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Digital Schools of Distinction Award Evaluation Report

 School: St. Francis Xavier SNS.  Dublin 15

Roll No: 19470S

Date of validation: 20/06/2018               

Leadership & Vision

Background: Coolmine Primary School, which later developed into St. Francis Xavier’s Schools began on Monday, July 2nd 1973. In July, 1976, pupils and teachers then moved to their new home, on Roselawn Road, where St. Francis Xavier SNS is still situated today.

The school is a co-ed., senior, primary school with a passionate team of teachers, support staff and SEN unit. The school building consists of old and new, beautifully integrated and mindfully constructed. It displays in both written word and in everyday action, that technology- enhanced learning plays a significant role in the students’, community’s and teachers’ lives. Moreover the leadership and vison displayed during the DSoD validation indorse the fact that 21 Century ICTs play a purposeful and intentional role in the everyday lives of the school and wider school community (http://sfxns.ie/seniorschool/ Pupils and teachers are afforded the opportunities to become familiar with a range of ICTs, mobile media and associated skills, and to engage with and successfully employ them. They are also encouraged to pursue ICT interfaces and opportunities by a most dedicated and excellent ICT co-ordinator, Ms, Deirdre Byrne a very supportive and informed Principal teacher, Ms. Adrienne Darby and a very welcoming teaching and support staff. The policies in-place, CPD, invited talks, peer-to-peer provision and ICT collaboration offered by the ICT coordinator, ‘informed’ parents, the Parents’ Association, the Board of Management and local ‘expertise’, throughout the school-year, is indeed noteworthy. The use of ICTs is amalgamated into the various policies and posters on display and there is no doubt that technology plays a very purposeful, practical and considered role in teaching and learning. 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. The school management and team have a ‘three year plan, which is envisioned by true determination and desire to fully empower every member of the whole-school team to become truly engaged in everyday digital teaching and learning. Two years of the ‘Plan’ have so far elapsed and the validation clearly showed that it was and still is a vibrant and living document where vision and action meet.

The secretary and teachers use a variety of software (School server and cloud storage), to share files and documents.  The students use a dedicated computer room mainly and a selection of Mobile devices ( a suite of ’iPads) and desktop computers to access lessons and share their work with the teachers and on-line. The school uses Aladdin, text-a-parent and the school website system for communicating amongst staff and with parents. Project work, research, coding and student participation is highly encouraged and training is provided to the students to undertake the task of designing and uploading their work. Finally the management of the SNS website is at present being reviewed by all involved in St. Francis Xavier’ SNS as it shares the domain with the Junior School and Parents’ Association. This is proving a challenging transition but with the BOM fully committed in the three year plan to designing and developing the new website, which clearly displays the essence and ethos of the school, as seen during the DSoD validation. The future looks even brighter. This is the one area that was discussed in minute detail as requiring attention as a matter of priority in becoming a DSoD.


ICT in the Curriculum

St. Francis Xavier SNS, 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 self-assured using various technologies, having gained a consolidation of their general classroom work in many curricular areas and in particular, Maths,  Gaeilge, Ceol, Problem solving, Literacy,  Oral skills and English. Other curricular subject areas are also accessed and explored utilizing a variety of Education websites / YouTube/ Mindfulness Animation, Go Noodle, Research skills, SESE,  and ICT tools to enhance learning/ Primary Science with SESE/Coding/ Junior Scratch, etc. The effective use of iPads at ‘stations’, during classes and in various ‘stations’ in the classrooms and in the dedicated computer room, is to be commended,  where the students and their teachers, enjoyed a variety of ICT activities at a differentiated pace whist exploring Maths, Gaeilge, Story creators, coding and phonics. 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 teaching, assessment, 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 to be commended. Special mention must be given to the fact that ‘so called’ older IT software like Number and Word Shark were as alive during the validation as they were in the 1990s!! The students were engaged and fully ‘loving’ the older programmes which were excellently presented by their teacher. The school management deserves special acknowledgement for investing in an overall system of ‘well-being’ for the school. Research and all forms of coding play a central role in the school’s desire to consistently re-inforce and improve numeracy and literacy skills and the true meaning of STEAM was observed at every point of access during the DSoD validation. Finally, the development of engineering skills and collaboration with local expertise is also highly commended.

Finally the school has divided ICT into three strands which  integrate ICT in a themed approach across the school.


  1. Computer Science/ Coding.
  2. IT
  3. Digital Literacy. Comhghairdeas !! .



School ICT Culture

 There is rich and graphic evidence that ICTs and Mobile Media are ever present into the cultural fabric of St. Francis Xavier SNS. Posters on Cyberbullying and safe internet practices are also clearly visible throughout the school. The effective use of various hardware and software 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 in re-development and re-design and in the process of becoming a vibrant and ‘living’ manifestation of the true ICT and Digital Journey of the school as seen and experienced by the DSoD validator. At present the shared website does not do justice to the reality on-the-ground but the validator believes that the new website will be a most excellent site for others to emulate.

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 desire to design a school App with 21st Century connectivity and possibilities for the whole-school team and community was also discussed and will indeed become a reality in the near future.. The Principal is fully supportive and encourages all teachers to participate and be ‘digitally’ active. All children are comfortable utilising technology to undertake various tasks and upload their work to the school server. The Google Suite is also being introduced as a means of enhancing teaching and learning.  Discussions with the students and various classes on specific aspects of ICTs in society and their daily lives was most informative. There is a very strong ICT Culture evident in all aspects of school life. Iontach ar fad.


Professional Development

At present training requirements are adequately catered for by in-school, peer-to-peer, on-going and Summer CPD attendance at various courses and ICT Support evenings at various Education Centres in Dublin. The ICT coordinator also provides 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 discover 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 excellently directed and managed, 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. A selection of students informed me that they will again undertake Scratch and Coding classes very soon with the full support of the school. Once again, the school principal is fully committed to ensuring that every staff member is supported in all areas of CPD and proactively demonstrates, in both word and action, a commitment to any programme which promotes the ‘well-being’ of her colleagues in all areas of ICT. This is again clearly visible in the ‘three year plan’. Specific teachers have availed of opportunities to travel to various EU countries to upskill their Digital learning experiences and also share this knowledge with their colleagues.


Resources & Infrastructure

Resources are very evident throughout the school. Every classroom visited had an IWB facility or similar hardware, iPads, laptops, desktop computers, visualisers, cameras, a dedicated computer for each teacher with effective and adequate internet access and the necessary equipment to offer an appealing, technology-enhanced environment for the students. It was a privilege to observe SEN students taking ‘time-out’ with their teacher, utilizing ICTs to enhance their daily lives, in-school.  A dedicated computer room is available to all classes. 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. The Broadband is provided by the NCTE.

There is a wealth of licensed software and other related educational tools available throughout the school. The present school building ensures that modern 21 Century ICTs are accessible to all students. The SEN and Resource rooms are well resourced and are utilizing the appropriate hardware and software to enhance the students’ lives and learning journeys. Resources and Infrastructure are excellent !


General comments and recommendations

St. Francis Xavier SNS is walking-the-walk and talking-the-talk of 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 professionalism, enthusiasm, proficiency and consideration displayed and validated by all involved in their use of ICTs is to be highly commended.

The standard of utilising and integrating ICTs was excellent in all the various classroom and other settings. The nine classrooms visited and the teachers of SEN and ranganna trí go rang a sé deserve special thanks for sharing their time during the validation visit.

St. Francis Xavier SNS meets all the criteria for Digital School of Distinction Status and I have no reservations in recommending them for this prestigious DSoD award. I believe St. Francis Xavier SNS, its teachers, students and community will continue to lead the way for other schools to follow. I would especially like to thank Ms,Deirdre Byrne, a most dedicated ICT coordinator and Ms. Adrienne Darby, a most supportive principal and all the teaching staff and students of the school for giving the validator a glimpse of what a committed and steadfast school is achieving in the area of ICT, when a clear vision and a detailed, ‘three year plan’ is well-defined and executed. It was my privilege to feel inspired after my visit to St. Francis Xavier SNS and I thank everyone 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 iontach theicneolaíochta faoi lán-seol sa scoil. Go leana an sár-obair. Molaim go mór iad.

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

STEAM at all levels.

Alexion projects.


Book Creator.


Word/Number Shark. SEN

Gaeilge/Maths /Literacy in the classroom

BOM Involvement in all areas of ICT support, provision and development.


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


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