An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Scoil Bhreandáin

Eanach Dhúin Contae na Gaillimhe

Roll number :  18163E

 

Date of inspection: 4th December 2008

 

 

 

 

 

Report of Whole School Evaluation

Introducion – school context and background

Quality of school management

Quality of School Planning

The quality of learning and teaching

Quality of support for pupils

Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

 

 

 


Report of Whole School Evaluation

A whole school evaluation of Scoil Bhreandáin was conducted in autumn 2008.  This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for its further development. The evaluation focused on the quality of teaching and learning in English, Irish, Mathematics and History. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.

 

 

Introducion – school context and background

Scoil Bhreandáin, Annaghdown, is a co-educational seven-teacher Gaeltacht school. It is situated in the parish of Annaghdown, fifteen kilometres north of Galway city. All of the pupils are from the surrounding area. Pupil enrolment will be increasing in the coming years as there is a lot of building development taking place in the area. Although this school is situated in the Gaeltacht there are very few families now whose first language at home is Irish. Nevertheless, the school community (board of management, teachers, parents and pupils) is committed to Irish and to raising the status and the usage of Irish in Annaghdown.

 

The first school was established in Annaghdown in 1898. The building which is currently in use was constructed in 1962. An extension, which includes three new classrooms, was constructed in 2007. There are now five mainstream classrooms and there are two other rooms available for learning support and for resource teaching. The school has a staff room, offices for the principal and secretary, a hall and toilets for the staff and for pupils. The building itself and the playground outside are neat and clean. The school has been decorated in a motivating and appealing manner including charts and educational resources as well as displays of some of the pupils’ work. It is advisable to ensure that all school notices are displayed in Irish, or bilingually from now on.

 

The table below provides general information on the school staff and on those pupils registered in the school at the time when this evaluation was conducted:

 

Number

Pupils enrolled in the school

121

Mainstream classes in the school

8

Teacher(s) on the staff of the school

7

Teacher(s) in mainstream classes

5

Teacher(s) assigned to a support role (shared post)

2

Special needs’ assistants

1

 

1.     Quality of school management

1.1 Characteristic spirit, mission and vision of the school

There is a good spirit of learning in the school. The school is committed to the development of the whole child. The school’s vision is that each pupil will receive a good broad education in this school. The school has, for some years, been making commendable efforts to raise the Gaeltacht status of the school and to promote the Irish language in school and in the surrounding area.

 

1.2 The board of management

The Catholic Archbishop of Tuam is the patron of the school. The board of management holds a meeting on at least one occasion each term. During the recent extension work on the building, the board held many meetings to plan and discuss this work. Many of the board meetings are conducted through English. Some of the board members are fluent Irish speakers and all members of the board have phrases in Irish. It is recommended that greater use be made of Irish at meetings of the board of management. Minutes are recorded of every meeting of the board. Most of the minutes are currently written in English, but more use is progressively being made of Irish in the written minutes. It is recommended that this practice continue, until the minutes are, by and large, written in Irish. It would be worth creating and implementing a plan that would achieve these aims.

 

The board’s main priorities at this point are to improve the Gaeltacht ethos of the school and to arrange transport services in the surrounding locality. The board understands and accepts its responsibilities in regard to promoting Irish in the school and in the locality in accordance with section 9 of the Education Act (1998).

 

1.3 In school management

The school has a principal, deputy principal, and two teachers with special duties’ posts. The principal attends to her work diligently and conscientiously. The principal has effective leadership skills. Special praise is due to her for her efforts in promoting Irish as the language of interaction and the language of tuition in the school. She receives commendable help and cooperation from the deputy principal in this regard.

 

The school staff works together effectively. The attendance book, roll books and registers are attended to correctly. A staff meeting is held each term. All teachers have an opportunity to present and discuss their views at these meetings.

 

1.4 Managing relationships and communication with the school community

A parents’ association is functioning in the school. This association is not registered with the National Parents’ Association. Good relations are apparent between the parents and the teachers. Parents are very involved in various school activities. The parents organise Ógras for the children in the area. Classes are organised for parents who have little Irish and for those who wish to improve their Irish. At the meeting between parent representatives and the inspector, as part of this evaluation, the representatives indicated that they were very happy with the school and with the achievements of the pupils.

 

Parents are provided with an oral report of their individual children’s progress at an annual parent-teacher meeting. Teachers try to use Irish in so far as possible at these meetings. Parents receive written reports on their children’s progress at the end of each school year. These reports are mainly in Irish. It is recommended that this practice be further extended and that all of the reports be presented bilingually. Parents are welcome to the school at any time, when they wish to discuss anything about their children.

 

 

1.5 Management of pupils

The pupils in Scoil Bhreandáin are well mannered. The majority of pupils are interested in the lessons and the various activities organised by their teachers. Pupils work effectively together and they respect their teachers. They welcome visitors to the school. Irish is not the main language of the home for most pupils. They are, however, positively disposed towards Irish and almost all pupils can speak Irish and can understand the lessons in Irish in all areas of the curriculum.

 

2.  Quality of School Planning

2.1 Whole school planning and classroom planning

The quality of planning in this school is good. The school plan includes a mission statement and plans are available for all curriculum areas. Policies have been developed for administrative areas. For example, a health and safety statement, an equality statement, enrolment and code of behaviour policies have been developed. Further work needs to be done, however, to provide all policies in Irish and in English. However, good work has been initiated by the school in this regard and it is hoped that the complete school plan will be available in both languages in the near future. Valuable support is provided to the staff for this work from inservice personnel.

 

The quality of staff planning is on the whole good. All teachers provide long-term and short-term schemes. Some teachers are advised to provide a clearer presentation of schemes from now on. Teachers retain monthly records of work that has been completed. Teachers also adhere to appropriate timetables. Individual education plans (IEPs) are developed for pupils who are getting learning support or who have special educational needs. These plans are reviewed twice a year. Copies of the relevant plans are also available in the class teachers’ files.

 

 

 

 

2.2 Policies and practices in regard to child safety

It was confirmed, in accordance with Circular 0061/2006 from the Department of Education and Science, that the board of management has formally accepted the Guidelines for Primary Schools on the Protection of Children (Department of Education and Science, September 2001). It was also confirmed that management, staff and parents were made aware of these practices in regard to child safety; that copies of these practices were provided for all staff members (including new members); and that management has ensured that all staff understand what procedures are to be applied. A designated liaison person and a deputy liaison person have been appointed as required by the guidelines.

 

3. The quality of learning and teaching

3.1 Language

Irish

Tá cáilíocht na foghlama agus an teagaisc sa Ghaeilge i Scoil Bhreandáin go maith. Tá an scoil seo suite i gceantar Gaeltachta. Tuigeann an fhoireann scoile ar fad an dualgas speisialta atá ar an scoil teagasc agus foghlaim na Gaeilge, agus trí Ghaeilge, a fhorbairt agus a chothú. Tá moladh tuillte ag na hoidí as an mbealach ina bhfuil siad ag déanamh iarrachta leis na blianta anuas na cuspóirí a bhaineann leis na dualgais seo a chur i bhfeidhm ar fud na scoile. Moltar fós leanúint ar aghaidh leis an obair seo agus caighdeáin Gaeilge na ndaltaí agus na scoile a ardú a thuilleadh.

 

Leagann na hoidí sna ranganna sóisearacha an bhéim chuí ar fhorbairt scileanna éisteachta agus tuisceana na ndaltaí. Spreagann na hoidí seo na daltaí chun dul i mbun cumarsáide le chéile go luath. Éiríonn leis na hoidí i mbeagnach gach rang spéis na ndaltaí a mhúscailt sa teanga, ach moltar do chuid bheag de na hoidí níos mó béime a leagan ar an obair seo. Tá toil na dtuismitheoirí faighte san iarracht chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn a thuilleadh fós sa scoil. B’fhiú an toil seo a chinntiú i gcónaí trí chumarsáid agus plé oscailte idir thuismitheoirí agus oidí.

 

Is féidir le beagnach gach dalta i ngach rang comhrá a dhéanamh as Gaeilge ar ábhair éagsúla. Tá caighdeán labhartha inmholta ag formhór na ndaltaí sna meánranganna agus sna hardranganna. Cothaítear scileanna léitheoireachta agus scríbhneoireachta na ndaltaí go héifeachtach ó rang a haon ar aghaidh. Léann formhór na ndaltaí go líofa agus freagraíonn siad ceisteanna bunaithe ar an méid atá léite acu go cumasach. D’fhéadfaí cló Ghaeilge sa timpeallacht a leathnú a thuilleadh, ach go háirithe sna hionaid phoiblí, ionas go mbeadh sé soiléir do chuairteoirí agus do phobal uile na scoile gur scoil Ghaeltachta í seo.

 

Irish

The quality of learning and teaching of Irish in Scoil Bhreandáin is good. The school is situated in a Gaeltacht area. The whole school staff understands the special responsibility that it has to develop and promote the teaching and learning of Irish, and through Irish. Praise is due to the teachers for the way in which they have attempted to implement the objectives that arise from this responsibility in recent years. It is recommended that this work continue and that pupils’ standards in Irish be improved further.

 

The teachers in the junior classes place the appropriate emphasis on developing pupils’ listening and comprehension skills. These teachers stimulate the pupils to converse with each other at an early stage. The teachers in almost every class awaken the pupils’ interest in the [Irish] language, but it is recommended that some teachers should place more emphasis on this work. The parents’ goodwill has been secured in the endeavour to promote Irish even further in the school. This goodwill should always be maintained through open communication and discussion between parents and teachers.

 

Almost all of the pupils in every class can make conversation in Irish on various topics. The majority of pupils in the middle and senior classes have commendable oral skills [in Irish]. The pupils’ reading and writing skills are fostered effectively from first class onwards. The majority of pupils read fluently and they answer questions on what they read competently. A print-rich environment in Irish should be expanded further, especially in the public areas of the school, so that it is clear to visitors and the entire school community that this is a Gaeltacht school.

 

Béarla

The quality of learning and teaching in English is very good. Most pupils have a high standard of English on entering Scoil Bhreandáin. The teachers place an appropriate emphasis on the development of pupils’ oral language skills. Almost all pupils can speak fluently about themselves and about many other subjects. The pupils recite rhymes and poems with meaning, particularly in the junior classes. A print-rich environment is in evidence in most classrooms.

 

In the junior classes there is an appropriate emphasis placed on pre-reading skills. In some of the other classes, however, it would be worth placing even more emphasis on developing a love of reading. This would assist in maintaining and further improving the high standard of reading in the school. The class libraries are fairly well stocked, but these books could be displayed in a more appealing manner. It would also be worth buying more recent publications so as to further motivate readers of all ages and all levels.

 

There is a good standard of English writing in evidence in the school. Samples of pupils’ written work are on display in classrooms. Teachers in almost all classes place a commendable emphasis on the writing process. The pupils carefully edit their work before publishing it in class. Commendable work in functional and in creative writing is evident in pupils’ copybooks and workbooks. 

 

 

3.2 Mathematics

The quality of learning and teaching Mathematics in Scoil Bhreandáin is very high. Most pupils achieve a commendable standard in Mathematics. Many pupils in all classes achieve an exceptionally high standard. Most of the Mathematics lessons in all classes are conducted through Irish. Pupils have an understanding of mathematical terminology and an extensive Mathematics’ vocabulary in both languages. Irish versions of the Mathematics’ textbooks are currently used in the junior classes. The school plans in the near future to introduce the Irish version of the Mathematics textbooks throughout the school.

 

The school has a wide range of resources for Mathematics. These materials are used to good effect in teaching. Mathematics is evident in the environment, including posters and mathematics’ corners in classes. Every poster should in future be displayed in Irish, or bilingually. Pupils’ record their work neatly and clearly. Teachers in almost all classes methodically monitor this work.

 

3.3 History

The quality of learning and teaching in History is good. Teachers place an appropriate emphasis on the Story strand throughout the school. Pupils’ interest in History in junior classes is encouraged through motivational storytelling and through appealing classroom displays. There is commendable work done in these classes also on Myself and my family. An interesting collection of artefacts is in evidence in all classes and on the way into the school. Timelines are also on display in all classrooms.

 

Pupils in higher classes engage in worthwhile projects on historical topics. The work on Local Studies is particularly noteworthy and is worthy of special praise. It would be worth placing even more emphasis in some classes on teaching the vocabulary pertaining to the subject. It would also be worth making greater use of the methodologies of group teaching, such as circle work and paired discussions to further enhance the learning and knowledge of pupils.

 

3.4 Assessment

The school uses the standardised tests Micra-T in English and Sigma-T in Mathematics once each year. The Middle Infant Screening Test (MIST) is administered each year to senior infants. Assessment supports the early detection of learning difficulties. Pupils who have special educational needs or who require learning support are identified. The outcomes of these tests are retained in a central location in the school and teachers individually retain the results that pertain to their own classes. Diagnostic assessments could now be used more effectively so as to identify the specific needs of pupils. It would also be worth assessing newly enrolled pupils at an early stage to discover what learning standards they have achieved.

 

4.     Quality of support for pupils

 

4.1 Pupils with special educational needs

 

The school has developed a learning support and a resource policy. The policy fairly effectively supports the implementation of a service for pupils with learning difficulties and other needs. Permission is sought from parents before this additional teaching commences. There could be more effective input from parents during the planning process for this work. It is recommended for example that parents would be involved in a more practical way in the development of the individual education plans (IEPs). It is also recommended that parents should receive a copy of their own children’s IEP.

 

4.2 Additional supports for pupils: disadvantaged pupils and pupils from minority or other groupings

 

These pupils are taught effectively and efforts are made to ensure that all pupils are included in the life of the school.

 

 

5.  Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

  • There is a positive and diligent atmosphere in Scoil Bhreandáin.
  • The school accepts its responsibility in regard to promoting and raising the status of Irish.
  • The board of management provides commendable support to the school.
  • The principal and deputy principal collaborate very effectively.
  • Commendable work is done in Mathematics and the pupils achieve a high standard.
  • The quality of work on local studies in History is commendable.
  • The school is clean both inside and outside.

 

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

 

  • It is recommended that even greater emphasis be placed on Irish in all aspects of the school, with a view to continuing to develop the Gaeltacht status of the school.
  • Irish as a teaching medium throughout the curriculum should be further expanded, in partnership with parents, so that their support for this work is assured.
  • It is recommended that aspects of the school’s assessment be amended, for example for pupils with special educational needs.

 

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

 

Published March 2009