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An Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna Department of Education and Skills

Whole School Evaluation

REPORT St Mary’s National School, Lecaun, Co Leitrim Uimhir rolla: 18329 M

Date of inspection: 20 April 2012


1.

Introduction

St Mary’s National School is under the patronage of the Bishop of Kilmore. There are thirty five pupils enrolled in this well run two-teacher school. Enrolment figures are stable and pupils’ attendance levels are good. 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.

2.

Summary of Findings and Recommendations for Further Development

The following are the main strengths of the work of the school: 

The board of management is commended for its work in effectively supporting the school in all facets of school life.

The principal has a pivotal and highly effective role in leading learning.

Very good quality teaching contributes to the high standards that are being achieved by many pupils in the school.

The quality of teaching and learning in English, Mathematics and Geography is very good.

The pupils are commended for the respect and courtesy they display and for their high levels of enthusiasm for and engagement in learning.

The following main recommendations are made:

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Higher standards in some aspects of the teaching and learning of Irish should be sought.

An additional focus should be placed on poetry.

It is recommended that additional in-class support be provided in the context of support teaching.


3.

Quality of School Management 

The quality of the work of the board of management is very good. A range of responsibilities is shared among board members and they are committed to the development of the school. Board meetings involve consideration and ratification of curriculum plans and organisational policies. The board should now ensure that a window is placed in the door of the room currently used for learning support. The board could also consider ways in which the playing field could be modified.

The school is led very effectively by a diligent and committed principal. His focused approach to organisation and his commitment to high standards ensure that the school operates efficiently and that a very orderly, challenging and affirmative learning environment is in place. Most records are meticulously maintained and whole school planning is being been led with purpose. The collation and provision of individual files in respect of every pupil in the school is most praiseworthy.

A wide range of teaching and learning resources is used very effectively to support pupils’ learning. The skilful use of information and communication technology (ICT) as a learning tool is a particular strength of the school.

The school communicates regularly with its parent community. Parent-teacher meetings and a written progress report inform parents of their children’s progress. The school website could now be further extended to include a section for and by parents. The parents’ association assists with fundraising activities and in organising a range of school events, including sporting and Drama events, parent activities and the production of Christmas cards and a school calendar. The parents’ representatives expressed their satisfaction with the achievement of pupils in the school. This was borne out by the response to questionnaires distributed to parents as part of the evaluation. The very open and consultative manner in which parents are engaged in the design and ongoing review of individual education plans is highly commended.

There is highly effective management of pupils at all class levels. Pupils conduct themselves in an exemplary manner and are at all times courteous, respectful and friendly.

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Quality of School Planning and School Self-evaluation

The quality of school planning is very good. Organisational policies are clear and have a positive impact on school life. Curriculum plans delineate appropriate and challenging content and skills between class levels.

Formal school self-review is at an early stage of development at this stage, but all parties in the school are constantly reflecting on the impact of revised policies and new practices on pupils’ learning.

The quality of teachers’ planning is very good; it explicitly encompasses integration, linkage and differentiation. Multi-grade class settings are planned for and subsequently managed effectively.


5. 

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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.

Quality of Teaching, Learning and Pupil Achievement Baineann caighdeán sásúil ar an iomlán le múineadh agus le foghlaim na Gaeilge. Baintear leas éifeachtach as áiseanna. Múintear an teanga labhartha le fuinneamh agus le tairbhe. D’ainneoin sin, is beag líofachta a bhaineann cuid mhaith de na daltaí amach lasmuigh de réimse na gceachtanna a mhúintear. Moltar a thuilleadh drámaíochta a úsáid le go mbeidh deiseanna líonmhara fíorchumarsáideacha ag na daltaí. Níor mhiste béim sa bhreis a chur ar chruthú na teanga. Tá úsáid nadúrtha na Gaeilge i measc na foirne i seomra na múinteoirí le moladh go mór. Moltar anois an Ghaeilge a leathnú tríd an scoil mar theanga rang-bhainistíochta. Baineann céatadán áirithe de na daltaí líofacht inmholta amach sa léitheoireacht idir fhoghraíocht, thuiscint agus chruinneas. Is fiú taithí níos leithne léitheoireachta a thabhairt do na daltaí trí fhíorleabhar a chur ar fáil dóibh. Tá caighdeán sásúil á bhaint amach ag na daltaí sa scríbhneoireacht, ach moltar deiseanna saor-chumadóireachta a leathnú a thuilleadh. In general, a satisfactory standard of teaching and learning in Irish is noted. Effective use is made of resources. Oral language is taught with energy and to good effect. In spite of this, many pupils acquire little fluency outside the range of the lessons taught. More Drama should be used so that pupils have many opportunities for real communication. More emphasis should be placed on the construction of language. The natural use of Irish by the teachers in the staff room is commended. The use of Irish as a classroommanagement strategy should now be extended. A proportion of pupils acquire fluency in reading, in terms of phonology, understanding and precision. It is recommended that pupils' reading experience be expanded by using real books. Pupils achieve a satisfactory standard of writing, but their opportunities for creative writing should be broadened.

Teaching and learning of English is very good. Oral language is very well developed through a range of stimulating, creative and collaborative teaching approaches, using many effective resources. Additional attention needs to be placed on the teaching and learning of poetry. Overall, standards in reading are very good. Many pupils display very good mastery of reading practices, they read very fluently and use appropriate expression and pace. Classroom texts are well used and good emphasis is placed on extending the range of reading books read in each class level. A good standard of writing across a wide range of genres is noted. There is, however, a need to extend the independent writing of children.

In the mathematics lessons observed, good quality teaching and learning in particular aspects of Mathematics was in evidence. Learning activities were well structured and discussion was a noteworthy feature of these lessons. Pupils’ thinking skills are well developed and many pupils demonstrate a good understanding and recall of a range of strategies and mathematical procedures. A whole-school approach to the teaching and acquisition of mathematical language is in place. Real-life problems are effectively used as a context to apply Mathematics. The skilful use of ICT as a teaching resource is


6. 

acknowledged. Very good use of concrete mathematical resources by the pupils was noted in the junior section. The quality of overall teaching, learning and pupil achievement in Geography is of the highest standard. The children respond very positively and are enthusiastic about the topics they have studied. Lessons are appropriately focused, sufficiently challenging and structured correctly. The regular use of Aertel headlines to stimulate interest in Geography in the senior section is commended. Pupils’ attainment levels are very good: pupils show a particularly deep knowledge of topics related to local Geography. The significant role of the principal in stimulating pupils’ interest in this area and his expertise in local history and knowledge of local place names are acknowledged. A very tangible seed of awareness of environmental issues is being sown in this school and all are to be commended for their commitment to the building of social and environmental consciousness, as evidenced in the range of gardening and environmental projects in which pupils are involved to good effect. Overall, the quality of teaching and learning is very good. Lessons are well paced and involve active learning. Teaching is relevant to pupils' experiences and needs. An emphasis is placed on the development of thinking and problem-solving skills. Effective and creative use is made of all available resources to explain and reinforce concepts. A good balance is achieved between whole-class teaching and the active involvement of pupils in the learning process. A greater focus on the outcomes of teaching and learning in oral Irish will improve attainment in this area.

Quality of Support for Pupils The quality of support for pupils with special educational needs is very good. Highly targeted support and consistent affirmation characterise this support. Teacher observation, standardised assessment and diagnostic testing are used in a highly effective manner to identify pupils’ learning needs. Targets are very clearly set and reviewed regularly. Highly effective collaboration with parents and relevant external agencies and personnel is noted. Lesson activities meet pupils’ needs and are pitched at an appropriate level. Teaching is affirming and well paced. A high level of collaboration between mainstream class teachers and the two support teachers who deliver this service is evident. Early intervention work is very effective. Most support teaching is withdrawal-based and the development of in-class support is recommended to optimise learning experiences for pupils. Space is somewhat restricted in the school and the staff room doubles as a learning support/resource room. Although this arrangement works well on a practical basis, dedicated accommodation for support teaching would be preferable.

Published October 2012

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Whole School Evaluation - St. Mary's National School, Leckaun  

The Whole School Evaluation (WSE) took place on week beginning April 2012. Our inspector was Marina Ní Threasaigh, Primary Divisional Inspec...

Whole School Evaluation - St. Mary's National School, Leckaun  

The Whole School Evaluation (WSE) took place on week beginning April 2012. Our inspector was Marina Ní Threasaigh, Primary Divisional Inspec...

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