1.1 The focus of the evaluation
A school self-evaluation of teaching and learning in Elphin Community College was undertaken from September 2014 and will continue until May 2017. In the second year of evaluation, Numeracy 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 134 students (50 Girls & 84 Boys) enrolled in the school. Both TY and LCVP are well established within the school and LCA was introduced for the first time in September 2013. 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, One Note and Schoolbag 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 SSE coordinator and the Maths Department. CAT scores for 31 of the 32 first year students were available. For the purposes of this report the Quantitative (as opposed to non-verbal and verbal) scores were used. The mean standard age score for this group was found to be on par with the national norm but the percentage of students in the upper bands (high average, high and very high) was below the norm. Boys outperform the girls in the three upper bands.
- The students standardised test results from the feeding primary schools varied greatly from the results attained from similar testing carried out in September 2014 where the results were not as high on their second set of tests.
- The Junior Certificate results for the previous five years were analysed by the maths departments. When compared to the National average, the uptake at higher level was 12% less in Elphin than the National Norm.
- All students in the school sat a Maths Competency test set out by the PDST. The tests were corrected and the results were collated to identify specific strengths and weaknesses in a broad spectrum of mathematical topics. The main strengths, in order, were computation, computational language and order of operations, while the main areas for improvement are areas, general mathematical language and Arithmetic problems.
Following the Analysis of the student CAT scores and their maths competency scores, a survey was created for all Junior Cycle students in the school. There was a total of 46 responses from a possible 63 students.
The key areas which were addressed in the survey were:
- Attitudes to Maths,
- Classroom based learning techniques in maths,
- Literacy and terms in Maths,
- Numeracy in all subjects and everyday life,
- Difficulties in specific mathematical areas.
This surveys was carried out on February 24th 2015 using google forms which instantly collated the results for analysis.
The following are some of the key findings:
- 65% of students agreed that they like Maths,
- 59% of students intend to do higher level maths for their Junior Cert.
- 59% of students agree that they use maths in their other subject areas but only41% agree that the use it in their everyday lives or working life.
- Only 20% of students estimate their work before calculating it.
- 65% of students try to work out the answer in their head first.
- Only 24% are confident of explaining maths in their own words.
- 50% of students agree that they get to work in groups while learningmathematical techniques in class.
- Only 33% of students agree or strongly agree that they like playing problemsolving games.
- 17% of students agree that their teachers in all subject departments use thesame words to describe the same mathematical concepts.
- Only 22% of students disagreed that teachers encourage them to develop their own problem solving techniques.
- 30% of students believe that fractions is their weakest area of maths.
On the 26th of February, 2015, teachers were also surveyed. The key findings from the 11 responses are listed below:
- 73% of the teachers agreed that they like maths even if they are not a maths teacher.
- 45% of teachers believe that students can identify where maths is used in everyday life.
- 36% of teachers agree that students can identify where numeracy is used in other subject areas.
- All teachers agree that students find some maths based words and terms difficult to understand.
- 71% of teachers ask students to check their answers in class
- 0% of teachers ask students to estimate answers first.
- Only 9% of teachers agree that within their subject departments they use thesame terms in explaining numerical concepts in class.
- 73% of teachers require students to explain their answers in their subjects.
3. Progress made on previously identified targets identified in current SIP.
To increase the number of first year students who read for pleasure from 46% to 53% in Year 1, 57% in Year 2 and 60% in Year 3.
- Students were surveyed again with 52% of first years now agreeing that they read for pleasure.
- All six actions in this area have been implemented and are continuously monitored. Regular trips to the library did not happen because students formed their own bring and borrow book scheme with the cooperation of the Reading Period teacher and an LCA student on work experience.
To increase the average teacher rating of their own development of group-work strategies from 3.0/5.0 to 3.5/5.0 by May 2015, to 3.8/5.0 by May 2016 & 4.0/5.0 by May 2017
- Staff were resurveyed with teachers now rating their group work strategies development at 3.6/5.0.
- All three actions have been implemented over the course of the year.
To increase the number of teachers sharing their learning outcomes at the beginning of lessons to 100% by May 2015 and maintain this for each year of the evaluation.
To increase the level of focus on the development of Literacy during lessons by increasing the percentage of teachers who feel students have an expansive vocabulary in their subject to 20% in year 1, 30% in year 2 and 35% in year 3.
- Staff were resurveyed with 60% sharing their learner outcomes at the start of the lesson.
- 46.7% of staff agree or strongly agree that their students have an expansive vocabulary in their subject.
- 40% of students said that teachers share Learner outcomes at the start of the lesson and 34% said that teachers revised the Learner Outcomes at the end of the lesson.
- 4 out of 5 actions have been implemented and the Keyword journal will be reintroduced in September 2015.School Self-Evaluation Report legislative and regulatory checklist
- The Parent’s council has been re-activated in line with circular M27/91.
- Special Education Needs Policy has been finalised and is due for ratification by the Board of Management at their next meeting. Section 9 of the Education Act(1998) requires a school to “use its available resources” to identify and provide for the educational needs of those “with a disability or other special educational needs.”
- SPHE & RSE Policy has been finalised in accordance with the following Circulars – 37/2010, 23/2010, M27/08, M11/03, M22/00, M20/96, M4/95 and is due for ratification by the Board of Management at their next meeting.
4. Summary of School Self-Evaluation findings
4.1 Our school has Strengths in the following areas
- 73% of teachers agree that they like Maths even if they are not a maths teacher.
- 71% of teachers ask students to check their answers in class.
- 73% of teachers require students to explain their answers in class.
- 65% of students like Maths.
- 65% of students try to work out problems in their head first.
- All parents feel that their children are safe within the school and 93% believethat the school treats their children fairly and with respect.
- All students surveyed believe the school to encourage respectfulness and doesnot 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 Maths on the timetable.
4.2 The following areas are prioritised for improvement at an SSE Meeting on 26/02/2105
- The uptake at higher level Maths is 12% below the National average for Junior Cert.
- 17% of students agree that their teachers in all subject departments use the same words to describe the same mathematical concepts.
- 59% of students agree that they use maths in their other subject areas but only 41% agree that the use it in their everyday lives or working life.
- 0% of teachers ask students to estimate answers first & only 20% of students estimate their work before calculating it.
- All teachers agree that students find some maths based words and terms difficult to understand. Only 24% of students are confident of explaining maths in their own words.
- Only 33% of students agree that they like playing problem solving games like Sudoku, etc