An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Whole-School Evaluation

REPORT

 

Coláiste Éinde

Threadneedle Road

Salthill

Galway

Roll number: 62981P

 

Date of inspection: 28 April - 02 May 2008

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

Introduction

Quality of school management

Quality of school planning

Quality of curriculum provision

Quality of learning and teaching in subjects

Quality of support for students

Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

Related subject inspection reports

 

 

 

 

Whole-school evaluation

 

A whole-school evaluation of Coláiste Éinde was undertaken in April/May 2008. This report presents the findings of the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement. During the evaluation, the quality of teaching and learning in five subjects were evaluated in detail, and separate reports are available on these subjects. (See section 7 for details). The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.

 

 

Introduction

 

Coláiste Éinde (St. Enda's College), Galway was established as a preparatory boarding school for boys in 1928 and primary school pupils who were fluent in Irish were recruited on the basis of an entrance examination. There were thirty boys in the first class group in Coláiste Éinde and they followed a four-year Leaving Certificate programme during which they were exposed to a broad curriculum that included music, public speaking and domestic economy. Twenty six of these boys were accepted into St. Patrick's Teacher Training College in Dublin. Coláiste Éinde contributed significantly to the education of generations of Irish-speaking primary school teachers during the early years of the fledgling State.

 

The school was originally located in temporary accommodation in Furbo and the construction of the permanent school building on the current site at Threadneedle Road began in 1929. The building was officially opened on 10 October 1937.

 

Following the establishment of post-primary schools in Gaeltacht areas in the early 1960s, Coláiste Éinde, like the other preparatory colleges, became a secondary school and was purchased by the Bishop of Galway and run as a diocesan college. The emphasis on the Irish language, such an integral part of the initial vision for the school, began to fade during the 1960s and the boarding tradition of the school ceased in the 1980s. In 1992 the school took in its first cohort of girls as it became co-educational and the first lay-principal was appointed the following year.

 

Today, Coláiste Éinde caters for more than 600 boys and girls, mainly from the western suburbs of Galway City and from rural communities throughout the county. Approximately two thirds of the students currently attending the school are boys but it is worth noting that there are two large all-girls secondary schools situated within a short distance of the school. The school also caters for students from more than thirty countries, students from minority groups and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The school is part of the Department of Education and Science Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) initiative and this serves to enhance the educational inclusion measures currently operated there.

 

 

1.         quality of school management

 

1.1          Characteristic spirit of the school

 

Coláiste Éinde is a Catholic, co-educational post-primary school and has a clearly articulated vision expressed in its mission statement. This vision seeks the spiritual, intellectual, physical, moral and cultural formation of students in a Christian and caring atmosphere. The mission is undertaken in co-operation with parents, the Catholic Church, the State and the local community.

 

Coláiste Éinde aims to create and maintain an atmosphere among students which is conducive to their harmonious development as individuals - academically, personally, physically and morally. In this way it seeks to enable students to grow to be mature adults, who think, reason and act within the accepted Christian norms of Irish society.

 

The trustees support the school in promoting and fostering its characteristic spirit and awareness of its vision is promoted among the board of management, parents, staff and the student body. There was a strong sense during the evaluation that this vision is shared and supported throughout the school community.

 

The school strives and is successful in expressing and reinforcing its vision through its day-to-day activities. The vision is also reflected in special events and activities that celebrate its characteristic spirit and ethos.

 

 

1.2          School ownership and management

 

The Bishop of Galway is the trustee of Coláiste Éinde and four members of the board of management are nominated by him. The trustee is actively engaged in supporting the provision of education in the school, communicates regularly with the board and receives an annual report on the work of the school which is prepared by the senior management team.

 

The board of management of Coláiste Éinde is appropriately constituted, in the second year of its term, meets regularly, is acutely aware of its role as described in the Education Act, 1998 and is carrying out its statutory responsibilities appropriately and in a spirit of generosity and service to the school community.

 

Board members, with the exception of the parents' representatives, have received training for their roles and this helps to ensure that they carry out their work effectively and this is commended. It is recommended however, that training for the parents' representatives should be provided at the earliest opportunity, but within the lifespan of the current board.

 

There is a strong sense of consultation and partnership at board level and decision-making procedures are open and clear and operated in the best interests of the school community. The board communicates regularly and effectively with all members of the school community through the senior management team and the representatives of the various partners and this is commended.

 

As part of its role, the board has ensured that there are clear and effective procedures for policy development, adoption and review in place.

 

There is an excellent working relationship between the board of management and the school's senior management team. Through this relationship the board is immediately aware of any issue that require its consideration.

 

The board of management, senior management team and staff of Coláiste Éinde acknowledge the role of parents as primary educators of their children and promote positive partnership with them in all school-related matters. The school's first parents' association was formed in the mid 1990s and the current association, like its predecessors, actively supports the school and makes a significant contribution to enhancing life in it. There is very effective communication with the school through the principal who attends all the association's monthly meetings. The types of support provided by the association include fundraising, organising and providing information and training seminars for parents, carrying out surveys to determine parents' views, issuing a bi-annual newsletter, maintaining a notice board in the school, and contributing to the school's website, among other activities. Examples of issues addressed at seminars organised by the parents' association include providing advice on parenting skills, substance abuse, study skills, anti-bullying, suicide, and depression. The work of the association is highly commended.

 

The board has identified a number of short-term developmental priorities. These include the progression of an application to the Department of Education and Science for a new gymnasium, the further development of facilities including the library, information and communication technologies (ICT), basketball courts, car parking facilities and the review of several policies. Strategies are in place to achieve these priorities.

 

It was evident during the evaluation that the board of management of Coláiste Éinde has a comprehensive understanding of the operation of the school and of the challenges currently being addressed by the school's senior management and staff. Among these challenges are increasing numbers of applicants for places in the school, limited permanent accommodation and the diversity of the student intake.

 

 

1.3          In-school management

 

There is a very experienced, effective and efficient senior management team in the school. Both principal and deputy principal are highly respected members of the school community. They display clear leadership qualities and ensure the effective leadership of learning, of people, of the school as an organisation and of change. They support the whole school community in accordance with the provisions outlined in Section V of the Education Act, 1998. They employ a partnership approach to school leadership and actively foster collaboration with all members of the school community in agreeing and achieving the aims of the school. They favour a consultation and consensus approach to leadership and this style is tempered when necessary with clear direction. The principal and deputy principal carry out specific functions associated with their roles and share their considerable workload. They meet frequently during each school day to discuss planned and other issues that may arise. They have ensured that effective systems of communication are in place and maintained and they strive to ensure that they are accessible to all members of the school community. Their work is highly commended.

 

Other leadership roles within the school are distributed at middle-management level where posts of responsibility holders are afforded the opportunity to develop their leadership skills. Responsibility for specific tasks is delegated to them by the senior management team to ensure the effective operation of the school. The current in-school management (ISM) team consists of eight assistant principals (AP) and fourteen special duties teachers (SDT) appointed in accordance with agreed procedures. These senior teachers contribute significantly, both individually and collectively, to the management of the school as they carry out their duties within the in-school management (ISM) structure. Their interactions with students reflect a pastoral approach to their work and their commitment to the school is highly commendable. The senior management team meets with individual post-holders at the end of each school year to carry out a review and ensure that post duties are being carried out effectively and efficiently. These meetings also provide an opportunity for teachers to change their posts while ensuring that the schedule continues to meet the needs of the school. It is suggested that a meeting of all post of responsibility holders should be held at the beginning or end of the school year in order to provide these teachers with a forum in which they may discuss issues related to their work.

