School Self-Evaluation 2013









St Colmcille’s Boys’ National School

Chapel Lane, Swords, Co. Dublin





School Self-Evaluation Report





Evaluation period: January 2013- June 2013



Report issue date: September 2013









School Self-Evaluation Report


1. Introduction


1.1      The focus of the evaluation

A school self-evaluation of teaching and learning in St Colmcille’s BNSwas undertaken during the period December 2013 to June 2013.  During the evaluation, teaching and learning in the following curriculum areas were evaluated:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy

The focus of the School Self-Improvement initiatives will be on an element of Literacy during the school year, 2013-14; Elements of  Numeracy will be evaluated during 2013-14, and School Self-Improvement initiatives will  be put in place during 2014-15

This is a report on the findings of the evaluation.


1.2      School context


St Colmcille’s BNS is a vertical school with a pupil population of 408 boys. During the past number of years, there has been a continuing decline in the enrolment numbers, with the result that in the school year, 2013/14, there will be a composite class. The staffing during the period under evaluation was principal, 16 mainstream class teachers, 7 resource teachers, 1 language support teacher and 5.5 Special Needs Assistants. With regard to the pupil population, a significant number of pupils did not have English as their first language. In 2012-13, 37 pupils received language support. There were 29 pupils with low incidence special needs and 8 pupils with high incidence special needs. 15 pupils had access to the Special Needs Assistants.

The major initiatives which have been undertaken in recent times are the provision of a multi-sensory room a play area, the installation of interactive white boards in all mainstream classrooms and the installation of data projectors in every room. This year, 2 portacabins have been removed, and a permanent 3 room building is being erected. The school has 3 Green Flags and it is working on obtaining a fourth Green Flag and an Active Schools Flag. The school community organised a Multi-cultural evening and it undertook 3 major historical projects during the period under review. It published a local history book, Images of Swords.


2. The findings

2.1 Learning to learn

Pupils are encouraged to use a variety of tools to help their own learning, both in school and at home, as all pupils have their own individual learning style and supports for learning, depending on their individual circumstances. In school, learning through visual and auditory methods is enhanced through use of the interactive whiteboard in the classrooms, and pupils have access to computers to research any topic which they are studying. They are encouraged to use a dictionary, develop their own personal dictionary and use a range of strategies to aid development of their literacy skills in order to help them learn.


2.2 Preparation for teaching

All of our teachers have a wide range of experience at different class levels and update their pedagogical skills on an on-going basis through a range of continuous professional development courses relevant to school and classroom needs. Long-term schemes have been prepared for every cohort and short-term planning is focused on curriculum objectives and adapted as necessary to the needs of pupils in a class. Individual Education Plans are prepared by our resource teachers, in consultation with classroom teachers and parents.

2.3 Teaching approaches

A variety of teaching approaches and styles are adopted, depending on the age and class level, or on learning needs of pupils. During the course of this school year, a team-teaching initiative was undertaken with pupils from 3rd to 6th Classes inclusive with specific reference to Mathematics. There is team teaching in First Class where the focus in on Literacy. In-class support and small group work are incorporated into the work of the resource teachers, while small group work is undertaken by the resource teachers. Group or pair work, circle time, peer tutoring and whole class teaching are used by classroom teachers during the course of the day, depending on the curriculum subject area and needs of the class or pupils.


2.4 Management of pupils

A positive code of behaviour including an anti-bullying policy is implemented in a fair and consistent way. This is an inclusive school which respects all pupils regardless of background or gender. Teachers have high but realistic expectations of pupils’ behaviour and learning and they communicate these to them. Behavioural management issues are low and any issues of concern are brought to the attention of parents as necessary and as soon as possible.

2.5 Attainment of Curriculum Objectives

Assessment tools indicate that the majority of pupils attain curriculum objectives relative to their class grouping, as set out in the Primary School Curriculum for Literacy and Numeracy. Those pupils who are having difficulties, in particular children for whom English is a second or third language; children with specified special education needs or children who are struggling to achieve success in literacy and /or numeracy  received differentiated support either in class from the class teacher or the resource teachers.

Informal assessment of learning in English and Mathematics was carried out on an on-going basis by class teachers and resource teachers to monitor attainment of curriculum objectives relevant to the pupil’s class. Formal assessments (Drumcondra Reading Mathematics and Spellings) are carried out in May for classes from 1st to 6th and parents are notified of the outcome. The DES is notified of summary results for 2nd, 4th and 6th classes in accordance with requirements.

