An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

 

Scoil Iognáid Rís

Daingean

County Kerry

Roll Number: 16703A

 

Date of inspection:  12 February 2009

 

 

 

 

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

 

A whole-school evaluation was carried out in Scoil Iognáid Rís in February 2009. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for the further development of the work of the school. The evaluation focused on the quality of learning and teaching in English, Irish, Mathematics and Physical Education. 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.

 

 

Introduction – school context and background

 

This is a school for senior boys situated in the town of An Daingean. It is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of the Diocese of Kerry. The school was built in 1967 and a staff room and general purposes room were added in 1979. A library and Principal’s office were built in 2005. It is reported that Irish is not the home language of the majority of pupils attending the school.

 

The following table provides general information about the staff of the school and the pupils who were enrolled in the school during the evaluation:

 

 

Total

Students enrolled in the school

69

Mainstream classes in the school

5

Teachers on the school staff

5

Mainstream class teachers

3

Teachers working in support posts

2

Special Needs Assistants

 

 

1.     Quality of school management

 

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission or vision of the school

  

1.2 Board of management

 

The Board of Management was appointed in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Education and Science. Meetings are convened four or five times a year and more frequently as required. The Principal’s and treasurer’s reports are submitted to the Board at each meeting. The principal topics discussed at meetings were school policies, safety, finance, the upkeep of the building and the future of the hall. Various responsibilities are shared among the Board members, as is appropriate. The treasurer has attended a training course organised by the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA). The other Board members have attended various training courses, including courses on child protection and on enrolment. The accounts are audited annually and this good practice is commended. The business of the Board is conducted through the medium of Irish and English, as dictated by the linguistic competencies of the members. Minutes of the Board meetings are kept.

 

A sub-committee with responsibility for maintenance has been established. This arrangement appears to be functioning well.

 

The Board of Management discusses and ratifies school policies. The majority of policies have been signed by the Chairman of the board but it would be advisable that all of them be signed and include a target review-date. The Chairman communicates regularly with the Principal and the school staff. It is apparent that the Board of Management provides appropriate support for the Principal and staff. Communication with the school community is also fostered through the Board representatives and by issuing letters from the school from time to time.                    

 

1.3 In-school management

 

The in-school management team comprises the Principal, Deputy Principal and Special Duties Teacher. The Principal succeeds in creating a welcoming atmosphere in the school and the co-operative manner in which the staff functions is commendable. The Principal is aware of the educational standards being achieved by the students in the various classes. She reports that the teachers have done good work in relation to the management of pupils. The responsibilities attaching to the different special duties posts have been documented and these are equally distributed as curriculum, administrative and pastoral duties. The staff works conscientiously in the interest of the enhancement of the school. Because the school staff is small in number, in-school management meetings are organised as part of staff meetings, and minutes are kept of these meetings. Members of the in-school management team have attended the in-service courses Cumasú, Misneach and Forbairt. It is recommended that the publication ‘Looking at Our School’ should be drawn on as a resource in the discussion of school improvement at the above-mentioned meetings.     

 

1.4 Management of relationships and communication with the school community

 

It is an aim of the school to foster good relationships with the whole school community. Every effort is made to keep parents informed as regards the work of the school by means of letters and of parent-teacher meetings. The school has a parents’ association but it is not affiliated to the National Parents’ Council (NPC). Because of this, the inspector met with the parents’ representatives on the Board of Management at the pre-evaluation meeting. Those parents expressed their satisfaction with the work of the school. They complimented the Principal and staff on welcoming the relevant parties into the school. They indicated that an extensive range of activities is undertaken in the school for the benefit of pupils. It is apparent that the Principal attends meetings of the parents’ association in order to discuss school matters. This practice is commended. The school organises an after-school club and also courses for parents entitled “Your Child Growing Up”.   

