Saint Brigid’s National School, is a primary school situated in the centre of Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Our mission is to provide the highest quality education for all our children in a happy, safe and stimulating Christian environment, focusing on their academic, social, personal, moral and spiritual development to help them be the best they can be.

School Self Evaluation Report – Our work to date – Updated 23rd April, 2019

Contents

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Outcomes of our last School Improvement Plan (2012-2016) 

  • English
  • Maths

1.2 Focus of the current School Improvement Plan 

  • English
  • Maths
  • SPHE

2.0 Findings of this Self Evaluation (March 2018 – November 2018) 

2.1 Main strengths of the school in teaching and learning 

– English

– Maths

– SPHE

2.2 This is how we know our strengths 

2.3 This is what we are going to focus on to improve our practice further 

  • English
  • Maths
  • SPHE

Targets in the following areas 

  • English
  • Maths
  • SPHE

Our Improvement Plan 

Appendix One: 10 proposed actions for SSE Target re Learning Tables

Appendix Two: 10 proposed actions for SSE Target re Learning Handwriting

Appendix Three: St. Brigid’s NS, Greystones Handwriting Policy

1. Introduction: This document records the
  • outcomes of our last school improvement plan (2012-2016)
  • findings of this self-evaluation (March 2018 – November 2018)

and our current improvement plan (including targets and the actions we will implement to meet the targets).

We now have a new target in English (handwriting), a renewed focus in Maths (tables) and a range of targets in a new subject in this school improvement process: SPHE.

ENGLISH: Target 1: In 2012, the school adopted a ‘whole school approach’ to the learning of the comprehension strategies using the ‘Building Bridges of Comprehension’ programme i.e prediction, visualisation, making connections, questioning, monitoring comprehension, determining importance, inferring and synthesis.

Target 2 (specific to Junior and Senior Infants) That children will attain selected curriculum objectives in pre-reading, reading, pre-writing, writing and learning grammar.

Target 3 related to English grammar

  • 1st class will be enabled to identify and use nouns, verbs and pronouns , adjectives sentences and phrases.
  • In addition 2nd and 3rd class will be enabled to identify and use collective nouns, comparative and superlative adjectives, adverbs, syllables and contractions.
  • 4th class will be enabled to identify and use prepositions and conjunctions, prefixes, suffixes and homophones.
  • 5th and 6th class will be enabled to identify and use the verb ’ to be’, compound & continuous verbs subject and object of sentence and possessive pronouns.

Target 4 was a straightforward one: Pupils will improve their dictionary skills

Target 5 Children will be able to identify and use writing genres.

In St. Brigid’s National School, there is a comprehensive approach to the teaching of genres i.e. recount, report, explanatory, procedural, persuasive and narrative writing. We have a ‘whole school’ approach. Teachers from 2nd class up, all teach the same genre at the same time e.g. in September we teach ‘recount. In teaching the genres of writing, the students also encounter the genres though reading and being read to, teacher-modelled writing, shared writing, guided writing, leading to independent writing.

These five targets are now embedded in ‘whole school approaches’ in St. Brigid’s NS., i.e  the continued use of ‘Building Bridges of Comprehension,’ ‘Jolly Grammar’, New Wave English and the teaching of genres.

At a staff meeting on 16th March 2018, staff initially decided that our new target in English was that each class would work on creative writing skills with a particular emphasis on poetry. As detailed later on in this document, this was to change.

MATHS: Since the SSE process started in 2012 these have been our targets in Maths

Target 1 – Build a ‘solid number foundation’ in Junior and Senior Infants.

  • Implement “Ready, Steady, Go” Programme.
  • Increase use of concrete materials
  • Teach 1-1 correspondence, conservation of no, positional language, cardinal aspect of no
  • Include more maths games in learning

Target 2 The Learning of Tables

  • Children in 1st class will learn doubles, tenners, teens and near doubles.
  • Children in 2ndclasses will learn all addition and subtraction tables to 12.
  • Children in 3rd class revise addition and subtraction tables to 12 and learn multiplication and division tables to 12.
  • Children in 4th, 5th & 6th classes revise all addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables to 12.

Target 3 Place Value

  • Children in 1st classes will be enabled to explore, identify,  order and record  numerals  0 to 99, 2nd class to 199, 3rd to 999, 4th to 9999.
  • 3rd class will be enabled to explore, identify, order and record place value in decimal numbers to one place of decimals in 3rd class and to two places in 4th
  • 5th class will round decimals to two places and to three places in 6th.

Target 4  JI – 6th Estimation

  • Children will be enabled to learn steps involved in estimation. Teaching children that an estimate is just ‘their best guess’ and doesn’t have to be right.

Target 5 Language The language used in St. Brigid’s for the four main mathematical operations will be standardized across the classes. Teachers will make sure that they use the same terms and vocabulary.

Once again these five targets remain embedded in the learning and teaching in the school.

  • Outcomes of our last improvement plan from 2012 to 14th March 2016 (INTO directive)

The net effect of the school’s self improvement plan was that these targets in Maths and English, became substantially embedded in the curriculum that is delivered in St. Brigid’s, and the planning that each class teacher does.

1.2  The focus of this evaluation

We undertook self-evaluation of teaching and learning, beginning with a staff meeting on 16th March 2018. We evaluated the following aspect(s) of teaching and learning:

  • The teaching of English: Staff felt that our previous engagement with SSE with its emphasis on English grammar, comprehension, dictionary skills and writing using genres had meant that for the most part creative writing, particularly poetry had received less attention.
  • Maths: The ongoing importance of learning tables
  • SPHE: Staff acknowledged the importance of the wellbeing of the children in our care, teaching the ‘whole child’ and the significant role SPHE has in this.
  1. Findings (Investigation Stage initiated at Staff Meeting 16th March 2018)

ENGLISH
Having worked on a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of the teaching of English in the school, teachers said they felt confident and competent in the area of teaching of creative writing and poetry. However staff wondered if this was to be the focus of school improvement, how measurable targets in poetry would be? The school principal attended a meeting on school self evaluation. The importance of targets being SMART was emphasized. SMART targets are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

Increasingly teachers felt that children’s fine motor skills and handwriting needed attention. On account of changes in lifestyle children don’t have the manual dexterity they once had. This appears to be a result of societal/lifestyle changes: people not writing letters, keeping diaries. The use of screens and technology has contributed to this.

Pencil grip is taught explicitly yet by 2nd class how many children are holding their pencils correctly? Teachers also felt that for the SSE process, improvements in handwriting (and particularly functional pencil grip) were more measurable and that meaningful SMART targets could be devised for improvements in handwriting and functional pencil grip.

Given children are being taught pen grip and handwriting explicitly in the earlier years in the school, at what point are the children using a non functional grip? At what point are the children stopping using cursive writing and starting to print?

MATHS
Staff felt that learning tables is so fundamental to successful outcomes in maths, that the importance of tables was an area that needed revisiting. Staff find unless they keep on focusing on learning tables, year after year, children’s knowledge of these number facts slip back.

A SWOT analysis showed that teachers see the value of knowing tables and number strategies; if a child knows their simple number facts then they can give their full attention to methodology when being taught new maths e.g. long division and fractions. However it appears that some parents do not see the value of tables. Some children cannot memorize tables. They would benefit from aide memoires and learning strategies. Some children are not motivated to learn tables. Teachers and parents cannot learn the tables for the children. Children need to be motivated to learn them. Teachers are motivated to teach tables as they see their value. Teachers are also concerned that as far as possible children will be taught the reasoning behind number facts e.g. multiplication as repeated addition.

SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) targets could be devised for the learning of tables. In order to assess tables, the Ballard Westwood One Minute Test is easily administered. Teachers felt addressing knowledge of tables in the school improvement process would act as a reminder to staff, parents and students of the importance of learning tables.

SPHE

Identifying area to be prioritised: S.W.O.T analysis results;

Strengths Concerns Opportunities Threats
R.S.E programme

Atmosphere & environment in school

Bullying policy

Equality

Stay safe

Mindfulness

Charity work

Fundraising

Road Safety

Walk Tall

Yoga

Healthy eating policy

Respect prioritised

High level of anxiety

Inclusion

SEN

Over involvement

Support for teachers

Lack of resources

Building resilience

Further support for our children -lack of resources

Parents refusing RSE

Circle time

CPD

Speakers

Weaving wellness

Student council

Buddy system 6th and infants

Disempowering children

Social media

Rise in cases of abuse / neglect

Time

Space

 

 

2.1 Main strengths of the school in teaching and learning (in the areas of English, Maths and SPHE).

ENGLISH

The School Self Evaluation process (2012-2016) has resulted in a comprehensive ‘whole school approach’ to the teaching of English, particularly comprehension, phonics, genres (writing and reading) and English grammar. Teachers feel competent and confident with regard to the teaching of creative English and poetry.

MATHS                                                                                  Beginning with a ‘solid number foundation’ in Junior and Senior Infants using the ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ programme and building on this with targeted focus on the language of maths, tables, mental maths, estimation, place value, fractions, decimals and percentages.

SPHE

Staff in St. Brigid’s have a genuine interest in the children in their care. The main findings from teaching staff questionnaire are

  • the huge amount of excellent work being done in SPHE
  • that teachers rate SPHE as very important with the curriculum

2.2. This is how we know

  • The children are producing work of quality in English. Comprehension skills have improved. The daily use of New Wave English revises grammar regularly with the children. Drumcondra Reading results were seen to have improved between June 2012 and June 2015. Children above the 85 PR went from 33% to 43%
  • Test Scores in Maths. Children appear to have increased confidence in Maths.
  • SWOT Analysis and questionnaires about SPHE
  • This is what we propose focusing on in order to improve our practice further
  • ENGLISH: Developing a functional pencil/pen grip and handwriting among the majority of the students.
  • MATHS: Improving children’s knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables. As laid out in the school’s Maths Policy the reasoning behind tables will be taught explicitly e.g. multiplication as repeated addition. Manipulatives initially and then pictorial aids will be used.
  • Children in 1st class will learn doubles, tenners, teens and near doubles.
  • Children in 2nd classes will learn all addition and subtraction tables to 12.
  • Children in 3rd class revise addition and subtraction tables to 12 and learn multiplication and division tables to 12.
  • Children in 4th, 5th & 6th classes revise all addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables to 12/
  • SPHE: Improving the children’s wellbeing through SPHE, prioritising developing resilience and self-esteem to boost the wellbeing of our pupils. Improving staff well being.

WORKING DOCUMENT

ENGLISH How do we devise SMART targets for improving handwriting?

How do we  ensure they are

specific,

measurable,

attainable,

relevant and

timely?

After discussion staff have decided, to begin with, we are just concerned

– with correct/functional pencil grip

– and to have a whole school focus.

A rubric has been devised which will be used by class teachers from September.

That which teachers record in September 2019 will establish the baseline.

Cursive script and legibility can be addressed in subsequent years.

Targets:

After the first year there will be an improvement of 15 percent in the number of children with correct pencil grip on the original baseline results as recorded on these rubrics.

In 2 years 30 % on the original results.

In 3 years 45%

(only used as target if in first 2 years achieved)

MATHS Target(s) in Maths re learning tables.

 

Overall results for 2nd class to 6th. This is the baseline established Summer 2018.

5 or below 6-11 11-22 22 to 27 Above 28 Total

tested

Totals

2nd _ 6th

Total

2017/18

3% 10% 63% 14% 11% 236 240

 

All pupils will be assessed (2nd -6th) twice a year (in October and May) using the Ballard Westwood tables test. This way parents can be informed of the children’s progress at the Parent Teacher Meetings in November and in the School Reports in June. Parents will be reminded about strategies for learning tables and online activities that are on the school website when they are given their child’s results.

 

Overall results for 2nd class to 6th. This is the baseline established Summer 2018.

At or below 5 6 to 11 11 to 22 22 to 27 Above 28 Total Total enrolment
2nd Class (2017) 4% 16% 72% 6%      2% 61 61
3rd Class (2017) 6% 14% 69% 5% 6% 65 65
4th Class (2017) 4% 21% 62% 9% 4% 53 53
5th Class (2017) 0% 3% 63% 22% 12% 59 59
6th Class (2017) 0% 2% 56% 22% 20% 59 61
Total 2017 / 2018 3% 10% 63% 14% 11% 297 301

 

Our target is that in 3rd and 5th those who score on or below 5 will improve by an average of 2% between each test i.e. November and May.

Those who score on or below a raw score of 11 to 22 will improve by an average of 2% between each test.

Those who score above a raw score of 28 will improve by an average of 2% between each test.

 

SPHE Self-Evaluation Report and Improvement Plan

  1. Introduction

This document records the findings of this self-evaluation, and our current improvement plan, including targets and the actions we will implement to meet the targets.

  1. Findings
    • This is effective practice in our school
  • Stay safe programme
  • S.E programme
  • Walk Tall
  • Road Safety
  • Healthy eating policy
  • Environment of care
  • Positive school climate
    • This is how we know
  • Parent focus group questionnaire
  • Teacher swot analysis and questionnaire
  • Student questionnaire
  • Teacher observations
  • Active school committee observations
    • This is what we are going to focus on to improve our practice further
  • Develop whole school understanding of S.P.H.E.
  • Develop teacher wellbeing
  • Promote a more active school
  • Build student resilience
  • Acknowledge and value student voice

Click on the following link to see the full SPHE Improvement Plan

  • The targets for improvement we have set
  • The actions we will implement to achieve these
  • Who is responsible for implementing, monitoring and reviewing our improvement plan
  • How we will measure progress and check outcomes

Click here to see the  English and Maths School Improvement Plan

APPENDIX 1

10 PROPOSED ACTIONS FOR SSE TARGET RE LEARNING TABLES

 

1.Teachers will prioritise the learning of tables by including a tables drill, game or activity in each Maths lesson/school day e.g. ‘5 Minute Frenzies’

 

2.Tables will be given as homework in order to involve parents.

 

  1. A bank of over 50 online number patterns & tables activities will be provided for students, parents and teachers on the school website.

https://www.saintbrigidsgreystones.ie/useful-links/links-to-learn-tables/

 

  1. Activities that teachers find useful will be shared on Aladdin and at SSE staff meetings.

 

  1. As far as is possible children will be taught the reasoning behind the sums e.g. multiplication as repeated addition.

 

  1. Children will be expected (where possible to learn tables by rote).

 

  1. Children who cannot learn tables will be taught strategies.

 

  1. Where children have difficulty memorizing tables mnemonics will also be used.

 

  1. When using the Ballard Westwood tables test (see below) children will be encouraged to compete against their own score from last time, rather than that of others.

 

  1. All pupils will be assessed (2nd -6th) twice a year (in October and May) using the Ballard Westwood tables test. This way parents can be informed of the children’s progress at the Parent Teacher Meetings in November and in the School Reports in June.

 

Parents will be reminded about strategies for learning tables and online activities that are on the school website when they are given their child’s results

 

APPENDIX 2

10 PROPOSED ACTIONS FOR SSE TARGET RE IMPROVING HANDWRITING

  1. Review school’s handwriting policy on when to grant a pen licence etc
  2. Adopt a whole school approach to pencil grip & cursive writing. This will be implemented by September 2019.?
  3. Decide on a specific prewriting programme. In JI we will improve children’s finger muscle strength by developing their fine motor skills: using plasticine, scissors etc.
  4. At JI meeting H/O to parents re pencil grip. Good handwriting NB needed for state exams
  5. In class: Visual/oral prompts in class to remind children of pencil grip. Children model their handwriting on teachers’
  6. Develop a set of ‘presentation expectations’ – ‘the perfect page’ for all pupils. This includes statements that may seem obvious such as ‘we use sharp pencils/ we rule straight lines’.
  7. Celebrate achievement: Pen licenses for those pupils who were showing a consistent, clear handwriting style, writer of the week awards
  8. Showing the standard: ‘Gold standard boards’ for writing: a small display to show examples (photocopies) of pupils’ work that meets the school presentation expectations
  9. Bring in headline copies for all levels.
  10. Reminders to parents that there should be time made for writing over the Summer holidays: e.g. summer diary, packing for a holiday list etc.

APPENDIX 3 Handwriting Policy

Scheme: Modern Handwriting – Joined Looped Style

No modifications will need to be made to this scheme.

Writing will not be slanted.

Children will write in pencil up to middle of 3rd class.

After this Berol pen will be used ( Feb. in 3rd to end of 4th )

Being allowed to use a pen may act as an incentive to improve one’s writing.

Some teachers may issue ‘pen licences’.

Pupils in 5th and 6th may use any type of pen/biro at discretion of class teacher

Programme for each class

Junior Infants: Prewriting

  • all lower case letters with tails (called a ‘flick’)
  • Capital letters for name only (no joins)

Type of copies; Blank, Unlined.

Writing instrument; Handhugger Pencil r will be taught as R

Senior Infants: Continue with lower case letters with tails.

Tails only c d etc.

Learn upper case letters with no join.

Type of copies; Unlined

Then progress onto widely spaced lined copies and also copies with large squares.

Work; Copy headlines/poems and news from blackboard

1st & 2nd class: Teach entry stroke c d g etc.

Type of copies; Headline copy

Writing instrument; Pencil

2nd Children are formally taught how to draw a margin in second class. Children are taught how to improve their efforts in drawing margin in 3rd class.

3rd & 4th class:

Type of copies; Headline copy for practice, standard lined copy: other work

Writing Instrument; Until end of Jan. Pencil. Change to Berol Pen in Feb.

Being allowed to use a pen may act as an incentive to improve one’s writing.

Where a child’s writing is really excellent, they may be allowed to use pen, in advance of this as a reward. Pen licences may be issued at the discretion of the class teacher.

Type of copies; Headline copy for practice, standard lined copy for other work

Writing Instrument; Berol Pen

5th & 6th class

Type of copies; Standard copies

Writing Instrument; Pen / Biro

 

 

Summary  Handwriting  Policy

 

Class What Book Copy Writing Instrument
 

J.I.

All lower case with tails.

Cap. Of own names

Unlined Handhugger Pencils
 

 

S.I.

All lower case with tails.

All upper case.

Copy headline news, poem from board.

Other headlines

1.  Unlined

2.  Lined widely spaced

3.  Large  squares

Handhugger Pencils
 

1st

 

 

 

 

 

 

Headline copy

 

Pencil

 

2nd

Learn to draw margin Headline copy Pencil
 

3rd

 

Further practice on drawing margin

 

 

 

Headline standard lined copy.

 

Pencil then Berol Pen from Feb. or reward

 

 

4th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Headline standard lined copy

 

 

Berol Pen

 

 

5th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard

 

 

Pen / Biro

 

 

6th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard

 

 

Pen / Biro