Whole School Evaluation Report 2016

An Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna
Department of Education and Skills
Whole School Evaluation
Saint Anne’s National School
Ardclough, County Kildare
Uimhir rolla: 17674B
Date of inspection: 30 November 20151

1. Introduction
Saint Anne’s National School is a co-educational primary school that caters for pupils from junior
infants to sixth class. The school operates under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Kildare
and Leighlin. The school has grown from a four-teacher school in 1995 to a current staff of ten
mainstream teachers. Two years ago, the school moved into a new school building. The overall
attendance of the 273 pupils is very good. 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 this report.
2. Summary of Findings and Recommendations for Further Development
The following are the key findings:
• The overall management of the school is very good.
• The teachers, who demonstrate reflective practice and an openness to change, have
engaged with commitment in recent pedagogical initiatives.
• The polite, well-behaved, enthusiastic pupils demonstrate very good application to
learning. Their learning experiences would be further enhanced through additional
opportunities for engagement in activity-based learning and collaborative group work.
• The pupils present as highly articulate and attain very good standards in English.
• Teachers have adopted a cohesive approach to classroom planning. Consideration
should now be given to ensuring that short-term planning includes explicit learning
objectives and makes more specific provision for differentiation and assessment.
• The school is commended on having established a comprehensive mentoring system for
teachers new to the special educational team. To further enhance their learning, planning
for pupils with special educational needs should be informed by measurable learning
targets based on their diagnosed needs.

The following main recommendations are made:
• To enhance pupils’ learning experiences, the provision for scaffolded-discovery learning
and collaborative group work should be extended.
• The school should devise a schedule for the cyclical review of curriculum plans. Shortterm
plans should include explicit learning objectives and make more specific provision
for differentiation and assessment.
• In providing for pupils with special educational needs (SEN), it is recommended that
planning be informed by measureable learning targets based on pupils’ diagnosed needs,
and that pupil progress be tracked systematically.
3. Quality of School Management
• The quality of the work of the board of management is very good. The board, which is
properly constituted, meets monthly and members have been allocated specific roles.
The financial accounts are certified annually in compliance with section 18(1) of the
Education Act 1998. The board is very supportive of the work of the school and
demonstrates a good insight into pupil attainment. In recent years, key priorities have
included the development of the new building and purchase of an adjacent playing field.
In line with circular 11/95, the board should ensure a prompt start to the school day for all
• The recently appointed principal, who has a very clear vision for the school,
demonstrates impressive instructional-leadership qualities. She actively facilitates
distributary leadership, and promotes a learning-community culture. She is very well
supported by the acting deputy principal who, as the sole member of the in-school
management team, carries out a wide range of duties that accord with school priorities.
• The quality of the management of resources is very good. The school, which has a warm
and welcoming atmosphere, is maintained to a very high standard. The corridors and
classrooms host a range of attractive displays that are relevant to the pupils’ learning.
The staff library enables teachers to access a wide range of curriculum material. The
class-based computers are complemented by a computer room. The ancillary staff
contribute to the smooth running of the school.
• The overall management of the pupils is very good. The pupils, who are courteous and
demonstrate very good behaviour, apply themselves well to their learning. As reflected in
their responses to the Inspectorate questionnaire, it is timely to give consideration to
enabling them to participate in relevant decision-making, for example through the
establishment of a pupil council.
• The active parents’ support group and general parent body contribute very positively to
the life of the school. The school has established very good links with the wider school
community. Parents’ responses to questionnaires indicate that there is a good
atmosphere in the school and that they feel welcome. It is recommended that the school
seeks their views on school matters more frequently.
4. Quality of School Planning and School Self-evaluation
• The quality of the school planning process is good. The school has engaged recently in a
collaborative review of all organisational and curriculum plans. To complement this good
work, and to further facilitate their implementation at whole-school level, the school
should schedule a cyclical review of curriculum plans.
• All classroom teachers engage in long-term planning and are commended on having
adopted a common approach to short-term planning. Short-term plans are detailed in
relation to the delivery of content. Consideration should now be given to enhancing the
specificity of the planning objectives and to making the provision for differentiation and
assessment more explicit.
• The quality of engagement in the school self-evaluation process (SSE) is very good. The
school has conducted recently a comprehensive review of its school improvement plans
for both literacy and numeracy, and modified both accordingly. In line with the SSE plan,
the school is implementing whole-school approaches in numeracy, writing and
handwriting, and has initiated a pilot approach to guided reading.
• 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.

