ST Mary’s School in Nenagh has excellent sports and IT facilities, but has urgent health and safety issues it needs to address, according to a report published this month. A Department of Education Inspector carried out a Whole School Evaluation (WSE) of St Mary’s Secondary School last May 17. A WSE assesses all aspects of a school’s teaching and management, and is compulsory for all schools.
St Mary’s is an all-girls school with a current enrolment of 562 students. It is one of three post-primary schools providing education to students in Nenagh and surrounding parishes. The school operates under the trusteeship of Catholic Education, an Irish Schools Trust (CEIST). It has “a long tradition of providing a holistic education that is rooted in the values of the Mercy congregation to students from diverse social and economic backgrounds”. The school will celebrate the centenary of its opening in 2013.
The following are the key strengths of the school: “The school benefits from good sports facilities, well-equipped specialist rooms, and a well developed information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure.
Approaches to planning currently in place in the school require significant development. The school benefits from a committed and caring staff. The broad curriculum and sampling arrangements to support subject choice provided by the school are particular strengths. Good to excellent teaching and learning were observed in over half of the lessons observed. Most departments have either implemented or made significant progress in relation to implementing the recommendations made in previous inspections. Staff, senior management and parents reported very good levels of satisfaction with how discipline is managed in the school”.
The following recommendations were made: “More informative documentation should be provided in advance of and subsequent to board meetings. To improve the effectiveness of school leadership, improvements in whole-school communication systems along with greater opportunities for consultation with staff regarding the operation of the school are required. A more systematic approach to school planning should be established, one that is overseen by the board of management and which focuses on agreeing whole-school priorities and then, planning to achieve them. To further develop provision for student support, a student support team should be established. Urgent attention should be paid to compliance with health and safety requirements, including the appropriate management of associated documentation. Teachers need to focus on three areas to support students’ learning: greater use of active methodologies incorporating distributed, differentiated questions; more attention on supporting students’ literacy and numeracy skills across the curriculum and greater use of assessment for learning (AfL) strategies.”
The inspector observed that the principal and the deputy principal work together to manage the day-to-day running of the school. “They invest significant effort in supporting year heads’ management of students to provide an ordered, productive environment for learning.”
The school’s admissions policy is “open and inclusive”.
Good to excellent teaching and learning were observed in over half of the lessons observed. Teachers and students were respectful towards each other and a positive atmosphere prevailed in all lessons.
Full report at education.ie