An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

 

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Patrician College

Deanstown Avenue, Finglas, Dublin 11

Roll number: 60571J

 

Date of inspection: 20 March 2007

Date of issue of report: 6 December 2007

 

 

 

 

1. The quality of School Management

2. Quality of School Planning

    3. Quality of Curriculum Provision

4. Quality of Learning and Teaching in Subjects

5. Quality of Support for Students

6. Summary of Findings and Recommendations for Further Development

Appended Subject Inspection Reports

School Response to the Report

 

 

 

                                 

This Whole School Evaluation report

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of Patrician College. 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 students and teachers, examined students’ work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation, and met with various staff teams, where appropriate. Following the evaluation visit, the inspectors provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the staff and to the board of management. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Patrician College is a Catholic voluntary secondary school for boys under the trusteeship of the Patrician Brothers. The school was established in 1967 when the Patrician Brothers responded to the invitation of the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Reverend Dr. John Charles McQuaid, to provide a post-primary school in the north city suburb of Finglas West. The suburb is a mixed residential area consisting of private and council housing that has to contend with unemployment and a number of other social problems.

 

Patrician College has been granted disadvantaged status by the Department of Education and Science. The school has also been accepted into the new integrated school support programme, DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), that seeks to address effectively the educational needs of students from disadvantaged communities. These measures enable the school to avail of additional resources and financial supports in meeting the needs of the student population. The student enrolment is 207 students in the academic year 2006/2007 for whom an allocation of 25.97 teaching posts and two special needs assistants have been sanctioned.

 

The Whole School Evaluation process focused on management and planning, overall curriculum provision and support for students. Meetings were held with the Board of Management, the principal and deputy principal, the teaching staff, parents’ representatives, members of the student council and the ancillary staff. In addition, the report includes evaluations of five curricular areas: English, Art, Guidance, French and Business. 

 

  

 

1. The quality of School Management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit of the school

 

Patrician College is a caring and supportive school. Management and staff are committed to the holistic education of the students in a school environment where good relationships are promoted. Respect and tolerance are cornerstones of communal life in the school.  The school’s striking motto “Believe that you can” reflects the commitment of the staff to encouraging and affirming the progress of the students. The daily life of the school is informed by the school’s ethos and the vision statement of the Patrician Brothers which states that sustained effort will be made to meet the needs of the students, especially those who are in greatest need of such support. The many and varied aspects of school life ranging from the documented school policies, classroom teaching, the organisation of co- and extra-curricular activities to the pastoral care supports that are available to students contribute to the positive nature of the school’s environment.

 

 

1.2 School ownership and management

 

The board of management is constituted in accordance with the Articles of Management for Catholic Secondary Schools. The present board was established in September 2006 and comprises four nominees of the religious trustees, two nominees of the parents and two nominees of the teachers. The chairperson of the board has been nominated by the trustees and the principal acts as secretary to the board. The board meets on the second Thursday of each month or more often if it is deemed necessary. The meetings adhere to their agreed agendas. At each meeting the minutes of the previous meeting are read, the issues on the agenda are discussed, and decisions are reached by consensus.

 

The board has a good working relationship with senior management and is kept well informed by the principal about matters relating to the school. There is strong support for the principal in the daily management of the school. The high priority given by the board to supporting the teaching staff is evident in the facilitation of staff wishing to take career breaks, further study and in-service training.  The board’s support for students’ initiatives and achievements is indicated by the positive response of the board to the request from the Student Council for improved toilet facilities and the presentations made to the award-winning team of students in the Young Scientists Exhibition 2006, each of whom received a certificate and voucher from the board of management. Decisions of the board of management meetings are communicated to the school community through the principal and through newsletters.

 

The board has a clear view of its role and is determined to provide for the future needs of the school. It is, therefore, highly desirable that the new members of the board be provided with the opportunity to engage in training that will assist them in the fulfilment of their roles and responsibilities. The board has prioritised the increase of student numbers and the maintaining of a proactive position in relation to the development of the school. The documentation and review of school policies are being actively pursued.

 

The board’s commitment to renewing the school’s involvement with the School Development Planning Initiative (SDPI) is encouraged. School Development Planning has an important role to play in identifying the organisational needs of the school and developing strategies to meet those needs. The board’s support of the school’s initiatives to persuade parents to become actively involved in the revitalised Parents’ Association is acknowledged. The matter of increasing student enrolment remains a key issue for the school and there is the need for the board and school management to consider new ways of strongly promoting the school in the local community and to prospective parents.

 

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The principal and deputy principal are committed to the school and to upholding its ethos. They work well together in ensuring that the school is administered efficiently. Their close cooperation extends to many facets of school life such as the production of the timetable, the chairing of staff meetings and the supervision of classes when the occasion warrants it.  They meet each morning before lessons commence in order to confirm arrangements for sharing tasks that need to be undertaken on that day and to enable them to respond quickly to unforeseen circumstances such as arranging supervision cover for classes in the event of a teacher being absent. There are also a number of specific duties undertaken by each of them in their respective roles as principal and deputy principal.  The principal, for example, is a member of the school’s Care team, acts as secretary to the board of management meetings and meets formally with the yearheads on a regular basis. The deputy principal has responsibility for the accommodation of all formal examinations in the school, acts as the second-year yearhead, and has a designated role in the enforcement of the school’s code of discipline. 

 

The middle-management grouping comprising six assistant principals and eight special duties teachers makes an important contribution to the internal organisation of the school. The new yearhead structure, which was introduced at the start of the current academic year 2006/2007, has resulted in the appointment of five yearheads, four of whom are assistant principals. This new structure replaces the former cyclical system whereby one individual had overall responsibility for all junior-cycle students and another for the senior-cycle students. The change was necessitated by the onerous workload associated with the position of cyclical yearhead. The new structure enables the yearhead to devote more time to the students and complete the work associated with the position. Nine other postholders are involved in a range of duties that support the coordination of programmes, the pastoral care of students, the promotion of the Arts, administration and the maintenance of resources.

 

The principal meets with the postholders in plenary session at the beginning of the academic year and occasionally during the year. This practice is commended because it provides the opportunity for senior management to acknowledge clearly the group’s contribution to the efficient organisation of the school and to develop a consciousness of the importance of the middle management structure in the school’s development. The formal monthly meetings of the principal and the yearheads are also commended and encouraged. The meetings with the yearheads have a vital role to play in the development of the yearheads as a close-knit team and in ensuring the success of the new initiative. It was reported that minutes of the meetings with the middle management group and the team of yearheads are not recorded as a general rule. It is recommended that the practice of recording the minutes and the decisions taken at the meetings be adopted as it serves to underline the importance of the meetings and informs reflection on the issues discussed.

