ST. PETER’S NATIONAL SCHOOL
ST. PETER’S ROAD PHIBSBOROUGH
School self-evaluation summary report for school community (Literacy and Numeracy)
Evaluation period: September 2013-June 2014
Report issue date: June 2014
Summary School Self-Evaluation Report for St. Peter’s N.S. Phibsborough
1.1 The focus of the evaluation
A school self-evaluation of teaching and learning in St. Peter’s National School was undertaken during the period June 2013 to June 2014.
o The school prioritised Literacy, attendance and parental involvement for the S.I.P. (School Improvement Plan). Literacy was chosen as a result of staff discussion by the Literacy strategy as outlined in Circular 56/2011. This is a report on the findings of the evaluation.
1.2 School Context
o This is a vertical co-educational primary school
o There are currently 456 pupils
o There are 25 teachers including an Administrative Principal
o It is a DEIS Band 2 School
2. THE FINDINGS
There was a specific focus on Oral Language for the academic year 2013-2014
Areas of concern:
o Vocabulary development was identified as an area to focus on having completed a detailed analysis of the Drumcondra English tests in May 2013.As a result a greater emphasis was placed on developing speaking and listening skills throughout the school as well as vocabulary promotion through the use of ‘Word Walls’ , ‘Dictionary copies’, ‘Vocabulary Book Marks’. The pupils were also immersed in a wide range of vocabulary each week and these ‘Word Banks’ were reinforced on a regular basis.
o Developing pupils’ reading comprehension skills was also flagged as an area to include in our SIP for 2014-2015.
2.1 Pupils’ Attainment
o Having analysed the Drumcondra English tests in May 2014, we found that in some classes a high standard of vocabulary development had been achieved. This (high standard of vocabulary development) needs to be realised in all classes during the coming academic year (2014-2015).
o Standardised test results in English show that on average most pupils are performing at or slightly above the national norm. However, there is a small group (19%) scoring below the 20th percentile and a group (24%) scoring above the 80th percentile.
o The majority of pupils including those with special education needs have made progress from last year. Analysis of standardised test data over the last three years shows that we have maintained our progress with regard to pupils scoring within the average band and an increase of 3% in the above average range.
2.2 Teaching and Learning
o Throughout all class students write in a wide variety of genres based on the First Steps writing genres. Their writing shows an improved use of vocabulary but the school will continue to promote more oral and written preliminary work to ensure that their writing has a logical flow. A continued focus is required with regard to vocabulary extension as per the “Five Components of Effective Oral Language Instruction”. Sources to help with Vocabulary Extension include use of the “Five Components of Effective Oral Language Instruction” booklet, English readers, novels, dictionaries, creating word walls/banks, newspapers, semantic mapping etc.
o Children in all classes are able to recite, recall and sequence stories. In relation to oral language (speaking and listening) skills, there is a very wide range of abilities at each class level. Having completed an oral language survey in a number of classes, 71% of pupils stated that they liked speaking in front of the class, while 57% of pupils give feedback in school on school-based activities. 83% of pupils surveyed indicated that they were presented with opportunities to express their opinions in class (62% occasionally. 21% often). Pupils are motivated to and can confidently speak and write about a topic of personal interest.
o 34% of pupils find it difficult to describe things/activities or hobbies, while 66% don’t have difficulties in this area. 77% of pupils reported that they discuss books with their family occasionally or regularly while 88% of pupils stated that they express their opinions at home occasionally or regularly.
o Responses from a oral language (speaking and listening) survey show that the majority of parents (86%) agree or strongly agree that their child can express themselves well, can describe a story/event clearly while making sense and can express their feelings/needs well. 100% of parents indicated that their child had good listening skills and 67% of parents listen to their child’s reading/spellings at night. 90% of parents encouraged independent reading at home and the majority of parents discuss the content of books/stories with their children at home on a regular basis. Only 52% of parents indicated that their child is a member of a library. 67% of parents encouraged an interest in current affairs (3rd to 6th classes).
o Focus groups revealed that across all classes, students have a positive attitude towards reading and writing. The “Power Hour” in Junior Infants, Senior Infant, 1st and 2nd Classes and the “Guided Reading” in the third classes have been very positive experiences. Children reported that they mostly sound out, re-read, and employ “chunking” for word attack skills.
o Teachers’ literacy lessons incorporate a variety of teaching methodologies, including talk and discussion and teacher questioning. They would like to give pupils more opportunities to work in pairs or in small groups.
o The teachers in St. Peter’s conducted a Reading Comprehension survey in May 2014. All of the teachers surveyed highlighted the importance of parental involvement in helping to improve the pupils’ reading comprehension skills. It was suggested that a list of reading comprehension strategies which could be employed at home would be of benefit to parents and pupils. Teachers believed that ‘questioning’, ‘talk and discussion’, ‘written tasks based on texts’, ‘consistency in reinforcing a strategy’, retelling stories/passages’, ‘termly tests based solely on developing comprehension skills’ and ‘devising comprehension skills checklists’ were some of the key methodologies for assessing comprehension development among pupils. With regard to reading comprehension in our School Improvement Plan for 2014-2015, the majority of teachers felt that evidence of transferability of comprehension strategies to other subject areas e.g. SESE, SPHE etc. and evidence that pupils are willing to indicate that they have difficulty understanding a particular passage or concept were appropriate targets for inclusion in the plan. A high percentage of teachers also stated that a review of the general graphical representation of all pupils’ Standardised Tests Scores (with regard to Reading comprehension) over the next three years would be beneficial to see evidence that the pupils are at least showing a ‘maintenance of place’ on the ‘normal curve of distribution’. Ideally it would also show evidence of a gradual improvement in scores with the ‘normal curve of distribution. This review of the graphical representation of standardised test scores would become a feasible target for our S.I.P.
