Partnership working is vital to learners’ success

Print this page

The strong partnership between Priory College South Wales and Coleg Gwent allows young adults with Asperger syndrome, autistic spectrum disorders and associated conditions to access mainstream courses.

Number of learners: 24
Age range: 16-25
Date of inspection: January 2017

Brief contextual information about provider/partnership

Priory College South Wales is an independent specialist college for young adults aged 16 to 25 with Asperger syndrome, autistic spectrum disorders and associated conditions.  It is situated on the Coleg Gwent campus in Pontypool and works in close partnership with the further education institution (FEI).  The majority of learners attend the mainstream college with support from Priory College.  The remainder are taught in-house before transitioning into further education, higher education, supported living or employment.

Priory College South Wales opened in 2010.  Strong partnership with Coleg Gwent means that learners are able to access courses on the Pontypool, Usk, Newport, Cross Keys and Ebbw Vale campuses.  All learners have the opportunity to access any mainstream course provided by the FEI with support from learning support workers who are trained in working with young people who have autistic spectrum disorder. 

Context and background to excellent/sector-leading practice

Strong partnership working is vital to learners’ success.  Priory College employs an ‘Autistic Spectrum Lead’, who delivers training to the FEI.  At the start of the academic year, a detailed plan is drawn up and shared that identifies all collaborative partnership meetings.  ‘Review and Transitional meetings’ take place three times a year.  These involve a wide range of partners including Careers Wales, college tutors, the additional learning needs manager and speech and language therapist, as well as parents.  These robust meetings contribute to a smooth transition for learners between settings.

Description of nature of strategy or activity identified as excellent/sector-leading practice

Priory College support workers have a clear knowledge and understanding of the learners’ needs.  While supporting learners in class, they also provide support and advice to FEI tutors.  If behaviours are impeding learners’ progress, the Priory College specialist team will work with FEI staff to identify appropriate strategies to enable the learners to continue their learning.  Due to the close working relationship with the FEI, strategies are shared and discussed, minimising any loss of study time.  When a learner feels unable to work in the mainstream college, staff across the two settings agree an appropriate way forward, allowing the learner to continue their study at the Priory base. 

The sharing of information between Priory College and Coleg Gwent is a strong feature.  All personal tutors receive a copy of the Student Support Guide, which provides information about the learner’s main strengths and weaknesses, the level of support they require and their short and long term goals.  Priory College and FEI staff regularly share information on learner progress.  This includes tutor progress reports and ACE (Achieve, Celebrate and Excel) reports, which are updated every six weeks. 

Priory College staff also liaise with Coleg Gwent tertiary staff in order to secure work experience placements for learners in the mainstream college.  In addition to academic studies, Priory learners are also encouraged to be involved in mainstream college activities.  In recent years, learners from Priory College have taken on important responsibilities within Coleg Gwent, as student union and learner voice representatives.  All learners, whether in-house or attending the mainstream college, have access to the canteen facilities and learner resource centre.  This helps learners to develop their social and communication skills and increase their confidence and self-esteem.

What impact has this work had on the quality of provision and learners’ standards?

The strong relationship between Priory College and Coleg Gwent enables learners to have a smooth transition into mainstream further or higher education after leaving Priory College South Wales.  It also ensures that nearly all learners achieve a recognised qualification before progressing onto their chosen destination.