An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Cnoc Mhuire Junior National School

Knockmore, Tallaght,  Dublin 24

Uimhir rolla: 19775R

 

Date of inspection:  19 May 2009

 

 

 

 

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

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 Knockmore Junior National 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 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 in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

Knockmore Junior National School is an eighteen-teacher, co-educational junior school under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. It provides education to pupils from junior infants to second class. The school is a designated DEIS Band 1 school. It participates in a wide range of Department and community initiatives including the School Completion Programme, Breaking the Cycle of Educational Disadvantage, Giving Children an Even Break and the Childhood Development Initiative. The school’s stated mission is to provide a safe, happy environment where learning is stimulated, encouraged and guided within a community of kindness, fairness and friendship for all.  Central to its mission is the school’s vision that each child reaches his/her full potential academically, physically, socially and emotionally. The school aspires to foster an appreciation and understanding of a wide variety of cultures and spiritual beliefs whilst up-keeping the Catholic ethos of the school. The school’s commitment to its stated aims is reflected in the welcoming and respectful school ambiance, the positive classroom interactions and the commitment of staff to working collaboratively. The school’s commitment to inclusive education is evidenced in the welcome afforded to pupils and parents of all ethnic groups and nationalities and in the school signage and displays.

 

The promotion of attendance amongst pupils is a particular challenge for this school and comprehensive steps are being taken to address this concern. In accordance with the Education Welfare Act 2002, the school has produced an attendance policy which incorporates an excellent range of strategies to promote pupil attendance. These include rewards and certificates to celebrate both full and improved attendance, and the visual monitoring of attendance by pupils themselves in addition to regular reminders to parents of the benefits of full attendance.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The board of management, which is properly constituted, meets at least four times each year. The minutes of these meetings are recorded dutifully and a financial report is presented at each meeting. In line with section 18(1) of the Education Act 1998, the financial accounts are certified annually. Specific roles have been allocated to the members who discharge their duties conscientiously. The board is supportive of the work of the school and is commended on having established a three-year plan for both the maintenance of the building and the provision of resources. The chairperson maintains a highly visible presence in the school. She meets with the principal regularly, joins the staff on an informal basis at break times and attends school functions. Board members are aware of the importance of training and have expressed interest in attending CPMSA training once it becomes available again. The board has recently ratified a significant number of school organisational and administrative policies in addition to the physical education policy. It is recommended that the board ratify all curriculum, as well as organisational policies, and be afforded a more active engagement in the systematic review of all policies. The board ensures that the school complies with the statutory regulations in relation to the length of the school year, the allocation of teachers and the retention of pupils. It is noted that the length of the school day is not compliant with regulations (Circular 11/95 – Time in School) and it is recommended that the board address this as a priority.

 

2.2 In-school management

The principal has a long association with the school. His approachable manner contributes greatly to the open and welcoming atmosphere in the school. He is very responsive to the pastoral needs of the pupils and has facilitated the introduction of a wide range of initiatives across the school. This includes his innovative programme, Parent Aided Learning. The principal has ensured that efficient management structures are in place to guide curriculum and organisational implementation. School attendance records are completed as required by departmental regulations. As a matter of priority, all official records regarding the registration of pupils must be completed in line with the rules for national schools. The principal is supported in his role by a highly effective in-school management team which comprises the deputy principal, assistant principal and six special duties teachers. Their roles contain a clear and purposeful range of curriculum, administrative and pastoral duties which they carry out competently and conscientiously. This team, which plays a key role in leading improvement and innovation in the school, meets formally with the principal four times a year to discuss management issues, monitor the DEIS plan and discuss matters related to the school’s strategic development. Formal staff meetings are held on a bi-termly basis. The agenda for those meetings is drawn up in consultation with staff. Minutes of these meetings are circulated to staff and points for future action are noted. 

