An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science


Whole School Evaluation



Tavrane Central N.S.

Kilkelly County Mayo

Roll Number: 19808G


Date of inspection: 13 February 2008





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


School Response to the Report






Whole-school evaluation


A whole-school evaluation of Tavrane Central National School was undertaken in February 2008. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and Social, Personal and Health Education.  The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.



Introduction – school context and background


Tavrane NS is a small rural school which caters for boys and girls from infants to sixth class. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Achonry. It has rural disadvantage status and avails of funding and a co-ordinator under the Delivering Equality of Opportunities in Schools (DEIS) initiative.


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




Pupils enrolled in the school


Mainstream classes in the school


Teachers on the school staff


Mainstream class teachers


Teachers working in support roles


Special needs assistants




1.     Quality of school management


1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision


The school aspires to develop all pupils to their full potential through “the creation of a safe and happy environment”. Teachers effectively encourage a tolerance of difference. They maintain praiseworthy links with parents. They place a strong emphasis on building confidence, self-esteem and self-worth in pupils through all school activities. As a result, pupils present themselves as confident learners. The theme of the school is ‘towards independence’.


1.2 Board of management


The board is very effective in executing its duties. It meets regularly and maintains minutes of every meeting. Members of the board have clear roles and responsibilities.  Financial matters are managed effectively. The chairperson visits the school regularly. The board works consistently to ensure equality of access to the school for all pupils. It has engaged in fundraising for, and building of, a general-purposes room.  The board commended the staff for creating a happy learning environment for all pupils.


1.3 In-school management


The principal is effective in his role. He values positive staff relations and is central to the open, friendly atmosphere which prevails in the school. He familiarises himself with the needs of individual pupils in each classroom. He organises regular staff meetings to facilitate the discussion and development of the curriculum. Administrative days are effectively managed to maximise their use. The principal delegates appropriately. A variety of responsibilities are ably assumed by the middle-management team.


1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community


Home-school relationships are managed very effectively. Parent-teacher meetings are held annually. Reports on pupil progress are issued annually for pupils from second class to sixth class. Newsletters and notes are sent home regularly. A meeting for parents is held every other year to explain school policies and procedures. It is also a forum for sharing any new initiatives planned by the staff. Parents expressed great satisfaction with the level of communication between home and school.


1.5 Management of pupils


Pupil behaviour is very good. Pupils are carefully managed in their classroom activities and during break times. An effective code of behaviour has been drawn up by school staff in consultation with the board of management and the parent body. The code promotes positive interventions rather than sanctions and it is displayed in the school corridor. All families have a copy of the policy.



2.     Quality of school planning


2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning


The quality of whole-school planning is very good. The staff works systematically on the school plan to produce practical, user-friendly policies. Plans and policies are based on the needs of the school and are reviewed appropriately. It is recommended that teachers consider the use of a school review and planning diary to set out priorities for the school year. This would aid the staff in developing a cohesive approach to school improvement and in achieving the implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages of the school planning process.


The quality of classroom planning is very good. All teachers prepare long-term and short-term schemes of work. Some teachers display excellent practice where they plan for different teaching methodologies, resource use, differentiation of work tasks, and integration of subject areas.  Monthly progress records are maintained by teachers. It is recommended that such records be submitted to the principal on a monthly basis and be held on file for an appropriate time-frame.


2.2 Child protection policy and procedures


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.     Quality of learning and teaching


3.1 Language



Múintear an Ghaeilge go héifeachtach. Baintear úsáid as réimse leathan de straitéisí agus d’acmhainní chun na daltaí a spreagadh. Baineann na daltaí taitneamh agus tairbhe as na himeachtaí éagsúla. Tacaíonn na timpeallachtaí spreagúla atá ar fáil i ngach seomra ranga le múineadh na Gaeilge. caighdeán na Gaeilge labhartha go maith. stór leathan focal ag na daltaí. siad in ann ceisteanna a chur go héifeachtach. chothaítear, áfach, tréimhse cumarsáide sna ceachtanna, rud a chuideodh go mór leo an Ghaeilge a úsáid go muiníneach. Moltar an Ghaeilge a úsáid níos minice i rith an lae scoile agus plean uile-scoile a leagan amach don Ghaeilge neamhfhoirmiúil.


caighdeán na léitheoireachta go maith i gcoitinne. Eagraítear gníomhaíochtaí léitheoireachta sonracha. Baintear úsáid éifeachtach as an leabhar léitheoireachta. Is éifeachtach an cleachtas atá ar siúl ag múinteoirí áirithe ina múintear foghraíocht na Gaeilge. Moltar an cleachtas seo a roinnt. Moltar téacsanna éagsúla a úsáid a mbaineann leis an deich téama sa churaclam Gaeilge.


caighdeán na scríbhneoireachta Gaeilge go maith i gcoitinne ach gnéithe áirithe le forbairt. Bíonn formhór na ngníomhaíochtaí scríbhneoireachta bunaithe ar an téacsleabhar. bhaineann mórán éagsúlachta leo agus chothaítear saorscríbhneoireachta ar bhonn leanúnach tríd an scoil. Moltar plean uile-scoile a leagan amach don scríbhneoireacht ina sonraítear éagsúlacht sna gníomhaíochtaí scríbhneoireachta. Moltar chomh maith measúnú don Ghaeilge a phlé. Bíonn straitéisí éifeachtacha ag múinteoirí áirithe ach níl measúnú ar siúl ar bhonn uile-scoile.


Is inmholta an tslí a nasctar an Ghaeilge leis an gCeol trí mhúineadh amhrán gaelacha agus trí fhoghlaim an cheoil traidisiúnta



Irish is taught effectively. A wide range of strategies and resources is used to inspire the pupils. Pupils both enjoy and benefit from the different activities. Stimulating learning environments in each classroom support the teaching of Irish. The standard of spoken Irish is good. Pupils have a broad store of vocabulary. They are able to ask questions effectively. However, the pupil-pupil communication phase of the lesson is generally not promoted, something that would greatly enhance pupils’ confidence in spoken Irish. It is recommended that Irish be used more often during the school day and that a whole-school plan on informal Irish be devised.


The standard of Irish reading is generally good. Reading activities are specific. Effective use is made of the reading book. The practice by certain teachers of teaching phonological awareness in Irish is commended. It is recommended that this practice be shared. It is recommended that a wider range of books be used that cover the ten themes of the Irish curriculum.


The standard of Irish writing is good in general but there are specific aspects to be developed. The majority of written activities are based on the textbook. There is little variety in the tasks and creative writing is not promoted on a regular basis. It is recommended that the staff devise a whole-school plan for Irish writing that details the different writing genres. It is further recommended that the staff discuss assessment in Irish. Certain teachers use effective strategies for assessment but this does not happen on a whole-school basis.


The practice of linking Irish with Music through the teaching of songs and traditional music is commended.




The quality of teaching in English is very good. Oral language is developed systematically through discrete lessons. Teachers interact sensitively with pupils and encourage active participation. Pupils of all abilities display great oral confidence. A very good emphasis is placed on poetry throughout the school. Stimulating language displays with a variety of visual aids (including language experience charts) and a selection of pupils’ work are features of the majority of classrooms. There is some excellent practice in developing higher-order thinking skills and extending pupils’ vocabulary. An extension of pair work across the curriculum in each class would further develop oral language in the school.


The standard of pupils’ reading is very good. The early-literacy programme in the school is particularly noteworthy. Phonological awareness is developed sequentially and pupils display excellent word-attack skills. All classrooms have attractive libraries. The staff has devised a number of initiatives to promote reading including a shared-reading programme and a ‘reading buddies’ programme. Parents are involved to a high degree in all literacy initiatives.


The quality of pupils’ writing is very good. All teachers model the writing process. Pupils at all levels engage in drafting, editing and redrafting their written work. All classrooms have booklets published by the pupils, very often using information and communication technologies. Activities are carefully structured, promote maximum pupil participation and result in imaginative and original works. Pupils experience writing in a variety of genres. A development of each genre is needed to ensure pupils have mastered the conventions of that style. The presentation of written work and the quality of handwriting is generally acceptable.


3.2 Mathematics


The quality of teaching and learning in Mathematics is very high. Pupils are competent across all strands of the curriculum. Lessons are pitched and paced appropriately using manipulatives and games to stimulate pupils’ interest. Material is sent home to parents of the infant classes to help them support the development of mathematical concepts with their children. An excellent emphasis is placed on the development of mathematical skills. Pupils engage in estimation, problem-solving and mental Mathematics on a regular basis. While there are some praiseworthy strategies in use to promote the language of Mathematics, including group work and pair work, it is recommended that pupils are given more opportunities to explain mathematical processes on an ongoing basis.


3.3 Social, Personal and Health Education


A very high quality of teaching and learning is evident in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) through discrete time, integration with other curricular areas (in particular the Visual Arts, Music, Science and English) and through the general atmosphere of the school.  The climate of the school is positive, respectful and caring and is a commendable feature of the school. The self-esteem of pupils is central to all interactions and activities. Teachers promote democratic processes throughout the curriculum. Of particular success is the Green Schools committee where pupils learn to represent their class and participate in committee work.  The teachers and special needs assistant (SNA) constantly strive to provide a school environment which embeds the principles of equality and inclusion. Pupils’ knowledge of the different strand units is excellent and they show an ability to relate knowledge and skills to practical situations. Pupil-pupil interactions are appropriate and inclusive. A number of attractive displays enhance the corridors of the school showing pupil achievement, class photographs, pupils’ work and posters promoting aspects of the SPHE curriculum. The school has not documented its approach to relationships and sexuality education. It is recommended that this be undertaken immediately.


3.4 Assessment


Pupils’ progress is monitored through the correction of copies, workbooks and worksheets.  Individual practices vary and include the use of pupil profiles, routine tests and tasks and pupil self-assessment. Particularly noteworthy is the practice of teachers inviting parents to contribute to the profile of their child. Standardised tests are administered to pupils annually in the areas of English and Mathematics. It is recommended that the staff ensures a more systematic approach to assessment in curricular areas where standardised testing is not available.



4.     Quality of support for pupils


4.1 Pupils with special educational needs


The quality of support teaching is high. Support teachers collaborate with the class teacher on a very regular basis. Pupils experience high success rates and receive regular praise and affirmation.  Resources are clearly organised and used very effectively. Pupils particularly enjoy the use of games and computer software in their learning. Education plans are maintained for each pupil. They are devised through communication with the class teacher, SNA and parents.  Learning targets are clear, specific and achievable. Plans are reviewed on a termly basis.  The school ensures a structured approach to prevention of learning difficulties in the infant classes through a very successful early-intervention programme which involves parents. A combination of withdrawal and in-class support is used effectively by the support staff. It is recommended that the school’s policy on support teaching be reviewed in the light of the Department of Education and Science’s circular 02/05.


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


The school avails of the services of a rural co-ordinator. Her programme of work includes an early-literacy programme for the infant classes, the teaching of specific strands of the SPHE curriculum, work on class novels and the organisation of a ‘reading buddies’ system. Home visits are an intrinsic aspect of her work which she engages in sensitively. It is recommended that long-term targets are more specific and short-term objectives relate to the Primary School Curriculum where relevant.



5.     Conclusion


The school has strengths in the following areas:


  • The school has a very committed, hard-working board of management which actively supports the work of the school.
  • The school principal is dedicated and responsive. He promotes a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere in the school.
  • The teachers and ancillary staff are highly committed, competent and sensitive practitioners who ensure a broad and balanced curriculum is accessed by all pupils.
  • The school has established excellent home-school links.
  • The quality of support for pupils with additional learning needs is of a high standard.
  • Pupil-teacher relationships are of a high quality. Teachers have achieved a very effective balance between supporting pupils and creating independent learners.
  • The quality of Mathematics and SPHE are particularly high.
  • The quality of pupils’ oral language ability and confidence is high.


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


  • It is recommended that teachers engage in periodic school review and use a planning diary to set out priorities which can be dealt with on an ongoing basis.
  • It is recommended that monthly progress records be submitted to the principal on a monthly basis and held on file for an appropriate time-frame.
  • It is recommended that in developing the teaching of oral Irish, teachers focus on pupil-pupil interactions and on the informal use of Irish in the school.
  • It is recommended that the staff devise a whole-school plan for Irish writing that details the different writing genres to be taught.
  • It is recommended that the school documents its approach to relationships and sexuality education.


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









School Response to the Report


Submitted by the Board of Management






Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report


The Board of Management of Tavrane N.S. was very satisfied both at the manner in which our W.S.E. was conducted and the content of the subsequent report.


The staff would like to thank the Inspector for the exemplary way the Evaluation was carried out and for her professional and thoughtful advice to us afterwards



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


  • We have decided to review and prioritise certain subject areas every year and to work on these throughout that year. The following subject strands are to be reviewed in the school year 2008-2009:
    • Gaeilge: Scríbhneoireacht agus Labhairt (Review just completed and is fully implemented since 1 September 2008)
    • English: Reading (to record the methodologies and approaches used for the teaching of reading by each class teacher as part of a whole-school approach)
    • Drama: Finalise overall plan.
  • We have reviewed the school’s Irish Plan.  Priority is being given to the planning/teaching of Oral Irish (pair work, group work and Gaeilge neamhfhoirmiúil) and to the formulation of a move comprehensive plan for Gaeilge Scríbhneoireacht. We are also adopting a common Irish scheme throughout the school since 1 September 2008 to cover the ten strands of the Irish curriculum.
  • Monthly progress reports will be submitted to the Principal and filed accordingly.
  • An R.S.E. Committee has been set up to formulate our R.S.E. draft plan.  The final draft is being presented to the parents at the Parents’ Meeting in September. From there, we will ratify the policy and implement the RSE programme in the school immediately afterwards. It is hoped the full process will be completed and implemented before November.










Published September 2008