 

1.5 Management of pupils

 

Good relations are maintained between staff and pupils. The school has a Code of Behaviour and it clear that it is implemented appropriately. Parents are issued with copies of the Code prior to the enrolment of pupils. It is advisable that this Code should now be reviewed and that parents should play a central role in the process. It is clear that the students co-operate willingly with the staff and that they show respect for one another. They are willing to participate in the various school activities and it is felt that they derive both enjoyment and benefit from them.  

 

 

2.     Quality of school planning

 

2.1 Whole-school and classroom planning

 

The quality of school planning is appropriate and broad-ranging. It is ensured that each teacher in the school has a copy of the plan. An extensive range of administrative policies is available, as well as curriculum policies for the majority of subjects. It is now recommended that a policy on Drama should be drawn up without delay. It would be worthwhile setting down an definite timetable for reviewing the policies and they should be signed and ratified. It is recommended that the enrolment policy should be reviewed, in order to bring it into line with the relevant legislation. The administrative policies are written in English for the most part, but the Board intends having them translated into Irish shortly. This would be advisable. The development planning file available in the school concerning the planning work in hand is commended. It is obvious that the Principal and staff appreciate the importance of such documentation. It is recommended that the Board of Management and the parents should play a central role in drafting and reviewing policies.

 

Each teacher regularly makes available long-term and short-term planning, based on the Primary School Curriculum (1999). Some of the plans consist of material drawn from textbooks. It is recommended that the learning objectives and teaching methods should in future be specified in the short-term planning. It would be worthwhile considering a whole-school approach to documenting the work plans. The teachers keep a record of the progress being made in the monthly reports. It would be advisable to give consideration to designing a whole-school template for recording the progress made in learning and that it should take into account the importance of skill development as well as the acquisition of knowledge. 

 

A stimulating learning environment is created in the classrooms, and praise is merited by the manner in which the pupils’ work is celebrated by attractively putting samples of it on display.  

 

2.2  Child protection policy and practices

 

It was confirmed, in accordance with the terms of the Department of Education and Science Primary School Circular 0061/2006, that the Board of Management and staff have formally adopted the Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, October 2001). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the attention of the Board of Management, the school staff and the parents had been drawn to these practices relating to pupil protection; that a copy of the guidelines had been provided for each member of staff (including newly appointed staff members); and that the management has ensured that the whole staff understands the practices which are to be followed. A designated liaison person and a deputy liaison person have been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.

 

 

3.     Quality of learning and teaching

 

3.1 Language

 

An Ghaeilge

 

Cothaítear dearcadh dearfach i leith na Gaeilge sa scoil agus is í an Ghaeilge gnáth-theanga chumarsáide na scoile. Bunaítear na ceachtanna ar théamaí oiriúnacha agus tá dul chun cinn maith á dhéanamh ar an iomlán. Cuireann agus freagraíonn na daltaí ceisteanna agus tugann siad treoracha le líofacht chuí i gcomhthéacs cumarsáideach. Baintear úsáid as cairteacha, áiseanna agus bileoga oibre chun tuiscint a chothú. Teagasc ranga don chuid is mó a chleachtar. Moltar anois grúptheagasc agus obair bheirte a úsáid chun deiseanna labhartha na ndaltaí a fhorbairt. B’fhiú go mór béim níos mó a leagan ar shaibhriú na teanga chomh maith. Is inmholta an aire a dhírítear ar an scríbhneoireacht phearsanta agus ar an léitheoireacht sna ranganna. Léann na daltaí le líofacht, le cruinneas agus le tuiscint don chuid is mó óna dtéacsleabhair. Baintear úsáid as úrscéal sna hardranganna agus b’fhiú an dea-chleachtas seo a fhorbairt tríd an scoil ar fad feasta. Cleachtar gníomhaíochtaí sa scríbhneoireacht chruthaitheach agus san obair fheidhmiúil i ngach rang ach b’fhiú an éagsúlacht scríbhneoireachta a leathnú. Moltar úsáid na leabhar beag Gaeilge atá in úsáid sna meánranganna.

