current school plan outlines the strands and strand units that are taught at each class level. A section is also included that outlines the methodologies, assessment strategies and resources that will be used in this area of the curriculum. The further development of this plan could include an outline of the learning experiences that will be provided at each class level to support the development of pupils’ historical knowledge, skills and attitudes. The learning experiences provided in this school include studies from local, national and international contexts. In the infant and junior classes emphasis is placed on personal and family history. Artefacts are also in evidence. Myths and legends are explored effectively in junior and middle standards and this work is effectively integrated with the Visual Arts and oral language. It is evident that pupils are provided with relevant and authentic historical learning experiences, with opportunities to work as historians and through the use of artefacts and materials linked to the local environment. 

 

In senior classes, pupil participation in learning/discovery methods is implemented through group-work and discussion. Very good use is made of local history books and artefacts. It is recommended that the skills of the pupils as historians be further developed through access and analysis of primary sources of data now available online through the use of the broadband technology that is now installed in the school. The use of ICT as a mediation tool for teaching and learning is recommended. This can be achieved through project work and pupils presenting their own work to their peers and other audiences through the use of presentation software which is already available on the school’s computers.

 

Geography

Teachers’ planning indicates that a range of suitable topics of local, national and European relevance is explored during the Geography lessons enabling pupils to acquire factual knowledge while also developing a range of appropriate skills. Very good implementation of the Geography curriculum is also evidenced by the use of active learning strategies, good questioning techniques and the productive use of resources.

 

Teaching in Geography focuses on human and natural geography, and on environmental issues. A wide variety of methodologies is used skilfully. Through the regular use of class discussions pupils in infant and junior classes become aware of themselves as members of the family and of the school community.  In middle and senior classes, pupils study aspects of people’s lives and places in a more systematic way.  Some aspects of the physical geography of their local area, Ireland, Europe and the wider world are explored and teaching approaches have begun to address the development of geographical investigation skills.  Maps, globes and other visual materials are used effectively to develop pupils’ awareness of the inter-relationship between the human and natural environments.  At all class levels pupils demonstrate a very good understanding of the content they have studied and they are developing a keen understanding of environmental awareness issues.

 

Science

The examination of teachers’ preparation and the observation of lessons indicate that content is well planned and a range of effective methodologies is used to encourage pupil participation and active learning in the area of Science. A suitable programme of work has been devised for the teaching of Science. The programme for learning in Science at all class levels constitutes elements of both natural and human environments. Knowledge and concepts linked with seasonal changes are explored in infant, junior, middle and senior classes. Studies of plants, animals and weather phenomena in the immediate and local environment also constitute part of the children’s learning experience in this curricular area. Pupils are capable of discussing items displayed on the nature/discovery table in a competent and knowledgeable manner. The provision of resources to support this aspect of the programme enables the setting up of simple science experiments in which pupils are actively engaged. 

 

Experiments are well planned and lessons are taught in a logical sequence. There is an appropriate focus on the development of pupils’ basic skills and due emphasis is placed on scientific vocabulary during the lessons. Integration of this subject with other aspects of the curriculum is praiseworthy. The use of a school garden is recommended as an effective strategy in studying many of the strands of the Science curriculum. In general, pupils demonstrate good understanding of scientific concepts and their application.

 

4.4 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

Opportunities are provided at each class level for pupils to explore the strands of the Visual Arts programme.  Judicious use is made of a range of materials and resources to develop pupils’ skills in both making art and in looking and responding to art.  In general, there is a good balance between 2D and 3D work.  Various thought-provoking stimuli are used as a starting point for many of the lessons and pupils clearly derive enjoyment and benefit form the programme provided at each class level. The structure and the pace of the lessons are very good and pupils are provided with opportunities to develop a visual language through talk and discussion. In general, emphasis is placed on the creative developmental process that affords pupils the opportunity to express their understanding of their world in a creative rather than in a passive or imitative way. This process should continue to be the main focus of the work in all classes and template/replicate art should be avoided. Individual talent is fostered and all pupils are motivated to explore their creative abilities.  Classrooms and other areas in the school are decorated tastefully with samples and photographic records of pupils’ work. It is recommended that further emphasis be placed on Looking and Responding to the work of artists and working in the style of the artist and that further resources be provided to teach this strand unit in all six strands. While teacher observation is used to assess pupils’ work the inclusion of a range of assessment strategies into the school plan and into the long and short term planning would extend the progressive development of pupils’ skills as part of a whole school approach.

 

Music

The teaching of Music throughout the school is highly commendable. Junior, middle and senior classes are taught the tin whistle. A school band and a school choir are in existence and pupils are encouraged to take an active part in school performances.

 

Teachers ensure that performance and listening and responding to Music are central features of the programme. Lessons were observed where children were actively involved in the learning process in a very positive manner. Environmental, vocal, body and instrumental sounds are explored. The pupils sing a range of songs tunefully in both Irish and English. Work in the area of rhythm, notation and the use of percussion instruments is of a high standard. Annual school concerts, participation in local “feiseanna”, community events and liturgical ceremonies enhance pupil’s opportunities to perform publicly.

 

Drama

Drama is skilfully integrated with other curricular areas. It provides pupils with opportunities to explore topics in a range of subject areas in a deep and meaningful way. Teachers and pupils engaged in role play and pupils were encouraged to work in pairs during lessons. Drama is employed in this school as a tool for enhancing various subject areas and for facilitating the establishment of cross-curricular links. It is evident from classroom practice that dramatic activity facilitates the delivery of aspects of the Irish and English (Oral Language) curricula.

