GALLEN COMMUNITY SCHOOL FERBANE SCHOOL SELF EVALUATION
Teaching and Learning:
Student Engagement in Learning
Evidence Gathering and Evaluation Period: November 2015-June 2016
Report Issue date: August 2016
1.1 The focus of the evaluation
A school self-evaluation of teaching & learning in Gallen Community School was undertaken in the school year 2015/2016. The purpose of the evaluation was to identify an area of need in our school for Strand 3, within Teaching and Learning to commence in September 2016. Using the six step school self- evaluation process we have gathered Evidence and decided to focus on the Evaluation Theme – Learning Experience with the sub themes Engagement in Learning & learning to learn
Data tools utilised:
- A survey of all teaching staff.
- A survey of all parents/guardians.
- CAT data for 2015/2016 first years and a survey of teaching and learning(PDST Learner Profile) conducted with First Years at end of 2016
- SSE group of teachers from staff who shared ideas and experience of teaching methodologies that engage students more in the learning process.
- All subject departments use the PDST tool for analysing results in the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate exams. The results are compared to national trends. The majority of subjects are comparable with the national norms, with some exceeding national norms. The results of this analysis as well as targets for the future are recorded and filed with the relevant subject plan.
This is a report on the findings of the evaluation
1.2 School context
Gallen CS is a rural community School with an enrolment of 378 students and 35 teachers. We provide a varied curriculum including Junior Certificate, TY and Leaving Certificate programmes. We also have an ASD unit with 18 students of varying abilities.
Teachers in groups of three and four discussed teaching and learning in our school. The following observations from each group were shared:
- There is a huge variance of ability between the weakest and strongest in the classroom and teachers find it hard to juggle between these groups, teaching often to the “middle” group.
- No them and us attitude in the classroom
- Students are too used to being spoon-fed
- Are parents doing enough to support their children’s progress, homework, study, expectations, ambition
- Not enough active participation from students in class
- Great interaction in class, excellent teachers working hard
- Homework is not perceived as a valuable learning tool and can be neglected by some students who simply do it to keep teachers off their backs
- Is the reality here now that the lower % of students represent the most able academically and if so are they our students with special needs?
- Some repeat offenders with poor attendance
- Some students have no idea that in terms of attainment they are competing with the whole country not just with their class
- Are we neglecting the students in the “high end”
- Tried and tested methodologies for differentiated teaching techniques?
- Influence of socio-economic background on student/parent expectations?
- Poor work ethic and a need to learn how to learn
- Everything centres on expectations
In conclusion/summary staff identified three areas:
- Students need to learn how to learn and could be more engaged.
- Our teaching and learning is done in the context of mixed ability classes, with the differences in ability being extreme in some cases.
- We need strategies in the classroom to maximise learning in a differentiated setting.
To continue with our assessment of students’ learning environment and engagement in class work and homework we conducted a survey of parents of students (from 1st year to 6th year) in the form of a questionnaire using SSE guidelines as a template.
Less than 15% of families responded to the survey.
The classes with least representation in feedback were jointly TY and 6th years with only three families from each group returning the completed questionnaire. Surveys returned for the most part show parents’ appreciation of the school’s work for their son/daughter and also show an awareness of the importance of homework and study.
The surveys showed a reliance/expectation on the school and subject teachers to:
- set short term goals for students
- give more class tests with results sent home allowing earlier intervention for students not reaching their targets/ability
- indicate time needed for study/homework as each topic/night’s homework requires
A Cognitive Ability Test (CAT) was administered to all incoming 1st year students in May 2015 and the results for the cohort are well within the national norms.
58 First Year students completed a questionnaire in May 2016 representing 85% of First Year Students. Summary of main findings:
97% of students expressed a desire to do better in school
37% favoured paired or group wok
19% found the least enjoyable part of learning was taking notes/writing in class
17% found the most enjoyable part of learning was learning new things
37% like others to know when they have done well in class
9% found the most enjoyable part of learning is doing well in tests.
2.3 Teacher SSE Group:
Presently this group covers the following subject areas: SPHE, Guidance, Mat Tech Woodwork, Maths, English, Music, R.E, History and Irish. This group met for the first time last term of 2016 and committed to making a conscious effort to analyse the efficacy of a sample of learning strategies within their own subject areas and with the aim to help students take more responsibility for meaning-making across all subject areas. The first strategy examined by the group was Group-work using initiatives and research of Barrie Bennett’s Instructional Leadership Programme. In Sept 2016 the SSE group will look at Questioning in our classrooms, what it looks like and what the research tells us and do we need to reconsider our questioning of students so that all students are challenged equally in class? Research reports that 3 to 5 students will answer close to 80% of the questions, so you do not get accountability to participate nor active participation of all students.
|IMPROVEMENT TARGET||REQUIRED ACTIONS||PERSON/S RESPONSIBLE||MEASURABLE OUTCOMES
|TIMEFRAME FOR ACTIONS||REVIEW DATES (pending IR)|
That all teachers will use CAT results and NCCA passports to inform their expectations of each student’s level of attainment in all subject areas.
In response to teachers concerns about teaching to the middle group, subject teachers will identify strategies to enable all students in their classes to learn and to be more engaged in the learning process.
Teachers implement subject specific guidelines for homework, addressing quality, length, time, exemplars, expectations etc
To increase the amount of students who take pride in achieving better results in class and term tests from 9% 2015-16 to 50% 2016-17.
To increase the % of Parents who assist the school with sse from 15% 2015-2016 to 45% 2016-17
|NCCA Passports are left in hard copy in the staff-room and CAT results for all students are on Staff Data. A compilation of previous CAT scores co-related with Points achieved by students in the Leaving Cert/Grades attained in Junior Cert.
|Principal/Deputy. All teachers
Academic Monitor as referrals of concern from teachers are made.
|Records of class tests and term tests, number and frequency of referrals to Academic Monitor||Implementation across all subject departments 2016-17||Updates at staff meetings/ subject department meetings/parent-teacher meetings Meetings all can be both formal and informal and accommodated by proximity of class teachers in subject areas.|
|SSE team who will share experiences of T&L strategies with colleagues. Whole school CPD, August 2016.
Teachers take 1-2 strategies to apply to their subject area and implement these strategies in to their class plans.
Teachers devise a short clear set of guidelines of best practice for homework in their subject area. Taking a homework skills class as an example of best practice for the students in their subject area.
HW Workshop for Parents 20th Sept
Students keep a log of results of class tests and term tests in page that has been newly added to Student Journal and record their own monthly SSE in Journal. Students develop a visual graph of achievement by logging results.
Follow-up SSE surveys on student engagement (Homework) will be distributed by Year Heads/Tutors who willseek responses from class groups as opposed to a postal return which was used in May 2016.
|All teachers and all students
All teachers and all students.
Parents who acknowledge excellence and shortcomings as identified in notes in journal.
Students, Teachers, Form Tutors Year-Heads.
Principal/Deputy,Year Heads, Tutors.
|Students will have greater confidence and a more positive experience in class.
Greater student engagement. Teachers will observe if Learning Outcomes are being met.
Teachers will note an improvement in quality of homework as guidelines remain adhered to.
Journals monitored monthly by Year Heads and more frequently by tutors.
% improvement in responses received. Response rates can soar past 85% (about 43 responses for every 50 invitations sent) when the respondent population is motivated and the survey is well-executed. Response rates can also fall below 2% (about 1 response for every 50 invitations sent) when the respondent population is less-targeted, when contact information is unreliable, or where there is less incentive or little motivation to respond(Source:Surveygizmo)
|Implementation across all subject departments September-October 2016
Implementation across all subject departments early September 2016.
Implementation across all subject departments September-October 2016
|Subject Dept Meetings, Staff Meetings, P.T. Meetings all can be both formal and informal.
Subject Dept Meetings, Staff Meetings, P.T. Meetings all can be both formal and informal.
Class tutors and monthly by Year Heads.
As deadline for return of SSE questionnaires are returned.
Progress made on previously identified targets identified in the Literacy and Numeracy SIPs:
Subject department plans will be updated and implemented in light of literacy initiatives: This target has been met
To increase % of students surveyed who read for enjoyment more than one hour per week: Work continues on this target. The Lunchtime in the Library initiative will now continue into its third year and has proven to be very popular, giving students access to print, digital, oral and aural literacy in their free time. English teachers continue to use DEAR with a variety of print media sources and students can choose their reading material according to their own interests. The school library is well stocked and teachers have established a book exchange in the staffroom as well as some teachers providing reading material with their own students as in Year 1of this strand all teachers were encouraged to share their reading experiences with students.
To allow more opportunities for group work or paired learning as favoured by 44% of students: Data gathering (formal and informal) would suggest that this target has not been met across the board. Now as the school moves into strand three there will be greater emphasis on student engagement and giving more students across the curriculum more opportunities for group/paired learning is a priority of the SSE team.
To use Jump Maths modules with first and second years: This target has been met.
To increase the number of students taking Junior Certificate Higher Maths: This target has been met and will continue to be monitored. In 2014 33% of students sat the higher paper in Maths for state exams, this increased to 56% in June 2015 and this year, 2016 54% of students sat the Junior Certificate honours Maths paper
To highlight numeracy moments in subject areas: This target has been met and will continue to be embedded.
Whole school approach to use “Estimate, calculate and Check” in our subject areas: While this target has largely been met, work will continue across all subject areas in their approach to T&L with this problem solving method in mind. Some teachers have embedded this in their subjects with frequent references to this technique of learning, charts on their walls etc. The SSE group is focused on utilising the most suitable strategies in the most suitable way to develop the skills required by our students to take ownership of their learning.
LITERACY AND NUMERACY 2015-2016:
To ensure our school becomes a numeracy and literacy rich environment: This target has been met and work continues as we embed the importance of Literacy and Numeracy in the education of all subjects. Visual and practical examples are obvious in our school. Bringing these important strands together in 2015-2016 we introduced a Word of the Week initiative using Bloom’s Taxonomy. This gave teachers an opportunity to explicitly nurture students concepts of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
To follow on these targets with problem solving strategies in year 2: This continues to be a priority for teachers and students as we move into Strand 3 and encourage all students to be better learners, to avail of opportunities for self-directed learning, to maximise learning in the classroom and to constantly evaluate their learning. Both student and staff journal have reminders of this very important part of T&L with advice and techniques for teachers, students and parents alike.
We need to use more formative assessment techniques so we share the quality of learning with our students and how they can improve more. Good quality feedback is not praise it is how we can help our students achieve their goals. It is clear, focused and linked to the stated learning outcomes and success criteria. It moves the learning on for the students. Also ask them to evaluate, what they learn well, how you could help them more etc.