In 2005 we had a Whole School Evaluation, a process by which inspectors from the Department of Education and Science come to the school over a number of weeks, talk to the Board of Management, Parents Council, staff and student groups. A number of subject inspections were also undertaken in what was a very detailed look at how our school works. The final report has been received by the Board of Management and delighted us that it was so positive.Everyone involved in the school community should take great pride in how the school presented to the inspectors and the extremely encouraging nature of the report. The full report runs to 28 pages and is very detailed, what follows is the Summary of Main Findings in the report. The full report is available in the school for any parent/guardian who might wish to read it.
Summary of Main Findings
St. Mary's Knockbeg College is a relatively small rural school which caters for boarding and day students. The school has a caring environment and is successful in providing for the spiritual, educational, welfare and physical needs of the students. Enrolments have increased significantly and there is a strong loyalty to the college. The boarding school facilities impact positively on the school. Parents and students gain from the quality of care and attention and the opportunities provided in this school.
The quality of interactions and relationships observed throughout the school indicates success in achieving the aims of the mission statement. Overall, there is strong collegiality in the school community and commitment to care for the welfare of students and staff. The atmosphere in the school is warm, relaxed and respectful. The success of this positive atmosphere is fostered by a supportive board of management, an effective and integrated pastoral care and discipline system, caring staff and an open and flexible leadership style. The board of management operates in an efficient and effective manner and is keenly aware of its responsibilities, duty of care and compliance with statutory obligations.
The board supports the policy of partnership and inclusiveness in decision making and parents and students have contributed in this regard. The school runs in a smooth and efficient manner. This is sustained through the strong presence of the principal around the school, an open and flexible leadership style, appropriate delegation of responsibility and positive relationships with the whole staff, students and parents. Knockbeg College is provided with excellent leadership.
Posts of responsibility have been well thought out and carry clear and appropriate job descriptions.
Senior management and middle management work well together in a spirit of co operation, commitment and collegiality and constant daily consultation between all parties ensures that the needs of the school are continually met. A clear and effective discipline system which incorporates student welfare has been developed and this is successfully sustaining a positive learning environment throughout the whole school and maximizing opportunities for teaching and learning. Positive relationships exist between the students and staff. A high level of maturity, leadership and loyalty to the school was demonstrated by the students involved in responsible roles in the school.
Professional development of teachers is encouraged and facilitated.
In-school management actively strives to encourage and facilitate the involvement of parents in the school ensuring a flow of information and the promotion of awareness of the procedures for contacting the school.
The culture of School Development Planning is established in the school. A large number of policies that are relevant to the working of the school have been developed by the board of management in collaboration with the relevant parties and there is a strong commitment to the regular review of these policies. The focus on curriculum and teaching and learning in subject areas is a significant part of the school development planning process and this will be of considerable benefit to all. Continuing professional development among management and teachers and attention to the planning process are both to be acknowledged as having contributed greatly to the ongoing development and strength of this school and its capacity to meet change.
The curriculum provided in Knockbeg College is perceived as being mainly traditional and academic and senior management are open to exploring ways to broaden the curriculum. A system of mixed ability is successfully operated in the school. The school is conscious of trying to accommodate the aptitudes and interests of all students and endeavours to ensure that each student has access to all subject areas. Students are given much support and assistance in making subject and programme choices and in making transitions within the school and to and from the school. The TY programme is available on an optional basis providing opportunities for a varied range of activities, modules, projects, outings, and opportunities for skills development. Exciting co-curricular activities and programmes exist in some curricular areas. The level of extra curricular provision is significant. These activities provide valuable opportunities for students to participate actively in their own areas of interest.
Support for Students
Knockbeg College has a strong commitment to caring for the needs and best interests of all students and all staff actively contributes to the pastoral care system. Comprehensive supports systems are in place to ensure that each student has knowledge of and can access relevant supports; such as a well-established class teacher and year head system, pastoral care system, Meitheal mentoring programme, student council, guidance system, counselling system and learning support system.
Student support systems are well integrated into the whole fabric of the school and enabling structures are in place that greatly enhance the operation of these systems. The school identifies students with SEN for extra tuition as early as possible. Great care has gone into the development of individual education programmes for each student selected for supplementary teaching.
The school is aware of the challenges inherent in mixed ability setting and whole staff training in this area has been engaged in. This could be extended to training in strategies that promote effective learning for students experiencing particular learning difficulties. Programmes of SPHE and RSE are available in accordance to the moral and spiritual framework of the school and this is integrated with the work of the pastoral care team. The guidance and counselling programme provides opportunities for students to explore the choices open to them and endeavours to enhance decision making skills and to assess student interests and aptitudes. On-going communication with parents is encouraged.
* Since the publication of this report the curriculum has been broadened to include Art at Junior Cycle and Art, Design & Communication Graphics and Religious Education (as an exam subject) at Senior Cycle. The L.C.V.P. programme was also introduced to Senior Cycle