An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta
Department of Education and Science
Roll number: 62440E
Date of inspection: 26 January 2007
Date of issue of report: 8 November 2007
This report has been written following a whole-school
CBS Charleville continues a
proud tradition of educational provision for the boys of the town and
surrounding areas on the border of
building was opened on Bakerís Road in 1970, adjacent to the
The school is one of three second-level schools which serve the interests of the surrounding community, the others being a convent secondary school for girls and a co-educational community college. It operates an open enrolment policy and its students are representative of the boys of its town and rural catchments.
The mission statement of Christian Brothersí Secondary School, Charleville (hereafter CBS Charleville) commits to the primary aspiration of creating an educational environment conducive to the intellectual, moral, spiritual and physical development of its students and the self-fulfilment of all partners within the school community. The characteristic spirit of the school, which is in the tradition of the Christian Brothers, is further underpinned by the vision and mission of the charter of the Edmund Rice Schools Trust (ERST). This vision seeks to provide Catholic education in the tradition of Blessed Edmund Rice, the founder of the Christian Brothers. It was clear in the course of the whole-school evaluation that the espoused vision and mission is supported strongly by all sections of the school community. The patrons are effective in supporting awareness of the mission of the school among the board of management, the parentsí council, the staff and the students through the ERST charter and regular contact and visits to the school by representatives of the CBS Education Office.
It is commended that the documented school policies are each framed within the context of the mission statement of the school. Often the mission statement is explicitly quoted in full within the policy document. The five key elements of the school, as contained in the ERST charter, were cited by senior management as fundamental to the characteristic spirit. These principals, nurturing faith, Christian spirituality and Gospel-based values; promoting partnership in the school community; excelling in teaching and learning; creating a caring school community and inspiring transformational leadership, are clearly reflected in the policies, practices and atmosphere of the school. In addition to being lived out in daily interactions at all levels of the school, opportunities are taken for the exercise of the characteristic spirit through involvement of students in the Edmund Rice Awards, fundraising activities for various charities, both Irish and in poorer nations, and involvement in supportive activities within society.
The eight-member board of management of CBS Charleville is composed of four nominees of the patrons, two representatives of the parents of students in the school and two teacher representatives. The patrons are commendably active in their role, providing training for incoming board members and support for the board. The regular board of management meetings, held at intervals of about six weeks, are well attended and, on the evidence of the minutes presented, efficiently organised and run. Board members displayed understanding of their role, responsibilities and statutory obligations, which they fulfilled effectively. The board was confident that it had a good broad understanding of relevant legislation, emanating from the informative training that members had received. All the necessary documentation had been supplied which could be referred to as the need arose. Board members expressed confidence that they were kept well informed on all matters pertinent to their role by the patrons and the principal and could seek advice if and when this became necessary. It was remarked that the five elements of the ERST charter are in agreement with the Education Act 1998 and that the board was happy to see itself as accountable to the students, their parents, the trustees and the other partners in education. Board members stated that the voluntary aspect of board membership enhanced the role of the very committed board members.
The priorities identified by the board included the further development of the facilities of the school. Seeking the expansion and improvement of physical infrastructure has been a constant theme of the work of successive boards of management over the years. The present board is commended for its active pursuit of opportunities to expand facilities for the benefit of the students, including development of a physical education hall in partnership with the Gaelic Athletic Association, phase one of which has been sanctioned. This joint development is in line with the boardís priority to develop further the schoolís physical education facilities. Provision of more teaching spaces in general is recognised as a priority, leading eventually to teachers being assigned base classrooms, and the board has been active in this direction. The development of facilities to accommodate smaller class groups for specific purposes was also a priority. Planning permission has been sought and granted for the erection of four extra classrooms, indicating the active engagement of the board in this aspect of the development of the school.
The board has given the broadening of the curriculum high priority in the development of the school. The introduction of Technical Graphics and Art in recent years is indicative of commitment to this aim, as also are the imminent introduction of Design and Communication Graphics and planning for the introduction of further technology subjects such as Materials Technology (Wood). This further broadening of the curriculum is dependant on the provision of suitable accommodation for which the board is following a coherent development plan. This planned approach is commended.
The integration of information and communication technology (ICT) into teaching was cited as another key priority for development in the school. Such integration may be furthered in the course of collaborative subject department planning. The board of management is commended for its identification of appropriate development priorities and strategies for their achievement.
The openness of reporting between the board of management and the other partnership elements of the school is commended. An agreed minute of each board meeting is circulated to the staff, the parentsí council and the studentsí council, in line with best practice. The presence of parents and teachers on the board enhances reporting. In the course of the evaluation, satisfaction with the functioning, accessibility and commitment of the board was reported by all the partners in the school. Informal communication between the board and senior management is commendably regular by means of close communication and collaboration between the principal and chairperson.
The planning steering committee facilitates and leads the process of drafting and reviewing the various policy documents. This process is undertaken in a spirit of partnership and co-operation by the school community involving board of management, senior management, staff, parents and students as appropriate to the policy being drafted. Once drafted or reviewed, policies are formally adopted by the board of management at properly constituted meetings. The policies are then signed and dated by the chairperson following best practice. The board is commended for the thoroughness with which this work is undertaken under its care and the coherence of the policies that have been put in place.
The practice in CBS Charleville with regard to admission of students has been admirable in its openness and inclusiveness. It has been the accepted practice that all students who apply for entry have been enrolled. It is strongly recommended however that the written admissions policy be reviewed and as part of this review that conditions attached to the admission of students with special educational needs be removed.
The board of management is a vital and integral part of the school community of Charleville CBS. Through its elected parents and regular formal and informal communication with the parentsí council, all parents are encouraged to maintain an active interest in the life of the school. There is a strong sense of a shared mission which welcomes involvement by all.
The in-school management team at all levels in CBS Charleville provides very effective leadership in a spirit of co-operation and collaboration. Senior management approaches its role as a cohesive, well organised unit, meeting each morning to plan and prepare for the tasks of the day. Sharing a vision for the school and strategies for its implementation, the individual strengths of both principal and deputy principal are taken into account when allocating specific tasks and this is commended. The principal and deputy principal adopt a partnership approach to school leadership and communicate effectively as a team. The high standard of leadership and careful planning evident in the work of senior management encourages a similar positive approach through the rest of the management team. In particular, the clear advances made in recent years in school development planning, a particular interest of the principal, are evidence of effective leadership. A valuable result of the inclusive approach taken to policy development has been the achievement of commendable levels of collaboration and co-operation within the whole staff.
A high standard of leadership was evident in the approach taken to their duties by each of the middle-management team. The duties assigned to each of the posts of responsibility had been reviewed within the previous term. The facilitated review involved an analysis of the needs of the school by the whole staff, followed by a series of representative meetings which resulted in the creation of the present schedule of posts. General satisfaction was expressed by all staff regarding the schedule of posts and the review process. Best practice was followed in agreeing the schedule of duties and their assignment and this is commended. It was clear in the course of the evaluation that each post-holder took ownership of the role undertaken and showed a high level of interest and commitment to achieving success in it. While meetings of middle management were not formally held, general satisfaction was expressed with the regularity and quality of communications between the middle-management team on an informal basis. The view was expressed that since the duties tended to be disparate and self-contained there was not a pressing need to meet formally. All post-holders reported regularly to the principal. It was clear that management was in general effectively and fairly distributed among post-holders and staff, and that levels of co-operation and collaboration were high. In order to build on this very effective middle-management structure, maintaining the present focus on involvement, development and response to student needs, it is recommended that formality be increased slightly. This is recommended in the context of the possible growth in student numbers, as a forum for discussion of issues of general school concern, as it would serve to further enhance the role of middle management beyond the specific remit of individual post of responsibility duties. The schedule of duties of post-holders provides a very effective vehicle for middle management within the school. Regular staff meetings are chaired by the principal, following agendas set in consultation with the deputy principal which are posted in advance and may be added to by staff. Minutes of all meetings are recorded.
The behaviour of students is effectively managed. It is a matter of justified pride for the school that it has never found it necessary to permanently exclude a student. There is a commendable emphasis on the encouragement and promotion of positive behaviour. The principal and deputy principal recognise the importance of their involvement in this area and are both fully engaged with the implementation of the policy on behaviour. A commendable aspect of this policy, applied in practice, is to consult and liaise with the home at an early stage when a studentís behaviour gives cause for concern. Senior management reported excellent levels of parental support even, on occasion, when confronting quite serious problems. Student behaviour is recorded in class books, one for each class. These books are held in the staff room. An entry is kept for each student in the particular class. Instances of positive behaviour, as well as negative, are recorded. All teachers are involved in recording a studentís behaviour by means of these books. The principal and deputy principal meet each month specifically to monitor the behaviour books and to interview students. In the case of recurring misbehaviour, an on-report card system is operated as a means of sanction and reward. Yellow cards are issued to students whose behaviour may have lapsed. In the case of a student being in receipt of three yellow cards, detention after school is applied as a sanction. The incremental nature of the sanctions applied in this way displays good practice. To promote the positive, green cards are issued to students who have not received yellow cards. A trip is organised as a reward for the junior-cycle class whose members achieve the greatest success in earning green cards. A reward trip is also organised for senior-cycle students who are nominated by their tutors, in consultation with the class teachers, to receive a reward. These students will not have received any yellow cards and will have had a positive influence on their peers. This balanced approach to the management of studentsí behaviour, encompassing reward for the positive, is commended.
The policy on behaviour was being reviewed at the time of the evaluation in the school and the work being undertaken by the behaviour policy review group is acknowledged. It is suggested that as part of the review careful consideration be given to the best mechanisms for rewarding positive student behavior in an immediate, systematic, consistent and transparent way. One way in which this could be done in junior cycle is by means of simple merit stickers, to be placed in the current page of the studentís diary to record an instance of positive behaviour or achievement. Such stickers would further support studentsí positive endeavour, being based purely on the positive rather than the absence of a negative yellow card. Since suspension has been used on occasion for particularly serious breaches of the code of behaviour, it is urged that the circumstances under which this sanction would be used, other than following two periods of detention, be included in the reviewed policy on behaviour. The policy on behaviour is clear, concise and strictly but fairly applied. The evidence is that although problems occasionally recur, in general students respond well to the effective procedures in place and the even-handed approach taken to their application.
It became clear in the course of the evaluation that partnership with parents, central to the characteristic spirit and clearly stated in the ERST charter, is achieved in the life of the school and in the relationships and communication between school management and the diversity of parents. Formal parent-teacher meetings are held in line with agreed procedures and information on the progress of individual students is available to parents as required. Parents are encouraged to meet the principal and other members of the staff as the need arises. The parentsí council was pleased to report that parents placed great value on the principal being freely available, describing this as an open-door policy. An appointment could easily be made to meet a tutor, class teacher or any member of staff. Communication is further supported by regular school reports, newsletters and an attractive yearbook.
Commendably, CBS Charleville is integrated into the community from which it draws its students. School management nurtures positive contact and relationships with local interests to the benefit of the students and the school in general. Communication with the general community is carefully maintained through the local press by a dedicated member of the middle-management team who successfully arranges for regular coverage of school activities. The school newsletter provides a channel of communication with parents but also with a wider audience in the community. An annual letter is sent to former students and close contact with the wider school community helps maintain valued links between the school and its alumni.
Effective links with a range of organisations such as the local credit union, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the Gaelic Athletic Association are made, encouraged and fostered by school management at all levels. These links are of considerable benefit in the achievement of the mission of the school. The forging of strong relationships with the local business community and entrepreneurs in the wider Cork-Limerick region have been crucial to the success of the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme in the school, in particular of its work-shadowing programme.
