Digital Schools of Distinction Award Evaluation Report
School: Scoil Choca Naofa. Kilcock. Kildare
Roll No: 11976K
Date of validation: 25/05/2016
Leadership & Vision
Scoil Choca Naofa NS., one of Ireland’s oldest Primary Schools, formerly of the Presentation Sisters, with an enthusiastic team of teachers and support staff, exhibits and authenticates both in the written word and in everyday classroom action, that technology- enhanced learning plays a vital, crucial and fundamental role in the students’, teachers’ and wider community’s lives in Kilcock. Moreover the leadership and vison displayed during the DSoD validation confirm that 21 Century ICTs play a key part in the everyday lives of this whole-school- community. Pupils and teachers are afforded the opportunities to become familiar with a range of ICTs and advance the skills to effectively employ them. They are also encouraged to seek out ICT interactions and possibilities by a very dedicated Principal teacher, Mrs. Breda Fay and a most committed partnership of ICT coordinators under the direction and guidance of the principal. Parental and community involvement is to be highly recommended and the CPD provision during the school-year is also noteworthy. The use of ICTs is incorporated deeply in the various policies on display and daily administrative routines and there is no doubt that technology plays a very central role in teaching, learning and administration. As the DSoD award symbolizes many years of continued dedication to the advancement of ICTs in Scoil Chóca Naofa, it was my privilege as validator to see, first hand, the Trojan work, leadership and vision exuded by the Principal, before she retires this year. Molaim go mór an fhís ata ag an scoil agus an obair iontach atá deanta go dáta. Níl dabht ar bith ach go bhfuil rian oibre leanúnach fágtha ina diaidh aici.
ICT in the Curriculum
Scoil Choca Naofa NS., a vertical, co-ed school strives to ensure that each child, irrespective of his/her ability, ethnicity or background leaves the school feeling confident and competent using computers and ICTs, having gained a strengthening of their general classroom work in all curricular areas and in particular, Literacy, Oral skills, Phonics, Maths, Gaeilge and English. Other curricular subject areas are also accessed and explored utilizing a variety of Education Apps and ICT tools to enhance learning/ Go Noodle/ Blogs/Media Studies/ Ceol/ Research work/ S.E.S.E / Programming & Scratch Stories etc.,/ Mathletics/ Manga High Maths /Aistear. The effective use of laptops and iPads/tablets during class and in various ‘stations’ during classes is to be commended and merits special mention. The Infant classes were are joy to watch with Gaeilge, ceol, Class Dojo/ Cluster Games, handwriting, powerpoints and phonics. The use of IWB systems is very effective also at all levels of teaching/learning, assessment and classroom revision and testing.
In catering for pupils’ needs especially in Learning Support: They use adaptive technologies as per ability and exceptional needs of individual students as they present themselves. The remarkable use of Scratch and Story creation utilizing Scratch in the SEN environment also merits very special mention and praise. Challenging the SEN pupil to go beyond……. Iontach!
School ICT Culture
There is very clear and visual evidence that ICT is deeply present into the cultural fabric of Scoil Choca Naofa NS. Throughout the school, the effective use of a variety of hardware devices is evident. This is also effectively used for SSE (School Self Evaluation) with teachers/students/Parents/Community. The school’s website is excellent (http://www.scoilchoca.ie/) bringing together a variety of classroom and school wide BLOGS (absolutely excellent), after-school activities, Projects, school policies, history, new and current Information and classroom activities.
The daily use of internal Aladdin software to communicate and organize school, internal, staff e-mail and gmail, testing and attendance related activities was evident and plays a central role in the running of the school. Parental involvement is central to the school and text-a-parent and a closed Facebook page is provided to communicate on many levels with families. It clearly shows a commitment to promoting every aspect of the school’s professional life and work as an essential part of this community. The validator observed the recording of presentations for the assessment of oral skills and also the effective use of on-line educational programmes and a variety of Class Dojo/ Movie Maker/project work etc., etc. Recent updates demonstrate the emphasis on Numeracy/Policies/Parents Association activities/ Photos and sporting/Social/Visual Arts competitions and various students were only too happy to show the validator how they engage with the website. This is all moderated by the principal teacher primarily and the other ICT coordinators and a body of teachers with special interests in areas of school life.
All children are comfortable utilising technology such as iPads, laptops and desktop computers with excellent learning to learn tools. Moladh ar leith tuillte anseo.
ICTs. At present training requirements are adequately catered for by in-school and Summer CPD attendance at various courses and ICT Support evenings at Kildare Education Centre and further afield. There are also opportunities of one-to-one CPD with interested teachers in identified areas of ICTs. There is also considerable Peer to Peer collaboration going on when teachers find new ideas and practices and the viewing of the school server clearly indicates a regular uploading and sharing of information with colleagues. The school management provide teachers with every opportunity to advance their knowledge in ICTs and release teachers to undertake such opportunities when required.
Resources & Infrastructure
Resources are evident in every area of the school buildings. Every classroom has a modern IWB or similar hardware with effective and fast internet access and the necessary equipment to offer a vibrant technology-enhanced environment for the students. The school buildings’ in perfectly suited to distributing fast wifi and every classroom and learning environment enjoys this provision. Mobile laptops and iPads, tablets, cameras and visualisers are available to all classes. The hope is always to provide a more definite set of mobile and secure tablets for movement within the school. There is absolutely no doubt that the evidence of ICT incorporation and usage both seen and witnessed during the validation in this school is innovative and progressive. A school server-network is available for educational and organizational purposes. Teachers are expected to maintain their server presence and ensure that they also utilise the server effectively by sharing work and other folders. The Broadband is provided by the NCTE.
There is a wealth of licensed software and other related educational tools and hardware available throughout the school. This building was designed to ensure that modern 21 Century ICTs would be available to all students.
General comments and recommendations
Scoil Choca Naofa NS. is clear and unequivocal evidence of what can be achieved in the effective integration of ICTs when a defined vision is put into action on a daily basis.The validator was given a time-tabled, guided tour of the school facilities, classrooms and associated ICT / SEN provisions. The proficiency and consideration displayed and demonstrated by all involved in their use of ICTs was excellent. Gabhaim buíochas leis na múinteoirí uile a chuir fáilte romham.
The standard of Oral Language/Gaeilge/Maths/ Powerpoint/Media/Blogging/Scratch, etc… utilising ICTs was superb.
Scoil Choca Naofa NS. meets all the criteria for Digital School of Distinction Status and I have no reservations whatsoever in recommending them for this prestigious award. I believe Scoil Choca Naofa NS., its teachers, students and community will continue to lead the way for other very large schools to follow. I would especially like to thank Mrs. Breda Fay the príomhoide and a most dedicated teaching staff and student body for giving the validator a glimpse of what a steadfast school can achieve in the area of ICT when a clear vision is defined and implemented. It was my pleasure to feel very inspired after my visit to Scoil Choca Naofa NS. I have no doubt that the Presentation Sisters of old would be so proud of what the school has become in a modern Ireland, over 150 years later! Action with Vision. Níl dabht ar bith ach go bhfuil obair fhiúntach theicneolaíochta faoi lán-seol sa scoil. Molaim sibh.
Noteworthy examples of ICT integration in this school:
Gaeilge in J.Infants
Mathletics and Research in rang 3
Class Dojo/ Go Noodle and handwriting in Senior Infants
Scratch in the SEN environment
Clever use of Technology enhanced Apps throughout the school.
Recording and uploading of materials – Movie Maker
The visit more than validated the statements on their Self Evaluation Review.