1.1 The focus of the evaluation
A school self-evaluation of teaching and learning in Elphin Community College was undertaken from September 2013 and will continue until May 2016. In the first year of evaluation, Literacy in English and the teaching and learning in all other subjects and programmes in First Year was evaluated.
This is a report on the findings of the evaluation.
1.2 School context
Elphin Community College is a Vocational School under the trusteeship of Galway and Roscommon Educational and Training Board. It was established in 1942. Our school exists to serve the educational needs of the community which we serve. We aspire to provide an environment which acknowledges educational achievement, enhances student self-confidence, promotes life skills and attitudes which will enable students to live fulfilling lives and so contribute to the betterment of society. We actively aspire to develop partnership between teachers, parents and the wider community.
The central purpose of the school community is the moral, intellectual, physical and social education of the student. This Community seeks to create the atmosphere of care and concern in which the student can grow to maturity. We fully subscribe to the principles of partnership, accountability, transparency, inclusion, and respect for diversity, parental choice and equality.
We are the only school in a small sized town in Co. Roscommon. There are currently 114 students (37 Girls & 77 Boys) enrolled in the school. Both TY and LCVP are well established within the school and LCA has been introduced for the first time this year. As we are a small school with 14 members on the teaching staff, sometimes with only one teacher per subject department, we felt it was important that all members of the teaching staff participated in the evaluation process. All staff members have received training on the school Wiki and are encouraged to share resources with both colleagues and students.
We have eight feeder schools in our catchment area. Ten students are in receipt of resource hours.
2. The findings
Data on the student’s standardised Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) was gathered and analysed by the Principal and the Guidance Counsellor. CAT scores for all sixteen first year students were available. For the purposes of this report the Verbal (as opposed to non-verbal and quantitative) scores were used. The mean standard age score for this group was found to be slightly below (1.4 on the SAS scale) the national norm but the percentage of students in the upper bands (average, high average, high and very high) was above the norm. Girls outperform the boys in three of the upper four bands but boys out perform in the topband.
- In September 2013, both students and parents of the current second year group were surveyed in relation to several aspects of school life in Elphin Community College during their first year in the school. Notably 47% of students surveyed disagreed or strongly disagreed that they spent time learning new words.
- The Junior Certificate results for 2013 were analysed by all subject departments. When compared to National averages, there was a very high uptake at higher level in most subjects.
After whole staff discussion based on the September Survey Analysis, further questionnaires were designed with the specific intention to focus on:
- Students attitudes towards reading, writing and oral work,
- Students attitude towards individual, pair and group work and
- Staff practices relating to the previous three points.
These surveys were carried out in May 2014 using google forms which instantly collated the results for analysis.
15 of the 16 first year students responded to the survey. The following are some of the key findings:
- 46% of students agreed that they enjoyed reading,
- 60% of students regularly read fiction or items from digital media such as blogs, etc.
- 27% of students check for mistakes in their writing while only 30% believe their writing to be clear and neat.
- Only 27% are confident giving a whole class presentation while 54% enjoy working in small groups or pairs.
- 93% of students feel they are more likely to complete a task if it is attempted as a small group.
- 47% agree or strongly agree that they regularly get to work in pairs or small groups.
- 47% are confident that they can use a lot of vocabulary from a range of subject areas.
- 54% of students do not like asking questions in class.
- 34% of students agree or strongly agree that they get constructive feedback on their homework.
In May 2014, teachers were also surveyed. The key findings from the 11 responses are listed below:
- During lessons 6 teachers gave attention to Literacy skills during lessons, 4 gave attention to being creative and 2 gave attention to cross- curricular links. On the other hand 10 gave attention to content and 9 gave attention to working with others.
- 10 of the 11 teachers who responded acknowledged that they regularly provide the students the opportunity to work in pairs or small groups.
- 6 teachers regularly ask students to give presentations or peer teaching during their lessons.
- 7 teachers regularly use comprehension strategies such as Keywords, mindmapping, etc.
- 5 teachers rated their effectiveness at using group work at 3 out of 5 or less.
- 9 teachers rated their methods of developing group work at 3 out of 5 or less.
- 4 teachers share the Learning outcomes at the start of a lesson, 2 feel that they regularly achieve the learning outcomes during a lesson and 1 regularly assesses them at the end of the lesson.
- 18% of teachers feel that their students are fluent and clear when communicating ideas.
- 9% of teachers feel that their students have an expansive vocabulary within their subject area.
3. Progress made on previously identified targets identified in current SIP.
N/A for year one as SIP not yet in place.
4. Summary of School Self-Evaluation findings
4.1 Our school has Strengths in the following areas
- At Junior Certificate, there is a higher level of uptake in higher level in most subject areas when compared to the national averages.
- 46% of pupils surveyed read for enjoyment.
- 91% of teachers regularly use pair or group work during their classes.
- All parents feel that their children are safe within the school and 93% believe that the school treats their children fairly and with respect.
- All students surveyed believe the school to encourage respectfulness and does not tolerate bullying at any level.
- 100% of students agree that teachers expect high standards of work.
- Many of our classrooms have a print rich environment.
- Good provision for English on the timetable.
4.2 The following areas are prioritised for improvement
- Teachers to focus on development of Literacy as well as Knowledge and skills.
- The development of group-work strategies across all subject areas.
- Teachers are to increase the amount of student presentations to class groups.
- Increase the level of constructive feedback on homework and classwork.
- Increase the level of students who read for enjoyment.
- Increase the level of cross curricular linking between subjects.
- Teachers to share and assess learning outcomes during and at the endof lessons.