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SSE Report 2015

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The focus of the evaluation

A school self evaluation of teaching and learning in Holy Family School was undertaken during the period of February 2012 to June 2012.  After a period of analysis and consultation, one new initiative in numeracy (Maths Blitzing)and a further initiative in literacy (Oral Language Development) were selected as curricular areas of learning to be focused on for the  year (2014-2015) in accordance with Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life (circular 56/2011). 

School Context

Holy Family School is a Catholic ethos, urban, mixed school established in 1976 under the patronage of the Bishop of Kerry.  The school currently has 10 mainstream classes from Junior Infants to 6th class.  It has two learning support teachers and two resource teachers.  The current enrolment is 254 pupils comprising 73 girls and 181 boys.

The school administers Drumcondra/Micra-T standardised tests in English and Sigma-T standardised test in Mathematics from 1st to 6th class, NNRIT to 1st and 4th classes. 

Holy Family School has a broad spectrum, parent base which encompasses the full range of family situations encountered in a large urban town.

The Findings
Evaluation approaches and methods used to gather evidence

Data was gathered on the basis of both quantitative and qualitative enquiry.

The following sources of evidence were used to compile the findings of this report

  Individual teacher views of practice in the respective numeracy and literacy areas

·         Pupils’ work and ability

·         Observations of the learning support/resource  team

·         WSE observations and recommendations

·         Existing approaches in targeted areas

·         In-depth analysis of Sigma-T and Drumcondra/Micra-T standardised test results

·         Pupil+parent questionnaire responses (Oral Language area)

·         Comparison of the outcomes of standardized tests with national norms

·         Middle Management discussion on best practice in teaching approaches in the targeted areas

·         Informal discussion with pupils regarding approaches to the targeted areas

The following is a summary of our findings:-

Preparation for teaching

Teachers prepare short term and long term plans and use these plans to guide teaching and learning.  Monthly progress reports are completed and stored centrally.   Curriculum objectives are adhered to and the Plean Scoile is used to guide policy.

Teaching Approaches

Teachers utilise a broad range of resources, including information and communications technology (ICT) to good effect to support pupils in their learning. Teachers successfully employ a wide variety of teaching methodologies and approaches appropriate to the development of the various strands of numeracy and literacy ; these include  number, measure,shape and space, algebra and data in numeracy and in literacy - oral language, reading, writing and digital media literacy. A variety of organisational groupings and settings are used in classrooms to support Numeracy and Literacy .  Teachers differentiate lessons effectively to cater for the needs and abilities of all pupils.

Management of Pupils

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 this to them. A positive code of behaviour, including an anti-bullying policy is implemented in a fair and consistent way. It is reviewed annually. Pupils with SEN receive in-class support or are withdrawn from class for learning support in numeracy and  literacy. The needs of pupils with low incidence teaching hours (LITH) are met through collaboration between the class teacher and resource teacher in adherence to each pupil’s IEP.


A  large selection of assessment tools are used to assess learning in numeracy and  literacy– observations, checklists, curriculum objectives, questioning, self-assessment, tests and standardised tests. The school administers Drumcondra standardised test in English and Sigma-T standardised test in Mathematics from 1st to 6th class, NNRIT to 1st and 4th classes.  The Drumcondra Test of Early Literacy is used in Senior Infants to identify children at risk of reading failure. Jackson and Marino/Schonell tests are also used.

Learning Environment

A print rich environment is evident in classrooms, in resource rooms and around the school. The school is decorated with displays of pupils' work. Positive attitudes towards numeracy and literacy are fostered and there are many initiatives which challenge pupils’ interest such as Khan Academy, maths trails ,problem solving and tables tests in Numeracy and in literacy - Lift-Off Literacy,Literacy Boxes,SRA cards, silent and paired reading , library reading and visits to the local library . Enabling the pupils to acquire the necessary numeracy skills and concepts across the 5 curriculum strands is central to maths attainment levels.Formal writing is well taught and pupils are facilitated to write in a variety of genres.The importance of oral language development is emphasised.

Progress made on previously-identified improvement targets
  • Greater emphasis placed on the school book fair as a means of inviting parents into the school to promote the purchase of appropriate reading material for enjoyment
  • A resource room was developed to store resources centrally   
  • The development of pupil folders to highlight discrete areas of pupils’ classwork which are passed on from class to class.
  • Uniform child friendly signage was developed throughout the school interior                                                                                            
  • The development and purchase of Jolly Phonics Programme from Junior Infants to 2nd class.
  • Professional advice was sought regarding the implementation of Jolly Phonics Programme and staff seminar to be arranged
  • Information regarding Jolly Phonics Programme is  disseminated to parents
  • The research and development of a Lift-Off Literacy Programme including investment and staffing
  • The improvement of literacy skills of children in the various percentile bands as itemised in the standardised test results;
  • Station Teaching of literacy skills in Junior and Senior Infants, 1st, 2nd and 3rd  (Lift-Off Literacy programme)
  • The purchase and incorporation into classes of Folens Literacy Boxes and SRA Reading Labs to enhance literacy
  • The organisation of support for pupils in need to include in-class support as well as group withdrawal.

Summary of school self-evaluation findings

The following areas were identified as strengths with regard to numeracy and literacy:


  • Very positive progress was reported from the pilot programme in Maths Blitzing for 2013/14
  • The standardised tests would show that those pupils with better understanding of data (in the 51st84th Percentile Band) increased from 35% -to 41%
  • Those with a better understanding of shape & space increased from 39% to 41% in the same Percentile Band
  • In the 99th100th Percentile Band the percentage of pupils increased from 10% to 21% in shape & space
  • In the 99th100th Percentile Band the percentage of pupils increased from 15% to 21% in algebra
  • The percentage of Holy Family School pupils on the 16th percentile or below is reported as 10.3% as compared with 16.0% nationally
  • The percentage of Holy Family School pupils on the 85th percentile or above is reported as 33.6% as compared with 16.0%
  • Very positive feedback was received from children using the on-line Mathletics Programme.
  • The web based programme Khan Academy being used by 4th, 5th & 6th classes yielded very positive results
Literacy : Oral language
PARENTS  (based on questionnaire)
  • 87% of parents reported that their child could express himself/herself well
  • 82% reported that their child could follow verbal instructions easily
  • 86% reported that their child could describe an event/story in a logical way
  • 74% expressed a view that their child listened well to both themselves and others
  • 78% of parents listened to their child’s reading and spelling each evening
  • 86% stated that their child could distinguish between speaking to their friend as opposed to another adult/teacher/guard
  • 70% of international families reported that English was also spoken at home
  • 100% of international families reported that their child was capable of starting a conversation in English with another child
  • 73% of international parents reported that their child uses English when using multi-media
PUPILS  (based on questionnaire)
  • 71% of pupils reported that they like speaking in front of the class
  • 95% reported that their opinions and feelings are respected when shared with others at home
  • 76% felt that their opinions and feelings are respected when shared with others at school
  • 87% reported that they get a chance to give their opinion at home
  • 77% felt that they get a chance to give their opinion at school
  • 71% reported that they enjoy reading aloud in class
  • 75% reported that they could follow a series of instruction or directions without having them repeated
  • 82% reported that they could give a series of instructions or directions so that they could be clearly understood
The following areas are prioritised for development with regard to numeracy and literacy:
Specific areas of focus (2014-2015)

Maths Blitzing

This initiative was piloted in the 2013/14 school year. It yielded very positive results and has consequently been incorporated into the Learning Support schedule for 2014/15. It is evidence based support given to groups of pupils whose classroom performance and Sigma-T scores indicate problems in their understanding of number, measure,shape and space, algebra and data. This targeted intervention is timetabled into the Learning Support provision and through a process of consultation is aligned to the classroom teacher’s short term planning in the chosen strand. 6 different groupings were targeted from September to May. Maths blitzing with senior infants was in the form of Mata sa Rang.

