School Self Evaluation (SSE) is a collaborative, reflective process of internal school review which all schools are required to do. In 2012 the SSE process was introduced. The process involves schools choosing a subject they feel they need to work on. Evidence about the subject is gathered by surveying the teachers, pupils and parents and by examining test results. A 3 Year School Improvement Plan is drawn up by the staff. This plan includes targets and actions that the teachers will undertake to do over three years to improve attainment in, and attitudes towards the subject in question.
As I’m sure you are aware, we chose Maths as our first subject three years ago and we decided to focus specifically on problem solving and Mental Maths. We spent three years working on Maths on specific targets and actions and have seen a great improvement in our tests results and in our children’s attitudes to Maths. Maybe your child has mentioned some of the following actions:
- We have increased our Maths rich environment in the school.
- At the beginning of each Maths lesson, every class in the school does counting activities for 8 minutes followed by Mental Maths activities for 7 minutes before they continue with the lesson.
- We provided parents with a Maths language handout to use at home.
- We have introduced written tables for homework in all classes from 1st to 6th.
- We purchased lots of Maths resources and use more concrete materials when teaching Maths.
- We did lots of work on problem solving such as using ‘RUDE’ to approach problems.
- We do Maths trails, Maths games and Maths activities throughout the year.
The next subject we chose was English. Again we gathered information about the subject and drew up a 3 year School Improvement Plan. We decided to focus specifically on Writing. At present we are in year 2 of this English plan. Has your child mentioned what we are doing to improve writing in the school?
- We now teach writing under different genres – recount writing, explanation, narrative writing, persuasive, procedural writing and report writing. We do one genre each term. The children are working on narrative at the moment.
- We are working on improving handwriting throughout the school and have introduced a new scheme from Junior Infants – 4th class.
- We have introduced ‘Free Writing’ to every class, where children can write freely about whatever they like, a few times a week.
- We are working on punctuation.
- The children get the opportunity to read other children’s writing and give constructive feedback.
- We have an agreed set of editing symbols for the children to use when reading other children’s work.
Last year we chose Irish as our third subject and spent the year gathering our data. This year is Year 1 of our Irish School Improvement Plan. We have decided to focus specifically on Labhairt (speaking Irish).
- We have changed the structure of our lessons to put more emphasis on oral language.
- Teachers will speak completely in Irish during the Irish class.
- We will buy new Irish resources such as books and games.
- We intend to update the grammar plan for the school.
- We are encouraging all children to have meaningful conversations in the yard.
- We will continue to choose one student from each class as Gaeilgeoir na Coicíse at assembly.
- The children are learning new ‘frásaí’ every fortnight.
- The senior classes are learning ‘seanfhocails’.
- We intend having more Irish signs around the school and in the classrooms.
- We will send home some simple phrases for the parents to learn!!!
Now I hope you are aware of how we are getting on with the SSE process. We have done extensive work on Maths and are continuing to do so. We are presently focusing on English, specifically Writing and on Irish, specifically Labhairt. What we like about SSE is that the school evaluates its own practices. It enables the school to affirm and celebrate what we are doing well, to decide on changes we would like to make, based on the evidence we have gathered and to implement those changes.