Teaching and Learning
o Responses from a parents’ survey on Numeracy reveal that 60% of parents expressed very positive opinions about Maths and its importance. 85% of parents stated that their child likes Maths and can name the aspect of Maths that their child enjoys most. A smaller number of parents are aware of difficulties experienced by their child in Maths and have offered different suggestions relating to improving pupils’ attainment levels. One such suggestion is to continue with the fortnightly tests and perhaps have a monthly review of topics covered. 65% of pupils surveyed stated that they like Maths, felt that they were good at it and found it easy. Negative comments were few and involved single topics that pupils found difficult.
3. Progress made on previously identified targets in the current S.I.P.
· Target 1- to increase the average oral language scale score of our tracker pupils (across all class levels) from the average baseline scale score (set in December 2013) by one score unit ( in May 2014)- An average scale score of 5 was set in DECEMBER 2013. This had increased to an average scale score of 6 in May 2014 (all tracker children were analysed)
· Target 2- to reduce the number of pupils scoring below the 20th percentile in the Drumcondra reading test by 1% (there was an increase by 2% on previous year -17% in 2013, 19% in 2014), We will aim to reduce this proportion from 19% (2014) to 18% (2015).
· Target 3-to increase the number of pupils scoring at or above the 60th percentile by a further 1% in May 2015. 42% of pupils scored at or above the 60th percentile in May 2013. This proportion had increased by 1% (43%) in May 2014.
4. Summary of school self-evaluation findings:
4.1 Our school has strengths in the following areas:
o Children’s results in Standardised tests for English show an improvement over the last three years.
o Children report liking and enjoying reading and writing and feel that they are good at it. Our First Steps displays of writing in the different genres are testament to this.
o Many children report reading for pleasure at home. (This has tied in with our shared reading/CAPER programmes).
o Children are generally able to recite, recall and sequence stories orally and in written form.
o Children are able to confidently speak and write about a topic of personal interest.
o Children are being taught explicitly at all class levels and can write on a wide range of genres. They also have a good grasp of grammar, syntax and punctuation.
o Parents are informed as to their child’s progress through the annual parent/teaching meeting, the annual school report issued in June and through incidental individual meetings held during the course of the year.
o Teachers report that they use a variety of teaching approaches including talk and discussion and teacher questioning
o Our monthly school attendance averages at 97% due to stringent and consistent attendance monitoring.
o Our school has established good mental maths practices (15 minutes daily in all classes) and our standardised test results in Mathematics are above the norm.
o Parental involvement is greatly encouraged and a number of parents are involved in Maths for Fun, Science for Fun, Shared Reading/CAPER programme, St. Peter’s Strings’ project, Story Sacks (literacy), school tours etc.
4.2 The following areas are prioritised for improvement in Literacy:
o Vocabulary development was flagged as an area for improvement in May 2013. Following an analysis of the Drumcondra Reading tests in May 2014, this area will need to be addressed again in 2014-2015 as improvements were noticed in only some classes. Vocabulary development will also improve written work (all classes will continue with the implementation of ‘word walls’/oral language displays and utilise oral language boxes as much as possible).
o Some pupils display significant weaknesses in the area of Reading Comprehension Strategies. A renewed focus on Reading Comprehension skills will be required (see teacher surveys’ findings) as half of the classes tested in the Drumcondra Reading tests showed a drop in test scores in the comprehension section. A common approach (as per the First Steps Integrated plan) to the explicit teaching of comprehension strategies will be required.
Teaching and Learning:
o Pupils need to learn a variety of comprehension strategies and be enabled to use them independently to make sense of texts. A common approach (as per the First Steps Integrated plan) to the explicit teaching of comprehension strategies will be required.
o Teachers will engage pupils in more collaborative and co-operative work within each classroom in order to enhance the pupils’ comprehension and vocabulary development skills.
o Penmanship-a greater focus needs to be placed on the explicit teaching of cursive writing in all classes. Cursive writing was introduced in Junior and Senior Infant level. We will also aim to focus on the development of grammar, syntax and punctuation in the coming year.
o Writing lessons need to be explicitly taught based on errors evident in the children’s writing. Senior class pupils need to be able to confidently write across a range of genres independently and evaluate how effective their writing is. We will introduce SALF during the coming year in order to put self-evaluation procedures in place.
With regard to Numeracy, the following areas are prioritised for improvement:
o Measures- in particular problem solving involving measures
o Fractions (all aspects of fractions will be focused on)
4.3 The following legislative and regulatory requirements need to be addressed: