SCHOOL SELF-EVALUATION REPORT FOR ST. PETER’S N.S. PHIBSBOROUGH
EVALUATION PERIOD: JUNE 2014 TO JUNE 2015
REPORT ISSUE DATE: June 2015
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 2014 to June 2015.
o The school prioritised Literacy, Numeracy and attendance for the S.I.P. (School Improvement Plan). Literacy and Numeracy were chosen as a result of staff discussion by the Literacy and Numeracy 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 450 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 and Comprehension for the academic year 2014-2015
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 2014. 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 2015-2016.
o Reading Comprehension be assesses on a monthly basis from September 2015.
o More focus needs to be placed on the importance of classroom libraries.
2.1 Pupils’ Attainment
o Having analysed the Drumcondra English tests in May 2015, we found that further emphasis on vocabulary development is required in all classes.
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 (12%) scoring below the 20th percentile and a group (25%) 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 year shows that we have decreased the proportion of pupils scoring in the low average band from 29% to 21%, increased the proportion of pupils within the average band from 36% to 39% and increased the proportion of pupils scoring in the above average range by 5%.
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, pupils’ individual dictionary copies, 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 a reading comprehension survey in a number of classes, 94% of pupils surveyed stated that they are good readers, while 89% of pupils believe that there are good books to read in their libraries. 64% of pupils surveyed indicated that they are competent in answering comprehension questions. Of the 36% of pupils who found comprehension difficult, 58% found word meanings most problematic; 22% believed sounding out words was the most difficult aspect and 20% found understanding the text problematic. At home, 67% of pupils surveyed state that they read some days while 25% of pupils read every day.
o 89% of pupils find spellings easy to learn. When children come across a word they don’t understand, 45% of pupils surveyed ask someone; 42% consult a dictionary and 13% ignore it.
o Responses from a parents’ reading comprehension survey indicate that the majority of parents (94%) believe that their child is doing well at reading. 88% of parents surveyed state that their child enjoys learning spellings. 56% of parents (in the lower classes surveyed) read to their child occasionally while 44% of parents read to their child every day. In the upper classes surveyed, 45% of parents read to their child occasionally, while 16% read to them everyday.
o 61% of parents surveyed thought that the reading being brought home from school is well matched to their child’s ability, 7% think it’s too hard and 22% believe it is too easy. 83% of parents surveyed believe that they receive good information from school regarding English.
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 fourth classes have been very positive experiences. Children reported that they mostly sound out, ‘look at the picture’ and ‘blend’ when they come to a word or passage they don’t understand.
o Teachers’ literacy lessons incorporate a variety of teaching methodologies, including talk and discussion and teacher questioning.
Having analysed the Drumcondra Spellings test in May 2015, we found that the concept of the magic 'e' ,doubling consonants (e.g. glasses/peppers) and the soft 'c' sounds in words are the main areas requiring attention in 1st and 2nd classes. Silent letters (such 'b'/'e' 'gh'/'w'), spelling rules (e.g. plural rules) and the basic diagraphs are areas requiring extra focus in 3rd and 4th class. In 5th class the pupils found plural rules difficult. The concept of the magic 'e' in more difficult words proved problematic.
o The teachers in St. Peter’s conducted a Reading Comprehension survey in May 2015. 90% of teachers aim to develop reading comprehension strategies in their classes, while 100% of teachers explain difficult comprehension passages in more simplified language. 38% of teachers utilise the First Steps Reading Comprehension templates, 62% of teachers surveyed use them sometimes. 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 2015-2016, the majority of teachers (76%) 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 (62%) were appropriate targets for inclusion in the plan. A high percentage of teachers (67%) also stated that a review of the general graphical representation of all pupils’ Standardised Tests Scores (with regard to Reading comprehension) over the next two 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. We will implement monthly comprehension assessment test from September 2015 (1st- 6th classes)
Numeracy: Areas of Concern.
There was a specific focus on:
· Problem solving with special reference to measures …. Weight, time, capacity and money.
· Fractions in junior Classes (to 2nd Class).
· Fractions/Decimals/Percentages in Senior Classes (3rd to 6th).
We prioritised these areas because analysis of Drumcondra tests June 2014 revealed that these were the main problem areas – as pinpointed in parent/pupil questionnaires.
As a result of these findings, the following actions took place:-
· More extensive use of concrete materials in Maths was promoted with each class receiving increased volume of materials – leading to increased emphasis on discovery learning.