 

2.3 Management of resources

The teaching staff comprises an administrative principal, eleven mainstream teachers, a special class teacher, two learning-support teachers, a resource teacher for Travellers, a support teacher and a shared home-school community liaison co-ordinator. The school’s class allocation policy encourages teachers to experience a range of teaching contexts and class levels whilst ensuring that each year group is led by a teacher experienced in that area. An ethos of collaborative team work is cultivated and staff morale is high. The staff members access national programmes of continuing professional development and the board facilitates their attendance at other relevant courses. The school employs four special needs assistants all of whom have accessed training. They have clear roles and responsibilities and are enabled to engage with the teachers regarding how best to support the pupils in their care. The school secretary contributes effectively to the smooth functioning of the school. The school employs a caretaker and two cleaners. Their role in the maintenance of the school building to a high standard of safety and cleanliness is acknowledged.

 

The school has recently completed a major refurbishment programme and the board is commended on its significant role in providing a safe and aesthetically-pleasing environment that facilitates the delivery of the revised school curriculum. The refurbishment, which involved the sub-division of original shared area classrooms, resulted in small classroom units but provided for a range of other learning areas. The school accommodation now comprises fourteen classrooms of which three are used for learning support/resource, two smaller learning support/resource rooms, a computer room, a general purpose room, a library and a multi-sensory room in addition to administrative offices and a staff room. The school has been responsive to safety issues regarding pupil entry to the school grounds by installing an automated gate system and a pedestrian path. The issue of safe access is still a concern for the school and requires close monitoring.   In line with section 47 of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts 2002-2004, the school does not permit smoking within the school building. It is recommended that the location of the designated smoking area be reviewed in the light of supporting the principles of the social, personal and health education curriculum.

 

The school has invested in a very good range of classroom resources which are used effectively to enhance teaching and learning. These include audio-visual equipment, two interactive whiteboards, an interactive projector and computers in addition to a broad range of equipment to support the teaching of the various curriculum areas. The library, which is a bright, attractive, child-friendly environment, contains a very good range of both fiction and non-fiction material in addition to teachers’ reference materials and a section for parents. All books are currently being logged onto the school data system by committed parental volunteers. The teachers are commended on providing bright, attractive, print-rich learning environments. The quality of display, encompassing both pupils’ work and learning prompts, is of a very high standard.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The school prides itself in its ‘open door’ policy and is very welcoming of parental involvement and engagement in the life of the school. Many parents are instrumental in fundraising and assist with both costume-making and the redecoration of the school. Several parents also participate on a regular basis with in-class reading initiatives and the Maths for Fun programme. An appropriate range of procedures is in place to facilitate formal communication with parents. These include an initial meeting for new junior infant parents, class meetings for all parents at the start of the academic year, annual parent teacher meetings and an end-of-year report. Parents are also welcome to make appointments to meet the teachers if concerns arise. The home-school liaison co-ordinator plays a significant role in enhancing communication with parents and encouraging them to engage in the life of the school. Parents are issued with a newsletter on a regular basis. The school is commended on having recently facilitated the re-establishment of a parents’ association. The members are currently engaged in becoming affiliated to the National Parents’ Council and intend to avail of the training provided.  The association has played a significant role in the establishment of the new school library and would like to engage in further fundraising and in the provision of playground markings.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

The management of pupils is very good. A positive, inclusive and respectful ethos permeates the school. The teachers implement positive behaviour strategies and the pupils’ behaviour is commendable. It is recommended that the published Code of Behaviour explicitly set out the procedures to be followed in the case of long-term suspension and permanent exclusion. The pastoral needs of the pupils are managed effectively and in a highly committed manner by the school Care team in conjunction with other relevant staff members.  Pupils are eager and motivated in their learning. A good range of extra-curricular activities, funded by either the School Completion Programme or external agencies, is available and all pupils are welcome to participate.

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

The overall quality of school planning is of a high standard. The school provides a clear, comprehensive school plan that encompasses curriculum, organisational and administrative policies. These policies are available to parents on request and it is noted that the school intends to enhance their accessibility by uploading them to the school web site. A hard copy of the school plan is located in each year group and it is also available to all school staff via the school network. In designing the school plans, the staff has availed of the guidance of the support services. The process of planning is ably led by the post holders who facilitate a collaborative planning process. All staff members belong to one of four development teams which meet on a regular basis to formulate and update policies. Most curriculum plans are contextualised and specific to the needs of the school and its pupils. In language learning and numeracy, highly comprehensive programmes are provided with specific targets for each class level. This excellent approach should now be extended as the school continues to review each curriculum area. The school’s DEIS plan is of a commendably high standard. This comprehensive action plan identifies clear, specific targets and the school monitors its progress in their attainment.

 

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

 

3.2 Classroom planning

The quality of classroom planning is excellent. All class teachers engage regularly in collaborative year-group planning and their use of common templates is commended.  Comprehensive long-term plans facilitate breadth and balance in the delivery of all curriculum areas. These are clearly informed by the national curriculum, the school plan and the school’s DEIS plan. The short-term plans, which are driven by learning objectives in relation to knowledge, skills and understanding, make provision for differentiation. Progress records are maintained dutifully and are stored in the principal’s office. Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and Individual Pupils Learning Profiles (IPLPs), are available in teachers’ folders where applicable.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

The overall quality of teaching and learning is very good. The school is commended on the comprehensive nature of its DEIS plan which establishes clear, specific, measurable attainment targets in both English and mathematics. It is also evident that this plan underpins teaching and learning across the broader curriculum. A positive learning atmosphere permeates the school and pupils respond well to their teachers’ expectations for engagement in lessons.  All teachers provide stimulating classroom environments that are conducive to learning. The proficient use of good quality resources serves to enhance and consolidate learning. Lessons are well structured and well paced. Pedagogy, which includes scaffolded learning, teacher modelling and paired activities, also incorporates the judicious use of subject-specific vocabulary.  Best practice includes both the sharing of clear, specific learning objectives with the pupils and comprehensive provision for differentiation which helps to ensure that all pupils are challenged at a level commensurate with their abilities. Consideration should be given to extending this good practice across all classes and, in particular, extending the provision for differentiated learning for the more able pupils.

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Tá múineadh na Gaeilge go maith. Le linn pleanáil dóibh, díríonn na muinteoirí aird ar chur chuige ó théama aníos – nasctar na struchtúir theanga chuí leis seo agus curitear an bhéim a mbeifí ag súil leis ar an gcur chuige cumarsáideach. Úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar theanga teagaisc i gcuid mhaith de na ranganna. Sna ranganna éagsúla, baineann na múinteoirí dea-úsáid as réimse leathan áiseanna, nodanna amhairc san áireamh, chun na daltaí a spreagadh chun foghlama agus chun tacú leo ina gcuid foghlama.  Ins an gcuid is mó de na ranganna, féachtar chuige go múintear frásaí nua agus foclóir nua agus go soláthraítear deiseanna do na daltaí a gcumas labhartha a fhorbairt i mbealach cruthaitheach tré obair bheirte agus ról imirt. Dírítear aird iomchuí ar an bhfoghlaim ghníomhach agus is minic cluichí agus gníomhaíochtaí éisteachta a bhfuil cúis mhaith leo mar chuid lárach de na ranganna. Ar an iomlán, tugtar le fios go bhfuil dearcadh dearfach ag na páistí i leith na Gaeilge agus is le fonn a chuireann siad réimse leathan rannta agus amhrán i láthair. Maidir leis an ngné seo den churaclam, is iad seo a leanas na dúshláin a bheidh os comhair na scoile amach anseo: cur ar chumas na ndaltaí ní hamháin ceisteanna a fhreagairt ach iad a chur chomh maith, na daltaí a spreagadh chun na frásaí nua a úsáid sa chomhthéacs lena mbaineann siad agus iad a mhealladh chun páirt níos iomláine a ghlacadh sna ranganna.

 

Irish

The teaching of Irish is good. Teachers’ planning makes provision for a theme-based approach that incorporates appropriate language structures and places due emphasis on the communicative approach. In several classes, Irish is used as the medium of instruction. Across the school, the teachers make judicious use of a broad range of resources including visual prompts to motivate the pupils and support their learning.  In most classes, good provision is made for the explicit teaching of new phrases and vocabulary, and for paired activities and role-play to enable the pupils to develop their spoken competence in a creative manner. Good provision is made for active learning with games and focussed listening activities forming a key element of many lessons.  Pupils generally exhibit a positive attitude towards the language and perform a good range of rhymes and songs with enthusiasm. The next challenges for the school in this curriculum area are to enable the pupils to ask as well as answer questions, to practise the new phrases in context and to extend their overall oral participation in lessons.

 

English

Across the school, the teaching of English is of a very good standard. The teachers have clearly identified the need to raise the overall level of pupil attainment and have taken significant steps to address this concern. A commendable school plan makes very good provision for the delivery of all strands of the curriculum in a consistent manner across the school.  All classrooms provide print-rich environments and reading corners. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of the pupils’ oral language skills with ample opportunities provided for the explicit teaching of vocabulary which the pupils are enabled to use during paired activities and focussed discussions. A solid foundation in reading skills is laid in the infant classes where pupils are introduced to the concept of print and are subsequently taught a basic sight vocabulary and the use of phonic, context and picture cues. Across the school, large-format books are employed effectively and the use of higher-order questioning serves to enhance the pupils’ comprehension. Very good provision is made for the setting of literacy targets between the class teachers and SEN teachers. The pupils display varying reading abilities and consideration should now be given to further enhancing the current provision for differentiation by establishing a closer match between instructional text and pupil ability.  Excellent provision is made for writing. Pupils are taught the specific elements of a broad range of genres and are enabled to write for a range of purposes and audiences. Best practice includes the making of good provision for brainstorming, mind-mapping and teacher modelling during the planning process.  To enhance the pupils’ learning in this strand of the curriculum, it is recommended that the older pupils be enabled to redraft their work in the light of formative feedback. Appropriate provision is made for the teaching of handwriting. As the pupils progress through the school, further consideration should be given to encouraging them to apply their handwriting skills to their everyday writing and to improving their overall presentation skills.

 

4.3 Mathematics

The teaching of mathematics is very good.  The teachers are commended on adopting a comprehensive whole-school approach to mathematics in order to meet their goal of raising the overall level of pupil attainment. Pupils display varying levels of confidence and competence in this curriculum area. Well-structured, focussed lessons make good provision for the implementation of a broad and balanced curriculum.  All classrooms host mathematics areas and due emphasis is placed on the language of mathematics. Teachers link mathematical concepts to the pupils’ environment and facilitate the effective integration of mathematics with other curriculum areas. Appropriate focus is placed on the acquisition and consolidation of tables, and on mental arithmetic. Across the school, effective use is made of resources, manipulatives and displays to enhance and extend the pupils’ comprehension of new concepts. Appropriate emphasis is placed on fostering the skills of estimation particularly in the number and measures strands. Some provision is made for problem solving and for the use of ICT to enhance the pupils’ learning. Discretionary teaching time has been allocated to the implementation of specific early intervention and mathematics recovery programmes in senior infants and the junior classes respectively. To facilitate the successful implementation of this intervention, most class teachers have been provided with in-house training and work collaboratively within the individual year groups to facilitate differentiation. To complement the excellent work undertaken in this curriculum area, it is recommended that further consideration be given to the explicit teaching of problem-solving skills and to raising the bar of attainment for the more able pupils.

