An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Holy Cross NS

Upper Kilmacud Rd, Dundrum, Dublin 14

Uimhir rolla: 19904C

 

Date of inspection: 16 November 2007

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

1.     Introduction – school context and background

2.     Quality of school management

3.     Quality of school planning

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

5.     Quality of support for pupils

6.     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 Holy Cross NS. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspectors held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents’ association. The evaluation was conducted over a number of days during which inspectors visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. They interacted with pupils and teachers, examined pupils’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management.  The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

 

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

Holy Cross is a 21 teacher co-educational school located in Dundrum in Dublin 14. At the time of the evaluation enrolment at the school was 233.  Attendance at the school has fluctuated over the past number of years.  The ongoing expansion of the Dundrum area has resulted in an increasing diversity in the school’s population.  The last school inspection took place in 1997.

 

Holy Cross NS is a Catholic school.  The school’s stated mission is to promote a child-centred curriculum where a committed, supportive and adaptable staff works together to educate and care for children in partnership with the wider school community.  The school aims to foster self- esteem in an atmosphere of learning, love, care and respect.  Commitment to that mission is evidenced through the school’s inclusive practice, positive classroom interactions, the commitment of staff to enabling pupils to achieve their full potential through the provision of a broad curriculum and the school’s strong links with the local community and nearby church.  

 

Attendance levels at the school are generally good.  A small number of pupils are absent for more than 20 days.  Effective attendance strategies are in place.

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

 

The board of management is properly constituted. The board meets regularly, usually once a month and more often if necessary. Minutes of meetings are carefully maintained.  Each member of the board has a clearly defined role and board members demonstrate a very good awareness of their responsibilities as a board of management. Accounts are audited annually. Regulations regarding the length of the school year, class size and the retention of pupils are observed.  The board discharges its duties conscientiously with a focus on ensuring that a safe and comfortable learning environment is provided for the benefit of all.  Members of the board of management have attended training for boards of management.  Recent concerns of the board have been safe car-parking arrangements, the condition of the school building and finances. The board communicates with the parent body through the school newsletter and through the parents’ representatives on the board.  Board of management members are to be commended for their ongoing support of the school.  A further review of car parking arrangements at the school should be undertaken.  In the interests of the health and safety of all members of the school community cars should not be allowed enter or leave the car park area during school recreation times.

 

2.2 In-school management

 

The in-school management team consists of the principal, deputy principal, two assistant principals and five special-duties posts.  The principal demonstrates a good understanding of the school’s context and educational issues generally. He shows a concern for the safety and welfare of staff and pupils.  The principal is committed to promoting good staff relations. He is respectful in his dealings with staff, pupils and parents and he endeavours to promote harmony amongst all members of the school community.  His leadership style is characterised by honesty and openness and he is receptive to hearing the opinions of others. The principal is committed to promoting an inclusive school society. Overall, there is a positive atmosphere in the school. The school is well organised. Supports are in place for newly appointed teachers and staff.

 

The principal is largely supported by the in-school management team. He holds regular meetings with the deputy principal and in-school management team. Each of the post holders has been delegated specific areas of responsibility and duties are generally carried out in a consistent and conscientious manner.  The majority of the members of the management team work collaboratively in a spirit of mutual respect.  It is important that all members of the team support this approach. A number of posts have been in place for a considerable length of time.  A review of the duties attached to each of the posts should be undertaken in order to ensure a balance of duties within each post and to meet the current needs and priorities of the school. These posts should be reviewed with reference to Circular 07/03.  Responsibility for managing specific curriculum areas within posts is necessary.  It is important that curriculum leadership be provided to review, develop and monitor current areas that have been identified as priorities for the school.

 

Communication occurs both formally and informally.  The physical lay-out of the school building is not conducive to efficient oral communication. The principal issues written memos to staff as the need arises.  Informal meetings occur regularly.  Formal staff meetings are held four times a year.  The agenda is drawn up in consultation with staff. Minutes of the meetings are maintained and points for future action are noted. 

 

2.3 Management of resources

 

The teaching staff consists of one administrative principal, eleven mainstream class teachers, two resource teachers for pupils with low incidence disabilities, two resource teachers for pupils with high incidence disabilities, one special class teacher and two language support teachers.  The school shares a resource teacher for travellers with nearby schools.  The school receives additional support and resources through its participation in the Home School Community Liaison Scheme and the School Completion Programme. At the time of the evaluation the post of HSCL teacher was vacant. 

