This page carries a series of reports on the School Improvement process in Mercy Mounthawk and updates on School Improvement Plans.
REPORT TO THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY ON SCHOOL PLANNING 2017/18
REPORT TO THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY ON SCHOOL PLANNING 2016/17
REPORTS ON SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PLANS 2018 – 2019 – PLEASE CLICK ON THE TABS BELOW
SPECIAL NEEDS -report summer 2019
In the area of SEN provision, we progressed with the development of the new digital version of student learning plans and they were uploaded to VSWare to aid more ready access by subject teachers to the recommendations for students with respect to supporting learning in the general classroom. Feedback from teachers has been positive regarding the easier accessibility to the information and the GDPR compliance of the new model. The ‘Behaviour for Learning’ (BfL) model was introduced to the school to work with students who engage in challenging behaviour. The programme was evaluated by the SEN teachers with recommendations for changing the structure for 2018/19 to emphasise a more proactive intervention in 1st year.This is being timetabled for September 2019.
Methodologies focusing on Keywords in the promoting of literacy are now well embedded in teaching in the school. A survey of students in the latter part of the year indicated that 81% of students were aware of a focus on Keywords as part of learning and 81.6% indicating that knowledge of keywords helps them with learning. 75.7% of students surveyed say that Keywords are well explained.An evaluation by staff indicated that the introduction of the ‘Keyword Journals’ has not been that successful as they are not practical to use being often mislaid for one year to the next. Teachers prefer to use copybooks for ‘Keywords’ as this better contextualises the words within the learning and homework material being studied – a more effective methodology. Following this evaluation, we have decided to discontinue the purchase of Keyword Journals.Building on the WELLREAD AWARD NATIONAL AWARD achieved in May 2018, we continued this year to promote reading in the school. The re-development of the library by the student and teacher team has been a highlight of the school year and the real focus of work in promoting literacy in the school. It has been a boost to have the revamped Library as a base for the student ‘Book Club’ and ‘Debating Club’ during lunchtimes.
Literacy SIP – report summer 2018
Promoting greater engagement in reading across the school community remains a key goal of the Literacy Improvement Plan. To support the involvement of students with the book rental scheme in Junior cycle (a component of the literacy strategy), and to further encourage reading, the ‘Read Red Wall’ became a feature of the general purpose area of the school during the year – with book reviews being traded regularly. Door posters were created of teacher’s favourite books with a review included to strengthen the whole school culture of reading.
Taking up the goals from the School’s Literacy Strategy to ‘Work on improving the library facilities to increase the number of students who enjoy reading for pleasure’ and to ‘Build on the 42.06% percentage of students surveyed who indicated that they would be interested in borrowing books if the school had a book lending facility in the library’, a number of strategies were undertaken this year.
There has been an initiative by TY students to invigorate the library again by running a student book club every Wednesday with an option to read and discuss the same book or a book of their own choice. A whole school group was set up to consult on strategies to develop the library and Library renovations will be carried out over the summer (2108) including the re-arrangement of the shelves and more comfortable seating and beanbags – an oasis for reading in the school at lunchtime.
For the ‘One Book – One Community Challenge’, the book chosen was ‘All the light we cannot see’ – a WW2 novel. Multiple copies were made available in the library and posters about the challenge peppered the school. An invitation was sent to parents in the Christmas Newsletter to engage as well.
We applied for the WELLREAD AWARD NATIONAL AWARD and received it in May which was a great boost to the efforts being made by the whole school community to promote reading. We will survey students in September to see if the levels of reading have increased. Click here to read more about the Wellread initiative.
Literacy SIP – report summer 2017
New ‘Word Journals’ were introduced into 1st year this year as planned and the feedback from teachers is that they are a better structure for maintaining vocab lists and word banks. The ‘Word Journals’ are to be extended into 2nd year next year.
This year also saw the expansion of the lending programme for novels into 3rd year so that all of Junior Cycle is now covered. This means that through class management of the programme by the English teachers, all students have access to sets of novels to address the curriculum requirement in Junior Cycle English. Our plan is to consider a ‘book in the bag’ initiative next year as an alternative to the ‘Drop and Read’ initiative which did not take off well this year. We will also move on to look at the possibilities of setting up a structure in TY to borrow novels using the stock in our own library.
There was a significant development of Literacy Week this year with an initiative involving teachers and students in naming and describing their favourite novel. The engagement of teachers across all subject areas ensured the success of this initiative. Further to this, Lunchtime Debates are drawing more spectators and standards have risen over the year – a great support in the development of oral literacy in Junior Cycle.
Literacy SIP – report summer 2016
This year we have conducted an interim evaluation of the first of the Sips – the School Improvement Plan in literacy which began in 2014. One focus of the plan In May 2014 was the level of uptake of Higher level English in Junior and Leaving Certificate. While the level at the time was high at around 73%, we had thought to increase this. However the level of uptake has remained around the same over the past two years and on review, we note that there were only 2 As achieved in ordinary level Junior Cert papers last year which would indicate that the threshold for students doing honours is probable set correctly.
The main focus of the Literacy Sip was to engage a greater number of students in reading for pleasure since it is well documented that reading has a very positive impact on literacy, both orally and in written form. In this context, it was disappointing to see that, both in practice and through the survey, that student do not really wish to use the library in the school during lunch break – for a considerable variety of reasons. For this reason, we are extending the class based book lending scheme to third year to all students in junior cycle will have the opportunity to borrow a series of books throughout each year. Next year we will also be participating in the ‘Wellread’ National Award scheme in the school. This scheme focuses on the whole school approach to the promotion of reading and we will be forming a committee of students, teacher and parents in September to steer our efforts in the competition. Finally, next year, in order to consolidate the use of work lists by teachers and students – a strategy introduced in the past two years in classes to improve the learning of new words, we are introducing a Literacy Journal for incoming 1st year students where they will keep new vocabulary over their three years of junior cycle.
As part of the inaugural STEAM academy in Mercy Mounthawk, the top 30 achievers in mathematics in 1 st year have been completing interactive maths problems online on the Google Classrooom app as well as having mathematical table quizzes each term. Each of them competed in the qualifying round of the IMTA quiz last February where six students including Biye and Eoghan met the criteria to qualify for the final round. The others to qualify were Cathal Murphy, Ciara O’ Sullivan, Roisin Rahilly and Orlaith McKenna. For the final few weeks leading up to the final competition, these six students met twice a week before school and during lunch to refine their problem-solving skills. These students will now continue to work as part of year 2 of the STEAM academy starting in September 2019. We would like to congratulate two 1st year students from Mercy Mounthawk: Biye Guo and Eoghan Bradshaw who came in joint first place in the Kerry/ Cork IMTA Junior Maths Competition. Their outstanding scores placed them in 6th place nationally out of 600 students who competed in their own branches around the country. They were only 8 marks out of a total of 150 shy of first place! See some more here on our maths page.
Update on the Numeracy SIP – summer 2017
One of our main goals in Numeracy was addressing the gender imbalance in Mathematics uptake at Leaving Cert. higher level. There has been significant progress made. In 2015 around 30% of girls took higher level Maths at Mounthawk compared to 41% of boys. While the percentage of boys remains higher, the initiatives undertaken have seen an increase each year so that this year 38% of girls are expected to take higher level in the Leaving Cert (2017). This is a significant outcome to the SIP and these figures compare more than favourably with the national data with about 13% only taking higher level in 2016.
There was also a significant development of Maths Week with TY students creating an activities programme in Centenary Hall for 1st and 2nd years to promote interest in maths. The activities encouraged problem solving in a fun environment and benefited both the TY students who created the puzzles and the younger students who participated.
Update on the Numeracy SIP – summer 2016
Our SIP in numeracy began last year and our initial focus was on increasing the uptake of honour maths among girls at senior cycle. While the numbers of girls and boys taking the honours course is largely equal in Junior cycle, echoing a national trend, fewer girls take the subject to Leaving certificate. This year we have focused on encouraging a greater uptake among girls through work in Transition Year participating in national initiatives such as the Hooper Medal competition for statistics and a number of STEM events for girls run in UCC and UCD. This work will continue in 2016/17.
