An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta

 

Department of Education and Science

 

 

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT

 

St. Paulís CBS

North Brunswick St., Dublin 7

Roll number: 60430O

 

Date of inspection: 23 Ė 27 April 2007

Date of issue of report: 6 December 2007

 

 

 

Whole School Evaluation report

1. Introduction

2. The quality of school management

3. Quality of school planning

4. Quality of curriculum provision

5. Quality of learning and teaching in subjects

6. Quality of support for students

7. Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

8. Related subject inspection reports

School Response to the Report

 

 

 

 

Whole School Evaluation report

 

This report has been written following a whole school evaluation of St. Paulís CBS, Brunswick St., Dublin 7. 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 schoolís board of management, and representatives of the parentsí association. 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 studentsí work, and interacted with the class teachers. They reviewed school planning documentation and teachersí 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.

 

 

 

1.         Introduction

 

St. Paulís CBS is a voluntary secondary school for boys, founded by the Christian Brothers in 1869. It is located in North Brunswick Street, in the north inner-city area of Dublin. The school is managed by a board of management and the current principal is the first lay principal to lead the school. Due to demographic changes in recent years and the opening of a number of new schools in suburban areas further from the city centre, the catchment area of St. Paulís has been reduced to a relatively small area close to the school, primarily in the north inner city region immediately adjacent to the school. This area has been recognised as one of social and economic disadvantage by successive governments. Consequently, St. Paulís was given disadvantaged status by the Department of Education and Science in 1988 and as a result is in receipt of funding and other supports to assist students in attending school and benefiting from the time spent there. The school has also been included in the current DEIS programme, through which supports to help alleviate disadvantage are continued. The school sees itself as an integral part of the local community and is involved in all the local initiatives that seek to support and enhance opportunities for young people in this community. A minority of the current student population are international students, a fact which brings its own challenges to the school and to which the school is responding well.

 

The present staffing allocation is sixteen permanent whole time posts, including one post for Guidance and Counselling, a 0.5 post Home School Community Liaison coordinator allocation, and eight other posts, including temporary whole-time and part-time teachers. The school is currently one post over quota. Administrative and support staff includes office staff, a caretaker, three cleaning staff and a special needs assistant.

 

The school offers a range of programmes and courses to students: the Junior Certificate, Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP), the Transition Year programme (TY) which is optional, the established Leaving Certificate and Leaving Certificate Applied programme (LCA).

 

The Whole School Evaluation process focused on the areas of school management, planning, curriculum provision, teaching and learning, and supports for students. In the evaluation of teaching and learning, four subject areas were evaluated in detail. These were Art, French, Gaeilge and History.

 

 

2.         The quality of school management

 

2.1          Characteristic spirit of the school

 

ďTo support teachers, students and parents as they co-operate in the cultivation of an atmosphere of Christian care and concern. This endeavour contributes towards the self-realisation of all the students.Ē

 

The mission statement of St. Paulís arises out of its ethos as a Christian Brothers school. This mission statement is fundamental to all the activities of St. Paulís and is visibly lived out in all the daily routines and activities of the school. It is the starting point for all the policies and procedures that have been developed for use in the school. There is a strong focus on supporting students to overcome disadvantage, at a personal level as well as socially and academically, and a keen interest in each student as an individual is in evidence throughout the school. A high level of respect and consideration for students is evident in all interactions between staff and students and in the manner in which the school is managed, with the best interests of students in mind.

 

The board of management promotes the ethos of the school through example, through close contact with the school, and through the involvement of individual board members in events within the school. Thus, the influence of the board and the values that it seeks to inculcate in staff and students alike permeate the school from the top downwards.

 

The principal and deputy principal work to ensure that the mission statement is fulfilled in the systems and daily routines that operate within the school and in the interactions of all those who work and learn in the school. A strong sense of community and a high level of collegiality exist among all staff members, and there is an awareness at all levels within the school of where the students are coming from, both socially and personally. All students are equally valued and cared for. Management and staff take pride in their school and its achievements and they show a strong sense of ownership of the school.

 

The officers of the parentsí association have a very positive view of the school and of the level of care and support given to their sons. They are very supportive of management and teaching staff.

 

A strong focus is placed on the holistic development of students, with a comprehensive pastoral system to support students in their learning and development. The school strives to give its students the skills they need to progress in society, to avail of further educational opportunities and to become independent young men.

 

The undoubted strength of the school is the manner in which it appreciates and cares for all its students. This is done directly on a day-to-day basis in school and indirectly through providing programmes and opportunities for all students which are suitable to their needs and aspirations and which help them to grow and mature in a caring and supportive environment. The challenges facing the school include tackling disadvantage, moving from religious to lay trustee ship and management, integrating recent legislation into everyday school life and catering for the growing international community within the school.

 

 

2.2          School ownership and management

The board of management of St. Paulís is properly constituted and the current board is in its first year of operation. Board members have a wide range of strengths and expertise, which is of direct and significant benefit to the school. The parentsí representatives on the board are also members of the parentsí association. The board meets once a month ordinarily when the school is open and special meetings may also be held to address specific issues as necessary. Attendance at meetings is excellent and the level of knowledge and engagement of individual board members is very impressive. The board is forward-looking in carrying out its responsibilities and pro-active in its approach to solving problems. Decision-making is by consensus.

 

Members of the board expressed satisfaction with the level of support provided by the trustees. This support includes an annual meeting of the principals of all Christian Brothers Schools, ethos support programmes and one day of formal training for all board members. It is notable that one board member is a trainer. In addition, use is made of relevant documentation from managerial bodies, as necessary.

 

The board is very involved in policy making and in planning on an on-going basis and not just in the ratification of plans and policies as a final step. The board has an excellent relationship with senior management and is very supportive of them. The board recognises the strong and effective leadership provided by the senior management team within the school. The members of the board work hard to ensure good communications exist at all levels in the school and they have stated that this is the key to running a good school. The board is also supportive of all staff activities, especially of continuing professional development, as related to the needs of the school. The board stated its satisfaction with the standard of teaching and learning in the school.

 

Members of the board report orally to those they represent. However, a more effective means of keeping stakeholders informed of board activities and decisions should be explored. It is recommended that an agreed written report be issued following each board meeting. This will ensure that the same message is delivered to all interested parties and will also serve as a record of such communications.

 

The board has identified four priorities for school development: the provision of quality teaching and learning in a Christian and caring environment; an increase in student numbers and improved retention rates; the management of financial shortfalls; and the maintenance of an ageing school building.

 

Senior management demonstrated a great awareness of the ethos of the school and work hard to ensure that it is maintained. It was obvious from their interaction with inspectors that teaching staff are committed to the pastoral support of their students, as expressed in the mission statement, as a foundation for enabling teaching and learning to take place in a secure environment.