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

The overall standard of teaching and learning in history is good. The school plan makes provision for a broad and balanced programme in this curriculum area. To enhance the provision for continuity and progression in the pupils’ learning, consideration should now be given to the inclusion of more specific guidelines for the implementation of the individual strand units. Good provision is made for active learning and pupils are encouraged to question, talk and discuss. In the infant classes, effective use is made of stories to enhance the pupils’ understanding of chronology. Across the school, appropriate emphasis is placed on personal and family histories. Time-lines are displayed in all classrooms enabling the pupils to develop their sense of chronology. In the junior classes, the pupils’ skills as historians are effectively developed through the use of questionnaires. To complement this good practice, consideration should be given to extending the use of photographic evidence and artefacts across the school.

 

Geography

The school curriculum plan for geography is currently under revision. The teachers’ planning documentation reflects that the implemented curriculum is based on the pupils’ local environment and takes cognisance of other places on the globe. Appropriate use is made of a range of resources including globes, maps, weather charts and textbooks to support teaching and learning. Highly effective use is made of photographs to enhance the pupils’ awareness of the roles of those who work in the school environment. The capacity of ICT to further enhance the pupils’ knowledge and understanding in this curriculum area merits further consideration. Across the school, the pupils are enabled to participate in a variety of mapping activities in a manner that facilitates continuity and progression in their learning. Pupils are enabled to draw plans of their classrooms and to produce maps of their routes to school. A particularly noteworthy feature is the use of the local Tallaght environment to illuminate lessons and enable the pupils to apply their skills and understanding.  Pupils participate well in lessons, are willing to talk about their work and display appropriate knowledge.

 

Science

Teaching and learning in science are effective. Across the school, the scientific skills of observation, recording and predicting are being fostered appropriately. Lessons, which are enhanced by sound teacher subject knowledge, are linked effectively to other curriculum areas. The concept of fair testing is introduced in junior infants and developed appropriately as the pupils progress through the school. Lessons make good provision for the introduction and exploration of concepts and materials prior to their application to investigative work.  Pupils exhibit competence in the sorting and classification of materials. They are encouraged to discuss and record their findings. Effective use is made of the school environment to facilitate field trips which enable the pupils to develop their investigative skills including the use of appropriate scientific apparatus.  To build upon this good work, it is recommended that the provision for scaffolded discovery-learning be extended by further facilitating pupils’ hands-on participation in lessons. To further enhance the pupils’ learning, in addition to facilitating continuity and progression across a broad and balanced science curriculum, consideration should now be given to the inclusion of more specific guidelines for the implementation of the individual strand units.

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

The standard of both teaching and learning in the visual arts is excellent. The teachers provide a broad and balanced curriculum enabling the pupils to produce work of an impressive quality across a wide range of media. Well-structured, skills-based lessons address the elements of art effectively whilst also promoting the individuality and creativity of the pupils. The elements of perspective, line and texture are particularly well addressed. Good provision is made for responding to the work of famous artists and pupils are also enabled to respond to their own work and that of their classmates. Pupils’ work is celebrated through a range of vibrant and aesthetically-pleasing displays in the school hall, along corridors and in the classrooms. The teachers also maintain portfolios of the pupils’ achievements which include paintings and drawings in addition to photographic evidence of their work in various other media.

 

Music

The teaching and leaning of music is of a good standard. The planned curriculum makes good provision for the delivery of all strands of this curriculum area and facilitates continuity and progression in the pupils’ learning. All classrooms host a music table and contain an appropriate range of percussion instruments. A noteworthy feature of teaching and learning in this curriculum area is the development of early literacy skills including notation. The planned programme makes good provision for listening and responding to music, and the school employs a specialist teacher to enhance the provision for musical appreciation. The pupils sing a repertoire of songs in both English and Irish with enthusiasm. Consideration should now be given to enhancing the quality of their singing, with a particular focus on pitch and tone, as they progress through the school.

