090 64 53600

School Principal
Mr. Garrett Buckley
Deputy Principal

Ms. Stacey Guinan

2016/2017 School Improvement Plan for Gallen CS



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.
  • 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.

 The Findings

2.1 Staff:

Teachers in groups of three and four discussed teaching and learning in our school.

The conclusion of findings  identified  by staff focus on three  areas:

  1. Students need to learn how to learn and could be more engaged.
  2. Our teaching and learning is done in the context of mixed ability classes, with the differences in ability being extreme in some cases.
  3. We need strategies in the classroom to maximise learning in a differentiated setting

2. 2 Parents:

 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

 2.3 Students:

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.



 Target 1:

That all teachers will use assessment results to inform their expectations of each student’s level of attainment in all subject areas.

Target 2:

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.

Target 3:

Teachers implement subject specific guidelines for homework, addressing quality, length, time, exemplars, expectations etc.

Target 4:

To increase the amount of students who take pride in achieving better results in class and term tests.

 Target 5:

To increase the percentage of parents who assist the school with SSE


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *