Ruskin Mill College

An independent specialist college offering a holistic approach to education for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Hands on practical skills and therapeutic education through craft based sessions such as pottery (pictured here)
The logo of Ruskin Mill College S41 status


Ruskin Mill College
The Fisheries
Horsley Mill
  • Course Length (weeks):
  • Residential or Day:
    Residential and day
  • Start Time:
    Referrals are taken all year round
  • Maximum Number of Students:
  • Age Range:
    16 – 25



General Description

Ruskin Mill College is an independent specialist college for young adults with learning difficulties, associated behavioural issues and disabilities. As part of Ruskin Mill Trust, our students receive our unique Practical Skills Therapeutic Education - a craft and land-based curriculum. We aim to teach our young people valuable, transferable life skills towards independence, which allows them to access further education, supported living accommodation, and/or work.

We offer day and residential placements to learners aged 16-25 and accept referrals throughout the year.

Gateway to Independence programmes are now available for leavers 19+ years of age.

Our staff body has a wealth of experience of working with young people with learning difficulties, such as autism, ASD, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, as well as behavioural and mental health issues.

Catchment Area

Nationwide and International students


For over 30 years Ruskin Mill College has offered a person-centred approach to holistic learning by role modelling positive relationships in the fields of arts, crafts, commerce, agriculture, nutrition, living skills and the environment. The Trusts method of Practical Skills and Therapeutic Education (PSTE) utilises a craft and land based curriculum to stimulate the development of executive functions, and which embeds Functional Skills (literacy and numeracy) into every area of college life and in residential settings.

Ruskin Mill College sits in the beautiful Horsley Valley containing hillside woodlands, a working biodynamic farm, market gardens, smokery and a historic fish farm, all of which help to shape the curriculum. Course include signature craft sessions such as drama, art, textiles, metal work, pottery, green woodwork, woodland management, farming, catering and horticulture. On-site facilities include an organic Café, Art Gallery and Farm shop which are all open to the public. As with every Ruskin Mill Trust provision, our market gardens and farms afford the young person the opportunity to develop their understanding of biodynamic farming, horticulture, animal husbandry and catering and hospitality by growing healthy food in an eco-friendly and sustainable environment. Once harvested, our young people who engage in catering and baking sessions are responsible for co-producing meals for the college cohort, residential settings and organic Café.

Bespoke Timetables are created to meet the need of the individual aspiration, provide progression and stretch, and are reviewed termly along with one-page profiles and risk assessments. For young people wishing to attain qualifications, Ruskin Mill College offers units across the curriculum and supports the individual to achieve a range of BTEC (Skills for Life) Open College Network (Skills for Living and work) City & Guilds, and Person Functional Skills qualifications from pre-Entry Level to Level 2. A range of destinations are available to the young person following their time at College, from accessing further education, to voluntary and paid work placements, while others make significant steps toward supported or independent living options. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulate.

Specialist Facilities

Set in 140 acres including a biodynamic farm, woodlands and a fishery, the college offers young people its unique Practical Skills Therapeutic Education, learning through meaningful real life activities and accredited courses.

The college provides a range of full nutritional, therapeutic and medical support. 

Our residential Shared Lives Provision (SLP) offers support, care and accommodation. People live in ordinary homes with shared lives carers in the community who have been trained and approved by Ruskin Mill Residential. The carers are supported and monitored by a shared lives co-ordinator/residential manager. Living with a carer and their family enables people to learn new skills and become as independent as possible while sharing in ordinary family life. Shared lives services are registered and inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Transition and Continuity of Progression

The aim of the Pathways Team is to plan successful outcomes for students through a seamless process from admissions to transition with work experience opportunities and continue to provide support and follow-up for students for six months beyond their leaving college to help the student sustain their chosen destination. During this process the Pathways Team members will be collaborating with students, local providers, parents and local authority.

Other Information

Comprehensive staff training and development opportunities will guide professionals through the Ruskin Mill Trust set of core values, vision, purpose and methodology

  • > Our expertise

    We have expertise in meeting the needs of students with:

    • Asperger syndrome
    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Autism spectrum disorder with associated challenging behaviour
    • Severe autism spectrum disorder
    • Expertise in meeting the needs of students who have been affected by abuse or personal trauma
    • Mental health needs
    • Behavioural difficulties
    • Emotional difficulties
    • Severe learning difficulties
    • Moderate learning difficulties
    • Expertise in meeting the needs of students who have specific learning difficulties
    • Communication difficulties
    • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • > Our curriculum

    We offer:

    • Opportunities to follow vocational courses
    • Opportunities to follow vocational qualifications
    • A specialised land-based curriculum
    • A personal development programme
    • A programme to enable students to learn more about themselves and how to form relationships
    • Opportunities for students to participate in community activities and to learn about citizenship
    • Opportunities to prepare for further training after college
    • A programme to help students to look after themselves more independently
    • Opportunities to prepare for work after college
    • Opportunities for work experience
    • Opportunities to improve literacy, numeracy and/or communication skills
    • Opportunities to develop strategies to promote appropriate behaviour
    • Opportunities to experiment with sound, touch, smell and sight in order to aid learning
    • 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
    • A range of therapeutic services
    • In-house psychology services
    • In-house occupational therapy
    • Specialist orientation and mobility training to enable independent travel
    • Specialist training to enable independent travel
    • Guidance and counselling services
    • Help with finding suitable long term provision
    • Specialist staff to meet personal care requirements
    • Waking night residential staff
    • Registered with the Care Quality Commission / Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales
    • In-house medical provision
    • 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.