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School Self Evaluation

Summary of School Self-Evaluation Report 2011 -2012

1. Introduction

1.1 The focus of the evaluation

Whole-staff introduction to Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life: the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020 provided the opportunity to elicit the views of teachers on teaching and learning in terms of literacy, both in English and Irish, and numeracy. We discussed this across learner outcomes, learning experience and teacher practice.

Following whole-staff reflection and discussion, literacy (reading) became the focus of our school self-evaluation; pupil outcomes, and the teaching and learning experiences that lead to these outcomes, were considered. This is a report on the findings of the evaluation.

1.2 School context

St. John the Evangelist National School opened in September 2007 with fifty nine pupils and four teachers. From the beginning the school has had a diverse population, with the multi-cultural nature of the school reflected in the fact that 90% of the pupils come from families where both parents were born outside Ireland.

The school population has grown steadily since we opened. However, there has been a large turnover in pupils attending the school. The original Junior Infant class in the school in 2007 had twenty eight pupils. By the end of September 2011 only fourteen of these pupils were still attending the school, a 50% decrease.

From the outset it was apparent that the challenges around language were different from other schools. Having a large majority of pupils qualifying for English as an Additional Language (EAL) support, a decision was made to form a support team rather than having separate resource, learning support and EAL teachers. This decision has proven to be the most efficient use of resources within the school. Different strategies were used to tackle literacy and language difficulties in the school, culminating in a whole-school approach to guided reading, as discussed in this report.

2. The findings

2.1 Reading attainment

Standardised tests are administered annually and their results are communicated to parents in accordance with Department of Education and Skills guidelines. Since 2009 these results have been considered in comparison with national norms

2011
The introduction of guided reading through Lift Off to Literacy (LO2L) in the First classes and with children in receipt of learning support as well as peer reading in Sixth class are recognised as strategies that are working well in improving learner outcomes. Assessment data analysis contributes to evaluative judgements about the quality of learner outcomes in terms of pupils’ overall attainment in book level, word reading and hearing and recording sounds in words.
2012
The impact of LO2L in the First classes is also reflected in the children’s performance on end of year standardised tests in May 2012. The number of children performing at or below a standard score of 79 is less than the normal distribution; this was a decrease of 4% in comparison with performance in 2011. A 3% reduction in the number of children operating at the low end of average (SS 80-89) is noted, as well as a 9% increase in the number of children operating within the average range (SS 90-109). While there was a 2% increase in attainment at a standard score of 130 +, the number of children operating in the high average range (SS 110-129) remains below that of the normal distribution of scores.

School-wide results in standardised tests in May 2012 indicate that we were successfully reducing the number of children operating at a standard score of 79 and below. A higher percentage of children are operating in the average range compared with the normal distribution of scores. However, scores in the high average range and above were below that normally distributed.

Note 1
2013 – 2015 Testing in subsequent years shows attainments in the high average and above are now slightly above the normal distribution

Attitudes and dispositions

Professional dialogue prompted reflection on pupil’s attitude and disposition in engaging in reading instruction. Effective use of instruction time during LO2L, guided and peer reading has encouraged pupils’ enjoyment of the reading lesson and their motivation to learn. Being appropriately challenged and supported, the children are motivated to purposefully engage in strategic reading behaviours. Access to a higher volume of reading has fostered interest in reading. The children show a better understanding of what reading is. They are confident in attempting new reading material. Anecdotal feedback from parents concurs.

Note 2
Results of parent/student questionnaires (2015) are published below.

Guided reading as a teaching and learning strategy for the purposeful development of literacy skills

Whole-staff reflection has identified the need to develop literacy instruction for middle and senior standards. The significant strength in early reading instruction prompted us to examine guided reading as a school-wide teaching and learning strategy. A teacher questionnaire was initially administered to provide information on the professional needs of staff in terms of knowledge, skills and resources to facilitate the development of guided reading as a teaching and learning strategy. Strengths outweigh any weaknesses identified.

Teachers are familiar with guided reading as a strategy in literacy instruction. More than half of the staff surveyed has used this theory to inform their reading instruction practice. They are reasonably confident in their knowledge of the skills and strategies needed by children to develop reading skills.

Teachers recognise the importance of classroom management and ask for support in ensuring the children are actively engaged in organised independent activities while guided reading lessons are conducted. They want to ensure high participation rates, and that expected learning outcomes are achieved.

Teachers want to ensure that the children are appropriately supported and challenged in their learning. They want to motivate the children to enjoy reading. Guidance is sought on the formative assessment of reading and on the use of this assessment information to inform instruction, to review reading groups and to match books appropriately to the children’s reading ability.

Note 3
Guided Reading is currently an established whole school strategy(2015).

3. Progress made on previously identified improvement targets

Previously identified improvement targets centre on the development of a code of behaviour. This was an area of concern identified by the whole school community to ensure a climate conducive to teaching and learning in the school, as well as fulfilling a legislative and regulatory requirement under the Education and Welfare Act, Section 23.

Work began on this process during the school year 2008/2009. This involved the whole school community, including consultation between teachers, SNAs, Board of Management, parents and pupils. The policy was ratified in December 2009. We worked to create an atmosphere of respect, tolerance and consideration for others. In ensuring the safety and well-being of the school community, we wanted to promote positive behaviour and self-discipline, while recognising and accommodating difference. Positive strategies for managing behaviour were informed by the Incredible Years programme. A fair and consistent system of expected behaviours, rewards and sanctions was agreed.

The staff has been supported in developing skills in the management of challenging behaviour, through Incredible Years training, advice from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), and professional dialogue amongst colleagues. Parental involvement has been encouraged through the use of the Rainbow Gauge, which indicates how the children are behaving in class. Support plans are developed for children who experience behavioural, emotional and social difficulties in consultation with teachers, parents, the child, and with NEPS as appropriate.

This work is regularly monitored and reviewed. Observation of positive behaviour in the classroom, on the playground and in the school environment indicates that we are developing as a school where everyone feels safe, is able to learn, has a sense of belonging, is respected and respects others. Agreed practices and procedures are consistently implemented. The previously outlined continuous professional development contributes to the up-skilling of staff in the identification and understanding of challenging behaviour and the management of the same. This has had a positive impact on teaching and learning in the school.

4. Summary of school self-evaluation findings 2011 / 2012

4.1 Our school has strengths in the following areas:

We strive to provide a safe, secure and happy environment in the school. A high level of respect and cooperation between management, staff, parents and pupils exists, which provides equality of opportunity to realise potential, and to work, live and learn together for the good of all.

Literacy (reading) is the focus of this school self-evaluation report. The introduction of guided reading through Lift Off to Literacy (LO2L) in the first classes and with children in receipt of learning support as well as peer reading in sixth class are recognised as strategies that are working well in improving learner outcomes.

Analysis of school-wide data indicates that we have successfully reduced the number of children operating at or below standard score of 79. Pupils at risk of underachieving are attaining well and making good progress, in accordance with their ability, as identified in tests of verbal and non-verbal reasoning. There are a higher number of children scoring within the average range (SS 90-109) than reflected in the normal distribution.

There is significant strength in early reading instruction (guided reading). Effective use of instruction time has encouraged the pupils’ enjoyment of the reading lesson and their motivation to learn. Access to a higher volume of reading has fostered interest in reading. Being appropriately challenged and supported, they engage in strategic reading behaviours. The pupils show a better understanding of what reading is. They are confident in attempting new reading material. This has prompted us to examine guided reading as a school-wide teaching and learning strategy.

We understand that the more teachers can interact concerning their own practices, the more they will be able to bring about improvements that they themselves identify as necessary. Staff development is recognised as a strategy for instructional change, as well as a strategy for changing ways we work together. Teachers are open to working together ensure a safe learning environment that encourages high degrees of student engagement. They seek to provide appropriate challenge and support for the pupils as they engage in the purposeful development of reading skills through guided reading instruction.

4.2 The following areas are prioritised for improvement (2012 -2015):

We hope to achieve:
• Enhanced pupil attainment in reading as specified in the School Improvement Plan (see Note 1)
• Enhanced pupil engagement and enjoyment of reading (See Note 2)
• Enhanced teacher confidence and competence in teaching reading

SCHOOL SELF-EVALUATION QUESTIONNAIRES

As part of our School Improvement Plan 2012 – 2015 parents and students were surveyed about attitudes and dispositions in relation to reading. 322 questionnaires were distributed to parents with 210 being returned. 256 children were surveyed during the school day. Parents’ and children’s responses were very positive.
Parent Responses
St John the Evangelist N.S.
School Self-Evaluation Questionnaire for Parents
13/04/15
Dear Parents and Guardians,

We are undertaking a self-evaluation of teaching and learning in our school. To help us in that evaluation we would be very grateful for your views and opinions on the matters in the questionnaire below. We would appreciate if you would complete it and return it to the school before 16/04/15. Please note that you may complete the questionnaire anonymously and that all individual responses will be treated confidentially.

Thank you very much,
Tony McGinley
Principal

My child is in:
Senior Infants  1st class  2nd class 
3rd class  4th class 
5th class  6th class 
READING Strongly
Agree Agree Don’t
Know Disagree Strongly Disagree
1. My child likes reading. 47%
43% 1% 9%
2. My child is doing well at reading. 38%
53% 4% 4% 0.5%
3. My child reads with confidence. 38%
48% 5% 9% 0.5%
4. My child can talk about what he/she is reading. 49% 46% 3% 1% 0.5%
5. I often listen to my child reading aloud. 41% 47% 2% 9% 0.5%
6. It is important to read to my child. 58%
27% 10% 4%
7. I get good information from the school about how my child is doing in reading. 46% 45% 6% 4%
Comments / Suggestions:

Analysis of Parent Responses

• 90% of parents surveyed either strongly agree or agree that their child likes reading
• 91% of parents surveyed either strongly agree or agree that their child is doing well at reading
• 86% of parents surveyed either strongly agree or agree that their child reads with confidence
• 95% of parents surveyed either strongly agree or agree that their child can talk about what he or she is reading
• 88% of parents surveyed either strongly agree or agree that they often listen to their child reading aloud
• 95% of parents surveyed either strongly agree or agree that it is important to read to their child
• 91% of parents surveyed either strongly agree or agree that they get good information from the school about how their child is doing in reading
Comments/suggestions include:

• Parents are pleased with their children’s progress in reading
• Parents request information on suitable additional reading material and/or to suggest appropriate digital literacy resources
• To increase opportunities for children to read aloud
• To continue to keep parents up to date on their children’s progress

Pupil Responses

St John the Evangelist N.S.
School Self-Evaluation Questionnaire for Pupils

I am in:
1st class  2nd class  3rd class 
4th class  5th class  6th class 

Tick one box only for each question:

READING YES NO DON’T
KNOW
1. I like reading. 86% 8% 6%
2. I like to read aloud. 41% 46% 13%
3. I am a good reader. 70% 5% 25%
4. I understand most of what I read. 88% 6% 6%
5. I like when someone reads to me. 55% 35% 10%
6. There are good books to read in my classroom. 70% 16% 14%

Analysis of Pupil Responses

• 86% of children like reading.
• 41% of children like to read aloud.
• 70% of children consider themselves to be good readers.
• 88% of children believe that they understand most of what they read.
• 55% of children like when someone reads to them.
• 70% of children agree that there are good books to read in their classrooms.