School Improvement Plan 2015 – Numeracy

St Joseph’s National School


Co. Laois






School Improvement Plan

This plan should be read in conjunction with our School Self-Evaluation Report


Action Period

September 2015 – June 2018


In line with national education initiatives as determined by the Department of Education and Skills, this plan will be kept under ongoing review by the Board of Management and Staff of this school.

School Context

We have six mainstream classes at present. The principal holds a teaching principal position. However, due to falling demographics, it is likely that will reduce to five classrooms for September 2016.

Main Strengths of the School

  1. Bright modern and well maintained school.
  2. Welcoming atmosphere and environment.
  3. Dedicated staff and board of management, committed to the provision of an excellent learning experience for the pupils in their care.
  4. Supportive, dedicated and active parent body.
  5. Enthusiastic learners who are strong attenders.
  6. Positioned within a strong community, supportive of the school ethos.


Areas Requiring Improvement

  1. In the area of numeracy, the staff have identified problem-solving as being in need of attention.
  2. The measures strand is the strand most in need of improvement.
  3. There should be more focus on mathematical language development.


Improvement Targets Required Actions Success Criteria / Measurable Outcomes Persons Responsible


Timeframe for Action
Target 1:

An increase in the school-wide average in problem solving, broken down as follows – 3% in Year 1 and a further 2% in Year 2 and Year 3 respectively.






What do you need to put in place?

Resources/ Training/ Planning etc.


(i)                 Devise whole school strategies for problem solving.

(ii)               CPD on problem solving.

(iii)             Allocate time for devising strategies for problem solving.

(iv)              Print and distribute a Maths Language Booklet to parents.

(v)                Audit of concrete materials. Purchase if necessary.

(vi)              Greater use of ICT and coding/programming

(vii)            Encourage collaborative work in all classes.



We have data from our Sigma-T tests from 2013, 2014 and 2015 uploaded on our Aladdin administrative system. This provides us with clear and measurable data.


We will also retest the same selection of pupils from each class using the GL Assessment online ‘Progress in Maths’ test.

All Staff / Numeracy Co-Ordinator / Principal September 2015 – June 2018
Target 2:

Increase the percentage of children who like Maths by 2% per year over the next three years.

(i)                 To allocate a time slot for Maths games

(ii)               To introduce a ‘Buddy Maths’ system to increase children’s enjoyment of Maths throughout the school

(iii)         To use more songs and rhymes


Pupil Maths surveys. Compare year on year.





All Staff / Numeracy Co-Ordinator / Principal


September 2015 – June 2018
Target 3:

To increase in the school-wide average measures, broken down as follows – 3% in Year 1 and a further 2% in Year 2 and Year 3 respectively.




(i)                 Audit of concrete materials. Purchase if necessary.

(ii)               Each class will conduct a Maths trail at least once a term.

(iii)             Print and distribute a Maths Language Booklet to parents – some of the terms will be targeted at the measures strand in particular.



We have data from our Sigma-T tests from 2013, 2014 and 2015 uploaded on our Aladdin administrative system. This provides us with clear and measurable data.


All Staff / Numeracy Co-Ordinator / Principal


September 2015 – June 2018



This programme will continue throughout the time period of this SIP i.e. September 2015 – June 2018

We will monitor and review the SIP on an annual basis.


Presented to Board of Management June 17th 2015

Signed: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____________________


SSE Report 2015 – Numeracy

St Joseph’s National School


Co. Laois






School Self Evaluation Report



Evaluation Period: September 2014 – June 2015

Report Issue Date: June 2015










  1. Introduction

1.1            The Focus of the evaluation

A school self-evaluation of teaching and learning in St Joseph’s N.S. was undertaken during the period September 2014 to May 2015. During the evaluation, teaching and learning in the following curriculum areas were evaluated.

