The voice of specialist further education

Derwen College

Delivering exceptional pre vocational, vocational and independence programmes to support young people with SEND to achieve future goals.
The Orangery Restaurant provides real life work opportunities for students
Derwen College logo


Derwen College
Whittington Road
SY11 3JA


  • Derwen College Walford
    SY4 2HL
  • Derwen College Telford
    Stafford Park 7,
    TF3 3BQ
  • Derwen College Ludlow
    8-9 The Business Quarter,
    Eco Park Road,
    SY8 1FD
  • Course Length (weeks):
  • Residential or Day:
    Residential and day
  • Start Time:
    September but can be flexible
  • Maximum Number of Students:
  • Age Range:
    16 – 25


General Description

Derwen College delivers exceptional programmes and a rich learning environment for young people, aged from 16 to 25 years, with special educational needs and disabilities, including:

  • Moderate, Severe and Complex Learning and Physical Disabilities
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Behaviours of Concern
  • Moderate, Severe and Complex Learning Disabilities
  • Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities

Derwen College is proud to achieve outcomes that exceed the national average for people with SEND – including progression into paid employment, voluntary work, further training, increased independence, and supported living.

The main college site, based in Gobowen Shropshire, is a vibrant and exciting residential and day College with a determination to enable young people to achieve above and beyond their goals. Graduates from the award-winning further education college are proud to contribute to their communities, with many achieving the skills necessary to  live independently and secure employment or further training.

There are no ‘typical’ students at Derwen College. For us, there is so much joy to be found in difference.


Catchment Area

Our main campus is in Gobowen, near Oswestry, Shropshire, where we cater for both DAY and RESIDENTIAL students.

We have a further three sites based around Shropshire for day students. These are located at:

  • Walford (Baschurch)
  • Telford
  • Ludlow

At our satellite sites, students from specialist and mainstream education – some of whom have previously disengaged from education – are enabled to learn work and independence skills for the future.

The main college site, based in Gobowen near Oswestry, offers a unique campus-style experience, which parents often compare to university life: a busy social life; shared living experiences; and the chance to meet new people and enjoy new experiences away from home. These are as vital to students’ learning as preparation for work.

Derwen College is a national provider. We welcome applications from young people all over the UK. 


Depending on the location, we have the following vocational pathways available:

  • Hospitality and Food
  • Horticulture
  • Performing Arts
  • Retail and Enterprise
  • Work and Independence

Our pathways have been developed to prepare students for the work place and utilise our accessible learning environments which are designed and operated to industry standards.

Many students work in the College’s ‘Marketplace’ where students gain authentic work experience and skills in our public-facing Garden Centre and Shop, Walled Garden Café, Vintage Advantage Charity Shop, The Orangery Restaurant, and our very own Premier Inn training Hotel – Hotel 751.

As students’ skills develop, the College partners with local businesses to provide meaningful external work placements. We work closely with each student to provide tailored and relevant work placements.

Pre-vocational routes

Learning for Life Pathway

A ‘Learning for Life’ pathway teaches students necessary skills to develop their teamworking, communication and social abilities so they may then progress to a vocational pathway..

Students are taught skills that will benefit them in all aspects of their life.

This could be additional support with communication, personal development, interaction, team work, problem solving, or self-regulation. What you explore within this pathway is personalised and tailored to meet your specific needs.

Nurture Programme

Our bespoke Nurture Programme supports the learning of students with both Complex and Profound Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) to transition to adulthood through a Life Skills and Sensory programme, offering day and residential provision.

What else will I learn?

Alongside your chosen pathway, we will work with you to develop an individualised programme, which will include: Functional Skills (English, Maths and ICT); Employability Skills; Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE); and Independence Skills development including travel training.

Students at Derwen College benefit from a full timetable of sport, health and wellbeing activities, including an exceptional Duke of Edinburgh's Awards programme.

Specialist Facilities

Our specialist facilities

  • Extensive sports and leisure programme. Well-being Clubs, Trips, ICT suite, Student Leisure facilities and much more.
  • For students that require access, we have our very own Hydrotherapy Pool.
  • In-house Therapies teams in SaLT, Occupational, Counselling and Physiotherapies
  • In-house Nursing team on site
  • Positive Behaviour Support
  • Makaton Friendly
  • Student Union Board
  • Sports complex with swimming pool, fitness suite, multi-purpose hall
  • Dedicated Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Outdoor Centre

Our expertise

We have expertise in meeting the needs of students with:

  • Autism spectrum disorder with associated challenging behaviour
  • Asperger syndrome
  • Severe learning difficulties
  • A wide range of physical disabilities
  • Epilepsy and/or associated neurological conditions.
  • Communication difficulties
  • Complex, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties

Our curriculum

We offer:

  • Opportunities to experience real work situations
  • Opportunities to follow vocational qualifications
  • A personal development programme
  • Opportunities to improve literacy, numeracy and/or communication skills
  • Opportunities to take part in a wide range of social, leisure and sporting activities
  • A transition programme into independent living
  • A transition programme into supported or open employment

Our specialist services

  • A range of therapeutic services
  • In-house nursing services
  • Specialist staff to meet personal care requirements
  • Specialist training to enable independent travel
  • Registered with the Care Quality Commission/Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales with rating of Good overall (2022)
  • Ofsted rating of Good overall (2021)
  • Guidance and counselling services
  • Waking night residential staff
  • We are the only specialist college to be awarded Silver Makaton Friendly status
  • We are Autism Specialist accredited with the National Autistic Society

Our training:

In addition to statutory training requirements Derwen College has a culture of continuous improvement and encourages staff to develop their vocational and professional expertise in line with the evolving needs of our student group.

We have staff with specialist SEND qualifications – examples include: dyspraxia, applied behavioural analysis & challenging behaviour, ASD, ADHD, dysphasia, functional skills, family therapy, professional counselling, speech and language therapy.

The college uses a robust annual staff appraisal system and there is a wide range of CPD opportunities for staff including seminars, conferences, peer review work and bespoke training.

All staff

Staff have a mandatory induction when starting at Derwen which includes health & safety, safeguarding, Equality and Diversity.

All staff have the opportunity to access specialist training in ASD, ADHD, dyslexia, Makaton, POVA, deprivation of liberties, understanding mental health, understanding diabetes, epilepsy, nutrition & health, equality & diversity, safeguarding medicines, infection control, working with individuals with learning difficulties, preparing for work in social adult care.

All staff are trained in the Shropshire safeguarding board, raising awareness in safeguarding.

Care staff

The majority of care staff are qualified to N.V.Q level 2 or above and take mandatory CPD courses.

The college uses a robust annual staff appraisal system.  For care support staff appraisal is supported by regular supervisions.

Teaching staff

All teachers have teacher training qualifications level 4 or above and vocational specific qualifications.

Learning support staff are all qualified to level 2 or level 3.

The college uses a robust annual staff appraisal system.  For teaching and learning staff this is linked to an annual graded teaching observation and development of a personal CPD Action Plan.


Other Information

Derwen College also offers Short Breaks respite care for over 18s, offering the same expertise, facilities and experience to guests with SEND. Bespoke care packages run for 51 weeks a year including day trips, social activities and independence skills. The residence is located in Gobowen, Shropshire.

Guests have their own room, with en-suite facilities and will have full use of a communal kitchen. Meals are bespoke to preferences and needs. Experienced care staff are on hand to support when required.

> Our expertise

> Our curriculum

> Our specialist services


The Orangery Restaurant provides real life work opportunities for students
Students working in the Garden Centre on site at Derwen College
Students learn their independence skills at Derwen College
A student in a canoe enjoying herself

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