The children also take an active part in school performances on an annual basis. Staff members involved in the direction of these activities is to be commended for the time and commitment invested in the undertaking of these tasks.

 

4.5 Physical Education

Pupils’ physical development is fostered through a range of experiences that can sometimes be curtailed due to the lack of appropriate indoor facilities.  The school uses the community hall, which is situated some distance from the school, for physical education (PE) lessons. However, pupils experience enjoyment and achievement through the planned activities of the physical education programme. Well-structured lessons promote group and team work effectively. Clear instructions for tasks are given and active participation of all pupils is encouraged. A wide range of suitable equipment is used to considerable effect and teachers actively promote integration opportunities with other subject areas. The use of Irish in organising and directing these activities is to be highly commended. It is reported that team games also feature on the physical education programme supported by the local GAA club and parents. Pupils’ participation in local sports competitions augments the schools’ provision for Physical Education. 

 

4.6 Social, Personal and Health Education

The school plan provides an overview of the programme of work at each class level in the area of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE). All aspects of the SPHE programme have been addressed in the school plan and good use is made of resources including the Walk Tall, Stay Safe, and Bí Folláin education programmes. A Relationships and Sexuality Education policy has been developed and is being implemented in the school. The curricular area of SPHE in this school provides for the promotion of a positive and favourable atmosphere in the pupils’ environment at all class levels. Affirmation of achievements and delegation of appropriate responsibilities are implemented throughout the school.

 

There is evidence of active pupil involvement in the SPHE programme through engagement with activities relating to healthy eating, media and communication, growing and changing, understanding differences, the exploration of feelings and senses and the promotion of pupils’ self-esteem. Circle time and pair work are used to explore many aspects of the SPHE programme. Topics based on feelings, personal hygiene, food and nutrition, safety and healthy eating and care of the environment are explored in a sensitive and caring manner.

The general atmosphere of the school reflects a firm commitment to the development and extension of the pupils’ skills in this subject.

 

4.7 Assessment

A wide range of assessment tools including teacher observation, careful monitoring of written work, teacher designed tests and standardised tests is used by the teachers to inform the teaching and learning in the school. The administration of standardised tests is carried out on an annual basis. Results are analysed and the relevant supports and strategies are designed to enable the achievement of quality outcomes.

Records are maintained in a methodical and consistent manner in the school. The pupils in the school are fully engaged with the curriculum in all classes and in all subject areas. In general, pupils achieve standards appropriate to their age and abilities in all areas of the curriculum.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The school policy for special educational needs, documents the context in which the school operates.  It outlines the aims and objectives for both learning support and resource support. It also details the staged approach to special education needs adopted by the school.

 

Learning Support/Resource Teaching Provision

The learning support teacher and resource teacher are both based in Scoil Íosagáin. Twenty two pupils are in receipt of learning support in literacy and numeracy and resource teaching is provided for six pupils with special educational needs. Excellent preparation is evidence which incorporates the advice and learning targets identified by the external professionals for individual children. These are incorporated in comprehensive Individual Pupil Learning Profiles that outline the specific objectives and learning experiences that will be achieved during a given timeframe. Accurate records of pupil progress are also maintained. Pupils are withdrawn in groups according to their learning needs. Some individual instruction is also undertaken. The learning support and resource teacher use a very wide range of diagnostic instruments including:  Jackson Phonics Test, Quest; Blackwell Spelling Test; NFER, Verbal & Non-verbal intelligence; Spar Reading and Spelling Test; Dolch Sight Vocabulary List; Miscue-analysis; MIST (Middle Infant Screening Test); Early Observation Records; Marino Reading Test; BIAP (Belfield Infant Assessment Profile); Aston Index Tests and AH 1 X/Y Tests.

 

The results of these tests assist in the identification of specific targets for each individual child and their programme of work is discussed with each child’s parents. The learning support/resource teacher’s room is very well resourced and these resources are utilised effectively in the course of her work. The support teacher makes very effective use of ICT and appropriate software. Samples of the pupils’ work are displayed and the computer is effectively used as a teaching and learning tool.

 

The policy on early intervention in the school is to be commended and this policy is implemented through the use of the Forward Together Programme in collaboration with parents of senior infant pupils. A wide range of effective strategies is used to support the children’s learning.

 

 

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

·         Upperchurch N.S. has a very enthusiastic and committed teaching staff.

·         A very high quality of teaching and learning is provided by professionally competent teachers who exhibited a wide range of pedagogical skills during the inspection period.

·         Innovation and openness to change are characteristic of the commitment of staff to the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum in a coherent and progressive manner.

·         Effective leadership in this school is provided by the principal through collaborative management strategies –and the delegation of relevant tasks.

·         A very supportive board of management is keenly committed to the work of the school.

·         Parents and teachers share high expectations for the social, academic and emotional development of all pupils.

·         The very effective provision for pupils with special education needs which ensures the full inclusion of these pupils.

·         High level of involvement of parents in school activities, extra-curricular and social events

·         Highly motivated pupils exhibit high attainment levels.

·         Pupils’ behaviour is excellent and they display a sense of pride in their school and community.

·         Pupils have positive self-esteem and are confident in their interactions with peers and teachers.

 

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

 

·         A discrete oral language development programme based on the oral language objectives in the English curriculum should be devised for implementation in all classes.

·         It is recommended that a review of the enrolment policy is carried out to ensure compliance with recent legislation.

·         A review of infra-structure in the school is recommended and funding should be sought from the Department of Education and Science under the Summer Works Scheme to replace windows and flooring throughout the school.

 

 

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.