Priory Education Services has a successful record of working in partnership with Further Education Colleges for over ten years, with partnerships with local colleges in Frome, Swindon and South Wales. The success of Priory Coleg South Wales has encouraged the partnership to be established in North Wales which has led to the opening of the Priory Coleg North Wales.
In 2007, the National Autistic Society launched a report calling for better support and services for young people during the crucial transition stages between school, higher education, training and employment. The 'Don't write me off' campaign found that only 15% of adults with autism in England were in full-time paid employment, which could be greatly increased if the right planning, support and service is offered to people with autism during the transition stage.
NAS Head of Policy Amanda Batten said at the time: "Young people with autism can find change particularly hard to deal with, so the transition from school to adulthood can be very difficult.
Many are failing to fulfil their potential due to a lack of appropriate support at this vital stage in their lives. It is imperative that there is early and effective transition planning for every young person with autism. Many have a great deal to offer and should have access to appropriate support. If transition fails, young people can find themselves embedded more firmly than ever in the family home, increasing stress on the family and resulting in more isolated lives. Making transition work benefits everyone."
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 North Wales will provide a solution to that delivery and implementation.
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.
Priory Coleg North Wales is a co-educational college for students aged 16 to 25 with Asperger Syndrome and associated conditions. Priory Coleg North Wales is set within the grounds of Yale College, Wrexham. Yale College is a tertiary college with approximately 3,000 full-time and 8,000 part-time students, providing education and training for most post 16 year olds in the area.
The College is at the forefront of adult training, not only to meet individual aspirations, but also to serve the staffing needs of the diverse and expanding Wrexham economy. The dedicated learning centre, located on the main Grove Park Road campus, 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.
Simon Coles, Regional Manager, Priory Education Services said: "We are delighted to have welcomed our first students and pleased to be able to show the local community the excellent facilities we have.
"The philosophy of Priory Coleg North 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."
American actor Henry Winkler, best known for playing The Fonz in Happy Days, who is promoting the My Way! Campaign, which aims to highlight the fact that one in five children experience learning challenges growing up, endorsed Priory's specialist education services: Every child learns in their own way and no matter what that path is, each child must be celebrated.
"Congratulations for your vision, compassion and energy in opening this very important centre for children who learn differently."
For more details on Priory Education and Children's Services, please call 0118 970 8068 or click here to make an enquiry.