A whole school evaluation of teaching and learning in numeracy was undertaken during the period 1/2/2013- 10/4/2015. This was in direct response to the National Strategy on Literacy and Numeracy 2011-2020. All teaching staff, parents, PDST Facilitator and pupils were actively involved in the Self Evaluation process.
The following is a report on the findings of the evaluation.
- Cloonakilla N.S. is a co-educational primary school situated in Monksland- a suburb of Athlone. Monksland is the fastest growing area in the Midlands. Consequently our enrolment figures have almost trebled over the past 6 years.
- In September 2015 circa 330 pupils will be enrolled. We have achieved “Developing School Status” every year since 2007, with the exception of 2011. This would more than indicate to the DES that a new school building is a priority for Cloonakilla. We are happy to announce that a new school building will commence in 2016.
- Traditionally our pupil profile was rural based but we now find ourselves with a different profile of pupils from a variety of social backgrounds.
- The loss of our EAL Post means that all EAL pupils must now be catered for within General Allocation. This places considerable pressure on our SEN Team.
- In September 2015 we will have an Administrative Principal + 12 mainstream teachers, 3 SEN Teachers and 2 SNA.
- The school administers Micra and Sigma Standardised tests from 1st-6th classes. The MIST Test is also administered in Senior Infants.
- The school uses The Ballard Arithmetic Test to assess tables. It also uses Project Maths and Jump Maths Programme.
- Standardised Test results for 2013/2014 show that 54% of pupils are performing above average (at or above a standard score of 110)
- Standardised Test results for 2014/2015 show that 64% of pupils are performing above average
- Analysis of standardized test data over the last 3 years shows that we have been making progress with more children moving from average or below (Standard Score at or below 109) to above average (Standard Score 110 or above)
55% below Standard Score 110 & 45% at or above Standard Score 110
46% below Standard Score 110 & 54% at or above Standard Score 110
36% below Standard Score 110 & 64% at or above Standard Score 110
- Responses from a Pupil Questionaire show that 70% of pupils have a positive attitude towards Maths but many pupils indicated that they need concrete materials to help them with mathematical operations.
- Responses from a pupil focus group (5th/6th class) indicated that 67% liked Maths. They suggested that more Maths games, use of IT, oral maths and differenciated work would make Maths more interesting for senior classes. They suggested that following rules or sequences and Maths displays/posters in the classroom were of great benefit also.
- Responses from teacher focus groups indicated that there should be a whole school approach to maths language used throughout the school for the various mathematical operations. More use could be made of the environment in teaching Maths. Teachers would like to see a continuation of the whole school approach to problem solving that began in Sept 2014. Oral problems should form a bigger part of Maths lessons in all classes and should be timetabled as part of the Maths lesson.
- Teachers commended the use of ipads for pair work and station teaching in numeracy. Teachers were concerned at the lack of concrete materials available to cater for increasing numbers.
- Responses from a parent questionnaire on Maths indicated that 60% of pupils are very interested in Maths. While most parents felt their children were learning maths at an appropriate level 30% did not know. Parents felt that the use of games and advice on how best to support their children would be very helpful.
- Responses from a parent focus group on problem solving indicated that while all children work on problems in steps 75% of pupils need to make more use of pictures and graphs to help illustrate their answer. They also need to be more proficient in the use of concrete materials. Parents indicated that it would be of benefit to children if more problem solving was based on everyday real life situations.
Summary of S.S.E. Findings
- Very few pupils fall in the low and very low bands in standardized tests for numeracy. 1% of pupils in Cloonakilla NS fall into this category as opposed to 9% of the National Norm.
- A lot of pupils scored well above the average: 64% of pupils are at or above a standard score of 110 as opposed to 25% of the National Norm
- Performance in Maths has been improving over the past 3 years – Please see information under Findings with regard to analysis of Standardised Test Scores
- This improvement in Maths has come about as a result of different initiatives that were rolled out as part of SSE in Numeracy. Initially we intended to commence our 3 year Plan in Sept 2014 but were advised by PDST Facilitators that more evidence needed to be gathered before our targets were identified. Some initiatives were in place and consequently our Sigma T scores have improved. We hope to continue these as part of our 3 year School Improvement Plan as we feel that they have proved to be good practice for Cloonakilla NS.
Engagement in learning
- In most classes homework activities which reinforce the work done in school give Parents the opportunity to become actively involved in promoting their child’s numeracy skills.
- Most pupils have a very positive attitude to maths and appear to be motivated in Maths class
- Pupils find the use of concrete materials, following rules and pair work useful methods to support difficult topics in Maths.
- Project Maths in 1st class also gives parents the opportunity to play Maths games with their children as part of homework.
- Teachers use a range of methodologies including: active learning, play, guided learning, teacher modeling and use of ICT.
- Ipads are used for paired work and station teaching.
- In- class support from the SEN Team ensures that all classes are taught as a single stream for Maths
- Learning support teachers use concrete materials, games, ICT, textbooks and also the environment. A combination of in-class support and withdrawal is used according to the needs of the children.
The following areas are prioritized for improvement and will be expanded on in greater detail in our School Improvement Plan
- Use of the environment as a Maths tool.
- Review of Maths language used in the school-specifically the language of operations
- To develop a whole school approach to problem solving
- Emphasis on Maths games in the classroom and home contexts. In 1st class Maths games are sent home over a 6 week period for homework as part of Project Maths.
- Mental Maths should be given a specific time slot.
- Oral Problem Solving to be introduced in Infant classes.
- Emphasis on Maths trails/stations/Maths activities in Aistear
- Use of the environment as a Maths tool. Development of Maths Trails for each strand of the Maths Curriculum. Teachers of consecutive classes to plan collaboratively over a 2 year period
- Review of Maths language used in the school- specifically the language of operations
- To extend the whole school approach to problem solving with particular emphasis on pair work and development of higher order thinking skills
- Teachers will analyse Sigma T Scores to focus on weakest strand as scored by present class
- To integrate Maths with other areas of the curriculum
- To promote collaborative learning in Maths
- Promote the involvement of parents in supporting Maths in all classes through setting homework which reinforces the work covered in school and through sending home weekly class tests which must be signed
- Less emphasis on textbooks and more emphasis on teaching mathematical skills especially the development of higher order skills:
- Applying and problem solving
- Communicating and Expressing
- Integrating and Connecting( emphasis on moving from Concrete materials- Pictorial- Abstract