Whole School Evaluations (WSEs) are carried out in primary and post-primary schools. During these inspections, an inspector from the Department of Education evaluates the quality of the school management and leadership, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and the school’s own planning and self-review. A whole school evaluation (WSE) was undertaken in our school in January of this year, and this is the report that was published in June.
Whole School Evaluation (WSE) Report
An Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna
Department of Education and Skills
Whole School Evaluation
Management, Leadership and Learning
St Nicholas’ Parochial School
Uimhir rolla: 16750J
Date of inspection: 16 January 2014
Whole-School Evaluation – Management, Leadership and Learning Report
A Whole-School Evaluation – Management, Leadership and Learning (WSE – MLL) was undertaken in St Nicholas’ Parochial School in January 2014. This report is based on a selection of lessons observed in a range of learning settings in the school, interaction with pupils and review of their work, meetings with the principal and with board and parent representatives, completed parent and pupil questionnaires, and a selection of school documents. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of
St Nicholas’ Parochial School is located in the heart of Galway City. It operates under the patronage of the Church of Ireland Bishop of Tuam, Kilalla and Achonry, welcoming pupils from diverse cultural and faith backgrounds. At the time of the evaluation, the school had ninety pupils and the staff comprised a teaching principal, three mainstream teachers, a full-time learning-support teacher, a part-time resource teacher, two special needs assistants, a secretary and a cleaner.
The school has strengths in the following areas:
· There is a very friendly, caring atmosphere in the school. A strong culture of teamwork and collaborative decision making pertains among the staff.
· Pupils achieve high standards in all curricular areas.Their oral communication skills and work presentation skills are particularly well developed.
· The school has a committed, effective board of management and a very supportive parent body.
The following main recommendations are made:
· Class timetables should be reviewed in order to ensure appropriate minimum time allocations for each curricular area.
· The school plan in Irish should be developed to enhance continuity and progression.
· Consideration should be given to re-establishing the Parents’ Association.
1. The learning achievements of pupils
· The overall learning achievements of the pupils are of a high standard. Pupils engage with interest and enthusiasm in all classroom activities. They display very good communication skills and present their written work with a commendable level of care and attention. They are very proficient in the use of technology and digital media to research information, to make films and to illustrate and present their work.
· The pupils’ literacy skills are well developed. In English, pupils read with confidence, fluency, clarity and expression. They enjoy reciting poetry and demonstrate a deep appreciation and understanding of this genre of literature. Sa Ghaeilge, foghlaimíonn na
daltaí go leor nathanna saibhre cainte, raon foclóra bunaithe ar thopaicí áirithe agus cnuasach breá dánta agus amhrán. Chun forchéimniú a threorú agus a threisiú, b’fhiú an clár gramadaí agus réimse na teanga do gach rangleibhéal a shoiléiriú sa phlean scoile.
(In Irish, pupils learn many rich idioms of speech, a range of vocabulary based on certain topics and a lovely collection of poems and songs. To guide and strengthen progression, the grammar programme and the range of language for each class level should be clarified in the school plan.)
· Pupils with learning difficulties or special education needs are benefitting from the support teaching in the school. Specific learning targets for individual pupils are formulated based on identified needs. Progress in achieving these targets is very carefully monitored.
· Pupils enhance their knowledge, skills, health and well-being through engagement in a broad range of co-curricular and extra curricular activities spanning the Arts, Sciences and Physical Education. Pupils also participate in local cultural and religious activities and in national initiatives such the Green Schools, the Active Schools and the Discover Science programmes.
2. Quality of teaching
· The overall quality of teaching is very good. Classroom practice throughout the school indicates that the teachers have internalised the principles of the curriculum and have a thorough knowledge of the curriculum for their pupils. Lesson content is creatively
presented and astutely linked and integrated. Group work and pair work are regularly organised. Class time tables should now be reviewed and cognisance taken of the suggested timeframes for the different curricular areas and the increased time allocation
for literacy and numeracy as outlined in Circular 0056/2011.
· The teachers are energetic, enthusiastic and highly committed to providing interesting, challenging and enjoyable educational experiences. Commendable emphasis is placed on developing higher-order thinking skills, on enabling pupils learn how to learn and on encouraging pupils to discuss, question, express ideas and voice opinions. Hands-on activity and real-life problem solving are notable facets of the work in numeracy.
· Praiseworthy attention is given to creating attractive, stimulating learning environments that support teaching across the curriculum. There is a need to continue upgrading the school’s technological resources and to augment reading materials in Irish.
· Working collaboratively, the mainstream, learning-support and resource teachers organise supplementary teaching on a withdrawal basis and facilitate in-class support, teamteaching and early intervention in English. The teaching in all settings is carefully
differentiated and access to the curriculum is supported very effectively by the work of the special needs assistants. The teachers should also consider organising early intervention in Mathematics.
3. Support for pupils’ well-being
· The pupils are very well managed and present as outgoing, cooperative, friendly and confident. They thrive and develop in the many informal learning contexts created during the school day. The teachers have high expectations for the pupils and the pupils respond
accordingly, striving for high standards in everything they do.
· The school welcomes and recognises diversity. School assemblies are regularly organised and reflect the school’s Christian ethos while celebrating the diversity of its pupil population. School resources are managed with care, thought and sensitivity in order to facilitate full engagement in all school activities.
· Parents are very supportive of the school and are involved in many aspects of school life. They generously share their technological, artistic, linguistic, sporting and gardening expertise with the staff and pupils.
· 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.
4. Leadership and Management
· The board of management works in an effective manner to oversee the provision in the school. It manages finances very carefully, engages actively in policy formulation and places strong emphasis on maintaining good communication with the staff and parent body. The board should formulate an action plan setting out its priorities and the timeframes for
its future work.
· Parents are involved to some extent in the school planning process. Consideration should be given to re-establishing the parents’ association to facilitate further parental involvement in the life of the school and in policy development in particular.
· The in-school management team comprises the principal and deputy principal. The principal very successfully fosters a school culture of teamwork and collective decision making. She is very ably supported in this by the deputy principal. It is commendable that
other staff members also share in carrying out a range of activities which supports the smooth running of the school.
5. School Self-evaluation
· The school has focussed school self-evaluation initially on developing the pupils’ literacy skills. A self-evaluation report and an improvement plan have been drafted and will be issued to the school community before the end of the school year. Clear goals have been set and implementation of the agreed teaching and learning strategies has commenced.
The school’s capacity to develop further is very good.
Published June 2014
SCHOOL RESPONSE TO THE REPORT
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1 Observations on the content of the inspection report
The Board of Management of St Nicholas’ Parochial School acknowledges receipt of the Inspection Report. The Board welcomes the Report’s findings, highlighting as they do the high standards of teaching, learning, planning and self-evaluation at the School. These are a most reassuring testimony to the commitment, competence and professionalism of the entire staff of the School.
The Board wishes in particular to acknowledge the leadership and management skills of the Principal as well as the dedication of the Teachers as exemplified by the Report’s findings on the teamwork of the staff. The support and cooperation of the ancillary staff has also contributed most strongly to the effective running of the School. The Board notes with satisfaction the particular emphasis in the Inspector’s Report on the development of the pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills and also the Inspector’s findings about the enthusiastic work ethic of the pupils during her visit. The Board also believes that, while the Report reflects a particular snapshot in
time, when set within the broader landscape of primary education it may also be viewed as a deserved tribute to and clear validation of the staff’s strategy for the School’s development.
Area 2 Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection.
The findings and recommendations as set out in the Report will now be incorporated into the ongoing self-evaluation process and will offer a guide and motivation in the School’s continuing pursuit of excellence. Specifically, the Board has formalized an action plan, chomh maith le mionathruithe a dhéanamh sa phlean Gaeilge don Scoil, and will also encourage the reestablishment of a Parent Association. The Board also assures the staff of its continued support in their work to achieve and maintain a child-centred School with a secure, stimulating and supportive environment in which cultural diversity is cherished and respected.