Mary Dunne, Department of Education (DES) Inspector, randomly chose one Infant class, one middle class and one senior class to visit. She spent the whole school day visiting those three classes. The basis for the inspection is the DES document Looking At Our Schools. Throughout the inspection, Mary noted practice that qualified as effective practice and as highly effective practice. She did not note any area where the school did not meet standards.
Mary was very pleased with the work of the school and emphasised that she will not be recommending that further inspection is required based on today's visit. This is not to say that further inspection will not occur but that, if it does, it will not be due to concerns arising from this visit.
In particular, Mary commented positively on the following areas:
- Child Protection policy is in place, correct and clearly posted around the school.
- The children are highly motivated.
- The children work with high levels of independence.
- The children are cooperative with their teachers.
- The children listen attentively.
- There are high expectations of the children across all areas of school life.
- Teachers use praise and positive communication strategies while balancing this with clear expectations positively phrased.
- The teaching enables the learning of life skills in the children.
- Teachers give clear instructions.
- Lessons are well structured and well-paced.
- Good resources are available to the teachers and the teachers are using them well.
- Displays in the school show rich learning, strong curricular integration and a themed approach.
- There is a balanced use of ICT – ICT is used to support the teaching and learning without being allowed to take over.
- Children are given opportunities to connect their learning to their own lives.
- There are very high expectations for purposeful interactions.
- Teachers are well prepared for lessons.
- Pupils have a good understanding of work covered today, recently and last year.
- Differentiation by questioning was evident.
- Nice pair work and group work across the school.
- Teachers showed consistent good practice.
- Teachers are fostering and supporting the children's engagement with the curriculum.
- Induction for new staff is excellent.
- The school is a welcoming, friendly place.
- Implementation of WALT (We Are Learning Today) and WILF (What I'm Looking For) are consistently high across the school.
- Learning outcome statements are clear.
- Lovely level of collaboration across classes and across the school.
- The teaching of Maths oral language was evident.
- Globes in every room is to be commended.
- Assessment - Excellent use of student support files
- Excellent procedures for handing assessment results on from year to year, meaning teachers have a rich base of knowledge of the children to work from in September.
- Excellent assessment templates and rich information collected and used.
Of course, any school inspector could not leave without making recommendations and the following are areas that Mary suggests we may like to look at. These are not instructions from the Inspectorate, rather recommendations and suggestions. School staff and Board will consider these in context over the coming months.
- There should always be curricular engagement during eating time. For example, if a TG4 cartoon is showing, children should be asked to listen out for particular language.
- Create a register of target language across curricular areas
- Increase the expectations on the children to speak more extensively - children should be speaking in full sentences.
- Spend even more time on oral Maths throughout the school.
- Give children more opportunity to explain what they did and how they did it, in addition to giving the answer.
- Have a look at Ready Set Go Maths for early intervention and prevention in the Infant classes.
- Committing Gaeilge poems and songs to memory, even without understanding
- Teach questions and answers in Gaeilge relevant to the theme being taught – rote learning of these will bring familiarity
- Teach the structure of the Irish language
- Thermometers for all classrooms as part of weather recording
- Timelines to be developed incrementally in each class
Caitriona Hand, Principal.