A further focus last year was the provision of in-service to all teachers across different subject areas to ensure that the same methodology was being used in all subjects to execute mathematical calculations – as there can a numbers of different methods available for use and the use of different methods is often confusing or students. Further work will take plce on this agenda in 2016/17 focusing on the calculation of fractions.
In this area, the focus of work is around developing best practice in the use of ‘Formative Assessment’ in learning. In 2018.19 we began the consultation process with teachers, students and the Parents’ Council on a new Assessment and Learning Policy by auditing the existing practices of assessment in the school. For more info see: http://www.mercymounthawk.ie/parent-information. This audit will form the base line for the development of the new policy on assessment – work for 2019/20. The context for this new policy is the change in assessment practice in Junior Cycle with the introduction of CBAs. This new process in Formative Assessment is key to the success of learning in Junior Cycle and a lot of effort has gone into considering a timetable for CBAs for next year and in developing procedures for monitoring progress and communicating feedback on CBAs to students and parents. Information will be communicated to parents through the School App in early September 2019.
In tandem with this process, we have continued teacher CPD around Formative Instructional Practices (FIP). FIP are the formal and informal ways that teachers and students gather and respond to evidence of student learning. With these practices, teachers use tools, strategies and resources to determine what students know, identify possible gaps in understanding, modify instruction, and actively engage students in their learning. The FIP pilot working group of 10 teachers across 4 subjects in 2017/18 expanded to 23 teachers across 12 subjects for the school year 2018/19. The group undertook an online six module course (The Battelle System) to explore various aspects of Formative Assessment in particular setting out Clear Learning Outcomes (CLOs as criteria for success in learning). All 23 teachers surveyed their pupils, at the beginning of the year, using the Student Experience Survey (see www.thestudentexperience.org for details) and set a baseline measurement for the pupil’s experience of learning in the classroom. At the end of the school year pupils were surveyed again and teachers were able to compare the results and examine what might be changed in their own classroom to aid students in increasing ownership of their own learning.
The teacher group built a set of templates for CLOs which will be available to all teachers for use in classes. These Clear Learning Outcomes provide instructions for students on how to master a body of work. They provide a roadmap to success within a “chunk” of learning. How useful is this? The student feedback suggests they “really appreciate knowing where the learning is going over a two-three week period”. They know “exactly what it takes to progress through the levels and therefore helps them focus more on what they need to revise to get higher grades“. The initiative will be rolled out on a whole school basis in 2019/20 in a whole school project supported through the DES sponsored ‘Forbairt’ programme in which the school will participate next year.
Teaching and Learning – report summer 2018
Active Learning Methodologies
As part of the DES led focus on developing methodology for students learning, we continued at the start of the 2017/18 school year with an engagement with the PDST (the post primary in-service team) focused on supporting teacher expertise in and use of active learning methodologies for the Junior Cycle. The staff undertook to use methodologies such as think, pair, share’, ‘Graphic organisers’ and ‘anticipation exercises’ in class to explore their usefulness in supporting learning.
A comparison of the self-evaluation reports by teachers from the start to the end of the year shows that the use of active methodologies increased in classrooms over the year. In relation to Think Pair Share, usage increased from 56% of staff to 71.3% regularly or frequently use the methodology by year end. With Graphic organisers, 39% regularly used the methodology at year start whereas after the year of experimentation 67% are regularly or frequently using the methodology. Interestingly, with regard to the Anticipation exercise while 29% had used this technique frequently at the start, by the end of the year only 24% were using this method – a question for further evaluation…
A central issue which emerged for the Teaching and Learning steering group at Christmas in evaluating the process was the question of the impact of the methodologies on the learning of students. With this in mind we engaged with Battelle – an online CPD process that allows for the evaluation of student experience and learning and allows teachers to hear the student voice.
Battelle for Kids – Teacher self-reflection and student ownership of Learning (Shane Kissane)
A working team of ten teachers including the Principal and a Deputy Principal began to meet in February with the aim of introducing the Battelle programme into the English, Science and Mathematics departments. The team under took a course on Formative Instructional Practices (F.I.P.) which they completed over the rest of the school year. The course looks at methodology and ties this to the four core components of the programme: learning targets, evidence of learning, feedback to pupils and fostering student ownership of their own learning.