 

A formal review of the ISM system took place two years ago, and the duties associated with many of the posts have been reviewed as new post-holders were appointed. However, in order to meet the changing needs of the school, and in the spirit of review associated with the introduction of the ISM system in the late 1990s, it is recommended that a formal review, involving all staff members, should be undertaken at the end of the current school year in order to ensure that the ISM system continues to meet the developing needs of the school.

 

In addition to the duties carried out by post of responsibility holders it should be noted that there are also many voluntary non-teaching roles, including significant co-ordination and liaison posts, carried out by teachers who do not currently hold posts of responsibility. The  work of these teachers also contributes very significantly to the effective day-to-day management of Coláiste Éinde and the school and is very fortunate to have such committed teachers on its staff. The voluntary work undertaken by these non-post holding teachers is highly commended.

 

Senior management actively promotes the development of a professional learning community within the school. Staff members are encouraged and facilitated to engage in personal and professional development programmes and there are structures in place to ensure that the outcomes of these are shared appropriately with the whole staff. This is commended.

 

School self-evaluation and review are central to the shared vision for Coláiste Éinde and are actively promoted by the senior management team. The school regularly reviews its own work in an open and systematic way and this has resulted in a focus on key school activities including teaching and learning and student support. The views of staff, parents and students inform this review process. The senior management team ensures that identified actions are followed through, where improvement is needed, and this is commended.

 

 

1.4          Management of resources

 

The teaching staff is the most important resource available to any school and Coláiste Éinde has a dedicated, committed and professional staff. A permanent enrolment-based allocation of thirty-five whole-time teacher equivalents (WTE) together with 10.14 part-time WTEs is made by the Department of Education and Science to the school in the current school year. The majority of the school's teachers have permanent posts and many have served there for many years.

 

The allocation of teachers to programmes, subjects, class groups, and subject levels is made by the senior management team in order to maximise the benefit to students, consider the professional needs of teachers in accordance with their qualifications, expertise and experience and to ensure continuity through junior cycle and into senior cycle. A policy of teacher rotation is employed where practicable and this practice is commended. It was noted during the evaluation however, that in a number of curricular areas teachers are deployed outside their specialist subject area. This was most notable in the area of physical education (PE) and it is recommended that this issue be addressed as a priority.

 

Coláiste Éinde has an induction and monitoring policy for new teachers joining the staff. The appointment of an SDT post holder to assume overall responsibility for the process reflects the importance the school places on teacher induction and this is commended. Established staff members understand the importance of the induction process and actively co-operate with its implementation.

 

In addition the teaching staff of Coláiste Éinde has a permanent secretary and a caretaker who have spent many years working in the school. A part-time secretary and a number of part-time cleaners are also employed. The work of support staff members is efficiently managed by the senior management team which enables and encourages them to make an appropriate and effective contribution to the life of the school, above and beyond their assigned duties and their work and loyalty is highly commendable.

 

The school building is very extensive, well decorated and maintained to a high standard and all general and specialist classrooms and circulation areas are contained in permanent accommodation within it. While many general classrooms are relatively small all reflect the considerable investment made by the school to improve its facilities in recent years. The school's corridors are decorated with numerous examples of students' work, photographs and other displays in the languages taught in the school. The school grounds are also very extensive and students have direct access to very large green areas adjacent to the school building where all playing fields are located. This is very advantageous for the students and teachers. Outside handball alleys and a walled basketball court are also provided and plans to provide an additional basketball court are well advanced. A large mural is painted on the school's boundary wall beside the entrance to the school on Threadneedle Road and this is makes the location of the school instantly recognisable. Coláiste Éinde has a 'green flag' and there is a very high standard of cleanliness throughout the school building and grounds and the caretaker, cleaning staff, green school committee and general student body are to be highly commended for this.

 

The school has an integral chapel located just inside the front door and this sacred space reflects the religious ethos of the school. In addition to being used for all religious liturgies the chapel is also used for weekly year group assemblies and the end-of-year awards ceremony. A carpeted internal gymnasium is used for PE classes and is regarded as inadequate by the students, parents, staff, senior management team and board of management of the school. As a result the board of management has made an application to the Department of Education and Science for the provision of a new gymnasium in the grounds of the school. The school uses additional facilities in the community to supplement its own gym for PE activities. The school has a large canteen in which hot lunches and healthy snacks are available. Environmentally-friendly practices are very evident in this area and waste is recycled as it is throughout the school. This facility is used as a social meeting area by students and it is also used when dramas are being staged.  

 

Where possible, teachers are classroom based and it was obvious during the evaluation that this arrangement works well in the school. In order to maintain a presence on the different floors the principal's office is located on the ground floor beside the reception area and the deputy principal's office is located on the first floor near the staff room. 

 

The school has prioritised the continuous improvement of its information and communication technologies (ICT) infrastructure in order to extend current levels of computer use in learning and teaching. The ICT policy is set out in a comprehensive framework document and a steering committee oversees ICT development in the school. The steering committee comprises the senior management team, a voluntary co-ordinator and two other teachers who have a particular interest in ICT. Many of the original aims set out for the development of ICT in the school have already been achieved and a large amount of investment has already been made to provide computer facilities from which students and the teaching staff may benefit. The school currently has two dedicated general computer rooms and a Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) room. All first year classes, LCVP, guidance and TY classes are timetabled for computer classes. The school's computer facilities are also used at lunchtime and teachers receive computer training from the ICT co-ordinator or their peers in efforts to further develop ICT competencies. Teachers in a number of subject areas have successfully integrated the use of ICT into teaching and learning and the intention is that this practice will be extended to all subject areas.

 

Teachers have access to ICT facilities for lesson planning, preparation and research purposes in a work room adjacent to the staff room. The senior management team and the school's secretaries regularly use ICT for general administration purposes, to prepare the timetable and optional subject bands, in guidance and student support and to monitor attendance.

 

Coláiste Éinde has a website, www.endascollege.ie, on which school-related information is readily accessible. Together with typical website features this site also has an e-portal feature. This is password controlled and allows teachers and parents to access up-to-date information and all teachers and students currently have access to e-mail. It is intended that this facility will become a key means of communication with members of the school community in the future.

 

The school has a comprehensive health and safety statement that was prepared by external consultants and this is regularly reviewed. This is commended. It is recommended however, that the Review of Occupational Health and Safety in the Technologies in Post-Primary Schools be used to inform all processes and procedures in the school and that risk assessments be regularly conducted, with every staff member taking responsibility to report hazards to the health and safety representative or the senior management team.

 

The school has provided appropriate and up-to-date material resources to support learning and teaching and the allocation of these resources to subject departments is made in an equitable and fair manner and all subject departments are well resourced.

 

Coláiste Éinde seeks all resources available from the Department of Education and Science for the benefit of its students and uses these appropriately. Additional resources available because of the school's participation in the DEIS initiative are used to enhance the school's ability to provide a better service for its students and systems to sensitively address the needs of disadvantaged students have been developed and are being implemented. These systems and practices are commended.

