SSE Summary Report – Literacy

Scoil Bhríde Primary School,

Killane, Edenderry, Co. Offaly.

School Roll No. 20267F

School Self-Evaluation Summary Report


Evaluation Period January 2013 – June 2013

Report Issue Date: 24th of June, 2013.

Full Report is available upon request.

School Self- Evaluation Report

1. Introduction

The focus of evaluation

School self-evaluation of teaching and learning is an ongoing process in Scoil Bhríde Primary School. Our focus for self-evaluation during the period January to June 2013 was literacy. This took place in the context of existing interventions in our Literacy Strategy targeting oral language, reading comprehension and reading fluency. A particular focus was placed on examining the teaching and learning of writing.

School Context

Scoil Bhríde Primary School is a fully vertical, co-educational school under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. It is a mainstream school with 2 Special Pre-school Classes and 4 Primary School Classes for pupils with Autism.

2. Methodology

As a staff we felt it timely to take the opportunity of School Self Evaluation to evaluate and examine the teaching and learning of writing within our school. Standardised Tests do not provide an insight into writing performance and so, while they were used to guide the selection of pupil samples, in themselves, they were not used to assess writing performance in our school. To this end we sought to gather the views of staff, parents and pupils. Surveys were conducted with all teachers and with a sample of parents of pupils across the school. Independent writing samples were taken from target groups in a range of classes and these were analysed (target groups were comprised of high achievers, average achievers and low achievers). Pupil focus groups explored and discussed ‘writing’ providing valuable insights into pupils’ perceptions of the writing process. This was all done with a view to establishing teaching practices, learner outcomes and learner experiences.

3. The Findings

The findings from the various surveys and focus groups have been analysed separately and have been collated and reported in our School Self Evaluation Report. Here the key findings are summarised to provide an a brief following summary:

Learner Outcomes

Year on year the results of Standardised Testing are showing improvements across the aspects of literacy being tested, however, these tests are not providing assessment of writing

 All teachers consider their pupils to be more competent at reading than writing

 The majority of parents (86%) perceive their child likes to write, however, like teachers they perceive their children prefer to read than to write

 Pupils reported they like to write, but children were found to be limited in what they are actually writing


 Pupils at the junior end of the school equate writing to ‘writing words down with a pencil’ while those in 2nd – 4th classes spoke about writing in terms of stories and using ones imagination

 Both teachers and parents were happy with the standards of letter formation and the legibility of written work

 Parents felt punctuation was taught well and is used correctly

 Teachers were of the opinion that more opportunities are required to improve writing fluency e.g. more creative writing

 83% of pupils would like to write independently as opposed to using workbooks

 The majority of children felt they need more practice in writing to become better writers

 Pupils have won prizes for writing in a number of competitions

 Pupils have very successfully engaged with the ‘Write a Book’ initiative

Learning Experiences

Learning Environment

It was interesting to note that only 29% of teachers, and 19% of parents, consider themselves to be writers rather than readers

 Motivational initiatives to encourage pupils to write are being used in all classes

 Parents are less likely to read their child’s written work as the child progresses to older classes

 They majority of pupils reported ‘list writing’ and ‘writing for work’ as the types of writing they see people doing at home

Engagement in Learning

Most writing opportunities arise from the use of workbooks pupils reported they would prefer to do other types of writing

 One-third of parents (33%) said their child writes daily, therefore, the majority of children write infrequently

 Significantly, over a quarter of parents said their child was not self-motivated to write

 Nearly all parents (93%) report that they provide some assistance when their child is writing

 Most teachers were not confident that their pupils could sustain independent writing for periods listed on the questionnaire

Learning to learn

Older pupils from 2nd – 4th classes could name popular authors.

 The majority of pupils reported that they would like to meet ‘writers’

 The majority of pupils said they would like more time to ‘practice’ writing

Teachers’ Practice

Attainment of curriculum objectives

All ‘writing’ curriculum objectives are being targeted by teachers, however, there is a disproportionate amount of time spent on oral language and reading

 There is a very strong emphasis on letter formation, letter sound relationships and using particular strategies to assist with spelling


 All teachers agree more time should be spent on the explicit teaching of writing

 Linkages are being made between writing and ICT

Preparation for Teaching

All teachers prepare term and fortnightly/weekly plans as appropriate and include ‘writing’ objectives

 Resources to support the teaching of writing have been identified and are available to assist teachers in the preparation and delivery of writing lessons

 Staff have all agreed to undertake CDP as part of the Literacy Strategy

Teaching Approaches

All teachers report they are spending more time explicitly teaching reading and oral language than they are spending on the explicit teaching of writing

 There is a whole school approach to the teaching of letter formation for print and cursive styles

 Penmanship is a priority

 There is a lack of consistency in using and implementing the resources available to support the teaching of writing and further clarification is required

 Staff would like further inputs on teaching writing to ensure a common and incremental approach is adapted on a whole school basis

Management of Pupils

No issues emerged relating to the management of pupils


Standardised tests are administered in line with department of Education Guidelines

 Nevertheless, a standardised whole school approach is required to monitor and assess progress and standards in writing and allow for information re. progress in writing to be efficiently and effectively communicated to relevant parties

 Teachers are using Aol and AfL

 The majority of teachers set written homework, however, this usually takes the form of answering questions in workbooks as opposed to ‘free’ writing

 Priority has been placed on the correction of pupils homework and written work

 Parents are consulted with regard to pupils progress

 Pupil records are kept and are easy to access and understand

 Sharing of feedback occurs with pupils, parents and other relevant staff

 Assessment information is analysed and used to inform decision making

4. Progress made on previously-identified improvement targets

N/A as this is the first year of the process

5. Summary of school self-evaluation findings

5.1 Our School has strengths in the following areas:

 Attainment levels in literacy are improving each year

 The majority of our pupils display positive attitudes towards and enjoyment of reading and writing


 Pupils have access to a wide range of writing tools

 Handwriting is neat and legible

 Punctuation is being used correctly

 A range of writing genres is currently being taught

 Linkages are being made between reading and writing, and between ICT and writing

 Methods are already in place to encourage good writing and motivate pupils e.g Writer of the Week, Write a Book Competitions

 Pupils have a keen interest to learn about and meet writers

 Resources are available to support teaching staff

 Pupils have experienced success in writing competitions

5.2 The following areas are prioritised for improvement:

 Identification of a whole school approach to the teaching of writing

 Staff to receive training/in-house support relating to the chosen approach to ensure consistent implementation across all class levels

 One third of literacy time is to be allocated to the explicit teaching of writing

 Writing genres to be agreed and timeframe for teaching to be developed

 Standardised writing strategies to be listed and consistently applied in teaching writing

 Teachers to model the writing process more

 All writing should have a purpose

 The whole school approach to penmanship needs to be uniformly implemented

 All pupils to be afforded the opportunity to engage with independent writing daily – Drop Everything And Write (DEAW) time

 More author visits to be organised for the various class groupings.

 Monitoring and feedback to be given in each pupil’s copy

 Increase parental involvement with written work particularly in older classes

 Samples of the child’s writing in each genre to be retained and passed with child to each new teacher each year

 Time at staff meetings to be dedicated to a discussion of writing

5.3 The following legislative and regulatory requirements need to be addressed.

Teaching time allocated to Literacy – teachers reported different time allocations to literacy during our Teacher Survey. A memo was delivered to each member of our teaching staff reminding them of timetable adjustments made in line with the National Literacy Strategy (April 2013). All staff were advised to ensure their timetables reflect the whole school approach to the timetabling of literacy and numeracy The timing allocated and implemented for literacy will need to be addressed in line with Circular ( 0056/2011).