Central to the programme is the survey and analysis of the student experience in the class room. The Student experience survey, delivered by the teacher, aims to understand how the student feels in the class under the headings of Hope, Engagement, Belonging and Classroom Management. The survey is delivered once per term and a detailed analysis of the results is available to the teacher. Improvements in student learning are achieved through implementing the recommendations from the survey analysis and adapting methodology.
The teachers have reported this particular aspect of the Battelle initiative to be most worthy, inspiring and eye opening as it gives them detailed information as to how their students feel about all aspects of their learning and engagement. It is by the teachers acting on the results of the survey and implementing the four core components of the course that students will take greater enjoyment from their own class room experience and learning. It is intended to roll out this programme to all staff for the school year 2018 -2019.
The digital learning action plan continued apace this year using the ICT grant. Building on the computer classes which started in 1st year in 2017, this year (2018/19) saw the successful introduction of the new Short Courses in ‘Coding’ and ‘Digital Media Literacy’ into 2nd year with 68 students taking coding in 3 class groups and 21 students taking Digital Media Literacy – meaning that 42% of the 2nd year cohort opted for one or other of these technology short courses. The intake has grown again for the 2019 second year class with a total of 118 students opting for the short courses in these subjects. Uptake of Digital Media Literacy has grown 36% of the cohort next year is female which is a positive development in the profile of the cohort. The second aspect of the ICT plan for 2018/19 focused on the introduction of Google Chrome Books to provide easier access to computers in the classroom. This is seen as a necessary development in supporting learning in the school, particularly in Junior Cycle where research is now a central component of many CBAs. This initiative has been very successful with an end of year analysis of bookings showing that usage was spread over 68 staff members and showing an average of 53 class period per week using the chrome books for learning. Throughout the year, staff was introduced through CPD to a range of Apps for use in teaching such as Kahoot, Google classroom and Google drive. Now that the hardware and software aspect has been significantly addressed in the ICT plan, attention in the coming year can focus on the methodologies being used in teaching to promote and scaffold good research practice for students in the classroom and to develop research skills as learning outcomes.
WELLBEING 2018 – 2019 – CAPTURING THE STUDENT VOICE
The main initiative in 2018.19 in relation to WELLBEING was the restructuring of the Year Teams comprising of a Year Head who leads the team, an Assistant Year Head focusing on attendance, a pastoral care person, a special needs co-ordinator and the support of a Deputy Principal. The feedback from the teams has been very positive on the values of the new structure in supporting student wellbeing in the year groups. The new course in WELLBEING is underway in Junior Cycle and as part of this process we set about listening to the STUDENT VOICE this year. Using the Battelle survey instrument, we focused on the student experience of Wellbeing in the classroom. This Survey looked at 4 components that contribute to a sense of wellbeing for students: belonging, engagement, classroom management and hope. The full results of this survey are being processed and will provide a base line for teacher self-evaluation of classroom practice in relation to wellbeing. We also conducted focus groups with students from 3rd to 6th year to evaluate provision in SPHE and RSE and to capture the students’ perspective on the content and nature of the courses they had experienced. Students across the four year groups felt that ‘Substance Use’ and ‘individual identity’ were covered well, whereas Gender Studies needed more emphasis. Physical Activity and Nutrition were also deemed less well covered by students across all four year groups. Based on this feedback, we decided to introduce a new class in SPHE into 2nd year for 2019/20 to bring provision in WELLBEING to 378 hours over the Junior Cycle as is required for 2020. This extra class will have modules on ‘nutrition’, ‘cooking and healthy eating’, ‘fitness’ and ‘health’ in response to the student feedback. Other aspects of the students’ feedback will feed into the restructuring of the SPHE course which is ongoing by the SPHE team.
You can access the SPHE and RSE courses for Junior and Senior cycle here .These programmes sit within the general WELLBEING programme of the School.
WELLBEING in action: Have a look at our first year sports day here .
