A School Self-Evaluation of Teaching and Learning in Newtown School was undertaken during the period from September 2017 to May 2018. This cycle of the School Self-Evaluation process for 2016 – 2020 continues to focus on Teaching and Learning. The four year cycle allows for an investigation year to scope out and develop the improvement plan and preparing for its implementation. Literacy and Numeracy practices are to be embedded with regular review.
In September 2017, a School Self-Evaluation (SSE) working group was formed to implement the improvement plan for 2017/2018. The plan focused on:
- Embedding of Literacy and Numeracy
- Implementation of Formative Assessment, together with
- Implementation of Junior Cycle Framework.
Working groups have been established to progress a whole school approach to Literacy, Numeracy, Formative Assessment and Implementation of Junior Cycle Framework. Members of the SSE group are linked with each of the working groups.
This report records the outcomes or our improvement plan for 2017/18 and sets out our improvement plan for 2018/19
Having analysed the surveys conducted in May 2017 with teachers, students and parents, on Assessment/Reporting practices, it was decided to focus on Formative Assessment practices as part of the School Self–Evaluation process. To implement Formative Assessment, a plan and timeframe was agreed by staff whereby Learning Intentions, Success Criteria, Self Assessment and Peer Assessment would form part of Teaching and Learning in the classroom.
The first step in promoting Formative Assessment agreed in September by staff was to share Learning Intentions with their classes at the beginning of each class, by writing them on the board.
- 87% of staff said they shared Learning Intentions often or always
- 83% of staff believe that sharing Learning Intentions helps students to know what they are going to learn which promotes active engagement in their learning
- 76% of students surveyed noticed Learning Intentions being put on the board at the start of class by their teachers
- 77% of students believe that sharing Learning Intentions helps them to concentrate better in class
A previous survey carried out in 2016/17 showed that 33% of staff shared Learning Intentions, in 2017/2018, the sharing of Learning Intentions increased by 54% to 87%.
Maintain and build on current good practice and increase use by 5% to 91% of staff sharing Learning Intentions.
The second step that staff agreed was to share Success Criteria with their classes.
- 67% of staff said they shared Success Criteria
- 83% of staff agreed that sharing Success Criteria helps students to recognise when they have succeeded
- 46% of students responded that they were given the Success Criteria when completing work
This discrepancy in the responses may be due to the fact that teachers did not always use the term “Success Criteria” and may have used related terms e.g. requirements/steps.
To increase sharing of success criteria in class from 67% to 74%.
Self and Peer Assessment
The third step that staff agreed in September was to use self and peer assessment in their classes.
- 53% of staff responded that students actively engaged in Self Assessment methods, 69% of students responded that they engage in Self Assessment
- 67% of staff used Peer Assessment methods in class
- 68% of students said other students were given the opportunity to assess their work
To increase use of Self and Peer Assessment methodologies to 63% and 77% respectively.
The Learning Support department conducted Attainment and Diagnostic tests with Form 1 students. The English department conducted an attitudinal survey of Form 1 students on reading, use of library and using technology to read.
Having analysed the findings, the results were circulated to Staff.
The outcomes of discussions among staff at subject department and whole school level identified the literacy needs of the different subjects.
Target: To improve spelling among First Form students
In order to improve spelling among our First Form students we created a Word List Booklet. This included a selection of words from the Promotion of Literacy in Communities and Schools lists and subject word lists, compiled by our teachers. The booklet formed the basis of our First Form Spelling Bee. Teachers taught the subject word lists in their classes and the remainder of the words were taught in English class.
Results recorded after the Spelling Bee:
- The student average % has improved from 83.7% (Test 1) to 88.1% (Test 2)
- 39% of students improved in their spelling
- 27% improved to a score of between 80%-100% in their spelling
- 65% of students scored between 80%-100% in their spelling
- It is important to note that significant improvements were recorded among students with difficulties in the area of spelling
Target: To promote a positive attitude towards reading
In order to promote a love of reading we organised a First Form trip to Ardkeen Library. Students were greeted by a member of library staff and enjoyed listening to a talk about all aspects of the library and its services.
Results recorded after our library visit:
- Student membership of a public library increased from 53% to 65%
- Reading in another language has increased from 44% to 46%
- Using technology to read has increased from 54%-57%
Target: To foster a whole school approach to literacy
Our whole school approach to literacy has been collaborative in its approach. The promotion of literacy has been inclusive of all staff and students.