Successful liaison by management with the full range of outside agencies was evidenced in the course of the evaluation. These agencies included the Visiting Teacher Service for Travellers, the National Council for Special Education through the local Special Educational Needs Organiser, the Educational Welfare Board through the Educational Welfare Organiser, the National Educational Psychological Service and the Access Programme of University College Cork. This good practice is commended.
The twenty-three teachers on the staff of CBS Charleville are deployed fairly and equitably, account being taken of their professional needs in the context of meeting the needs of students. The flexibility of the teachers in providing a commendable range of subjects is affirmed. Acknowledging the care being taken by the school to provide an appropriate range of subject qualifications among the teaching staff given staffing constraints, it is urged that employment of a qualified physical education teacher be given due consideration as soon as the opportunity arises.
CBS Charleville is a learning community. Continuing professional development (CPD) is encouraged and facilitated within parameters agreed by the board of management, in-school management and staff. Membership of subject associations and teacher professional networks is encouraged and given practical support. Given the significant skills and knowledge of staff members themselves, it is encouraged that consideration continues to be given to their involvement in the formal provision of CPD to their colleagues wherever possible. The procedures in place for the induction of new members to the staff include commendable, comprehensive support from school management and mentoring by a member of the subject teaching team which the new teacher has joined. The staff handbook, presented to all new teaching staff, is commended for its comprehensiveness and accessibility. This handbook includes copies of school policies and admirably complete school details and information. These supports are enhanced by an atmosphere of openness and approachability among the staff which encourages the new teacher to seek information and advice as needed. Management and staff are praised for very good practice in providing for the induction of new staff.
Good administration and caretaking are an indispensable
support for the smooth running and success of any school. In CBS Charleville these functions are discharged in a highly
effective and deceptively unobtrusive manner by a dedicated and conscientious
non-teaching staff. These staff members are generous and unstinting in their
involvement in the school community. They play an important part in the
achievement of the schoolís mission of care for students and their development
as citizens of a broader community. Just one of a number of commendable
examples of this generosity is their involvement in the
It is to the credit of management and staff, including the caretaking and other support staff, that school accommodation is maintained to very high standards. While the school building is consistent with others of its age in layout and design, optimum use is being made of its facilities in addressing the needs of students and teachers. The shortage of space within the main building has led to the provision of a pre-fabricated classroom and a canteen to the rear. Shortage of space has also for the most part precluded the provision of dedicated subject rooms or base classrooms for teachers. Storage space for the teaching materials in use by the various subject departments is also at a premium. The school is commended for its efforts to overcome these difficulties by making the best use of the facilities available, such as the provision of shelf space for subject planning and teaching materials in a small staff room, which also houses a computer for teachersí preparation work.
The rooms provided for specialist subjects are, in general, bright and well appointed. These include two science laboratories and a well-equipped information technology room. However the pre-fabricated classroom accommodation provided for Technical Graphics will be increasingly inadequate, particularly in light of the imminent introduction of Design and Communications Technology (DCG), the senior cycle syllabus in the subject. It is recommended that the hardware and software to be supplied for the introduction of the new DCG syllabus be deployed in a suitable specialist room. It is worthy of note that while these resources are being provided for the specific support of DCG, their introduction and use has the potential to point the way for the integration of ICT in other subject areas. This opportunity to advance the use of ICT in learning and teaching, a priority identified by the school, will be given the best chance of success if it is introduced in the most suitable teaching space available.
The board of management and in-school management are commended for their continued energetic engagement with planning for an extension to the school. The plans include provision of a wood workshop, a computer room and an art room to the rear of the existing building. It is urged that the board of management look at the possibility of including a lift in this development to provide full access for all, including those with disabilities, to the first floor of the school.
In addition to those in the computer room, computers were available in both science laboratories and in one of the staff rooms as well as in the school office for administration. Data projectors were in use in the computer room, the guidance room and a classroom. The ICT facilities available in the computer room were of a high standard and included twenty personal computers networked to a dedicated server with broadband internet access. Network cabling links each classroom and office to the server. The school is commended for the provision of this ICT infrastructure.
The school health and safety statement provided a comprehensive account of the policy in place, itemised specific hazards, detailed how these were to be avoided and identified those responsible for implementation. The statement had been formally reviewed since its initial adoption by the board of management. This review had taken place one year prior to the evaluation. The arrangements and procedures in place for the maintenance of a healthy, safe school environment were consistent with good practice.
The room dedicated for use as a teaching space for students with special educational needs is accessed through the computer room. This room is quite small but is adequate for the secure storage of teaching materials, records and teaching equipment as well as for the teaching of very small groups or individual students. It is recommended that the possibility of providing discreet independent access to this room be investigated.
A central room is provided for the use of the guidance counsellor. This room is used as a secure office, to house the well-stocked guidance library, for counselling and to provide individual student access to the internet. This is effective use of the space available.
The progress made in the planned development of a sports hall adjacent to the school in collaboration with the GAA is commended not just for the considerable benefits that it will confer on students and teachers particularly in the delivery of Physical Education, but also for the increased engagement and co-operation that it will foster with the wider community.
Following early and energetic involvement with the School Development Planning Initiative (SDPI), CBS Charleville has documented its policies in a commendably comprehensive way. In addition to required policies on student admission, suspension, exclusion and behaviour, the school has worked in a spirit of inclusiveness and collaboration to produce clear statements of policy in such areas as nutrition, staff development, job sharing and career breaks. Management has arranged for the involvement of the board of management, parents, staff and students as appropriate in the drafting of policy documents. It is this very good practice that has resulted in comprehensive statements of policy in line with the mission statement and with statutory and other requirements. In recent years the focus of planning has been broadened to build further on planning at subject-department level. A subject planning co-ordinator has been appointed who circulates information and liaises with the subject co-ordinators on agendas for each meeting and the collation of minutes and reports on them for periodic presentation to the principal.
The continued success of SDPI is a priority identified by the board of management. The board has played an effective part in furthering this priority by adopting appropriate plans of action, by direct involvement in the development of various policies in partnership with the other stakeholders in the school and by encouraging the school as a whole to focus on improved school planning. The superb quality of school development planning encountered in the course of the evaluation, and coherently recorded in a comprehensive report, indicated the progress made in this regard under the guidance of the board and senior management, and the commendable leadership of the principal since his appointment in 1999.
The involvement of staff in SDPI is impressive. Several staff members have undertaken the SDPI diploma course and there is regular staff participation at SDPI cluster meetings and summer schools. Regular professional development sessions have been provided as part of staff-day activities in support of policy development and more recently of subject department planning. Plans are in place to arrange CPD in the areas of Irish Traveller culture, professional team approaches to dealing with special educational needs, differentiated teaching methodologies and the integration of ICT into the curriculum, further evidence of the active engagement of the school with its carefully planned development. Within the school, planning is co-ordinated and led by the School Plan Steering Committee. This is an active committee which meets formally about six times per year and is comprised of five members of staff, including the principal, the school plan co-ordinator and the guidance counsellor. At its meetings, the committee typically receives progress reports on the work of policy task groups and from SDPI cluster meetings, discusses and identifies priorities for future school planning and agrees programmes for the achievement of these. These regular meetings have been critical to driving the planning process forward. Planning is undertaken by staff task groups assigned to consider specific areas of development in consultation with the school community and to present proposals for inclusion in school policy. This structure provides for a wide involvement across the staff and allows teachers to become active in areas of particular interest to them. When agreed, all policy is formally presented to the board of management for ratification which is formally recorded. There were five task groups actively involved in review and development of policies in Guidance, ICT, Transition Year (TY), the environment and behaviour at the time of the evaluation. The twenty policies adopted by the board of management and in use in the school, together with the progress made with subject department planning are testament to the effectiveness of the planning process in place.
The permanent section of the school plan of CBS Charleville emerges from the comprehensive set of policy documents. The policies are disseminated most effectively by their being published on the web, by inclusion in the staff handbook and in the student diary and planner all of which serves to enhance the characteristic openness of the school community.
Evidence was provided to confirm that the board of management and staff have taken appropriate steps to develop policies in line with the provisions in Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children, 1999, updated issue May 2004) and Child Protection Guidelines for Post-primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2004). Evidence was also provided to confirm that the board of management has adopted and implemented the policies. A designated liaison person has been appointed in line with the requirements of the Departmental guidelines.
The focus on future planning within the school is notable. There is a strong awareness that it is a time of growth and change in the town and beyond. The school at all levels is ready to meet the challenges which face it. Work done on developing a robust planning structure which has been invoked to bring recent planned developments, such as the schoolís TY programme, to successful completion places the school in a strong position as it faces the future. Consideration of teaching and learning is being given appropriate priority in subject department planning and structures are in place to coordinate this and to review progress being made.
It is clear that the school, including management at all levels and the School Plan Steering Committee, has a good understanding of the objectives and expected outcomes of the developmental aspect of the school plan. Responsibilities and roles within the planning structure are clearly defined. Progress is regularly monitored, assessed and reported to the school community which is very effective in maintaining cohesiveness and optimism. The structure of reporting provides an integrated review process which is commended. Continued self-evaluation and documentation of outcomes in this way is valuable as a means of informing future planning.
The management culture of the school is one of continuous self-review and self-evaluation. This culture has supported the inclusion of specified review periods in many policy documents. Some of the policy reviews were active at the time of the evaluation and awareness of the value of regular school self-evaluation and review as integral to the work of in-school management was clearly expressed. While senior management constantly reviews all aspects of the fulfilment of the mission of the school, middle management and the whole staff is actively involved in the very effective task-group structure. This structure provides the framework for analysis and evaluation of success, and a forum for review leading to further improvement.
It is urged, to further improve the very impressive progress made in formulating the school plan, that action plans outlining specific targets and timeframes for their achievement be formalised where this has not already been done. The difficulty of anticipating the time scales involved in achieving planned aims is not underestimated, given the possibility of unforeseen delays and obstacles arising outside the control of the school. The formalising of specified targets and timeframes in an integrated developmental section of the school plan would help the scheduling of interlinked developments. These targets and timeframes should take account of available resources and constraints and be regularly reviewed to take account of changing circumstances.
CBS Charleville over time has broadened the curriculum it offers its students to include Art and Technical Graphics in junior cycle in addition to Gaeilge, English, Mathematics, French, Business Studies, Geography and History. The complete junior cycle programme also includes Religious Education, Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Civic Social and Political Education (CPSE) and Computer Studies for all students. Art is also offered in senior cycle together with Gaeilge, English, Mathematics, French, History, Geography, Agricultural Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Business, Accounting, Economics and Physical Education. The complete curriculum in senior cycle also includes Religious Education, Computer Studies and SPHE. While the technology subjects are represented in this curriculum by Technical Graphics alone, the remainder of the curriculum is well balanced and the development of the technologies is a priority of school planning. The introduction of DCG to senior cycle is imminent and with the provision of suitable facilities, it is intended to introduce Materials Technology (Wood) at an early stage. The eventual introduction of a choice of technology subjects in senior cycle is envisaged in the longer term. The commitment to broaden the range of technology subjects in response to student preferences and interests is commended.
In the five years since its introduction, the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) has become an integral part of the senior-cycle provision in the school. The programme is well planned and co-ordinated and it has been of great value to students, allowing them more fully to reach their broad potential. The prominent position of French in the school curriculum together with increased subject options has been important in providing the opportunity for a large proportion of the students to participate in LCVP.
The support provided by management, staff, parents and the whole school community has done much to assure the success of the LCVP programme. The flexibility and dedication of the staff in response to the challenges presented by the introduction of LCVP not only ensured a successful outcome but also served as preparation for the development of the schoolís TY programme over the past two years. The commitment of the LCVP team to maintain high standards in the delivery of the programme by continuous evaluation and on-going planning is commended.
The establishment of the TY programme in CBS Charleville followed detailed planning over the course of the preceding year. The dedicated development team met regularly to ensure that essential planning of subjects, modules and activities would meet the needs of the students. The planning process followed benefited from the experience of the school in introducing LCVP earlier. The very good practice of annual review of the TY programme has led to the introduction of minor changes as it has evolved in its second year. The committed programme co-ordinator and the strong and enthusiastic team of teachers involved have maintained the high expectations of the programme, delivering it to a high standard. Many of the activities of TY have been supported by the sponsorship of Charleville Credit Union. The wider business community has also been extremely supportive in facilitating student placements for work experience.
Parents and students are supported in making choices with regard to involvement in TY and LCVP by means of information evenings. Parents saw this support as very helpful and identified being addressed by a parent of a student from the previous year as being particularly so.
The LCVP programme is available to all students who study a requisite combination of subjects. It has continued to attract the major part of the Leaving Certificate students. Although optional, the TY programme is favoured by approximately half the students coming from junior cycle each year. Entry to the programme is on the basis of application and interview and almost all students who apply are accepted into TY. It is commended that the needs and best interests of the individual students are the deciding factor in making decisions regarding access to the programme.
Regular review of the curriculum on offer in the school is conducted as part of the school planning process. Such review is characterised by openness and partnership among all the members of the school community resulting in a widening school curriculum in response to the needs and interests of all the students.
The school timetable provides sufficient instruction time to ensure that all students have access to 28 class contact hours in line with the requirements of DES circular M29/95. It is to be remembered that this circular concerns the instructional hours provided for each individual student. Any extra resources required to allow students to avail of their entitlements should be sought from the appropriate source.
In line with the priority given to the improvement of facilities for Physical Education in the school plan, and the commendable progress made towards the provision of a sports hall, it is recommended that all students should be timetabled for at least a double-period lesson of Physical Education per week at an early date. It is appreciated that the inclusion of such provision for the teaching of Physical Education, together with developments in other areas of the curriculum, is constrained by the number of class periods available. It is recommended in light of this that serious consideration be given to the timetabling of nine class periods in the school day. The teaching staff of CBS Charleville has shown itself to be admirably flexible, innovative and active in its response to change. Teachers have been deployed to take advantage of their individual qualifications, strengths and interests.
In senior cycle, students choose to study three of the eleven optional subjects on the schoolís curriculum. These are studied in addition to the core of Gaeilge, English, Mathematics and French. The core subjects are each timetabled concurrently to facilitate student choice of level. Subject-option groups are based on student preferences and vary from year cohort to year cohort. Initially, following advice and guidance by the guidance counsellor and teachers involved in teaching the various subjects, students are asked to make an open choice from the full list of eleven subjects. Based on the preferences expressed, three subject-option groups are devised and students are again asked to choose, this time one subject from each group. Before and during this process, support is provided for parents. An information evening explains the process, the implications and the importance for the individual student of making the correct subject choice. Students are given opportunities to discuss their choices with their parents. The guidance counsellor and the principal make themselves available to discuss individual concerns with parents where this is needed. It is the policy of the school to accommodate all students in their choices as far as this is feasible within staffing and other constraints. It is commended that options within the schoolís curriculum are determined primarily by the needs and interests of the student cohort and are reviewed annually in senior cycle based on the studentsí preferences.
In junior cycle, each student normally studies all subjects on the school curriculum in first year. To facilitate this arrangement, only one double-period lesson per week is allocated respectively to Technical Graphics and Art. In second year, students choose between these two subjects and the time allocation is increased to two double periods for each. Their experience of both optional subjects prior to making a choice between them provides a firm basis for students to make the better choice. Students make their choices in consultation with the relevant teachers, parents and school management. While subject options in junior cycle are not extensive at present, this will change as the curriculum is broadened. It is urged that an approach to devising junior-cycle subject-option groups and processing student preferences similar to that used in senior cycle be adopted at that stage, while keeping in mind that the core curriculum for secondary school must include History and Geography in junior cycle.
Subjects are offered at levels appropriate to the abilities of students. While this is facilitated by concurrent timetabling in the case of the core curriculum, the success of teachers in providing for the diversity of studentsí abilities in other subjects is acknowledged and affirmed. The range of programmes and subjects offered by the school is influenced to the greatest extent possible by the needs, interests and abilities of the students.
Activities provided to support and further enhance learning outside of the formal curriculum in CBS Charleville are many and varied and appeal to the interests and preferences of the diversity of students. The provision includes the cultural in the form of debating, public speaking and drama. Art exhibitions represent the aesthetic. Community activity encompasses work in the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul shop in town and organised visitation of seniors in the area. Sporting activities include soccer, golf, horse-riding and basketball and are strongly represented by hurling which has a particularly strong tradition, not only in the school but in the wider community where the superiority of either side of the county border is keenly contested. The school is commended for making provision for such a wide range of activities for students, in particular staff and parents, without whose involvement and dedication this would not be possible. Management and staff are applauded for actively encouraging all students, including those with special educational needs or those from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds, to participate in activities to support and enhance their learning. It was clear that full use was being made of the available facilities of the school and all opportunities were being taken to encourage and facilitate students in contributing to the local community.
High quality planning and preparation for teaching and learning were generally in evidence in all subject areas inspected. All lessons observed in English were well planned. In Geography, there were impressive examples of individual teacher planning and preparation. It was suggested that these examples of good practice within the department be extended to all team members. In Science, an advanced level of planning and preparation was observed. Teaching materials including chemicals, equipment and worksheets supported the individual lessons appropriately. In Guidance, individual planning reflected an important involvement in the key transitions in a studentís life in the school.
The English subject department had a co-ordinator in place and an excellent subject plan was in the process of development. The commitment of the English teaching team both to process and to effective outcomes is noted. An overall recommendation relating to planning for English urges the integration of the language and literature elements of the syllabus. There was an equally impressive subject plan for Geography and the commitment and engagement of the geography teaching team was in evidence. One key outcome of this planning process was the current implementation of a common teaching programme for all junior-cycle students. Guidance planning was also at an advanced level. A very impressive guidance plan was nearing completion resulting from the work of a task group. The process of development of this plan had also been well documented.
