An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta 

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil an Cheathrair Álainn

Ladyswell, Mulhuddart, Dublin 15

Uimhir rolla:19850F

 

Date of inspection:  15 March 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

 

 


Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Scoil an Cheathrair Álainn,  Ladyswell Mulhuddart, Dublin 15. 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 parents’ representatives. 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 was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.

 

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

Scoil an Cheathrair Álainn, is a forty-six teacher, vertical, co-educational primary school. It was established in its present location in 1987 to cater for the then newly-built community in Ladyswell parish in Mulhuddart, Dublin 15. The school is a Catholic school, under the patronage of the Archbishop of Dublin and the Catholic ethos permeates daily school lifeIt serves the neighbouring housing estates and newly-built apartment complexes in an area that is presently experiencing extensive housing development and population expansion. It currently has an enrolment of 596 pupils, 60 of whom are in Early Start. The school’s vision, clearly articulated in its mission statement, endeavours to create a school environment where all pupils are respected and encouraged to develop to their full potential and where the intellectual, spiritual, moral, social and cultural needs of all pupils are identified and addressed at all times. Many nationalities are represented by the pupils, international pupils accounting for 30% of the pupil population. The majority of these are from Eastern Europe and the African nations. Enrolment in the school has been growing steadily over recent years and indications are that a 5% rate of increase is set to continue for the immediate future. Although attendance levels for most pupils are generally satisfactory, poor attendance and poor punctuality by a significant minority of pupils give cause for concern. The school is making every effort to address this problem and has developed a positive approach to improving attendance levels.

 

The school participates in the Department of Education and Science’s initiative to counter educational disadvantage, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), and partakes in the Home School and Community Liaison scheme (HSCL), School Completion and Early Start programmes. Under the DEIS scheme the school benefits from extra staffing and funding. The school was selected to be involved in the Literacy and Numeracy in Disadvantaged Schools (LANDS): Challenges for Teachers and Learners evaluation programme which was conducted in 2004. The school has responded positively to the report that was issued. Its ten key recommendations have formed the basis for strategic planning and resource acquisition including the DEIS three-year strategic action plan since then.

 

 

 

 

 

 2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The school is managed by a committed and very supportive board of management which is properly constituted. It meets twice a term and minutes of all meetings are maintained.  Finances are carefully managed, school accounts are systematically audited and financial reports are frequently presented to board members. The chairperson is in regular contact with the school principal throughout the school year. While some of the more experienced board members have received training with the Catholic Primary Schools Managers’ Association (CPSMA) similar training is anticipated for all recent members in the not too distant future. The roles of the members are clearly defined and the board is fortunate to have members with particular skills. Duties and responsibilities are allocated accordingly. The board currently devotes considerable time to financial matters, to prioritising the spending of the DEIS grants to provide teaching resources and to discussing school plans and policies. It also focuses its attention on school maintenance and on dealing with the aftermath of occasional acts of vandalism to classrooms and to school property. It spends quite an amount of time in the appointment of teachers and expresses its frustration at the school’s inability to attract fully qualified teachers. Minutes of meetings indicate that the board is actively involved in the development of organisational policies. It recognises the professionalism of the teachers; it ratifies school policies on a regular basis and notes dates of ratification and review.

 

At the pre-evaluation meeting board members outlined their satisfaction with the school in terms of the key impact it makes in the local community and the linkages it maintains with it. They particularly referred to the progressive nature of the school in tackling disadvantage, the approachability and strong team spirit of the teaching staff and the manner in which the schools curriculum is taught with the focus on continuous school improvement. The board is compliant with legislation in regard to the length of the school day and the school year, the allocation of teachers and the retention of pupils. It actively seeks to encourage parents to become involved in the life and learning experiences of the school.  

 

2.2 In-school management

 

The in-school management team consists of the principal, the deputy principal, seven assistant principals and fourteen special duties post-holders. The principal, who has occupied the position since the school’s inception in 1984, is a very dedicated, conscientious leader. He brings considerable expertise and experience to the role and provides the school with very effective organisational and instructional leadership. He enjoys the confidence and support of the teaching staff and the board of management and places considerable emphasis on promoting collegiality and co-operation in all school improvement endeavour. He is commended for his professionalism and interpersonal skills which establish positive working procedures and relationships and open communication. He creates and supports in-school management structures that promote a collaborative and consultative approach to planning for the implementation of the curriculum. He attaches significant importance to the development of teamwork among the teaching staff by supporting individual post-holders in co-ordinating planning in specific curricular areas. The provision and use of an excellent range of curricular resources to improve standards of literacy and numeracy are among his priorities. He demonstrates a caring and sensitive attitude and a deep interest in the welfare of pupils supporting innovative strategies to build on the improvement of standards in literacy and numeracy to date. He practices a visible presence in the classrooms and liaises frequently with staff members regarding various aspects of the curriculum. He focuses attention on the on-going need to clarify content objectives and learning outcomes in planning.

 

He has formulated a senior management team comprising the principal, deputy principal and assistant principals with each member functioning as a year-head with specific pastoral and behavioural monitoring responsibilities for the cohort of pupils at a particular class level. Through the dedication and commitment of this team a positive pastoral and caring atmosphere pertains in the school. This has enabled the principal to steer it successfully and effectively through a period of significant expansion and change. Daily administrative and organisational tasks are undertaken efficiently.

 

The deputy principal, who functions in an administrative capacity, is the driving force behind many of the initiatives in the special education area and works closely with the principal and other members of the in-school management team. Commendably, the responsibilities assigned to each member of the team are comprehensive and reflect school priorities across the organisational, curricular and pastoral spectra. Assistant principals and special duties post-holders have considerable experience within the school and bring a shared commitment and expertise to the performance of their duties. Post-holders report to staff meetings on the progress achieved in their particular areas of responsibility, all decision-making has a collaborative basis and the team fosters a partnership approach to agreeing and achieving the main aims in curricular areas. On-going self review is an integral part of the work of the in-school management team and this ensures that the work of the team is focused and relevant.

 

 

 2.3 Management of resources

 

The teaching staff comprises the administrative principal and deputy principal teachers, twenty- six mainstream class teachers, seven learning support and resource teachers, six language support teachers, two Early Start teachers, one home-school-community liaison teacher (HSCL), one special-class teacher and one resource teacher for children of the travelling community (RTT). The school has a policy of rotating mainstream class teachers on an annual basis and teachers are given the opportunity to indicate class preferences each year. With the exception of one instance at the senior level each of the seven learning support and resource teachers is assigned to one particular class level in a spinal organisational structure  where they co-ordinate planning in literacy and numeracy and deliver almost all the learning support teaching on an in-class basis. Currently, the majority of the school’s experienced teachers are deployed in the learning support positions. This collaborative system allows the sharing of their expertise in class management, planning and teaching with less experienced class teachers. The principal and teachers are conscious of the need for continuing professional development and ensure that teachers are aware of up-to-date research and improvements in educational practices and strategies being implemented in the school in the areas of literacy and numeracy. Certain staff members have received training in First Steps and Reading Recovery and are gradually sharing their expertise with fellow staff members. The school has the support of a very dedicated ancilliary staff that includes a part-time school secretary, a school caretaker, five special needs assistants (SNA), two child care assistants in Early Start, a part-time counsellor who is funded by the School Completion Programme (SCP) and a project worker. The school is cleaned to a high standard by contract cleaners on a daily basis and a contractor is employed to maintain grass areas during the growing season. The caretaker maintains the school building and grounds to a high level. 

 

The school is extremely well equipped and possesses a wide-ranging array of resources encompassing all curricular areas. Each subject is supported by a wide range of text books, teacher-reference books and materials. These include computers, software packages, well-stocked class libraries, televisions, CD players, videos and DVDs and commercially produced illustrative materials. The teaching in curricular areas is further enhanced by supplementary reading materials, physical education equipment, musical instruments, a wide variety of mathematics and science equipment, a collection of historical artefacts and resources and a range of visual arts supplies. Teachers make good use of these materials and educational equipment in the various teaching and learning situations. Resources are well maintained, and are updated and renewed regularly. Recently a relatively large investment was made in the provision of a range of readers for the implementation of Reading Recovery, Power Hour and First Steps initiatives. Resource grants have enabled the procurement of resources for the Maths for Fun programme.  They are appropriately stored and accessible. Classrooms are bright and comfortable and are well furnished. All teachers are commended for the attractive and useful displays of visual aids, materials and work samples, which help to create an environment that is conducive to the full implementation of the primary school curriculum. The teachers are commended for the teacher-devised materials on display throughout the school. The computer room provides hands-on experience for approximately twenty-eight pupils working in pairs and the school is acquiring a fine range of software material which is put to good use.

 

The main school building was constructed in 1987 and four sections of prefabricated buildings have been erected since then. At present, the accommodation comprises sixteen permanent classrooms, fifteen temporary classrooms, learning support and resource rooms, a general purposes room, a computer room and library, a school kitchen, a parents’ room, principal’s office, secretary’s office, staff room and toilets, indoor and outdoor storage areas, and a school hall. School accommodation is used to support the operation of a breakfast club and an Early Start programme as well as homework and after school activity clubs. In recent times new gas heating, security systems and smoke alarms have been installed and the painting of different sections of the school is undertaken on a rotating basis. The school building has been very well maintained over the years and the board of management, teaching staff, housekeeper and caretaker are commended on their efforts in this regard. Outdoor facilities include tarmacadam and grass areas .

 

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

There is no parents’ association in the school at present. The home-school-community liaison HSCL coordinator has been very active in attempting to involve parents in school. They are encouraged to become involved in supporting programmes such as Maths for Fun and shared reading in classrooms. The school provides a parents’ room where courses in areas such as child development and play, and food and nutrition are provided. The school kitchen is used for cookery classes and the computer room and ICT equipment are used for computer classes for parents.  School facilities are used for after school clubs, homework clubs, classes in French, and choir practice. The school facilities are used for training in Gaelic football, soccer and in athletics for pupils attending the school and swimming classes are organised at the National Aquatic Centre.  Class meetings are held each year and a welcome ceremony for new junior infants helps their parents to become acquainted with the school and its operation.  High-quality information packs have been prepared and distributed providing information on school policies, school closures, pertinent support services accessible through the school as well as information on programmes and facilities within the school. Parents are invited to contribute to policy formation through surveys, questionnaires, class meetings and the parent representatives on the board of management.

 

 

 

 

2.5 Management of pupils

 

Due to the vigilance and proactive strategies of the principal, the teachers and the year-heads in particular, standards of pupils’ behaviour and discipline in the classroom are generally very good. Pupils co-operate with teaching staff and there is a pleasant and a positive atmosphere in the school. The teachers display a deep interest in and commitment to the well-being, pastoral care and progress of their pupils. Breakfast clubs and after school clubs support pupils nutritional and social  development. The HSCL coordinator monitors attendance closely and contacts the homes to check why pupils are absent. The school has devised a practical code of discipline which incorporates the discipline for learning programme. This is managed and implemented by the year-head at each level. Some staff members have undertaken training in discipline for learning. The code includes a system of rewards and sanctions that involves the attainment of ‘golden time’ which can be used for enjoyable activities. Regulations and procedures are well understood by the pupils; they are encouraged to discuss such matters and do so confidently and with consideration towards their peers. The effectiveness of these initiatives and strategies are regularly evaluated and subsequently adapted to suit the ongoing needs of the pupils in the school.

 

The integration of newcomer pupils into the school has been promoted sensitively by management and staff. The training of the pupils to work collaboratively on project work throughout the school is impressive. The School Completion Programme facilities the appointment of a counsellor on a part-time basis to whom pupils who encounter traumatic emotional experiences or family upheavals are referred

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

The school plan is comprehensive and covers a range of organisational, and curricular policies and administrative procedures that ensure implementation of statutory polices and the effective running of the school. It is presented using a clear layout in a number of separate files and has been devised with the support of School Development Planning Service (SDPS) combined with the collaborative activity of the principal, the teaching staff and the board of management  The planning process mainly entails the drafting of policy statements by the  principal and teaching staff  which are subsequently presented to the members of the board of management  and are discussed and amended if necessary prior to final ratification. Parental input to the policy making process is mainly obtained through the parent representatives on the board of management.  Plans are subject to ongoing development and review. Action plans for priority areas are available thus ensuring their relevance to the emerging needs of the school.

 

The school plan includes a mission statement which is clearly articulated. Administrative policies relate to areas such as health and safety, enrolment, behaviour, anti-bullying and special education needs. The intercultural policy is in the process of being developed. Organisational aspects such as the roles and responsibilities of teachers, the usage, maintenance and storage of library books and audio-visual equipment, the use of the internet and the school journal are delineated. Procedures in regard to the action plan for the green school project and the general upkeep of the school are also outlined. While strategies in regard to anti-bullying and discipline for learning are summarised and vigilantly implemented it is recommended that the overarching behaviour, anti-bullying and homework policy statements be reviewed and updated as a matter of priority to ensure that the policy is  in line with departmental circulars and section 15:2 (d) of the Education Act (1998). There is a need to revisit the enrolment policy to reflect the current inclusive enrolment practices and approaches adopted by the school and to ensure that it complies with the statutory requirements of the Education Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2002. A school attendance policy should be developed in consultation with the partners. This policy should include a statement of strategies already being implemented to encourage pupil attendance including targeted measures to encourage better attendance by pupils with poor attendance records. The board should also ensure that all policy statements and curricular plans are signed by the chairperson and that review dates are recommended.

 

Very good progress has been achieved in the formulation of school plans in all the curricular areas with the exception of Drama. The instructional leadership provided by the principal and the subject co-ordinators is commended and has been a significant factor in the successful development of these plans. These comprehensive plans are firmly based on the primary curriculum and have been developed in consultation with the support of the Primary Curriculum Support Programmer and the services the DEIS coordinator. They set out the rationale and aims for each curricular area and record the major themes and content objectives to be achieved at each class level. They identify an appropriate range of activity-based teaching methodologies that focus on the enrichment of language and skills through oral work, note opportunities to foster linkage and integration of topics, detail a comprehensive range of resources and equipment, list suitable assessment strategies and outline how the programmes may be differentiated to cater for the needs of all pupils. The plans are meaningful for all teachers and give clear guidance in relation to long-term and short-term planning. They have the potential for having a positive influence on continuity and progression of teaching and learning activities leading to a systematic and spiral approach throughout the school.

 

The next stage of the process, which involves developing action plans to support implementation and continuous review, is further advanced in some subject areas than others and will continue to challenge the leadership and determination of the teaching staff in the immediate future[d6] . It is commendable that the principal and staff analysed the findings of Literacy and Numeracy in Disadvantaged Schools (2005) and discussed approaches to implement the recommendations within the school. The formulation and implementation of the DEIS action plans for a three year period is also  proving  very successful in this regard in encouraging staff to adopt a focused approach to improving literacy and numeracy. This practice is commended and the experience gained has the potential to generate commensurate improvement levels in all curricular areas when the resource-led teaching and planning strategies are applied to all teaching and learning throughout the school. It is advised that the impact of implementation on learning should be monitored and reviewed to inform further planning.

 

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

 

All teachers undertake regular long-term and short-term planning and maintain monthly progress records, which are generally aligned to the primary curriculum, the school plan and action plans. There is evidence of collaborative planning and the sharing of resources at certain levels across the range of subject areas. This forms a solid and cohesive base to refine and develop planning practices further and to extend best practice. However, the quality of classroom planning varies considerably and two different types of templates are used. Some teachers adopt the all-inclusive template which facilitates objective-based planning and provides clarity and direction for teaching. Others use a template which provides primarily content-based statements derived from textbooks. Consideration should be given to seeking whole-school agreement towards the adoption of one standard template in order to place greater focus on specific outcomes to be achieved, teaching methodologies, differentiation and assessment strategies on a whole-school basis. It would be beneficial if a whole-school policy on individual teacher preparation was included in the school plan and that the current inclusive template be adapted.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1               Overview of learning and teaching

 

The quality of teaching in the majority of classes is good. Some excellent practice was observed where the quality of planning and delivery was high and where successful examples of whole-class, group and paired-work were being conducted. These lessons were well-structured and well-paced and a variety of appropriate resources, methodologies and teaching approaches were used. Lesson content was clear and sufficiently challenging and matched to the pupils’ age and stage of development. Pupils were given sufficient opportunities to engage in learning in an active and independent way.  This enabled pupils to apply themselves to focused activities, to practise newly learnt skills in pairs and to work in effective, collaborative groups. The teachers are continuously exploring ways of expanding differentiated approaches to teaching to cater for the range of pupils’ abilities in literacy and numeracy. Some good examples of this approach were observed during the guided reading/power hour in the senior infants and first classes.

 

In the majority of instances teachers displayed effective communication skills, they were very affirming and encouraging of the pupils and pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil interaction was very positive and respectful. They are commended for the manner in which they present and communicate their lessons to their pupils with ever reducing emphasis on the use of textbooks or workbooks. Their classrooms present as centres that are stimulating for the pupils and are very conducive to the implementation of the curriculum. Pupil motivation is high; they are confident, courteous and respond well to questioning and generally are achieving to the level of their abilities. The samples of pupils’ written work in copybooks and on display were found to be of good quality generally.  In a small number of classes, whole-class teaching is the main approach adopted; work is teacher-directed and content based and the pupils are passive. Engaging further in differentiated group teaching is recommended.

 

The performance of pupils on standardised tests in English and Mathematics indicates a wide range of achievement among pupils. The implementation of early intervention measures and differentiated approaches demonstrate that pupils’ literacy and numeracy attainment levels are improving. It is recommended that teaching strategies suggested in the curriculum and the good quality teaching in operation in some classes be explored and extended.

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

 

