http://www.learningandwork.wales/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Gelliswick-300x200.jpg

Nominated by: Springboard, Learning Pembrokeshire

Gelliswick School has put Family and Community Engagement at the heart of the school’s life. Family activities take place at the school every day of the week and the community room is the very first thing you can access when you enter the building.

When the local authority took the decision to close the two schools serving the communities of Hakin and Hubberston there was some resistance and uncertainty.

Before the new school’s official opening, the Headteacher secured funding to support projects to build bridges between the communities, who were anxious about their children moving to a new school. Headteacher Nick Dyer says, “The challenge for the school was to reach out to parents in a way that would bring the community together, and to do this in a way that would mean not just a smooth transition to the new school, but would be transformative in terms of skills, ambition and future prospects. That’s why we made a commitment from the outset to support family learning.”

The community includes one of the most economically deprived wards in Wales, where many children are living in poverty. Since September 2017 more than 70 different courses have been delivered at the school, engaging 187 adults aged between 18-81.

Courses help adults develop their essential skills and their capacity to support their children in English and Maths. The school has also funded a range of courses that embed essential skills in a creative way – through photography, coding, art, pottery and Ukele playing. In preparation for the launch of the new school, the community came together to produce stained glass windows, a photographic legacy book and a community choir also emerged.

Nick Dyer explains, “Leaders at the school recognise that for children to truly learn, they must be motivated by knowing that others, and most importantly their families, believe in them. It is a powerful thing for children to see adults choosing to learn. It is especially powerful if those adults are their own parents and they are learning together.”

Carol Mayled from Springboard is responsible for engaging families on the courses, “I see my students battle all weather to come into school and learn new skills, either for themselves or with their children. Gelliswick School is a place where my students feel comfortable coming to, they come because they want to, and they come because they want to make a difference.”

Community engagement at the school is now so strong that parents have helped to raise over £16k to support family activities. Parents are volunteering their time as creche workers to support other families to access family learning, others are qualifying to become Learning Support Assistants in the school.

The impact is being felt in the wider community – parents are now taking an active role in the regeneration of Hakin and Hubberston. Adult learners are now helping to shape the future of the area, some have taken up positions on the Invest Local committee and one parent has been voted in as the Mayor of Milford Haven.

Nominator, Springboard Co-ordinator, Laura Phillips said, “Gelliswick School has put the community at the heart of its development … and thanks to that the heart is pumping stronger than ever!”

“Leaders at the school recognise that for children to truly learn, they must be motivated by knowing that others, and most importantly their families believe in them. It is a powerful thing for children to see adults choosing to learn. It is especially powerful if those adults are their own parents and they are learning together.”