The subject inspection in Science took place in May 2006. This report noted that subject department planning had been prioritised as an area for development by the school. The evidence from the current subject inspection reports clearly shows impressive progress in this prioritised area. At the time of the subject inspection in Science a common programme was in place for the revised Junior Certificate science syllabus. This programme was of good quality. Formal planning meetings were held and there was very effective informal collaboration between the members of the science teaching team.
In all the subject areas inspected, the quality of teaching and learning was of a very good standard. Effective and diverse teaching methodologies were employed in the lessons observed. A wide range of resources, including visual stimuli, was utilised and in two subject areas the imaginative incorporation of ICT into the learning process was commended. The computer facilities of the school were very effectively used for the teaching of ICT skills to all students in timetabled computer classes. In particular, work done by a team of Transition Year students, the development of computer-based teaching materials for primary school pupils, is applauded. This work indicated the effectiveness of the introduction to ICT provided for the students. The natural extension of ICT provision leads to its integration into the learning and teaching of each of the subjects on the curriculum. It is recommended, where not already the case, that each subject-department team plan collaboratively for the use of ICT in learning and teaching in its subject and seek appropriate access to facilitate this. It is further recommended in response to such requests that the computer room be timetabled for use by classes for ICT-supported learning in as many subjects as possible. It is acknowledged and commended that several teachers were using their own laptop computers for preparation and presentation within their teaching.
The use of active-learning methodologies was evident in many of the lessons observed. The further development of pair work, where appropriate, was suggested in one subject area to facilitate peer-assisted learning and to promote student discussion.
In all cases, there was evidence of continuity of learning, linking with and building on studentsí prior knowledge, which is good practice. The use of teacher-student questioning to engage students in the learning activity, to check understanding and evaluate student learning was effective. A recommendation was made in one subject area that lower-order questions should be interspersed with higher-order questions to encourage deeper analysis and discussion.
In Science, practical work was very well organised and the studentsí practical skills were highly developed. Teacher demonstration was used effectively. While there was some evidence of the investigative approach to practical work, it was recommended that an increased emphasis on this methodology be adopted in junior cycle. It was noted that the recommendations of the science subject inspection regarding teaching and learning had since been taken on board by both management and the science department and were currently being implemented.
As the geography team advances its already impressive level of collaborative planning, it is recommended that it reflect on and further develop its teaching methodologies as part of collaborative planning and that the identification of successful teaching methodologies be shared among the team. This could then be incorporated into the agreed teaching plan. The high expectations of the teachers for their students is noted and commended.
The English department is encouraged to continue to seek to develop the print-rich environment in classrooms and throughout the school, where practicable, although the disadvantages of not having teachers based in classrooms are recognised. Teachersí efforts in using different resources to engage students were commendable and the department is also encouraged to expand its practice in this area.
In a guidance lesson dealing with Central Applications Office procedures, references to previous lessons and presentations by visiting speakers helped to provide a framework for the lesson. Studentsí responses during the lesson demonstrated familiarity with the application process, relating this information to their personal choices.
Very good teacher-student rapport was noted and commended in all lessons seen. Teachers were at all times affirming of studentsí efforts and students responded in kind. In all instances the atmosphere in class was friendly, positive and conducive to the learning process. Students worked well in class, were at all times engaged in classroom activities and responded well to questioning. Studentsí responses indicated good understanding and knowledge of the subject areas in question and homework was completed diligently.
Examinations are organised prior to the Christmas holidays for all year groups. Pre-examinations are arranged for third-year and sixth-year students in February of each year. Summer examinations are also organised for those students who are not participating in the state examinations. Informal assessments are employed to determine studentsí ongoing achievement. The setting of common examination papers or common elements of examination papers occurs in a number of subjects. The possibility of extending this practice to all year groups should be explored, where practicable. Generally, homework was assigned and corrected appropriately. In the few cases where this did not occur, it is recommended that notebooks and copybooks should be regularly monitored and appropriate feedback given to students regarding their work.
In Guidance, assessment practices had recently been reviewed and the timing of the assessment of incoming first-year students had been changed to take place in the March prior to entry. This change occurred as a result of the perceived need for the results of assessments to be available as a monitoring device in the early days of studentsí post-primary education. Assessments of general ability and of reading ability are utilised and the collaboration of both the guidance counsellor and the co-ordinator of special educational needs in this and in other areas is commended. Differential Aptitude Tests and a selection of interest inventories are used in senior cycle. Results of such instruments are reported to students on an individual basis, which is appropriate.
Records are kept of meetings with individuals, groups of students and staff, in accordance with standard procedures.
Student learning was assessed informally in all lessons observed in Geography and this was combined with a focus on homework correction in some cases. In other instances this assessment was focused on intensive questioning of students. It is suggested that the appropriate use of workbooks as a vehicle for student learning should be examined since, while workbooks provide useful stimulus-response exercises, they can limit the full development of written answers on the part of students. These assessment issues should be addressed as part of the continued development of the geography subject plan.
The range of assessment practices utilised in Science is commended, including the use of interviews in one instance as a part of formal assessment. The use of project work, oral assessment, practical work and laboratory notebooks as components of the end-of-term examinations is also to be praised. It is recommended that this practice should be extended to all year groups.
Records of studentsí achievement in English were maintained to a very high level in a number of cases. It is suggested that the possibility of a portfolio approach to assessment might be explored as part of the TY English programme. While some examples of the integration of the language and literature elements of the syllabus were observed during the evaluation, it is recommended that the use of this approach as an element in studentsí homework should be expanded by the English department. It is recommended that homework based on exercises involving an integrated language and literature approach be expanded by the English department.
Parents receive reports regarding progress following studentsí participation in the Christmas, pre and summer examinations. Homework journals are also used as a means of communicating with studentsí homes. Parents may request a report on studentsí progress at any stage during the school year. Parents are free to make appointments to meet with teachers or the principal if they so wish. These arrangements are commendable.