5. Quality of Teaching, Learning and Pupil Achievement
• Tá caighdeán an teagaisc agus na foghlama sa Ghaeilge go maith. Tugtar le fios go
bhfuil dearcadh dearfach ag na daltaí i leith na Gaeilge. Cuirtear béim oiriúnach ar
theanga a mhúineadh trí mhodhanna teagaisc gníomhacha a úsáid. Léirionn formhór na
ndaltaí go bhfuil said in ann abartaí a structúrtha, and ceisteanna a chumadh agus a
fhreagairt. Aithrisíonn agus canann na daltaí réimse leathan rainn agus amhráin le
tuiscint agus taitneamh. Léann formhór na ndaltaí le muninín. B’fhiú, anois, na páistí a
chur ag léamh as raon níos leithne teascanna. Tugtar deiseanna rialta do dhaltaí
scríbhneoireacht fheidhmiúil Ghaeilge a chleachtadh. Í mionlach na ranganna, cuirtear
béim ar scríbhneoirneacht neamhspleach na ndaltaí a fhorbairt agus tá measúnú a úsáid
iontu go héifeachtach. Moltar an sárchleachtas seo a chur chun cinn trasna na scoile.
The quality of teaching, learning and pupil achievement in Irish is good. Pupils
demonstrate a positive attitude towards the language. An appropriate emphasis is placed
on teaching the language through the use of active teaching methodologies. The majority
of pupils can structure sentences and both ask, as well as answer, questions. Across the
school, pupils are able to perform a good range of rhymes, poetry and songs with
understanding and enjoyment. The majority of pupils read with confidence. It is
recommended that the pupils be enabled to read from a broader range of reading
material. Regular opportunities are given to pupils to practise functional writing in Irish. In
a minority of classes, emphasis is also placed on the development of their independent
writing skills and on the effective use of assessment in the language. It is recommended
that these excellent practices be progressed across the school.
• The quality of teaching, learning and pupil achievement in English is very good. Almost
all teachers model sophisticated language usage and the pupils, who present as highly
articulate, express themselves confidently and precisely. Most pupils read with fluency,
expression and understanding. Consideration should be given to extending the recent
guided initiative across the school and to ensuring that this approach facilitates
differentiation. The school is commended on implementing a cohesive approach to the
teaching of writing genres. In addition, very good provision is made for free writing. To
further enhance the quality of the pupils’ writing, greater emphasis should be placed on
the revision stage of the writing process and to facilitating emergent writing in infant
classes. In line with the school improvement plan, due emphasis is placed on
penmanship and on presentation.
• The quality of teaching, learning and pupil achievement in Mathematics is good. Across
the school, appropriate emphasis is placed on the teaching of mathematical language
and on relating concepts to the pupils’ everyday lives. Most pupils demonstrate very good
levels of competence in number operations. To challenge all pupils at a level
commensurate with their abilities, further provision should be made for differentiated
teaching and the use of open-ended, problem-solving activities. Most lessons observed
were well structured and many teachers made use of resources to enhance the pupils’
learning. To build upon this good work, teachers should extend the provision for practical
engagement with concrete materials, and enable pupils to work collaboratively.
• The quality of teaching, learning and pupil achievement in Visual Arts is good. All strands
are represented in the delivery of the curriculum and good provision is made for linkage
and integration with other curriculum strands. Pupils’ awareness of the visual elements is
developed well in some classes. To build upon this good work, teachers should make
greater provision for continuity and progression in the explicit teaching of techniques and
skills, whilst promoting the pupils’ creativity. Most teachers make good provision for
enabling the pupils to respond to the work of famous artists. All teachers maintain
samples of the pupils’ ongoing work in addition to sketch portfolios that track their
progress from class to class.
• The quality of overall teaching, learning and pupil achievement is good. During the
evaluation, the quality of teaching observed ranged from good to very good. In the best
instances, teachers made very good provision for collaborative group work, activity-based
scaffolded-discovery learning, and differentiation. Consideration should be given to
extending these practices across the school. It is recommended that the school audit the
range of workbooks in use currently and reduce the level of textbook dependency.
• The overall quality of assessment is good. In line with the school policy, all teachers
employ both summative and formative assessment strategies and monitor their pupils’
work. The school is commended on its plans to use both pre-testing and post-testing to
monitor and track the impact of interventions, for example the guided reading initiative.
Some teachers also incorporate the use of self-assessment rubrics and this good
practice should be developed further. To further enhance the pupils’ learning, they should
be enabled to revise their work in response to teacher feedback.
6. Quality of Support for Pupils
• The quality of teaching approaches and interventions for pupils with special educational
needs is good. Support is provided through a mixture of withdrawal and in-class
interventions. Whilst all teachers produce learning plans, it is recommended that these be
informed by specific and measurable targets based on pupils’ diagnosed needs and other
assessment evidence. These targets should also be used to monitor and track the pupils’
progress. The school is commended on providing a comprehensive induction programme
for recently appointed teachers new to the team. Pupils with special educational needs
are very well cared for by the committed special-needs assistants who have engaged in a
good range of training courses.
• The quality of support for the pupils’ well-being is very good. The school promotes an
inclusive environment that welcomes pupils’ diversity and promotes their holistic
development. A climate of mutual respect between adults and pupils was palpable during
the inspection. In their responses to the Inspectorate questionnaire, almost all pupils
reported that they had learnt about different kinds of bullying, and that their teacher
listens to them and to what they say.
Published March 2016
Submitted by the Board of Management

Area 1 Observations on the content of the inspection report

The Board of Management of St Anne’s School welcomes the positive nature of the report. The
recognition of the climate of mutual respect amongst staff and students is particularly welcomed
as well as the quality of teaching and learning that is noted as taking place in the school.
The Board appreciates the reference to the quality of support for children’s wellbeing in St
Anne’s. We support the point that teachers are innovative and committed to their work.
We note the recommendations in the report and will support the implementation of these.
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 Board of Management notes the recommendations made in the report and will support the
principal and staff in implementing these.
Discussions have already taken place re planning for the implementation of the main
recommendations, namely the cyclical review of curriculum plans and the nature of the content of
teachers’ short term plans and plans for pupil with special educational needs.
Plans are being drafted with a view to extending collaborative, discovery-based work with children
across the school.
The school made an immediate response to the recommendation on a prompt start time; parents
have been balloted re same and the new arrangement will be in place this month.
Initial plans for setting up a Student council are in place.
Resources for differentiated reading are purchased and it is intended to extend the Guided
Reading programme next year with plans in place for CPD around this for staff this year.
Term 3 will see a review of workbooks in line with boo