Castlecuffe N.S.

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School Self-Evaluation

Information for Parents

School Self-Evaluation Report

1. Introduction

The focus of the evaluation
A school self-evaluation of teaching and learning in Castlecuffe N.S. was undertaken during the period September 2012 to April 2014. During the evaluation, teaching and learning in the following curriculum areas were evaluated:

Literacy (English in English medium schools; Irish and English in Irish medium schools)

This is a report on the findings of the evaluation.

School context
Castlecuffe N.S. is a rural co-educational vertical school operating under the patronage of the Catholic Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. Our school currently has three mainstream teachers, 1 full-time resource teacher and a shared learning support teacher who is based in another school but attends this school for 15 hours per week, including travel time. It was decided to adjust our opening/closing times to match other local schools in September 2013, in order to allow maximum use of shared learning support time. Current enrolment is 76 pupils, 38 boys and 38 girls and in the evaluation period, pupils were split into classrooms as follows:

2012/13 Infants and First Class 23 2013/14 Infants 25

2nd, 3, 4 Classes: 26 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Classes: 27

5th and 6th Classes: 23 5th and 6th Classes: 24

In 2013/14 19 children accessed resource or learning support.

2. The findings

Following initial training for principals based on the draft Self-Evaluation Guidelines it was decided to focus on Literacy as our first subject for School Self-Evaluation, with initial examination of numeracy to begin in the second year. As this is our first Self-Evaluation Report therefore, the findings listed below are in relation to Literacy only.

Attainment of curriculum objectives:
Attainment trends: From June 2011, the teachers had been examining attainment trends in standardised tests. In 2011 there was a lower percentage of pupils scoring below the 16 percentile than normal distribution. Our aim is to continue to push our graph further to the right so that the number of pupils scoring in the 51 to 84 percentile band will be increased.
Pupils at risk of underachieving are attaining well, in accordance with their ability.

Attitudes and dispositions: 94% of parent respondents believe that their child likes reading while 100% agree that their child is doing well in reading at their level. The majority of parents find the literacy initiatives in use in our school helpful or very helpful. The majority of parents recognise the importance of listening skills, comprehension skills, oral language skills, reading fluency and writing skills in the overall literacy development of their child. 87% of parents agree that they receive good information from the school about how their child is doing in English and 60% stated that they did not require further information on oral language strategies.

Pupils in 2, 3 and 4 class were surveyed. The majority said they like reading and feel that they are good readers.

Teachers feel that the school has a print rich environment and the teaching of sight vocabulary is working well. A good phonological and phonics programme was devised by the teachers and is implemented by all. We have considerable strengths in reading fluency but teachers would like further training on miscue analysis for children who are having difficulty reading fluently. With regard to comprehension skills, all teachers report that children engage in listening comprehension activities and comprehension skills are developed using a combined approach. However the following activities were identified as needing attention:
oral language activities in the development of comprehension skills
explicit teaching of comprehension skills and strategies which are appropriate for both fictional and factual texts
Our school English plan, although comprehensive in most areas, needs a more developed comprehension plan.
Overall pupils and parents are happy that we have a good selection of independent reading material. We have just introduced ‘Read at Home’ from 2 class to 6 in 2013/14 and have bought more picture books for developing comprehension skills. However teachers have identified a need to expand our collection of books for guided/paired reading and our class libraries still need to be monitored and updated on a regular basis to ensure maximum motivation to read.

Learning environment: A safe, stimulating learning environment is provided for the pupils in this school. All sections of the building are organised and well maintained. Classrooms are appropriately laid out, well resourced and orderly and all pupils have access to appropriate learning settings. There is a print-rich environment and it is decorated with displays of pupils work. Pupils have access to ICT to support their learning. Teachers are aware of and follow the National Child Protection Guidelines.
Pupils’ engagement in learning: pupils at all class levels are enabled to engage actively in their learning. They are given purposeful and frequent opportunities to engage in independent learning and collaborative learning. They are given additional challenges or support as needed.
Learning to learn: pupils are helped to reflect on their work and are purposefully involved in monitoring their own progress in learning. We are developing this further through the introduction of Self-Assessment Learning Folders which we are piloting throughout the school in 2013/2014.
Preparation for teaching: teachers are well prepared in terms of practical and written planning for the delivery of the curriculum through the lessons they teach. All teachers prepare short-term and long-term plans and use their written plans to guide teaching and learning. Necessary and relevant resources materials and equipment are identified in advance of lessons and are available for pupils and teachers during the lessons.
Teaching approaches: lessons are guided by expected learning outcomes that are curriculum linked and are shared with the pupils. Attention is given to the development and application of knowledge and skills including ICT and to the development of positive attitudes towards learning. The varying needs, abilities, interests and experience of pupils are catered for in the course of lessons through the use of differentiation.
Management of pupils: The management of pupils during learning and routine activities is effective. A positive code of behaviour including an anti-bullying policy, which complies with the requirements of the Equal Status Acts (2000-2011), is implemented in a fair and consistent way. The teachers have high but realistic expectations of the pupils in relation to their behaviour and learning and they communicate these to them. Appropriate opportunities for active, independent and collaborative learning are provided. Pupils’ contributions and questions are welcome in the classroom. Their views and opinions are listened to in accordance with their age and maturity and taken into account in the organisation of classroom activities and in the devising of relevant policies. The school is inclusive and treats all pupils equitably and fairly.
Assessment: The school has a written policy on assessing and reporting on pupils’ progress and this takes account of curriculum and NCCA guidelines. Pupil’s work, including non-written work and homework is regularly monitored and corrected. Standardised tests are conducted in May for each class from 1 class upwards and meaningful feedback on progress is communicated to pupils and parents at suitable intervals. Teachers feel more attention needs to be given to the selection of appropriate and time-efficient assessment tools for literacy.

3. Progress made on previously-identified improvement targets
As this is our first report there are no previously identified targets, however since this process began:
Teachers have attended courses on comprehension and guided reading and have kept up-to-date on the literacy link information.
Teachers have embarked on the ‘Building Bridges’ comprehension programme throughout the school.
The Aistear programme has been introduced at infant level.
Teachers have begun to encourage pupils to self-evaluate using Self-Assessment Learning Folders.

4. Summary of school self-evaluation findings

4.1 Our school has strengths in the following areas:

Teacher preparation and willingness to reflect, collaborate and attend appropriate training, which is now mostly held outside of school hours..
Learning Environment
Management of Pupils

4.2 The following areas are prioritised for improvement:

Development of a structured comprehension programme for our English Plan
Comprehension to be improved through the development of vocabulary and use of strategies.
A more structured and thorough approach to assessment of individual pupils in the area of Literacy.
Phased broadening of our literacy resources (particularly graded books for guided reading), to facilitate our literacy improvement plan in the area of comprehension and vocabulary development.

The following legislative and regulatory requirements need to be addressed:
All legislative and regulatory requirements are currently being met and a planning continuum is in place for review of policies.

An appendix to this report showing the policy checklist is available from the school principal on request.

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