An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Whole School Evaluation
Rutland Street National School
Lower Rutland Street, Dublin 1
Roll number: 19946S
Date of inspection: 19 November 2006
Date of issue of report: 21 June 2007
This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Rutland Street National School. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the work of the school as a whole and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. During the evaluation, the inspectors held pre-evaluation meetings with the principal, the teachers, the school’s board of management, and representatives of the parents. 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 on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.
Rutland St. National School is a twelve-teacher school under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. It caters for the primary educational needs of children who reside in Our Lady of Lourdes parish, an area of socio-economic disadvantage in the north inner-city of Dublin. It is bounded by Portland Row, Mountjoy Square, Gardiner Street and Amiens Street and it includes Summerhill and Sean McDermott Street. The school is accommodated in an old but imposing three-storey building, which was built in 1912. Though somewhat out of proportion in size with nearby residential dwellings, its prominent and distinctive brick facade and large windows add interest to the streetscape and to the local architectural heritage. This façade has suffered considerable damage over the years and its appearance is in sharp contrast to the bright and colourful classrooms inside.
Because of the levels of disadvantage in the parish and in its catchment area, the school has benefited from all of the Department of Education and Science (DES) initiatives aimed at promoting social inclusion. It has received additional support and resources through its participation in Breaking the Cycle, Giving Children an Even Break, the School Completion Programme and the Home School Community Liaison scheme. It is at present in band one of Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) and schools in this band benefit from a comprehensive package of supports. From 1969 to 1974 the school participated in the Rutland Street Project which was an experimental project in the education of children from socially disadvantaged areas carried out under the auspices of the Department of Education and the Bernard van Leer Foundation.
The school’s vision statement priorities the creation of a school climate which nurtures the physical, intellectual, social and emotional aspects of pupils’ lives. It aims to help them to relate to others with understanding and respect for cultural differences and to reflect the principles of equality and diversity. It encourages the development of spiritual, moral and religious values and focuses on delivering a high quality of teaching and learning and on helping each child to achieve his/her potential as a unique individual and to live a full life as a child. In the current year 86 pupils are enrolled in the school and attendance levels for each quarter range between 83% and 91% .Enrolment levels are expected to increase due to increasing levels of population in the inner city area and the expected provision of a new school building.
The board of management is properly constituted, is proactive and its members are highly supportive of the work and development of the school. Meetings are held on a regular basis and minutes of meetings and accounts of expenditure are maintained. A review of the minutes indicates that a range of issues are addressed and that the board makes a positive contribution to the successful operation of the school. The chairperson and other board members are in frequent contact with the principal and teaching staff and effective channels of communication have been established to facilitate liaison between the board and other partners in the school. Two members of the parents’ association serve as members of the board of management and facilitate good communication between the two bodies. The board is currently involved in addressing the urgent need to have a new school building provided in nearby Gloucester Diamond Park. This is a relatively small 0.7 hectare park which was developed in 1985/86 at the junction of Gardiner Street and Sean McDermott Street as part of the Corporation Urban Renewal Programme and which has a playground and an all-weather pitch.
The board plays an active role and fulfils its statutory obligations in the development and ratification of a range of policies to support the smooth running of the school and to respond to the requirements of relevant legislation. Included in that provision are an enrolment policy, the codes of behaviour, anti-bullying and discipline, a child protection policy and policies on job-sharing and on equality of access and participation. All policies are made available to parents. Suitable attention is paid to compliance with Department of Education and Science regulations with regard to time in school, class size, retention of pupils, child protection and the employment of teachers. Although a range of strategies is in place for the purpose of promoting regular school attendance, the board now needs to address the requirements of legislation with regard to formulating a policy on this matter.
The very effective and energetic in-school management team is well organised and consists of the principal, the deputy principal and four special duties teachers who work very well together to provide efficient leadership and direction for the school. The effective leadership of the principal teacher is characterised by dynamism, enthusiasm and commitment. Inclusiveness and equality of opportunity for all pupils and teachers are also central to her philosophy of education. Over recent years she has displayed outstanding instructional leadership and creativity in embracing very significant changes in the curriculum and in the development of social inclusion so as to ensure that the school derives full benefit from the supports and resources provided through the DEIS initiatives. She successfully facilitates and oversees curricular development in the school and encourages staff to participate fully and enthusiastically in whole-school planning. She has succeeded in creating a very positive school climate where communication is open and where all members of the school community engage in dialogue with her in relation to curricular and organisational matters. As a result staff members are highly motivated and participate actively in collaborative decision making and in the implementation of school policies and curricular programmes. This ensures that all aspects of the revised curriculum are being appropriately implemented. The smooth running of the school is effected by her very active and hands-on approach to its day-to-day functioning. Record keeping and filing are carried out very efficiently and a range of school documentation is carefully maintained.
All post-holders adopt a professional and responsible attitude to their duties, which ensures that the school functions smoothly and effectively. The duties of the Senior Management Team (SMT) and the Middle Management Team (MMT) are clearly defined and reflect an appropriate balance of curricular, pastoral and administrative responsibilities. Regular monthly meetings are convened and procedures and responsibilities in regard to the development of curricular planning have been devised. Particular targets and tasks are set through an action plan framework and the team share responsibilities in respect of the management of pupils, discipline, pastoral care and the development and implementation of a range of administrative policies. The school’s code of behaviour reflects a positive approach to behaviour management and its successful implementation is evident in the high standards of behaviour observed among the pupils. Good order is maintained throughout the school and all pupils are courteous and show a respect for each other, for school personnel and for the school environment. A copy of the code of discipline is made available to all parents and the support the school receives from them in its implementation is a significant factor in ensuring its success.
Teaching personnel are appropriately allocated to mainstream classes and resource and support teaching posts while materials and educational resources are deployed and managed very efficiently in the school. The teaching staff consists of an administrative principal, six mainstream class teachers and six teachers who work in a support capacity. One of these is in learning support, one provides English language support for foreign national pupils, one is a support teacher with a particular focus on promoting good behaviour among the pupils and three are resource teachers, one of whom implements the reading recovery programme. Five special needs assistants ably assist the teaching staff in catering for a number of pupils with special needs. Teachers are afforded experiences of teaching in a variety of classes and contexts. Their workloads are regularly reviewed and competently managed and a mentoring system is in place to support new members. Because of the requirements of high quality and specialised teaching skills associated with teaching in an educationally challenging and demanding context, the teachers are especially encouraged to engage in continuous professional development. They have benefited from the ongoing support of facilitators from the Primary Curriculum Support Programme and from the School Development Planning Initiative. The school also employs a full-time secretary, a part-time caretaker, seven canteen staff and two part-time cleaning staff
The school is well resourced to support and enhance teaching and learning in all the curriculum areas and DES curricular grants and grants for schools in disadvantaged areas have been appropriately utilised to extend the range of resources and teaching materials in the school. White boards, CD players, Televisions, video recorders and photocopying equipment have been provided and these are supplemented by teacher-generated materials. These resources are employed across the curriculum to support pupils’ active involvement in their learning and to generate and facilitate an obviously high standard of interaction and enthusiasm. In particular, positive use is made of a wide range of literacy materials in the mainstream classes and in the resource and reading recovery programmes. The importance which the school places on developing literacy skills is evident in the extensive range of supplementary reading texts available in both class and school libraries. These are well stocked, there is excellent provision of large format books in the junior rooms and a considerable amount of parallel readers in all classrooms Positive attention is paid to the extensive development of teaching and learning materials for Mathematics and Science and resources for Music and Physical Education have been augmented considerably. The school is very progressive in its use of information and communication technology (ICT). Sixteen computers in the computer room have been networked and pupils use this facility constructively to develop their research skills, their presentation skills in writing and as a learning tool in the completion of projects.
The teaching staff is to be commended for the stimulating learning environments created in their classrooms and in circulation areas through attractive displays of pupils’ work and informative interest centres and teaching charts. Communication within the school is excellent and the atmosphere in the staff room is friendly and positive. Although accommodated in a rather old building, the school is extremely well presented and maintained indoors. A high standard of hygiene, décor, neatness and order is in evidence throughout the buildings, which contributes to the creation of a welcoming atmosphere and a very pleasant working environment. The teachers have enhanced their working environments and have created attractive and stimulating learning and teaching areas through the judicious use of colourful charts and displays. The corridors are adorned with display areas where seasonal montages, collages, presentations of pupils’ projects and displays of work are prominent features.
The school is accommodated in the original Rutland Street Schools’ building which was erected in 1912. Externally, it presents as an imposing building that is structurally sound but has necessitated emergency grants for roof repairs and to redress sewerage problems. Internally, it has been renovated on a number of occasions and requires constant maintenance to repair crumbling rendering and service difficulties. Despite these difficulties the internal décor and level of neatness are maintained to a high standard and reasonably comfortable and spacious classroom accommodation is provided. The general purposes room is at ground floor level and the classrooms and canteen facilities are on the upper two floors. The school has a committed caretaker who plays a significant role in the upkeep of the school and its grounds and ensures that the standard of accommodation is maintained at current high levels. The BOM is currently in consultation with the DES in regard to moving forward the provision of a new school building at nearby Gloucester Diamond Park.
Relationships between the pupils’ parents and the school are excellent and the approachability and responsiveness of staff to issues raised by them were praised by their representatives at the pre-evaluation meeting. Parents meet with the principal on an ongoing basis and regular communication is also engaged in with the board of management. Overall, the school’s communication mechanisms facilitate the raising and addressing of issues of importance to the parents and feedback during the course of the evaluation confirmed that issues raised are dealt with promptly and efficiently. Parents are consulted in regard to the development of particular organisational polices, such as that on healthy lunches, and they took the initiative in having the school uniform changed recently. They are also made aware that all policies are available to them in the school and copies of school policy on behaviour, substance use and enrolment are sent to their homes.
A meeting of parents of incoming junior infants is held annually in June and a range of issues of interest to new parents is addressed. This is complemented by the issuing of a handbook for parents, which deals with a range of practical issues to support pupils as well as outlining policy in relevant organisational areas. Formal parent/teacher meetings to discuss pupils’ progress are held twice annually, with additional information meetings being organised as necessitated. Individual written progress reports are issued at the end of each school year. General information is also communicated to parents throughout the school year through a series of written communications, which include a newsletter that is issued on a termly basis and a dedicated noticeboard. In the course of the evaluation, the quality of communication between home and school was commented upon favourably by parents. Parents also welcome the opportunities that are given to them to support the school. These include helping the teachers with Christmas concerts, school sports and outings, summer projects and at First Communion and Confirmation time.
The home school community liaison (HSCL) co-ordinator is currently shared with two other schools in the area. She was appointed to this post a short time ago, she is already building a good working relationship with the pupils’ parents and she is very well received when she visits them in their homes. She works closely with the School Completion Programme in providing a range of valuable additional supports for pupils. She is also striving to put in place a number of programmes through which she can further develop parents’ ability to support their children’s learning. One of the difficulties being encountered by her is that, due to the current success of the economy, many parents are working and are not available to participate in educational programmes. Overall she provides a strong and valued link between home and school.
In Rutland Street NS., very positive relations are in evidence between school staff and pupils. These relations are characterised by a strong sense of care and openness and are underpinned by a commitment to the pupils’ development. This has resulted in the creation of a very respectful environment where positive behaviour is being successfully promoted. Throughout the course of the evaluation, this was evidenced by the respectful behaviour and warm exchanges observed between pupils and peers, school staff and inspectors. Also praiseworthy are the formal practices in operation in some classrooms to acknowledge and reward positive pupil behaviour and engagement. Consideration might now be afforded to a review of such practices, their extension on a school-wide basis and their incorporation into the existing code of behaviour and discipline. In so doing, attention should also be given to the additional supports that may need to be provided for pupils who may display more challenging behaviour. Regular assemblies are organised during which positive behaviour, application to work and regular attendance are acknowledged and reinforced by means of a reward system that includes the awarding of certificates and prizes. Significant emphasis on the development of self-discipline is also in evidence and the formal practices in place in classrooms, which include the keeping of behaviour charts, are praiseworthy and the code of behaviour is implemented in a consistent and balanced manner. Pupils’ self-esteem is being developed at each level in the school and, as a result of good practices in this area, pupils are confident and assured in exploring and discussing topics and issues.
The school has a very comprehensive school plan which has been devised and compiled through the collaborative activity of the principal, the teaching staff and the board of management. Commendable effort has been made to develop various policies in line with relevant legislation. The board of management plays an important role in the consideration and ratification of a range of organisational policies, with parents being consulted when appropriate during the drafting process. A wide range of organisational policies has been put in place in response to relevant educational legislation and the evolving needs of the school. The process of planning is well advanced and there is evidence that it is a highly organised and collaborative procedure with set responsibilities, targets and timescales. The plan is very well presented and has been developed in accordance with the guidelines from the Department of Education and Science (DES). All policy statements are clear, succinct and coherent and are of a high quality. The school is to be commended for the range of policies in place, which facilitate the effective functioning of the school.
Staff meetings and school-based planning days are productively used to advance curricular and organisational priorities and the regular review of documents forms an integral part of this process. A range of curriculum plans has been developed to date: Gaeilge, English, Mathematics, Science, Visual Arts, Music, Physical Education, and Social, Personal and Health Education. Progress has also been made in preparing whole-school plans for History and Geography. In the main, such plans consist of a series of statements regarding the curriculum content to be addressed across the range of class levels and reflect the methodologies, approaches, specific organisational issues and resources relevant to each particular curriculum area. Curriculum content to be addressed at all class levels is very much informed by the content of the school plan and this has led to a developmental approach to curriculum delivery. School priorities for development and improvement are regularly set and action plans drawn up to address these priorities. All plans have been formally ratified by the BOM.
Overall, there is evidence that there is ongoing monitoring of curriculum implementation followed by evaluation and review. Plans are in place for the development of an information booklet for parents that will include the key organisational policies. The prompt document and templates developed collaboratively by the Department of Education and Science, the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (PCSP), the School Development Planning Support (SDPS) and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) have been consulted and used effectively in the review of curricular plans. Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff are taking 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, 2004) and Child Protection: Guidelines and Procedures (Department of Education and Science, April 2001). A designated liaison person and a deputy liaison person have been appointed in line with the requirements of the DES guidelines.
Teachers prepare comprehensive short-term and long-term schemes of work. There is evidence that the school plan has a direct impact on long-term and short-term planning for teaching and learning. Long-term planning is generally informative and reflects the principles of the primary school curriculum and the aims and methodologies outlined in the school plan. Strong links to the textbooks in use are also evident in this planning. Short-term planning is instructive and takes cognisance of school policies and the content objectives of the curriculum. The short-term planning template is also used for maintaining monthly records of work completed. These records are stored centrally and are used to monitor the progress of curriculum delivery in the school. Collaborative teaching is practised in the school, especially in the teaching of Mathematics. The effectiveness of planning across the curriculum is noteworthy, as is the collaborative approach to addressing the requirements of pupils with specific learning needs in classrooms. An appropriate range of activities is provided and the teaching staff ensures that all pupils engage with them, as a means of supporting and improving learning. Effective use is made of computers and appropriate software programmes in project work. A high standard is evident in the project work carried out by senior classes and opportunities should be provided whereby these pupils could share and present their work to other pupils using the available technology.
Staff members have developed an agreed template for individual teacher preparation and planning. The template incorporates long-term and short-term planning and a system for recording monthly progress. There is evidence in the plans of work being differentiated to accommodate differing ability levels with additional project work and extension work being catered for.
In general, the quality of teaching and learning is of a high order and the teachers are successful in their endeavours to promote a strong work ethic and sense of achievement throughout the school. Through careful planning and analysis the key skills and learning objectives for each curriculum area have been identified and a variety of participative learning strategies and resources to promote them are designed and implemented. Pupils display good attitudes to learning through their attentiveness and receptiveness and in their eagerness to respond to questioning. They are familiar with school routines, they take pride in their achievements and, in the main, they work conscientiously and co-operatively with the teaching staff. They are generally well behaved, polite and courteous, they are required to be active participants in their learning and to organise themselves well in their classrooms. The teachers regard the implementation of the full range of participative teaching and learning methodologies in accordance with the principles of the curriculum as being vital in engaging groups of children who find it increasingly difficult to concentrate for a variety of reasons.
At infant level, there is evidence of good use of an integrated approach to planning for teaching and learning, opportunities are provided for structured free play and language development and a variety of activities is rotated on a weekly basis. In all classes, teachers provide opportunities for active and independent engagement in a wide variety of learning experiences. The development of listening and expressive skills is promoted and pupils are encouraged to collaborate and to share ideas. A good range of specific participative teaching methodologies is employed and focused planning for the short-term facilitates greater pupil engagement in the learning process in hand. Teachers ensure that pupils are provided with effective learning experiences and good use is made of the ample supply of teaching materials and resources available in the school. The range of mathematical and scientific equipment seen in use by the children is laudable as is the range of posters and visual resources for reading and language development on offer throughout the school. Pupils can be seen working in groups and in pairs and involved in investigation which actively uses the environment both indoors and outdoors as a learning resource. Questions are skilfully used to probe understanding and to improve pupils’ listening and speaking skills. Consideration is given to and planning is made for the provision of suitable tasks for different attainment groups so that each pupil can be appropriately challenged to make progress. The presentation of written work throughout the school is of a high standard. ICT word processing is used to enhance this with pupils taking pride in the appearance of their work.
In general, the higher-ability pupils need to be consistently challenged in order for them to make as much progress as possible. In presenting the curriculum, further use of broad and open questions is recommended in order to encourage the children to observe carefully, to identify essential information, to suggest solutions and to make informed judgements. On the whole, the level of teaching and learning in the school takes account of the ability of the pupils and, as far as possible, matches the curriculum to their needs.
Tá plean cuimsitheach leagtha amach don Ghaeilge ag na hoidí i gcomhar lena chéile Tá sé mar chuspóir sa phlean seo dearcadh dearfach i leith na Gaeilge a chothú i measc na ndaltaí, cabhrú leis na hoidi clár oibre leanúnach sa Ghaeilge a fhorbairt agus réimse uirlisí measúnaithe a chur ar fáil. Léiríonn an plean seo go bhfuil tuiscint mhaith ag na hoidí ar bhunphrionsabail an churaclaim agus go bhfuil clár fóinteach leagtha amach acu faoi snáitheanna agus snáith aonaid an churaclaim. Leagann an plean seo béim ar fhorbairt scileanna labhartha agus éisteachta na ndaltaí go speisialta agus leagann sé síos straitéisí chun an cuspóir seo a bhaint amach. Is inmholta mar a leagtar síos, go céimnithe, eiseamláirí agus feidhmeanna teanga a bhaineann le mórthéamaí na míosa agus atá feiliúnach mar bhunús don Ghaeilge foirmiúil agus neamhfhoirmiúil ag gach rang-leibhéal sa scoil. Déantar cúram sa phlean freisin de mhúineadh na léitheoireachta agus na scríbhneoireachta. De bharr na pleanála seo, tá ag éirí go breá leis na múinteoirí dul chun cinn creidiúnach á dhéanamh le teagasc an chomhrá chomh maith le forbairt scileanna cumarsáide na ndaltaí go ginearálta agus le múineadh na léitheoireachta agus na scríbhneoireachta. Baintear feidhm éifeachtach sa scoil as éagsúlacht straitéisí agus modhanna múinte spreagúla chun cumas cumarsáide na ndaltatí a fhorbairt agus déanann na hoidí tagairt don phlean scoile ina gcuid pleanála féin.
Cothaíonn na hoidí atmaisféar deas foghlama sna rangsheomraí agus bíonn dearcadh fábharach i leith na teanga le sonrú sna daltaí Bunaítear na ceachtanna comhrá ar thimpeallacht na ndaltaí agus roghnaítear foclóir, abairtí agus ceisteanna a bhaineann le morthéama na míosa agus atá in oiriúint d’aois agus do chumas na ndaltaí sna ranganna áirithe. Baintear úsáid thairbheach as postaeir agus ábhar léirithe chun ionchur nua teanga a theagasc agus chun caint a spreagadh ar ábhar na gceachtanna. Éiríonn le formhór na ndaltaí tríd an scoil ceisteanna bunaithe ar na postaeir a fhreagairt ar chaighdeán a oireann dá rangleibhéil. Músclaítear suim na ndaltaí agus cothaítear a scileanna cumarsáide trí agallaimh faoi threoir a chleachtadh. Spreagtar rannpháirtíocht agus baintear úsáid bhreá as cluichí teanga agus as obair i mbeirteanna, sceitsí, rólimirt, agus drámaíocht i roinnt ranganna chun taithí a thabhairt do dhaltaí ar na heiseamláirí atá foghlamtha acu a úsáid i suímh insamhlaithe le linn na hoibre. B’fhiú go mór an dea-chleachtas seo a leathnú. I gcoitinne, tá foclóir réasunta saibhir ag na daltaí agus cruthaítear deiseanna dóibh an teanga a chleachtadh ar bhealach taitneamhach i gcomhthéacsanna cumarsáideacha. Tá cnuasach rann, dánta agus amhrán Gaeilge ar eolas ag na daltaí i ngach rang agus aithrisítear iad siúd le fuinneamh le linn na gceachtanna Gaeilge agus ag amanna éagsúla i rith an lae. Baintear úsáid as Gaeilge neamhfhoirmiúil go héifeachtach i mionchaint an lae i ngach seomra agus moltar go mór an méid Gaeilge a úsáidtear i gceachtanna áirithe eile.
Cruthaítear timpeallacht shaibhir i bprionta i ngach seomra mar thaca don léitheoireacht agus don scríbhneoireacht. Baintear feidhm inmholta as leabhair mhóra tharraingteacha sna ranganna sóisearacha chun réimse teanga na ndaltaí a leathnú agus chun suim sa léitheoireacht a chothú. Bunaítear an léitheoireacht tríd an scoil ar ábhar téacsleabhar go príomha agus tá dul chun cinn oiriúnach á dhéanamh ag na daltaí. Déantar cúram cóir de mhúineadh na scríbhneoireachta agus taispeántar an obair go néata sna cóipleabhair. Tá cuid den obair bunaithe ar na leabhair shaothair agus na téacsleabhair agus tá gá anois le breis deiseanna a thabhairt chun saorscríbhneoireacht a dhéanamh a bheadh bunaithe ar spéis phearsanta na ndaltaí.
The teachers in collaboration with one another have outlined a comprehensive school plan for Irish. The objective of the plan is to nurture a positive attitude to Irish among the pupils, to enable the teachers to develop a continuous programme of work and to provide a range of assessment tools. The plan shows that the teachers have a good understanding of the basic principles of the curriculum and that they have outlined a useful programme in terms of the strands and strands units of the curriculum. This plan especially emphasises the development of the pupils’ speaking and listening skills and it outlines strategies to achieve this objective. The manner in which graded exemplars and language functions are set out is commendable. These relate to the major monthly themes and are suitable as a basis for formal and informal Irish for each class level in the school. Attention is also given in the plan to teaching reading and writing. Because of this planning the teachers are, generally speaking, making good progress with the teaching of oral language as well as developing the pupils’ communication skills and in teaching reading and writing. A variety of strategies and stimulating teaching methods are effectively used on a school wide basis to develop the communicative abilities of pupils and the teachers refer to school planning while they are preparing their own plans.
The teachers cultivate a nice learning atmosphere in the classrooms and a favourable attitude to the language is to be observed among the pupils. The conversational lessons are based on the pupils’ environment and vocabulary, sentences and questions that relate to the major monthly themes and that are suitable for the age and abilities of pupils in the various classrooms are selected. Effective use is made of posters and illustrative material to teach new language input and to stimulate talk on the content of lessons. The majority of pupils throughout the school succeed in answering questions based on the posters to a standard that is appropriate for their class level. The interest of pupils and their communicative skills are nurtured by practising interviews under direction. Participation is stimulated and good use is made of language games, working in pairs, sketches, role play and drama in some classes to provide pupils with the experience of using the exemplars which they have learned in simulated situations during lessons. This good practice merits more extensive use. In general, the pupils have a reasonably rich vocabulary and opportunities are provided for them to practise the language in a pleasant manner in communicative contexts. The pupils in every class know a pleasant selection of rhymes, poems and Irish songs and they recite them with vigour during Irish lessons and at other times during the day. Effective use is made of informal Irish in the incidental daily conversation in every classroom and the amount of Irish which is used during certain other lessons is to be highly praised.
A print-rich environment is created in every room as a support for reading and writing. Commendable use is made of attractive large books in the junior classrooms to extend the language range of the pupils and to nurture interest in reading. Reading throughout the school is principally based on textbook material and pupils are making appropriate progress. Due care is taken with the teaching of writing and the work is displayed neatly in copybooks. Some of the work is based on workbooks and on textbooks and there is now a need to provide more opportunities for creative writing which is based on the personal interests of pupils.
A comprehensive and progressive plan for the teaching of English, based on the principles of language learning in the curriculum, has been drawn up by the staff and the successful targeting of oracy and literacy skills is a significant feature and strength in this school. The school is very well resourced for the teaching of English and a wide variety of suitable books and materials is readily available. The creation of a print-rich environment is a priority throughout the school’s public areas and in most classrooms. The extension of this practice to all classrooms is recommended.
Considerable emphasis is placed on oral language development and the central place given to it throughout the curriculum is stressed in the school plan. Individual teachers’ planning is closely referenced to the curricular objectives for oral language. The development of confidence in communication is promoted through worthwhile discussion of suitable themes, stories and poems which are well chosen and are targeted at the children’s range of interests. In most classes, good questioning techniques are employed to develop thinking skills and discussion is well managed, thereby ensuring the participation of all pupils. The children display a good level of fluency, they engage actively in discussion and they respond enthusiastically to higher order questioning.
It is clear that the school is committed to developing reading skills and to promoting a culture of reading. The Oxford Reading Tree series supplements the reading scheme, reading is seen as valuable and pleasurable and most children read fluently. There are well-stocked libraries in all classrooms and these are managed in an organised and effective manner so as to encourage pupils to access a wide variety of reading material. Visits to the local libraries are encouraged and the school has also been successful in developing parental support for reading focused on specific initiatives that involve parents actively in reading with their children. Guidelines to support this work have been drawn up and issued to parents.
At infant and junior levels level, interaction between children and books is facilitated and effective use is made of large-format books to promote oral language development and to consolidate emergent reading skills. The collaborative creation of experience charts enhances provision in this area. Phonological awareness is systematically cultivated through the use of jolly phonics and pupils quickly gain the ability to decode text and associate letters with sounds. Children are enabled to segment, blend and manipulate phonemes and to write and spell words in a programmed partnership between the special education team and class teachers. Those experiencing difficulties are afforded extra teaching either through learning support teaching or through the successful reading recovery programme. The provision of a differentiated approach to reading and the review of methodologies used to teach reading at these levels is under constant review by teachers. In the middle and senior classes, serial reading of class novels provides the children with opportunities to experience a shared response to fiction. Their comprehension skills are cultivated effectively and they are taught how to use questions to gain the maximum amount of information from text. The school provides many additional opportunities for the pupils to enrich their reading experience. Visits to local libraries are organised and opportunities are provided in class for DEAR time as well as paired and shared reading.
The school-wide language-rich environment provides an excellent basis for encouraging writing. The teachers build on the literacy competencies of the children and use opportunities for modelling and scaffolding in writing which leads ultimately to independent writing. Letter formation forms part of the children’s writing development. Pupils are able to compose simple sentences independently and, in many classes, have developed very fine handwriting skills. Individual writing is displayed attractively in corridors and classrooms throughout the school. In most classes the children write in a variety of contexts including letter writing, recipes, imaginative and personal writing and writing in response to novels. There is evidence of pupils planning their work, making rough drafts and then producing a final, well-polished and beautifully illustrated product. In the middle classes ICT has been used extremely effectively to allow the children to enhance the standard of presentation of their work .The teaching of poetry and rhyme is a very constructive feature of classroom practice and contributes positively to the pupils’ language and phonological and phonemic awareness. Children are exposed to a variety of rhymes, nursery rhymes and jingles.
A comprehensive and progressive school plan for the teaching of Mathematics, which is underpinned by the principles of the curriculum, has been prepared. Teachers at each class level have co-operated in outlining the school’s rationale and a programme of work for the teaching of the subject area. By focusing on the content objectives of each strand unit they have constructively devised an appropriate range of topics and mathematical activities which are designed towards the formation and understanding of concepts in each strand and strand unit of the curriculum. This plan also sets out and analyses a range of activity-based methodologies which focuses attention on the development of the appropriate mathematical language through the purposeful use of the very good range of mathematical resources, manipulatives and equipment which is available in the school. Effective long-term and short-term planning in Mathematics was observed in all classrooms where content is contextualised in the strands and strand unit structure of the curriculum and where methodologies, key resources and a range of strategies to consolidate pupil learning and participation are usefully outlined. The pupils are introduced to accurate mathematical language, with meaningful opportunities being provided to utilise the language taught. Oral mathematics is an integral aspect of each lesson and well-structured talk and discussion sessions are effectively employed on a school-wide basis to explore a broad range of mathematical concepts. An appropriate range of manipulatives is employed, including teacher-generated materials, to ensure a hands-on approach to learning in many classrooms.
In the infant classes attention is given to the acquisition of early mathematical vocabulary and meaningful opportunities are created to utilise the language taught. The pupils are given an active role in the lessons and they experience a broad variety of work in concept formation through practical activities such as counting, matching, ordering and sequencing. This work is continued in the junior classes where pupils’ understanding of number and awareness of shape measure and data are incrementally developed. In the middle and senior classes teachers continue to develop pupils’ understanding of mathematical concepts and estimation and problem solving skills through activity methods and whiteboard presentations. A good number of the pupils have a very good understanding of place value and the decimal system and can apply this knowledge to the various metric units of measurement both accurately and confidently. In many classes a variety of participative teaching approaches is facilitated through the excellent range of manipulatives on offer and effective questioning strategies are used to consolidate learning. Suitable emphasis is placed on oral work to encourage the children to talk about their activities and to extend their mathematical thinking. While whole-class teaching is the predominant methodology, purposeful practical activities and participative methodologies are constructively organised and in many cases pupils collaborate in pairs and in small groups when completing assignments. This approach fosters co-operative learning skills and facilitates teachers in supporting individual pupils as needed.
Effective learning support programmes are also applied to the Mathematics provision in the school. Children in all senior infant classes experience an extremely well-structured Maths for Fun programme which is coordinated by the HSCL teacher and is operated by class teachers with the help of parents. In some classes well-planned and effective co-operative teaching takes place with the help of the learning support team. In the lessons observed, activities were matched closely to the pupils’ different needs. Higher attaining pupils were challenged with work of a higher order, and pupils with specific educational needs had work modified for them, whilst still taking part in the overall activity. However, in some instances throughout the school basic number facts, mental calculation processing and estimation skills are insufficiently established to enable pupils to attain the desired learning outcomes from the various activities. Further work needs to be undertaken on children’s mental calculation strategies through more drill and practice on computation to improve general levels of alacrity and accuracy. Oral work should also be used more widely to link lesson content with the pupils’ environment and to explore its application therein.