 

Drama

There is good provision for the teaching of drama. The teachers employ drama conventions as a learning tool across a range of curriculum areas and also allocate discrete time to the teaching of drama within the arts curriculum. Across the school, drama is used to explore story, dilemmas and a range of issues pertinent to the pupils. The pupils apply themselves well in this curriculum area. They participate well in drama games and enter the fictional lens with growing conviction.

 

4.6 Physical Education

The teaching and learning of physical education is of a very good standard. The school plan, which makes appropriate provision for the delivery of all strands of this curriculum area, facilitates the development of skills in a progressive manner. Most lessons take place in the well-resourced and well-maintained general purpose room whilst the school accesses the local swimming pool to facilitate the delivery of the aquatics strand of the curriculum. Structured, skills-based lessons are competently led and very well managed by the class teachers. Teaching methodologies incorporate whole-class teaching, group work and activity stations. Highly effective use is made of teacher and pupil modelling to elucidate new techniques and skills. During these lessons, the teachers monitor the pupils closely and provide formative feedback to them. The overall provision for experimentation and free-play is limited and it is recommended that further opportunities be provided to enable the pupils to explore and engage in guided discovery learning.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

A caring ethos and positive climate exist within the school and this is reflected in the delivery of social, personal and health education. Teaching and learning in this curriculum area are of a good standard. The teachers provide clear, well-structured lessons to explore a range of issues that are pertinent to the pupils’ development and are also closely linked to the curriculum strands and strand units.   Competent use is made of a range of approaches, including teacher modelling and higher-order questioning to encourage the pupils to engage with the topics and to think for themselves. The methodologies employed to facilitate active learning include circle time, pair work, focussed discussions, drama conventions and games. The pupils engage well in these lessons and the quality of interactions, both amongst pupils and between pupils and teachers, is good. It is now timely to give consideration to expanding the school plan to incorporate strategies to provide greater recognition of the cultures and ethnic groups represented in the school.

 

4.8 Assessment

The school policy on assessment promotes the use of a variety of assessment modes to track the pupils’ progress and this is evidenced in teachers’ practice. All teachers engage in both formal and informal assessment. The school employs a suitable range of standardised assessments to assess pupils’ achievement in English and mathematics. These tests are administered bi-annually to pupils in first and second class. In addition, the school administers screening tests to all pupils in junior and senior infants. The management team is commended on its analysis of assessment data to track the impact of teaching and learning in the core areas of English and mathematics.  This analysis is used to inform the school DEIS plan by targeting specific areas for improvement and monitoring progress in the attainment of these goals.  The data are also used to identify pupils who may benefit from additional support. The transfer of data amongst teachers is facilitated by the pupil profiles which are completed each year. Teacher records include the use of rubrics and tick sheets in addition to anecdotal records, teacher-designed test results and the maintenance of art portfolios and samples of the pupils’ work across a range of curriculum areas. Pupils’ work is marked regularly and some provision is made for pupil self-assessment. To build upon this excellent work, it is recommended that the provision for both pupil self-assessment and formative assessment be extended and that the school strives for a closer match between teacher judgement and the pupils’ attainment in standardised tests. The support teachers employ a broad range of diagnostic tests to establish the specific needs of pupils and to inform their Individual Pupil Learning Profiles (IPLPs). Across the school, test results are recorded appropriately and standardised results are filed centrally.  Parents are informed about their children’s progress via the annual school report.  The annual parent-teacher meetings facilitate formal consultation with parents who are also welcome to make an appointment to discuss their child’s progress at any point during the year. 

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

The quality of support for pupils with special educational needs is of a very high standard. The special education team (SET) comprises two learning support teachers, a support teacher, a special class teacher and a resource teacher for Travellers. Collaboration and mutual support are key features of the team which meets on a regular basis to review progress, plan initiatives and share expertise. Learning support is provided in both literacy and numeracy and provision is also made for pupils with emotional needs. The school policy on SEN incorporates the staged approach and advocates early intervention strategies. The support model makes some provision for in-class support in addition to teaching in withdrawal settings. Consideration should now be given, within the constraints of classroom size, to extending in-class support where feasible. The SEN team works in collaboration with the class teachers to provide six-week intensive reading support in each classroom. They also work collaboratively with them to facilitate the implementation of a mathematics recovery programme in first and second class.