Talk for Parents: Intervention and prevention of Bullying, a Parent’s role: March 2019
Intervention and Prevention of Bullying; A Parents Role provided parents with the skills to understand and identify bullying behaviour considering the different roles children may take, including what to do to support your child, focusing on self-esteem, resilience and developing friendships. The workshop also provided more support on cyberbullying behaviour, intervention and prevention approaches and how you can support your child to safely use the internet and their devices. This workshop was provided by Dr. Liam Challenor who is a Doctoral Researcher with the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre, DCU. Liam is a psychologist, focusing in the areas of Education, Social and Cyber Psychology. Liam is the project co-ordinator for the Department of Education National Anti Bullying website Tacklebullying.ie and is a registered member of Psychological Society of Ireland. This talk was sponsored by the Parents’ Council.
Talk for Parents: Resilience and managing conflict: November 2018
The Parents’ Council sponsored a talk by well known author Stella O Malley. On the night The renowned author of the books “Cotton Wool Kids” and “Bully Proof Kids” visited the school on November 7th to talk to all parents @ 7.30 pm in Centenary Hall. The talk focussed on building resilience in our children and offered “practical tools to help kids grow up confident, resilient and strong”. Parents were provided with strategies to learn how to handle the relentless pressure from society and the media to provide a ‘perfect’ childhood, and instead to raise their children with a more relaxed and joyful and resilient outlook. Her book ‘Bully-Proof Kids’ gives parents – and kids – the tools to break the cycle of bullying by examining the factors that contribute to bullying: the school environment; the personalities of those involved; and the often-overlooked role of bystanders.This talk was sponsored by the Parents’ Council.
Talk for Parents: Information on wellbeing: February 2017
An information talk on the introduction of ‘Wellbeing’ was provided for parents in the school in February 2017. Please see the PowerPoint below for a sense of the content of this talk.
2017/18 Management Review
A major focus in 2016/17 in school planning was the review of Senior Management structures in the light of the publication by the inspectorate of the Department of Education of a framework for school self-evaluation called LAOS. We have uploaded these onto the school website for your perusal: http://www.mercymounthawk.ie/new-curriculum-developments/
Following a review of school management and the appointment of a third Deputy Principal, Mr Shane Kissane we had the opportunity, to realign the responsibilities of the Senior Management Team with the Inspectorate LAOS management indicators in order to better deliver on the quality framework. The new structure has been in place this year and we are evaluating its success in delivering the goals outlined for the year. A specific report on this will issue in September.
Middle Leadership Review
A further evaluation of management structures in the school was afforded this year with the introduction by the Department of Education of the new structure of Middle Leadership in January 2018. (circular 0003/2018) cl0003_2018 middle leadership
Since January we have we have engaged in a major review process outlined in circular focusing on the evaluation and development of the middle leadership structure in the school. This process reviewed the roles and responsibilities of the 24 teachers who form the middle Leadership team in the school using the LAOS framework. The process focused on carrying out of a needs analysis for the school by the whole staff and this has been completed identifying the priority needs in the school and this will inform school management planning. Schedule of roles and responsibilities summary FINAL adopted by BoM May 2018
The restructuring of the Leadership team will be characterised by the introduction of a number of new roles in relation to current needs in the school as identified. A major development is the development of a Year Group team structure. Each year group will have a dedicated team comprising of Year Head who will lead the team, an Assistant Year Head who will focus on attendance, a pastoral care person, a special needs co-ordinator and the support of a Deputy Principal. The team will all support the student in the year to achieve their potential.
Changes to middle management roles will allow for the introduction of new roles in relation to (i) tracking student achievement, (ii) tracking and support for improved attendance, (iii) a focus on assessment practices in the school and (iv) the promotion of further peer support for learning methodologies and collaboration among teachers and the provision of further staff CPD structures which focus on developing learning and teaching in the school. These new roles will support the themed of the school development plan as we proceed ahead in the next few years.
2016/17 Senior Management review
A major focus this year in school planning has been on the review of Senior Management structures. In September 2016, the inspectorate of the Department of Education issues a series of important new documents providing a framework for school self-evaluation. We have uploaded these onto the school website for your perusal: http://www.mercymounthawk.ie/new-curriculum-developments/
Based on the domains outlined in these documents, we conducted a review of school management with the Board the Snr. Management team and with the staff in this current year. This was a timely review as we have had the opportunity to add a new member to the senior management team. Mr Shane Kissane has been appointed as a new Deputy Principal on the team (giving us three Deputy Principals) and will take up his role in August. As the team has expanded, we have had the opportunity, in the light of the review, to realign the responsibilities of each of the positions in the team in order to better deliver on the expectations.
Mr Kissane will have responsibility for student care and management in Senior Cycle. Mrs Quane will continue to have responsibility for student care in Junior Cycle. Mr Fleming will have responsibility for Curriculum Management, co-ordinating planning in teaching and learning, CPD for teachers and tracking and supporting student academic progress.
We continued our focus on attendance in 2018/19. Little is achieved in learning if students are not present in school. The attendance strategy for the school was reviewed in September 2018 and re-published on the school website at: www.mercymounthawk. ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/POLICYonATTENDANCE2018.19-ratified-21.11.18.pdf . The strategies adopted in the previous year in Senior Cycle were continued this year. The 5th Year absence rate had dropped from 10.6 % in 2016 /17 to 6.7 % in 2017/18. End of year figures indicate that for 2018/19, the 5th year rate was 6.8% – holding within the same range. In 6th year, the absence rate had dropped from 12.7 % in the year 2016/17 to 6.4 % in the year 2017/18. In 2018.19 the 6th year rate was 7.1% – again holding within the same range. Based on staff consultation in August 2018, the SMART goal for attendance in 2018/19 was to decrease the absenteeism rate in 2nd year by 1%. An awareness raising strategy was adopted with the 2nd year parents and students emphasising the importance of full attendance. A second text was sent to parents of 2nd year on Friday afternoons to alert to any unauthorised absence over lunchtime. The 2nd year 2017/18 rate of absenteeism was 7.9% and this has decreased to 5.7% for the 2018/19 cohort. We are pleased that the interventions are showing results. The processing of attendance notes will be moved to the School App in the coming school year – more information to follow in September.
Attendance Strategy 2017/18
As outlined in section 10.2 of the attendance policy, (see the document here POLICYonATTENDANCE2016.17 ratified for submission to TUSLA October 2017 ) based on the data analysis and consultation, the goal prioritised for attention in 2017/18 is to decrease the absence rate among 6th years and in particular to decrease that rate on Fridays and Friday afternoons. The SMART goal is to reduce the average absenteeism rate in 6th year by 2% points in the academic year (2017/18).
To attain this goal in attendance by 6th Years it was decided, in consultation with the staff in August 2017, that in taking roll calls, patterns of absence, especially among senior students, were to be communicated to Year Heads and to assistant Year Heads immediately. To encourage fuller attendance on Fridays it was decided to take a second full school roll call every Friday during the first class after lunch and to send a text home to the parents of those who were absent after lunch. Personal engagement with students by the year head was undertaken as a strategy and the support of parents was enlisted. When problems continued the parents were contacted by letter by the Deputy Principal and asked to come to school to discuss and remedy the particular attendance issue.
The whole school approach to this issue has borne fruit over the year. Overall there was recorded an improvement in the attendance rate across senior cycle: For this 2018 LC cohort, their 5th Year absence rate in 2016/17 was 10.6 %. This group’s absence rate when in 6th Year in 2017/18 dropped to 6.4 %. Focusing on 5th year, the absence rate dropped from 10.6 % in the 5th year cohort in 2016/17 to 6.7 % for the current 5th year cohort in 2017/18.
Through out 2016/17 we developed our attendance strategy in accordance with the guidelines published by TUSLA.
Following consultation with parents, students, staff and management, the Attendnace Strategy has been finalised. There is a strategy statement which has been sent to TUSLA and a policy document that governs the process and strategies used in the school to promote and support good attendance which is viatl to the educational success of students.
SCHOOL PLANNING DOCUMENTS
The Inspectorate of the Department of Education has issued two very important documents which will guide school self-evaluation for the next number of years. the documents are here for your to read.