A whole school plan for the teaching of History which is based on the principles and strand and strand unit framework of the curriculum has been prepared. The plan is designed to provide pupils with opportunities to acquire a broad and balanced understanding of history and to develop their investigation skills. In addition there is an accompanying list of available resources, and information on local trails with an emphasis on the importance of the school’s rich local environment. In the infant and junior classes, children’s historical work begins with their own past and that of their family and community. Stories and photographic evidence command attention and promote listening and recall skills, while stimulating discussion and questioning. Parents and grandparents have been invited into the school to share their knowledge with the pupils and a significant volume of local history and photographic resources has been gathered. In the middle and senior classes concepts encountered previously are explored in greater depth especially in the strands; politics, conflict and society and eras of change and conflict. Activities which include interviewing people from the community enable the children to develop a sense of time and the handling and exploration of historical artefacts, combined with effective discussion and questioning, contributes significantly to the children’s historical understanding. Visits to places of historical interest such as The Hugh Lane Gallery, the Croke Park Museum and the exploration of old maps and modern videos serve to consolidate the excellent work begun in the classroom. The creative use of innovative primary sources and quality teaching achieve much in focusing the minds of the pupils on the topic in hand.
A whole school plan for Geography has been devised for the implementation of the objectives of the curriculum. While the emphasis is on geographical skill and concept development, the plan aims to develop pupil knowledge and understanding of local, regional and wider environments and to promote a positive attitude to aspects of their local environment. Teaching and learning in Geography are supported by a wide range of texts, resources, technology and digital equipment and there is a good collection of city street maps and globes throughout the school. Visits within the local community are used to stimulate the children’s interest in the environment and to help the pupils to develop a simple understanding of the main topographical features, buildings and plant life of their locality. In the infant classes house plans and maps are used to enable the children to appreciate their uses and possibilities based on their interpretations of stories. In the junior and middle classes the use of suitable maps and the observation and recording of weather patterns help to develop the children’s mapping and observational abilities in a developmental and age-appropriate way. In the senior classes the pupils are enabled to become familiar with the names and location of the major physical features of Ireland, continental Europe and of the world and to understand the interrelationships between climate, soil types and plant life. Many important environmental issues are discussed and photographic evidence and a range of pupil-generated resources and displays are also utilised to stimulate pupil interest and to encourage active participation. Work engaged in at each level in the school, enables pupils to develop a respect for the environment and a sense of individual and community responsibility for its long-term wellbeing. Care should be taken in some instances to avoid an over-reliance on textbook material which is well removed from the pupils’ areas of interest and experience.
A comprehensive whole school plan has been prepared for the teaching of Science. The plan places a key emphasis on developing scientific skills and scientific reasoning by involving the pupils in appropriate scientific experiments and in the setting up of simple collaborative investigations in which they are actively and enjoyably engaged. Opportunities are provided for them to observe and interact with their environment on a seasonal basis. Proper emphasis is given to the discovery method of learning and the provision of a useful range of equipment and resources provides for investigative work across the four strands. These resources are further supplemented by a variety of videos and computer software. A broad range of work is undertaken across all strands of the Science curriculum. Investigation tables, which display the results of pupils’ investigations, are available in some classrooms and enhance the Science programme. Such provision should be extended for the benefit of all pupils. Pupils can confidently discuss the outcomes of their investigations. They use an appropriate vocabulary and appeared very enthusiastic about their work. All pupils are guided through the appropriate stages of scientific investigation, as they developed their skills in prediction and deduction. Pupils at infant and junior levels investigate the energy and forces strand through experimentation with magnets and polarity. At middle and senior level pupils discover important characteristics of light and heat through well-planned group work. Much highly commendable work has been carried out on environmental projects. Recycling, the separation of waste and composting are regular features of school life and the community is involved in environmental projects with the school
The school plan which has been formulated indicates that the teachers have embraced the principles of the Visual Arts curriculum in a comprehensive manner. Planning is based on the structure and content of the curriculum and ensures a broad and balanced programme. Objectives for each of the six strands are outlined in the plan, materials and equipment for each strand are listed and concept and skill development are emphasised. The classroom environment supports pupils’ learning, a wide range of materials and resources is used purposefully in the delivery of the programme and pupil engagement with the activities is effectively organised. The samples of pupils’ work that are displayed in all classrooms and along the corridors, combined with evidence from the school plan and teachers’ long and short-term planning, indicate that pupils have explored a wide range of themes, topics and media from all six strands of the Visual Arts curriculum. Many of these are suitably linked with other areas of the curriculum. Proper emphasis is placed on the child as the creator and inventor of the artwork. Pupils are generally active in exploring, experimenting and enjoying art activities. The use of a non-template approach to art making is to be commended and should be further embedded in school practice and policy. It is noted that in some classes effective use is made of thematic work across a number of strand areas. This approach is to be complimented and should be extended to other classes. Children make drawings and work in paint and colour. While some work is completed in the area of print, there is scope for more exploration and experimentation here in order to realise the educational potential of this strand area. Good work is completed with clay and the children clearly enjoy its tactile quality. The introduction of work in fabric and fibre is to be praised.
During the first school term much of the work is two-dimensional. However, the school plan places due emphasis on work in three dimensions for later in the year. This planned presentation of a broad and balanced curriculum is praiseworthy. As well as making art, children are required to look at and respond to work of their peers and the work of artists. A good start has been made in this regard. Talk and discussion is a feature of these classes and pupils develop a visual language and a visual awareness of the elements of art. The two-dimensional work of the child is celebrated through wall displays along corridors and in classrooms. The use of portfolios as a mechanism for the assessment of pupils’ achievement is in operation in most classes. This practice should be extended throughout the school. The children should be asked to discuss their art making in greater detail. This would benefit learning in both English and the Visual Arts, while simultaneously encouraging growth in self-esteem. The use of IT should be extended in supporting the work in the visual arts.
A school plan for the teaching of Music has been formulated and the teachers have devised a broad programme of musical activities, which includes listening and responding, performing and composing. This curricular area is very well resourced and teachers’ individual planning suggests a clear understanding of the programme and a balanced presentation of the strands of the curriculum. Age-appropriate activities in listening, responding, performing and composing are covered at the various levels and the pupils are exposed to and listen to a broad range of musical forms from traditional through to classical and modern music. The performance strand of the curriculum is well developed throughout the school and songs are taught carefully in a structured manner. The pupils sing a wide repertoire of songs in English and Irish, many of which are linked to other curricular areas. They perform in simple rounds in two or more parts and recognise and use some standard symbols to notate time and rhythm. Much work is carried out on rhythm and pulse and percussion instruments are used to good effect to this end. Pupils clap simple rhythms and play percussion instruments with increasing levels of confidence. They experiment with sound and express their own creativity through composing pieces of music for particular purposes. Percussion and hand-made resources enhance the dynamics of performance. At infant level pupils perform a wide range of musical rhymes and songs. They enjoy interacting with percussion instruments and their sense of rhythm and pulse is being developed to an appropriate level. Some teachers on the staff are very proficient in Music and some excellent active learning experiences are organised for the pupils. The school choir sings an impressive repertoire of songs, including songs that are representative of the cultural diversity in the school community, and they clearly enjoy performing a wide repertoire of musical styles. The listening and responding strand is well catered for and pupils listen to a range of classical music, Irish music, both traditional and contemporary, jazz and opera and to popular film soundtracks.
The whole school plan for Physical Education has been compiled following the completion of the in-service programme and school policy for this subject area is thorough and is implemented effectively. Planning reveals that each teacher has taken effective guidance from in-service education and renewed emphasis has been placed on the gymnastics and dance strands bringing greater breath and balance to the school’s implementation of the primary school curriculum. From the perspective of available facilities in the school this is also appropriate as the only available facilities are indoors. Each teacher follows a programme where children engage in movement, dance, gymnastics and indoor games and endeavours to provide them with a broad range of learning experiences to include activities that they will be in a position to engage in during their leisure time. The teaching and learning in this subject area has beneficial effects and the teachers view it as very important for the development of discipline and co-operation and through the development of their own teaching skills they are ensuring that pupils enjoy and derive benefit from each lesson.
Lessons are well structured, well sequenced, confidently organised, suitably paced and closely monitored. Proper warm-up and cool-down exercises are completed and full pupil involvement in learning activities which are designed to develop a range of skills is facilitated and encouraged. Activities and games are managed with confidence and expectations of pupils are set at a high level thus encouraging them to give of their best in their work in this area of the curriculum The pupils displayed a high level of fitness and skill and made very good use of the accommodation and resources A good and well-managed range of teaching resources has been procured to enhance the provision and includes small and medium equipment items such as mats, beanbags mini-goals, uni-hoc sticks, softballs and indoor-games kits. These are used to good effect to assist the pupils in developing and refining their skills and to promote overall fitness levels. The children participate in a spirited but disciplined fashion and it is clear that they derive a high level of enjoyment from all elements of the curriculum. The development of games skills is a feature of the programme and pupils are given the opportunity to participate in Gaelic football, basketball, tennis and soccer through the use of softballs and mini-game kits. The aquatics programme is successfully taught and swimming lessons are provided at the local swimming pool.
The principles of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) are strongly promoted through the positive school and classroom climate and a comprehensive whole school plan has been formulated in this subject area. In addition to the implementation of the SPHE curriculum work in the classroom incorporates the Walk Tall, Stay Safe, Children First, RSE, Bí Folláin, and a substantial breakfast and a hot mid-day meal are provided in the school canteen facilities each day. The programme aims to foster pupils’ self-worth and confidence, to build effective communication in the school and emphasises the development of a sense of personal responsibility for one’s good behaviour and actions. It is taught in discrete time and also through the spirit of kindness, understanding, helpfulness and tolerance which is palpable in the school environment on a day-to-day basis. The pupils are given careful training as regards behaviour and it is apparent that this has a notable and pervasive effect. The warm, welcoming school atmosphere and ethos reflect a firm commitment to the development and extension of the pupils’ skills in this subject. There is a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere of mutual respect and co-operation among the pupils who display a positive demeanour in all their school interactions. The positive attitude, enthusiasm, responsiveness and behaviour of the pupils are indeed praiseworthy It is apparent that a high degree of collaboration obtains among the teachers in the development of good manners on the part of the pupils and the good discipline that is in evidence is to the great credit of all of the staff The entire school community visibly demonstrates a very caring and supportive approach towards pupils with special educational needs.
At classroom level health and safety and personal topics are explored and a sense of caring for pupils and a commitment to the development of their individual potential is strongly in evidence. Pupils’ respect for themselves and others is also constructively promoted through the range of classroom activities. Lessons are well structured and the employment of a range of active and participative learning methodologies, including circle-time, structured discussion and role play is praised. The matters considered are of significant relevance to pupils’ development and they are allowed to explore topics including drug awareness, healthy living, hygiene, healthy eating and school and classroom rules. A supportive environment is provided, which facilitates the appropriate teasing out of issues. Health promoting habits are discussed and assisted by school practice as for example by the promotion of healthy eating as part of the school daily programme. Pupils in turn play a central role in contributing to lessons and an ability to relate the issues being addressed to their own life experiences is demonstrated.
Teachers provide useful information on work completed in their monthly progress records, they monitor pupils’ interest, understanding and progress on a daily basis through classroom observation and, although the outcomes may only be recorded anecdotally or where there is cause for concern, teachers demonstrate a clear understanding of their pupils’ strengths and learning needs. Teacher-designed and check-up tests from textbooks are administered on a regular basis while pupils’ copies and workbooks are carefully monitored and feedback is provided in good time. Folders of individual pupils’ work also provide evidence of the range of activities covered and of the progress being made. Teachers prepare short written reports on individual pupils in preparation for parent teacher meetings and parents are provided with written reports at the end of the school year. They are also afforded opportunities to discuss their children’s progress with class teachers or with learning-support, resource and language support teachers whenever the need arises.
Standardised tests in English and Mathematics are administered annually to all classes from senior infants upwards. These tests include Micra T and Sigma T and their results are being used increasingly to set new learning targets. The learning support and resource teachers administer diagnostic tests in order to assess the particular learning needs of less able learners and the results are used in selecting pupils for supplementary teaching and in determining the content of Individual Profile and Learning Programmes (IPLPs). A record of the results of all standardised and diagnostic tests is maintained. Overall, the teachers in Rutland Street NS prepare their work with care, they match lesson content to the needs and interests of their pupils and they carry out their work in a diligent and competent manner. In general, the pupils engage willingly in all school activities, they demonstrate an enthusiasm for learning and they progress in accordance with their various abilities.
The commitment, dedication and effectiveness of the teaching staff to the support of children with special needs in this school is a particular and noteworthy strength of the school and is recognised as one of the defining features of its vision and characteristic spirit.. Because of levels of disadvantage and other factors a higher than average proportion of pupils experience low achievement and learning difficulties and are in need of learning support or resource teaching to optimise their learning and to enable them to achieve adequate levels of proficiency in literacy and in numeracy in accordance with their abilities. The special education teaching team is led by the principal and meets monthly to monitor progress and to maximise the educational opportunities available to pupils with special needs. The team comprises one learning support teacher, one support teacher for pupils experiencing behavioural difficulties and three resource teachers, including one who specialises in the delivery of the reading recovery programme. All are dedicated, competent and understanding teachers. Whole school plans for learning support and resource teaching have been devised and implemented in accordance with best practice in the area of special needs. The plans highlight the pivotal role of the class teacher in supporting supplementary teaching and in preventing the emergence of learning difficulties. The prevention strategies include the development and implementation of agreed whole school approaches to language development and phonological awareness and the provision of intensive early intervention up to and including second class. Five special needs assistants have been employed to support pupils with special educational needs and they are deployed in accordance with Department regulations. They are enthusiastic about their work, they display a good understanding of the pupils’ strengths and needs and they make a genuine contribution to their learning and social integration into the life of the school.
Pupils are selected for learning support in English and Mathematics on the basis of their performance at and around the 10th percentile in standardised norm-referenced tests. They are mainly withdrawn in class groupings for support but, in some instances, this support is provided successfully in the pupils’ mainstream classes. When reviewing the provision of additional support for all pupils with special educational needs, consideration should be given to striking a better balance between withdrawing them from their classes and providing them with in-class support. Their Individual Profile and Learning Programmes (IPLPs) inform the creation of group education programmes which are devised in consultation with the class teachers. Each group plan outlines the priority learning needs and targets of the particular group as well as the learning strategies and attainments and class-based learning activities. The instructional term is approximately twenty weeks after which the pupil’s progress is reviewed. A high level of consultation and co-operation is maintained between the class teachers and the support teachers and detailed records of children’s progress are maintained.
An experienced and dedicated teacher operates the very successful reading recovery programme where a small number of pupils are undergoing intensive individual help in reading and writing. This specialised one-to-one programme operates on a daily basis and the pupils experience the programme for approximately twenty weeks at senior infants or first class level. The teaching strategy involves the re-reading of a series of graded readers and a new book is introduced each day. A running record of difficulties encountered is kept and these are addressed when the reading exercise is completed. Letter identification, hearing sounds in words and word analysis and synthesis are reinforced. Children are encouraged to write stories daily and are encouraged to re-assemble a cut-up story. An extremely high level of preparation and planning underpins the provision of the support. Excellent records are maintained. Admirable levels of progress are evident and pupils are highly motivated and enthusiastic.
Resource teaching is being provided to support 17 pupils with special educational needs enrolled in mainstream classes. The teachers have embraced innovation and the principle of early intervention underpins the school’s policy on resource teaching. A flexible and commendable approach incorporating team-teaching has been adopted by the resource teaching team who provide stimulating programmes in very positive and attractive classroom environment for the pupils who present with specific learning and emotional difficulties, ADHD, and speech and language difficulties. Good use is made of high quality resources to enhance learning. The resource teachers, in collaboration with class teachers, undertake individual planning for pupil and copies of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are available to the classroom teachers who support the identified learning targets for each pupil. The children are integrated in mainstream classes for the remainder of the school day.
Pupils who experience behavioural difficulties are supported effectively in their learning by an experienced and dedicated support teacher. She takes a preventative approach to her work and, in doing so, she uses a range of strategies that are to be highly commended. By actively engaging in appropriate learning activities, the pupils enhance their ability to manage their own behaviour and experience success in curriculum areas. The teacher works collaboratively with her classroom colleagues which results in the delivery of suitably adapted programmes of work and the development of common approaches.
The school has benefited greatly from a number of the DEIS initiatives which are designed to ensure that pupils in schools located in disadvantaged areas benefit from a comprehensive package of supports aimed at countering educational disadvantage. The school has an additional teaching post sanctioned because of its designation. In collaboration with the School Completion Programme, the home school community liaison (HSCL) co-ordinator provides for projects aimed specifically at countering disadvantage. These include the provision of a school attendance monitor, additional art classes, drama hours, music therapy sessions and an after-school club which provides the pupils with valuable support with their homework. The school provides a breakfast and a hot lunch which is prepared in the school canteen and is open to all. The available funding also facilitates the provision of some counselling for pupils who are deemed to need it. The availability of these various initiatives is having a positive impact on the school community in general and on targeted pupils in particular. The school has established close and beneficial links with Holy Child Pre-school and the local post-primary Larkin College to facilitate and ease the transition from one level to the next and to promote continuity in educational provision. The school team works tirelessly to maximise the educational benefit for pupils arising from participation in these schemes. It is to its credit that the educational welfare of the child remains to the fore in all related decision-making when engaging in this work. The success and effectiveness of the work is monitored and constantly evaluated
Equality of access to the school is underpinned by policy and it respects the diversity of values, beliefs, traditions, languages and ways of life in our society today. In practice, the school has enrolled the children of many families who have come to Ireland and now live in its catchment area. This number accounts for about 25% of its pupil population. Arising from the assessed English language needs of these pupils, a language support teacher has been appointed in the school.
Following assessment in accordance with Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT) guidelines and consultation between the support and class teachers, pupils are selected for supplementary teaching. Opportunities for regular consultation with class teachers are provided and IILT checklists are used to monitor pupils’ progress. Groups of three or four pupils with similar needs are usually withdrawn for focused work on the development of their language skills across the three strands of the English curriculum. A number of these groups were observed and they demonstrated a clear desire to succeed. Fortnightly schemes of work are prepared for each group and a good range of suitable resources is used effectively to support teaching and learning. Programmes of work are implemented in a systematic manner and with due sensitivity and the pupils make steady progress. A monthly record of the work completed with each group is maintained. Support for one group is provided in their mainstream classroom in collaboration with the class teacher. When reviewing language support provision, the school should consider how additional elements of the programme could be delivered in settings which would afford the pupils a wider range of experiences, including working in mixed groups and peer learning.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
· The teachers plan and teach their programmes of work diligently and with commitment.
· Educational disadvantage is well understood in the school and the pupils receive a high level of pastoral care
· The behaviour of the pupils is exemplary.
· The board of management carries out its duties in a diligent and caring manner; it provides the school with sustained support and fosters positive relations across the school community.
· The school presents as a stimulating learning environment for the pupils and of particular note are the display of pupils’ Visual Arts work and the cleanliness of the accommodation.
· The teachers display a high level of mutual support for one another and particularly for newly qualified colleagues.
· All members of the teaching staff are committed to the provision of high quality education for special needs pupils.
· A welcoming atmosphere is created in the school for foreign national pupils and for the parents of all pupils.
· In-school management is both progressive and adept at setting clear and appropriate learning targets. The principal teacher provides dynamic and energetic leadership and she receives valuable support from all members of staff.
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.