Parents Section

School Improvement Plan Parents

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Fundraising  Choir Up to March 2012 annually
Fundraising / Buster Night School needs April/May/June 2013 weekly during April/May
Graduation Mass To honour 6th class pupils June 2013 each September
Develop Book Exchange Scheme
  • to support families
  • to utilise available books
June 2013 each September
Explore CAPER Programme to improve reading ability and foster enjoyment  September 2013 as need arises
          Development of                 Book Rental Scheme
  • to ease the financial burden on families
  • to ensure all pupils have affordable access to school books 
  • to foster an awareness of the re-use of available books
June 2014 annually
To purchase SRA Reading Labs to support the school in enhancing development of reading and comprehension June 2014 December 2014

To facilitate the purchase of PM & non-fiction books for Junior classes and NLD books for Senior classes

to support the school in developing literacy through its Lift-Off Literacy Programme and Guided Reading Apporaches June / September 2014 December 2014

School Improvement Plan Board of Management

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Board of Management





       Damaged Wall Safety hazard   Immediately 2011 weekly 
Consider Pre-School Initiative To boost pupil intake January 2012 March 2012

Provide Treasurer's Report to Parents' Council

Greater transparency Bi-annually June annually
Interior painting Face up-lift Ongoing 2013
Interior signage Access/Information/Vocabulary Nov/Dec 2011 June annually
Fundraising Initiatives To manage school budget 2012  -> As need arises
Include attendance report at BOM meetings        To minitor and develop best practice              re school attendance 2012 -> Each BOM meeting
To meet with Parents' Council bi-annually         To discuss concerns + issues in an             open manner 2012 -> As need arises
To support investment in Lift-Off Literacy Programme
  • To boost Literacy levels
  • To balance in/out of class support
  • To develop whole school approaches in the development of Oral Language 
2012 / 13  -> June 2013

To support investment in Jolly Phonics Programme   Infants  -  2nd class

     To teach reading by developing phonological awareness 2012 / 13  -> May 2013
 To support the          development of whole        school strategies                  re problem solving  To foster a greater awareness of the      application of Maths concepts in         everyday situations Sept 2013  -> BOM meetings
Literacy: to support the development of whole school  approaches to comprehension To extend pupils' ability to apply various comprehension strategies in response to various questioning techniques Sept 2012  -> BOM meetings

School Self Evaluation Report JUNE 2014

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Holy Family School



Co. Kerry.


Roll No.  19536W


Evaluation Period:        February – June  2014

Report issue date:        June 2014



The focus of the evaluation

A school self evaluation of teaching and learning in Holy Family School was undertaken during the 2012/13 school year.  After a period of analysis and consultation, literacy was selected as the curricular area to be focused on for the 2013/14 school year, 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 11 mainstream classes from Junior Infants to 6th class.  It has two learning support teachers and two resource teachers.  The current enrolment is 263 pupils comprising 71 girls and 192 boys.

The school has approx. 70 children whose first language is not English.  We have 14 children who are members of the travelling community.  The school administers Micra-T standardised test in English and Sigma-T standardised test in Mathematics from 1st to 6th 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 literacy

·         Pupils’ work - samples, copies, projects, displays

·         Observations of the learning support team

·         WSE observations and recommendations

·         Existing phonics and phonological awareness approaches

·         In-depth analysis of Micra-T standardised test results

·         Comparison of the outcomes of standardised tests with national norms

·         Middle Management discussion on best practice in teaching approaches  to literacy

·         Discussion with Parents Council representatives

·         Informal discussion with pupils regarding approaches to literacy


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 support pupils in their learning. Teachers successfully employ a wide variety of teaching methodologies and approaches appropriate to the development of oral language, reading, writing and digital media literacy. A variety of organisational groupings and settings are used in classrooms to support 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 pupil's 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 are withdrawn from class for learning support in literacy.


A  large selection of assessment tools are used to assess learning in literacy– various diagnostic tests, observations, checklists, curriculum objectives, questioning, self-assessment, tests and standardised tests. The school administers Micra-T standardised test in English and Sigma-T standardised test in Mathematics from 1st to 6th class,.  A screening test (MIST) is used in Junior Infants to identify children at risk of reading failure. The Marino Word Reading Test is used at the end of the Senior Infant year.  On completion of standardized testing, diagnostic tests are administered to pupils at risk in June/September.

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 reading are fostered and reading initiatives to encourage reading take place regularly ( i.e. silent reading, paired reading , library reading,visits to the local library).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                                                                                           

Summary of school self-evaluation findings

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

·         Reading initiatives to encourage reading: Paired reading, shared reading, visits to the library;

·         Print rich environment;

·         Good phonics development in junior classes;

·         Good variety of reading material available in classrooms

·         Sails Literacy Series from Junior Infants to 3rd class

-         Good variety of reading texts used. Lass novels used in middle and senior classes

·         Collaborative planning across streams and learning support;

·         The school has been proactive in helping parents to foster a culture of reading in the home;

·         Teachers observe that the majority of pupils display very positive attitudes to reading.

·         Each class uses a variety of organisational styles – pair work, group work, individual work and

           whole class work. There is order and structure in the way activities are organised.

·         Good Resources available

      ·         Variety of Assessment tools used

      ·         Diagnostic and standardised tests administered

      ·         Results of assessments are used to inform teacher planning

      ·         Children engage in Listening comprehension activities

      ·         The process of writing is fostered and developed

      ·         A variety of writing genres are taught

      ·        Questionnaires issued to parents (WSE 2011) indicate high levels of satisfaction with the school

      ·        Questionnaires issued to pupils (WSE 2011) indicate positive disposition towards school

The following areas are prioritised for development with regard to literacy:

·         The development and purchase of Jolly Phonics Programme from Junior Infants to 3rd class.

·         Professional advice to be sought regarding the implementation of Jolly Phonics Programme and staff

           seminar to be arranged

·         Information regarding Jolly Phonics Programme to be disseminated to parents

·         The research of a Lift-Off Literacy programme reflecting the needs of the school

·         The investment in and development of a Lift-Off Literacy programme

·         The staffing of a Lift-Off Literacy programme (Junior Infants to 3rd class)

·         The improvement of literacy skills of children in the various percentile bands as itemised in the

           standardised test results;

·         Increase the variety of reading materials in Junior and Senior classes by genre and ability levels;

·         Communication with parents regarding the commitment to the Lift-Off Literacy programme

·         Station Teaching of literacy skills  (Lift-Off Literacy programme)

·         The organisation of support for pupils in need to include in-class support as well as class withdrawal.

·         The purchase and incorporation into classes of Folens Literacy Boxes to enhance literacy

·         The adoption of a uniform reading scheme throughout the school

Legislative and regulatory requirements

           Holy Family School is currently meeting these requirements

School policy requirements

           The following policies need to be updated:-

·         Anti-bullying policy

·         Fire policy (Health & Safety)

·         Data Protection

·         SEN policy

·         Attendance and participation policy


Is your child getting enough exercise?

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When most adults think about exercise, they imagine working out in the gym on a treadmill or lifting weights.  But for kids, exercise means playing and being physically active. Kids exercise when they have gym class at school, during recess, at dance class or soccer practice, while riding bikes, or when playing tag.

The Many Benefits of Exercise

Everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Kids who are active will:

·         have stronger muscles and bones

·         have a leaner body because exercise helps control body fat

·         be less likely to become overweight

·         decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes

·         possibly lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels

·         have a better outlook on life

Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.

The Three Elements of Fitness

If you've ever watched kids on a playground, you've seen the three elements of fitness in action when they:

1.    run away from the kid who's "it" (endurance)

2.    cross the monkey bars (strength)

3.    bend down to tie their shoes (flexibility)

Parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of activities so that they can work on all three elements.

Endurance is developed when kids regularly engage in aerobic activity. During aerobic exercise, the heart beats faster and a person breathes harder. When done regularly and for extended periods of time, aerobic activity strengthens the heart and improves the body's ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells.

Aerobic exercise can be fun for both adults and kids. Examples of aerobic activities include:

·         basketball

·         bicycling

·         ice-skating

·         inline skating

·         soccer

·         swimming

·         tennis

·         walking

·         jogging

·         running

Improving strength doesn't have to mean lifting weights. Although some kids benefit from weightlifting, it should be done under the supervision of an experienced adult who works with them.

But most kids don't need a formal weight-training program to be strong. Push-ups, stomach crunches, pull-ups, and other exercises help tone and strengthen muscles. Kids also incorporate strength activities in their play when they climb, do a handstand, or wrestle.

Stretching exercises help improve flexibility, allowing muscles and joints to bend and move easily through their full range of motion. Kids look for opportunities every day to stretch when they try to get a toy just out of reach, practice a split, or do a cartwheel.

The Sedentary Problem

The percentage of overweight and obese kids and teens has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Although many factors contribute to this epidemic, children are becoming more sedentary. In other words, they're sitting around a lot more than they used to.  

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 8- to 18-year-olds watch about 4.5 hours of television a day. And the average kid spends 7 hours on all screen media combined (TV, videos, and DVDs, computer time outside of schoolwork, and video games).

One of the best ways to get kids to be more active is to limit the amount of time spent in sedentary activities, especially watching TV or playing video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends these limits on screen time:

·         kids under age 2 should watch no TV at all

·         kids older than 2 should be restricted to just 1-2 hours a day of quality programming

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

Parents should make sure that their kids get enough exercise. So, how much is enough? Kids and teens get 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily.

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) offers these activity guidelines for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers:


Minimum Daily Activity



No specific requirements

Physical activity should encourage motor development


1½ hours

30 minutes planned physical activity AND 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)


2 hours

60 minutes planned physical activity AND 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)

School age

1 hour or more

Break up into bouts of 15 minutes or more

Infants and young children should not be inactive for prolonged periods of time — no more than 1 hour unless they're sleeping. And school-age children should not be inactive for periods longer than 2 hours.

Raising Fit Kids

Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle.

Here are some tips for raising fit kids:

·         Help your kids participate in a variety of age-appropriate activities.

·         Establish a regular schedule for physical activity.

·         Incorporate activity into daily routines, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

·         Embrace a healthier lifestyle yourself, so you'll be a positive role model for your family.

·         Keep it fun, so you can count on your kids to come back for more.


Is your child getting enough sleep?

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  What is considered the optimum sleeping time for a primary school aged child?

Young children don't often recognise that they are tired and can become fatigued very quickly.  This usually results in a demonstration of fractious, weepy, clingy and irritable behaviour, which can be difficult to control.  As children get older they are more likely to identify when they are feeling drowsy and will be less resistant to going to bed.  Chidlren aged four to six tend to sleep between 10.5 to 11.5 hours a night, although most children of this age will have difficulty sleeping at some point.  They may resist going to bed, may wake up in the night, may accidentally wet the bed and they may be scared of the dark.  As children grow the need for such lengthy sleep reduces and by the time the children are aged six to twelve they will need around 10 hours a night.  Any sleep problems at this age are likely to be linked with worries at school or with friends or other family memebers.  Other common causes of childhood sleep disruption might be nightmares and bed wetting.

The most effective way to combat any problems and create a good sleep pattern is to establish a regular bedtime routine so your child knows when they have to go to bed each day. Start by constructing the perfect sleeping environment for your child using blackout blinds or curtains where possible and a suitable duvet and bed covers for the time of year.    Ideally the room temperature should be between 160  and 240 .  Bedtime should be around the same time each evening which follows a consistent routine.  After dinner encourage quiet play, followed by a bath and then read a favourite story.

On the whole the occasional sleepless night will not affect a child's wellbeing, but if the insomnia continues it will affect a child's behaviour as he/she is likely to feel lethargic, will find it increasingly difficult to concentrate and eventually may start to nod off in the classroom.  If a child's health is starting to suffer as a consequence of sleep deprivation see your GP for more advice.

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