Oral Language development

Discrete Oral language lessons in each class based on the 5 components:-

  • Listening and speaking skills
  • Auditory memory
  • Variety of spoken texts
  • Vocabulary and conceptual knowledge
  • Language learning environment
  • Oral language cues to be displayed


Legislative and regulatory requirements

Holy Family School is currently meeting these requirements

School policy requirements

The following policies need to be updated:-

  •  Maths
  • English
  • Code of Behaviour
  • Assessment

NEPS Guidelines and Tips for Parents

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NEPS have produced some very useful guidelines, hand-outs and tips for parents and teachers. They will be publishing these guidelines on the Dept. of Education & Skills (DES) website on an on-going basis.  The first topics in this series are in relation to Organisational and Motor Skills.



Stay Safe Programme 1

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Most children grow up happy and safe, but we know that from time to time they can encounter upsetting, frightening or unsafe situations.  The Stay Safe Programme is designed to help our children deal with these situations.

Research has shown that children who participate in the Stay Safe Programme are more likely to tell if they become victims of abuse or bullying, and that parents/guardians and teachers involved with the programme are more likely to respond in a protective and supportive manner.

Click on the following link for more information:


School Improvement Plan Principal & Staff

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Develop Resource Room  Easier access to resources December 2011 termly
To plant sensory garden To enhance garden Spring 2012 annually
To put Jolly Phonics Progamme in place To teach reading by developing phonological awareness September 2012 May 2013

To review the Assessment Policy and recording of pupils progress 

To create a longitudinal record of pupil progress in standardised tests

To make staff aware of assessment data

To improve supports for pupils with special needs

To improve recording procedures of pupils progress

To give clearer guidelines to teachers in the use of Assessment of Learing and Assessment for Learning 

June 2013 ongoing
Review Attendance Policy to improve attendance October 2012 as need arises
Put Literacy Lift-Off Programme in place
  • To enhance reading programme
  • To provide in-class support to develop reading initiatives
  • To develop whole school approaches in the development of Oral Language
2012/13 as need arises
Develop Irish Grammar and Informal Irish initiatives
  • To improve standards 
  • To present grammar in a structured way to facilitate learning
  • To develop benchmarks which need to be achieved in each class
2013/14 Each Middle Management meeting for year 1 and each Staff Meeting for year 1
Develop a class to class approach to 10 Irish Themes
  • To ensure continuity and set benchmarks
  • To ensure that an agreed level of learning has been achieved in each theme
2013/14 Each Middle Management meeting for year 1 and each Staff Meeting for year 1
To monitor and use assessment data to maximise learning outcomes immediate Each Middle Management meeting and each Staff Meeting
To tabulate and collate pupil assessment data in a more effective manner
  • To provide quick glance information to staff
  • To ensure better linkage between assessment data and learning targets
2012 Each Middle Management meeting and each Staff Meeting
To develop a support timetable for the administration of standardised tests To facilitate optimum participation in the completion of the tests May 2013 each June
Mathematics - Looking at targeted intervention (Blitzing)
  • To address significant deviations in pupil scores across the strands
  • To improve learner outcomes in the problem area with specific targeted intervention
Sept 2013  -> Middle Management Meetings and Staff Meetings
Review Middle Management duties To incorporate more defined curriculum roles September 2013 Middle Management Meetings
To discuss and engage in the    SSE Programme
  • To take the initiative in improving the quality in education in the school
  • To affirm and build on what is working well
  • To identify areas in need of development
  • To report back to the school community
Sept 2013 -> ongoing
To extend Literacy Lift-Off      Programme to include Infants to 3rd class
  • To enhance reading programme
  • To provide in-class support to develop reading initiatives
  • To develop whole school approaches in the development of Oral Language
  • To improve competency levels
2013/14 June 2014
To introduce Mata sa Rang    Senior Infants To provide targeted teaching in Maths to small groups in a station teaching format similar to Lift-Off Literacy January 2014 June 2014
To develop a whole school approach to Oral Language
  • To focus on the need to improve oral language ability
  • To set benchmarks to be attained in each class
February 2014 October 2014
To develop whole school approaches to comprehension (based on 'Building Bridges of Understanding' approach)
  • To help pupils make sense of text using various comprehension strategies
  • To help pupils to become active readers in control of their own reading comprehension
October 2014 December 2014
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Contact Us

  • Address: Balloonagh, Tralee, Co. Kerry
  • Tel: +353 (0) 66 71 241 61
  • Email us here

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