Actions implemented to promote literacy throughout the whole school:
Our ‘Love Literacy Week’ was embraced by all, crosswords (Newtown Themed Crossword and Ten Question Quick Crossword in Collect), Reading Collects, Poetry Readings and ‘Find A Word Friday’ proved both fun and popular across the school. Compiling the Word List Booklet was supported by all staff and played a key role in the success of the ‘Spelling Bee’. Classroom competitions continued and student work was displayed throughout the school. The success of the TY Portfolios and TY Night is a team effort and is a wonderful celebration of student achievement. For staff, the enthusiasm of students to get involved in all literacy activities has been a joy to be part of and we look forward to building on this success.
The Numeracy working group was tasked with raising the numeracy skills and standards throughout the school. The focus was to begin with Form 1 and roll it out on a staged basis each academic year after that, including a new form group each year.
In October 2017 the Learning Support department conducted Attainment and Diagnostic tests in Maths and the Maths department conducted an attitudinal survey, both of which took place in October.
Having analysed the findings, the results were circulated to Staff.
The outcomes of discussions among staff at subject department and whole school level identified the Numeracy needs of the different subjects. As being numerate is very much a life skill we wanted to improve students’ ability to work with numbers in real life contexts. It was agreed that all teachers of Form 1 together with the Maths teachers would where appropriate incorporate the use of fractions in their teaching and that retesting would take place in May 2018.
In the analysis of the attitudinal survey carried out in October two areas of improvement were identified based on the responses to ‘ I like to work in pairs ‘and ‘When I see a Maths problem I get nervous’.
- Competency in the use of fractions has improved from 79% to 91%
- For students feeling nervous when they encountered Maths problems we hoped to reduce this from a combined percentage of 43% for True and Very True to 30%, this increased to 50%, so was not on target, however in October 14% of students would have answered very true to this question and in May it is now at 6%.
- In October 40% of students answered that it was Very True that they liked to work in pairs this was given an improved target of 55%. In May this figure had now reached 48%. Although the target of 55% has not been achieved, the percentage of students that had answered ‘Not True’ and that they did not like to work in pairs in October has decreased from 18% to 14% which shows an improvement in the area of paired work. They are influenced by the curriculum as the course gets more difficult they can begin to find the challenges of new content off putting.
For the next academic year the focus will remain on improving the students’ ability to work with numbers in a real life context and in 2018/2019, in Form 2 we will focus on measurement and units. This will be cross curricular with a whole school approach. When we meet with the new first form a decision will be made as to what to focus on with them based on their needs.
Implementation of Framework for Junior Cycle
Eight principles underpin the Framework for Junior Cycle. The principles inform the planning, development and implementation of the junior cycle programme. Twenty –four statements of learning, underpinned by the eight principles must be incorporated into the junior cycle programme offered by schools. In September/October/November 2017, presentations were made to staff, parents and Board of Management which provided an overview of the Framework for Junior Cycle.
An audit of subjects on offer at Junior Cycle was undertaken by subject departments to ensure that the school was providing learning opportunities for student engagement with each of the 24 statements within the curriculum. Results of this audit showed that all 24 statements are being met within the curriculum. Subject Teachers reviewed CSPE, SPHE and PE to ensure that the statements of learning in the new area of Wellbeing are being covered.
Active teaching methodologies together with formative assessment, complemented by summative assessment are a key feature of the new Junior Cycle. Teachers and students are engaging in a variety of ongoing assessments as part of classroom practice.
On completion of Junior Cycle students are awarded The Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) which records student’s achievement in state certified examinations, student’s achievement in the Classroom Based Assessments (CBA) and student’s achievement in Other Areas Of Learning (OAL).
Following CBAs being conducted in English in Forms 2 and 3, Business Studies and Science in Form2, subject departments engaged in Subject learning and Assessment Review meetings (SLARs). This collaboration has enhanced the sharing of expertise, experiences which has developed capacity for students and teachers.
Continuous Professional Development
To support teaching and learning staff engaged in in the following CPD
- Active Teaching Methodologies – PDST
- Strategies for teaching of Irish – PDST
- Subject Planning – PDST
- SEN – NEPS
- Autism – Tara Vernon, Midletown
- Whole School Training day on implementation of Framework for Junior Cycle – JCT
- Cluster training day for Junior Cycle – JCT
- L2LP training day attended by the DP and SEN Co-ordinator -JCT
- Subject Webinars – PDST
The following policies were developed and adopted during 2017/18
Area prioritised for Improvement Plan 2018/19
Using evidence gathered from students, student focus group, staff, parents and WSE-MLL report it was decided to focus on SEN in relation to teaching the key skills of “Managing Myself” and “Managing Information”.
The implementation of the improvement plan requires that a Special Educational Team is put in place from the start of the school year 27th August 2018. The new SEN model puts the onus on schools to have a core trained team in place to lead SEN and support the classroom teacher. It also requires the extension of the use of digital technology with Form 2 students to “Manage Information”.