Priory Education Services invests in new specialist college in Wales for adults with Asperger's syndrome|
GWENT, Wales: Priory Education Services has formed an innovative partnership with Coleg Gwent to provide specialist educational facilities for students with Asperger’s syndrome and tackle the long-term employment issues associated with the condition.
Research in 2007 found that only 15 per cent of adults with autism are in full-time paid employment, which could be greatly increased if the right planning, support and services is offered during the transition stage between education and work. Priory Education has colleges in England, which students from Wales have in the past attended. Outstanding outcomes were achieved at the Swindon centre in 2008/2009. 100 per cent of students progressed to employment, supported employment, further or higher education or independent living destinations.
A report by the National Assembly Specialist Provision for Young People with Autism in Further Education in May 2010 concluded that "the gap between strategy and policy for provision for young people with autism within further education, and delivery and implementation must be closed if Wales is truly to meet its objective of putting the citizen at the centre of its public services system." Priory Coleg Wales will provide a solution to that delivery and implementation.
Priory Coleg Wales is a co-educational college for students aged 16 to 25 designed to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of its students. The Coleg will accept its first students in September 2010.
Priory Coleg Wales is set within the grounds of Coleg Gwent, the largest further education college in Wales with five separate campuses. The learning centre is located on the Pontypool campus and comprises of classrooms, IT facilities, a therapy room, learning kitchen and dining room.
The learning centre is a safe area within a mainstream setting providing retreat when students feel challenged by social situations. It is also the base for the College’s in-house programme of support. Local buses and transport are used to travel between the campuses with the help of support workers where required, but with the overall aim of increasing independent travel skills for the future.
A number of therapies are also offered to students to help with their on-going personal development including art therapy, speech and language therapy and counselling.
The Priory Coleg Wales will initially create 10 jobs in the area, potentially reaching 50 plus jobs in the next couple of years.
Simon Coles, School Principal of Priory Coleg Wales said: “The philosophy of Priory Coleg Wales is based on providing as many learning opportunities within mainstream educational settings as possible to provide students with choice, equality and diversity.
“Our young people will benefit from successful partnership agreements with local colleges and have access to over 150 academic and vocational courses including A levels and GCSEs. We aim to meet individual needs through tailored programmes of education and care with additional support for literacy, numeracy and independent living skills if required.
“Work-based learning, work experience and employability skills are embedded into the study programmes to help with transition and preparation for further study or employment. The ultimate outcome is for students to be prepared for a fulfilling adulthood, to feel empowered to make choices and to optimise their independent living skills.”
Fiona Rawlings, Deputy Director of Coleg Gwent’s Pontypool Campus said: “We are delighted to be working with the Priory Group on this exciting project. It will provide a wonderful educational opportunity for these learners and we are looking forward to welcoming the first cohort in September.”
(Source: Priory Education Services, July 21, 2010)