20. Priory Campus - Highway to Success, Barnsley
This project 'enhances attainment levels of local pupils at GCSE and Key Stages.' It has two strands:
- The first aims to maintain and develop the Priory Campus Information and Resource Centre, which provides free access to computers and the Internet, a library with CD ROMs and cassettes in addition to conventional printed material, and a range of support services. These are used both as part of the school timetable - every class visits regularly as part of the curriculum - as well as informally by schoolchildren at lunchtime and after school.
- The second part of the project, the Priory Homework Club, is a well-resourced service at the centre that provides various types of homework and revision support during term time, with a reading club during the summer holiday.
Background - Problems to be Tackled
- The project had a head start in that it was largely continuing work that began under City Challenge. As a City Challenge flagship project, its profile was already high among children, parents and teachers.
- Some pupils see homework club staff as more approachable simply because they are not teachers, and do not have the same associations and formality. The staff are also seen as approachable by the general public for the same reasons, and this has facilitated engaging people in learning.
- The IT resources can be powerful motivators. For example, children to do not usually perform well are at least able to produce attractive, well-presented work, which gives them confidence.
- Government Departments need to be aware that programmes introduced for schools - such as the Books for Schools programme - do not necessarily reflect the local priorities of the moment. Similarly, schools do not always have the resources or capacity - or even the desire - to take on extra management tasks associated with special projects. However, the position in the Priory catchment area is good.
- The project is both sharing its lessons with others and itself learning from other projects. At the time of writing, a visit from Rotherham Library Services was imminent, and the Library Association is also interested. Managers have commented that the council's public reception strategy could use the Library Service as first point of contact in a one-stop shop capacity.
How the Project was Developed
- In 1993, achievement in GCSEs in the Priory catchment area was lower both than for Barnsley and the national average. In the Priory area, 23% of pupils gained five or more GCSEs at grades A-C, compared with 24% in Barnsley and a national average of 41.1%.
- In 1997, though achievement had risen for the borough and nationally, it fell further in the Priory catchment area.
- This pattern is duplicated at Key Stage 2.
- The feeder schools to Priory and primary schools in the catchment area are in the lower half of primary schools in the borough for achievement.
Under City Challenge in the early 1990s, the Barnsley Regeneration Forum was established, and the Priory Campus project began under its auspices in 1995. The forum then won SRB funding, and in 1997 began the Highway to Success scheme, of which Priory is now part. The Information and Resource Centre was originally intended to support projects on campus, but has now become a focus for local schools and their pupils.
The project has two strands:
- The Priory Information and Resource Centre, providing:
- A range of material for educational purposes, including a suite of computers with free access.
- Access to the Internet.
- A dedicated homework area to accommodate the Priory Homework Club.
- A stock of some 8000 printed volumes, 30 periodicals, 400 videos, 150 CD ROMs and 500 cassettes available for use within the centre or for users to borrow.
- A range of careers guidance information and information for business.
- Holding and maintaining child related materials in support of child and family focused activities taking place elsewhere in the campus.
- A staff of three and a half full-time employees is responsible for operating the centre five and a half days per week. One is a new post within the Library Service management structure: Learning and Information Services Manager.
- The Priory Homework Club
The club is run by Priory Campus Ltd, with a grant paid through Library Services against a Service Level Agreement.
This anchors a major Study Support Centre within the Information and Resource Centre, and build what was established through the Prince's Trust, City Challenge and Priory Campus funding.
Key features include:
- A well resourced Homework Club operating 3.30-7.00 Monday to Thursday during term time.
- A dedicated area for special revision, and target groups aimed mainly at exam revisers.
- Special revision groups in term time lunch-breaks.
- Supervised access to word processing, publishing, Internet and email (and users can buy floppy disks etc).
- A reading club in the summer holidays, linked to a play scheme.
- A Saturday morning session.
Over its five-year life span, the project receives a total of £606,000 in funding. The SRB provides £147,000 of this, with the remaining £459,000 from other public funds. This includes £83,000 from earned income (e.g. hire charges for CD ROMs, videos, etc., and fines for late returns), as well as income from Barnsley MBC Education and Leisure, some ERDF funding, City Challenge income (through the Barnsley Regeneration forum), and support in kind from the Priory Campus.
Outcomes and Achievement
- The project has developed good links and co-operation with others located at the centre, such as Barnsley College's outreach worker, and has succeeded in widening participation to include a number of parents and other local residents in learning activity.
- The centre is often the first point of contact with IT for older people. The team's informal approach has helped people to overcome their wariness of computers, and to use the Internet, and the project has engaged a group of travellers in this way.
- The centre had 80,113 visitors between April 1998 and Mar 1999 and handled 76,544 enquiries. During the same period members accessed the Internet 921 times, accessed PCs 7,844 times and borrowed Open Learning packs 587 times. Membership stands at 1,568 adults and 1,525 children.
- The Centre has also become the focus of a number of new initiatives:
- Led by Barnsley College, a group of local residents are collecting local material to produce CD ROMs and a web site as part of a community archives project. The project concentrates on local history and works around family photographs brought to the Centre.
- Priory Campus has become a Technologies for Training Information Point - an initiative funded by DfEE, offering information on training technologies, paper and electronic databases.
- Funderfinder databases, providing information on grants available to improve education, training and work opportunities: People in Need (for individuals) supplied by the Learning Information Service, and Groups in Need, supplied by the local Training and Enterprise Council.
Tel: 01226 773 930
Fax: 01226 773 955