ESPA College

Our College provides a positive educational experience to learners across the autism spectrum, between the ages of 16 and 25
College band, ‘Session Plan’, rehearsing for their first gig!
The logo of ESPA College


ESPA College
North House
Ferryboat Lane
  • Course Length (weeks):
  • Residential or Day:
    Residential and day
  • Start Time:
    Any - However, preferably at the start of a term
  • Maximum Number of Students:
  • Age Range:
    16 – 25



General Description

ESPA College, based in Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Newcastle, provides residential and day education for young people with Autism or Asperger Syndrome.

We are committed to providing a high quality, autism specific educational experience to enable learners to maximise their potential for future life, well-being and work.

We offer a range of teaching strategies to meet the unique needs of learners with autism.

ESPA College – Raising aspirations and improving lives.

Catchment Area

We are a national provider and accept residential learners from acroos the UK. 

Day learners attend one of our 4 sites from right across the north east of England – including learners who travel from as far as North Yorkshire or Northumberland 


The curriculum is designed to meet the specific needs, interests and long-term goals of every student – All students follow the College Core Curriculum which focuses on 3 key areas: Social Communication, Emotional Literacy and Behavioural Self Management.

The curriculum also includes Functional Skills – Maths, English and ICT from Entry Level 1 to Level 3.

We also offer a range of accredited and bespoke courses such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Creative and Expressive Arts, Media studies, Independence and Leisure Skills. There are also good opportunities to develop employability options through a wide range of work placements.

Students can also undertake Supported Internships, distance learning or study for additional vocational or academic courses in local further education colleges with ESPA College staff support.

Our learners are well supported by a multi-disciplinary team including counsellors, speech and language therapists, occupational therapy and a behavioural nurse specialist.

Specialist Facilities

The College has a number of well-equipped specialist rooms at each of its sites to provide learners with the opportunity to develop their skills and interests. We have workshops for Horticulture and Woodwork; a newly equipped gym; contemporary kitchens and independence areas and well equipped music and media suites.

Other Information

The College also offers health and social care funded provision (upto 46 weeks) for those individuals who have either completed their educational study programme; or where an education programme is not considered to be appropriate.

  • > Our expertise

    We have expertise in meeting the needs of students with:

    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Asperger syndrome
    • Severe autism spectrum disorder
    • Autism spectrum disorder with associated challenging behaviour
    • Behavioural difficulties
    • Emotional difficulties
    • Mental health needs
    • Expertise in meeting the needs of students who have specific learning difficulties
    • Severe learning difficulties
  • > Our curriculum

    We offer:

    • A programme to enable students to learn more about themselves and how to form relationships
    • A programme to help students to look after themselves more independently
    • Opportunities to attend local further education colleges with support
    • Opportunities for work experience
    • Opportunities to improve literacy, numeracy and/or communication skills
    • Opportunities to develop strategies to promote appropriate behaviour
    • A transition programme into supported or open employment
    • Opportunities to take part in a wide range of social, leisure and sporting activities
  • > Our specialist services

    • In-house speech and language therapy
    • In-house psychology services
    • In-house occupational therapy
    • Specialist training to enable independent travel
    • Guidance and counselling services
    • Registered with the Care Quality Commission / Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales
    • Residential provision linked to the academic year
    • Residential provision extending beyond the academic year

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The S41 symbol next to most of the colleges in the directory means that they are on the Secretary of State’s Approved List.

This list, developed as part of the Children and Families Act 2014, means that some parts of the Act apply to these independent institutions. This includes specialist colleges.