School Self-Evaluation is designed to be a collaborative, inclusive, reflective process of internal school review. During school self-evaluation the principal, deputy principal and teachers, under the direction of the board of management and the patron and in consultation with parents and students, engage in reflective enquiry on the work of the school. It is an evidence-based approach which involves gathering information from a range of sources and making judgements with a view to bringing about improvements in students’ learning.
Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh has been engaging with School Self-Evaluation since 2012. A variety of initiatives and improvements have been undertaken through the process of SSE, and these have contributed to the enhancement of student learning at CSN.
Strand 1 – Literacy
A whole-school plan addressing the attitude of our students towards reading and writing for pleasure was designed and implemented in 2013. The plan also addressed the standards of written work and the use of assessment for learning strategies by teachers. A huge focus was placed on the refurbishment of the school Library, but other initiatives such as the creative writing website – cloudofthink.ie – and an annual reathon as part of a reading week initiative, were also introduced. Spioraid Signals, the school magazine, was relaunched to provide students with opportunities for writing.
The whole-school OLAM (Overall Literacy Assessment Mark) assessment for learning strategy was introduced in September 2013. This literacy assessment mark attributed 10% of house exams in first year to language mechanics and presentation of work.
Strand 2 – Numeracy
This strand examined students’ attitudes to maths and sought to highlight the importance and relevance of numeracy across the curriculum. Initially the group analysed Junior Cert results and administered the PDST maths competency test and PDST student maths survey. This was given to all first and second years. It was decided that the main focus was to improve the attitude of first and second year students towards maths.
Initiatives such as Fun Maths Friday took place. Prior to Covid-19, all maths teachers with base classrooms had their walls covered in subject-rich material. For a number of years students numerically charted their academic progress in their journal. This was a cross-curricular initiative which allowed students to take more responsibility for their own progress. New pages were added to the school journal to facilitate this. In more recent years this charting of progress has moved online and now students fill in their exam results in Google sheets which enable the display of progress graphs on their digital diary portfolios.
Strand 3 – Learning to Learn
Between 2016-2019, all fifth-years completed a detailed survey, entitled Studying at Home. Clear areas for improvement emerged such as delivering a wider range of note-taking techniques, strengthening the students’ abilities to interpret exam questions, teaching them to perform online searches more effectively, and discovering appropriate learning styles. A team of six teachers delivered a Study Seminar to all 5th Years every October. The seminar covered six areas which the survey indicated were in need of attention. Written feedback was sought from all fifth-years at the end of the seminar. Later in the year, other teachers gave further talks on areas such memorization, motivation and goal-setting during the year. A team of teachers contributed articles from their own expertise in areas such as exercise, stress and nutrition. The end result was a comprehensive, 40-page Study Skills book which was professionally designed and produced. A range of other study skill resources (testimonies of former students/study plan templates/motivational videos, useful online links and resources) were assembled. The study seminar is now part of the annual calendar in CSN.
Strand 4 – Self-Directed Learning using Technology
This strand was developed in conjunction with the IT department’s implementation of the school’s Digital Learning Plan. Its primary focus was intended to develop our students’ skills as self-directed learners and the strand provided opportunities for teachers to experiment with and evaluate the effectiveness of varying facilitative approaches in the classroom in collaboration with their colleagues. One of the long term aims of the strand was to embed the use of G-Suite for education into daily practice in the school.
Strand 5 – Growth Mindset
This strand aimed to foster a set of beliefs among students that their intelligence is not fixed, that they can become smarter, and that improvements are always possible via hard work, good strategies and input from teachers. These aims are encapsulated in the concept of the Growth Mindset. An additional aim was to help students reflect on their progress as learners and develop a sense of ownership and responsibility for their learning. Strand five’s focus highlighted CSN’s belief that one of our core duties is to empower students to understand how they learn and accept more responsibility for their own learning.
Updated May 2022