Digital Schools of Distinction Award Evaluation Report

School: Screen NS., Co Wexford.

Roll No: 18839M

Date of validation: 12/05/2016                

Leadership & Vision

Screen NS Co Wexford , a rural co-ed, multi-class, primary school, with a ardent team of teachers and support staff, displays in both written policies and in everyday, classroom action, that technology- enhanced learning plays an significant role in the students’ , community’s and teachers’ lives.

Moreover the leadership and vison demonstrated during the DSoD validation indorse the fact that 21 Century ICTs play a strategic role in the everyday lives of the school and wider rural community. Pupils and teachers are provided with a variety of opportunities to become conversant with a range of ICTs and engage with the skills to successfully employ them on a daily basis.

They are also encouraged to pursue ICT exchanges and possibilities by a most dedicated and excellent ICT co-ordinator, Ms Ita Connolly and Principal, Ms Fiona Wickham and a very ‘ICT savvy’ and welcoming teaching staff. The CPD, peer-to-peer provision and ICT collaboration offered by the ICT coordinator and two PDST (ICT tutors/teachers in the school) is noteworthy.

The use of ICTs is incorporated into the various policies and posters on display and there is no doubt that technology plays a very purposeful, effective and practical role in teaching and learning both in- and after school. The school building has been re-furbished and the running of wired and wireless technologies is well structured throughout, with the provision for future expansion being presently explored in the area of WiFi provision.

The secretary and teachers use a variety of software and cloud storage, plus server, to share files and documents including Aladdin, Twitter and Facebook.  The students use laptops mainly and a selection of iPads and desktop computers to access lessons and share their work with the teachers and on-line.

The school uses the text-a-parent and the school website and facebook for communicating amongst staff and with parents.  Blogging and student participation is highly encouraged and training is provided to the teachers and students to undertake the task of designing and uploading the Blogs. The original website was designed with the assistance of a parent and the principal oversees and moderates all Blogging activity.

ICT in the Curriculum

Screen NS Co Wexford, a vertical, co-education school, strives to ensure  that each student, regardless of his or her age, ability or intellectual challenge, leaves the school feeling confident , competent and self-assured using computers, having gained a consolidation of their general classroom work in many curricular areas and in particular, Maths, Literacy and Gaeilge. Other curricular subject areas are also accessed and explored utilizing a variety of Education websites / YouTube/ Maximo Mindfulness Animation, GoNoodle and ICT tools to enhance learning/ Primary Science/Nature with SESE.

The effective use of laptops/tablets at ‘stations’, during classes and in various ‘stations’ during classes, is to be commended,  where the students and their teachers, enjoyed a variety of ICT activities at a differentiated pace whist exploring Maths Eyes, Reading and Audio stations, IZAK 9 and typing programmes. This, along with aspects of Internet and Cyber Safety and ICT usage, was absolutely wonderful to observe and discuss with the students. The use of IWB systems is very effective also at all levels of assessment and classroom revision and testing throughout the school.

In catering for pupils’ needs especially in Learning Support and in the classrooms: They use adaptive technologies as per ability and exceptional needs of individual students as they present themselves and the SNA support is again to be commended. The use of Gaeilge in the Maths class was a pleasure to behold! Gaeilge Bheo tríd an gcuraclam ar fad!

School ICT Culture

There is rich and vivid evidence that ICT is ever present into the cultural fabric of Screen NS Co. Wexford. Posters on Cyberbullying, various projects and safe internet practices are also clearly visible throughout the school. The effective use of a variety of hardware is also evident throughout the school. This is also effectively used for SSE (School Self Evaluation) with teachers/students/Parents/Community.

The school’s website is very informative bringing together a variety of Blogs, classroom and community based Projects, events, projects, school policies, new and current Information, links to education Apps and classroom activities, curricular activities and competitions, awards and days of note etc., etc….. Scratch and Coding and Junior Scratch are also encouraged throughout the school and a variety of students are presently engaging or in the process of furthering their knowledge and experiences in these areas.

An after-school, web-design programme is also available to students. It is especially wonderful to note that the school links with three other local primary schools to further IT issues including safety and usage. The Parents’ Association is extremely active in this respect and merits praise and special recognition.

The daily use of internal, Aladdin software to communicate and organize school, internal e-mail, testing and attendance related activities was evident. It clearly shows a commitment to promoting every aspect of the school’s professional life and work. The use of students to update the website Blogs also allows the school to publish Quick and Immediate updates to families.  Twitter and facebook are also utilized as required.

Recent updates demonstrate the emphasis on Blogging, Extra-curricular activities/Policies/Parents activities/ Photos and other competitions/programmes and various students were only too happy to discuss how they engage with the school website. This is all moderated by the ICT coordinator/Principal and various teachers with specific ICT expertise.

The Principal is fully supportive and engaged and encourages all teachers to participate and be active. All children are comfortable utilising technology with excellent learning to learn tools. Discussions with the students and various classes on specific aspects of ICTs in society and their daily lives was most informative. Iontach ar fad.

Professional Development

At present training requirements are adequately catered for by in-school, peer-to-peer and Summer CPD attendance at various courses and ICT Support evenings at various Education Centres, especially in Enniscorthy. The ICT coordinator also encourages opportunities of one-to-one CPD, with interested teachers, in identified areas of ICTs.

There is also noticeable Peer to Peer collaboration going on when teachers find new ideas and practices and the viewing of the school ‘cloud’ server clearly indicates a regular uploading and sharing of information with colleagues. The ICT coordination is shared, according to the level of expertise in the school and each and every teacher spoken with and classroom visited deserves praise and recognition for the whole-school’s commitment to ensuring that  ICT and  CPD needs are being met and catered for at all levels.

The school is fortunate to have two ICT/PDST teachers on the staff and this adds to the professionalism around CPD at all levels. This summer a course in iPads will take place in the school to again allow teachers to further explore the possibilities of Technology-enhanced learning and teaching.

Resources & Infrastructure

Resources are evident throughout the school. Every classroom visited had an IWB facility or similar hardware, iPads, tablets, desktop computers, cameras, a dedicated laptop for each teacher with effective BUT more often than not, inadequate internet access and the necessary equipment to offer an appealing, technology-enhanced environment for the students. 

A suite of Mobile I Pads, with a desire to acquire more in the future, are available to all classes. Reading stations with Audio stations are readily available and the Parents’ Association are again in the process of acquiring more e-books for the audio stations. They undertake Trojan work in the school!! There is no doubt that the evidence of ICT incorporation and practice both seen and witnessed during the validation in this school is praise-worthy.  A school ‘cloud’, server-network is available for educational and organizational purposes.

Teachers are expected to maintain their server presence and ensure that they also utilise it effectively by sharing work and other folders. A wireless connection is available for use with laptops/iPads and at present the school is exploring a more effective WiFi distribution system for the school. The Broadband is provided by the NCTE but is SLOW to the point of being at times ineffective.

Contact with NCTE through emails has been fruitless and the school is frustrated by the lack of response. It was recommended that they would continue to contact the NCTE until a satisfactory outcome would be attained.

There is a wealth of licensed software and other related educational tools available throughout the school. The present school building is designed to ensure that modern 21 Century ICTs would be accessible to all students, and every effort is being made to ensure that they are in spite of logistical issues beyond the school’s control. The SEN and Resource rooms are well resourced and are utilizing the appropriate hardware and software to enhance the students’ lives and learning journeys.

General comments and recommendations

Screen NS Co Wexford is a vibrant community of practice delivering real-time, everyday incorporation of ICT in school life. The validator was given a detailed time-tabled, guided tour of the school facilities, classrooms and associated ICT / SEN provisions. The proficiency and excellence displayed and validated by all involved in their use of ICTs is to be highly commended. The role of the parents again merits special mention.

The standard of utilising, incorporating and integrating ICTs was most enthusiastic in the various classroom and out-door settings (Maths Eyes).

Screen NS Co Wexford meets all the criteria for Digital School of Distinction Status and I have no reservations whatsoever in recommending them for this prestigious DSoD award. I believe Screen NS Co Wexford, its teachers, students, parents and community will continue to lead the way for other small, rural schools to follow. I would especially like to thank Ms Fiona Wickham, a most supportive principal, Ms. Ita Connolly, a most dedicated ICT co-ordinator, and all the teaching staff and students of the school for giving the validator a glimpse of what a unwavering and dedicated school is achieving in the area of ICT, when a clear vision is well-defined and executed.

It was my pleasure to feel very inspired after my visit to Screen NS Co Wexford and I thank all involved for their time and consideration in spite of their busy schedule and so many other responsibilities. Níl dabht ar bith ach go bhfuil obair  theicneolaíochta ar leith faoi lán-seol sa scoil. Go leana an sar-obair. Molaim go mór iad.

Recommendations: as outlined throughout the report: NCTE/Broadband.

Please outline any good or noteworthy examples of ICT integration in this school:

Junior Scratch
Maths Eyes
Reading Stations
Gaeilge/Maths /Literacy in the classroom.

The visit more than validated the statements on their Self Evaluation Review.