 

A new parentsí association has been in place since September 2006, the first such parentsí body in over ten years. Members are extremely positive about the school and supportive of management and teaching staff. They have a general awareness of the schoolís code of behaviour and anti-bullying policy and they have also been consulted regarding the admissions policy. The school management has stated that the parentsí association will be included to a far greater extent in upcoming reviews of existing policies and in the development of new policies into the future and this is a positive move.

 

The parentsí association meet monthly in a specific parentsí room. The principal and the home-school-community-liaison (HSCL) coordinator attend these meetings. Members of the association have received no training for their roles, which they see primarily as getting feedback from their sons and feeding this back into the school at board, principal or individual teacher level, as relevant. They communicate with teachers on behalf of their sons and are involved in school activities, for example the recent fashion show organised by the TY class.

Parents describe the school as friendly and positive. Parents are satisfied with teaching and learning in general and are satisfied that studentsí needs are being catered for. They stated that teachers listen to what parents have to say and get to the root of problems. The parentsí association has a very positive relationship with the principal. Parents know whom to contact in case of difficulty.

 

A studentsí council has been in place since 1999. Council members are drawn from senior classes only: TY, fifth year and sixth year. A senior student on the council represents each junior class. It is suggested that, for as long as the current situation is maintained, the situation regarding the non-inclusion of junior students be kept under review. It is also suggested that time be set aside for the junior classes to meet with their representative to ensure their views are well represented. At the end of each year, third-year students apply to replace the outgoing sixth-year students. The outgoing sixth-year students interview the applicants and choose their replacements. There is no teacher involvement in this process. The council meets at lunchtime every Monday and a liaison teacher attends all meetings. Minutes of meetings are kept. The council sees its role as putting studentsí views forward and helping them with problems. Members have received a full day of training, in conjunction with studentsí council members from a number of other schools. The council has held two non-uniform days to raise funds. Its achievements are many and notable, including successfully lobbying management for the provision of lockers for students, funding the purchase of a television and DVD player for the school, redecorating the schoolís pool room and buying a new pool table, publishing a school newsletter, the ďBrunner BugleĒ, and representing the school on the local area committee.

 

Members of the studentsí council stated that they have a good rapport with staff and they feel they really have a say in the school. They said that management and teachers are supportive and they see the school as small and caring.† They are aware of the code of behaviour but, to date, have not been consulted with regard to school policies. As with the parentsí association, it is recommended that the studentsí council be included to a far greater extent in upcoming reviews of existing policies and in the development of new policies. The studentsí council has met with the parentsí association but not with the board of management. It is recommended that an opportunity be provided for such a meeting, on an annual basis at least, with an agreed agenda in order to provide a focus for the meeting.

 

Members of the ancillary staff are very positive about their position within the school. They carry out their duties in a thorough and professional manner which is highly valued by the school management. They feel that they are part of the school community and that their work has a valuable contribution to make to the running of the school. Both the school secretary and caretaker have received training specific to their core roles and, additionally, the secretary has received training in first aid.

 

 

2.3          In-school management

The Principal and deputy principal work very well together as a team in providing excellent leadership, both in terms of the day-to-day running of the school and of strategic management and planning. Their communication is informal and frequent, and the manner of their cooperation and sharing of tasks ensures that they complement and support each other at all times. The principal takes direct responsibility for general administration, timetabling and staff issues, represents the school on a range of local committees including the Local Area Committee and the School Completion Programme committee, and has the final word in disciplinary issues. The duties of the deputy principal include management of the supervision and substitution rota, supervision of classes when necessary and management of the book rental scheme. The deputy principal provides support for the principal, deputises for the principal in his absence and assists in the management of paperwork. In addition, the deputy principal has teaching duties.

 

Senior management, together and separately, provide a presence on the corridors of the school, meet parents and monitor the daily routines of the school.† Teaching and learning are monitored to ensure quality, and support is provided to both teachers and students as necessary. The school has learned to cope with many changes in recent years, especially in relation to disadvantage.

 

There are currently six assistant principal and five special duties teacher posts in the school. One full meeting of all post holders is held each September. Post holders agree duties as a group, allowing a degree of flexibility and matching of duties to the strengths of the post holders. There is a written description of the duties associated with each post. All post holders are encouraged to develop their roles. It is the responsibility of post holders to identify their own training needs and request training. Posts are effectively given out on seniority, as there is only one applicant per post. While the duties associated with these posts have been appropriate to the needs of the school in the past, a period of change has now commenced, due to a number of retirements among the teaching staff and changes in student numbers. It is recommended that these changes be used as an opportunity to carry out a root and branch review of the needs of the school, to re-examine the duties associated with all posts, and to realign these duties with the on-going and future needs of the school, as identified in the review.

 

It is also recommended that all post holders submit a written report on their performance of post duties to the principal at the end of each school year. This report, in addition to outlining the work that was satisfactorily completed, should also include any barriers to the implementation of the duties that were encountered and should make recommendations for the future successful implementation of the duties associated with the post.

 

The staff has a very professional approach to their work and a positive and affirming attitude towards students, in keeping with the ethos of the school. A year head and tutor system is in place to facilitate the management and support of students, as part of a comprehensive pastoral care system. Members of the teaching staff have high regard for the principal and deputy principal. Communication between staff and management is very good and is carried out in a number of ways, informally during coffee break in the staff room, and formally at staff meetings, of which there are two or three per term. Staff members are given the opportunity to contribute to the agenda for these meetings.† Pigeonholes in the staff room and notice boards are also used to communicate with staff members.

 

There is a good level of communication between the school and the general parent body. The school has an open-door policy in relation to communication with parents. Parents are encouraged to contact the school whenever they have concerns regarding the progress of their children or if they wish to discuss a particular issue. Three formal parent-teacher meetings are sufficient each year to accommodate all parents due to the small size of the school.

 

There is an appropriate health and safety statement in place and this is reviewed as necessary, for example when a change takes place in an area or procedure which has further health and safety implications. Work-related stress is seen as a health and safety issue. New teachers are supported initially through a programme of introduction to the school. The principal briefs all new teachers, and established teachers advise and assist them. The principal and deputy principal meet them again at the beginning of the second term to review their progress and address issues that may have arisen. Further meetings are held after Easter and at the end of the school year. It is recommended that a more formal induction programme for new staff members be researched and implemented.

 

 

2.4          Management of resources

The number of teachers is one above quota at present and teaching time is efficiently utilised in line with teacher qualifications and specialist subjects, with one minor exception. There is, however, a degree of variation in the teaching hours for which teachers are timetabled and it is recommended that, in the interests of fairness, there be a more uniform distribution of teaching hours insofar as is possible, subject to curricular requirements. Management is very supportive of continuous professional development of staff members. Attendance at Department of Education and Science provided in-service is always facilitated.

 

There are no specific budgets for subject areas. Funding is provided on request and as needed.

 

There are very good ICT facilities available to students. Two ICT rooms are in use and available hardware and software are generally good, including software specifically for Learning Support, Mathematics, English, and English as a second language (ESL). There is an IT team in place and all staff members have had some training in this area. A draft IT plan is being implemented and an Internet Users Policy, common to all users within the school, is currently under development. Most classrooms now have a computer and it is hoped to have one in all classrooms soon. Two of the schoolís three buildings have broadband fitted and it is intended to connect the final building this summer. A steering committee has been set up to lead and manage the integration of IT into teaching and learning at a classroom level in all subject areas and it is hoped to access dormant accounts funding to assist in the expansion of IT facilities. Students have access to computers at lunchtime and after school in order to carry out project work. The school hopes to develop and maintain its own website in the near future with the help of senior students who have attended web design classes in the DIT as part of their TY studies. Concern has also been expressed at the cost of maintaining the schoolís IT system and the lack of specific funding for this purpose.

 

The school consists of three separate buildings, one of relatively recent construction and one which is over 100 years old and has been listed for preservation by Dublin City Council. The buildings are generally well maintained and the school is making the best use of the available facilities in most cases. Rooms were rented to a language school last summer and the income was fed back into the school.

 

There are sufficient classrooms to accommodate all classes and other school activities. A learning support room, a guidance suite, a science laboratory, a kitchen for Home Economics and two ICT rooms are available. A language laboratory is also available and it is recommended that greater use be made of this facility.

 

There are some areas where accommodation is insufficient or lacking. The school has no library at present. An application to the Dormant Accounts Fund is currently being processed in order to provide a library in an existing room. The hall used for Physical Education is small and there are no outdoor facilities available on the school site. Much use is made of playing fields on the site of the nearby Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), but it is not always convenient to travel there during the school day. The art room is in a poor state of repair at present and constitutes a health and safety problem which must be addressed. The room used to hold classes in Materials Technology (Wood) is on the first floor, causing difficulty with access, especially when bringing in large pieces of timber. In addition, the dust extraction system in this room needs to be brought into line with modern safety requirements.

 

Application has been made, and approved, under the 2007 summer works scheme of the Department for replacement of the windows of the listed building. Because of the nature and layout of the school in general, heating costs are very high, and this is an additional drain on available funding.

 

Good resources are available to cater for students with special education needs. Minority groups have integrated very well into the school. The extra teaching resources that have been provided to the school because of its disadvantaged status, along with those that have been granted on the basis of specific programmes and initiatives or on a concessionary basis, have been used appropriately and this has benefited all students.

 

 

3.         Quality of school planning

 

The cycle of planning begins, in St. Paulís CBS, with identification of the need for a policy or plan in a given area. This may come from any one of a number of different levels within the school Ė the board, senior or middle management, staff, students and parents. When the need has been accepted, a draft policy is prepared as a working document. The principal usually does this, though others may also be involved. The board of management examines draft policy and consults all stakeholders, including management, staff and parents. The plan or policy may undergo a number of alterations and modifications before being eventually returned to the board for final approval. The principal generally carries out implementation and monitoring of policies and plans, with the assistance of the teaching staff.

 

The school had engaged with the School Development Planning Initiative (SDPI) and a planning coordinator has been appointed. This person attends SDPI meetings and liaises with the principal regarding information and developments. There is no specific planning team with responsibility for planning. The school is relatively small and planning tends to be done by the staff as a group. To facilitate such planning, there is some element of school planning at all staff meetings. Commendably, much work has already been completed and more is underway in a number of areas. Further work is being planned as continuing needs are identified. There is an emphasis on subject department planning in the current school year.

 

There is a formal school plan in place which includes a list of plans and policies that are already in operation, along with a number of others that are due for review and those that are under development.

 

Policies on Guidance, homework, learning support, school tours, staff professional development and internet usage have been ratified by the board and are currently in operation. In addition to these, the board has also ratified and implemented a child protection policy, a Home School Community liaison policy, a transition year plan and a policy on teaching English as a second language (TESL).

 

A number of plans and policies have been identified for review in the near future. The admissions policy predated the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act of 2004 and it is to be reviewed. The board accepts that there is a deficiency in the wording of the document in relation to the admission of students with special educational needs (SEN) and it intends to rectify this as soon as possible. The board stressed that the school is very equality conscious. The school is liaising with the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) and is to be given the facility of a behavioural support classroom in the coming school year. As a consequence, a number of policies have to be updated in order to maximise the benefit of new the new facility. These policies include the discipline/behaviour policy, the attendance and punctuality policy and the anti-bullying policy.

 

Policies on the use of mobile phones, on health and safety, and on religious education are also earmarked for updating. A policy on substance use is currently under development. It is intended to review and update the ICT policy to plan for and support a greater integration of ICT into teaching and learning in the classroom, with the assistance of the ICT team and the ICT steering committee. Work on individual subject plans is ongoing.

 

The Child Protection Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools, published by the Department of Education and Science in 2004, have been adopted as the schoolís official policy on child protection by the board, in accordance with the Department of Education and Science circular M44/05. A designated person and a deputy-designated person have been appointed as required by the procedures detailed in the guidelines. In addition, all staff members have attended a briefing on the child protection guidelines and have received a copy of the guidelines.

 

Future focus will be on the continued development of subject departments and on planning for teaching and learning within such departments, on the induction of new staff and on the production of a handbook for all staff members. It is recommended that the homework policy be re-examined also with a view to including the role and responsibilities of teachers in relation to the examining and correction of homework and giving appropriate and timely feedback to students with regard to same.

 

Procedures for monitoring the implementation of all plans and policies and a time frame for evaluating, reviewing and updating all plans, policies, should be an integral part of all such plans and policies.

 

 

4.         Quality of curriculum provision

 

4.1          Curriculum planning and organisation

St. Paulís CBS offers a range of programmes tailored to the needs of its students. At junior level, both the Junior Certificate and the Junior Certificate Schools Programme (JCSP) are offered. Senior students are offered the TY programme, the Leaving Certificate (Established) and the Leaving Certificate Applied programmes. The board of management is satisfied that programmes and subjects offered cater for the needs of the students.

 

On entering the school, junior cycle students are placed in specific classes on the basis of an assessment carried out in St. Paulís before entry, along with information from primary schools, the HSCL coordinator, other assessments and information from parents. Currently in first year, there are three class groups, a Junior Certificate class and two JCSP classes. All three classes follow a common core group of subjects. Students in the Junior Certificate class also study Science, Business Studies and French, while those in one JCSP class study Business Studies, Italian and Materials Technology (Wood) and those in the second JCSP class study Materials Technology (Wood), Home Economics and Art. A similar pattern in relation to academic and practical subjects is implemented in second and third year. In addition, English and Mathematics are set in second and third year to create classes of different ability levels. These classes are timetabled concurrently to allow for movement of students between classes and students are encouraged to take higher level.

 

All junior cycle classes are timetabled for Religious Education (RE), Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Civics, Social and Political Education (CSPE). There is a strong and active RE department in place, reflecting the ethos of the school. They have formal weekly timetabled meetings, of which the records are kept. The RE team follows a full and detailed curricular plan. This is an excellent and practical document and it includes detailed three-year curricular plans for all junior cycle classes. It is an example of best practice and one which all other curricular areas and subjects should refer to when drawing up their own curricular plans, as part of the continuing development of subject departments.

 

A double period is allocated to SPHE in first year. This time is used to implement the Pathways Through Education programme, an intervention specifically designed to support students in the junior cycle. This programme is dealt with in more detail in Section 6 below. The SPHE programme is continued in second and third year. An appropriate CSPE programme is also implemented throughout the junior cycle.

 

On entering the senior cycle, students may choose the optional TY programme, or may progress immediately to the Leaving Certificate (Established) or LCA programmes. The TY programme has recently been reintroduced, following an extended period of absence, and it has proven to be very attractive to students. It is supported by a very thorough planning document detailing the aims of the TY programme in the school, the subjects and modules students follow and the range of additional activities that students partake in. In keeping with the ethos of the TY programme, it is activity based and affords learners an opportunity to engage in learning in areas that they would not otherwise encounter. Early promotion of the TY programme along with carefully chosen activities and learning opportunities has contributed significantly to its success. The TY programme, as planned and implemented, is an example of best practice and all who are involved in it are highly commended. It is recommended that a specific notice board for TY, publicising events, results and participants be set up in the schoolís general-purpose area to further enhance the good work being done with the TY class.

 

The LCA programme is currently attracting a small number of students. The need to revitalise the programme and improve the quality of the learning experiences of students was expressed by the LCA coordinator. The manner in which the TY programme has been reinvigorated should serve as a good example of how this might be achieved, with emphasis being placed on forming a committed and dedicated team, facilitating good planning and preparation through making time available for this team to meet and through appropriately promoting the programme with a carefully chosen target group of students.

 

Students following the Leaving Certificate (Established) programme take seven subjects. This consists of Gaeilge, English and Mathematics as core subjects and four other subjects chosen from a range of possible options.

 

Programme specific coordinators are active in a number of areas in the school. At junior cycle, there is a CSPE coordinator and three JCSP coordinators. At senior cycle, there are coordinators for the TY and LCA programmes. A programme coordinator has also been appointed under the terms of Department of Education and Science circular ppt17/02.

 

The coordinators carry out a variety of tasks in relation to their programme remits. Some examples follow. The JCSP coordinators meet as a group each week for the purpose of planning. There is informal contact between the JCSP coordinators and the teachers of JCSP classes also. The JCSP coordinators also liaise with other teachers as necessary. In addition, the programme coordinator and the principal meet with the JCSP coordinators to discuss possible initiatives and funding. The CSPE coordinator distributes information to teachers, manages CSPE resources and carries out administrative tasks with regard to examinations. The LCA coordinator visits students who are on work experience, one day per week all year. The programme coordinator helps to organise placements and is also tutor to the LCA group. However, there are no LCA team meetings. Teachers feel that, as the CSPE and LCA programmes have a syllabus, the coordinators do not need a job description.† It is recommended that all coordinators have at least a minimum job description, in broad terms if necessary, so as to allow for the flexibility required to deal with the range of issues and tasks that arise. It is also recommended that time be set aside to facilitate planning for the CSPE team and for the LCA team. There is a need, at present, to develop a perception of the LCA teachers as a team in the school and non-LCA teachers need to have a greater awareness of this LCA team.

 

In addition, it is recommended that there be some level of coordination in the delivery of aspects of the Pathways Through Education programme, Science, RE, Home Economics, SPHE and CSPE to provide students with a more complete and integrated view of certain issues in their personal education. One example of this might be the teaching of reproduction, a topic in Science, in close association with relationship education in SPHE.

 

4.2          Arrangements for studentsí choice of subjects and programmes

The HSCL coordinator and the principal liaise with and visit primary schools from December onwards to gather information on incoming first-year students. An information night or open night is held for parents of incoming first-years and all students sit entrance examinations. The purpose of these examinations is to identify students who may have special needs, in order that the required supports can be put in place for them as early as possible. They are not used for selection of students. As previously stated, in-coming first-year students are set into specific classes depending on their needs.

 

There is also a valuable transfer programme for incoming first-year students. This consists of a number of strands. Students visit the school on three occasions early in the year, are shown around, and get the opportunity to take part in classes specially run for their benefit, for example in Science and Home Economics. The students are brought back in again for an afternoon in May to remind them of what they have seen and done. The TY class run a mentoring programme where prospective first-year students are brought into the school, given individual mentors who are TY students, are shown around and given an opportunity to take part in various games and activities. Additionally, after the initial settling-in period, parents of first-year students are invited to the school in October for a coffee morning, in class groups, to meet with class tutors and the HSCL coordinator. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that all students are coping well with the move to secondary school and, if not, to examine the steps to be taken to help them.

 

Parents of third-year students are met as a group early each year and given information on programme and subject choices. As a means of promoting TY, the TY coordinator speaks to parents at this meeting and TY students address the parents also regarding their experience. It is recommended that LCA students address this meeting in order to promote their programme also. The Guidance Counsellor gives information to both parents and students and the HSCL coordinator visits the homes of students as necessary. In addition, the Guidance Counsellor meets with students individually to assist them with their choice of programme and subjects. Letters are also sent out to parents with regard to TY and LCA options. Awareness of the TY programme as an option is raised among students from first year onwards. Subject teachers are encouraged to promote their subjects. TY and third year students going into fifth year choose four from ten possible optional subjects. A Ďbest-fití model of subject lines is drawn up in order to accommodate as many students as possible.

 

4.3          Co-curricular and extra-curricular provision

 

A wide range of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities is available to students. The board of management is aware of and satisfied with this range of activities. Activities are inclusive except where numbers are limited or when an activity is related to a specific class or group of students. Teachers noted that the present supervision and substitution arrangements have made it easier to get involved in running and supporting these activities. Activities such as cookery classes and ECDL classes have also been run for parents, through the HSCL project. Members of the parentsí association would like to see more drama and music in the school.

 

Students can participate in sporting activities such as Gaelic football, soccer, basketball and pool. Cultural activities available to students include choir, drum and guitar lessons, religious events, foreign and other tours, Gaisce, chess, video making and the Brunner Bugle. In addition, musicals and fashion shows are staged, and good use is made of the schoolís city-centre location for walks of medieval Dublin and visits to the theatre and cinema.

 

A variety of other activities are also supported, such as study skills, charity work, TY and LCA work experience, business planning competition, stock exchange competition, Build-a-Bank competition, Young Entrepreneurs competition, Mmini-companies and a homework club. IT-related activities are available in the DIT and include web design, computer maintenance and build-a-computer courses.

 

The schoolís Build-a-Bank team came 10th in the inter-schools competition last year and were overall winners this year. Past pupils have also provided much support for extra- and co-curricular activities, for example, sponsoring sportswear for school teams. The disc jockey for the recent fashion show was also a past pupil, providing his services free of charge.

 

Management and staff have stated the benefits they feel both teachers and students gain from participating in these activities. These include improved self-confidence, development of non-academic skills and improved relationships between teachers and students. These activities are an example of the mission statement in action. It is recognised that there is a cost, in personal terms, to teachers in providing these opportunities for students and their efforts to provide this high level of extra- and co-curricular activities are indeed praiseworthy.

 

It is recommended that the Brunner Bugle draw from a wider range of writers and other sources when articles are being sought for publication and that space be made available for specific inputs from, for example, the parentsí council, TY news, LCA news, and for commissioned and unsought articles, creative writing and so on.

 

 

5.         Quality of learning and teaching in subjects

 

5.1          Planning and preparation

The importance of curricular planning is recognised and supported in the school. The formally established subject departments provide structured fora for the subject teachers to meet together and engage in collaborative planning. The corpus of departmental planning documentation that has been compiled reflects the commendable progress that has been made. The good practices of appointing a designated subject coordinator for a set period of time and recording the issues discussed and decisions taken at the departmental meetings are universally encouraged. The attendance of the full complement of the subject team at departmental meetings is vital in order to tap the full potential of collaborative action. It is recommended that, where difficulties have been experienced in securing the full attendance of the subject team, management discuss with the subject department the best means of achieving that goal.

 

The departmental subject plans inform the work of the subject teams and are commended. They are an important planning resource and contribute to the development of the teaching and study of the inspected subjects. Proactive planning is always an ongoing activity and towards that end it is recommended that all subject departments include in their overall subject plans the agreed departmental coursework plans for the various year groups including the coursework for transition year students. An Irish language version of the departmental subject plan for Gaeilge should be documented.

 

Cognisance should also be taken of the measures advocated in the subject inspection reports that are intended to assist the subject departments in strengthening their subject plans. These include detailing the agreed role and responsibilities of the subject coordinator, the mentoring practices in place to assist higher diploma students, the acquisition of subject resources, the co- and extra-curricular activities that support the teaching and study of the subject and the strategies employed to integrate information and communication technology (ICT) into the teaching and study of the subject.

 

The agreed year plans and term plans have a particularly important role in supporting the teaching and study of each subject throughout the school. The collaboration of the subject teams in documenting the plans is lauded. The continued development of the agreed plans as a planning resource should include details of proven teaching methodologies and resources for teaching the different topics and aspects of the coursework. The strategies employed to integrate and develop the linguistic skills of the students, as part of their coursework studies in a target language other than English, should be documented.† The departmental coursework plans should also specify achievable learning targets and measurable learning outcomes. The commendable planning documentation already compiled by individual teachers will help to advance this important work.

 

The various subject modules that have been prepared for the schoolís Transition Year (TY) programme underpin the successful re-establishment of the programme. They provide the TY students with a wide range of learning experiences and the work of the subject teachers is acknowledged. Subject departments are encouraged to collaborate in reviewing their respective subject modules in order to progress their development. The plan of the TY module should be included in the departmentís overall school plan for the subject, where this has yet to be done. The TY subject plan should detail the course content, resources and methodologies including interactive learning strategies and differentiated tasks where applicable.

 

The quality of prior planning and preparation for the lessons observed was good overall. Student learning was supported by the advanced readiness of lesson materials and the selection of the teaching and learning strategies to be employed.

 

5.2          Teaching and learning

Classroom management was very effective in the lessons observed. Learning activities were purposeful and productive and a firm but fair approach to discipline enhanced the effectiveness of the teaching. It was clear that a good rapport existed between teachers and students. Accordingly, a very supportive learning environment was in place and the courtesy and co-operation of students was noted and commended by the inspection team.

 

The effective use of additional resources was observed in several subject areas. Textbooks were supplemented with well chosen, visually stimulating materials. Overhead transparencies were also used to good effect, as were charts, maps and teacher-generated handouts and worksheets. The good practice of creating a print-rich environment through visual displays in classrooms is one that is worth extending to all classrooms and corridors. The whiteboards were used effectively for the noting of key words and concepts.

 

A number of lessons involved the effective use of ICT where its potential to contribute to enhanced learning was ably demonstrated. Teachers guided and directed their students in the use of the Internet in order to access information on appropriate websites. It is recommended that the productive use of ICT in teaching and learning be further explored and extended.

 

Very good practice in language teaching was observed in the majority of classes where the target language was used extensively for classroom communication. It is recommended that all language teachers continue to use the target language to the greatest extent possible and that teaching strategies, other than translation to English, be adopted to ensure the optimum development of studentsí listening and speaking skills. The visits to museums and galleries by students of Art are highly commended.

 

In the majority of lessons observed, work was focused on a single theme which was communicated clearly to students at the start of class. This is good practice. In general, the topics chosen were relevant to the lives and interests of the learners and a number of productive teaching strategies were used to engage students and to direct them to the learning task. Teachers interacted purposefully with students during the lessons, posing questions, clarifying information and sensitively correcting errors.

 

5.3          Assessment

Assessment and evaluation are important aspects of classroom practices and the educational policies of the school. Junior cycle students are organised into class groups that pursue either the Junior Certificate Programme (JCP) or the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP). The students with the greatest need of learning support follow the JCSP and are organised into designated class groups for this purpose. The students with special educational needs are identified through assessment tests prior to their entry in first year, communication with their parents and national school teachers, and referral by their mainstream teachers for learning support after entry. The principal in consultation with the relevant personnel selects the students who will follow the JCSP and determines the number of JCSP class groups that need to be formed in each year group.

 

In the classroom teachers use a combination of questioning, the setting of assignments, homework, projects and class tests to assess their studentsí progress. The setting and correction of class assignments, homework tasks and projects also help to provide information about student application and progress.

 

Formal school examinations take place before Christmas for all year groups, with the exception of TY, and students sitting the state examinations have mock examinations in the spring term. The first, second and fifth-year students sit summer examinations at the end of the academic year. There are good systematic records of studentsí achievement in ongoing assessments and in the end-of-term and summer examinations. End-of-term and end-of-year results are communicated to parents and guardians. Regular parentĖteacher meetings are held and the various subject departments provide discussion, feedback and advice at these. Teachers, year heads and parents make regular use of the school journal to check on studentsí progress and to communicate between school and home.

 

As well as written examinations, all students of French sit aural examinations. Oral testing in French is however confined to senior cycle students at present. It is recommended that the good practice of oral testing be extended to junior cycle and TY.

 

Homework was generally well monitored across the subjects inspected. However in some class groups, both at junior and at senior cycle level, there was little evidence of assigned written exercises, and not enough correction, comment, or feedback. There was evidence too of educationally unproductive homework. These areas need attention and improvement. It was reported that, given the school context, particular difficulties regarding the completion of homework arise. It is suggested therefore, that a portion of class time be devoted to the development of writing skills. Positive, formative comments in copybooks would also help to guide and motivate students.

 

In Art, it is recommended that differentiated aims and objectives be used as the basis for creating assessment criteria for students of differing aptitude and motivation levels. In the art department, assessment is well integrated into the work students do and the assignments they are set. In general, 40% of marks are assigned for a specific, classroom centred examination task, and 60% for the portfolio of the termís or yearís class work.

 

In History, the studentsí performance in the class-based tests that are organised at appropriate times in their study of the coursework, provide a means of tracking studentsí progress and informing judgements.

 

 

6.         Quality of support for students

 

6.1          Students with special educational needs

A whole-school approach is taken to the issue of special educational needs (SEN) in St. Paulís CBS. The school caters for students with mild and moderate general learning difficulties as well as students with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia. There is a very thorough policy for learning support currently in place, covering all aspects of the excellent learning support provided. This policy was last updated two years ago. The learning support team is very enthusiastic and committed, their work underpinned by modern thinking and approaches, and a proactive approach to their work. The work of this team is an example of excellent practice.

 

All teachers are seen as teachers of special educational needs (SEN) students. There has been an emphasis on staff development in the special needs area this year and whole-staff CPD has been provided in the areas of differentiation, team teaching and reading. Teachers have also found the local special education needs organiser (SENO) to be very helpful.

 

A number of specific interventions are in place to support SEN students. As already stated, setting of students is used in Junior Certificate classes in order to place students in the class group most appropriate to their needs. Timetable setting is also used to help target specific students, especially to facilitate withdrawal while reducing, in so far as is possible, the negative effect of withdrawal on the studentsí other subjects and so as to facilitate the concurrent availability of the student and appropriate teacher. The school is moving, where appropriate, away from withdrawal and more towards team teaching in supporting SEN students. This measure in supportive of inclusion and is to be commended.† Extra teachers are timetabled for English and Mathematics at Junior Certificate level to ensure that all students in need of learning support are taught these subjects in small class groups. In addition, in order to encourage students to achieve to the best of their abilities, foundation level is avoided as much as possible in the teaching of English.

 

Resource hours for students with psychological reports are applied as allocated. Individual profiles and learning programmes (IPLPs) are compiled for these students to assist in directing and monitoring their progress. Those students without an allocation of resource hours are identified and dealt with through in-school arrangements and policies. The LS team may interact with the Pathways Through Education team in relation to first-year students to provide additional support where necessary.

 

A challenge has been identified within the school as to how to best get subject teachers, at all levels, to deal most effectively in their daily routines with the IPLPs of SEN students. It is recommended that the whole staff training in the support of SEN students mentioned above be extended to cover this issue in the near future. It is also recommended that the school develop overall literacy and numeracy policies as a means of further supporting these students. It is suggested that relevant personnel consult the JCSP support service publication Between the Lines for assistance.

 

There are frequent informal meetings of the two learning support (LS) teachers. The level of training for LS team members is good. One team member is fully qualified and another is currently in receipt of further training. One special needs assistant (SNA) is also working in the school. Students are frequently assessed and the learning support teachers track their progress. Full and detailed records are kept of all studentsí progress. Excellent shared resources are available to the LS team and IT support is good also. For example, in addition to the two IT rooms already mentioned, the special education room is equipped with four computers, supplied as part of the school completion programme (SCP). An appropriate level of contact is maintained with parents or guardians of students who are in receipt of learning support. The services of the HSCL co-ordinator have proven to be an invaluable resource for this purpose.

 

A particular characteristic of the work of the LS team, and of the manner in which SEN students are supported in St. Paulís, is the belief that the support provided to students really makes a significant difference to them. Consequently, the LS teachers act as advocates for students with learning difficulties and ensure that they are always supported to the best ability of the school. This is commendable.

 

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

St. Paulís CBS was granted disadvantaged status by the Department of Education and Science in 1988 and is also participating in the SCP. The school has been included in the current DEIS programme, under which supports to help alleviate disadvantage are continued. These interventions have given the school a HSCL coordinator, and this has led to improved contact with parents and has been of huge assistance to all areas of activity within the school. They have also provided a disadvantaged area post, leading to reduced class sizes; a guidance counsellor and a resource teacher.

 

The supports that have been put in place because of these interventions are uniquely adapted to the needs of the students and include the Pathways Through Education programme. This programme will be examined in more detail in section 6.4 of this report. One branch of the programme, the Kaleidoscope programme, is specifically dedicated to supporting students who have recently arrived in Ireland from abroad. Up to one fifth of the total enrolment of the school avails of this programme. The programme is for students in all year groups and these students meet as a group for one class period every Monday. There is a focus on inclusion and integration, on helping these students find their voice in their new circumstances, and on skills which enable them to adjust and to cope.

 

The work of the HSCL coordinator has been referred to in a number of contexts throughout this report. There is an excellent HSCL plan being implemented in the current school year. Key areas of work include encouraging and maintaining parental contact with the school, with home visits as necessary; support of teaching staff through regular meetings with relevant personnel and the provision of information; support of students through participation in the transfer programme from primary to secondary school and from junior to senior cycle; and working with or maintaining links with a variety of outside agencies and voluntary groups including the Local Committee, the local SCP cluster, the Garda SŪochŠna Juvenile Liaison Officer and community groups.

 

Other supports provided by the SCP include a homework club and a books rental scheme, both of which are available to all students. Students from the nearby law school in Blackhall Place volunteer to provide assistance to students on a number of evenings each week, for most of the school year. A number of teachers also participate on a voluntary basis. A breakfast club was available in the past but, due to difficulties in uptake, is not currently in operation. It is recommended that the breakfast club, or a similar service, be set up again and students be encouraged and facilitated by whatever means possible to avail of it.

 

Some of these students also need language support and additional support is provided as needed. A Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) co-ordinator arranges specific English language tuition for some of these students, while another teacher has contact with Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT) and carries out diagnostic testing. A number of teachers who do not teach English focus on subject-specific vocabulary for TESL students. However, there is no overall policy governing the support of these students, who now constitute a significant minority within the school. It is recommended that such a policy be drafted and implemented in the short term and that a coordinator be appointed to oversee the care and inclusion of these students. As part of the development of this policy, more thorough procedures with regard to language support must also be considered.

 

6.3          Guidance

Guidance and counselling are seen as fundamental activities in the ethos and mission statement of the school. The school has an allocation of one teacher for guidance and counselling for the current school year and a comprehensive range of guidance and counselling services is available to students at all levels. An excellent and thorough guidance plan has been drawn up and implemented by the guidance counsellor. This plan addresses important and relevant areas such as the range of counselling services offered to students and how guidance and counselling can help to alleviate educational disadvantage. There is a separate section in the plan detailing the specific supports provided to each year group, from incoming first-year students to final year Leaving Certificate students. As with all plans, the Guidance plan should be evaluated and amended as necessary after an appropriate period of time after consultation with management, staff, parents and students.

 

The guidance counsellor visits the feeder schools to meet with sixth class students and obtain information relevant to the needs of each student before entry to St. Paulís, so that necessary supports can be put in place as early as possible. This work is shared with the principal and the HSCL coordinator. The guidance counsellor also assists in the induction of incoming first-year students. Work with first-year and second-year students involves liaising with the HSCL coordinator and the Pathways Through Education team to ensure that they are coping with the demands of secondary school, and providing assistance to those who are having difficulty. The support work continues into third year. In addition, aptitude testing is carried out and students are met, individually, to discuss programme and subject options for senior cycle.

 

At senior cycle, programmes of personal support and development are provided along with counselling when required, and appropriate information programmes in relation to further education and career options. Students are introduced to Qualifax and the Central Applications Office (CAO) procedures and systems for third-level college access. They are involved in carrying out work experience in the TY and LCA programmes

 

At all levels, the guidance counsellor liaises with the HSCL coordinator, the Pathways Through Education team, the learning support and resource teachers, and the pastoral care and other student support systems within the school in order to provide appropriately for the development and needs of all students and to identify and support students deemed to be at risk of leaving school early. The guidance counsellor is timetabled to meet all senior cycle students at least once each week. However, there is no such provision for junior cycle students. It is recommended that the guidance counsellor be timetabled for regular class contact with all third-year classes each week, as this is a very important year for these students, and they need full support and information in making their choice of programme and subjects for senior cycle. It is also recommended that subject teachers make a formal presentation to TY students and third-year students who are going directly into fifth year.

 

The school has made good use of past pupils as role models for current students. Past pupils are now to be found on the board of management and among the teaching staff. However, there is no system in place to track the initial destinations of school leavers or to monitor the subjects they have made use of in reaching their destinations, and to feed this back into examining and monitoring the provision for current students. It is recommended that such a tracking system be put in place.

 

The school has very strong ties with the DIT, not only in relation to sports facilities and IT programmes, as already mentioned, but also with regard to access programmes to third level education. The school is involved in the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) system, which facilitates students in applying to a number of affiliated third level institutions.

 

There are a number of extra supports to assist students attending further and higher education, which are provided privately. Both the Bar Council and a past pupil of St. Paulís give a bursary to send a student to third level each year. Guinnessís donate a laptop computer for a third level student each year also.

 

6.4          Pastoral care

The pastoral care that the school provides for its students is one of the strengths of the school. A very thorough system is in place to monitor and support all students. Class tutors, year heads, the guidance counsellor, the RE teachers, the HSCL coordinator and Pathways Through Education team, along with the principal and deputy principal, are the primary implementers of the pastoral pare system, though all other teachers are involved to some extent.

 

Each class group has a class tutor to whom students go in the first instance if they have a problem or an issue to be resolved. The tutor is always a teacher of the class, of SPHE if possible. Tutors are also responsible for attendance and punctuality, and they liaise with the SCP attendance secretary in the school each morning, providing a same-day response to parents if students are absent. Tutors may meet with parents if necessary. The position of tutor is voluntary and not linked to a post of responsibility. Tutors carry out their duties without the benefit of an extra time allowance and they do not receive formal training for their role. They get some informal training from the Pathways Through Education team and some informal mentoring. A subject teacher, or another teacher on occasion, may also report to a tutor if an issue arises with a student. Thus, class tutors are the focus for the students and they deal with problems in the first instance in most cases, unless the student approaches another teacher.

 

The tutor reports to the year head with regard to more serious issues or if a problem cannot be readily resolved at tutor level. Year heads have overall responsibility for the pastoral care of a year group and they deal with serious discipline issues. They liaise with class tutors, deal with more difficult issues and are also responsible for monitoring entries in the discipline book. This book is used to record serious discipline issues. All year head positions are linked to posts of responsibility. Year heads receive no extra time allowance and they do not receive formal training for their role. Instead, they draw on their experience and learn from others.

 

The role of the class tutor is primarily pastoral while that of the year head has both pastoral and disciplinary elements. Tutors move up through the school with the same class group as far as possible. Year heads stay at the same level each year and take charge of a new group of students. Both tutors and year heads take responsibility for the academic performance of students. Much of the work of both tutors and year heads is reactive and cannot be planned for. There are no timetabled meetings of tutors and year heads as it is considered that the school is too small to need such meetings. Where possible, however, planning does take place, for example, for parent-teacher meetings, assemblies and work experience.

 

It is recommended that specific training be provided for class tutors and year heads as appropriate. It is suggested that existing expertise within the school, including that of the Pathways Through Education team, be made use of in providing this training.

 

The Pathways Through Education programme is designed to assist students in making the transition from primary to secondary school, developing their self-esteem, looking after their emotional needs and providing counselling and other supports where necessary to enable students to benefit from their time in school. The programme is run in conjunction with another local school and is implemented by a team of three counsellors, one of whom works mostly in the other school. The programme is funded through the DIT Community Links programme, the SCP, local businesses and grants from state agencies. The programme is well structured and is focussed on the specific needs of the students of St. Paulís.† Interventions are designed to support students in the transition from primary to secondary school and to help students remain in school and benefit to the fullest extent pssible for their time in school.

 

The Pathways Through Education programme is fully integrated into the school and works closely with the other supports and systems of the school. It operates primarily through meeting with all first-year class groups for a double period each week, shared with SPHE. The programme continues with six workshops with second-year students and three workshops with third-year students. A full programme of classroom activities is implemented with first-year students, with topics including the student as an individual and working as part of a group, and culminating in writing a story and making a film out of it. All first-year students are met individually also to discuss how they are settling into the school, and aspirations and fears they may have. A counselling and referral service is also provided for students who are having difficulty and the team is available during holidays to continue this work if necessary. Parents may access counselling via this programme also. A graduation ceremony for parents and students is held at the end of the first year. The school is to be commended on the commitment it demonstrates to the welfare of its students and the Pathways Through Education programme is an excellent example of this commitment.†

 

The key element of pastoral care structures in St. Paulís is the care team. This team consists of the principal, the year heads, the Pathways Through Education team, the HSCL coordinator and the guidance counsellor. The primary function of the care team is to support students most at risk.

 

The team meets every Friday morning for a double period. There is no prepared agenda. The team simply deals with the business on hand. Most issues are brought to the attention of the care team by year heads. The meetings deal with major issues that have not been resolved at an earlier stage or that require specific interventions outside the remit of the class tutors or year heads. Although some records kept, due to confidential nature of the issues being dealt with, the degree of detail varies from case to case. Overall responsibility, however, rests with the principal with regard to approving and implementing a course of action in each case. The care team liaises with all other staff members and relevant agencies inside and outside the school. The team acts very quickly as necessary and there is good monitoring and follow-up of cases. The work of the care team has had a major impact on students and many have stayed on in school as a result. The care team also reviews the pastoral care systems of the school on a continuous basis and there is general satisfaction that procedures are working well.

 

There is also a discipline committee in the school. This committee meets weekly and is separate from the pastoral care system. It deals with discipline issues that have been entered in the discipline book and monitors the number and type of entries in relation to individual students. It may recommend a range of sanctions up to, and including, suspension. The final decision in relation to such actions then rests with the principal. This committee has had an important function in the past and has served the school well. However, due to current circumstances, including the relatively small size of the school, the quality of the pastoral care systems within the school, and the excellent level of communication among staff members, it is the view of the inspectors that this committee is no longer required. It is recommended that it be discontinued and that its functions be integrated into the other student supports and procedures in the school. In addition, the school accepts the desirability of a system of positive comment recording, to balance the discipline booking system, wherein specific events of a positive nature may be recoded and a more complete profile of students may be built up over time.

 

In spite of the high level of attention and support given to students, behaviour and absenteeism have remained a problem. The number of student suspensions is also an issue. The school is liaising with the National Behavioural Support Service and it is hoped to have a behavioural support classroom in place from September next. In order to make best use of this proposed facility, a number of school policies are being reviewed as already outlined in section 3 of this report.

 

A wide range of personnel, groups and procedures are involved in the implementation of pastoral care in St. Paulís. Each element of the system works very well and overall outcomes are very positive. However, it is recommended that an overarching pastoral care policy document be drafted in order to tie all the various strands together and present them as an integrated process. This will ensure that a systematic approach is taken and will help to identify any blind spots in existing provision. A formal plan will also help develop the identity of the pastoral care team more clearly, define their functions and interactions with other staff members and outline clearly the procedures to be followed in such difficult cases as may arise from time to time and where set procedures must be followed.

 

It is recommended that the nature and extent of written records held by year heads and those involved in pastoral care be reviewed and a more consistent approach be adopted. A certain minimum amount of information must be recorded in all cases, as a matter of record, and also to ensure that available information is factual and not anecdotal. Procedures and decision-making criteria with regard to the dissemination of confidential information to teachers on a need-to-know basis, which some staff members would have found helpful when dealing with specific students, should also be examined and an agreed approach adopted.

 

 

 

7.         Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

         The board on management sets and maintains the ethos of the school through example, through close contact with the school, and through the involvement of individual board members in events within the school. Thus, the influence of the board, and the values that it seeks to inculcate in staff and students alike, permeates right through the school from the top downwards.

 

         The principal and deputy principal work to ensure that the mission statement of the school is fulfilled in the systems and daily routines that operate within the school and in the interactions of all those who work and learn in the school.

 

         The staff has a professional approach to its work and a positive attitude towards students, in keeping with the ethos of the school. Students are affirmed at all opportunities.

 

         A wide range of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities is available to students, including subject and programme related activities along with sporting, cultural and other activities.

 

         The pastoral care element of the schoolís work is one of its outstanding features. There is a strong focus on providing the necessary supports to enable students to overcome disadvantage and avail of the opportunities the school has to offer.

 

 

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

 

         It is recommended that a root and branch review of the needs of the school be carried out and that the duties associated with all posts be re-examined, in order to realign these duties with the on-going and future needs of the school, as identified in the review.

 

         It is recommended that the health and safety issues due to the current state of repair of the art room be addressed.

 

         It is recommended that the good work already carried out on the development of subject departments be continued and that teachers continue to work cooperatively in the preparation of comprehensive planning documents for their subject.

 

         It is recommended that whole staff training be sought in order to assist teachers in dealing effectively with the IPLPs of SEN students. It is also recommended that the school develop overall literacy and numeracy policies as a means of further supporting these students.

 

         It is recommended that the discipline committee be discontinued and that its functions be integrated into the other student supports and procedures of the school.

 

 

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.

 

 

8.         Related subject inspection reports

 

The following related Subject Inspection reports are available:

 

         Subject Inspection of Art Ė 26 April 2007

         Subject Inspection of French Ė 26 April 2007

         Subject Inspection of Gaeilge Ė 19 and 20 April 2007

         Subject Inspection of History Ė 27 April 2007


 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

Area 1†† Observations on the content of the inspection report††

 

 

On behalf of the Board of management of St Pauls CBS I welcome the positive reports received in our recent Whole School Evaluation.† I would like to thank the Inspectorate for the professional and cordial manner in which the evaluation was carried out and for their recognition of the contribution and dedication of our staff.† It is rewarding to note that our pastoral care system has been acknowledged as one of our outstanding features.†

 

 

 

 

 

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

†††††††††††††† activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection. †††††††††

 

 

The Board of Management notes the recommendations of the WSE report and will make every effort to implement them.†

 

The review of posts of responsibility has already begun and the functions of the discipline committee have been integrated into the other student supports.† Applications have been made under both the Emergency Works and Summer Works Programmes to address the health and safety issues that were raised in the report.