 

The principal and teachers have participated in in-service provided by the School Development Planning (SDP) initiative and the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PCSP). Individual teachers have engaged in a variety of courses ranging from short courses to those at doctorate level.  With regards to class allocation, management strives to facilitate teachers’ preferences.  To ensure that all teachers are afforded the opportunity to experience the full range of positions available on a continual basis it is recommended that a formal policy be devised. 

 

Seven special needs assistants (SNAs) support pupils with special educational needs in the school.  The school is commended on the effective deployment of the SNAs. They provide appropriate support for those assigned to them and ensure their effective inclusion in the daily life of the school.  The participation of the SNAs in ongoing professional development relevant to their responsibilities is also noteworthy. An external Drama tutor is employed funded by parents.  A GAA coach visits the school during the school year and provides coaching to pupils in hurling and Gaelic football.  It is planned to employ an ICT expert to provide technical support to the school.  Commendable secretarial support is given to the school by the part-time secretary. 

 

The main school building is a two storey structure dating back to 1944 with an extension added in 1979.  In order to augment school funds one storey of the building has been rented to an outside agency. An extensive refurbishment plan has been carried out at the school. To date the windows have been replaced, rewiring work has been carried out, the heating system has been upgraded and a number of areas of the school building have been painted.  Further refurbishment work is planned. There are a number of green areas in the school grounds used as the school garden. It is recommended that the full potential of these green areas be exploited to enrich the local environment for the benefit of all members of the school community.  The ancillary staff  make a valuable contribution to the day-to-day upkeep of the school building.  The board of management is to be commended for the extensive refurbishment programme and the on-going maintenance of the school building.

 

The school has built up a comprehensive range of resources to support the implementation of the primary school curriculum.  It is evident that the curriculum grants provided by the Department, supplemented by funding from the board and parents’ association, have been used effectively in this regard.  The school has a range of material resources to support teaching and learning. These include books and materials for languages, the Visual Arts, equipment for Mathematics, Science and Physical Education, percussion instruments for Music, and various other charts and visual aids. These resources are used frequently and purposefully.  There are imaginative and colourful displays of the children’s work throughout the school.  These displays create a welcoming atmosphere and celebrate the pupils’ achievements across a varied curriculum.  Classrooms have access to televisions and video recorders.  A very good level of resources for information and communication technology (ICT) is available.  In addition to a dedicated computer room jointly funded by the Department of Education and Science and the parents’ association, the school has three interactive white boards, each classroom has at least one computer and printer, and a comprehensive software library, is in place.  The school has a well-organised school library and, in addition, each classroom has its own class library

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

The school has a very active parents’ association which is affiliated to the National Parents’ Council (Primary).  The Association meets once a month and more frequently if warranted.  Meetings of the parents’ association are attended by the principal if required. The parents’ association communicates with parents through the school newsletter and information leaflets.  Parents are actively involved in fundraising and many other school activities.  These include involvement in shared reading, physical education activities, school trips, religious ceremonies and performances at the school.  At the meeting with the representatives of the parents’ association the open communication channels which exist generally between teachers and the parent body were praised. Parents raised concerns about non-usage of the ICT facilities, the car parking arrangements and the standard of Irish at the school.  Formal parent teacher meetings are held once a year and the school provides parents with a written record of pupils’ progress on an annual basis.  Parents are made aware of curriculum and organisational developments through the school newsletter and are made aware that copies of curriculum and organisational policies are available in the school.  Difficulties had arisen between the board of management and the parents’ association over the management of funds but these have been resolved. 

 

2.5 Management of pupils

 

The board and staff are committed to the holistic development of all pupils and the fostering of good behaviour has been a key focus of the school for the past number of years. Mutual respect is successfully cultivated and this is reflected in the positive rapport that exists between the staff and pupils. The majority of pupils are very well behaved and interested in school activities but a small number demonstrate negative behaviours. The behavioural needs of these pupils should be addressed through the formulation of positive behaviour programmes based on self-reflection and individualised behaviour targets.  Respect for others and positive behaviours could be further promoted through the organisation of regular school assemblies, a positive approach to discipline and more regular participation in circle time. 

 

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

 

A number of curriculum and organisational policies have been developed by the teaching staff and it is evident that a number of these have been influenced by the School Development Planning (SDP) initiative and the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PCSP).  The board has been involved in the formulation and ratification of a number of organisational policies The board is generally not involved in the formulation of curriculum policies but has ratified a number of curriculum policies. It is recommended that the board ratify all curriculum and organisational policies. Parents have been involved in the development of a number of policies including, anti bullying, school uniform, relationships and sexuality education and healthy eating. The school plan is in an easily accessible format with one folder for organisational policies and a separate folder for curriculum policies.  Clear, practical and concise organisational policies have been devised, including health and safety, enrolment, homework, behaviour and bullying.  Curriculum policies have been devised for all subject areas.  These policies are in line with the strands, strand units and principles underpinning the Primary School Curriculum (1999).  While effective implementation of aspects of the curriculum was observed a whole school approach to the implementation of the school plan is not apparent.  Formal monitoring and review of policies is recommended to ensure that whole school planning is successful in achieving the school’s aims and improving the learning and attainment levels of all pupils.  When reviewing the curriculum plans the focus should be on ensuring that they are more specific and relevant to the context of the school. 

 

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

 

3.2 Classroom planning

 

The overall quality of teachers’ individual planning is good. All teachers prepare short-term and long-term plans of work for their classes based on the strands and strand units of the curriculum.  At a number of class levels, teachers of the same class grouping plan collaboratively.  This practice works effectively in facilitating continuity and progression and is to be commended. A common template for recording monthly progress has recently been agreed by the staff and these records are stored centrally. The aim now should be to agree a common framework for all planning so that clear linkage between the objectives stated in the curriculum documentation and the school plan and those stated in individual long and short- term plans is established.

 

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

 

A broad and balanced curriculum is delivered effectively.  Teaching resources are utilised purposefully to support lessons and to enhance pupils’ learning. There is an overall emphasis on whole-class teaching with some good examples of group and pair work, and collaborative learning opportunities.  Pupils are generally making good progress in the various areas of the curriculum.  Teachers display good organisational skills and present well-structured and well-paced lessons which are focussed on the objectives of the curriculum.  These skills, combined with the positive classroom atmosphere foster an effective learning environment. Very good use of ICT was seen in a number of classes particularly in Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) and English. The use of ICT to support teaching and learning should now be extended to all classes and across all areas.  It is recommended that the range of teaching methodologies be extended to allow pupils to engage in active learning activities.

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

Ar an iomlán múintear an Ghaeilge go sásúil. Bunaíonn na múinteoirí na ceachtanna ar thopacaí a oireann d’aois, do shaol agus do shuim na ndaltaí   I múíneadh na Gaeilge cuirtear béim ar an rangtheagasc ach i gcuid de na ranganna baintear úsáid éifeactach as cluichí ésteachta, obair bheirte, ról imirt, puipéidí, rainn agus dánta. B’fhiú anois béim ar leith a chur ar na modhanna seo a chleachtadh i ngach rang tríd an scoil.  Tá dearcadh dearfach i leith na Gaeilge á chothú tríd an scoil agus baintear úsáid as an nGaeilge go neamhfhoirmiúil i gcuid is mó de na ranganna i rith an lae.  Baineann na daltaí taitneamh agus tairbhe as na ceachtanna sa Ghaeilge agus tá feabhas agus tuiscint ag teacht ar fhoclóir na ndaltaí. Freagraíonn na daltaí go muiníneach agus leagtar béim oiriúnach ar chothú leanúnachas cainte. Bunaítear an léitheoireacht agus an scríbhneoireacht ar an iomlán ar na leabhair saothair.  Tá sé ar chumas na ndaltaí na leabhair sin a léamh agus san iomlán léiríonn siad tuiscint chuí. Déantar cúram ceart den litriú. Tá samplaí breátha de scríbhneoireacht phearsanta le sonrú sna ranganna sinsearacha.  Moltar anois athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an bplean scoile, aire a dhiriú ar chumas cumarsáide na ndaltaí a neartú, trí dheiseanna a cur ar fáil obair i ngrúpaí nó i bpéirí agus ar fhorbairt agus leanúnachas ó rang go rang.

 

Irish

Generally, the teaching of Irish is satisfactory.  Lessons are based on topics that are appropriate to the age, lives and interests of the pupils.  In the teaching of Irish emphasis is placed on whole class teaching but in a number of classes, listening games, pair work, role play , puppets and songs and poems are used effectively.  It is recommended that these practices be extended to all classes throughout the school.  Teachers are successful in cultivating a positive attitude towards Irish throughout the school and Irish is used informally throughout the day in most classes.  Pupils enjoy and benefit from lessons in Irish and pupils’ acquisition of vocabulary and understanding is developing well. Pupils answer with confidence and appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of fluency in the language.  Reading and writing are based primarily on the workbooks in use.  Pupils are able to read these texts and generally demonstrate appropriate understanding of what has been read.  Appropriate attention is given to the teaching of spellings.  There are fine examples of personal writing in Irish in the senior classes.  It is recommended that the school plan be reviewed and that further emphasis is placed on the development of pupils’ communication skills and on continuity and progression from class to class.

 

English

Teachers are generally implementing the elements of the 1999 curriculum for English effectively.  Very good efforts have been made to develop a print-rich environment in all mainstream classrooms.  Oral language is linked effectively with other areas of the curriculum. Activities in all classes incorporate a range of strategies and pupils generally demonstrate positive listening and speaking skills. There is effective use of a variety of strategies to develop pupils’ phonological awareness.  Appropriate attention is given to the development of sight vocabulary in the infant and junior classes. Reading skills are appropriately developed and pupils’ reading is regularly monitored.   Big books are used advantageously in the infant and junior classes. The use of the novel in the middle and senior classes cultivates an interest in reading and provides a wider range of reading experiences.  Pupils in the middle and senior classes are generally fluent and confident readers.  They demonstrate a good understanding of what they have read and discuss their reading critically.  However, it is important to provide for the differing ability levels of pupils in all classes. An agreed spelling programme is implemented from first to sixth class. A noteworthy feature of practice is the teaching of poetry. Pupils are exposed to a variety of types of poems, as well as being afforded opportunities to compose their own poetry.  In the infant and junior classes pupils’ writing is effectively supported through the use of teacher as scribe, print rich environments and personal dictionaries.  This good practice is extended in the middle and senior classes with pupils afforded opportunities to engage in writing across a number of genres.  Examples of pupils’ news summaries, factual accounts, character studies, book reviews and diaries are available in copies and are attractively displayed in classrooms. There is effective use of ICT as a tool in the writing process in the middle and senior classes. Copy books are neatly kept and corrected on a regular basis.  There is a good standard of penmanship overall. The good practice in the use of ICT should be further developed and extended across all classes.  In light of recent enrolment trends, it is recommended that consideration be given to a differentiated approach that incorporates ability grouping for the teaching of reading and writing throughout the school.

 

Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative

The school is involved in the department’s modern languages in primary school’s initiative.  Pupils in fifth and sixth classes are taught Spanish by a part-time teacher.  Lessons are carefully structured and supported by visual aids. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the development of oral language skills and grammatical accuracy.  Pupils demonstrate appropriate levels of understanding. 

 

4.3 Mathematics

 

The teaching of Mathematics is effective.  Language and discussion are central to the lessons.  Lessons are well structured and follow a brisk pace. Due attention is given to the integration of Mathematics with other areas of the curriculum. A range of teaching approaches is used.  Pupils are afforded ample opportunities to handle concrete materials and to relate Mathematics to real- life contexts. A variety of strands is in evidence with the strands of number, shape and space, and measures well covered.  In all classes, pupils are encouraged to estimate.  The overall quality of pupils’ understanding of mathematical concepts is good.  Pupils generally display an understanding of number and place value, and an ability to recall number facts with accuracy.  Many pupils in the middle and senior classes demonstrate an ability to discuss and analyse mathematical problems. A small number of pupils in each classroom present as experiencing difficulties with core elements of the Mathematics curriculum.  Written work recorded in copies is regularly monitored. Team teaching in the senior classes to facilitate differentiation for the less- able pupils is noteworthy. It is important that the needs of all pupils identified through correction of work and results of standardised testing are met through differentiated learning activities and group and/ or individual teaching.

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

History

The overall quality of teaching and learning in History is good. The planned programme represents a good balance of the strands covered.  Pupils’ skills as historians are effectively developed through the examination of photographic evidence and artefacts.  Timelines are displayed in most classrooms.  Story, talk and discussion, and family history are effectively used in the infant and junior classes to develop the concept of continuity and change over time.  Pupils in the middle and senior classes engage in commendable project work.  Very effective use of ICT to support the teaching of History was seen during the evaluation.  This very good practice should now be extended to all classes throughout the school.  Pupils demonstrate good levels of interest in the topics covered and discuss them with enthusiasm.

 

Geography

The teaching of Geography is effective.  Lessons in Geography are well linked with other curriculum areas in particular, the Visual Arts and Science. Resources such as, maps, charts, globes, textbooks and reference materials are used to support teaching and learning. Development of pupils’ knowledge and understanding of local environments, environmental awareness and care and physical and human Geography are appropriately fostered. Pupils are afforded opportunities to engage in observing, predicting, investigating and experimenting.  Mapping skills are particularly well developed with very good use made of the locality. Pupils engage with interest in lessons and display appropriate knowledge, particularly in the strands of natural environments and environmental awareness and care. 

 

Science

A broad programme of topics is planned for the teaching of Science including energy and forces, exploration of materials and living things. A scientific environment is being promoted in a small number of classrooms. To promote the skills of inquiry, observation and investigation there should be an investigation area in every classroom. Some very good practice in relation to the teaching of Science was seen during the evaluation with the scientific skills of observation, recording and predicting effectively being fostered.  In a number of classes, the language of Science is being advanced and pupils are afforded opportunities to engage in simple experiments and practical investigations.  ICT is used effectively to support the teaching of Science in the senior class.  Pupils demonstrate a good knowledge of the topics covered and an enthusiasm for their work.  A number of window boxes planted by the pupils enhance the appearance of the school building. This work is commendable. The school does not participate in the Green School Initiative. Consideration should be given to participation in the Green School Initiative. The very good practice seen during the evaluation which involved the use of ICT, hands-on observation experiences, open-ended questioning and discovery learning should be extended to all classes throughout the school.  The full potential of the ‘school garden’ for teaching the strands of environmental awareness and care, and living things in Science should be exploited.

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

Teachers succeed in implementing a broad programme which provides pupils with a range of experiences in making, looking at and responding to art.  The Visual Arts programme is effectively integrated with other areas of the curriculum particularly Geography, English and Irish.  Pupils are encouraged to develop their imagination and creativity in making art.  Attractive examples of their work are displayed in classrooms, corridors and reception areas. Pupils enjoy the lessons in the Visual Arts and discuss their art work with enthusiasm. 

 

Music

Music is taught effectively in the school. Pupils enjoy participating in well-structured lessons in Music.   Listening and responding activities are effectively integrated with lessons in the Visual Arts in the junior classes.  Pupils in the middle and senior classes are taught a range of instruments including tin whistle, recorder and guitar. Pupils demonstrate a good understanding of musical literacy and engage in appropriate rhythm activities and percussion work.  The school has a choir which performs regularly at school events. The ‘grúpa cheoil’ where teachers and pupils perform for members of the school community is particularly praiseworthy. The school acknowledges the importance of utilising the individual talents of teachers for the benefit of all pupils. 

 

Drama

Commendable teaching of Drama was seen during the evaluation. Lessons linked well with other curriculum areas in particular English and Science.  Story was used effectively to provide pupils with opportunities to engage in improvisation and role play.  It is evident that pupils enjoy the lessons. The performance element of Drama is facilitated through an external provider.  Pupils are provided with ample opportunities to perform in public.  The school should continue to develop their whole school plan for Drama.  The commendable practice seen during the evaluation should be extended to all classes throughout the school.

 

4.6 Physical Education

 

The school has very good facilities for Physical Education (PE). A very satisfactory range of equipment has been purchased.  Pupils engage effectively in a range of relevant activities in relation to PE. Lessons are briskly paced and well organised.  All activities are organised and monitored efficiently.  It is important to ensure that lessons in Physical Education allow sufficient opportunity for the development of skills. Under the School Completion Programme, pupils from third to sixth class participate in a physical activities programme facilitated by the Gardaí.  Consideration should be given to the implementation of the aquatics strand of the curriculum  

 

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

 

The atmosphere in the school reflects a commitment to the development of a positive, caring environment that cultivates pupils’ self-esteem.  Resources used in the delivery of the SPHE curriculum include the Stay Safe programme, Walk Tall and the Department’s Relationships and Sexuality Education manuals.  A range of effective teaching strategies is used including collaborative group and pair work, talk and discussion, and drama activities.  Turn-taking and respect for others are actively cultivated.  During the lessons observed, appropriate efforts were made to engage pupils in conversations about people, places and things that were meaningful to them.  It would now be appropriate, given the large proportion of newcomer children to the school, to expand the present school plan to include strategies whereby greater and more regular recognition could be undertaken of the cultures and traditions of the various ethnic groups represented in the school. There could, in the future, be greater emphasis on the involvement of the parents and children of these groups in the organisation of festivals, holiday events, exhibitions and other learning activities which would reflect the variety of cultural backgrounds of the international families and their communities.  

 

4.8 Assessment

 

All teachers engage in a variety of assessment procedures.  Standardised tests in English and Mathematics are administered annually to all pupils from first to sixth class.  The results of these tests are analysed by the deputy principal and discussed with class teachers and support teachers to aid in the identification of those in need of further support.  Other assessment procedures used include teacher observation, teacher designed tasks and tests, checklists and a range of commercially produced tests in Mathematics.  Pupils’ work in copies is regularly monitored. A range of diagnostic tests is used by the support teachers to determine further specific needs of pupils and to guide the formulation of Individual Education Programmes (IEPs). Test results are recorded carefully. 

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

Overall, the quality of support for pupils with special educational needs is good.  The policy on pupils attending the learning support/resource teachers (LSRTs) has recently been reviewed based on Circular 02/05.  Clear selection procedures are in place with appropriate emphasis placed on the lowest achieving pupils. A range of diagnostic and screening tools are used in the identification of pupils in need of support and in reviewing individual pupils’ progress. Pupils receive support in literacy and numeracy.  IEPs are developed by the support teachers and class teachers, and communicated to parents.  In the main, support teaching to individuals and groups is provided on a withdrawal basis with a small amount of team-teaching.  Teachers are mindful of the self-esteem of the pupils and adopt a caring approach.  Lessons are well structured and a range of teaching methodologies is employed to ensure pupils’ active participation.  Special education settings generally are attractive and well resourced but a number would benefit from an audit of resources and furniture.  A team approach involving all members of the special education team should be developed. A school policy for the special class is required. A number of pupils attend more than one support teacher.  To minimise the amount of time pupils with special education needs are withdrawn from their classrooms, consideration should be given to providing in-class support.

 

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

 

The school has a growing number of pupils who do not have English as their first language.  Two language support teachers provide support for these pupils. Resources devised by Integrate Ireland Language and Training are used effectively to assess pupils’ needs and to formulate and implement IEPs. Carefully planned, well-structured lessons focus on the development of pupils’ fluency, comprehension and confidence in using language.  The school receives commendable support from the School Completion Programme.  The programme is well organised and innovative. A commendable range of activities is operated, including a breakfast club, homework club and infant club.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

 

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

 

 

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 September 2008

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

Area 1   Observations on the content of the inspection report     

 

The Board of Management welcomes the very positive findings of the WSE report.  In particular, the Board welcomes the Inspectors’ appreciation of the professionalism and commitment of the school staff, their dedication in the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum, the quality of teachers’ planning and the positive classroom atmosphere.  School management particularly welcomes the inspectors’ recognition of the inclusive ethos of the school, the open communication between parents and teachers and the school’s commitment to the holistic development of all the pupils.

 

The Board of Management wishes to acknowledge the courtesy and professionalism of the Inspectorate during the visit to Holy Cross School.  The WSE process, therefore, was a very positive and affirmative experience for the school community.

 

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 Board of Management has begun the process of reviewing the report in detail.  It is intended to incorporate the key WSE recommendations in the school’s strategic plan which will be implemented during the next five years.

 

To date, one important recommendation in relation to health and safety has been implemented.  In consultation with the school community, the Board has introduced new parking arrangements in the school grounds which ensures the safety of the pupils at all times.