  • Numeracy with a focus on an in-depth analysis of the Sigma T results using the Aladdin administrative system.
  • Writing genres. 1.2             School ContextFr. Daniel Dunne chairs a busy and dedicated Board of Management. Following in the footsteps of previous boards, members constantly seek to develop and improve the school and its environs, sourcing and replenishing educational resources to enhance the learning of the pupils and support ongoing staff development and national educational initiatives. Through engagement with training provided by CPSMA and active involvement in the area of policy development, board members ensure that the school maintains its commitment to quality educational provision.Attendance by the student body is excellent and there is a happy atmosphere throughout the school. The children are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities including swimming, football, hurling, rugby, athletics, quizzes, choirs, theatrical experiences as well as educational projects such as Write-a-Book, Lego Mindstorms, FIS, Green Schools (during this period we worked towards and achieved our fourth flag). Laois Education Centre, PDST and a variety of sporting and educational organisations support the school in the provision of many of these activities. To enhance our link with the local community, pupils provide a constant stream of material for inclusion on an up to date school blog hosted by Scoilnet. We also set up a school Twitter account in recent months.In working through this process of school self-evaluation as a whole school community, we seek to recognize and acknowledge that which works well within the school, while also examining areas that could further be improved upon in the light of the latest developments, methodologies and research from within the field of education.We collected information from parents, pupils and teachers in preparing this report. We looked at how well our pupils were doing in standardised tests .We discussed progress with teachers and completed teacher reflections. We conducted a pupil/parent online questionnaire. We also completed both pupil and teacher questionnaires.
  • 2         The Findings
  • In ensuring the provision of a secure and pleasant learning environment, staff members are committed to the maintenance of high standards while constantly seeking to improve educational experiences and learning outcomes. Teachers avail of the opportunities provided by our local Education Centre and online courses to enhance their professional practice often during their own time. The Board acknowledges this staff commitment to their own professional development and to the ongoing broadening of knowledge that it brings to the whole school. The Board also acknowledges the time and experience that staff members share with their students through their involvement in sport, drama and curricular projects, again often during their own time. Participation in these activities greatly enhances the overall educational experience for students.
  • The Board of Management and staff are fortunate to have the support of the general parent body. The parent body is supported by an active Parent’s Association (affiliated to the NPA) who, encourage and provide for parental involvement across a wide range of activities throughout the year. Members of the Parent’s Association provide valuable input into policy formation, organize information meetings on policy issues, ensure that social events run smoothly and assist with fundraising throughout the year.
  • St. Joseph’s National School, Ballyadams, operates under the patronage of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. It is a bright, recently expanded, Catholic, co-educational, rural, inclusive, mainstream school welcoming of all faiths and open to applicants from within the catchment area. Guided by an enrolment policy and subject to the availability of space, the Board also welcomes applications from outside the catchment area. Due to falling enrollment in recent years, the school lost two teachers in September 2014.
  • This is a report on the findings of the evaluation.
  • Numeracy  2.1 StrengthsAn examination of the Sigma-T results 2015 showed that in the area of numeracy, pupils achieve above national norms. The average whole-school percentile in 2014 was 77. It was notable that the number and algebra strands are particularly strong with the school average percentile of 70 and 72 respectively. Data and Shape and Space strands are also quite strong. While in the skills section of the Sigma-T in 2015, the school average for Understanding Concepts and Facts was a percentile of 73. 39% of students achieved Stens between 8 and 10. Such findings do not give rise to a sense of complacency on the part of teaching staff. Rather it prompts us to examine if work in any particular area might further improve the learning outcomes for students.72.5% of pupils in 2nd-6th class stated that they enjoy Mathematics. The online Parent/Pupil survey supports this view. 96.6% of those who completed the form agreed that they liked Mathematics. The adoption of the school administration system Aladdin and its capacity to input and analyze standardized test scores has greatly aided teachers in monitoring the progress, strengths and weaknesses of individual pupils, class groupings and the whole school cohort. This in turn can inform individual, class and whole-school planning. 2.2 We have decided to priorities the following areas for development: Having examined the Sigma-T scores from May 2013, May 2014 and May 2015 using the Aladdin administrative system, it was found that the Measures strand was the weakest. The staff felt that an audit of mathematical resources and concrete material should take place in order to inform teachers as to what is already available in the school, and to establish specific areas where we are resource deficient and we could look to improve.
  • In discussions and analyses from the staff review, it was agreed that the lack of consistency in the mathematical language used throughout the school and at home gave rise to confusion among children. It was suggested that this area be examined in the light of the school mathematics policy and information disseminated to staff and parents.
  • Staff members expressed the view that problem solving continues to remain an area for concern. This concern was backed up upon analysis of the Sigma-T scores from May 2014 and May 2015 using the Aladdin administration system. Of the three skills examined and analysed, Solving Problems was by far the weakest, with a school average percentile of 49.1 in 2014 and 50 in 2015. Furthermore, 41.2% of pupils in 2nd-6th class stated they disliked problem solving. Our staff survey on problem solving also indicated that, as a school, more attention needs to be given to – enjoyment of problem solving tasks, exposure to a variety of opportunities to experience problem solving inside and outside the classroom, more coherent and whole-school approach to the teaching of problem solving strategies and the use of ICT.
  • Learning Support in the area of Mathematics has been increased in recent years and teachers are satisfied with the level of support being provided at the moment.
  • Staff surveys and discussions indicate that the school is well resourced with concrete materials.
  • Staff feel that there is good collaboration between teachers in the area of Mathematics.
  • The introduction of Ready, Set, Go Mathematics Programme has been a success so far. The first cohort of this initiative were included in the Sigma-T standardized tests of May 2014 and the results were very encouraging. In assessing the pupils throughout the year, teachers delivering the programme indicate that pupils have achieved a greater understanding in the area of number as a result of this initiative.
  • Progress Made on previously-identified improvement targets
  1. Learning Support is targeted at early intervention and in-class support as far as is practicable
  2. Learning Support in the area of Mathematics has been extended.
  3. Special Education policy has been reviewed and ratified by the board.
  1. A questionnaire was administrated to 2nd-6th class pupils.
  2. We completed a teacher reflection on Mathematics and the teaching and learning of Mathematics within the school.
  • Summary of school self-evaluation findings
  • Our school has strengths in the following areas:
  1. Welcoming and friendly environment.
  2. Students performing well in comparison to the national norms in Numeracy. Our average percentile across the school for Sigma-Ts in June 2015 was 79, massively above the national average.
  3. Good attendance by pupils and enthusiastic involvement in a wide range of activities. 96.1% attendance for 2014/2015 (15-06-2015).
  4. Good Board of Management concerned with constant development of the school.
  5. Good parental support and a supportive and active Parent’s Association.
  6. Good teaching and learning throughout the school.
  7. Teachers feel that the pupils have an excellent understanding of number, the school is well resourced with Maths equipment, assessment procedures are adequate and there is good staff collaboration.
  8. Each class uses a variety of organisational styles. Group work and pair work are in use in all classes throughout the school.
  9. 5% of children in 2nd – 6th Class say they like Mathematics.



The following areas are prioritized for improvement:

  1. Our teacher review and pupil score analysis (Sigma-T Test) identified problem solving as an area that needs improvement. Teachers felt that there was need for an agreed whole school approach to support children’s problem solving strategies. All teachers expressed an interest in CPD in relation to problem solving.
  1. Our teacher review identified the need for Maths language development.


  1. Our pupil score analysis (Sigma-T) identified measures as an area that needs improvement.


Presented to Board of Management June 17th 2015

Signed: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____________________


Healthy Eating Fortnight

For the next two weeks, the children of Ballyadams N.S. will be learning about nutrition. Through discreet nutrition lessons, classroom activities and supplementary cross-curricular activities, we hope to ingrain good eating habits in the children that will hopefully lead to good, healthy choices as they mature and realise the importance of healthy eating. Our hope is that parents will fully engage and support this initiative. I’ve attached a number of leaflets and information sheets regarding nutrition and what our children should/should not be eating. It also includes some ideas for healthy lunches.


Mr. Fitzgerald

2012-Safefood-Healthy-Lunchboxes-Leaflet-v4 Guide-to-Healthy-Eating-pdf-Booklet Healthier_Lunchbox_Leaflet_01_13_LR Healthier_Lunchbox_Planner Healthy_Eating_for_Children

Maths Survey – October 2014

As part of our ongoing School Self-Evaluation process, we are asking parents of children in 1st to 6th classes to sit down with their children and complete the Maths survey which you can access via the link below. Your feedback will be used to inform the school’s approach to numeracy in our self-evaluation report. There are some questions which might not be very relevant for the junior classes especially, but we’d ask you to complete the survey in so far as possible.


Thank you for taking the time to complete.


Mr. Fitzgerald

Parents Council AGM

October 2nd 2014

Hello to all Parents,

On behalf of the Parent’s Council I would like to wish Mr. Fitzgerald all the best in his new position as Principal of Ballyadams School.

I’m sure all of our children are well and truly settled back into School at this stage and enjoyed their little break last week during the Ploughing Championships.

As you are all aware our, AGM was held on Monday night last and while we had a good attendance we would welcome more parents to our meetings, we only have about four per year. The work the Parent’s Council does is for the benefit of our school but more importantly, it is for the benefit of all our children.

New officers were elected to our Committee and they are as follows:

Secretary:             Mary Howes

Treasurer:             Fran Murphy

Asst. Treasurer:   Isabell O’Brien

We have a busy year ahead fundraising, commencing with Bag Packing in Dunnes Stores Portlaoise on Friday & Saturday October 10th/11th from 10am to 6pm, your help would be very much appreciated please.

The annual Fancy Dress Halloween Walk will take place on October 24th and we will hold a Christmas Raffle/Cake Sale/Brick or Brack Sale on Sunday December 7th, this was a great success last year, if anyone can get their hands on some really good prizes for the raffle that would be great as we would like this year’s raffle to be as good, if not better than last years.

Thanking you all for your continued support.

Kathleen Crosby


School Closures 2014/2015

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Below you will find a list of school holidays for 2014/2015.


September    23rd, 24th & 25th



Ploughing Championships


October        27th –31st   



Mid Term. Re-opening Monday Nov 3rd


December    19th 



Closing for Christmas Holidays


January 5th 2015



Re-opening Monday 5th Jan for 2nd Term


February 19th & 20th



Mid-term break


March 17th


March 30th – April 10th



St. Patrick’s Day


Easter Holidays. Re-opening Mon 13th April


May 1st, 4th & 5th



Closed Fri, Mon & Tues (Bank Holiday Weekend)



May 29th, June 1st & 2nd


June 30th



Closed Fri, Mon & Tues (Bank Holiday Weekend).


Closing for Summer Holiday

Mr. Fitzgerald



September 2014 Newsletter

September 3rd, 2014

Welcome to the 2014/2015 school year, one which we hope will be enjoyable, busy and productive for all. We would especially like to welcome all our new pupils and congratulate them all for settling in so well to school.

I have attached a separate note for your information with regard to school closures for the year ahead and to assist you with planning. The following points will also be of assistance.

Opening Times

Our school opens at 9.20am. No child should be on the school grounds before 9am but please be aware that children are not supervised at this time of the day. School closes for infants at 2pm and for all other classes from 1st – 6th at 3pm. The new Junior Infants will continue to finish at 12pm this week, but from next Monday, September 8th onwards, they will finish at the normal time of 2pm.

P.E. Times

P.E. times for your child will be sent home by their class teacher this week. Tracksuits may be worn on these days. On all other days your child should be in their school uniform. Children who wish to play football/games on the playing field at lunch time must bring a spare tracksuit bottoms and football boots/old runners to school.

Marking Clothes

Already we have a number of unclaimed tracksuit tops and jumpers. All tops should be marked with your child’s name. Children do not like to admit that they are the person who forgot to pick up their jumper or left it on the field and so reuniting children and their clothing can consume a great deal of time. Please put your child’s name on their belongings. This will also help should your child bring home the wrong coat or top etc.

Parents Council

The Parent’s Council A.G.M. will take place on Monday September 29th at 8pm. Our Parent’s Council are a very active and welcoming group and we would encourage you to attend on the night.

Cumann na mBunscoil

Our 5th and 6th Class boys and girls have already begun their preparation for their respective football competitions. We will once again field two boys teams and one girls team. The leagues begin next week and we wish all our players the very best of luck. Thank you once again to Ms. Walsh, Ms. Rowan, Mr. Mullooly and Mr. Fitzgerald for their efforts in preparing our teams.


Mr. Fitzgerald and Mrs. Murray’s classes will attend swimming lessons in Portlaoise Leisure Centre every Thursday from November 6th to December 18th. Ms. Walsh and Ms. Holden’s classes will receive lessons every Thursday from March 5th to April 30th (excluding the Easter Holidays).


Please encourage your child to bring home any crusts etc that they have not eaten. Sometimes you may think that they are eating their lovely lunch when in fact they have thrown it in the bin. I also remind parents of our Healthy Eating policy in the school.


Birthdays are great occasions and the cause of justifiable excitement for every child. Organising your child’s birthday party is great fun but with classes of 25-30 it would be unreasonable to expect that any family would invite every member of the class to a celebration. Invitations delivered at school can unintentionally cause great hurt when one or more are not included so I would ask that no invitations are issued by children through the school.

School Contact

The school phone number is 059 8627226. Should you wish to email the principal please use and should you wish to contact the office please use You can contact Pam in the office between 9.30a.m and 1pm each day.

We will continue to use the Textaparent System this year to update you on school events and to forward information. If you did not receive a text message last week, you are not on the system, possibly because we do not have your up to date number. Please ensure that you give Pam your number. If you have changed address for any reason over the holidays please inform us so that we can update our records.

Child Protection

All parents should be aware that Mr. Fitzgerald is the Child Protection Liaison Officer for this school. If you have any concerns in this area you should arrange a meeting as soon as possible.

As I’m sure you are aware, Ms. O’Connor has retired and I (Mr. Fitzgerald) have taken over the role of school Principal. I very much look forward to working closely with you in the future. If the need arises to contact me or if you would like to make an appointment to see me, I ask you to make an appointment through Pam in the office. I am also teaching 6th Class this year, so I will be unavailable to meet parents between 9:10am and 3pm.

We look forward to another successful and productive school year.

Mr. Fitzgerald





Thank you

Thank you to the Board of Management, Parent’s Council, staff and parents for organising such a wonderful day on Friday to mark my retirement from teaching.  This is a very special community and I will always treasure the many memories I have of my 17 years working with you and your children. Friday was an incredibly special day and despite all indications to the contrary there are not enough words to describe the feelings I experienced during my ‘surprise concert’ or at the magnificent party in the school last night. I am so grateful and offer a simple thank you.

Outdoor Classroom



This beautiful area or outdoor classroom has just been added to the school to mark the retirement of the principal Ms O Connor. Beautifully designed by Joe Kilbride and created by Debcon Construction with the assistance of many able bodied volunteers it will provide the teachers and learners with an observation post for science foraging, a place to listen to stories – imagine listening to the tale of Farmer Duck as you hear tractors and horses go by – or it has also been suggested that it might be very useful for team talks. A plaque will soon be added with a quote from the 1999 Science Curriculum – Science is a human endeavour fueled by creativity and imagination….. – well children, let your imaginations run free.


As you can see it already serves as a meeting place during breaks.

On a personal note may I say a sincere thank you to The Board of Management and Parent’s Council for turning this idea into a reality. They do so much to ensure that the children attending this school are given every opportunity and as principal and on behalf of the staff I wish to express our gratitude for their willingness to constantly imagine an even better learning environment for their children.