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Estyn inspectors visit Wrexham college as council grants permission for new premises

Aspris College on Rhosddu Road, Wrexham (Pic: Google Street View)

A WREXHAM college has received feedback after inspection having just been granted permission by the council to relocate.

The Welsh Government’s education and training inspectorate Estyn visited the independent Aspris College in June and has published its findings.

The college which currently operates across two sites in Wrexham city centre, in King Street and at Ty Dewi Sant on Rhosddu Road, supports vulnerable children and those with autism, learning difficulties, social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

The report says: “Aspris College North Wales is a caring community where learners feel safe and listened to.

“The college is developing a culture where staff support their learners to live productive and independent lives as active members of their community.

“Most learners are settled and enjoy their life at college. They show respect and engage politely with one another, staff and visitors. Many learners have positive attitudes to learning and persevere with their learning activities.

“This is particularly the case when they are engaged in practical and multi-sensory activities such as gardening and cookery.”

The report adds: “Overall, the quality of teaching is too variable at the college. Where teaching and learning is effective, staff plan well-paced lessons that have engaging practical and multi-sensory activities with a clear purpose.

“In lessons where teaching is less effective, activities lack variety and challenge, and activities are not well matched to the age and additional learning needs of learners.”

Changes to the college’s leadership have been noted by inspectors, which they report has brought stability.

“There have been changes at all levels of leadership since the time of the college’s most recent monitoring visit”, the report adds.

“During this period of instability, there has been increased staff turnover and an interruption to quality assurance and improvement planning processes.

“Since their appointment in September 2022, new leaders have brought stability to the college. The principal quickly identified new college priorities and responded swiftly to areas for development.”

Preparing students for life after college has been highlighted as a real strength by the inspectors, with links to local businesses providing some learners with opportunities to progress into employment.

The report adds: “The college has recently strengthened transition processes when learners join and leave the college.

“Newly established arrangements support learners to build their confidence when joining the college, for example through college visits and taster days. Further, these processes support learners well as they transition out of college, for example into mainstream college, employment, and the next steps in their lives.

“The college is developing a range of valuable partnership links to support the needs of learners well.

“For example, links with local businesses support the broad work experience offer for learners as well as opportunities for learners to progress to employment.

“Beneficial links with a local college support a minority of learners to transition successfully onto mainstream college courses, such as performing arts and public services.”

The main recommendations given to the college to address going forward are:

  • Improve the consistency and quality of teaching.
  • Strengthen self-evaluation processes to ensure that they focus on the quality of teaching and progress in learning.
  • Improve the learning environment and resources to ensure that they meet the range of needs of learners at the college.

The college is already on the way to addressing one of these recommendations.

Earlier this month it was granted planning permission by Wrexham Council’s planning department to change the use of a unit on Ellice Way at the Yale Business Park on the edge of the city centre.

This means the former Plastipak unit can be used for education purposes, which include an additional student training kitchen / café.

Permission for all aspects of the plans has been granted subject to conditions which include installing safety barriers, in a scheme to be submitted to and approved by Wrexham Council’s planning department.