2.6 Assessment

The school uses a range of other assessment tools to monitor pupil progress and to assist in diagnosis of difficulties which may arise in individual cases. Results are also used to assist in teacher planning and to co-ordinate learning supports for pupils. In addition to the standardised tests, the Drumcondra Screening Tests are used with regard to attainments in numeracy and literacy in the infant classes, and diagnostic tests such as the Neale Analysis of Reading and the Non-Reading Intelligence Test are used as necessary. The school also avails of the services of the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) for a small number of psycho-educational tests during the year. Assessments are also carried out in order to refer a pupil for assistance by outside specialists (e.g. Speech and Language therapy; Occupational therapy). This range of assessments is supplemented by teacher observation, classroom tests and teacher-designed tasks and tests.

2.7 Learning environment

The school has a safe, stimulating environment and classrooms and the building is organised, clean and well- maintained. Classrooms are appropriately laid out and well- resourced and orderly. Teachers are aware of and follow the school’s Child Protection Guidelines. The school and local environments are utilised fully to make pupils aware of the rich heritage which is available to them. The displays on each corridor are changed frequently so that the items displayed are relevant and topical.

The pupils have a wide range of resources and learning tools, in particular reading materials and access to an interactive whiteboard in each classroom, which helps broaden literacy experiences for all pupils. Each classroom provides access to a computer for pupils to foster written work, and the pupils are time-tabled for twice weekly sessions in the Computer Room. The learning environment is one of encouragement and boosting pupil self-esteem to aid learning, and pupils are encouraged to give feedback to their class teacher in relation to any difficulties which they may have, so that their learning can be maximised.

2.8 Pupils’ engagement in learning

Pupils’ engagement in learning is monitored by their class teacher and if any areas of concern arise, these are brought to the attention of parents so that any concerns can be addressed and the pupil’s learning improved.

3. Progress made on previously-identified improvement targets

During 2011-2012, concerns were expressed with regard to attainment in Mathematics. It was decided to undertake team-teaching in Mathematics for all pupils from 3rd to 6th Classes inclusive. The results of the Drumcondra tests in Mathematics illustrated very clearly the effectiveness of this initiative.


  6th 5th 4th 3rd 
  51-99 percentile 51-99 percentile 51-99 percentile 51-99 percentile
2012 54% 42% 53% 70%
2013 68% 64% 54% 76%


Each cohort has improved on the previous year’s results, and there is also a higher number on each percentile ranking when the scores are analysed longitudinally.


4. Context and Summary of school self-evaluation findings


4.1 Strengths

Our school has strengths in the following areas with regard to Literacy

  • Reading initiatives to encourage reading – Paired reading, DEAR, USSR, shared reading and visits to School Library and Local Library
  • Well-stocked school library
  • A plentiful range of IT software resources available
  • A wide range of commercial comprehension material
  • Variety of assessment tools used
  • Print rich environment
  • Very successful phonics programme
  • Reading stations in 1st Class have been very successful
  • Good variety of reading texts used
  • Children engage in comprehension activities
  • Good variety of reading material available to all classes
  • Diagnostic and standardised tests administered
  • The process of writing is fostered
  • Draft, edit, redrafting are at the heart of the writing process
  • A variety of writing genres are taught
  • Good handwriting is fostered from Junior Infants to Sixth Classes inclusive
  • There is an agreed source of  content for spellings and an agreed approach to the teaching of spellings
  • Results of assessments are used to inform teacher planning
  • Teachers are conscious of the importance of literacy development and are constantly up-skilling in this area. Details of courses undertaken by current staff are contained in our school’s CPD policy, which is updated annually
  • A wide range of assessment tools are used to assess pupil progress and put interventions in place following consultation with parents and outside agencies, if necessary.


4.2    Area identified for Improvement: Oral Communication


The standard of oral language amongst our pupils was given dedicated discussion at a number of staff meetings during the second term of the 2012-13 school year. It was agreed to use the Drumcondra Profile Oral Language Indicators to rate the level of attainment among our pupils. Each mainstream class teacher selected two pupils from their class and the assessments were carried out during the last month of the third term. The teachers began at the top of the list of indicators for oral language and worked their way through the list until they reached the highest indicator achieved independently by both pupils. The findings were as follows:

Sixth Class: This cohort was excluded from the assessment due to difficulties with regard to follow-up

Fifth Class: Point 3 which stated that “the pupils present an organised, interesting report about a project topic and use appropriate illustrations”. The pupils reported on a project on India.