 

Irish

 

A positive attitude towards Irish is fostered in the school and Irish is the everyday language of communication. Lessons are based on appropriate topics and good progress in general is being achieved. The pupils ask and answer questions and give directions with an appropriate fluency in communicative settings. Use is made of charts, teaching aids and work sheets in order to cultivate understanding. Class teaching is mainly practised. It is now recommended that group teaching and paired work be introduced, so as to increase the opportunities of speaking for the students. It would also be highly advisable that a greater emphasis would be placed on language enrichment. The attention paid to personal writing and reading in class is praiseworthy. For the most part, the pupils read fluently, accurately and with understanding from their textbooks. A novel is read with the senior classes and it would be of benefit if this practice were extended throughout the school. Exercises in creative writing and in functional work are undertaken in all classes but it would be worthwhile cultivating greater variety in the written work. The use of small Irish books in the middle classes is commendable. 

 

English

 

Most pupils attain high standards in English. Oral language development is appropriately emphasised and a print-rich environment is developed in all classrooms throughout the school. The emphasis placed on developing reading skills and on fostering a love of reading ensures that a high standard is achieved by most pupils. The use of a variety of reading texts and the use of the internet for discussion material in some classes is commended. It is now recommended that this good practice be extended throughout the school. The introduction of a class novel would greatly enhance the pupils’ progress and enjoyment of reading. Pupils engage in both creative and functional writing activities. It is evident from the monthly progress reports in some classes that a variety of writing genres is engaged in. It is now recommended that additional opportunities be provided for the pupils to write in a wide variety of genres on a whole-school basis.

 

3.2 Mathematics

 

A high standard is attained in Mathematics. Lessons are taught methodically and step-by-step. Basic concepts are elucidated sensibly in realistic settings and in a variety of contexts. Furthermore, effective use is made of activity methods and of concrete materials in order to consolidate the concepts. The pupils solve their written problems and record their work neatly. The differentiated learning observed in some classes is commended. It would be of benefit to the students if this good practice were to be implemented throughout the school. The provision for Mathematics could be enhanced by making greater use of new technology. Maths Recovery is utilised in the school. 

 

 

3.3 Physical Education

 

Appropriate provision is made for Physical Education in the school and a local hall is used for classes. An extensive programme is being implemented which offers opportunities to the students both to enjoy and to benefit from the lessons. The teachers make excellent efforts to ensure the participation of all students in the classes. The structure and pace of the lessons observed during the evaluation are commended. A proper emphasis is placed on skill development during games. Responsibility for co-ordinating Physical Education rests with the Deputy Principal.

3.4    Assessment

 

A variety of evaluation strategies is used on a whole-school basis, including observation and questioning by teachers, teacher designed tests, work portfolios and homework. The Drumcondra Attainment Tests are administered in Irish, English and Mathematics. Diagnostic tests are also used. Formal assessment takes place once a year. It is noted that an analysis of the results of the standardised tests is carried out at staff meetings, as a support for learning.

 

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

The school has a learning support policy. A learning support teacher and a resource teacher provide additional services to the school on a shared basis. The support teacher is shared with Scoil an Ghleanna and the resource teacher is shared with Scoil an Chlocháin and Scoil Naomh Eirc. Students receive support in English and Mathematics in the learning support and resource rooms.  Resource classes are held in the general purposes room. It is now recommended that consideration should be given to providing support in the classrooms on a regular basis, so as to reinforce the learning and experience of the students. Learning plans, drawn up by the support teachers and the class teachers, are available for all students.  The learning plans are discussed with the parents also and copies of these plans are in the possession of the support teachers, the class teachers and the Principal. Individual learning plans are reviewed in order to assess progress and to identify the new principal learning needs.

 

A wide range of diagnostic tests is used so as to gain an understanding of the needs of the pupils who attend the learning support class.

 

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

 

The school extends a welcome to pupils from all backgrounds and has as an aim that each student will derive both benefit and advantage from life at school. There are no pupils from minority groups attending the school at the present time.

 

 

6.     Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

 

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

 

 

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and with the Board of Management, at which the contents of this report were discussed.

 

 

 

 

Published, October 2009