Fi Edmund Rice Ps, Belfast

Fi Edmund Rice Ps, Belfast


A. i. School: Edmund Rice Primary iii. Date of Inspection: W/B 29/11/99

ii.School Reference Number: 103-0329 iv. Nature of Inspection: School

Support Programme (Focused Inspection)


School Year / 1995/96 / 1996/97 / 1997/98 / 1998/99 / 1999/2000
Year 1 Intake / 60 / 66 / 63 / 50 / 57
Primary / 417 / 427 / 428 / 407 / 399
Reception / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Nursery Class/Classes / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Special Unit / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0

The enrolment for the current year is the figure on the day of notification of inspection.
For previous years it is the figure in the annual return to the Department of Education.

The calculations at C and D should be based on the total of the primary and reception enrolments only.

C.Average Attendance for the Previous School Year
(expressed as a percentage):93.50%

Primary &NurserySpecial Reception Unit Unit

D. i.Number of Teachers
(including the principal and part-time teachers):18--
(Full-time equivalent = 25 teaching hours)

ii.PTR (Pupil/Teacher Ratio):22.2 NI PTR: 19.9

iii.Average Class Size:26.7

iv.Class Size (Range):18-31

v.Ancillary Support:
Number of Hours Per Week: i.Clerical support:1

ii. Official Making A Good30

Start Support:
iii. Making A Good Start funding15

additional hours and other

classroom assistant support:

vi.Number of pupils with statements of special educational needs:1

vii.Number of children who are not of statutory school age:0

viii. Number of families in school:333

ix.Percentage of children entitled to free school meals:56.5%



1.1Edmund Rice Primary School is situated in Pim Street, off the Antrim Road in North Belfast. The children come mainly from the areas of public and private housing near to the school but a minority of children travel to the school from outside the area. Approximately 55% of the children are entitled to free school meals.

1.2The arrangements for the inspection of pastoral care included the completion of questionnaires by the parents as well as meetings with governors, parents and children; members of the inspection team met with six members of the Board of Governors and groups of children from years 4 and 6; one parent attended the arranged meeting. Most of the comments at the meeting with the governors and in the completed parental questionnaires indicated that the parents and governors were generally appreciative of the work of the school. A number of issues raised in the questionnaires and discussions are dealt with in the body of the report.

1.3The current inspection was carried out as a result of the school’s inclusion in the School Support Programme (SSP) and focused on English, mathematics and information and communication technology (ICT).


2.1The children are very welcoming to visitors and willing to talk about their work. Relationships in the classrooms are good; most children are keen to please their teachers and co-operate willingly; the standards of behaviour in class are generally good. The teachers work hard to encourage the children to settle to their work; in many classes, however, the pace of the lessons is slow and the children are often required to listen to the teacher for long periods of time; as a result many of the children become restless or inattentive and a few disturb the work of other children. When moving about the school many of the classes are unsettled and minor disagreements often develop; the noise levels in the dining hall are unacceptably high.

2.2The teachers, led by the principal, create a caring, supportive atmosphere in the classrooms which helps to promote the children’s well-being and welfare. The teachers are hard-working and conscientious in their preparation for lessons. All of the teaching is satisfactory; during the inspection a few good lessons enthused the children and promoted an enthusiastic response. The wide range of extra-curricular activities provided promote appropriately the children’s confidence and self-esteem; many of the children talk enthusiastically about the activities provided for them and also about their sporting and musical achievements.

2.3The classes are most often taught as a whole and there are inadequate opportunities for the children to gain independence in their work or to collaborate effectively with other children. The work assigned often lacks a definite purpose and does not challenge or support adequately the wide range of abilities within each class; many of the activities are routine, repetitive or require a limited response from the children. The daily routines throughout the school reduce considerably the time available for teaching; the length of time taken to prepare for and return to class from breaks is excessive. In many of the classes there is an imbalance in the time provided for all the subjects in the Northern Ireland Curriculum (NIC); in particular structured play and some aspects of the creative and expressive subjects are given inadequate attention.

2.4A few teachers are making good attempts to mark the children’s work conscientiously and to provide comments which encourage them to improve their work. On many occasions, however, the work is marked cursorily by the teacher, or by the children themselves without adequate supervision.

2.5Good efforts are being made to maintain and improve the school environment. The attractive garden area is a particular feature; the school was successful recently in a national competition to design a millennium garden and this garden is now a prominent feature in the play area. Examples of the children’s work are displayed attractively in the corridors and entrance hall; in the limited display space available in classrooms there is often an over-emphasis on the use of commercial and teacher produced materials.

2.6The parents are welcomed into the school at arranged times to discuss aspects of their children’s work and progress. The school issues information to parents in the form of booklets; these booklets are very detailed and provide extensive information on the routines and procedures in the school. Extensive links have been developed with the feeder schools and with schools further afield for sporting links.

2.7The teachers are conscientious in their individual class planning and have made a good start in developing a new form of planning to support their work; this planning provides a yearly overview for each year group which is then extended into more detailed class planning. Much of the planning is, as yet, too general and places an over-emphasis on the activities and textbook exercises to be completed by the children; it does not identify clearly what the children are expected to learn or the teaching strategies to be employed to meet the needs of the wide range of abilities within each class.

2.8The co-ordinators for the subjects inspected are enthusiastic and keen to improve the quality of the children’s experiences and their standards of achievement. Considerable work has been done to review and update some of the whole-school planning. An audit is being conducted of the current practice in English; the present planning in English outlines broad areas to be taught in each year group and identifies the textbooks to support these. Clear and appropriate documents for mathematics, which are supported by the use of a commercial mathematics scheme, provide a progressive framework which ensures that the children are provided with experiences in number, shape and space, data handling and measurement. The school has devised recently a draft policy for the promotion of ICT which includes appropriate aims and identifies areas for future development.

2.9During sessions of talking and listening many of the children find it difficult to express their answers or ideas coherently. A few of the teachers are good at helping the children to provide more extended answers to questions and to express their thoughts and feelings; many of the children do not listen readily when other children are speaking. Reading is taught systematically through a range of commercial reading materials; the sessions of oral reading are generally well planned and purposeful. The teachers encourage the children to discuss the text and help them to use a wide range of strategies to identify unfamiliar text; in many cases the children do not apply these strategies readily when reading other materials. In a few cases, the reading books used are not matched well to the ability or interests of the children. The school library is attractive and well stocked; the children are encouraged to borrow books to read for enjoyment. There are a few examples of the children writing for a range of purposes and in different forms; much of the children’s writing is marred by poor spelling, grammar and presentation. Throughout the school, there is an over-emphasis on the practice of grammatical exercises out of context and the completion of unchallenging activities which do not extend the children’s independent writing skills.

2.10The work undertaken in most key stage 1 (KS1) classes provides a sound base for future developments in mathematics. In most classes, the children engage, appropriately, in practical and investigative activities which they enjoy. There is a small minority of classes where the work is not matched adequately to the needs of the children and is either beyond their capabilities or provides them with insufficient challenge. In KS2, there are some good examples of the teachers helping the children to acquire a secure understanding of mathematical concepts, and of questioning which promotes well the children’s skills in mathematical reasoning. In contrast, many of the older children are provided with a narrow range of learning experiences with much of the work being characterised by the repetitive practice of techniques.

2.11The stock of ICT equipment has been increased and the staff have been engaged in relevant in-service training (INSET) on ICT involving word processing and data-handling. Part of an upstairs corridor has been adapted to accommodate a small suite of computers, used regularly by the children. During the inspection, the children used ICT in aspects of their work in English, mathematics and in other areas. The children’s confidence in the use of the keyboard is increasing but requires further development.

2.12By year 7 most of the children can read fluently, have some understanding of what they have read and have reached satisfactory standards in number. Many of the children, however, do not express clearly and accurately their ideas in writing and do not have adequate opportunities to apply their skills in English and mathematics in a wide range of unfamiliar situations which promote independence. For many of the children, particularly the more able, the standards achieved across all the attainment targets in the programmes of study for English and mathematics are not good enough.

2.13The school is well organised and runs smoothly. The principal has served in the area for many years, is deeply committed to the welfare of the staff and the children and has given valuable and dedicated service to the school. In addition to his administrative duties, he gives much attention to the preparation of policy and other documentation to support teaching and learning. The vice-principal provides useful support in the development of the school.

2.14The school’s planning for special needs sets out clearly the role of the special needs co-ordinator, the Reading Recovery teacher, the class teachers and the parents; it also emphasises the importance of the early identification of those children requiring special help. In English some 50 children, approximately 12% of the enrolment receive additional support in English. The children in years 4 to 7 in receipt of special help are mostly withdrawn from class while those in year 2 are helped by a Reading Recovery Programme and other support. The standardised scores obtained by the school through its reading tests indicate, however, that a significant number of other children would benefit from some additional support.

2.15The school provides special help through the deployment of two committed and enthusiastic members of staff who specialise in special needs teaching. The special help work observed during the inspection was carried out in a systematic, effective, patient and supportive manner and is benefiting the children involved. Informal liaison is maintained between those involved in special help arrangements and the classroom teachers; more formal liaison is needed to ensure that the work set by the class teachers and the withdrawal teachers meets more systematically the needs of the children and achieves the targets set out in the children’s education plans. The school has evidence which indicates some improvement in the reading standards of the children on the special needs register.

2.16The school is making very good progress in implementing the procedures for Pastoral Care and Child Protection as outlined in Department of Education for NorthernIreland (DENI) Circular 1999/10. The school’s procedures are outlined clearly in the school policy; all the staff, including the ancillary staff, have received appropriate training and are aware of their responsibilities. The school has produced a document to inform parents about the school’s procedures; most parents have received this document. The children are aware of where they may seek support and help but do not always follow appropriately the set procedures.

2.17The school has strengths such as the hard-working teachers, the willingness already shown by the staff to review practices, the wide range of extra-curricular activities and the commitment and dedication of the principal. The inspection has identified issues such as the need to develop a shared understanding of how standards may be raised in all aspects of English and mathematics, the need to promote consistency in this good practice across the school, the development of teaching strategies which engage more fully the wide range of abilities within each class and encourage the children to be more settled and the review and improvement of daily routines to ensure that the maximum time is made available for teaching. These issues need to be addressed if the school is to meet, more consistently, the needs of all the children.