Fourth Class: Point 3 which stated that “the pupils present a point of view to the class offering some reasons or arguments.” The two class teachers presented the following topics for discussion:

  • The Vikings were cruel, savage people who were only interested in attacking countries for their gold and treasure
  • Consider whether the character, Charlotte, had been a good friend to Wilbur throughout the novel.

Third Class: Point 2 which stated that “pupils talk clearly, audibly and with confidence to different audiences in the school environment, i.e., individuals, groups, own class”. Pupils were asked to give an account of a recent trip around historical sites in Swords.

Second Class: Point 4 indicates that pupils “interpret the major themes in stories and informational texts, drawing on personal knowledge and experiences”. Pupils were asked to speak about the story, Trouble for Tuffy and the story, Once upon a time in China.

First Class: Point 4 where pupils “describe an experience, event or situation to the class with confidence, focusing on the topic and including key information. The pupils were asked to describe their school tour, which was a trip to Newbridge Farm and playground.

Senior Infants: Point 3 where pupils “can retell stories heard in class, recalling the main characters and events in appropriate sequence”. The stories selected were Listen to Fergus Upside Down Day and the Great Goat Chase.

Junior Infants: Point 3 which indicates that pupils “can communicate easily with others during seatwork. The pupils were asked to relate their news to one another; to listen to a story and to engage in a discussion based on the story and to take part in an oral language game called the shopping list.

Methodology: The pupils were filmed while making presentations, and this will give the facility to evaluate their progress in oral communication when they are being re-assessed.

4.3 Strengths in Oral Communication

The following is a list of the general strengths in oral language which the pupils possessed:

  • Confident in speaking in front of their class
  • Exhibited effective listening
  • Answered confidently questions from their peers
  • Varied tone of voice
  • Audible
  • Recounted clearly and accurately
  • Used adverbs and adjectives correctly
  • Sequenced events correctly
  • Recalled accurately all characters in stories

4.4 The following areas are prioritised for improvement:

  • Limited range of vocabulary
  • Speaking too quickly
  • Overuse of the verb, went
  • Overuse of words such as after and then
  • Pausing a lot
  • Adding extra bits to story
  • Leaving sentences unfinished
  • Incorrect pronunciation
  • Sentences far too long
  • Dis-organised sentence structure
  • Incorrect tenses of verbs
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Exhibiting distractible behaviour
  • Mixing up pronouns
  • Fingers in mouth while speaking
  • Lack of voice projection
  • Could not elaborate on points
  • Disjointed answers
  • Lack of fluency

4.5   Objectives for Oral Communication during the school year, 2013-14

To improve oral communication by use of the following strategies:

  • Awareness of the broad rules that govern social interaction
  • Developing listening skills
  • Developing speaking skills
  • Developing oral reporting
  • Developing story-telling and anecdotes
  • Greater use of partner and small group work
  • Questioning and interviewing
  • By organising formal debates
  • By providing facility at Assemblies for pupils to give reports
  • Developing ability to pursue an argument logically
  • Developing ability to give instructions
  • Improving the language learning environment by enriching physical environment of the classrooms
  • Improving the language learning environment by creating opportunities to engage in oral communication
  • By extending the pupils’ vocabulary and conceptual knowledge
  • By developing the pupils’ auditory memory skills
  • By sequencing and re-telling stories
  • By relating stories to real life experiences
  • By discussing characters’ motives
  • By developing feelings of empathy
  • By extending descriptions of objects, events and people
  • By the use of open-ended questions
  • By describing what is happening in a mime
  • By responding to stories and poems
  • By suggesting solutions to problems encountered in a story
  • By making connections between stories

4.6   Other Teaching and Planning Initiatives

  • A new English language series has been introduced for all pupils
  • New long and short-term schemes of work will be prepared to take account of the introduction of the new English language series
  • Progress will be reviewed at the Staff meeting in January 2014
  • Pupils will be re-assessed in May 2014 to ascertain the effectiveness of the various strategies and initiatives

4.7   The following legislative and regulatory requirements need to be addressed:

  • Anti-bullying policy, RSE policy, Parents as partners in education



 Appendix to School Self-Evaluation Report:

legislative and regulatory checklist


 Issue  Relevant legislation, rule or circular  Is the school fully meeting the requirements of the relevant legislation, rule or circular?


