An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

                                                                                              Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Mhuire agus Naomh Treasa

Currow, Farranfore, Co. Kerry.

Uimhir rolla: 20147S

 

Date of inspection: 11 March 2008

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

Introduction – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils

Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Scoil Mhuire agus Naomh Treasa, Currow, Farranfore, Co. Kerry. 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 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 was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.

 

1.     Introduction – school context and background

 

This school was designed as a central school for the parish of Killeentiarna in mid-Kerry. The schools at Currans and Currow amalgamated in 1980 and Kilsarcon amalgamated in 2001 from which date the name Scoil Mhuire agus Naomh Treasa came into being. The school is under the patronage of the Bishop of Kerry and is a Catholic school. The school has three buses providing transport for the children of the surrounding area that is largely a rural and village setting. The school is located close to Kerry Airport in an area with a relatively low density of housing. The school is situated beside the church in the village of Currow. Built in 1980, the school is maintained in very good condition and it is kept clean and tidy with the valuable cooperation of the pupils.

 

2.     Quality of school management

 

2.1 Board of management

 

The board meets regularly. Normally this is once per term but if necessary, the board meets more often. Specific tasks have been assigned to board members and there is a financial report at all meetings. Maintenance of the school is one of the allocated responsibilities and matters such as the keeping of the school and the lawns are attended to in a regular fashion. Some members of the board have received some training on particular facets of board business. The board is closely involved in and associated with the detailed operation of the school. The board is attentive to the needs of the school and values very highly its role in the locality. Policies of the school have been overseen and ratified by the board. The board and the school place a special emphasis on co-operation and on a strong sense of community and this is reflected in the mission statement of the school. It is apparent that the board is most supportive of the work of the school.

 

2.2 In-school management

 

It is apparent that the principal and the post-holders work in close collaboration with each other for the benefit of the school. The school has a notable tradition forged over the years and there is a palpable sense of pride in the overall work of the school. Whereas the post-holders have allocated administrative and organisational responsibilities, it is recommended that specific curricular aspects might be included as part of their responsibilities with a view to developing facets of the school’s planning and practice in the future.

2.3 Management of resources

 

The school uses its resources in a very careful and productive way. There are very good systems in place to manage the day to day operation of the school. Many aspects of the school’s work are provided for with foresight and with good judgement. For example, a coffee morning is organised for the parents of incoming new pupils in advance of the new school year while an information booklet is prepared for parents to assist them in starting infant children in the school. There is an excellent system in place for the listing of the children in all the classes. Books, materials, equipment and new technology are provided in a timely and appropriate way to provide for the education of the pupils of the school. At the present time, the school is in the process of developing a dedicated library space in a vacant classroom. A school garden is maintained for vegetables and flowers so that the pupils have some opportunities for gardening activity.

 

The school is very well kept as regards tidiness and neatness of the play areas and the grounds. It is readily apparent that the ancillary staff of secretary, caretaker and cleaner contribute very notably to the work and success of the school. It is noticeable that there are good procedures for maintaining the school both inside and outside and also for keeping track of all the business of the school. The staff and office area is very well arranged and very helpfully equipped. It is evident that the pupils are trained to care for their school and that they take pride in it.

 

2.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

It is evident that there is a good level of communication with parents by means of the twice-yearly newsletter which gives wide-ranging information about aspects of the school and its participation in various sporting and cultural events. Pictures of class groups and of particular items along with news of board of management issues and school affairs generally provide significant insights into the life of the school. The school provides a valuable information booklet for parents of infants beginning school and this is an important aid for assisting children and their families at the commencement of schooling. The school has an active parents’ association that is very supportive of the school’s activities. Swimming lessons are arranged in conjunction with the parents’ association after school hours. 

 

2.5 Management of pupils

 

The principal and the teachers are very mindful of their duties of care for the pupils. It is apparent that careful provision is made for the pupils and that the discipline and training of the children is accorded special care and attention. It is evident that high standards of behaviour are achieved. Pupils in all classes manifest great respect for themselves, for other pupils, for their teachers and for visitors. There is a notable pride taken in the overall work of each classroom and the pupils have learned at an early stage the value and benefit of learning. It is to be noted also that the pupils display contentment and satisfaction in their work in school. The school is to be complimented for the clear commitment of the pupils towards learning and work.

 

3.     Quality of school planning

 

3.1 School planning process and implementation

 

The school has a well developed school plan that presents in a succinct and focused manner a substantial body of planning and organisational material. All aspects of the curriculum are provided for and elements such as information and communication technology and assessment are included also. It is apparent that the detailed plans have been developed over recent years and in some subject areas, reviews have been undertaken and finalised. Many of the individual items are signed and dated. The school provides for many activities in and outside school. These include choir work, learning to play the tin whistle, attendance at theatre events, maintaining a school garden, participation in a broad range of sporting and other activities.  The school provides for the broad range of organisational and administrative policies in accordance with the needs of the present time. The school has policy statements for discipline, behaviour, safety, child protection, homework, and home school links and communication among other things. Commendably the school has included provision for action in the event of emergency at the nearby airport. Commendably also the school has a positive mission statement and a set of social aims for the pupils. The school also provides for a transition to second level education course for the sixth class pupils and this is done in conjunction with the Sliabh Luachra resource centre in Castleisland. Overall, it is apparent that the school has a well developed and appropriate plan to meet the needs of the pupils. It is apparent also that the plan is an important source document governing the work of the school and contributing notably to the implementation of the curriculum.

 

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 teachers provide careful and consistent planning for their individual classes. Planning is very well arranged and well documented. It may be noted that in the case of the two teachers who job share, planning and liaison matters are handled with great care and precision so that continuity and communication are provided for with excellent results. The teachers take full account of the principles of the curriculum in their planning and arrangement of work. Methods are appropriately applied in the various elements of the curriculum. Monthly records of progress are kept in a tick-off system as part of the fortnightly or weekly plans. These records are available centrally in the office. This system is in place for some time. It is suggested that a template approach to maintaining the records of progress might be preferable for the purpose of having sufficient account of work completed and this might be considered by the principal and staff.

 

4.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

4.1 Overview of learning and teaching

 

It is evident that a high quality of teaching is provided throughout the school and that pupils’ needs are accorded excellent priority across the broad range of the curriculum. There is clear evidence of progress and learning from class to class and pupils’ achievement generally is of a high quality.

 

 

 

 

 

4.2 Language

 

Gaeilge

le feiscint go soiléir go gcaitear allas agus dúthracht le teagasc na Gaeilge sa scoil. Téann na múinteoirí go léir i mbun oibre go díograiseach is go gnóthach sna ceachtanna. Ag gach leibhéal den scoil bronntar am agus áit faoi leith don Ghaeilge. Stiúrtar na ceachtanna go beoga is go bríomhar agus léiríonn na daltaí dul chun cinn an-bhreá ar an iomlán.

 

Sna naíranganna, úsáidtear puipéid, fearas, gníomhaíocht, rannta, amhráin agus drámaíocht chun na leanaí a mhealladh chun cainte. Cuirtear prionta ar fáil go saibhir, pléitear an nuacht go seiftiúil, úsáidtear cluichí go samhailteach agus cíortar scéalta agus cúrsaí aimsire go fiúntach. Baineann na daltaí taitneamh as an obair ranga. Sna bunranganna, leantar leis an obair seo agus méadaítear foclóir agus raon cainte na ndaltaí. Déantar cúram rialta den chaint neamhfhoirmiúil agus lorgaítear comhrá agus freagraí ó na daltaí go minic. Múintear dánta go héifeachtach agus an-chuid meabhraithe ag na daltaí sa tslí go bhfuil saibhreas faoi leith acu. Dírítear ar an réamhléitheoireacht go cumasach agus léiríonn na daltaí dul chun cinn céimiúil. Sna meánranganna, leathnaítear ar an obair le seanfhocail, le drámaíocht agus le píosaí filíochta. Roghnaítear ceachtanna go ciallmhar chun taitneamh a chur san obair. soláthar deas de leabhair Ghaeilge ar fáil sna seomraí agus iad ar taispeáint go tarraingteach. Eagraítear obair i bpéirí ar ócáidí agus spreagtar na daltaí le cluichí chun suim agus beocht a aimsiú san obair. Sna hardranganna, leantar leis an obair agus dírítear aire ar chúrsaí gramadaí chomh maith le comhrá agus léitheoireacht. Eagraítear na cóipleabhair go cúramach agus déantar cleachtaí éagsúla go rialta. Déantar maoirseacht cheart ar obair na ndaltaí agus gnóthaítear néatacht agus éagsúlacht san obair.

 

Mar is léir, déantar cúram an-mhaith de theagasc na Gaeilge sa scoil. le feiscint go bhfuil toradh maith agus an-mhaith ina lán slite. Moltar go speisialta an taitneamh a ghabhann leis an nGaeilge sna ceachtanna agus an tslí go dtéann seo i bhfeidhm ar na daltaí. le sonrú go mórmhór sa bhfilíocht, sa drámaíocht agus sa chomhrá.

 

Meastar go bhfuil fadhb ar leith leis na téacsleabhair léitheoireachta sa mhéid go bhfuil cuid acu as dáta anois. Freisin fadhb áirithe le foghraíocht na Gaeilge ag an meánleibhéal agus ag an ardleibhéal sa scoil. Táthar den tuairim go bhfuil le athbhreithniú ar bhonn scoile ar na téacsanna léitheoireachta. Freisin, moltar go gcuirfí béim níos treise ar chumarsáid sa scoil ionas go mbeadh an comhrá mar phríomhaidhm don teagasc.

 

Irish

It is apparent that effort and energy is committed to the teaching of Irish in the school. All the teachers are dedicated and active in their approach to lessons. At every level of the school Irish is accorded a special place and time. Lessons are managed in lively and vigorous fashion and the pupils show fine progress on the whole.

 

In the infant classes, puppets, equipment, activity, rhymes, songs and drama are availed of to stimulate the pupils towards conversing. Print is placed on display in a plentiful manner, news is exploited with intelligence, games are used imaginatively and stories and weather aspects are explored valuably. The pupils enjoy their classroom work. In the junior classes, this work is continued and the vocabulary and conversational range of the pupils are extended. Informal conversation is given regular attention and talk and answers are sought frequently from the pupils. Poems are taught effectively and a wide selection has been memorised so that the pupils have a particularly rich store. Pre-reading is managed very capably and the pupils show incremental progress. In the middle classes, the work is further developed with proverbs, with dramatisation and with poetry. Lessons are chosen prudently so that there is pleasure to be derived from the work. There is an attractive selection of Irish books made available in the classrooms and these are arranged invitingly. Occasionally the pupils work in pairs and they are stimulated with games so that interest and vigour is cultivated in the work. In the senior classes, the work is continued and attention is given to grammar as well as conversation and reading. Copybooks are organised with care and varied exercises are assigned with regularity. The work of the pupils is supervised appropriately and neatness and variety are obtained in the written work.

 

As is clear, the school makes very good provision for the teaching of Irish. It is apparent that the result is good and in many respects very good. The pleasure that is associated with Irish and the manner in which this has influence on the pupils is especially commended. It is to be seen particularly in poetry, in dramatisation and in conversation.

 

It is considered that there is a particular difficulty with the textual material for reading insofar as some of the texts are out of date now. Also there is a difficulty to a degree with pronunciation in Irish at the middle and senior level. It is considered that there is need for review at whole school level of the textual material for reading. Also, it is recommended that additional emphasis might be given to a communicative approach in the school so that conversation would be the principal aim of the teaching.

 

English

English is taught to very good effect throughout the school. The teachers demonstrate very effective methods of work and the pupils benefit fully from the lessons. There is a strong sense in which the pupils experience satisfaction and pleasure in their lessons and this lends added benefit to the work in this aspect of the curriculum.

 

In the infant and junior classes, the teachers plan their work with acumen and skill. Interesting selections are made so that topics and pieces will be of interest and benefit to the pupils. Lessons are presented with clarity and with good timing. Conversation is a major focus and is attended to very carefully with many opportunities for the pupils to speak and to be heard. Skilful use is made of rhymes and verses to engage the children and many of these are learned off by heart so that the pupils have a ready stock of material for recitation. This they do with pleasure individually and in groups. Songs and stories are blended very well with the work and phonic work and activity approaches are availed of to add interest to learning. Good humour, games, and equipment enhance the work and the pupils benefit very well from their lessons. Very good provision is made for reading and books are given excellent prominence in varied ways. There are inventive approaches for many aspects of the teaching of English and the work is very well advanced.

 

In the middle and senior classes, the work in English is consolidated and developed in accordance with the principles of the curriculum. Pupils have good opportunities to speak and to engage with language. Interesting topics are given attention and the pupils respond very well to particular aspects. Games and activities are featured to good effect. Reading skills are developed with keen awareness of pupils’ needs. Material for reading is carefully selected and a good variety of material is used. Novels are featured prominently and interesting and challenging work is linked to their study. The pupils are given engaging assignments in written aspects and creative and inventive material including poems are a common element in copybooks and in class compilations placed on display. To add interest to the work, particular features are placed on display and these incorporate themes and items of special note. Written work is attended to with skill and a very good result is obtained overall as is apparent from the copybooks of the pupils. It is apparent that the pupils are keen readers and they can discuss with balance and with good sense material they have encountered. A valuable feature also is that the pupils have acquired skills in word processing so that particular items are produced using new technology sometimes.

 

In general, the pupils show excellent progress in English and the overall standards of teaching and learning are impressive.

 

4.3 Mathematics

 

All the teachers give careful and incremental attention to the teaching and learning of Mathematics. Lessons are well structured and arranged with the needs of the pupils kept in mind. Equipment and aids are used commonly and displays of mathematical items are usefully featured to assist the pupils with understanding. Many items of equipment are availed of to assist teaching and learning processes. For example, a number line on the floor is used for infants, and small sticks to construct shapes are used in a middle grade. There is consistent and skilful presentation of the lessons in Mathematics and the teaching is both lively and effective. In the infant groups, the pupils are given excellent training in the language of Mathematics with activities arranged to provide opportunities for the pupils to engage physically with conceptual development. The pupils’ own individual play clocks are used very skilfully to assist in learning about time and the pupils derive full benefit from their work. In the junior classes, the work is extended and good opportunities for oral work are provided for the pupils with skilful questioning and challenging exercises. The pupils reveal keen understanding of material covered and they also show pleasure and satisfaction in their learning. In the middle and senior grades, the pupils develop their mathematical work in accordance with the curriculum and many opportunities are given to them to engage with number and concepts in the various strands of the curriculum. Textual materials are used to good advantage and the pupils overall show good progress in their studies. Work with calculators might be further developed while the number line might feature more prominently as a regular part of lesson work and an essential reference point in Mathematics in general. It is apparent that the work in Mathematics succeeds very well and that commendable results are achieved. Throughout the school, written work in Mathematics is carefully supervised and very well ordered. On occasion some of the written work is entered into published texts or workbooks. The work in the pupils’ copybooks is generally of a very creditable standard and indicative of the high quality of teaching that is devoted to the subject.

 

4.4 Social, Environmental and Scientific Education

 

Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) is a feature of the work in all the classrooms and many interesting features of work are developed and studied. This work is done in a comprehensive and interesting way. Samples of the work were surveyed as part of the evaluation of the work of the school.

 

History

History is given careful treatment with aspects of story, biography, national events and particular themes featuring in various classrooms. The younger pupils benefit from legends and stories about saints and heroes. Some of these are featured with illustrations and pictures to assist the pupils’ imaginative development. On occasion, the pupils carry out interviews with family members and record detail about life long ago. National events such as the Great Famine are examined in very interesting ways with some excellent detail on particular aspects so that the children can develop understanding about facets of life in other times. Local aspects are also given attention though this might be further developed. Interesting connections and linkages are made with other aspects of curricular work such as artwork, ballads and novels. Teachers’ presentational skills are commendable and beneficial. Some inspiring elements are brought into play as for example large scale canvas pictures focusing on emigration to North America. Generally the work in History is well developed and suitably managed.

 

Geography

Geography is a regular feature of work in the classrooms. Nature displays are carefully arranged and often feature growing things such as seeds and flowers. Seasonal change is given attention and natural phenomena are brought to notice in a productive and beneficial manner. Laminated class books help to focus attention on plant life. News items and weather observations are accorded regular treatment and the pupils enjoy and profit from these. At times, the pupils have opportunity to work in groups and in pairs. Interesting material is featured for study as for example, life on the farm, the water cycle, and maps and co-ordinates. A field trip to the nearby river was a particular item of merit with some very useful material gathered for further exploration. Photographic items were especially notable. The pupils reveal good understanding of work covered and they can discuss their lessons with confidence. Some elements of work are featured in copybooks. Textual material is used extensively. While progress overall is good, it is recommended that local aspects might be given more prominence in the work and that the pupils should produce more maps of their own to provide further scope for independent work in Geography.

 

Science

The pupils have opportunity to study aspects of science throughout the school. Simple experiments with plants and observation of change of plant life provides an excellent starting point with the youngest pupils. They learn by doing and observing and the work is well advanced and suitably developed. Experiments are carried out as a regular feature of work in classrooms and the pupils frequently record aspects of this work. Lesson items from textual material are commonly featured. Methodical work is to be found in display material and in the pupils’ copybooks. Where sampled, science experiments are prepared with care and presented with skill with suitable focus on activity on the part of the pupils. Equipment is utilised for appropriate explication of phenomena of interest. Pupils show good understanding of particular experiments and can relate and apply their knowledge to solve problems. Progress in science overall seems good.

 

In general, the use of textual material for SESE might be reviewed on a whole school basis as it is evident that teachers’ selections for study provide more interesting and beneficial avenues for work in this aspect of the curriculum. Also, it is recommended that the pupils’ work in copybooks might be developed further with additional emphasis on illustrations, diagrams, maps, and simple records of particular lessons.

 

4.5 Arts Education

 

Visual Arts

Opportunities are provided at each class level for pupils to explore the strands of the Visual Arts programme. Attractive samples of the pupils’ completed works are displayed in the classrooms. Opportunities for the integration of visual arts with other areas of the curriculum are availed of and these are commendable. Fine examples of work in fabric and fibre, print, construction, drawing and painting are among the artworks on display outside the learning support room. The children express great pride in their creations and are keen to display and to describe their work. The senior classes are adept in the use of many media and describe the creative process with clarity. Pupils display a good understanding of the range of visual elements and apply a variety of artistic skills and individuality to their work.  Integration is used to good effect to support learning particularly in SESE and SPHE.  It is recommended that further emphasis be placed on Looking and Responding to the work of artists and to pupils’ own work.

 

Music

The teaching and learning of Music as observed is very good.  Aspects of music literacy including beat, rhythm, notation and interval training are explored at junior level. Music literacy is meaningfully linked with song-singing and instrumental work. Pupils are adept in observation of environmental sound and in the use of vocal and instrumental sound. They perform with confidence and enthusiasm making effective use of percussion instruments, commercial and home-made. At senior level the pupils are exposed to Music of different styles, periods and cultures.  Their understanding of musical elements is evident in their confident response to the pulse, duration, pitch, dynamics, and structure of instrumental music. Pupils are familiar with standard notation and absolute pitch names and they display a clear understanding of rhythmic syllables and can manipulate and use these rhythms appropriately. The pupils sing very well, tunefully and at an appropriate range. The musical talent of the teaching staff is strongly in evidence and is used to positive effect in the implementation of the curriculum for Music.

 

Drama

Discrete time is allocated to drama lessons in addition to drama conventions being used as a learning tool in other subject areas. The quality of teaching and learning in drama observed is good. Pupils are provided with suitable learning opportunities to make drama, reflect on drama and to cooperate and communicate. The content observed is age and class appropriate. Pupils display high levels of enjoyment and engagement with the drama activity.  Two discrete lessons in Drama were observed during the evaluation, one of a junior and one of a senior class. When prompted, the junior pupils displayed an appropriate range of emotions and expression.  Here, Drama is developed as an extension of pretend play and linked to story and movement. The children are comfortable with and practised in the dramatic experience and participate in a most enthusiastic manner. They enter physically and emotionally into the drama world, are most eager to demonstrate movement and confidently engage in post drama discussion, displaying a clear understanding of the roles they had enacted. Previous dramatic work with an effective use of basic props has been recorded in the form of a book of photographs showing pupils enacting each scene.  The senior class was observed cooperating and communicating in making Drama. Groups devised and performed simple improvisational scenarios and reflected on the process. Integration with SPHE was effective. Pupils used the fictional world to address real problems in a fictional context.  Good use is made of questioning and discussion to involve the pupils in evaluating activities in post-drama discussion.

 

4.6 Physical Education

 

The school is proud of its tradition in sporting matters and of the achievement, nationally and internationally, of some of its former pupils in Gaelic and rugby football.  The school makes good provision for this area of the curriculum and participates in a variety of sports leagues and competitions. There are extensive play areas. Yards are allocated to specific class groups. A basket ball court and a playing field complete the outdoor facilities and there is a large indoor hall and storage room. The interest of staff, parents and the local community in the promotion of sport is commendable. Boys and girls have equal access to all strands of the Physical Education (PE) curriculum. The strand of aquatics is facilitated through the parents’ association and children receive lessons after school hours. The teachers make effective use of age-appropriate activities and the school promotes a healthy attitude to sport and exercise.

 

Appropriate use is made of available equipment to enhance the structure and organisation of the lessons. The school plan lists an inventory of resources to support the teaching of PE. It is recommended that this inventory be updated to include all resources available and to provide accurate information on the quantities of basic resources. Observation of lessons during the whole school evaluation saw waiting time being extended and team numbers increased to compensate for limited basic resources. Evidence suggests that PE is well taught, emphasises specific skill development and places due emphasis on safety. The enthusiasm of pupils was evident in lessons observed and they demonstrate a positive attitude to PE.  Lessons observed were well organised and structured to place an appropriate emphasis on the routines of warm up, exercises and skills practice. It is recommended that a cool down period be included in all lessons.

 

4.7 Social, Personal and Health Education

 

The programme in this area of the curriculum supports the ethos of the school.  A positive school climate is nurtured and pupils are conscientiously guided in developing respectful attitudes towards other people. Notice boards on corridors and at the points of entry to the school are welcoming and celebrate achievement in photographic presentations. A series of posters emphasises the schools’ intolerance of bullying. There is a palpable atmosphere of respect throughout the school with the encouragement of respectful language, good communication and the boosting of self-esteem.

 

The content of the school plan for Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) illustrates that the staff is conscious of the central role of this area of the curriculum in the development of the child’s sense of identity and belonging. A number of programmes including Stay Safe, and Relationships and Sexuality Education are in place to ensure that the needs of the pupils are met. The plan provides a comprehensive overview of the curriculum for SPHE while teachers long-term and short-term planning outlines the topics covered. For the most part this individualised teacher planning was confined to topics and did not include resource materials, teaching methods or assessment procedures. It is recommended that these headings be included in teacher planning to assist teaching and learning in SPHE.  It is further recommended that due emphasis be given to all three strands of the SPHE curriculum.

 

In the classes observed during the evaluation teachers employed participative teaching and learning approaches allowing pupils to actively explore topics in SPHE.  Classrooms visited showed evidence of topics covered under the strands of SPHE and agreed class rules were displayed. Effective methodologies of whole-class and group teaching were to be seen. Meaningful integration is practised between SPHE and English and this is evidenced in booklets on film preferences displayed in the class library. In the senior section of the school the quality of classroom interaction and pupils’ contributions are equally commendable. Continuity and progression are evidenced throughout the school with common themes of food and nutrition, personal safety, friendship and feelings being explored and developed at the four class levels observed. It is also commendable that SPHE was seen to be deliberately integrated with subjects such as Drama, Visual Arts and Social, Environmental and Scientific Education.

 

4.8 Assessment

 

The school maintains a wide range of assessment material in a careful and methodical way. The results of standardised tests, teachers’ tests and various checklists for core subject areas are kept on file in a manner that allows for easy access to records. The school has good systems for maintaining the assessment data on individual children. For each child the school maintains a folder with assessment test pages and other items. Observational data might be added to the existing assessment material from time to time. There is provision for parent staff meetings to be held usually in the month of December. It is recommended that written reports should be sent to all parents at certain intervals such as for example at the end of each year. The school is in the process of arranging a system for such reporting.

 

5.     Quality of support for pupils

 

5.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

The quality of provision for pupils with special educational needs is very good. One fulltime learning support resource teacher (LS/RT) is based in the school.  While supplementary support is provided in both literacy and numeracy, it is not confined to these areas.  During the evaluation a variety of effective methodologies were observed to integrate SESE and ICT effectively and seamlessly into teaching and learning. Samples of children’s work in Visual Arts are displayed on the corridor outside the learning support room.

 

A comprehensive school plan for pupils with special educational needs has been developed. It outlines prevention strategies, an early intervention programme and criteria for the selection of pupils for supplementary teaching, procedures for discontinuation of pupils and the roles of the partners involved in the pupils’ learning. The school is committed to the staged approach outlined in Circular 02/05 in regard to early identification and early intervention strategies.  Selection of pupils is informed by the results of standardised tests and consultation with class teachers. The Micra T, Sigma T, Diagnostic Reading Programme, Basic Number Diagnostic and the MIST are used to this effect.

 

Pupils are withdrawn for supplementary teaching either in small groups or individually and pupils’ attendance at support sessions is recorded. The quality of preparation, planning and documentation of pupils’ progress observed is high. The LS/RT approaches her work in a professional manner and has developed positive working relations with the pupils in her care. Comprehensive Individual Profile and Learning Programmes (IPLPs) have been devised for the pupils withdrawn for supplementary teaching. The plans are based on the pupils’ identified learning strengths and needs. Priority areas and related learning targets are clearly identified. The interactions observed between the pupils and LS/RT were affirming and encouraging to pupils. The class teacher is provided with a summarised version of the IPLP.

 

Pupils engage enthusiastically in activities set. The continuous effective use of ICT employed to assist in the development of specific auditory and visual skills is praiseworthy. The learning support classroom provides a print-rich learning environment and is equipped with appropriate resources to facilitate learning and encourage pupil engagement. Individualised, purposeful teaching strategies ensure that instruction is effective, supported by the appropriate use of a

variety of visual and concrete materials. It is commendable that the school operates an early intervention scheme with all senior infants annually. 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

  • The board of management is to be complimented on the success and smooth operation of the school over the years particularly for the quality of education that is provided and also for the contribution that the school makes to the community and people of Currow and its hinterland. The school benefits from the strong support and assistance of the parents in all its activities

 

  • The principal and staff are to be commended for the commitment and dedication they manifest in their day to day work of education. The good and comprehensive planning and preparation that is provided, combined with the skilful and experienced approach to teaching and learning that is so clearly a part of the ordinary work of the school, make for a very rounded and thorough provision for the education of the pupils of the school. High standards of work are to be encountered across the curriculum.

 

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

 

  • It is recommended that specific curricular aspects should be included as part of the responsibilities given to post-holders so that various facets of the school’s planning and practice might be further developed and advanced in the future

 

  • The use of textual material for SESE should be reviewed on a whole school basis and larger emphasis given to teachers’ own selections for study.  Also, it is recommended that the pupils’ independent work in copybooks might be developed further with additional emphasis on illustrations, diagrams, maps, and simple records of lessons.

 

  • It is recommended that the textual material for Irish reading should be reviewed with a view to sourcing more suitable texts for usage. It is recommended also that additional emphasis be placed on a communicative approach so that conversation may be the chief aim of the work in Irish.

 

 

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, November 2008