Tá caighdeán réasúnta maith Gaeilge le sonrú i measc daltaí na scoile, cuirtear len a stór focal agus tá dáiríreacht mhórchuid na n-oidí faoi theagasc agus cur chun cinn na Gaeilge tríd an scoil le moladh. Cuirtear póstaeir agus acmhainní ar fáil don teagasc agus tá ag éirí leis na hoidí dearcadh dearfach a chothú i leith na Gaeilge sa scoil. Tá atmaisféar Gaelach le brath sna seomraí ranga agus i dtimpeallacht poiblí na scoile, áit a gcruthaítear timpeallacht shaibhir phrionta chun eiseamláirí agus frásaí na seachtaine a chur ar taispeáint. Bunaítear an t-ábhar teagaisc don chomhrá ar mhórthéamaí an churaclaim agus ar roinnt fothéamaí a eascraíonn uathu. Ach ansin téitear i muínín na scéime ‘Maith Thú’ agus na téacsleabhair agus an fearas a ghabhann leis  an scéim sin chun struchtúr a chur ar an obair.  Go hiondúil, cloítear leis an mórthéama céanna ar feadh míosa  i bhformhór na  ranganna  ach is beag comhionannas a bhíonn tríd an scoil, fiú idir na ranganna ar an leibhéal céanna maidir leis na téamaí nó ábhair an chomhrá a roghnaítear laistigh de sheachtain amháin. Rud eile de, bíonn an éagsúlacht agus an ilghnéitheacht chéanna le sonrú tríd an scoil maidir leis an gcur chuige agus na straitéisi teagaisc agus pleanála atá in úsáid chun stórfhocal na ndaltaí a leathnú, chun a gcumas chun abairtí a chumadh agus ceisteanna a fhreagairt a neartú agus chun gníomhaíochtaí cumarsáide a chur chun cinn. Bíonn cleachtas pleanála agus straitéisi teagaisc maith in úsáid i bhfíorbheagán ranganna, áit a n-athraítear téama an chomhrá gach seachtain agus a gcuirtear an bhéim ar labhairt aonánach na ndaltaí agus  a dtugtar deiseanna dóibh an teanga a úsáid i gcomhthéacsanna cumarsáideacha agus in ocáidí caidrimh. Baineann easpa struchtúir leis an gcur chuige i roinnt mhaith ranganna, áit a mbíonn an bhéim ar  rangtheagasc agus ar leathnú foclóra amháin in ionad cumadh abairtí agus ceisteanna  agus mar a mbaintear feidhm go rialta as an tsluafhreagairt agus as modh an aistriúcháin. B’fhiú anois teacht ar chomhréiteach i measc oidí na scoile chun liosta d’fhothéamaí a chur le chéile, ceann a roghnú gach seachtain,  béim ar leith a chur ar  an gcur chuige cumarsáide agus deiseanna mar rólimirt, obair  bheirte, sceitsí  agus drámaíocht a chruthú  d’fhonn an foclóir agus na frásaí atá ar eolas ag na daltaí  a úsáid  chun abairtí a chumadh agus ceisteanna a fhreagairt.

 

Léann daltaí sna méanranganna agus sna hardranganna sleachta as a dtéacsleabhair le líofacht réasúnta  agus léiríonn siad tuiscint  dá réir  ar a mbíonn á léamh acu. Tá an t-ábhar léitheoireachta a chuirtear ar fáil do dhaltaí teoranta go maith i bhformhór na ranganna áfach. Moltar athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar chlár teagaisc na léitheoireachta tríd an scoil, agus a chinntiú go múintear scileanna léitheoireachta go foirmiúil ó rang a dó ar aghaidh agus go dtugtar deis do dhaltaí réimse leathan téacsanna a léamh go rialta. B’fhiú breis ábhair léitheoireachta i nGaeilge a chur ar fáil sna leabharlanna ranga agus suímh a chruthú chun go mbainfeadh  na daltaí pléisiúr as an léitheoireacht. Tugtar deiseanna dóibh scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil a chleachtadh go rialta, agus bunaítear na tascanna ar leabhair saothair. Déantar scafláil ar scríbhneoireacht chruthaitheach do  dhaltaí sna meanranganna ach is gá breis cleachtadh a thabhairt dóibh ar shaorscríbhneoireacht go rialta. Aithrisíonn daltaí cnuasach breá rann agus amhrán go líofa, taitneamhach le dea-fhoghraíocht. Moltar go bhfoghlaimeodh daltaí i ngach rang méid áirithe filíochta chun cur le saibhreas a gcuid cainte.   

 

 

Irish

A reasonably good standard of Irish is observed among the pupils of the school, their vocabulary is added to and the sincerity of many of the teachers with regard to the teaching and promotion of Irish through the school is praiseworthy. Posters and resources are made available for the teaching and the teachers are succeeding in nurturing a positive attitude towards Irish in the school. An Irish atmosphere is perceived in the classrooms and in the public areas of the school, where a print rich environment is created to facilitate the display of exemplars and phrases of the week. The teaching material for conversational lessons is based on the major themes of the curriculum and on some supplementary themes derived from them. The ‘Maith Thú’ scheme and the textbooks and the resources associated with the scheme is relied upon to provide a structure for the work. As a rule the same major theme is adhered to for a month in the majority of classes and there is little uniformity throughout the school, even between the classes at the same level, with regard to the themes or the material of the conversational lesson that  is selected within one week. The same variety and diversity is observed with regard to the approach and teaching strategies in use to expand the vocabulary of the pupils, to fortify their abilities to compose sentences and to answer questions and to promote conversational activities. There are good planning practices and teaching strategies in use in a few classrooms where the conversational theme is changed every week and where emphasis is placed on the individual expression of pupils and where they are given opportunities to use the language in conversational and social contexts. There is a lack of structure in the approach in a good number of classrooms where the emphasis is on class teaching and on the expansion of vocabulary only instead of on the formulation of sentences and questions and where regular use is made of chorus response and of the translation. It would be worthwhile now to reach consensus about compiling a list of supplementary themes, to select one for each week, to put particular emphasis on the conversational approach and to create opportunities for role-playing, pair-work and drama in order to use the vocabulary and the phrases that the pupils know to compose sentences and to answer questions.

 

The pupils in the middle and senior classes read passages from their textbooks with reasonable fluency and accordingly they display understanding of what they are reading. The reading material made available for pupils is, however, rather limited in the majority of classrooms. It is recommended that the reading programme throughout the school should be reviewed and to confirm that reading skills are formally taught from second class onwards. It is also recommended that the pupils are given the opportunity to read a wide range of texts regularly. It would be worthwhile to make extra reading material available in the class libraries and to create areas where the pupils would enjoy reading. They are given opportunities to practice functional writing regularly and the writing tasks are based on work-books. Creating writing is scaffolded for pupils in the middle classes they should be provided with more regular creative writing practice. The pupils recite a fine collection of rhymes, poetry and songs with fluency, pleasantly and with good pronunciation. It is recommended that the pupils in every class would learn a certain amount of poetry to add to the richness of their speech.

 

English

 

The teaching of English is generally good throughout the school although pupils’ attainment levels in the subject area are a cause for concern. The school has addressed this issue directly and an emphasis on literacy development is evident in all classes. Teachers at each class level provide print-rich, colourful and bright classroom displays incorporating stimulating charts and posters, along with varied samples of pupils’ written work[d8] . Sequencing activities and samples of children’s personal free writing are displayed in infant classrooms, and the range of writing genres broadens as the pupils progress through the school to include procedural and creative writing.

 

A programme of early intervention, the Power Hour, has been developed for infant and junior classes in order to address the low levels of literacy. This programme features highly intensive intervention by a team of teachers over a term in selected classes. Over the course of the school year each of the target classes encounters this tightly structured and well focused intervention. All of the Power Hour lessons observed during the evaluation featured excellent co-ordination of activities by the teaching team and high levels of engagement by the pupils in the learning activities prepared for them. This programme holds great promise for raising attainment levels in literacy. The school is highly commended for providing the necessary funding for the purchase of a broad range of books to cater for pupils’ differing ability and interest levels and for facilitating teachers to work collaboratively and effectively through the use of this strategy.

 

Good practice is noted in the implementation of the English curriculum in many classes. All curricular strands are implemented and lessons are generally organised to optimise levels of pupil participation in oral, written and reading activities. Some oral lessons follow a similar structure from week to week, resulting in a narrowing of focus of this aspect of the English curriculum. Good use of differentiation was observed in some classes, along with the use of appropriate methods for assessing and recording pupils’ progress. A priority area identified by the school in its DEIS action plan is the extension of guided reading activities for all pupils in all classes.  Appropriate texts are used in each class level and novels are used very effectively in some classes, with lessons focusing on plot and character development, and using the novel as the basis for class discussions. Good teacher questioning helps pupils to explore themes met in stories read. Further development of this aspect of the plan should be facilitated through the use of a wider range of guided reading strategies.

 

The approach to developing pupils’ personal writing through the school is based on the First Steps programme. Samples of pupils’ edited work are displayed prominently and to good effect. The use of collaborative approaches to writing and the use of IT to publish pupils’ work serve to encourage wider levels of engagement by pupils in writing tasks. However, practice in relation to the correction of written work in copybooks and in workbooks varies from class to class. In some classes pupils’ written work is monitored carefully and checked regularly, and teachers give instructive feedback to pupils, while in other classrooms the written work is corrected infrequently. In order to ensure that pupils in each class experience the full range of the curriculum it is recommended that greater levels of coordination of planning be undertaken for each class level. This should seek to ensure that a wider range of structured oral activity is covered in each class, and should also help to ensure that teachers have further opportunities to collaborate and to share good practice with colleagues.

 

 4.3 Mathematics

 

The quality of teaching and learning in Mathematics is of a high standard. The classroom practice observed largely incorporated the three-part configuration advocated within the school plan for Mathematics and the school’s DEIS action plan. This structure allocates specific times to mental Mathematics, concept development in groups through the use of concrete materials and a plenary session. Excellent emphasis is placed on mental warm-up activities, mathematical vocabulary and the development of number operations  and a folder detailing strategies and approaches for each class level and has been collated and distributed to each classroom teacher. A vast array of strategies are undertaken to promote pupil’s grasp of number concepts. These include the use of concrete materials in all lessons, the tracking and analysis of standardised tests and the provision of increased in-class support for Mathematics. The school has a wide array of mathematical resources to support activity-based methodologies and these, in conjunction with teacher-developed materials, facilitate a variety of active, hands-on participative teaching approaches. Pupils are afforded many opportunities to learn new concepts in pairs, in groups and at individual level through guided discovery activities. Stimulating number-rich classroom environments have been created and these serve to reinforce mathematical concepts taught. The proposed development of mathematical trails within the school building and grounds will increase the use of the local environment as a resource for learning. Pupils in second and fourth class experience a well structured Maths for Fun programme, which is organised by the HSCL co-ordinator and is operated by classroom teachers with the help of parents.

 

Early mathematical activities such as matching, comparing, classifying and ordering are covered comprehensively in the junior classes. In the middle and senior classes, mathematical skills such as estimation, reasoning, calculating, problem-solving and recalling are developed in line with individual pupil’s abilities. In the senior classes, pupils are banded in groups based on their individual learning needs and this system is operated skilfully and in the best interests of the pupils. Commendably, content in the senior classes is derived directly from the curriculum and a textbook is used judiciously as a resource to reinforce and extend learning. The structured nature of the in-class support and the productive relationships between support and classroom teachers to differentiate the content to the needs of individual pupils is particularly noteworthy. While teachers make some use of ICT for the teaching of Mathematics, consideration should now be given to extending this practice to enhance teaching and learning in this area. Teachers’ monitor progress through a range of teacher designed tasks, commercially available assessments and standardised tests. In line with school policy, Westwood Ballard table tests are administered twice termly from first to sixth class. As identified in a recent school review, the results of standardised tests need to be carefully monitored and tracked to inform teacher planning and to establish whole-class patterns and trends, with subsequent school and teacher programmes of work planned accordingly. Overall, there is a discrepancy between the high quality of the teaching methods now in use and pupil outcomes as evidenced in the standardised tests. It is hoped that the continued use of concrete materials, the focus on mental Mathematics, the differentiated learning strategies employed at all class levels and the team teaching approach used will lead to an improvement in pupil’s learning outcomes in the future.  

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

The teaching of History is fair. Exploration of elements and incidences in their own lives helps the children in the infant classes to begin to develop their sense of time and chronology. Stories are used to help them to develop their sense of sequence. In some junior classes the programme in History needs to be more closely aligned to curriculum structures and further opportunities need to be provided for activity-based learning. In the middle and senior classes the pupils display a good knowledge of the history of the local area. Some attractive models, reconstructions and timelines were observed in a few classes. Boxes of historical resources are readily available throughout the school. Regular use of the school’s resources for supporting the teaching of History alongside the provision of opportunities for pupils to work as historians, facilitating them in developing their skills of analysis and use of evidence will improve teaching and learning in this curricular area.

 

Geography

Some good quality teaching and learning was observed in Geography lessons. In the infant classes the children are enabled to develop an awareness of and an appreciation for the work done by various members of the community. Simple mapping activities are used effectively in the infant and junior classes to develop spatial awareness. In the senior classes map work refines the children’s knowledge of the locality and extends to wider environments. Pupils also learn about features in human and natural environments. Increased use of the local environment to support teaching in Geography should be given further consideration. It is also recommended that the technique of geographical investigation should be developed systematically through the school.

 

Science

A wide range of resources has been acquired to support all strands of the Science curriculum. The potential of the local environment has been explored effectively in the school plan. At classroom level the children experience a broad range of topics from across the strands. However, the teaching of Science in the school needs to be re-examined. Whole-school and classroom planning needs to ensure that there is consistency in the development of knowledge, skills and understanding appropriate to the needs of the pupils. The provision of further opportunities for the children to engage in open-ended investigations and well-planned experiments will encourage the children to work scientifically and to raise their own questions and ideas. A good level of awareness is evident in relation to energy conservation and recycling and the school has formed a Green Schools committee. The school has also been involved in the Discover Primary Science project.

