An Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna Department of Education and Skills
Whole School Evaluation Management, Leadership and Learning
REPORT Ainm na scoile / School name Four Masters National School Seoladh na scoile / School address Kinlough County Leitrim Uimhir rolla / Roll number 20079E
Date of Evaluation: 07 October 2016
SCHOOL CONTEXT Four Master’s National School is a co-educational primary school located in Kinlough, County Leitrim. The school is under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Kilmore. Currently, there are 267 pupils enrolled across ten classrooms. Attendance levels are very good. SUMMARY OF MAIN FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: FINDINGS • The overall quality of learning in numeracy and literacy is very good. • The quality of teaching is very good overall; teachers prepare carefully for lessons, making effective and purposeful use of a wide range of teaching methodologies. • Teachers provide very clear written outlines of the lesson content they wish to cover; in some instances, such planning should make greater provision for the range of pupils’ abilities and particular needs. • The learning achievement of pupils are very good; they undertake their work in an enthusiastic and industrious manner and present it very well. • School leadership is very effective overall and the board of management and parents provide very valuable support to the school. • The quality of support for pupils’ well-being is very good. • Provision for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) is of a high standard and delivered in a very stimulating and affirming manner; such provision involves both in-class and withdrawal approaches, with scope for greater provision in the junior section of the school.
RECOMMENDATIONS • In-class support approaches should focus on the further development of early-intervention initiatives. • Teachers’ short-term planning should make greater provision for differentiation practices.
DETAILED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 1. THE LEARNING ACHIEVEMENTS OF PUPILS • The overall learning achievements of pupils are very good. They engage enthusiastically in learning activities, showing pride and industriousness in their approach to work. Written work is presented to a very high standard. Pupils’ work across the various curricular areas evaluated indicates systematic, sequential and appropriate progress. High-quality provision is in place for the development of pupils’ skills and knowledge. Teachers place commendable emphasis on Social Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) and song singing.
• The overall quality of learning outcomes in Mathematics is very good. Teachers make very good use of collaborative learning, resources, discussion and hands-on activities to introduce and develop concepts. The concerted and strategic approach to developing pupils’ problem-solving skills is successful in terms of skill and confidence development. In a few instances, drill and practice computational exercises should be developed by contextualising them within problem-solving scenarios.
• The overall quality of learning outcomes in English is very good. High-quality provision is in place for the development of the pupils’ oral language skills. Pupils are making very good progress in reading. Their phonological awareness and comprehension skills are developed progressively. There is scope to provide pupils with a wider variety of differentiated supplementary texts. Pupils write very capably across a range of genres. They display a keen interest in poetry. It is recommended that the school develop an information and communication technology (ICT) policy, to support the development of pupils’ digital literacy.
• Tá cailíocht na foghlama sa Ghaeilge go hard. Baineann na hoidí úsáid éifeachtach as raon leathan fearais agus cluichí chun suim na ndaltaí a mhúscailt agus a choimeád. Cuirtear béim inmholta ar amhráin agus ar fhilíocht. Glacann na daltaí páirt go fonnmhar sna ceachtanna. Léann siad agus scríobhann siad go cumasach. Baineann na hoidí úsáid an–éifeachtach as comhrá neamhfhoirmiúil. Tá cumas labhartha na ndaltaí go maith, le sár- chaighdéan le sonrú i gcomthéacsanna áirithe. Ba chóir níos mó deiseanna a thabhairt do na daltaí chun foclóir nua a chleachtadh agus eispéiris níos leithne a sholáthar dóibh maidir le hábhair léitheoireachta. The quality of pupils’ learning in Irish is high. The teachers make effective use of a wide range of resources and games to awaken and maintain the pupils’ interest. Commendable emphasis is placed on songs and poetry. The pupils participate enthusiastically in lessons. They read and write capably. Teachers make very effective use of informal Irish. Pupils’ speaking ability is good, with some excellent standards observed in certain contexts. Pupils should be given more opportunities to practise new vocabulary and should be given a wider experience in relation to reading material.
2. QUALITY OF TEACHING • The overall quality of teaching is very good. Teachers prepare carefully for their lessons, with a very commendable range of teacher-designed resources and learning activities in evidence. Lessons have a very good structure, with teachers making effective use of a range of teaching methodologies. Pupils are provided with active and engaging learning experiences. Teachers’ planning makes good provision for the specific description of content to be covered. In some instances, there is scope for the more specific delineation of differentiation practices in short-term planning. In questionnaires administered as part of the evaluation, all teachers indicated that there is a good atmosphere in the school and that their views are valued in the decision- making process.
• Good assessment practices are evident in the school. Pupils’ work is regularly corrected and they are provided with good formative feedback. Most teachers make very effective use of assessment-for-learning approaches including peer and pupil self-assessment. There is scope to extend this good practice and to develop a more coherent whole-school approach to assessment.
• Support for pupils with SEN is of a high standard. The school is proactive in assessing pupils' learning needs and in carefully developing individual programmes of work which involve all the relevant stakeholders. Lessons are very well prepared, with suitable use of resources and hands-on activities. Pupils partake enthusiastically in learning activities which are tailored to their individual needs. Provision for learning-support is delivered through a balance of in-class and withdrawal approaches. There is scope to further develop in-class support approaches in the junior section of the school.
3. SUPPORT FOR PUPILS’ WELL-BEING • The quality of support for pupils’ well-being is very good. The school effectively sets about creating a warm and holistic learning experience for them. Commendable initiatives in this regard include the Green Schools Programme projects, gardening activities, the development of a pupil council and a variety of peer-mentoring and buddy systems. Teachers interact with pupils in a very warm, respectful and supportive manner. Pupils present as very content and focused in their learning. All pupils who completed a questionnaire indicated that they felt safe in their class.
4. LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
• The overall quality of leadership and management is very good. The quality of the work of the board of management is very good. The board meets regularly. Various duties are assigned to board members. Minutes of all meetings are maintained with school accounts being certified annually. The board is successful in promoting and developing a well-resourced and inclusive school. Communication between the board and the school community is very good. While the board provides regular newsletters to parents, it is recommended that it considers issuing an annual report on the work of the school to parents.
• The principal and in-school management team (ISM) work effectively and collaboratively to promote a very nurturing and focused learning environment. The current leadership is focused on the effective implementation and reflective review of curricular and organisational initiatives; such work is commendable. The work of the recently appointed school principal is very good. He actively encourages and empowers staff to engage with teaching and learning at the highest levels through the facilitation of pedagogical discourse and the promotion of various educational initiatives. Following recent reviews of leadership responsibilities, members of the ISM team intend to take on a more purposeful curricular leadership remit.
• School communication is very good. Using a range of approaches, the school community is informed regularly of school activity. The school is supported effectively by an active parents’ association. In responses to questionnaires, all parents agreed that there is a good atmosphere in the school.
•Confirmation was provided that the board of management has formally adopted the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools without modification and that the school is compliant with the requirements of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
5. SCHOOL SELF-EVALUATION • Progress in respect of school self-evaluation (SSE) is commendable. The school staff and principal work collaboratively and reflectively to promote the SSE process. School improvement plans for literacy and numeracy have been shared with the school community, with practical and well-grounded actions underpinning these plans. Commendable emphasis is placed on success criteria.
CONCLUSION The school’s capacity to develop further is very good. The school’s culture, coupled with its reflective focus on practical learning experiences, indicate potential for continuous improvement.
Appendix School response to the report Submitted by the Board of Management
Part A: Observations on the content of the inspection report The Board of Management is particularly pleased that the inspection team recognised and affirmed the excellent work ethic and commitment of both management and staff, the high quality of teaching, learning and pupil achievement, as well as the welcoming and inclusive nature of our school. The Board believes that the report is a tribute to the commitment and dedication of the school staff, parents, pupils and board members both present and past.
Part B: Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection The Board of Management and staff welcome and acknowledge the recommendations of the inspection. These are being systematically addressed as part of our ongoing process of continuous improvement.