Closing the Gap Award
Priory Learning Centre
The Priory Learning Centre, based in Monkton Primary school in Pembrokeshire, recognises the needs of families from the local Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and offers a tailored range of courses to encourage them to continue to secondary education.
This year, 80% of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils attended secondary school from primary school – the highest figure in the history of the centre.
Kellie Bellmaine, who works at the Priory Learning Centre along with lead teacher Claire Arnold, said: “We know a lot of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children are expected to help their parents with work, so The Priory is more flexible on attendance than mainstream school. Claire has developed a new syllabus focusing on more vocational subjects, and since then attendance has increased along with the number of qualifications being gained.”
The Priory works in tandem with Monkton School, which runs Launch Adult Learning, to offer courses tailored to the needs of the community. As a result, more than 3,000 adults, many of them parents, have enrolled on courses with 200 working towards degree-level qualifications.
Kellie continued: “We want integration, so it’s important to understand the needs of the community and gain their trust. Now, the parents of our Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils at Monkton and Priory will come to see Claire and me for help with all sorts of things, like driving licence applications.”
“The relationships between pupils have improved as well, more Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children are being allowed to go on Duke of Edinburgh, which is a huge show of trust from parents.”
Ellie Murphey, 16, sits on the Welsh Youth Parliament representing young Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people in Wales.
She said: “Our class isn’t just made up of pupils and teachers, together we’re one big family. If it wasn’t for The Priory I wouldn’t be where I am today; I wouldn’t be involved with the Welsh Youth Parliament or confident with my public speaking.”