· Maths Trials were re-introduced.
· Concrete materials for fractions were increased – fraction walls/cubes/pie/fraction units/number fans/counting sticks.
· Continuation of RAVECCC to aid problem solving.
· Introduction of fortnightly tests – 6 computational sums and 4 ‘word problems’.
· Analysis of standardised test results.
Drumcondra Maths was analysed in June 2015, where it was found that:
· The number scoring above 98th percentile rose from 1.9% in June 2014 to 3.8% in June 2015.
· The number scoring in the range 85th to 98th percentile was 19.8% in June 2014 to 3.8% in June 2015.
· The number scoring in the range 51st percentile to 84th percentile, rose from 35.1% in June 2014 to 36.4% in June 2015.
· The number scoring in the 17th to 50th percentile fell from 33.5% in June 2014 to 24.9% in June 2015.
· It was found however that the number of pupils that scored on or below 16th percentile only fell slightly from 9.1% to 8.9%. This group will be targeted next year.
Teaching and Learning
· In all classes there is an increased focus on the use of concrete materials. Each class now keeps maths materials on a ‘maths’ table in their own room.
· In pupils’ maths questionnaires this year in 1st class, 61% of pupils stated that they always like maths, with 28% claiming they sometimes like the subject.
· 42% always and 23% sometimes stated that they like ‘mental’ maths in 1st class. In 4th class 60% agreed that the ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ feel confident in solving word problems.
· Parents’ questionnaire produced the statistic that 90% of their children like maths. This is up from 85% last year. Also 90% of parents use their own environment to promote maths in everyday life.
· Teachers when surveyed – expressed satisfaction with the availability of concrete materials. They also felt that the focus on ORAL maths was beneficial to their teaching.
· Fortnightly assessment tests were also regarded as positive as it helped focus on areas of difficulty.
· Power hour for junior classes also received positive reviews.
3. Progress made on previously identified targets in the current Literacy S.I.P.
· Target 1- to increase the average oral language/reading scale scores of our tracker pupils (across all class levels) from the average baseline scale score (set in December 2013) by a half a scale- score unit (in May 2016)- There was an average scale score of 6 in May 2014 (all tracker children were analysed). This average scale score had increased to 7.4 in December 2014. The average scale score across all classes was 7.5 in May 2015. For Comprehension the average scale score was 7.2 in December 2014 and had increased to 7.8 (0.6 increase) in May 2015.
· Target 2- to reduce the number of pupils scoring at or below the 16th percentile in the Drumcondra reading test by 1% .There was a reduction of 3% from May 2014 (13%) to May 2015 (10%). Our aim will be that 9% of pupils score at or below the 16th percentile in May 2016.
· Target 3-to increase the number of pupils scoring at or above the 60th percentile by a further 1% in May 2016 (to 51%). 43% of pupils scored at or above the 60th % in May 2014.This had increased to 50% of pupils scoring at or above the 60th percentile in May 2015.
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 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.
o Results in Drumcondra Tests show very positive improvement in the last year.
o The increased availability of concrete materials.
o The 15 minute daily ORAL maths lessons.
o The increased use of ‘pair work’.
o The fortnightly assessment tests at each class level.
o The positive feedback from pupils that a high percentage ‘like’ maths.
o The positive responses from parents – 67% feel they get good feedback from the school about their child’s progress and their willingness to co-operate (90%) with the school in promoting the use of maths in everyday life.
4.2 The following areas are prioritised for improvement in Literacy:
o Vocabulary development was flagged as an area for improvement in May 2014. Following an analysis of the Drumcondra Reading tests in May 2015, this area will need to be addressed again in 2015-2016 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, individual dictionary copies 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 some 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. Monthly assessment of comprehension from 1st- 6th class will be introduced from September 2015. We will set a baseline of achievement and seek to improve upon this over the course of the year (i.e. that 80% of pupils will achieve 5 or more correct answers out of ten in the first monthly comprehension test)
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.
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.
With regard to Numeracy, the following areas are prioritised for improvement:
Prioritised Areas for the Improvement in Numeracy
· Further increase the availability of concrete materials in each class.
· To increase opportunities for pupils to engage with maths in the school environment further enable them to relate maths to everyday life e.g. maths trials.
· That 80% of pupils from 1st to 6th classes will demonstrate at least a 50% competency in word problem solving.
4.3 The following legislative and regulatory requirements need to be addressed: