An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Trinity House School

Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin

Uimhir rolla:19859A

 

Date of inspection:   27 November 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

Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

School response to the report

  

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of the educational provision at Trinity House School. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspectors held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the Chief Executive Officer and Education Officer of County Dublin Vocational Education Committee (VEC) and the VEC subcommittee for the school. 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. They also met with the chairperson, director, deputy director and a number of care managers in Trinity House School, the children’s detention centre in which the school is located.  Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the teaching staff and to the VEC sub-committee. 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.

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

Trinity House School, established in 1983, operates as a children detention school under the Children Act 2001.  In March 2007, administrative and legal responsibility for children detention schools was transferred from the Department of Education and Science to the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform and within that department to the newly established Irish Youth Justice Service. The Department of Education and Science retained responsibility for the provision of educational services in the children detention schools, and in accordance with section 159A of the Children Act, as amended, the VEC in whose functional area a detention school is situated provides for the education of children in those premises and manages the education provision and staff within it - in this case the County Dublin VEC - under the section of the Act as inserted by the Criminal Justice Act 2006, Section 147.

 

This report and the evaluation on which it is based are concerned with the education provision presented under County Dublin VEC at Trinity House School.  For the purposes of this report the term school will generally be used to refer to the education provision made by the County Dublin VEC and the term centre or Trinity House will generally refer to the children detention school as a whole.

 

Trinity House School provides care and education in a secure residential setting for up to 27 boys, ranging in age from twelve to sixteen years old, who have been referred from the courts. Average age on admission is 14.5 years. Trinity House School operates under a board of management and director appointed by the Irish Youth Justice Service. County Dublin VEC has appointed a subcommittee to manage the delivery of the educational provision. At the time of this evaluation, the maximum available residential capacity within the centre was sixteen places. School staff consists of a principal and eight teachers, one of whom works for three days per week.  The school observes the school day and school year for national schools. Trinity House School shares a campus with Oberstown Boys’ School and Oberstown Girls’ School at Oberstown, Lusk in north County Dublin.

 

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

The sub-committee appointed by Co. Dublin VEC to manage the education provision comprises nominees of the VEC, staff and senior personnel from Trinity House and Oberstown Schools. The chairperson of the committee is a member of the VEC and the committee members have broad experience and expertise in relation to the development of education provision for pupils with particular needs across a range of contexts. Through its education officer and the sub-committee the VEC has actively engaged with Trinity House School towards the enhancement of the education provision available to pupils. Additional staffing and financial resources have been provided. The teaching staff reported positively on the impact of the VEC after a period of uncertainty regarding the direction of the education provision at the school. The VEC sub-committee commenced its work in November 2007 and its commitment to the development of the education provision of the school is evident in relation to the review of policies and programmes initiated to date.  

 

The members of the VEC sub-committee are conscious of the importance of good communication and inter-disciplinary collaboration for the effective management of the overall provision to the young people attending the centre. At the time of this evaluation a relationships protocol was under development with regard to the co-ordination of the education and care dimensions of overall provision at Trinity House School

 

2.2 In-school management

The principal was appointed in 2004. He demonstrates conscientious and energetic leadership and commitment at a time of considerable change in the education provision of the school. He effectively organises and manages the daily routines of the school and adopts a collaborative approach to addressing the interdisciplinary issues in relation to the education provision. He promotes constructive relationships with the VEC, the management of Trinity House, teaching colleagues and care staff. The principal has lead and supported curriculum development and planning initiatives. He interacts positively with the pupils during the school day and encourages them in their engagement in the learning programme.

 

The principal is ably supported by the deputy principal and the in-school management team which provides active support in the running of the school.  The post of deputy principal was filled during the period of the WSE and prior to this staff members undertook duties associated with vacant posts. A range of organisational, curricular and pastoral duties has now been assigned. The members of the in-school management team have also engaged positively in relation to the VEC role in the educational provision of the school.  Critical areas for review have been identified and team members are committed to the recently initiated processes of policy and programme development.  

 

2.3 Management of resources

While the school operates according to the primary school year, its staffing is similar to that of a secondary school. At the time of this evaluation the majority of the teachers were post-primary trained subject specialists. Staffing consists of the principal and 7.6 teaching posts (including permanent, fixed purpose and variable hrs). Teachers have qualifications in a range of practical and general subject areas. Two members of the school team have acquired qualifications in the education of pupils with special needs. This is commendable as many of the pupils present with particular learning needs in literacy and numeracy which are more successfully addressed through specific teaching approaches and methodologies. For this reason and where practicable, it is recommended that teachers should continue to be supported in acquiring training in special needs education. Two of the teachers are also pursuing further qualifications in the area of assessment, and this should further contribute to the enhancement of the teaching and learning programmes provided for pupils.

 

A number of teachers have taken part in professional development through the curriculum support and school development planning services.  Members of the school staff have also taken part in training provided through Trinity House, which is particularly relevant to their own school environment. All permanent teachers have completed training in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI). Additional professional development opportunities will now be available to staff in the context of the involvement of the VEC in the education provision of the school. 

 

At the time of this evaluation a qualified physical education teacher and general subjects teacher had been recruited. These appointments will enhance the capacity of the school to provide a broad and balanced programme of practical and general subjects for the pupils. The school has had difficulty in filling a vacancy in Home Economics and the school authorities were anxious to provide for this important curricular area.  Suitable arrangements are in place to facilitate regular teacher communication in relation to school administration and with regard to the pupils’ progress and needs. The pupils are generally taught in groups of two or three and the organisation of the daily school timetable allows one teacher to be available to provide support in classrooms when required. For some subject areas a larger class grouping could enhance the learning experience of the pupils. In this regard and where appropriate for the curricular activity it is recommended that consideration be given to exploring team teaching approaches with some groups of pupils.

 

The accommodation for the educational provision comprises ten classrooms, principal’s office, staffroom and other ancillary rooms. The classrooms are used for both general and practical subjects. One of the rooms has been designated as a “chill out” room, where pupils can be withdrawn to, if the need arises. The school also has a large hall for physical education and sports activities. The majority of classrooms are well resourced and the practical areas of art, ceramics, woodwork and metalwork are suitably provided for. A grant from the VEC has facilitated an important development in the ICT provision at the school. An impressive range of resources has been acquired in the area of English, including materials to support the development of literacy.  A similar level of resources, including ICT software, would enhance the provision for pupils in the vital area of mathematics.

  

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

The development and maintenance of good communication between the various agencies involved is a critical factor in the effective functioning of a complex organisation such as Trinity House School. It is evident that management and staff members across the care and education functions of the centre recognise the necessity of inter-agency and inter-professional co-operation. Important systems, procedures and arrangements have been established to facilitate effective communication and co-operation in relation to routine organisational matters and the management of the pupils in relation to their care and educational needs on a day to day basis. Effective co-operation was observed in relation to the carrying out of the practical daily arrangements and sharing of information between care and education personnel during the school day. This important communication and co-operation is supported by regular formal and informal meetings among the teachers and between the school and care personnel. Arrangements are in place to facilitate the school principal meeting with the deputy director of the centre to address operational matters and issues of concern on a consistent basis. The teachers with posts of responsibility liaise with the care staff of the pupils’ houses to review their needs and progress.  Multidisciplinary case conferences to address the overall needs of the young persons attending the centre are frequently scheduled.

 

Additional support to the effective management of relationships and communication is attained through both the Trinity House School board of management and the VEC sub-committee, which provide for the representation of the various agencies and professional groups working across the campus.  At the time of this evaluation cross-departmental work on a protocol document was ongoing in relation to the development of a framework for joint working relationships in children detention schools. Such a framework will further facilitate the maintenance and promotion of effective inter-agency and inter-professional collaboration in providing a secure and supportive environment for the pupils across the care and education provision of the campus. The capacity now exists for more extensive collaboration between the school and care staff in relation to the overall programme of each young person.  It is recommended that the school pursue and support further opportunities to strengthen systems of collaborative practice and inter-agency co-operation in meeting the care and education needs of the young people attending the centre.

 

2.5 Management of pupils

Positive constructive approaches are adopted by the teachers across the school and a good rapport with pupils was generally observed as they were encouraged to work on their education programmes. The school timetable provides for three classes in the morning and two classes in the afternoon.  Pupils are taught in small groups, typically two or three per class.  Class groupings are formed on a daily basis taking the needs of individual pupils into account.

 

For each class period one teacher remains unassigned. This unassigned teacher assists with pupils changing classes, provides support to the classroom teachers, if necessary, and assists with the management of behavioural issues should they arise. The principal is also available to support the classroom teachers and an electronic communication system is in place in the event of the occurrence or risk of a serious incident. There is also close and effective co-operation between the teachers and care staff in relation to the management of behavioural incidents where temporary withdrawal to the residential unit may be required.

 

Most of the pupils are working towards some form of certification for their work, through the Junior Certificate or FETAC and many achieve this goal in a number of curricular areas. This is generally motivating for the pupils and the majority participate purposefully in the education programme provided. A daily system of rating their behaviour and work in school is also in operation and the pupils are responsive to this reward system. Consideration should now be given to introducing a regular opportunity, perhaps weekly, for the pupils, with the support of a designated teacher, to review and reflect on their time at school. The aim of this type of session would be to promote increased self-awareness, realistic goal-setting and self-monitoring and to encourage the pupils to adopt further responsibility for their own ongoing progress in education.

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

A substantial range of school planning activities has been undertaken and a series of useful documents have been produced to guide school policy and practice.  At the time of this evaluation, further policy review was underway in the context of the evolving role of the VEC in supporting the development of the education provision across a range of organisational, curricular and pastoral areas of the school’s work. The principal and school team have readily engaged in and contributed to these processes. School planning activities are ongoing, incorporating useful formal and informal approaches and taking into account relevant policies developed by Trinity House. A variety of successfully planned and implemented school programmes and projects has been undertaken and advice and facilitation from the national support services have been accessed.

 

The school has proactively engaged in the individual education planning process. An individual education plan (IEP) is devised for each pupil who has been in the school for a period of four weeks. Each pupil is individually profiled using all available information including psychological reports and assessment results. Learning strengths, difficulties and needs are identified and inform the selected targets. Possible teaching strategies, methodologies and materials are noted. Teachers adapt the school-devised IEP template to suit their particular subject area. IEPs form an integral part of each pupil’s learning programme. They are updated regularly and reviewed collaboratively at meetings held approximately every six weeks.  The school has correctly identified individualised planning as a priority area for continuing development.  Teachers would benefit now from further IEP training in regard to developing the assessment function of the IEPs, the writing of specific instructional targets to focus on literacy, numeracy and social and behavioural goals, as well as subject targets, and the involvement of each student in the development of his IEP.

 

Evidence was provided to confirm that management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 1999, updated issue May 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, April 2001). A designated liaison person (DLP) and a deputy DLP have been appointed in line with the requirements of the guidelines.  Evidence was also provided to confirm that school management has adopted and implemented the policies.  

 

Trinity House School has an extended vetting system for Garda clearance of personnel appointed to the school or centre.

 

3.2 Classroom planning

Good practice was observed in a number of classrooms, where teachers documented the individualised learning goals for pupils over specific timeframes, outlined relevant content and teaching approaches, and tracked progress consistently.  In most classrooms, the relevant Junior Certificate programme or FETAC modules form the basis of lesson planning. It was apparent that the engagement of the pupils was enhanced in classrooms where the planning and teaching activities took account of the particular interests, needs and learning strengths of the pupils.    Such good practice could be shared across the school and consideration should be given to the collaborative development of a school-based format for classroom planning.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

Subjects currently available to the pupils attending the school include, English, Mathematics, Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE), Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Materials Technology (Wood), Metalwork, Art, Physical Education. Home Economics is currently not available, however the school planned to address this matter in the near future. Pupils pursue these subjects through the Junior Certificate or the FETAC framework. At the time of this evaluation, consideration was being given to introducing the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP). This would add a further useful resource to the school in providing a certification route for pupils with particular learning needs.

 

Teachers employ a broad range of teaching approaches, including direct instruction, modelling, guided learning, discussion and independent work. Very good practice was observed in the majority of classroom settings. Some curriculum areas require further development in relation to teaching methodologies and approaches and the use of appropriate resources to support the engagement of the pupils. Even within small groups of two or three pupils, the wide range of abilities requires pupils to work on different learning tasks in the classroom. Generally positive classroom environments were observed with good involvement and interaction of pupils.   

 

Most classrooms have a good supply of relevant resources and materials. In a number of classrooms good use is made of ICT to facilitate participation in the learning process. The use of ICT to support learning should be extended across classroom settings wherever practicable. Teachers are conscious of the importance of supporting learning through cross-curricular linkages wherever this is applicable. Particular efforts were in evidence to reinforce links between the practical subjects, English and Mathematics. The school has identified the need for a formal policy on cross-curricular linkages.

 

4.2 English

All pupils initially follow the Junior Certificate English programme with the aim of sitting an examination at either foundation or ordinary level.  The school’s documentation lists the content and activities used for the development of the concepts, skills and knowledge needed by the pupils in preparation for the seven assessment sections of the exam: reading comprehension, functional writing, personal writing, poetry, fiction, drama, and media studies. Appropriate materials are available and the skill development activities are presented by the teacher. The pupils who have completed the Junior Certificate programme engage in the FETAC Level 4 Communications module.

 

Specific literacy difficulties are targeted through a basic literacy skills programme. The areas of work and study include alphabetic knowledge, oral and written vocabulary development, and remediation of reading, writing and spelling skills. Classroom planning is organised under the four headings, reading, oral language, writing and spelling, and lists appropriate activities. The overall programme for English and literacy development, which is outlined in the school plan, delineates some of the strategies and teaching materials in use.

 

The methodology used is primarily direct instruction but modelling, guided learning and independent work also feature. The wide range of literacy abilities in each of the class groups necessitates pupils working at their own level on differentiated learning tasks under the teacher’s direction and guidance.

 

A positive learning environment with a good level of pupil interaction and participation was observed. Interactions were often informal and the mutual respect between teacher and pupils was evident in creating a good working atmosphere. The classroom is well-resourced with a wide range of curriculum-related books and workbooks and two desktop computers as well as materials including commercial programmes, software and games to support literacy instruction. The pupils’ work is displayed in the classroom and collated in the pupils’ files to track progress. Information and communications technology (ICT) is used to facilitate writing, reinforce specific literacy skills and to support research projects.  

 

4.3 Mathematics

In Mathematics pupils generally undertake FETAC programmes at level 2 or level 3, or Junior Certificate at foundation or ordinary level. Approaches to teaching include the practice and acquisition of specific skills that are related to FETAC certification or to the Junior Certificate programmes. Worksheets and related materials are used with pupils on an individual basis. Cross- curricular links are made with the areas of woodwork and metalwork where applicable.

 

The pupils are provided with an appropriately supportive classroom environment and are encouraged and assisted in staying on task, completing assignments and practising skills. Within the classroom context of two or three pupils, it is not uncommon for the pupils to have significantly different learning needs. Some pupils have particular needs in Mathematics and require specific approaches employing practical tasks and appropriate materials.  Where possible the mathematics activities should be linked to the practical application of mathematical skills and related to the pupils’ experiences. As competency in mathematics is a key life skill, the resources available for this area should be upgraded, as soon as practicable, including the provision of computers and a variety of suitable ICT software programmes.   

  

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

General Subjects

General Subjects is the term used in the school to refer to the scheduled class time allocated to the Junior Certificate subjects of History and CSPE. The school is commended for offering these subjects, not only because of their intrinsic value to the holistic development of the pupils, but because they have the potential of capturing the interests of adolescent boys and motivating them to learn. Further planning and development of these curriculum areas is required. A broader range of methodologies and additional visual, auditory and ICT resources are necessary to support the teaching activities and to facilitate greater pupil engagement in the subjects. Collaborative planning activities should be undertaken to develop these subject areas, setting out relevant aims and objectives and identifying a range of suitable methodologies and teaching aids to support the active participation of the pupils in the learning process.

  

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

The art programme involves the pupils in looking at art, discussing art and making art. The pupils engage well in the various activities and display a sense of pride in their work. The programme includes calligraphy, graphic design, drawing, painting rubbings, construction, ceramics, screen printing and tee-shirt printing. The main art room is well laid out and contains suitable storage. The room is attractively presented and well resourced with raw materials, reference materials and stimulus materials. Impressive samples of pupils’ work are on display, and the pupils show a sense of achievement.  Other work is recorded on digital camera, and saved for the pupils to take with them at the end of their time at the school.  A separate pottery room provides access to a pottery wheel and a kiln.  Most pupils progress to take Junior Certificate examination. The provision of FETAC modules related to Art are under consideration for the future.

 

Planning notes outline various modules of work and provide a basis for recording individual pupil progress. Teacher observation, work samples, digital photos, and portfolios are used for ongoing assessment. A range of teaching strategies is used flexibly to engage the pupils. Theoretical aspects and discussion are incorporated naturally within the context of the practical activity. A positive, productive atmosphere is maintained during the lessons. Creativity and guided pupil choice are encouraged within the discipline of the activities.

  

Materials Technology - Wood

In woodwork the pupils are provided with opportunities to acquire and practice a range of skills in working with wood. The majority of pupils work towards completing the Junior Certificate programme. The approach employed focuses on the pupils having a positive experience in the various aspects of the subject. The pupils engage in planning, discussing, designing, making and producing finished decorative and practical items.  The development of habits for the safe use and storage of tools and equipment is given careful attention in the woodwork room.

 

The pupils undertake individual projects in consultation with their teacher. Good rapport between the teacher and pupils was in evidence and the pupils receive individual guidance and support. The pupils were observed engaging constructively and positively in the woodwork activities. The classes also provide opportunities for the practical use and reinforcement of the pupils’ skills for example, in Mathematics, literacy and Art.

 

The pupils demonstrated satisfaction and pride in their work and achievements in this area. The results of their efforts are displayed in the woodwork room and they were happy to talk about the work that they had undertaken.

 

 Metalwork

Pupils follow the Junior Certificate metalwork programme at either ordinary or higher level. Pupils who complete the ordinary level project may move on to a higher level project. The subject plan notes opportunities for cross-curricular links between Metalwork and English, Mathematics, Art and Woodwork. Instruction in the classroom emphasises the completion of projects and the Techniques and Design sections of the course, which leads to the practical exam. Pupils acquire skills and knowledge though hands-on project work and individual interactions with the teacher. Pupils are closely monitored and incorrect practices and techniques are rectified promptly. While there is not a strong emphasis on theory instruction, it is introduced and explained as it applies to the practical work. Learning could be enhanced by taking more advantage of the many incidental teaching opportunities that arise, by giving fuller explanations while modelling and by creating new learning opportunities through questioning. The benefits of peer tutoring in pairings where pupils are amenable to it should be investigated. The room has been recently fitted with a new computer but at the time of this evaluation had not yet been used for instruction.

 

Classroom management was effective and teacher-pupil interactions were informal but purposeful and mutually respectful. A good level of trust and respect was in evidence between the teacher and the pupils. The teacher succeeded in motivating the pupils and in creating a positive working and learning environment.

 

There is an essential priority placed on health and safety and safety rules are observed. The Metalwork classroom is adequately resourced with four designated individual work areas with secure storage for hand tools and a range of machinery. For safety, there are emergency switches strategically located in the classroom as well as emergency stop switches on the machines. 

  

4.6 Physical Education

A full-size gymnasium is available for activities in Physical Education (PE). A range of equipment is provided to facilitate athletic and gymnastic activities and team games such as basketball, football, hurling. A cumulative record of pupil participation in the various activities is maintained. Lessons are well planned and the teaching activities are confidently managed.   Because of the small number of pupils participating in each lesson there is some difficulty in organising group activities and in providing opportunities for pupils to apply individual skills in a team context.  This is an aspect of the PE provision which should be kept under review. At the time of this evaluation, PE lessons were provided by a temporary teacher who had relevant qualifications and experience but was not a recognised PE teacher. Arrangements were well advanced to appoint a fully qualified and recognised teacher.

  

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

The programme in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is based on the junior cycle post-primary programme for this curricular area. The eight modules covered deal with personal safety, influences and decisions, emotional health, relationships and sexuality, physical health, communication skills, self management, and belonging and integration. Resource materials are selected from a range of textbooks, information leaflets and other publications. The pupils engage positively in lesson activities with well-judged support and encouragement. An informal, interactive teaching approach is used to good effect. Key messages are introduced within a context of discussion and practical activities such as poster-making. A calm, respectful atmosphere, conducive to the nature of the curricular area is consistently promoted. Inappropriate distracting behaviour is handled unobtrusively.  Assessment strategies are incorporated into each module of work.

 

In developing this important area of the curriculum further within the school, it may be possible to enhance the quality and range of discussion by introducing aspects of a team-teaching approach and other forms of linkage across subject areas. For example, the physical health module might be linked to aspects of the PE programme. It will also be important to consider further the ways in which the curricular objectives and activities in SPHE can be linked to care activities and other programmes within the centre.

 

4.8 Information and Communication Technology

Information and communications technology (ICT) is used widely in the school to create and maintain pupils’ records, reports and individual education plans as well as to support learning.  A recent upgrade funded by the VEC has provided a total of ten new desktop computers to the school. These computers have been placed in four of the classrooms, a newly created computer room, the staff room and the principal’s office.

 

ICT is an area which the school has identified for future development. There is a good draft of an emerging whole-school policy on ICT. It is suggested that this policy be amended with reference to the usage of the new dedicated computer room and then finalised as soon as possible. This draft policy correctly acknowledges the educational benefits of ICT and promotes the incorporation of ICT into all curriculum areas. Teachers would benefit from professional development on using ICT in teaching and learning within their specific subject areas. Software to support the curriculum should be investigated. The school is not currently able to access the internet because of its geographical location.

  

4.9 Assessment

The school plan contains considered policy statements on assessment, literacy assessment and numeracy assessment. All pupils are assessed for literacy and numeracy difficulties within four weeks of arrival and efforts are made to access any previous educational assessment reports. A wide range of formal and informal modes of assessment are in place including diagnostic tests, observation, teacher-designed tests and tasks, work samples and projects and photographic records. Teachers observe, monitor and record the progress of the students in their classes as part of their daily practice.

 

One teacher, as part of a post of responsibility, acts as an assessment co-ordinator and main administrator of the school-based testing. This teacher has commendably established a system of dissemination of test results to promote teacher-understanding of the pupils and to link with the IEP process and has recently engaged in training in psychometric testing. The school’s recent centralisation of educational assessments and the allocation of time for conducting assessments and recording results are also positive.

 

Currently, homework is only given if a pupil wants it and is willing to complete it. The school reports that pupils are more likely to engage in revision homework in preparation for sitting state examinations. The homework policy should be reviewed with the aim of reinstating the assigning of homework as a regular practice. It is acknowledged that the residential care staff are willing to support and help the pupils to complete assigned homework.

 

Each year a number of pupils sit the Junior Certificate examinations in a variety of subjects.  A review of the pupils’ exam results over the last few years shows evidence of success. The school is currently investigating the potential benefits of the Junior Certificate Schools Programme (JCSP) in providing a framework to assist the school in helping more pupils to access the junior certificate curriculum. Some pupils also complete and receive certification in a select number of Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) modules.

 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

A range of school policies and procedures has been developed and implemented to provide pupils with a secure educational environment and structured programmes across a range of curriculum areas. A good range of practical subjects is available to the pupils. The pupils benefit from working in small groups and receiving individual attention. They are facilitated and supported in accessing programmes leading to recognition and certification in a number of subject areas. With the recent involvement of County Dublin VEC the educational supports available to the pupils attending the school have been enhanced and new educational opportunities are becoming available to them.

 

Important links and arrangements for collaboration have been established between the education provision and the residential care setting. Pupils benefit from such shared approaches to addressing their learning needs.  Each pupil has a designated care-worker and consideration could be given to establishing a parallel arrangement in the school in order to facilitate further the shared approach regarding the pupils’ programmes of care and education. Further attention should also be given to strengthening the care and education arrangements to support pupils in following up on the education provision received while attending the school. The school should engage with the relevant officials, organisations and schools in relation to facilitating the pupils’ access to suitable education provision and supports on their return to the community.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

·         The principal and teachers demonstrate commitment and professionalism in their teaching work and in relation to the development of the educational provision of the school.

 

·         The recently commenced involvement of County Dublin VEC has contributed positively and constructively to the direction and enhancement of the education provision at Trinity House School.

 

·         The principal demonstrates conscientious and energetic leadership in the effective management and running of the school and is ably supported by the deputy principal and the in-school management team.

 

·         A willingness to engage collaboratively and proactively with the VEC in a wide range of development planning processes and initiatives is in evidence in the work undertaken to date and

      in the positive contribution of the principal and members of the school team.

 

·         In the majority of lessons the pupils are enabled to engage actively in purposeful learning tasks and many have attained certification for their achievements through the Junior Certificate or the FETAC Awards.

 

·         Effective school organisational arrangements have been put in place for the day to day running of the school and useful systems have been established to facilitate communication across

      the campus in relation to the support and management of the pupils.  

 

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

 

·         In reviewing existing approaches to individualised planning, the pupils’ education plans should be broadened to incorporate an assessment function, the writing of specific

      instructional targets to focus on literacy, numeracy and social and behavioural goals, as well as subject targets, and the involvement of each pupil in the development of his IEP.

 

·         Opportunities for strengthening collaborative practice between school and care staff and the links between the education programmes and certain aspects of the pupils’ care programmes

      in the centre should be developed further.       

 

·         Consideration should be given to providing each pupil with regular opportunities to review their work and progress at school with a nominated teacher.

 

·         Where pupils present with particular learning needs in literacy and numeracy, specific teaching strategies to address such needs should, as far as practicable, be employed across all subject areas.

 

·         In collaboration with colleagues at Trinity House School and where appropriate, the school should engage with the relevant officials, organisations and schools in relation to

      facilitating the pupils’ access to suitable education provision and supports on their return to the community.

 

·         In the context of the significant change and development taking place, school policy in  relation to continuous professional development should be reviewed taking into consideration, 

      the additional opportunities provided through the VEC, the availability of new educational and certification programmes, the needs of recently recruited staff members and the changing needs of pupils.

 

 

 

 

Published, November 2009

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

Area 1:  Observations on the content of the inspection report

 

The County Dublin VEC education Sub-committee of the Oberstown Campus welcomes the very positive report from the Whole School Evaluation of the education facility of Trinity House School. The subcommittee, the principal and teaching staff of Trinity House School would like to express their thanks for the in-depth and professional manner in which the evaluation was conducted.

The inspection process is viewed by all of the education partners to be an affirming and positive process. The subcommittee notes that every aspect of school life was examined and further notes the positive affirmation that the educational provision within the school is of the highest standard.

The subcommittee acknowledges that the report highlights the positive impact of County Dublin VEC in the enhancement of education provision within the education facility and the collaborative fashion in which the needs of the pupils are met by all staff working in Trinity House School.

 

 

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

 

The recommendations of the WSE will form a central part of school planning into the future to ensure the continued development and improvement of teaching and learning.

To date the individual education plan document has been completely revised to meet the recommendations of the inspection, with reference to literacy, numercy and cross curricular links. There is a new assessment function and the document now contains social and behavioural goals.

In association with IYJS a protocol is being drafted to further enhance further educational opportunities for pupils on discharge.

Any other recommendations will be incorporated over the coming time period.