 

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Music

Listening, responding, musical literacy and performing are incorporated into music lessons. Possibilities for integration with other curricular areas are used profitably. The subject area is well-resourced and teacher-resource packs are made available in the school for each class level. The programme is further supported by visits from local musicians and trips to the local arts centre in Blanchardstown. The pupils have opportunities to experiment with sound, invent rhythmic patterns and to express their own creativity through the composition strand and some good lessons were observed in this area. Commendable efforts are made to develop music literacy and some very fine work was observed in the senior classes. Pupils from third to sixth class learn the tin whistle. Children have opportunities to sing in unison, in two-part harmony and in rounds. They sing a range of songs in English and Irish tunefully and with enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment. The school choir performs at Corfhéile and at church celebrations.

 

 

Visual Arts

 

The pupils are afforded regular opportunities to develop their creative and artistic skills. The pupil’s interesting and imaginative work is attractively displayed throughout the school and helps to create a bright and stimulating school environment. These displays, and a review of pupil portfolios, evidence the wide range of materials and techniques to which the pupils are exposed across all strands of the curriculum. Fine examples of work in fabric and fibre, construction, drawing, paint and colour and clay were among the artworks on display. Pupils’ artwork is also showcased at the school entrance on a systematic basis under the school’s ‘Art of the Month’ scheme. Various themes and strands are covered throughout the year and all pupils are encouraged to look and respond to the art of the month within the school. Opportunities for the integration of the Visual Arts with other aspects of the curriculum are judiciously availed of at all class levels. Materials for the Visual Arts are distributed to each classroom, while certain resources are stored centrally. A visual arts resource folder has also been developed for each class level and this contains a series of lessons for each strand of the curriculum, balanced between creating art and looking and responding to art. This is commendable practice and ensures a developmental and incremental approach to the Visual Arts in the school. In some of the lessons observed, well-structured discussion was used as a stimulus for creative activity and this excellent practice should be extended and developed by the identification of specific vocabulary in the school plan. Appropriate emphasis is placed on exploring and developing the elements of art. There is also evidence that pupils are encouraged to look at and respond to their own work, the work of their peers and the work of artists. Provision is made for pupils in second and fifth class to visit galleries and for local artists to visit the school. Art portfolios are maintained in many classrooms and consideration should now be given to extending this practice in line with school policy, and to the use of photographic records as a means of assessing individual pupils’ progress across the range of curriculum strands .

 

Drama

 

The Drama curriculum is currently being implemented at individual class level with teachers exploring a variety of strategies to enable pupils to explore and make drama, reflect on the dramatic process and co-operate and communicate in making drama. In addition to discrete time allocated to Drama lessons, it is used effectively as a methodology within other subject areas. Talk, discussion, mime, paired work, group work, teacher in role and pupil in role are successfully used to stimulate interest and to engage the pupils fully in Drama. In the lessons observed, pupils explored feelings through nursery rhymes, story and historical scenarios. Active participation and enthusiasm for Drama was a characteristic of lessons at all levels throughout the school. To further the planning process, a drama contract should now be developed at classroom level for the creation of a safe drama environment to enhance the pupils’ intrapersonal and interpersonal development. Practice, now being explored at class level, should be recorded and used to inform the development of a school plan. The collaborative development of a school plan in Drama will ensure a consistent and spiral approach to the teaching of Drama into the future.

 

4.6 Physical Education

 

A broad programme in Physical Education, covering a wide range of curricular strands, is provided in the school. The school has a well-equipped and spacious hall which is utilised for indoor activities. The school grounds are also used for games and for outdoor and adventure activities. Lessons are generally very well organised. Teachers encourage all pupils to participate and they structure lessons to ensure tasks are appropriate to their ability levels. New skills in games and dance are well modelled by teachers, rules for games are explained clearly and discussed with the pupils, and lessons are designed to afford pupils many opportunities to engage in enjoyable aerobic exercises as part of warm-up and cool down sessions. Effective use is made of small equipment in lessons in the games and athletics strands, while large equipment is used very well in gymnastic activities. Safety issues are paramount in the use of large equipment, and teachers and SNAs monitor pupils carefully during activities, providing assistance as required. Groups are well managed and excellent use of station work was observed. In the orienteering strand unit of outdoor and adventure activities some of the activities are set at a level of difficulty which is too high for the pupils. In order to help them to achieve the desired learning outcomes there is need for practice at simpler tasks and for other preparatory work, including discussion and demonstration of the tasks involved.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

 

The quality of teaching and learning in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is good. A satisfactory programme, implemented over a two-year cycle, is delivered and. the employment of a range of active and participative learning methodologies including circle time and games is praiseworthy. Among the resources used in the delivery of lessons are Bí Folláin, Walk Tall, Stay Safe and the Relationships, Sexuality and Education Programme. A number of outside agencies such as the fire brigade, the community gardaí, newcomer parents, sports clubs and the veterinary practitioner have been successfully used to assist in the development of pupils’ awareness of safety issues in the wider community. The school’s vision for SPHE is that it should enable all pupils to become healthy, responsible, self-assured citizens with an ability to interact with one another and the wider world. The programme is delivered in the context of an observable positive school climate and a general atmosphere that is conducive to the development of pupils’ self-confidence and self-esteem. The quality of classroom interactions is very good and talk and discussion sessions are effectively managed to ensure that the contributions of all pupils are valued. Values, such as respect, are successfully fostered and copies of class rules, devised in collaboration with the pupils, are displayed. Staff members communicate high expectations in relation to behaviour and quality of work to their pupils at all times.

 

Overall, the school is committed to the welfare of the pupils. The commendable work carried out in the school transfer programme, both from pre-school to primary and from primary to post-primary, bears testimony to this. Pupil safety is competently addressed in all classes Citizenship and an understanding of the democratic process is well attended to in senior classes. A number of school policies including those on discipline, enrolment, homework, anti-bullying, health and safety, healthy eating, substance use, child protection, relationships and sexuality education (RSE), reflect the schools commitment to promoting the health of the child and to developing in the child a sense of social responsibility. The school promotes democratic processes through the involvement of pupils in negotiating class rules and participation in Green School committees. Staff might now consider an extension of these practices to allow for the establishment of a pupils’ forum or a pupils’ council.

 

4.8 Assessment

 

A whole-school policy on assessment has been formulated and there is ongoing development of this important area of endeavour. Guidelines on assessment are included in all curricular policies. Teachers are made aware of the importance of assessment in organising meaningful teaching and learning experiences for their pupils and the importance of assessing pupil competence and tracking progress is emphasised as an integral part of teaching and learning. The principal and staff have devised a useful array of assessment strategies, pupil progress is monitored systematically and a broad range of formative and summative assessment modes is used throughout the school year. These include teacher observation, questioning and discussion, portfolios of pupils work, teacher-designed tasks and tests and checklists. The Micra-T and Sigma-T standardised tests are administered in June of each year for pupils from first to sixth classes. An efficient record-keeping system is in place with a member of the in-school management team allocated specific responsibility for this task. The results of these tests are analysed by the principal and members of the special education team in collaboration with the class teacher to identify pupils in need of learning support and to formulate the school’s action plans for a differentiated approach to teaching in numeracy and literacy.  Those achieving scores below the 12th percentile receive in-class support in English and Mathematics. Individual teachers keep on-going records of assessment to track pupils’ achievement and progress.

 

Further analysis of assessment results is undertaken in planning programmes of learning and useful checklists have been included in the school plan for assessing early literacy levels, early listening skills and oral language development. The Middle Infant Screening Test is administered in the second term to senior infants and objectives that have not been met are highlighted to inform literacy teaching. The British Ability Scales (B.A.S.) Reading test is administered to all pupils in senior infants and again in first class in order to place pupils in their relevant groups for guided reading for the Power Hour. Ongoing assessment of those in receipt of focused teaching is undertaken using the Dolch and Schonell checklist, the Jackson Phonics and the Neale Analysis. The NRIT is administered to pupils who are being considered for psychological assessment and RAPID COPS is administered to pupils who have specific reading difficulty. The percentile score of each pupil in literacy and in Mathematics is recorded each year and transferred with the class to the next class teacher. School reports reflecting results from a wide range of assessment tools are sent to parents. Parent-teacher meetings are held annually and the overall progress of pupils and the Sten scores in Mathematics and in English are explained and discussed with parents. 

 

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

Support for pupils with special educational needs is one of the key strengths and hallmarks of good practice in the school. It is highly organised and well managed and makes a significant contribution to the school’s achievement and to the positive experiences of pupils. The deputy principal ably leads and guides a highly skilled team of experienced and committed teachers in co-ordinating and maximising the services, resources and educational opportunities available to pupils with special needs and in maintaining their needs as a central focus of the educational provision in the school. The expertise of a dedicated support team of seven learning support teachers, one special class teacher, one resource teacher for pupils of the travelling community and one teacher for reading recovery is pooled to permit the designation of one learning support teacher at each level. The intervention strategies include the support teacher working with groups of pupils in well-planned and extremely successful in-class support in literacy and numeracy; and effective support on a withdrawal basis for a minority of  pupils identified with particular needs. The support teacher may schedule a time to collaborate with the class teacher in teaching and in delivering early intervention programmes through specific learning strategies such as First Steps, Jolly Phonics, Phonological Awareness Training, paired-reading, and mental Mathematics strategies.

 

Well designed programmes of work in the key priorities areas of literacy and numeracy provide the impetus for a number of targeted strategies and initiatives. These are derived from the recommendation of the LANDS school evaluation of 2001 and represent the implementation of the DEIS three year co-ordinated programme following the May 2007 self-evaluation review. Chief among these is the Power Hour in the senior infants and first classes which extends some of the strategies of Reading Recovery to a whole class basis. It involves the class and resource teacher supplemented by the language support teacher and an SNA working on a rotation basis with groups of five to six pupils each over the course one hour. Each teacher focuses on aspects of oral language, Jolly Phonics, guided reading and First Steps in writing. Present indications are that for a given period there is a noticeable increase in reading scores. The learning-support teacher supports similar initiatives in the middle standards involving the extension of phonics and a focus on oracy, guided reading, the writing process, mental mathematics and tables. A system of banding for Mathematics on an ability basis has been introduced with the assistance of the support teacher in sixth class with a view to extending the range of difficulty of material and competencies of the more able pupil while firmly establishing the basic skills of weaker pupils by focusing on mental Mathematics, tables and practical experiences.

 

The support teacher collaborates with the class teacher, parents, pupils and special needs co-ordinator in developing an individual profile and learning programme (IPLP)  for each pupil selected for supplementary teaching and an individual education programme (IEP) for each pupil with special educational needs. One important and successful derivative of this organisation for support teaching is that the more experienced teachers have access to classroom where they adopt a co-ordinating role in collaborative planning and they transmit their pedagogic and classroom organisation skills to less experienced teachers. An appropriate programme in oracy, numeracy literacy and writing is undertaken in the special class for eight pupils. The school places great emphasis upon inclusion and pupils from the special class spend part of each day with their peers in mainstream.

 

Reading Recovery is in its second year of operation in the school. Eight pupils undertake the programme over the course of a year. An extremely high level of preparation and planning underpins the provision of the support. Admirable levels of progress and improvements in reading ages of two years have been recorded.

 

The resource teacher for travellers (RTT), while working within the support team, has a major role in promoting partnership between traveller parents and teachers and timetables visits to traveller families in order to build rapport with each traveller family. The RTT, in consultation with the visiting teacher for travellers ensures that parents are aware of the principal aspects of school policies on behaviour and attendance and of the times of parent-teacher and other school activities.

 

 

5.2  Other supports for pupils: (Disadvantaged, minority and other groups)

 

The provision for language support is another key strength. The deputy principal leads and co-ordinates a highly-skilled team of six teachers and a comprehensive and detailed whole-school policy for language support has been formulated. Language support is delivered on an in-class basis at infant level. This practice is commended and groups and activities are rotated between teachers for the first term before beginning to concentrate on more specific targeted pupils. Activities are structured and linked to classroom content, are mainly based on early English and Mathematics language and involve language development, skills and concepts as well as socialization.  Pupils are assessed following enrolment using the Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT) materials and regular reviews of progress are documented using pupil portfolios and checklists. Stimulating and purposeful learning environments have been created for pupils, containing sight words and vocabulary across the themes to stimulate and reinforce learning.

 

Pupils from all classes in need of continued language support are supported on a withdrawal basis in groups of four or five. From experience, the school reported that pupils from senior infants upwards with inadequate English skills benefit more from working in small groups in a designated language support room for the purposes of facilitating confidence building and competence in using English from oral, reading and written perspectives. Very good use is made of high quality resources derived from ICT to enhance learning. The quality of the teaching by the support team is very good. Lessons are highly interactive and effective use is made of a variety of stimuli to promote conversation and language development. Pupils clearly enjoy these lessons and display enthusiasm for lesson content. The strong sense of teamwork and the level of reflection on how best to support the needs of these pupils are highly commended. In all cases, the teachers prepare consistently and diligently. The IILT pack is used to assess pupils and to help plan programmes of work. Both individual and group programmes are in place.  Many pupils are achieving very well and are well integrated into their classrooms. The school co-ordinates a cultural-awareness week to celebrate the various cultures in the school.

 

The school is included in Band One of DEIS and the initiatives available to the school under this scheme are coordinated by the principal.  A school-based programme operates under the auspices of the School Completion Programme (SCP) whereby selected pupils are withdrawn from class to participate in school-based activities which promote positive attitudes to learning and attendance in school. The programme is run on child-centred principles and offers space for self-directed learning. This aspect of the SCP offers an invaluable service to its pupils and affords them an opportunity to work on a one to one basis with an adult member of the school community. The room is well resourced and offers much needed time-out space for the pupils.

 

The effective practice engaged in by the home-school-community liaison (HSCL) teacher is informed by a comprehensive policy and strategic plan that are reviewed annually. Strong links have also been established with relevant community agencies through the HSCL teacher whose overall role is to promote partnership between parent and teachers. Huge efforts are made to develop close cooperation between parents and the school and to encourage parents to become more involved in their children’s education A wide-ranging array of activities is organised and coordinated by the HSCL teacher to extend parental involvement in their child’s learning, to enlist parental opinion in decision making, to enhance the transition for pupils to post-primary schools and to develop partnerships and networks with local community agencies. These include the organisation of breakfast and homework clubs, academic and recreational courses for parents, language classes for pupils and links to external organisations such as the Blanchardstown Institute of Technology, local libraries, Barnardos and the Health Services Executive. A range of informative meetings for parent to explain preventative initiatives in literacy and numeracy and to encourage their participative support in strategies such as paired reading, First Steps and Maths for Fun is organised. In conjunction with the school’s DEIS action plan, a concerted effort has been made by the co-ordinator to increase pupil attendance through regular awards at classroom and school level and this endeavour is impacting positively on attendance rates. Direct parental involvement to support pupil learning in the school is facilitated by the involvement of parents in the Early Start unit, paired-reading activities and the Math for Fun programme. Parent support classes for both academic and leisure purposes are organised. Home visits prior to parent-teacher meetings and regarding learning support to explain assessment results are undertaken. Home visits form a core element of the work enabling the establishment of trust with the families and addressing issues that impinge on learning. A number of parents have been trained as home visitors for specific purposes. The extensive and industrious nature of the work undertaken by the HSCL co-ordinator is commendable and impacts positively on the quality of learning and pupil engagement.

 

A Early Start unit caters for 60 three-year-old pupils prior to their enrolment in junior infants. Comprehensive long-term and short-term planning, based on the Early Start Curricular Guidelines for Good Practice, informs practice. The Early Start environment is visually stimulating and well-resourced with appropriate materials and equipment, including water and sand areas, a home corner, a reading area and an extensive range of table top and other activities. An extensive variety of learning activities is undertaken with the pupils, with a particular emphasis on oral language development. The teachers and childcare workers work proficiently and productively with individual pupils and groups of pupils, as appropriate. Parental involvement is a key characteristic of the Early Start programme and parents play an active and ongoing role within the unit. Pupil progress across a range of areas is assessed and documented on an ongoing basis and wide-ranging checklists and records are maintained on each pupil.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

·         The board of management is commended for its very supportive dedication and commitment to teaching and learning in the school, for its response  to resource  needs and for the high standard of maintenance of the present school building in the context of expanding enrolment figures.

·         The principal and in-school management team are highly praised for their focused positive leadership and management style in providing a clear vision for teaching and learning in the school and in creating a supportive school atmosphere and a sense of collegiality, collaboration and teamwork among all staff members

·         The school has a dedicated and committed teaching staff that enjoys the full support of the board, the in-school management teams and the parents in general

·         The school plan and the DEIS three year action plan are clearly presented and very good progress has been achieved in the review and development of the curriculum in literacy and numeracy.

·         A wide-ranging array of resources encompassing all curricular areas is available throughout the school.

·         The school’s overall provision for pupils with special needs is of a very high quality and the school is commended for its very good organisation, planning and review, individual attention and in-class delivery of support.

·         The principal, in-school management and teaching staff  display a praiseworthy openness and flexibility in prioritising the teaching and learning in literacy and numeracy and in embracing new teaching strategies and methodologies such as Reading Recovery, Power Hour, First Steps in Writing and an emphasis on mental Mathematics.

·         The teaching of English, Mathematics, the Visual Arts, Music and SPHE is particularly well undertaken in the school. There is effective use of resources to assist with language and conceptual development and regular opportunities are exploited to reinforce key concepts

·         Pupils are well behaved, polite and courteous and the work of the year-heads and the HSCL teacher in developing pupils’ self-esteem and a pride in their school is commended.

 

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

 

·         A strategic implementation plan should be devised to extend the implementation of the school plan at individual classroom level entailing similar action plans to those of literacy and numeracy and designing and refining a common short-term planning template.

·         A school attendance policy should be developed in consultation with the partners. This policy should include a statement of strategies to encourage pupils whose rate of attendance at school is poor in the final months of the school year.

·         In future whole-school planning, the board of management should consider how further advancements could be made with regard to collaborative planning involving all the partners.

·         There should be an increased use of ICT by teachers in all classrooms to support, motivate and enhance pupils’ learning across the curriculum.

·         It is recommended that formal and meaningful communication with the general parent body be enhanced through the establishment of a parents’ association.

·         Moltar an clár teagaisc sa phlean Ghaeilge a leathnú faoi na mórthéamaí agus na fothéamaí chun tacú leis an teagasc agus leis an bhfoghlaim ar bhonn scoile uile agus chun scileanna cumarsáide na ndaltaí a fhorbairt .

It is recommended that the teaching programme in the Irish plan be expanded under the major themes and supplementary themes, to support teaching and learning on a school-wide basis and to develop the conversational skills of pupils.

 

 

 

 

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 October 2008