Self-Evaluation Report '13-'14 - Scoil Gharbháin

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Self-Evaluation Report '13-'14


                     School Self-Evaluation Report

1. Introduction

1.1 The focus of the evaluation
A school self-evaluation of teaching and learning in English literacy was undertaken during the period 11.09.2013 to 19.06.2014. This is a report on the findings of the evaluation.

1.2 School context
-Scoil Gharbháin is an Irish-medium, co-educational, urban primary school.
-There are currently 232 pupils enrolled in the school.
-There are ten full-time teachers including a principal and full-time and part-time learning support teachers. A learning support teacher is also clustered for one day per week from Coolnasmear N.S.
- The school’s population has steadily increased since inception in 1982.
-The school is located in a permanent structure, with further building work ongoing at present.
-The school annually administers Micra-T, Sigma-T, Drumcondra Screening and Diagnostic tests for infants and Triail Gaeilge Dhroim Conrach.
-The school mainly uses the Starways English programme from Junior Infants to Second Class, and Carroll Heinemann from Third to Sixth Class.

2. Test Findings
-Standardised test results in English reading and comprehension (administered in May 2013) show that no pupils achieved a score below the 2nd percentile (national norm = 2%).
8% are performing between the 3rd and 16th percentiles and this is above the national norm of 14%.
26% of pupils are scoring above the national norm of 34%, with scores between the 17th and 50th percentiles.
66% of pupils are achieving scores above the 50th percentile, well above the national norm of 50%.
-An assessment of spellings was carried out in September 2013 in all classes from First to Sixth Class. In total, 155 children were tested.
11½% achieved standard scores of 115 and above, thereby being placed in the top ⅙ of pupils, in the well above average range.  
8⅓% scored between 108 and 114, in the high average range.
40½% scored between 93 and 107, in the average range.
18% scored between 85 and 92, in the low average range.
21% scored below 84, in the well below average range.

It is clear that improvement needs to take place regarding spellings on a whole-school basis, yet it is noteworthy that the children’s ability to spell generally improved as they got older with a significant number of children in Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Class achieving spelling scores above their chronological age. It will be important to investigate spelling strategies used in these classes.

3. Teacher observation
-Teachers report that the strengths in the school relating to English literacy are that strong support structures are in place, active learning is encouraged (self-discovery in particular), strong phonics foundation implemented in the school, specific readers/novels in all classes and recent improvements in cursive writing.
-However, teachers are concerned with the difficulty encountered by some children regarding the retention of learned spellings and the problems associated with relating learned spellings to later written work. An indicator of the children’s proficiency in creative, independent and personal writing was also included in the teachers’ assessments. The majority of pupils presented their work in a neat and tidy manner with the progression and emergence of cursive writing in all classes.
-The strengths identified in the pieces of writing provided are writing in relevance to the topic, the majority of words are spelt accurately in senior classes, evidence of good punctuation and new vocabulary being used appropriately.
-Identified areas for improvement are the exclusion of “text spelling”, expansion of spelling skills and strategies, avoiding the overuse of common words and teaching the children to read and edit their written work in order to ensure avoidable mistakes are not made.

4. Pupils’ and parents’ responses
A questionnaire regarding attitudes and practices in literacy was filled in by parents and students alike.

85% of students from 1st to 6th class reported that they like writing English stories. 23% find learning spellings difficult. 26% prefer to learn spellings in sentences. 27% find it difficult to remember spellings after the test.
Among the suggestions from students, they would prefer spellings to be printed for them, they would like spelling games on the computer and are happy to continue with the look, say, cover, write, check method.

Infants’ parents: 90% like learning letter sounds. 81% require some help at home learning letters and sounds. 4½% are struggling with learning letters and sounds.
Parents from 1st to 6th class: 78% like learning English spellings. 90% are happy with the information they receive from school regarding their children’s progress in spelling. 81% know their child’s strengths in spelling. 4% feel their child is struggling with spelling.
Among their suggestions are:
Keep parents informed.
Make spelling fun, i.e. spelling games and bees.
Give out all spellings on a Monday.
Learn spellings in context.
Emphasise cursive writing.
Recommend additional reading for home.

5.  Progress made on previously identified targets identified in the current SIP
N/A for year one as SIP not yet in place.

6. Summary of school self-evaluation findings

6.1 Our school has strengths in the following areas:
-A strong support structure for pupils.
-No child is performing below the 2nd percentile in reading and pupils are scoring above the national norms in all other percentiles.
-A strong foundation for reading and writing is implemented in junior classes.
-Readers and novels are challenging and enjoyable.
Presentation of work and cursive writing has improved in recent years and is still being developed.
-An increasing number of children participate in the Reading Buddy scheme, thereby encouraging fluency and general interest in reading.
-A high percentage of students enjoy English writing in general.
-Parents are happy with the information they receive from school regarding their child’s progress in English spelling.

6.2 The following areas have been prioritised for improvement:
-Develop the children’s ability to spell accurately and to transfer these skills to independent writing.
-Develop creative and independent writing.
-Make spelling fun through developing games and spelling bees.
-Emphasise free writing.
-Develop the writing process through various writing genres.
-continue to develop reading and comprehension skills.

School Improvement Plan – English Spelling

Baseline Data/Evidence
Standardised assessment data for English spelling was collated and analysed.  A SCOT analysis was completed at a staff meeting.  Questionnaires were given to parents.  A survey of the children’s spelling habits and preferences were conducted.  Further areas for concerns were highlighted.  All of their data was analysed during Term one of the 2013-2014
academic year and detailed findings can be found in the School Self – Evaluation Report.

 A strong support structure is in place for pupils.
 A strong foundation in phonics is implemented in the school.
 11½% of pupils achieved spelling scores in the well above average range.
 78% of pupils from 1st to 6th class like learning English spellings.
 No pupil is performing below the 2nd percentile in reading.
 There is a strong pupil participation in the Reading Buddy Scheme, which enhances standards in recreational and personal reading.
 Parents are happy with the information they receive from the school regarding their child’s progress in English spelling.

Areas for Improvement
 Develop the children’s ability to spell accurately and transfer these skills to independent writing.
 Develop vocabulary with particular emphasis in senior classes.
 Make spelling fun.
 Emphasise free writing.
 Develop the writing process through various writing genres.

Improvement Targets
The school will continue to work towards and maintain an improvement in the school spelling scores when the Drumcondra Spelling Test is re-administrated in March 2014.

These improvements will include:
 13% of pupils achieving standard scores of 115 and above, over the 84th Percentile.
 11% scoring between 108 and 114, 70th Percentile and above.
 45% scoring between 93 and 107, 32nd Percentile and above.
 15% scoring 85-92, 16th Percentile and above.
 16% scoring below 84, the 14th Percentile and below.

Required Actions
• A whole school approach to the teaching of spellings will collaboratively agree following relevant research and discussions.
• The teaching staff will use a variety of strategies’ to effectively teach spelling.
• Independent writing will be further developed and encouraged at a whole - school level.

In Junior Classes, this will be implemented through shared writing and the development of emergent writing projects, (pre-phonetic and phonetic).

In Senior Classes, through the implementation of the writing process and the extended inclusion of writing genres.  
The children will use the following strategies in the junior classes to aid the development of independent writing and spelling. Senior Classes will also use a variety of spelling strategies to spell and learn new words in the context of Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check. Spellings will be learned individually and in context. Children will also benefit from fun spelling activities to reinforce classwork.

Success Criteria
The children will use the following strategies in the junior classes to aid the development of independent writing and spelling.

Junior Classes:
Phonological awareness
Onset and rime awareness
Word families
Writing simple captions
Dolch lists

Senior Classes - Strategies will include:
- Sounding out
- Chunking
- Using visual memory
- Using analogy
- Consulting an authority
- Using memory aids (mnemonics)
- Spelling Bees
- Hangman
- Staircases
- Word searches
- Anagrams
- Word chains
- Word families

Person(s) Responsible
Principal to arrange teachers to engage.  

Review in March 2014


The Drumcondra spelling test was readministered to Classes 1-6 in March 2014, in order to assess the progress or lack thereof made in spelling since September.
These are the results shown:

1. Well above average: (S.S. 115 and above)
September: 11.5%
March: 26%

2. High average: (S.S. 108-114)
September: 8.3%
March: 19.7%

3. Average: (S.S. 93-107)
September: 40.5%
March: 37%

4. Low average: (S.S. 85-92)
September: 18%
March: 9.6%

5. Well below average: (S.S. below 84)
September: 21%
March: 7.7%

As regards the improvement targets set out in September, a target of 13%  was set for pupil results above the 84th percentile. This achieved a 25.4% result.
11%  was set for the 70th to 83rd percentiles. A result of 19.9%  was achieved.
45%  was set for the 32nd to 69th percentiles. A result of 37.5%  was achieved.
15%  was set for the 16th to 31st percentiles. A result of 9.5%  was achieved.
16%  was set for pupils at the 14th percentile and below. A result of 7% was achieved.

These results show a marked improvement in the spelling standards of Scoil Gharbháin pupils for the 2013-2014 school year. We aim to continue with the spelling strategies used heretofore and to administer the Drumcondra Spelling test on an annual basis.


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