It is the practice in CBS Charleville to enrol all students who apply for entry to the school, regardless of their particular educational needs and it is desirable that this be stated clearly in the written admissions policy. The core special educational needs team consisted of two people, one fully qualified learning-support teacher and a teacher completing specialist training at the time of the evaluation. There were seven other teachers directly engaged in providing support teaching. Two special needs assistants, one full time, were assigned to individual students. The guidance counsellor also played an active role in providing for the needs of students with special educational needs, particularly in testing, monitoring and pastoral care and in a counselling capacity when needed. The schoolís procedures for the identification of students with special educational needs adhere to best practice. These procedures are based on early testing and continuing monitoring of all students by the special educational needs team and subject teachers. Information relevant to the special educational needs of individual students had not always been made available by the studentsí primary schools.
This has caused delays in providing for the needs of these students in some cases. It is urged that the board of management continue to impress on the managements of the primary schools the importance of providing such information as early as possible in the interest of meeting in full the needs of the students concerned. The openness of the admissions procedures in place in the school can be cited to assure primary schools and the parents of students transferring to second level education of the benefit to students of such timely and complete provision of information.
Students who are identified as having special educational needs are encouraged and facilitated to participate fully in the life of the school and best practice is followed with regard to their social and educational inclusion. Learning support is provided outside of mainstream classes. Learning support classes are arranged to meet the special educational needs of the individual students in a well structured way by the special educational needs team. Assessments are used sensitively and effectively in planning suitable learning programmes to meet the requirements of students with special educational needs.
Excellent work is being done by the special educational needs team and the guidance counsellor with the involvement of the individual studentsí subject teachers and parents on the provision of individual education plans. This is representative of the vibrant innovative approach at the core of the provision for students with special educational needs in the school. The school provides an active programme of continuing professional development (CPD) which includes whole-staff presentations and discussions on the challenges faced in meeting the special educational needs of students and the development of appropriate school responses. This CPD aims to ensure that the needs of all students are catered for throughout the school. This is very good practice.
Acknowledging the success in the school of the practice of withdrawing students from class for educational support, it is recommended that the possibility of providing support within the class be investigated to determine when this might be of more benefit to the student or students concerned. It is urged that the advantages to the student of being supported within the surroundings of the mainstream class together with the value to be added through the development of team-teaching approaches in the classroom be considered in this context.
The school has effective links with outside agencies in meeting the needs of students with special educational needs. Close contact is maintained with the National Council for Special Education through the local special educational needs organiser who is kept aware of the supports which the school requires to meet the needs of these students. All available supports are sought to enable the studentsí needs to be met in full. The school actively continues to seek additional accommodation, staff and material resources to meet the physical and learning and teaching requirements of students with special educational needs and when accessed these are used appropriately.
A spirit of partnership permeates the regular contact with parents in meeting the needs of students including those with special educational needs. The teachers centrally involved in co-ordinating and providing special educational needs support in the school meet formally for one class period each week. This meeting time is used to monitor progress, to analyse the outcomes of formative assessments, to develop individual education plans, to review existing resources and plan for access to extra resources, liaison with parents and with appropriate external agencies. The special educational support team reports to management on a regular basis.
While the numbers of students from disadvantaged, minority or other groups attending CBS Charleville are small, the general practice regarding the admission, enrolment and participation of students from all backgrounds is appropriate and consistent with current statutory requirements. The educational needs of two students who did not have English as a first language at the time of the evaluation were being met effectively in language support classes. The special educational needs of students from the Traveller community were similarly being met through provision of individual withdrawal and small learning-support groups. Despite this withdrawal for mainstream classes in some cases and in line with the characteristic spirit of the school and its mission statement, these students, are also encouraged and facilitated to participate as fully as possible in all aspects of school life.
Support is provided for parents of students from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds to familiarise them with the operations of the school and to encourage them to communicate with the school on a regular basis and, as with the parents of all students, the school adopts a partnership approach in providing for the education of these students. Where, in the interests of the individual student, the school has adapted the programme of learning to suit individual needs, a reduced programme has been provided, while guarding against any barriers to full integration. It is commended that where such provision has been provided it has been in the context of providing a full programme of suitable instruction at the earliest possible time and as soon as this became realistic, taking the welfare of the individual student into account.
In addition to the allocation provided by the Department of Education and Science, the school actively seeks to access extra resources, including staff and extra funding, from all available sources. Such extra resources are sought to meet the educational needs of students to a fuller extent. Full advantage is taken of opportunities to work with outside agencies such as the University College Cork Traveller Access Programme. This programme provides a wide range of supports including a Traveller mentoring service. The energy and persistence of the school in seeking out and availing of such opportunities is commended.
It is good practice in CBS Charleville that the staff members directly involved with students from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds avail of professional development, particularly in the areas of teaching strategies and methodologies, to meet the needs of these students. At the time of the evaluation, arrangements were in place for staff CPD dealing with Traveller culture and its implications for teachers and the school. Indicating good practice with regard to liaising with outside agencies, this was being arranged with the involvement of the visiting teacher for Travellers with whom the school maintains regular communications. The school has effective procedures for liaising with a range of outside agencies to meet the needs of all students including those from minority groups and disadvantaged backgrounds.
The school actively seeks and effectively deploys the required accommodation, staff and material resources to meet the educational needs of students from minority groups and disadvantaged backgrounds, and takes full cognisance of their community and family backgrounds. Impressively regular and close communication takes place between the school and the appropriate National Psychological Service psychologist, Educational Welfare Officer, Special Educational Needs Organiser and the visiting teacher for Travellers to ensure that the needs of the relevant students are met to the fullest possible extent. This is very good practice. Care must continue to be exercised, as it has been to date, with regard to selection of students by interview for participation in programmes such as TY, so that each student is given opportunities consistent with his best interests being served.