 

 

2.         Quality of school planning

 

2.1          The school plan

 

School development planning has been identified as a priority in Coláiste Éinde and considerable time and effort have already been devoted to it. Since 2001 the school has been engaged in an ongoing, collaborative planning process that involves the trustee, the board of management, senior and middle-management, the staff, parents and students. All members of the school community are enabled to contribute ideas, express concerns and make suggestions about the planning process in an open and constructive way with a view to improving the quality of teaching and to support students' learning.  

 

School development planning in Coláiste Éinde is enabled and facilitated by the leadership and vision of the senior management team. It is currently guided effectively by a steering committee comprising the senior management team, the school development planning co-ordinator who was appointed two years ago and two other staff members. The appointment of the co-ordinator, who is an AP with a professional and academic interest in school development planning, is a reflection of the priority placed on this process by the senior management team. This is highly commended.   

 

The planning steering group meets regularly and co-ordinates the work of action groups that are formed at the beginning of each year. These are designed to address clear and achievable development priorities that have been identified through consultation and partnership at a whole-school level and realistic timeframes for the achievement of these, and procedures for their implementation, monitoring and evaluation are also in place. Every teacher on the staff is involved in an action group and this is intended to ensure ownership of the planning process while optimising the use of in-house expertise when developing  the work of groups individually and collectively. This approach is highly commended.

 

The school's planning documents provide the framework by which all can see and gain an understanding of the complexity of the work of the school and all the processes that take place within it.

 

Coláiste Éinde has a comprehensive school plan document that includes both permanent and developmental sections and this has been adopted by the board of management. The school's history, philosophy and mission statement are included in the permanent section of the plan while the developmental section contains major policy documents and comprehensive details of procedures and practices related to the current reality of the school. This section of the school plan constitutes a work in progress and is subject to continual review. Developmental priorities have been identified in the school plan and action plans have been devised to achieve these. Action plans contain specific targets and timeframes for their achievement and take available resources into account. The developmental section of the school plan is focused on school improvement and on improving learning outcomes for all students. Current documentation provides a testament to the focus the senior management team has placed on school development planning over the last number of years and this work is commended

 

Programme and subject-department planning related to all areas of the school's curriculum has also been developed within the context of school development planning. Electronic versions of all subject-department planning documentation is centrally stored in a shared folder on the school's networked ICT system and is accessible to all teachers. This work has been facilitated by subject departments in collaboration with the school's ICT co-ordinator. All subject departments have been issued with a digital mass storage device on which all subject-related documentation, including subject plans and records of subject department meetings, is retained and this documentation is continuously reviewed and appropriately amended to reflect the changing contexts within subject-department planning. This approach is commended. Subject department planning documents constitute works in progress and those associated with different subjects are at different stages of development. It is recommended therefore, that subject-department planning should continue to be developed and that this development should be regularly monitored by individual subject departments, the school development planning co-ordinator and the senior management team.

Confirmation was provided that, in compliance with Post-primary Circulars M45/05 and 0062/2006, the board of management has formally adopted the Child Protection Guidelines for Post-primary Schools (Department of Education and Science, September 2004). Confirmation was also provided that these child protection procedures have been brought to the attention of management, school staff and parents; that a copy of the procedures has been provided to all staff (including all new staff); and that management has ensured that all staff are familiar with the procedures to be followed. A designated liaison person (DLP) and a deputy DLP have been appointed in line with the requirements of the guidelines.

 

Coláiste Éinde has had a strong association with the Irish language and Irish culture since its foundation and the promotion of the Irish language and culture continues to be an extremely important part of the school's curricular and other activities. In light of this, and in fulfilment of Section 9 (f) of the Education Act, 1998 it is recommended that a whole-school policy on Irish be developed by the school.

 

The characteristic feature of the school development planning process in Coláiste Éinde is its ownership by senior management, co-ordinator and the staff. This is the case despite the initial reluctance of some staff members to become involved in a formal planning process. The priority placed by the school on development planning and involvement of all staff members in the process reflects a significant change in attitude to the planning process and this is highly commended.

 

The planning process in Coláiste Éinde aims to be inclusive and evidence of input from parents and/or students was noted during the evaluation. This approach has resulted in a shared ownership of both the planning process and its implementation. Responsibility for the implementation rests collectively with all members of the school community but particularly with teachers, the school development planning co-ordinator and the senior management team. There was evidence during the evaluation that the implementation of action plans developed by action groups had resulted in significant improvements in students' experiences in the school and this is commended.

 

The planning process is grounded in a shared vision of the school and is based on school self-evaluation, review, prioritisation and action planning. The outcomes of the process are focused particularly on maintaining and improving the standard of student learning. This is highly commended.

 

Time for subject and other planning groups to meet is allocated during the school year and the staff is proactive in developing planning priorities. This is commended. A staff development day on raising academic standards for all was organised at the beginning of the current school year and this was facilitated by a member of the SDPI.

 

The school proclaims itself to be a learning community and engagement of teachers in continuing professional development (CPD) programmes is positively encouraged, supported and regularly facilitated by the senior management team. Teachers returning from CPD share their knowledge with colleagues and are enabled to do so at subject-department or whole-staff level, as appropriate. The senior management team also strives  to provide appropriate in-house in-service and afford teachers the opportunity to carry out educational research in the school. Teaching and learning is also prioritised within school development planning each year and teachers are encouraged to reflect on their practice with a view to improving the quality of service available to students in their classrooms. Facilitation of this process by the senior management team is commended.

 

As part of its planning process, the school has prioritised a number of areas for review and development in the short-term. These include following up on an application to the Department for the development of a new gymnasium, the review of the existing code of behaviour, pastoral care, RSE and substance abuse policies.

 

The school development planning process involves the school in an ongoing cycle of review, school self-evaluation and monitoring of progress in achieving targets. The implementation of action plans and their impact on student learning are monitored regularly and systematically. The school makes use of evidence from self-evaluation, external review, consultation with school partners, and information on students’ achievement to inform its monitoring of the action plans.  The outcomes of the school's review and self-evaluation processes are used to inform future planning. The focus of these reviews and ongoing planning is on the improvement of student support strategies, curricular provision and organisation and learning and teaching. These improvements are designed to further enhance learning outcomes for students and as a result give direction for future planning. The professional learning needs of staff members are also identified and addressed in an ongoing process. This approach is highly commended.

 

A school development planning report is prepared annually and submitted to the board of management for its consideration. This report outlines the programme of activities planned for the year with reference to the school's mission statement, realistic priorities for the year and details of work completed. Annual reports have been prepared each year since 2002 and outline the logical development of the planning process, priorities and achievements over the intervening years. Comprehensive records of the work of action groups are also retained in school development planning documentation. This work is highly commended.

 

 

3.         Quality of curriculum provision

 

3.1          Curriculum planning and organisation

 

Coláiste Éinde provides a broad and balanced curriculum. The timetable, the means by which the school organises its curriculum, is drawn up each year by the senior management team after consultation with the teaching staff. The timetable is designed to offer the widest possible range of programmes, subjects, and levels to serve the needs, interests, and abilities of all the school's students and to deploy the teaching staff to meet these needs.

 

The school week in Coláiste Éinde is organised into forty three class periods. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of each week have nine forty minute class periods while Wednesday and Friday have eight forty minute periods. This gives a weekly tuition time of 28 hours and 40 minutes and these instructional hours are in compliance with DES Circular letter M29/95. However, the current organisation of the timetable into forty three periods is somewhat restrictive and the possibility of regularising it, by timetabling nine class periods each day, should be considered. The additional two periods provided would allow some flexibility in allocation to accommodate the recommendations below related to LCVP Link Modules, the provision of a double period of PE for Leaving Certificate students and the development of RE as an examination subject throughout the school. 

 

At junior cycle the school offers the Junior Certificate (JC) programme and students take eleven subjects in the examination. Nine of these subjects are core: Irish; English; Mathematics; History; Geography; Science; French, German or Spanish; Religious Education; Civil, Social and Political Education (CSPE); and two optional subjects taken from Business Studies, Materials Technology (Wood), Home Economics, Music, Technical Graphics or Art. Two other non-examination subjects are also taken by all junior-cycle students: Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE); and Physical Education (PE). The school's curriculum is adapted for students with additional educational needs and for students for whom English is an additional language and learning and language support are provided as required.

 

The school has responded to the needs of its senior-cycle students by providing three programmes: Transition Year (TY); the established Leaving Certificate (LC); and the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP 

 

Coláiste Éinde has an optional TY programme and the school invests considerable time on planning, implementing and resourcing this programme in order to ensure its success. TY is intended to provide students with the opportunity to develop personally and socially so as to enhance and further develop their potential to achieve academically and to enable them to approach life and work as responsible, independent, considerate, competent and content members of society.

 

An open evening for potential TY students and their parents is organised each year at which the mission statement for the programme, together with an outline of the rigid timetabling structure operated for the programme, are outlined for students and parents. 

 

TY curriculum includes the study of: Irish; English/Media Studies; Mathematics; Music; Science; Home Economics; Business Studies; History; Geography; a modern European language; Construction Studies; Guidance; PE; and RE. These subjects are delivered by a core teaching team of fourteen teachers, one of whom is the co-ordinator of the programme. All  members of the team devise the syllabus to be delivered in their own subject area.

 

The coordinator of the TY programme took up this voluntary post last year and the dedication and commitment of this teacher to the programme is highly commendable.

 

Four examination subjects are core for students taking the established Leaving Certificate (LC) or Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP): Irish; English; Mathematics; and French, German or Spanish. Students also take three additional optional subjects for examination purposes chosen from; Physics, Chemistry, Biology,  History, Geography, Business, Economics, Accountancy, Art,  Construction Studies, Music, Home Economics, or Technical Drawing in the current year (Technical Drawing will be replaced by Design and Communication Graphics in future years). Senior cycle students who are exempt from studying Irish for the Leaving Certificate take Geography as an alternative subject.

 

Students who are registered for the LCVP by virtue of the vocational subject groupings (VSG) also study Link Modules and they continue to study the modern European language they studied for Junior Certificate for Leaving Certificate examination purposes. The LCVP coordinator is a post of responsibility holder under the terms of circular PPT 17/02 - Programme Coordinator Posts in Voluntary Secondary Schools and the school receives an allocation of 0.18 WTE to facilitate this post. The LCVP coordinator, the career guidance teacher, and a small core group of teachers are involved in the delivery of the Link Modules and two teachers deliver the modern language element of the LCVP programme. It was noted during the evaluation that only two periods per week are allocated to Link Modules in both fifth and sixth year and it is recommended therefore that an additional period in fifth year be allocated in future years to ensure provision is in line with the LCVP Guidelines.

 

Three additional non-examination subjects are timetabled for all senior-cycle students: RE, Career Guidance, and PE.

 

RE was introduced as an examination subject for Junior Certificate students relatively recently and the possibility of introducing it as an examination subject for Leaving Certificate is now being considered. However, RE in junior and senior cycles is currently allocated only two periods per week and, in the context of delivering the Junior Certificate (and possibly the Leaving Certificate) syllabus in the subject this level of provision is not adequate. It is recommended therefore, that a level of provision commensurate with the requirements of the Junior Certificate programme be made as a priority for the coming year and that plans to introduce RE as a Leaving Certificate examination subject should encompass an adequate level of provision on the timetable.

 

Students throughout the school are timetabled for PE and this is commended. However, sixth-year students are currently timetabled for only a single PE period each week, while all other students are timetabled for a double period. In order to ensure equality of provision across the year groups and ensure that requirements of the PE syllabus can be delivered for Leaving Certificate students it is recommended that the level of provision be increased to a double period in line with all other year groups in future years.

 

TY students are involved in work experience and this is generally organised to take place in March each year. LCVP work experience is organised during the second term in the first year of the two-year programme, usually at the time when the mock Leaving Certificate examination is scheduled. Work experience is closely monitored and evaluated by programme coordinators.

 

The TY and LCVP programmes are regularly reviewed. These reviews are used to inform preparations for the following school year. This practice ensures that the programmes continue to meet the needs of students and is commended. 

Addressing educational disadvantage is an important consideration when planning the school's curricular programmes and the possibility of introducing additional programmes has been considered in the past. In the current context, with the school serving a broad spectrum of students and because of its inclusion in the DEIS initiative, it is recommended that the possibilities offered by the introduction of the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme (LCA) programme should be considered.

 

3.2           Arrangements for students’ choice of subjects and programmes

 

The programme and subject choice process in Coláiste Éinde is intended to maximise access to curriculum options for all students. Students are given an open choice of programmes, subjects and levels within the limitations of the resources available in the school and are facilitated as far as is possible to alter their subject, level or programme of choice.

 

Arrangements for optional subject choice are intended to meet the needs and interests of the student cohort and are reviewed when planning the school's timetable each year. Information and communication technologies are used effectively to implement students' choices and a high level of satisfaction with choice of subjects and programmes is reported.

 

The school endeavours to make comprehensive, appropriate, up-to-date and accurate information available to students and their parents to assist in programme, subject and level choice. Guidance is also provided to students and parents on the implications of these choices.

 

Junior-cycle students in Coláiste Éinde study two optional subjects in addition to nine examination and two non-examination subjects. A six-week 'taster' programme is provided for incoming first-year students and this allows them to experience all the available optional subjects and this experience, combined with discussions with subject teachers, allows them to make more informed subject choices. At the end of the taster period students, in consultation with their parents, are asked to list their preferred optional subjects and these preferences are then organised into option bands and students are then asked to make their final selections from the generated option bands. Every effort is made to ensure that the highest level of student satisfaction is achieved taking timetabling constraints and available resources into account. Movement between subjects is accommodated subject to the availability of spaces and the majority of students are normally able to pursue their subjects of choice. This system operates effectively and is commended.

 

All third year students preparing to enter fifth year in Coláiste Éinde take a standardised aptitude test (SAT) and analysis of students' attainment in this test is intended to inform subject choice for Leaving Certificate. The optional subject selection process begins early in third year when students are asked to express their three preferred optional subject. These choices are then processed by senior management and used to generate provisional option bands from which students then select their subjects.

 

 

3.3          Co-curricular and extra-curricular provision

Coláiste Éinde has a long and proud tradition of involvement in and encouragement of student participation in sporting and other extra-curricular activities. These activities are intended to support and enhance students' learning, self-esteem, self-discipline, teamwork and social and personal development. Management and staff encourage all students to participate in these activities and high participation rates are reported. This is highly commended.

 

Students participate in a wide range of sporting activities. These include Gaelic football, soccer and basketball for boys and girls, hurling, camogie, rugby, tennis, swimming, golf, and chess. The school has very good relationships with the local community and liaises closely with clubs in the local community and makes use of their facilities.

 

Students are also encouraged to participate in a range of non-games activities including debating and public speaking in the languages taught in the school, music, drama, school choirs, educational tours and field trips, community work, school publications, annual exchange with a sister school in Germany, educational competitions, church celebrations, school variety show/production, participation in An Taisce 'Green Schools' project, among many others.

 

A range of opportunities to enhance students' personal and social development is also facilitated. Students regularly participate in fundraising activities, the Ethiopia fund for example, to support charitable organisations in Ireland and abroad and participation in these activities raises their social awareness and is highly commendable.

 

TY students are also involved in a wide range of additional activities intended to support their learning and these are scheduled throughout the year. These include: sporting activities such as tag rugby and windsurfing; fund-raising events, e.g. a 24 hour sleep over fast in aid of Ethiopia; speakers on a variety of areas of interest, e.g. personal development, relationships and sexuality education, fair trade, various businesses, celebrities, Garda, careers in science, health, tourism and music; out-of-school visits to and storytelling in a retirement day centre, Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, Kilmainham jail and Dublin Castle; a walking tour of Galway; weekend away to the Killary adventure centre; Lyric FM workshop; TY radio with RTE; school play; Drive for Life - safe driving programme; young entrepreneur day; a poetry workshop with a writer in residence; a performance poetry workshop; Blastbeat - a music and enterprise programme incorporating  a battle of the bands competition; a film making club; self-defence club; a swimming course; young social innovators project; the President's Awards (Gaisce); homework club to support first year students; and a First Aid course.

 

Student and staff participation in all these activities is wholeheartedly encouraged and supported by the board of management, the senior management team, and a large number of committed teachers are directly and indirectly involved in supporting students' involvement in sporting and other out-of-class activities. This level of teacher involvement and generosity is highly commendable. 

 

 

4.         Quality of learning and teaching in subjects

 

4.1          Planning and preparation

 

The school development planning process supported by management has facilitated formal curricular planning taking place across all subject areas evaluated. Subject departments meet a number of times during the school year and have positively engaged with the practice of collaborative planning both on a formal and informal basis. This commitment to collaborative planning is commended. Long-term outline schemes of work have been developed, in varying degrees of detail, for each year group in each subject area. This practice is commended. These plans could be further enhanced by the inclusion of outline topics to be taught within shorter timeframes and indicating the corresponding resource materials, teaching methodologies, assessment modes and learning outcomes to be attained. Planning for the increased integration of ICT in the classroom as a means of supporting teaching and learning would also be beneficial. It is further recommended that these programmes of work be continually evaluated and that the observations arising from this practice of reflection and self-review feed into the updated schemes of work.

 

In line with Department guidelines, written TY plans were presented in the subjects evaluated during the course of the inspections. Most of these plans showed appropriate linkage between the underlying principles of TY and subject specific aims in terms of bridging the gap between junior and senior cycle, skill development and through an emphasis on maturity, social and personal development.

 

It is commendable that coordinators for subject departments have been put in place in the majority of subject areas. It is recommended that a coordinator be appointed within all departments and that these positions be rotated at agreed intervals to help develop leadership skills across the department.

 

 

4.2          Learning and teaching

 

Teachers engaged in effective individual short-term planning for the lessons observed. This was evident in the advance preparation of resource materials including worksheets, handouts, overhead transparencies, PowerPoint presentations, tactile stimuli and the integration of ICT in some lessons.

 

Lessons were well structured and in line with syllabus requirements. The pace of lessons in the vast majority of cases ensured appropriate coverage of syllabus content.  In the majority of lessons the expected learning outcomes were communicated to students at the outset of the lesson. It is recommended that this good practice be extended to all lessons in order to assist students in evaluating their learning and progress.

 

A variety of suitable methodologies was employed in lessons which engaged students’ interest and supported their understanding of the topics under study. There were very good examples of active learning strategies such as pair work, group work, practical activities and individual student-based tasks. These approaches are commended as they enabled students to actively engage with lesson material and provided opportunities for peer learning. These strategies also ensured an appropriate balance between teacher and student input, a balance which should be maintained in all lessons. Very good practice was noted where students were encouraged to consider, analyse and synthesise issues and phenomena and this is further encouraged in lessons.

 

Teachers demonstrated very good subject knowledge and provided accurate and comprehensive explanations of topics. Questioning techniques utilised by teachers were effective in checking students’ understanding, stimulating their interaction with lesson material and supporting their learning. In some lessons use was made of ICT to aid the presentation of lesson content and to illustrate concepts and processes. The provision of summary points was noted in some lessons and this good practice is encouraged in all lessons. Subject vocabulary/terminology was generally well developed during lessons. It is recommended that as new vocabulary/terminology is encountered that it is recorded on the board and that lists pertaining to topics are displayed as these topics are taught.

 

There was clear evidence of student learning in all lessons observed. The students displayed good levels of knowledge and understanding of the topics under study as reflected in their ability to answer questions posed during lessons. The written work completed in students’ copybooks was generally of a good standard while reflecting the mixed-ability composition of classes.

 

There was very good rapport between teachers and students in all classrooms visited.  A positive learning environment prevailed in all lessons within which students participated readily in all activities and in turn were appropriately affirmed and encouraged by their teachers. As class tasks were conducted the teachers circulated among students to provide assistance to individuals in a supportive manner. The relationship between teachers and students was one of mutual respect and this is commended.

 

 

4.3          Assessment

 

Clear procedures are in place for regular assessment of student learning as well as record keeping and reporting procedures. Common assessments are administered in so far as possible. This is good practice as it allows comparison of attainment across the year group. In some subjects, end-of-year reports record marks achieved by students in all formal assessments held. This good initiative allows students and parents to track yearly progress more easily.

 

There is a good level of contact maintained between the school and parents. Assessment outcomes are recorded systematically and students and their parents are advised regularly on students’ progress. The student journal is also used as an additional mode of communication with parents should teachers have any concerns in relation to students’ progress.

 

Commendably, some subject departments are planning to allocate a percentage of marks in school tests to students’ copies and materials in order to foster awareness among students of the importance of systematically maintaining all materials. This strategy of utilising practical activities to form a percentage of formal assessments is commended.

 

There is ongoing informal assessment of students’ learning in lessons through questioning, correction of homework and monitoring of class exercises. Homework is assigned to all year groups. Nonetheless, the level of correction and monitoring of this work appeared to vary  across the copybooks, subjects and classes. Best practice was noted where homework was used frequently with appropriate correction and monitoring to consolidate and build on students’ learning.

 

To assist in building on the important part played by homework in students’ learning it is recommended that, within the context of a whole-school homework policy, priority is given to devising guidelines for homework practices to include details of the frequency with which homework is to be given and the practices around correction and monitoring. It is recommended that the good practice of annotating students' work with developmental comments be used more intensively across departments as a means of supporting students in improving the quality of their work.  Teachers are encouraged to access the website of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment www.ncca.ie to obtain information and guidance on implementing ‘Assessment for Learning’ (AfL) practices. 

 

 

5.         Quality of support for students

 

5.1          Inclusion of students with additional educational needs

 

Coláiste Éinde is committed to ensuring that all its students develop to their full potential and this is evident in the extensive range of supports provided by the school. The school is currently in receipt of an ex-quota resource allocation of 4.58 WTE to provide support for students who have additional educational needs and these resources are appropriately deployed by the school.

 

The school has developed good links with its feeder primary schools and these help to prepare students for transfer to post-primary school. All in-coming first year students take standardised literacy and numeracy tests and the results of these assessments, together with information gathered from the primary schools, parents and psychological assessments are used to identify students who will require learning support and also to identify gifted students. Records of assessments are appropriately retained and made available to parents when required. These practices are commended.

 

A whole-school approach to the provision of learning support is promoted and this is detailed in the learning support plan. A total of sixteen teachers, including the co-ordinator, are directly involved in the delivery of the school's learning-support programme in the current school year. Three of these teachers, in addition to the co-ordinator, are trained in the provision of learning support and all teachers involved work very closely as a team. They meet regularly - informally on a daily basis - and continually liaise with senior management and subject teachers to ensure that the needs of individual students are being addressed.

 

Coláiste Éinde has a comprehensive learning-support policy that aims to include students with special educational needs in mainstream classes, keep withdrawal of individuals or small groups of students for support to a minimum, provides curricula adapted to meet individual needs, and employs team teaching, among other strategies. Of particular interest is the continuing development of positive attitudes to team teaching following initial reluctance of subject teachers to become involved in the process. Individual education plans (IEP) have been developed and are being implemented. High quality practice was noted in all areas of provision.

 

The learning-support coordinator undertakes this role in a voluntary capacity and is also currently teaching full hours. The commitment of this teacher to the role and to the students is highly commended. The workload associated with this voluntary post is very substantial and it is recommended that time for coordination be provided for this purpose.

 

The co-ordinator regularly liaises with the special educational needs organiser (SENO) for the school when resource allocations are being determined, to collate all relevant information and to discuss possible strategies to be employed in the school. The co-ordinator is also responsible for the organisation of reasonable accommodation for certificate examinations (RACE) and this exercise is undertaken with a view to ensuring that students receive the appropriate level of support. The co-ordinator also liaises with the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) psychologist assigned to the school, the psychologist from the community services section of the Health Service Executive (HSE), other psychologists who carry out private assessments of students, the services provided by Ballard House, Westside and St. Anne's Taylor's Hill as appropriate, and acts as liaison teacher with the two visiting teachers for Travellers (VTT).

 

There is structured liaison and regular communication takes place among the subject departments, school management and the special educational needs support team to support teachers in planning for teaching and learning. Appropriate information is disseminated by the co-ordinator during a briefing which forms part of the beginning-of-year staff meeting. Parents are aware that this briefing is given, of the necessity for it and of the strict emphasis on confidentiality that the school places on all sensitive information.

 

Seven special needs assistants (SNA) are currently employed in Coláiste Éinde, are assigned to particular students, work very closely as a team with the learning-support coordinator and provide invaluable support to the students in their care and to classroom teachers. These SNAs are fully integrated into the life of the school and are valued members of the school staff. Their contribution to the school and support for the students in their care is highly commended.

 

The school has a number of learning-support classrooms that are equipped with learning support resources, audio-visual equipment, and ICT facilities and the majority of support is provided for students in these settings.

 

A large minority of international students from more than thirty countries attends the school and an allocation of 2.91 WTE is made in respect of providing language support for these students. English language support, detailed in the school's language support plan, is currently provided by two teachers in a classroom designated for this purpose. Differentiated programmes, related to the level of support required, are implemented with students being withdrawn from Irish lessons for the purpose. Additional support is provided when the need is greater. It is reported that newcomer students have integrated well into the life of the school despite some difficulties with English language competency. However, it is recommended that the resource allocation should be fully used for its intended purpose immediately in order to ensure that the appropriate level of support is provided for these students at the earliest possible opportunity.

The school has established clear and appropriate procedures relating to engagement with outside agencies and bodies. These include, among others, the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO), the National Education and Welfare Board (NEWB), the Health Service Executive (HSE) western region, the visiting teachers for Travellers (VTT), and educational psychological services. Engagement with all relevant groups is undertaken with the express purpose of ensuring the inclusion of all students and improving the quality of service offered by the school. Parents are provided with comprehensive information on how the school will appropriately provide for individual students' needs and included in activities relating to their child as required. Work in this area is commended.

 

A large minority of students is exempted from the study of Irish in Coláiste Éinde. Some of these students are exempted because of identified special educational needs but the vast majority are exempted because they were born outside the State or lived abroad for a significant period. It is recommended that the strategies identified by the school to deal with Irish exemptions be included in the whole-school policy on Irish recommended in Section 2 of this report. 

 

The school has a number of Traveller students and in the current school year receives an allocation of 1.16 WTE to support them. These resources are being appropriately used. While some difficulties in respect of the attendance, retention in senior-cycle, behaviour, and integration of Traveller students into the school community were reported the school has developed and is implementing strategies to address these difficulties. Parents of Traveller students are reported to be supportive of the services provided by the school and this view is supported by the number of Traveller students registered and attending the school and the high retention rates for Traveller students in junior-cycle. The VTTs are in regular contact with the school, Traveller students' families and students. Regular meetings with the senior management team are scheduled and the learning-support co-ordinator liaises with the VTTs in an effort to monitor Traveller students' progress, attendance and other issues. It is recommended that the Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy (2006), as it refers to post-primary education provision, should be used to inform the development of all future policies and practices in Coláiste Éinde in relation to Traveller students and their parents.

 

The school has a number of systems and structures in place to support the effective participation of all students in the life of the school. For example, an attendance strategy that highlights the negative impact of absence on students' progress and focuses on encouraging students' attendance is currently being developed and a special duties teacher (SDT) post of responsibility holder has been appointed as senior-cycle attendance officer. Other measures, including participation in a School Completion Programme (SCP) designed to discriminate positively in favour of students at risk or experiencing educational disadvantage are also in place. Students with excellent attendance records are acknowledged at the school's end-of-year awards ceremony. While all these practices and processes are commended it was noted that a significant number of students had cumulative absences in excess of 20 days last year and the school should continue to strive to address absenteeism among its students.

 

The school has policies and practices on the admission, enrolment and participation of all students. It is recommended however, that a policy on inclusion relating to the admission, enrolment and participation of students from minority groups and disadvantaged backgrounds, and those for whom English is an additional language should be developed separately or incorporated into existing policies.

 

 

5.2          Guidance and student support in a whole-school context

 

In the current school year the school received a permanent ex-quota allocation of 1.00 WTE and a part-time allocation of 0.09WTE for the provision of guidance. This allocation is fully and appropriately used to provide personal, educational and vocational guidance for students. In Coláiste Éinde guidance is viewed as a whole-school support for students and it is managed by the guidance counsellor. The guidance counsellor is a long-serving, highly respected member of staff and was centrally involved in the development and implementation of the school's comprehensive guidance plan. This work is highly commended.  

 

The school has a guidance office that is readily accessible to students. The office is equipped with ICT facilities, broadband, telephone, storage, a guidance library and display areas in the corridor outside. This facility is used to meet the guidance needs of students and timetabled access to ICT facilities in one of the computer rooms is also provided for guidance classes.

 

Structured guidance programmes are delivered to students in all year groups and programmes as required. All students have access to personal, educational and vocational guidance and to individual counselling as appropriate.

 

Guidance is delivered using a range of appropriate and effective methodologies that include timetabled classes, access to ICT, individual and group guidance and counselling sessions. There is good balance between guidance in junior cycle and senior cycle and between individual and class guidance. The school's comprehensive SPHE programme forms a central element in supporting the guidance programme in junior cycle. All TY, fifth and sixth years students have timetabled guidance classes and the guidance counsellor is available for consultation with students, parents and teachers in the guidance office as required. The guidance programme includes a range of activities to assist students in making important choices at times of transition and in the personal, social, educational, and career areas.

 

There is regular and effective communication between the guidance counsellor and the senior management team and all subject departments and programme co-ordinators. Parents are also actively encouraged to meet with the guidance counsellor who participates in all information sessions arranged for them. The guidance counsellor provides information and support for parents to assist them in helping their child to make subject and programme choices and to make successful transitions. Strong links have been established between the school community, business, universities, institutes of higher and further education and training bodies through the guidance counsellor.

 

A well-established referral process assists in the smooth delivery of this student support programme and there is a clear system of communication with parents relating to student progress and well-being. A counselling service is also provided by the guidance counsellor, in cooperation with the chaplain, and referrals to outside agencies are made through the principal when appropriate.

 

The school proposes to increase the level of service available to students and parents in future years by employing a second guidance counsellor to assist in the implementation of its comprehensive guidance plan.

 

A whole-school approach to the provision of pastoral care (PC) is adopted in Coláiste Éinde and the school strives to ensure that a caring and respectful environment is created in the school. A high level of teacher commitment to the care of students was noted during the evaluation and this is highly commendable.

 

The formal PC team is composed of the senior management team, chaplain, guidance counsellor, SPHE co-ordinator and a member of the learning-support team who is an RE teacher. The composition of the PC team may vary but always includes the core group outlined above. These teachers work very closely and effectively together and the extent of their positive impact was extensively reported during the evaluation.

 

The five year heads are the principal mediators of the school's pastoral care system. The current system was established in 1998 and each year head is responsible for a particular year group from entry to the school through to graduation. A formal meeting of the year heads is timetabled each week and this is chaired by the principal. The agenda for this meeting is set beforehand and includes items related to the implementation of the code of behaviour, issues to be raised and affirmation of individual or groups of students to be mentioned at the weekly assemblies with the individual year groups, standardising approach, and policy issues. The year heads also organise the parent-teacher meeting for their assigned year group, monitor attendance, organise the issuing of assessment results and reports to parents, chair assemblies, liaise with class tutors, liaise with parents during school time and at parent teacher meetings, meet class tutors formally every six to eight weeks, monitor attendance and progress of students in their year groups, organise and supervise lunchtime detention for students who have breached the code of behaviour, and many other duties. Teaching hours for all year heads are reduced and they have access to an office equipped with a telephone and a networked computer to assist them in the carrying out their year head duties. The professional, collegial and caring approach adopted by this group of senior teachers to the challenging role they perform is highly commended and their contribution to the care of students and the smooth running of the school is invaluable.

 

The school's code of discipline outlines the school's mission, aims, expectations, acceptable behaviour, expectations in respect of attendance, rewards, the role of parents/guardians and sanctions to be imposed when students are in breach of the code. The code is currently being reviewed, in consultation with the whole-school community. It was noted during the evaluation that the system of detention operated by the school as a sanction when students are in breach of the code was not reflected in the code of behaviour document. It is recommended therefore, that the document should be suitably amended to ensure that it accurately reflects current practice. It is further recommended that future reviews should be informed by the guidelines recently issued by the National Education Welfare Board in Developing a Code of Behaviour: Guidelines for Schools (2008).

 

Currently there are fourteen voluntary class tutors who contribute very significantly to the mediation of the pastoral care system in the school. The role of the class tutor is comprehensive, clearly defined and invaluable to the school's pastoral care system. The work of all these teachers is highly commended. Five of the year heads also act as class tutors. While this is highly commendable, and reflects their commitment to the pastoral nature of their work, it is suggested that the classes currently tutored by the year heads should be taken by other teachers who may not currently be involved in the school's formal pastoral care structure in order to ensure that the year heads are not over-extended because of their onerous workload.

 

The PC team meets at a scheduled time each week to discuss whole-school pastoral care issues, particular students in need of support and makes decisions about appropriate interventions. Members of the team work with individual students seek advice from appropriate outside agencies or organise referrals through the senior management team when appropriate. The PC team is also centrally involved in the development and review of policies that are particularly concerned with PC issues and in recent years have had significant involvement in the development of the school's PC, SPHE, RSE and Crisis Intervention policies. 

 

Both chaplain and guidance counsellor are available to meet individual students when required and plan to meet every student individually during the school year. The senior management team meets each student individually during the school year to discuss their progress and aspirations. Additionally, parents and subject teachers may refer students to the chaplain or guidance counsellor, who in turn liaise regularly with the school's senior management team to discuss pastoral care issues. All members of the pastoral care team are known to all students and contact with members of the team is often student-initiated.

 

The needs of Traveller students are addressed through the school's pastoral care system and additionally through the learning-support co-ordinator, the chaplain and through regular liaison with the VTTs. There is also close co-operation with year heads, class tutors, guidance counsellor and SNAs in respect of the pastoral care of these students.

 

The pastoral care team carries out its challenging role in a competent, caring and professional manner and seeks expert advice when appropriate. Its work is highly commendable and valued by the students, staff, senior management, board of management and parents.

 

The school's students' council is in its fifth year of operation and the current membership comprises students from all year groups with the exception of first year. Members are readily recognisable in their distinctive black uniform jumpers and they are highly commended for their willingness to undertake the responsibilities of representing the student body and of mediating student issues with the senior management team and the staff. The current membership comprises very articulate students, individually and collectively, who are focused on their role, understand their responsibilities as representatives of the student body, act as role models for other students, feel they have the power to effect change in the school and are highly valued by the senior management and staff and a credit to the school. A staff member acts as liaison teacher with the students' council in a voluntary capacity, co-ordinates the activities of the council and attends all council meetings. This teacher is highly commended for the work undertaken to ensure that students have an effective voice. The students' council holds formal meetings every fortnight in 'the parlour' (a meeting room just inside the front door) during lunchtime and formal records of agenda, issues discussed and decisions taken are recorded. Agenda are prepared in advance of meetings and students are invited to suggest items by placing suggestions in a box provided for that purpose in the reception office. Reports following meetings are made using a written report displayed on the students' council notice board and council members report to their own year group at the weekly assembly. Issues of concern for the students' council in the recent past included refurbishing students' toilet facilities, healthy option lunches in the canteen and lockers, among other issues, and the council has recently been asked by the senior management team for their input on the school's code of behaviour which is currently being reviewed. Many of these issues, including the refurbishment of the toilet facilities and the provision of healthy lunch options in the canteen have already been resolved as a direct result of the students' council representations to senior management. This is indicative of the influence of the students' council on the life of the school and of the esteem in which its views are held by the senior management team. While this system has been in place for a number of years and works effectively it does not fully reflect the democratic and representative structure envisaged in Student Councils: a voice for students (2002) because every year group is not represented. It is recommended therefore, that future councils should comprise students from every year group, including first years.  

 

Coláiste Éinde also has another very active group of thirty senior students, the senior student mentors. This group is comprised of equal numbers of boys and girls. These students liaise with two members of the pastoral care team, mentor five or six incoming first year students and play a very significant role in inducting these students into the life of the school. The mentoring process is intended to operate between September and Christmas but in practice it often continues throughout the course of the year. The willingness of these senior students to give of their free time to become involved in the mentoring and induction of incoming first year students into the life of Coláiste Éinde illustrates their commitment and loyalty to the school and is highly commendable.

 

A SDT post related to the development of students' learning has been developed in the school and as part of this process supervised after school study is organised. This evening study takes place in the school's spacious study hall and a nominal fee is charged for students who wish to avail of the service but sensitive systems are in place to ensure that the fee charged does not militate against students' participation in the study programme. During the first term two hours of study, five days per week is organised while the duration of the study period increases to three hours per day during terms two and three. In addition to this daily study, a week long study period is organised during the Easter period when State examination students are preparing for the summer examinations. A nominal fee is also charged for this service but students who enrol for one week are facilitated for a second week free of charge. In addition to these study programmes seminars on study skills are also provided for first, second and Leaving Certificate students and their parents. These provisions are intended to meet identified needs and contribute to raising academic standards and approximately one quarter of the student body is currently availing of this service. The organisation of supervised study programmes in the school is commended.

 

The school holds an award ceremony in the school's chapel at the end of each year and refreshments are provided in the canteen afterwards. This ceremony is designed to promote students' application, focus and dedication to their studies, participation in classroom and other activities and to promote positive behaviour. This is commended.

 

Religious education (RE) is an integral part of the school's curriculum and the spiritual development of students is addressed in an inclusive and comprehensive manner reflecting the characteristic spirit of the school. The work of the RE team also falls within the remit of the pastoral care structures in the school. The role of chaplain, it was reported, is exercised through personal contact with individual students, small and class groups, by providing liturgical opportunities throughout the school year, through expression of interest in recreational, cultural and outreach activities, and by responding to the pastoral needs of all members of the school's community. The chaplain and RE team work closely and effectively together to promote the spiritual, moral, social and personal development of students and to support the spiritual life of the whole school community. The work of these teachers is highly commended.

 

It is important to acknowledge and affirm the significant, if informal, role played by the non-teaching staff in the lives of the students in Coláiste Éinde. The contribution these staff members make to the pastoral care of students is highly commendable.

 

The senior management team and teachers are readily accessible to parents to discuss students' progress when required. All students have a school journal and, together with providing some useful information about the mission of the school and its code of behaviour, this journal is used as a means of communicating with parents. A colourful school newsletter is produced and issued twice during the school year and this helps to inform parents and members of the local community of activities taking place in the school, it celebrates students' sporting and other achievements, brings issues of importance to the notice of the extended school community, and ensures regular contact with parents and the local community. A calendar of events for the school year is also issued at the beginning of the school year and posted on the school's website. The school also has, as an AP post of responsibility, a public relations officer (PRO) who liaises with teachers, the local community and local media on a regular basis. This teacher is also involved in the organisation of the school's open night attended by prospective students and their parents. The school's efforts in the area of communication with parents and the local community are commended.

 

Coláiste Éinde has available to it the services of a home-school-community liaison (HSCL) co-ordinator because of its participation in the DEIS programme. This teacher works in four city schools: three primary schools on the eastern side of the city and Coláiste Éinde. The total enrolment of the three primary schools served is roughly equivalent to that of Coláiste Éinde but, because of the number of schools served, the HSCL co-ordinator can only visit the school on one day per week. Despite these constraints, the HSCL co-ordinator is in regular contact with the senior management team, has presented to the staff on the type of work being undertaken at a general staff meeting and is in regular contact with the year heads. The HSCL co-ordinator is a member of a local committee, with members from disadvantaged primary and post-primary schools on the western side of Galway city, which seeks to identify the nature of the difficulties experienced by students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The HSCL co-ordinator is also in regular contact with, and receives peer support from colleagues working in the city and attends the monthly cluster meeting held in another city school. The HSCL co-ordinator also has regular contact with the VTTs, the education welfare officer (EWO), the area implementation team for the Revitalising Areas by Planning Investment and Development (RAPID) programme, the Ballybane Resource Centre and Library, NEPS, health service executive (HSE) family and community services, drugs outreach and the western region drugs task force, Foróige, St. Vincent de Paul and the Galway City Partnership among others. Action plans have been developed to involve parents in a variety of activities including parenting courses and English language classes for parents for whom English is an additional language, among others. The HSCL co-ordinator provides an invaluable service within the limited capacity that her deployment to the school allows and all work undertaken is highly commended.

 

 

6.         Summary of findings and recommendations for further development

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

·         The board of management of Coláiste Éinde is carrying out its statutory responsibilities appropriately and in a spirit of generosity and service to the school community.

·         The parents' association is active and supportive of the work of the school.

·         The school's senior management team provides excellent leadership, management and support to the entire school community.

·         Members of the school's in-school management team, individually and collectively, carry out their duties effectively.

·         A collaborative and inclusive planning process is in operation and comprehensive school planning documentation has been developed.

·         The school's curriculum is designed to reflect its commitment to fulfilling its mission statement.

·         Students have a wide range of extra-curricular activities available to them and the level of voluntary involvement and support for these activities by staff is evidence of the value placed on these activities by the school community.

·         The school has a dedicated and committed teaching and support staff.

·         Very good teaching was observed in all subject areas inspected during the evaluation.

·         The quality of support for students provided by the school and noted during the evaluation was of a high standard.

 

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

 

·         Training of parents' representatives should be facilitated within the lifetime of the current board of management.

·         A formal review, based on an identification of the current needs of the school by the whole-school community, should be initiated in order to ensure that the ISM system continues to meet the changing needs of the school.

·         The school's code of behaviour should be suitably amended to ensure that it accurately reflects current practices.

·         A policy on inclusion, relating to the admission, enrolment and participation of students from minority groups and disadvantaged backgrounds, and those for whom English is an additional language should be developed separately or for inclusion in current policies. 

·         All resources allocated to support students for whom English is an additional language should be fully utilised for the purpose for which they were allocated.

 

 

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.

 

 

7.         Related subject inspection reports

 

The following related Subject Inspection reports are available:

·         Subject Inspection of Chemistry – 28 April 2008

·         Subject Inspection of Gaeilge – 28-29 April 2008

·         Subject Inspection of Geography – 29 April 2008

·         Subject Inspection of Home Economics - 30 April 2008

·         Subject Inspection of Music – 10 March 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published November 2008