 

The learning-support settings are aesthetically-pleasing and well-resourced environments. The SEN teachers’ planning and record keeping are of a high standard. They produce comprehensive IPLPs and IEPs with clear, specific targets, based on information provided by class teachers and parents in addition to their in-depth analysis of diagnostic test data. In the withdrawal settings, these teachers provide focussed, thorough and very well-paced lessons based on clear, learning objectives which, in some instances, are shared with the pupils. Good provision is made for the consolidation and application of new learning and for the promotion of pupil independence. Pupils exhibit high levels of engagement in the well-structured lessons. The teachers meet formally with parents at least once annually and more frequently as appropriate.  Systems are in place to enable the special needs teachers to liaise effectively with external support agencies.

 

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

The school has an open and inclusive enrolment policy. Appropriate provision is made to ensure that all pupils are enabled to engage in all activities. The highly committed and well-established Care team plays a constructive role in identifying pupils who may benefit from additional support. Some good use is made of the multi-sensory room and it is noted the school intends to extend its utilization. The resource teacher for Travellers facilitates the inclusion of all pupils. The home-school-community liaison co-ordinator greatly enhances communication between home, school and relevant community agencies in order to promote the educational interests of the pupils.  She also organises a broad range of activities to extend parental involvement in the life of the school.

 

The board ensures that DES grants are used for the intended purposes. A commendable range of activities, including a breakfast club, language clubs, music lessons, dancing classes and art therapy has been put in place under the School Completion Programme. The school also participates enthusiastically in a range of programmes, including Healthy Schools and Doodle Den, facilitated by the Childhood Development Initiative, West Tallaght.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

·         The supportive board has established a three-year action plan and maintains a visible presence in the school.

·         The principal and dedicated, hardworking staff members work collaboratively in a spirit of mutual respect to provide a supportive, inclusive and effective learning environment.

·         The overall quality of teaching in the school is of a very good standard.

·         The collaborative approach to planning promotes the implementation of the comprehensive DEIS plan and facilitates continuity and progression in the delivery of the curriculum.

·         The teaching of the visual arts, which is skills-based and promotes the individuality and creativity of the pupils, is excellent.

·         The management and SEN teams are commended on their analysis of assessment data to track the overall impact of teaching and learning and, in particular, the impact of

      teaching and learning initiatives. 

·         The school, which is very well maintained and well resourced, hosts an abundant range of aesthetically-pleasing displays that support and celebrate the pupils’ learning.

·         Pupils are eager and motivated in their learning and their behaviour is commended.

 

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

  

·         It is recommended that the ongoing concern regarding safe access to the school be monitored and addressed as appropriate.

·         It is noted that the school day is not compliant with (Circular 11/95 – Time in School) and it is recommended that the board address this as a priority.

·         It is recommended that all official records regarding the registration of pupils be completed in line with the rules for national schools.

·         It is recommended that the school enhance its provision for differentiated teaching and learning to ensure that all pupils, particularly the more able, are challenged at a level

      commensurate with their ability.

·         It is recommended that pupils be enabled to review their work in the light of formative feedback and engage further in the process of self-assessment.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Published March 2010

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

Area 1   Observations on the content of the inspection report     

 

We at Cnoc Mhuire Junior National School are very proud of our school.  We wish to thank the Department of Education and Science for the positive and affirming nature of this evaluation and the professional manner in which it was carried out.

 

Area 2   Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection      

 

Recommendations regarding records and playtime for the children have been acted on at this time.

 

We note the nature of the report in affirming good practice and then pointing out how this leads to new challenges.  We accept these challenges especially in respect to differentiated teaching and children reviewing their own work in light of formative feedback.