Introduction: The focus of the evaluation: A school self-evaluation of teaching and learning in Four Masters National School was undertaken during the period October 2012 – May 2013. During the evaluation, teaching and learning in Maths were evaluated. This is a report on the findings of the evaluation. School context: The school was established in 1847, although it has only been in the present building since 1985. The school has a Catholic ethos but we welcome pupils from all or no religious backgrounds. Our school logos are “Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí” and “Ní neart go cur le chéile”. We believe that the best results come from parents and teachers working together. The school has grown rapidly in recent years. It has almost doubled in size i.e. pupil numbers and actual physical size since 1999. Enrolment in that year was one hundred and forty seven; today it is two hundred and sixty eight. The school has a staff of nine mainstream teachers, three full time SEN teachers, one part-time SEN teacher and four full time Special Needs assistants and a part-time secretary, caretaker and cleaner. The findings: (a) Findings from Pupil Questionnaire distributed to and completed by two hundred and fifty five of our two hundred and sixty eight pupils. 81% of our pupils said they liked Maths. 49% of our pupils said they would like to spend more time in school learning Maths. 36% of pupils found Maths problems difficult and a further 25% were undecided as to how they felt about them. 74 % of pupils felt they were good at Maths overall. 67% said they play Maths games in school on computer/interactive whiteboard. 73% said they could do homework unaided. It is clear from the above that our pupils have a positive attitude towards Maths but that may find Maths problems challenging. (b) Findings from Parent Questionnaire (129 Questionnaires were distributed to parents of Infants, Second, Fourth and Sixth – 90 were returned completed i.e. 70%). 61% agreed that they get good information from the school about how their child/children are doing in Maths. 86% believe their child likes Maths. 67% believe their child finds Maths problems easy. 73% believe that Maths their child is learning is at right level. 34% said their child needs regular help with homework in Maths. It is clear from parental answers that overall parents are happy with Maths teaching and learning in school but that more communication between school and home regarding teaching and learning in the subject is needed. Also more differentiation regarding Maths homework is desirable. (c) Findings from Teacher Questionnaire: (13 distributed – 11 returned). All teachers said they enjoy teaching Maths. 82% said they had sufficient resources to teach Maths effectively. 82% said they use ICT for teaching and learning in Maths. 82% were confident that they effectively teach all six Maths strands of curriculum. 64% were confident that they develop pupils’ problem solving skills. 73% were confident that they develop all Mathematical skills outlined in curriculum. 73% were happy that they cater well for pupils with Special Education Needs in Maths classes. 45% were happy that they cater well for pupils with very good Mathematical ability in Maths classes. 82% were satisfied that they base their Maths teaching on curriculum rather than slavishly following textbook. It is clear from teacher responses that teachers are enthusiastic and largely confident regarding teaching and learning in Maths but that they recognised the need to develop pupils’ Maths problem solving skills and also to cater more effectively for pupils who have high ability in Maths. (d) Findings from analysis of Drumcondra Maths Tests over past three school years i.e. 2009/2010; 2010/2011; 2011/2012. 2009/2010 Sten 1-3 Sten 4 Sten 5-6 Sten 7 Sten 8-10 5.8% 9.4% 30% 17% 35.8%
2011/2012 Sten 1-3 Sten 4 Sten 5-6 Sten 7 Sten 8-10 7.2% 6.7% 30.2% 14.5% 41.1% It is clear from examining test results that our pupils are performing well above the national norm in standardised tests of Maths. (e) Findings regarding suggestions from parents as to how school could help parents to help their children with Maths. Programme given to parents at start of school year with some methodologies explained. More feedback on progress or lack of same. Homework Journal for Junior Classes to help with communication between home and school. Maths classes for parents. Suggestions from parents as to how to make Maths more fun for pupils: - Use games and songs - Maths challenges. - Do functional, everyday Maths. (f) Findings from Pupil Questionnaire regarding- (1) What pupils like doing most in Maths? - Computation - Mental Maths, writing answers on little white boards. - Time, Shapes and Measures. (2) What they find difficult - - Subtraction in junior classes. - Division in middle and senior classes. - Multiplication in middle and senior classes. - Time in all classes. - Problems in all classes. Summary of school self-evaluation findings: Our school has strengths in the following areas: Pupils, parents and staff have very positive attitudes towards teaching and learning in Maths. The Maths attainments of our pupils are well above the national average on standardised tests administered over the past three school years and there has been an improvement year on year over the last three years. Staff is using modern methodologies e.g. interactive whiteboard more and more in their teaching of Maths. The following areas are prioritised for improvement. Problem solving skills of the pupils throughout the school. School / Parent communication regarding teaching of Maths. Differentiation of Homework for more and less able pupils. A more unified approach regarding Maths language and methodologies used in teaching of Maths. The following legislative and regulatory requirements need to be reviewed. (a) Our Anti-Bullying Policy – cyber bullying needs to be included in the policy document. (b) Our Special Education Needs Policy needs updating, especially in relation to areas like language teaching, administration and correction of standardised tests and checklists/tests for Junior pupils.