Student guidance at CBS Charleville is excellent both as a whole-school programme and in terms of the service provided by those with direct responsibility for Guidance. The programme is based on sound planning in accordance with the guidelines of SDPI and is firmly rooted in the values of care and support expressed in the ERST charter. The school is at an advanced stage in the development of its whole-school guidance plan and many policies with direct relevance to student guidance, such as the policy on the promotion of positive behaviour and the admissions policy, have been developed by staff, parents and students and ratified by the board of management.
Good communication among staff is relatively informal but is continuous and facilitates the sharing of information. Students at risk or with special needs in the personal, educational or vocational areas are quickly identified and dealt with by appropriate staff. The personal programme of the guidance counsellor is comprehensive and embraces the major programmes such as TY and LCVP in addition to inputs into groups at the main transition periods of schooling such as the transition from primary to secondary school, from junior to senior cycle and from secondary school to adult life. Close contact with teachers involved in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and with the Religious Education department and chaplaincy also ensures their integration with the guidance programme. The school is entitled to an ex-quota allocation of eleven hours for Guidance and these hours are being efficiently used in support of students. It should be noted that the actual hours worked are well in excess of the allocation.
Personal support for students is available through the guidance service, through the pastoral care structure and through the special education team. Students may avail of these services on a one-to-one or on a group basis as the need arises. A strong consciousness of the core value of care is apparent among staff and results in a commendable unity of purpose in the education of the whole person.
Parents are involved at all stages through planned information meetings and by individual contact when needed. Parents have also been involved in the whole-school guidance planning process and such involvement in commended. Similarly, the school benefits from liaison with external agencies which have been generous in their support. These include Church support for the system of pastoral care and chaplaincy, support by employers for the work-experience programme in TY and in LVCP, by others in providing speakers for groups of students on topics related to health, education, training and leadership.
Pastoral care can be observed in its real sense in the school. The system is based on the values of care and personal development through education. With the strong involvement of teachers of Religious Education and of the chaplain, pastoral care is well integrated with the other supports that the school provides. The clear and comprehensive pastoral care policy document includes an annual review mechanism. The system is based on the allocation of a class tutor to each class group. The functions of the class tutor are well defined and regular meetings are held once a term to monitor the system. Tutors monitor the personal development and academic progress of all students in their care and communicate with other staff members as appropriate.
Good communication exists with senior management, the guidance counsellor and with the special educational needs team. Pastoral care is seen to be an essential part of the whole-school programme of guidance of students from childhood to adulthood. It is recommended that, because of the central importance of the student support services in the school, a small team representing those involved in guidance, pastoral care and special educational needs would be identified to discuss and plan the supports available to students. It is also recommended that the class-tutor structure be examined with a view to identifying a time set aside for tutor-class interaction in this context.
The school-attendance policy of the school provides for an effective system of monitoring, encouraging, supporting and rewarding the studentsí regular and punctual attendance. The system is efficiently managed and administered by an assistant principal. Monitoring is achieved by means of morning and afternoon checks and by reference to a signing-out book which any student leaving the school in the course of the day must fill in. Students returning to school or arriving late must sign in or report to the principal or deputy principal. All absences are documented, usually by means of notes from parents which are checked for authenticity and filed centrally. Where individual attendance patterns are a cause of concern, the student is interviewed and standard letters are sent to his parents, with whom meetings are arranged as necessary. Care is taken to provide the Educational Welfare Board with information as required and to meet all the responsibilities of the school with regard to studentsí attendance in full. An incentive for full attendance is provided by means of a certificate of full attendance which is conferred on successful students at the annual awards ceremony. Attendance and punctually are included in the twice-yearly formal school reports.
Parents are recognised as partners in education by the school and their involvement with the schoolís support services is encouraged. Policies in relation to admission, bullying and behaviour, among others, have the approval of parents prior to ratification by the board of management and policies are formed with reference to parents as part of the process. Parents reported that they were actively encouraged and welcomed to become involved in the school.
The involvement of local clergy in the school chaplaincy and in pastoral care is mutually welcomed and is seen to be beneficial to the school and to the community.
Communication with students is good and disciplinary matters are seen in the context of responsible behaviour and mutual respect. Sanctions are clearly flagged in the code of behaviour and a system of awards for responsible behaviour was introduced in recent years with great success. The student council, elected by and representative of the student body, is encouraged and supported in the development of its role. It is effective in promoting the involvement of students in the affairs of the school through consultation and affirmation by senior management. This is done in cooperation with the pastoral care team, parents and with staff in general. The student council is included in the circulation of reports from the board of management and it sees itself very much as part of the partnership of the school community. Initiatives such as the health-promoting school have been introduced with the support of the council.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the staff and board of management when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
The following related Subject Inspection reports are available:
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1 Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board of Management of C.B.S. Charleville is delighted to welcome this overwhelmingly positive report. We are pleased that the visiting inspectors have recognised and endorsed the very high standards of care provided for our students, the very high standards of teaching and learning, the quality of management structures in place and the strong sense of shared mission evident in the work of all partners within the school community. It is pleasing also that the inspectors have commended the very high quality of School Development Planning with its clearly defined structures and coherent strategies involving all partners and facilitating regular review. The Board of Management are very happy that the excellent work being carried out by the Special Education Needs team and the Guidance Counsellor, which is representative of the vibrant innovative approach at the core of provision for students with Special educational Needs in the school as well as for students who hail from Ethnic Minority and disadvantaged backgrounds, has been clearly endorsed by the visiting inspectors.
The Board of Management would like to register their appreciation of the very comprehensive thorough and balanced school inspection everybody was treated in a very professional, open and respectful manner and the experience as a whole was both positive and empowering.
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 Enrolment Policy is being reviewed and revised in accordance with recommendations on Page 4, 16 and 21.
Re: Circumstances under which suspension is used (P6) review of Behaviour Policy has already taken account of this recommendation,
Re: Recommendation to include lift in new extension Ė Provisions for lift now included in Building Plans.
The Board of management will be considering all recommendations with a view to implementation in consultation with all partners within the school community.