 If no, indicate aspects to be developed
Time in school- Length of school year – minimum of 183 days

– Length of school day

4 hours 40 minutes (infants);

5 hour 40 minutes (1st-6th classes)


Circular 11/95 PYes  No 





PYes  No

Arrangements for parent/ teacher and staff meetings  Circular 14/04 PYes  No
Implementation of Croke Park agreement regarding additional time requirement  Circular 0008/2011 PYes  No
Standardisation of school year  Circular 034/2011 PYes  No  


Valid enrolment of pupils Section 9(1), 15(2) and 23 Education Act 1998Sections 20 and 21, Education (Welfare) Act 2000

Rules 55, 64, 108 and 123, Rules for National Schools

Circular P24/02

Staffing Schedule for current school year



PYes  No
Retention of pupils Rule 64 Rules for National SchoolsCircular 11/01

Circular 32/03


P  Yes  No
Development of school plan  Section 21, Education Act 1998 P  Yes  No  
Appointments to posts of responsibility  Circular 07/03Circular 053/2011 P Yes  No  
Time for literacy and numeracy – assessing and reporting literacy and numeracy achievement Circular 0056/11 Initial Steps in the Implementation of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy P Yes  No  


Exemption from Irish Circular 12/96 P Yes  No 


Implementation of child protection procedures Circular 0065/2011 

Please ensure the following in relation to child protection


PYes  No
▪ Number of cases where a report involving a child in the school was submitted by the DLP to the HSE 

▪ Number of cases where a report involving a child in the school was submitted by the DLP to the HSE and the school board of management informed


▪ Number of cases where the DLP sought advice from the HSE and as a result of this advice, no report was made


▪ Number of cases where the DLP sought advice from the HSE and as a result of this advice, no report was made and the school board of management informed
















Implementation of complaints procedure as appropriate Complaints Procedures, Section 28 Education ActPrimary Boards of Management Information Manual November 2007


Please consider the following in relation to complaints


PYes  No
▪ Number of formal parental complaints received 

▪ Number of formal complaints processed


▪ Number of formal complaints not fully processed by the end of this school year








Refusal to enrol Section 29 Education Act 1998 

Please provide the following information in relation to appeals taken in accordance with Section 29 against the school during this school year




Number of section 29 cases taken against the school 

Number of cases processed at informal stage


Number of cases heard


Number of appeals upheld


Number of appeals dismissed









Suspension of students Section 29 Education Act 1998 

Please provide the following information in relation to appeals taken in accordance with Section 29 against the school during this school year


Number of section 29 cases taken against the school 

Number of cases processed at informal stage


Number of cases heard


Number of appeals upheld


Number of appeals dismissed
















Expulsion of students Section 29 Education Act 1998 

Please provide the following information in relation to appeals taken in accordance with Section 29 against the school during this school year

Number of section 29 cases taken against the school 

Number of cases processed at informal stage


Number of cases heard



Number of appeals upheld


Number of appeals dismissed


















 Policy  Source  Has policy been approved by the board of management?


 If no, indicate aspects to be


Enrolment policy Section (15)(2)(d) Education Act 1998  P Yes  No
Code of behaviour[1] including anti-bullying policy Circular 20/90DES Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour 1993

NEWB Guidelines

Section 23, Education Welfare Act 2000


P Yes  No Policy to be revised in light of new guidelines
Attendance and participation strategy[2]  Section 22 Education Welfare Act 2000Equal Status Acts 2000-2011 P Yes  No
Health and safety statement  Section 20 Health and Safety Act 2005 P Yes  No
Data protection Data Protection Act 1988Data Protection (Amendment Act) 2003


P Yes  No
Special education needs policy[3] Education Act 1998Equal Status Acts 2000- 2011

Education (Welfare) Act 2000

Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act (EPSEN)[4] 2004

Disability Act 2005


P Yes  No
Relationships and sexuality education (RSE) policy  Relationships and Sexuality Education: Policy Guidelines (1997)   Yes P No Policy to be revised
Child protection policy Circular 0065/2011  P Yes  No
Parents as partners Circular 24/91  Yes P  No 


Policy to be revised
Public service (Croke Park) agreement – special needs assistants Circular 71/11 P Yes  No 








[1]Under the provisions of the Education (Welfare) Act (2000) (section 23) the school’s code of behaviour should conform to the specifications stated.

[2]Under the provisions of the Education (Welfare) Act (2000) (section 22), the school’s attendance strategy should conform with the provisions stipulated.

[3]Section 9 of the Education Act (1998) requires a school to “use its available resources” to identify and provide for the educational needs of those “with a disability or other special educational needs.”

[4] The EPSEN Act requires that schools be inclusive of and provide an appropriate education for pupils with special educational needs.