 

The senior management team (principal and deputy principal) appreciate the importance of the middle management tier and are committed to its ongoing development. It is proposed to review the post structure again in May 2007. This proposal should be acted upon as it will enable senior management in cooperation with the teaching staff to tap the potential of the post structure in meeting the needs of the school. It is recommended that a post of responsibility for school development planning be established in order to coordinate and promote this important work. It is further recommended that every post have a documented job description and that the principal meet with each postholder at the end of the school year to conduct a review of the post. The provision of suitable training for the yearheads is advocated to assist them in the performance of their important role notwithstanding the fact that they have a wealth of experience from which to draw.

 

Daily communication with the teaching staff centres on the staffroom. The principal or deputy principal places the notices on the appropriate staffroom noticeboard. The teachers have also been allocated pigeonholes for receipt of communications and these are located in the workroom annexe that adjoins the staffroom. Currently, because of a malfunction in the intercom system, the class tutors or another member of the teaching staff convey information to the students in their classrooms when there is a need to bring it to their attention. The scheduled meeting time on Tuesday and Thursday evenings 15.50-16.30 facilitates the holding of staff meetings and the meeting of particular focus groups when they require it. The staff meetings are generally chaired by the principal; minutes are taken and decisions recorded at these meetings. It is advocated that consideration be given to providing the teaching staff with an informative Teachers’ Handbook that will detail the school’s organisation and contain information relevant to the daily work of the teacher in the school. 

 

The attendance, punctuality and the general conduct of the students are closely monitored. A class roll call is taken twice daily - during the first class period of the morning and afternoon - and the absentees are noted. Students who have been absent from school must bring a note explaining their absence. If a student does not have a note of explanation or the absence is in excess of one day then a phone call is made to the student’s home. A phone call is also made to a student’s home in the event of an unexplained absence from school during the afternoon. Two postholders have been given special responsibility to monitor the punctuality of the students. Their role is to ascertain the reasons for a student arriving late to school and they have the authority to impose a penalty sheet and detention on students if the latecoming persists without good reason. Should a student fail to attend the detention, then the student’s yearhead is informed and the matter receives more serious consideration, which may involve the student being placed on a conduct report for a period of time.

 

Patrician College has a school attendance monitor and HSCL (home/school/community liaison) coordinator because of the school’s involvement in the School Completion Programme (SCP), which is an initiative that aims to have a positive impact on the retention of young people at risk of early school leaving. The SCP is now part of the DEIS strategy. In the event of the school being unable to make contact with a student’s home, the HSCL coordinator will make a personal visit to discuss the student’s absence with the parents or guardians. Records of student absenteeism amounting to twenty or more days are reported to the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) as per requirements.

 

The promotion of good behaviour among the students in the school is based fundamentally on the concept of encouraging each student to take personal responsibility for his behaviour. This is the principle that underpins the school’s code of discipline. Nine stages have been incorporated into the implementation of the disciplinary code beginning with a personal warning being given to the student by the teacher for a misdemeanour to the ultimate sanction of expulsion from the school by the board of management. A student may request through his class tutor to have a review of his conduct at any stage. The review requires the student to gain the approval of all the student’s subject teachers for the request over a period of twenty consecutive days. During the trial period the student must demonstrate that a personal improvement in agreed areas has occurred. The successful student earns a drop of one stage in his conduct record if the unanimous approval of the teachers is obtained.

 

Management recognises the importance of maintaining good communication links with parents and guardians. Reports on students’ progress and their examination results are communicated to parents after the formal Christmas and summer examinations. Members of the examination classes preparing for the state examinations sit trial junior and leaving certificate examinations during the spring term and reports detailing the students’ results are also sent to their homes. A parent-teacher meeting is organised for each year group to enable parents/guardians to meet to discuss issues. A calendar of events outlining the holiday breaks and the dates for the parent-teacher meetings is included in the summer reports that are posted to the students’ homes.

 

Information meetings relating to the transfer of students from primary to secondary school and from the junior cycle into the senior cycle are organised for parents. The maintenance of an active parents’ association has proved problematic in recent years and currently management is endeavouring with the help of the HSCL coordinator to secure the support of a number of parents who have indicated a willingness to become involved in the re-establishment of a new parents’ association.

 

The strategies developed by management to attract prospective new first-year students to the school are commended. An open day is organised in the school in late September each year to which the fifth and sixth class pupils of the local primary schools and their parents are invited. They are transported to Patrician College and on arrival are given a tour of the school. The pupils are given the opportunity to participate in a number of lessons such as Art, Physical Education (PE), Wood Technology, Science and Computers (IT). They then meet with the principal who informs them about the school and answers any queries that the pupils or their parents may have. At the end of that meeting the pupils are issued with an application form and a booklet “An introduction to Patrician College” which has a very clear and helpful format. The following January the pupils who have applied to join the school are assessed. The students are subsequently allocated classes on the basis of their results and in consultation with their primary schools.

 

The other important aspect of the strategy involves the support provided for the parents of the incoming first-year entrants to ensure that the transfer of their sons from primary to secondary school is successfully undertaken. Patrician College provides a programme that has been developed by the HSCL coordinator for the parents. The programme is facilitated by trained parents and has a three-meeting structure. During the first two sessions the parents of the incoming first-year students are informed of the programmes and activities provided by the school and their concerns are addressed. The parent-facilitators play an important role in answering the queries of the parents of the new students and in addressing their concerns small group discussions are used.  This involves a parent-facilitator discussing issues with a small number of parents and noting their concerns. The third meeting is attended by the principal, deputy principal and relevant personnel from the staff and other agencies where the needs and concerns of the parents are addressed.

 

The principal later meets with the parents or guardians and the new first-year entrants individually in June prior to the entry of the students into the school in the following September. At this meeting the school’s ethos, code of discipline, anti-bullying policy and substance abuse policy are discussed and the parents are given a booklet, “Introducing your Second Level School” to help them remain well informed about post-primary education.

 

1.4 Management of resources

 

Patrician College is a well maintained school that has been undergoing gradual refurbishment in recent years. Budgeting and planning for the ongoing upkeep of the school is overseen by the board of management and senior management. The rewiring of the school was undertaken through the Department of Education and Science’s Summer Works Scheme in 2005 and specialist rooms such as the suite of Wood Technology classrooms and the Science laboratory have been upgraded. Future plans include the replacement of the existing school windows, which will also be undertaken through making application to the Summer Works Scheme and, the refurbishment of an Art room. The interior of the school is enhanced by the displays of students’ achievements, photographs, artwork, and the many reminders of the vitality of the school since its establishment. The assembly area, complete with seating facilities for the students and two pool tables, the garden spaces, and the general standard of cleanliness are other notable features of the school’s interior.

 

The staffing allocation from the Department of Education and Science for the current academic year, 2006/2007, is 25.97 wholetime teacher equivalents and 1.81 special needs assistants.  The 25.97 wholetime teacher equivalents (WTEs) include a permanent staffing allocation of sixteen teachers and an additional ten wholetime teaching positions that have been created from the allocations made for curricular concessions, the coordination of programmes, the provision made for students with special educational needs, students from ethnic minorities and additional entitlements. The teaching staff are deployed appropriately overall in line with their subject speciality and school requirements.

 

The majority of the teaching staff have been allocated base classrooms and the provision of teaching resources is augmented each year. Designated office space has been provided for the principal, deputy principal, secretary, guidance counsellor and attendance monitor. The board of management has provided the HSCL coordinator with a parents’ room and a room for counselling students has been allocated. A breakfast/lunch room has also been set aside as a canteen facility arising from the school’s involvement in the School Completion Programme.  The staffroom has a central seating area with an adjoining kitchen facility and a workroom annexe that is equipped with a computer.  It is recommended that the provision of information and communication technology in the staffroom be reviewed. It is further recommended that management identify the ICT training needs of the teachers and explore how the school’s ICT resources can be used to meet those needs. Consideration should also be given to the allocation of a designated learning support room in order to support the planning and provision of learning support in the school.

 

The health and safety of the school community is a priority for school management. The principal is the school’s health and safety officer and a safety statement has been documented. Fire drills are conducted to familiarise the school community with evacuation procedures. The exterior of the school buildings and the playing field that is part of the school campus are screened by a wall that extends around the boundary of the playing field and by strong, high security fencing surrounding the school building. Car-parking facilities are at the front of the school and the building is wheelchair accessible. The placement of a sign to indicate the location of the main entrance of the school would be helpful to visitors and would give an added sense of welcome.

 

The ancillary staff consists of the school’s secretary, the caretaker, a catering employee and three cleaning staff. They are very positive about their work in the school and are committed to its upkeep. Their work is recognised and valued by the school community. All members of the ancillary staff are provided with appropriate resources to enable them to carry out their duties effectively. 

    

2. Quality of School Planning

 

School development planning in Patrician College is evidenced by the focused attention being given to the documentation and review of school policies, the strategies adopted in relation to curricular provision, the successful introduction of new initiatives such as the reorganisation of the yearhead structure, and the school’s involvement in several educational programmes.  The proactive stance of the board of management, senior management and the teaching staff in the development of school planning is acknowledged and commended. It is important that the momentum of such good work be continued.

 

The ratified and draft school policies cover a wide range of areas of school life and deal with issues such as admissions, discipline, child protection, health and safety at work and information and communications technology. The reference point for most of the school’s policies is the school’s mission statement or ethos. There was evidence to suggest that the statement of the school’s ethos has not supplanted the school’s original mission statement resulting in the usage of the two statements. Sometimes neither was used as the reference statement. It is recommended that this matter be resolved and that a statement that will act as the reference point for all policies be agreed. Every school policy should also be dated and include a specific timeframe for the review of the policy’s content.

 

The school’s admissions policy and discipline policy have been ratified through consultation with the school’s teaching staff and educational partners. Arising from a review of both policies it is recommended that the admissions policy contain a section on the enrolment of students with special educational needs, the names of the local feeder primary schools, and an outline of the contract of learning/behaviour to which the parents/guardians and the students subscribe upon accepting a place in the school. Consideration should also be given to requesting the trustees to vet the policy to ensure that it is fully compliant with the school’s statutory obligations. 

 

The School Discipline Policy clearly identifies the premise on which it is based, namely that Patrician College is a pastoral school where the students are cared for and respected. The policy states equally clearly that the pastoral school cannot function without a good discipline policy. The nine stages of the disciplinary procedure are outlined in the policy. The disciplinary procedure is invoked in the case of a student misdemeanour warranting such action and has been designed to demonstrate tolerance and support for the errant student. It is recommended that the policy includes details of the code of positive behaviour that the school promotes in keeping with its role as a pastoral school. It is further recommended that the disciplinary procedure integrates and includes mention of the use of the pastoral care supports that are provided for students with special educational needs of a behavioural and emotional nature. Consideration might also be given to renaming the School Discipline Policy as the Code of Positive Behaviour which arguably is more in keeping with the school’s laudable aim.

 

The commitment of management and staff to providing a safe, secure and supportive environment in which the welfare of the student is paramount was demonstrated by the school’s ratified Child Protection policy. The policy confirms that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop the policy 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 for Post-primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2004). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines. In addition, the school is committed to the ratification of a formal school policy in respect of the Vetting of School Personnel.

The challenge of determining how best to provide for the educational needs of the students has resulted in the provision of both the Junior Certificate Programme and the Junior Certificate School Programme for junior-cycle students and in the school’s decision to confine the choice of the leaving certificate programmes for senior-cycle students to the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) and the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA). The school’s involvement in the School Completion Programme has also meant the introduction of several initiatives to ensure that students gain maximum benefit from their secondary schooling. One of these initiatives is the school-based activities project that is provided for all first-year students and some second-year students on Tuesday afternoons.

 

School development planning has an important role to play in meeting the needs of the school and planning for its future. The expertise of the School Development Planning Initiative (SDPI) is available to support the management and teaching staff in such work. It is recommended, therefore, that the school renew its involvement with the SDP support service. It is further recommended that formal subject departments be established where feasible in order to provide fora for the subject teachers to meet together, pool skills and collaborate in the development of agreed curricular plans that support the continuing development of teaching and learning in their   respective subject areas. 

 

 

 

3. Quality of Curriculum Provision

 

3.1 Curriculum planning and organisation

 

The curriculum programmes provided by Patrician College are the Junior Certificate Programme (JCP), the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP), the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) and the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA). The school operates a nine-period day with the exception of Wednesday, when there are six periods. The daily class periods comprise a mixture of lessons that are of forty and thirty-five minutes duration. The majority are single class periods but an allocation of double periods is made to specific subjects. The range of curriculum programmes provided for the students reflects the school’s commitment to meeting the needs of the students. Attention, however, is drawn to the fact that the requirement to timetable and provide twenty-eight hours of tuition time for all students as per the Department of Education and Science’s circular M29/95 is currently not being met. This issue must be addressed.

 

There is flexibility in the provision of the JCP and the JCSP programmes for junior-cycle students as evidenced by the fact that all first-year students are following the JCSP, whereas in second and third year this is not the case. When the JCP and JCSP students progress to the senior cycle they pursue either the LCVP or the LCA. As a general rule the JCSP students progress to the senior-cycle LCA but again there is a degree of flexibility in accommodating every senior-cycle student who expresses a particular preference for the LCVP or the LCA. For example, French is a compulsory part of the curricular programme provided for JCP students but is not studied by JCSP students apart from one class group who have one class lesson in conversational French per week. In the event of a JCSP student indicating a preference for the LCVP in senior cycle, arrangements are made to provide the student with an ab initio French programme.

 

The range of subjects that is provided for the school’s junior-cycle students is influenced primarily by due consideration of the needs of the students, the availability of teachers and constraints imposed by the timetable. Efforts are made to ensure that the class tutors teach Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) to their assigned class groups. Every junior-cycle class group has one period of IT per week and this allocation is a commendable means of helping the students to develop their computer skills. The JCSP students study a more reduced corpus of examination subjects than their JCP counterparts although they have exposure to almost as broad a range of subjects as their fellow JCP students. For example, JCP students study French and Science and sit Junior Certificate examinations in the two subjects. There is also a number of JCP junior-cycle class groups studying Materials Technology (Wood), which they will sit as an examination subject. The JCSP class groups, on the other hand, follow a modified programme of work in one or more of the aforementioned subjects, but do not sit junior certificate examinations in French, Science or Wood Technology.

 

There is much to commend about the supportive strategies that have been incorporated into the  timetable for the junior-cycle class groups. In order to support this work further, attention is drawn to the need to identify the SPHE lesson clearly on the school’s timetable and to ensure that an SPHE period has been allocated to all junior-cycle class groups. In the case of one first-year class group, their curricular programme includes the subject Environmental and Social Studies (ESS) as well as History and Geography and this matter needs to be addressed. ESS was devised as a single- subject alternative for History and Geography. Strong consideration should be given to maintaining History and Geography on the junior-cycle timetable because this will provide the students with a combined total of six periods for the two subjects which is in excess of the allocation made for ESS.

 

Arising from the study of the timetabled arrangements made for Gaeilge (Irish) and English instances of two teachers being assigned to teach each of the subjects to the same junior-cycle class group were noted. The assigning of two teachers to teach the same subject to the same junior-cycle class group would seem to be at variance with the school’s policy of keeping teacher numbers as low as possible in junior-cycle class groups especially the JCSP class groups. There is also variation in the allocation and distribution of class periods in Gaeilge and English to class groups within the same curricular programme and between year groups. The distribution of the class periods in Gaeilge and English is most effective where the same teacher has daily contact with the class group. The timetabling of a double class period in Gaeilge for any JCSP class group should be avoided unless there is an express reason for doing so. It is recommended that the timetabling of Gaeilge and English for junior-cycle students be reviewed.

 

The accessibility of junior-cycle students to Wood Technology and the provision of Business in the junior cycle are restricted by the availability of resources in the school. The efforts made by management to give students the opportunity to study Wood Technology are evidenced by the allocation of two or three class periods in the subject to every first and second-year class group. Business is a core subject in the LCVP. It is accessible to all LCVP students but is not available to students as a part of their junior-cycle programme. Should management consider making Wood Technology and Business more widely available to students, it is advocated that contact be made with the relevant section of the Department of Education and Science with a view to ascertaining whether an increase in the allocation for curricular concessions would be available to the school to do this. It is also advocated that strategies be explored to increase the allocation of timetabled Wood Technology classes to junior-cycle students and to offer Wood Technology as an optional subject within their curricular programmes.

 

The strong provision of ICT on the school’s timetable is commended. Every junior-cycle class group has been provided with one computer class period per week. LCA students study ICT as a specialist subject and have been allocated six periods per week. LCVP students have two ICT periods per week in fifth year. They complete the coursework required for the Department of Education and Science’s Computer Studies Certificate and are given the opportunity to acquire the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). In addition, fifth-year LCA students are provided with the opportunity to participate in a one-week course on web design in Dublin City University. Access to the school’s ICT facilities is also organised for students who require the use of a computer for the purposes of educational research and the completion of project work. The timetabled allocation of ICT class periods clearly supports the school’s students in developing their computer skills.

 

The coordination of the JCSP, LCA and LCVP in Patrician College is overseen by three members of the teaching staff. The “super coordinator” is a postholder who was formerly the LCA coordinator and has retained responsibility for that role. The work of the coordinators is strongly focused on meeting the needs of the students. This involves working closely with a designated team such as the LCVP planning committee or the teachers involved in teaching the class groups of the particular programme. The lack of a designated time for the JCSP coordinator to meet with the team of teachers involved in that programme has meant that meetings tend to be informal. It is recommended that this matter be addressed. The practice of recording the minutes of the meetings is commended as the records of the meetings inform planning. The role of the coordinators in supporting the progress of their students in many and varied ways such as the documentation of target statements for the JCSP students, the organisation of work placement for LCA and LCVP students, and the organisation of events to celebrate student achievement is laudable.

 

 

3.2 Arrangements for students’ choice of subjects and programmes

 

Transfer meetings are organised for the parents of the incoming first-year students prior to the entry of the students into Patrician College and for the parents of the third-year students prior to the progression of the students into the senior cycle. At these meetings the parents are informed about the curricular programmes and subjects that the school provides. First-year students are streamed according to their ability levels. The junior-cycle class groups follow either the JCP or the JCSP as deemed by management to be most appropriate for the needs of the students. The range of subjects provided for each junior-cycle group is set.

 

In third year students decide between the LCA and the LCVP. At the information meeting the parents are given two separate presentations on the LCA and the LCVP. Each presentation is made by the programme coordinator. The presentations provide the parents with an informed understanding of the course, the subjects the students will study and, the options for further study and employment that are available to the students on completion of each programme. The parents are asked to discuss the programme options with their sons and to return the completed fifth-year option form that is distributed at the meeting. The students for their part are provided with a detailed understanding of the two programmes through their timetabled Careers lesson and the opportunities that are available to them to discuss the programmes with the programme coordinators and members of the teaching staff.

 

When the fifth-year option forms have been returned, a list of the students opting for each programme is compiled. The list is distributed to all the teaching staff and discussed at a staff meeting. In all cases where it is felt that the students may not have chosen the course that best suits their needs and abilities, the guidance counsellor subsequently arranges a meeting with each of the students and his parents or guardians to discuss the student’s choice of programme. Should there be no change of mind on the matter the student is provided with the option of pursuing his first-choice programme for a fortnight’s trial period before making a final decision. During this period both the student and his subject teachers evaluate the student’s performance and the student is facilitated in switching programmes if that is requested.

 

The decision to introduce LCVP into the school had implications for curriculum provision given the resources of the school and the size of the student population. The Leaving Certificate Established (LCE) was discontinued as it was felt that the only realistic way of providing LCVP was to make it compulsory for all. LCVP students must study French and Business as well as either Art or Construction Studies and this has meant in practical terms that the other subjects available to the LCVP students in recent years have been restricted to History, Biology and Geography. The use of concurrence in the timetabling of Maths, Gaeilge and English class periods for senior-cycle students facilitates the organisation of class groups that are most appropriate for the needs of the students.

 

 

3.3 Co-curricular and extra-curricular provision

 

Co-curricular and extra-curricular activities make an important contribution to the quality of education provided for the students. The school has a long tradition of involvement in competitive field sports especially Soccer but students’ participation in Gaelic football, athletics and golf are also encouraged.  Pool is a popular table sport and a pool club has been organised in the school for the students who wish to play the sport. Swimming is another sport and leisure time activity that all first-year students and one second-year class group have the opportunity to experience as part of their involvement in the school-based activities project on Tuesday afternoons. This programme of leisure activity programmes, which includes modules on self-development, art, music, cooking, dance and swimming, helps students to develop their social and personal skills.

 

The provision of co- and extra-curricular activities is recognised as an important means of helping students to develop their personal interests and talents. This is evident from the strong support given by the board of management, senior management and the teaching staff to the many and varied activities that are organised in the school. These include activities with a whole-school focus such as the seasonal Christmas talent show, art competitions and the annual school table quiz. Group and individual projects are strongly supported too, and include the participation of students in the Gaisce awards scheme, the Peer 2 Peer drug awareness programme, and the preparation of entries for the Young Scientist Exhibition. In the case of the Young Scientist, the project conducted by three of the school’s students on the health concerns of people living close to a landfill site received an award of special merit at the exhibition in January 2007.

 

Co-curricular activities are an important aspect of the fabric of school life. These activities include the visits of class groups to venues such as the Botanic Gardens, museums, art galleries and the theatre; the invitation of guest speakers to speak to students and the organisation of music and dance workshops. Co-curricular activities are a strong feature of the JCSP coursework as exemplified by the literacy enhancement initiatives that include wordmillionaire, penpal and Make a Book. The inclusion of ICT in the timetable for all class groups has enabled students to use their computer skills in deriving benefit from the potential of ICT as a resource for interdisciplinary learning.

 

Patrician College is also involved in Cooperation Ireland which is a civic-link initiative that seeks to establish a better understanding between communities north and south of the border. The school has been twinned with Ballynahinch High School in County Down and a class group of LCVP students from Patrician College accompanied by two of their teachers have visited the school. Another school-based project is the SATCHEL project (School as true agent of change in health education and lifestyle) which is part of a European development project that seeks to encourage a healthy lifestyle among students and a healthy school environment. SATCHEL is closely linked to the students’ SPHE coursework

 

All involved in providing the range of invaluable and worthwhile co- and extra-curricular activities are to be commended. The activities bring an added dimension to school life that enriches the education of the students and assists their personal development. The notices, displays and occasions that publicly affirm the students for their achievements within the school community are further commended. It is advocated that ways be explored of creating greater awareness among the local community of how co-curricular and extra-curricular activities contribute to the quality of education provided by the school.           

 

 

4. Quality of Learning and Teaching in Subjects

 

4.1 Planning and preparation

 

Subject planning is in the initial stages of development in Patrician College, Finglas.  Teachers are aware, however, of the benefits of a collaborative, structured approach to planning and they are open to advice and suggestions based on acknowledged good practice. In furthering the progress of the planning process in all subject areas, it may prove helpful to access advice and support from the School Development Planning Initiative (www.sdpi.ie) and from the Second Level Support Service (www.slss.ie)

 

The subject plans presented during the evaluation varied in the quality and quantity of detail supplied. The majority of planning documents provided a broad outline of the work to be carried out but they contained little or no reference to timeframes, teaching methodologies or learning outcomes. All planning documents should include clear learning objectives for each year group and various teaching and learning strategies that relate to those objectives. It is not sufficient to state the content to be covered in a particular subject area. Emphasis needs to be placed on the development of specific skills and on catering for the varying needs and aptitudes of students. Appropriate teaching approaches, designed to counteract low motivation among some students, need to be devised and documented. It is equally important that planning takes cognisance of the needs of more able students in order to ensure that they are suitably challenged and motivated to succeed to the highest possible level.

 

A draft of a whole school guidance plan has been drawn up. This plan contains a comprehensive range of interventions for students to help them to acquire effective study skills and a good awareness of future career and educational opportunities available to them. The plan also includes details of support structures in place for junior-cycle students and of the extensive provision of guidance services in senior cycle. The draft guidance plan, which is at a fairly advanced stage of development, should be completed at the earliest opportunity and presented to the board of management as a school planning document.

 

A significant amount of advance lesson preparation, evidenced during the evaluation, had a positive impact on students’ behaviour. The lessons observed in the various subjects were well structured. Individual, short-term lesson planning was seen to be comprehensive and in line with syllabus requirements. Teachers had prepared overheads, worksheets, audio-visual equipment, and customised materials that helped to ensure a high level of productivity.  In the case of practical lessons the necessary tools, equipment and materials were prepared in advance.

 

 

4.2 Teaching and learning

 

In the subjects and lessons observed, classroom management was generally very effective, creating a supportive and affirming learning environment.  Teachers spoke to students in a direct and encouraging way and a warm rapport was evident in the regular teacher and student interactions observed. All inspectors commented favourably on the responsiveness and high levels of engagement of many of the students. Where it was necessary to check students’ behaviour or to keep their focus on the task in hand, teachers did so firmly but with good humour.

 

Good use of resources was observed in many subject areas.  Textbooks were supplemented with good support materials and in many cases the classrooms themselves were used effectively as a resource.  It is recommended that the excellent practice of creating a visually stimulating and print-rich environment in the parents’ room, in the school corridors and in many of the classrooms be extended and that the learning opportunities available through the practice of displaying students’ work in the school be fully exploited.

 

In relation to methodologies used in the classroom, very good practice was observed in many lessons where an emphasis was placed on providing a real-life context for learning.  For example, topical and local references enabled students to see connections between the material they were studying and their own lived experience.  Linked to this approach was an emphasis on active learning in a number of lessons.  This was observed to engage students’ attention and to help them focus and concentrate on the task in hand.  It is recommended that, in planning the methods and teaching approaches for different topics and subject areas, subject departments consider ways of extending their use of activity-based learning.

 

In general, teachers displayed a commendable consciousness of the need to approach the prescribed syllabuses in a way that would lead to meaningful learning experiences for the students.  This was particularly apparent where a syllabus offers a choice of topics or skills areas, and teachers took pains to ensure that they made appropriate choices.  However, care should be taken to avoid too limiting an approach to the various syllabuses and every effort should be made to ensure that students have the opportunity to develop as wide a range of skills as possible within each prescribed course.

 

An emphasis on developing students’ vocabulary was evident in a number of the lessons observed.  In some cases, this took the form of directly teaching the subject terminology and then ensuring that students were able to use it themselves in discussion and response to questioning.  More generally, teachers introduced new vocabulary to students by using it themselves.  It is particularly recommended that use of the target language be a consistent feature of class practice.  Best practice was observed where there was visual reinforcement of new vocabulary through recording it on the board.  For this purpose, the use of a spelling and vocabulary margin is recommended.

 

Where students were experiencing difficulty with the material or the classroom situation, a clearly differentiated approach to meeting their needs was generally adopted, and teachers gave them one-to-one attention or placed them in groups that would be supportive of their learning.  While teachers were adept at choosing appropriate tasks for these students and giving very clear instruction and affirmation to them, greater exploration of differentiated teaching methods is advisable.

 

 

4.3 Assessment

 

In Guidance, appropriate and purposeful use is being made of assessment tests and other instruments to assess learning and individuals’ particular needs. Assessment is used effectively to assist students to explore aptitudes and plan career paths.  The suitability of tests should be reviewed regularly and reference should be made to the Circular Letter 0008/2007 on testing in schools, which is available at www.education.ie. It is also suggested that administration of the AH2 and the AH3 tests should be phased out as they do not have Irish norms and have not been revised for some years.  The Differential Aptitude Tests (DATS) are administered to all students and are being used effectively to assist students to make subject and programme choices for senior cycle. Other aptitude tests are selected and administered to meet particular students’ needs as required. Good use is being made of interest inventories and other instruments using ICT to help students to explore career paths. It is recommended that the school guidance plan should document fully the range of tests and other instruments administered.

 

In French, the range of assessment methods used to monitor student progress and achievement  includes questioning in class, informal class tests, formal school examinations and the monitoring of homework. Individual records of student attendance and attainment are maintained. At present, the formal testing of oral competence is confined to the Leaving Certificate group. Considering the importance of gradually developing the oral competence and confidence of all students, it is recommended that the testing of oral skills be carried out in all year groups in the school. Such testing can be accomplished informally within the classroom setting and could form part of the French department’s overall assessment policy and procedures. The practice of regularly setting short, syllabus-based writing tasks and providing constructive feedback on students’ written assignments is encouraged as means of reinforcing the good work being done in class.

 

The standard assessment procedures are in use throughout the academic year in art and design. The students were observed, monitored and advised whilst working on their class assignments and junior certificate project work and were monitored and given feedback as they progressed. This is good practice and helps students to profit from instruction given. To enhance this feedback process in the medium to long term, learning aims and objectives should be developed as part of assessment for learning in the art and design classes. Information on assessment for learning is available on the NCCA website (www.ncca.ie). Reference to this could fruitfully inform current classroom practice.

 

Frequent in-class assessment is a feature of the delivery of business subjects. These serve a dual purpose of assessing student progress and providing a basis for the review of learning outcomes with class groups.  Student progress in the subject is profiled. Tests are well corrected and annotated and sample solutions are provided in order to reinforce learning, all of which is commendable practice, as are the efforts being made to use assessment to support learning. On foot of this, students should be encouraged to become more responsible for their own learning.

Modes of assessment in business subjects are structured to support students’ attainment in the SEC examinations, particularly the students in the lower ability range. Additional consideration should be given to setting more challenging work and creating other supports for students of higher ability to achieve their full potential in the certificate examinations in business subjects.

 

Assessment for learning in English classes ensured that attention was paid to the individual learning needs of students and provided a basis for encouragement and correction as required. In general, students in English classes were challenged as well as encouraged through questioning and prior learning was assessed in the context of the delivery and exploration of new material. The very good practice of giving students encouraging developmental feedback on their written work was noted and is universally encouraged. In relation to Christmas and summer in-house examinations, it is recommended that common papers are set where possible, and that agreed marking schemes be provided for the assessment of these. 

 

 

 

5. Quality of Support for Students

 

5.1 Students with special educational needs

 

Patrician College has a learning-support allocation of .5 whole-time teacher equivalent (eleven hours) and in the current academic year 2006/2007 an additional allocation of 2.46 wholetime teacher equivalents for supporting students with special needs has been given to the school. The identification of students with special educational needs is ascertained through the assessment tests which the students sit prior to their entry to the school, contact with the feeder primary schools and contact with parents. Two students have each been provided with a special needs assistant.

 

The mainstay of the strategies employed to ensure that learning support is provided for all students with special educational needs is to stream the students in first year and form high-support class groups for students with special educational needs within their year group. The students in the high-support class groups follow the JCSP and a timetable that has been modified to cater for their needs. The school organises psychological assessments for students with special educational needs who arrive at second level without any formal assessment through contact with the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS). In addition, following a submission from the learning support team to the Board of Management in the current academic year 2006/2007, the school’s Trustees agreed to fund privately eleven assessments of the most needy first-year students.

 

The teaching timetable of the three members of the school’s learning support team is strongly focused on the junior-cycle class groups requiring a high level of literacy and numeracy support. The small class sizes and the frequency of their direct contact with the class groups enable the learning support teachers to monitor continuously and support the development of the students’ literacy and numeracy skills. In one specific instance the learning-support teacher teaches a number of subjects to a class group of students. Two members of the learning-support team also fulfil an assistive role in enabling students with special educational needs who have perceptual, attention and motor difficulties to develop their skills in the completion of practical tasks in Wood Technology, Science and Art. The learning-support teacher joins a designated class group at scheduled times during the week and provides support for the students during the course of the lesson.

 

The withdrawal of students for literacy and numeracy support is another strategy that the learning support teachers employ in meeting the needs of the students. The time available to the learning-support teachers for this particular strategy is somewhat constrained by their timetabled workload. It is recommended that a greater degree of flexibility be afforded the learning support teachers to arrange for the withdrawal of students for learning support. On the current school timetable there are instances of additional English support for particular students being timetabled concurrently with the students’ English lesson and a similar situation exists in relation to the contact that some JCSP students have with their modified Science programme, which was introduced to provide the students with a knowledge of Science. A greater degree of flexibility for the learning-support teachers to make arrangements to withdraw students for learning support is likely to reduce the likelihood of such occurrences.

 

The commitment of the learning-support team in helping students with special educational needs is commended and in order to support this work it is recommended that a learning support policy be documented. The postgraduate study of the whole-school plan for students with special needs that is currently being completed by a member of the English subject team is likely to be available in due course to support team planning. Consideration should also be given to utilising some of the weekly timetabled meetings of the learning support team to advance such work. The recording of the business of the weekly meeting for whatever purpose is encouraged in order to assist the learning-support team in their planning activities. It is recommended that the learning support team meet with senior management at agreed intervals to inform senior management of their work and to discuss how the provision of learning support in the school can be further developed.

 

Teaching students with special educational needs is ultimately a whole-school matter and it is important, therefore, that in-service be provided for the teaching staff to assist the teachers in meeting the needs of the students. The renewing of the contact that was made with the JCSP support service in this regard is encouraged. Further information and advice is available from the Special Education Support Service (www.sess.ie) and the Second Level Support Service (www.slss.ie).  

 

 

 

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

 

School management and staff support the full integration of students who are socially disadvantaged into the daily life of the school. Patrician College operates several innovative SCP strategies such as a Breakfast and Lunch Club for the students, the already mentioned transfer programmes to help students and their parents cope with the students’ transfer from primary to secondary school, a book rental scheme, mentoring programmes including paired reading and social and personal development programmes. The school’s attendance strategy ensures that every student’s attendance and punctuality are closely monitored. The Home School Community Liaison coordinator has a specific brief in relation to the most marginalised families. The coordinator’s expertise and knowledge of supportive agencies are available to help students resolve difficulties, if required.

   .

Students from the Traveller community have been fully integrated into the various class groups, student council and sports teams. The 1.77 wholetime teacher equivalents allocated by the Department of Education and Science for the academic year, 2006/2007, in order to meet the needs of the students from Traveller families has been incorporated into the provision of small class groups and the provision of learning support. The Department of Education and Science also provides the school with an increased capitation grant for each student. Senior management stated that the increased capitation grant is available for financing the cost of the psychological assessments of Traveller students with special educational needs who have not been formally assessed prior to their entry to the school. It is advocated that the strategies employed by the school to support disadvantaged, minority and other groups be documented in an Intercultural and Inclusion policy.

 

The supportive school environment encourages all students regardless of their background to remain in school until the completion of their leaving certificate programme. A supervised study programme is provided for the students on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The cost of the programme is subsidised by Irish Life and Permanent plc. There are also tutorial programmes in leaving certificate Maths and English provided for students should they wish to avail of them. The tutorials are funded by the Finglas-Cabra Partnership Scheme. The progression of students to further education is encouraged and they are guided and supported in exploring the access programmes and courses that they wish to pursue. 

 

 

 

5.3 Guidance

 

High quality guidance support for the students is an important aspect of school life in Patrician College. The school’s full-time guidance counsellor manages the planning and delivery of Guidance throughout the school. He works closely with management, programme coordinators, the HSCL coordinator, the learning support coordinator and other members of staff. He is a member of the school’s Care Team and one of the two members of the school’s LCVP Planning Committee. The guidance counsellor is assisted by a second guidance counsellor for one day each week. This additional allocation is funded by the School Completion Programme (SCP).  A whole-school plan for Guidance has been drafted and outlines how the educational, personal and vocational needs of the students will be met. It is recommended that the plan be completed and presented to the educational partners for discussion before being finally ratified by the board of management.

 

There is a good balance in the provision of Guidance for junior and senior-cycle students. The school’s full-time guidance counsellor has developed a good working-relationship with the local primary schools and helps to support the successful transfer of students from primary to secondary school. The guidance counsellor administers and scores the Drumcondra Reasoning Test – Form A which is one of the assessment tests completed by the sixth class pupils prior to their entry into secondary school. All second and third-year class groups as well as two first-year class groups have a dedicated careers class each week. The lessons enable the guidance counsellor to remain in regular contact with the students and to maintain an active role in meeting their needs. The third-year class groups, for example, are provided with a good understanding of the leaving certificate programmes that will be offered to them and of the Fás apprenticeship system. Students who wish to transfer to Community Training Centres (CTCs) upon completion of their junior cycle are helped to make a smooth transition.

 

Senior-cycle students receive the necessary information and guidance to help them explore viable career options before entering the workforce or continuing to third level education. Guidance has a very visible presence in the LCA and LCVP coursework. The guidance counsellor teaches the careers-based modules that are appropriate for both programmes and plays an important role in preparing the students for their period of work experience which is another part of the two programmes. The Differentiated Aptitude Tests (DATS) are administered to the students and they receive feedback on their results. In addition, sixth-year students, who are intending to progress to third level education are helped to choose their options carefully before making applications to the Central Applications Office (CAO) for entry to universities and colleges.

 

Good links have been established with a range of third level and further education colleges, Fás, many employers and the local Business in the Community organisation. With the aid of the latter a link was forged with Irish Life and Permanent plc. which has provided personnel to speak to the fifth-year students and provide them with useful information about entering the workforce, curriculum vitae and interview techniques. The links that have been established with Dublin City University (DCU) to encourage students to continue their education at third level are commended. A group of eight fifth-year students spent three half-days at DCU in December 2006, a second group of fourteen students participated in a student-shadowing initiative in March 2007 and the school’s involvement in Compute TY, enabled a number of fifth-year LCVP students to attend DCU for a week-long course in Web Design at a nominal cost to the students.

 

All students have access to individual counselling and guidance support when required. This may occur at the student’s own request or by the referral of a student within the school. The guidance counsellor maintains records of these meetings. Individual student files are compiled and stored appropriately. The referral of students for extra assistance to outside agencies is sensitively handled. Meetings with the parents or guardians of the students are also a feature of the guidance counsellor’s work. For example, the guidance counsellor addresses and speaks to parents at open nights such as the information night that is organised for the parents of third-year students to inform them about the leaving certificate programmes and subject choices. Meetings with the parents or guardians of an individual student, who may wish to discuss any aspects of careers or their personal concerns regarding the student, are accommodated.   

 

 

5.4 Pastoral care

 

The education of the school’s students in a secure, supportive and caring environment is a priority in Patrician College. This is evidenced by the school’s ethos and its focus on the maintenance of an environment within the school where people feel valued and respected, and where there is tolerance, fairness and support for those in difficulty. The documentation and implementation of school policies such as the child protection guidelines, anti-bullying and the critical incident management plan further evidence the priority given to the care of the students. The network of support structures for students is an integral part of the internal organisation of the school and ensures that effective pastoral care systems are readily available to the students.

 

The yearheads and their teams of class tutors play a vital role in the pastoral care of the students. Central to the yearhead’s role is the development of a positive relationship with the year group and the encouragement of a shared sense of identity among the students of the year group. The yearheads in carrying out their duties have regular contact with their respective year groups and build up an informed knowledge of the students in their charge. In keeping with their pastoral role they acknowledge the achievements of their students and help to resolve discipline issues. The resolution of a discipline issue may require meeting with the parents or guardians of an errant student and in some cases suggesting the student avail of the counselling services in the school in order to prevent a more serious situation developing.

 

Every class group has been assigned a class tutor and the tutors work closely with their respective yearheads in monitoring and supporting the students in their charge. The class tutors have a special responsibility for the general well-being of the students in the base class groups into which the students have been organised. They assist in the personal development of each student by generating a good class spirit and dealing with issues as they arise. They encourage students to learn responsible behaviour and have an important role in helping a student who is experiencing difficulties within the class framework. The subject teachers, learning-support teachers and guidance counsellor are also in close contact with the students. They support the progress of students through their work and help the yearheads to become more informed about the students in their respective year groups.

 

Patrician College has a designated Care Team. The team was formed with the express purpose of supporting individual students who have been identified with coping problems that are impacting negatively on their progress in school. The team consists of the Principal, HSCL coordinator, guidance counsellor, SPHE coordinator and the SCP counsellor attached to the school. The team is chaired by the HSCL coordinator and meets weekly. During the course of their discussions the Care Team consider the most appropriate strategies to address the students’ difficulties. Parents and guardians are kept well informed and their involvement in supporting the students is welcomed. The advice given can include a recommendation for counselling support for an individual student or for counselling support for a student and his family with an external agency.

 

The wealth of expertise and educational experience within the team reflects the school’s commitment to supporting the needy students. It is a commendable investment and in order to support the important work of the team it is recommended that a more suitable time for the meeting of the members of the team be agreed. It is advocated that consideration be given to expanding the membership of the Care Team with a view to establishing a pastoral care team with a whole-school focus. The specific role of the present care team could be retained within the new structure. Members of the new pastoral care team should be provided with copies of the school policies related to their brief including the guidance and learning support policy according as they become available.

 

The school’s HSCL service undertakes a wide range of activities that demonstrate the pastoral nature of the service. For example, the HSCL coordinator’s work involves making visits to the homes of students to support their regular attendance at school, encouraging parents’ support for  educational projects that have been organised for the students’ such as the JCSP literacy initiatives and strengthening parental contact with the school. A number of school-based programmes involving parent volunteers are organised to support the progress of students and to support the parents themselves. These include paired reading and Maths for Fun for students with special educational needs and self-development classes for parents. The HSCL service provides training for the parents who volunteer to become involved in the provision of these initiatives. The degree of support and care for students and parents that is reflected in the activities of the HSCL service is commended.

 

The composition and vitality of the student council further reflect the pastoral environment of Patrician College. The council had fifteen members when it was first established in 2004 but currently there are twenty members. Every junior-cycle class group elects a student councillor and senior-cycle students in fifth and sixth year elect the representatives for their respective year groups. The student council is an inclusive forum and to ensure that it is representative of the student body a mechanism of nominating additional members has been included in the council’s constitution. The council meets monthly in the parents’ room to discuss issues and review progress. An attractive newsletter is then produced by the student council and distributed in the school. The HSCL service actively supports the work of the student council and liaises with management and staff on behalf of the council. 

 

The student council fulfils an important role in addressing student concerns and providing assistance to students.  For example, members of the student council have spoken to primary school pupils at Open Day meetings about Patrician College and guided them to specific specialist classrooms that formed part of their itinerary for that day. The council has surveyed students to identify their concerns. The results of one such survey identified the need to upgrade the toilet facilities for students and this was duly done.  Fundraising activities are organised by the student council for charity and school causes. A recent venture that has been embarked upon is to provide a data projector and computer for the parents’ room. The work of the student council is encouraged and commended. It is advocated that, in developing the role of the student council, meetings with other student councils in the locality be arranged. The meetings will help the students to exchange ideas and emphasise the importance of the role of the student council in Patrician College.

 

 

6. Summary of Findings and Recommendations for Further Development

 

The following are the main strengths and areas for development identified in the evaluation:

 

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

 

 

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and board of management when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.

 

 

 

 

Appended Subject Inspection Reports

 

Subject inspection reports in Guidance, English, Business, Art, and French are appended to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Area 1   Observations on the content of the inspection report     

 

 

The Board of Management of Patrician College, Finglas welcomes the Whole School Evaluation Report from the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science. The Board is pleased that the report acknowledges the challenges faced by the school and that these challenges are being positively addressed. We appreciate very much the recognition of the following in statements taken directly from the report  –

 

 

 

 

 

 

Area 2   Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection

               activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection.