Thornbeck College - North East Autism Society

Personalised learning programmes for learners with autism and neurodiversity designed to increase social and economic inclusion.
The learner is in a cookery session.  The learner is using a set of scales to weigh the flour and a spoon to lift the flour from the scale.
The logo of Thornbeck College - North East Autism Society


Thornbeck College - North East Autism Society
Cedar Drive
County Durham
  • Course Length (weeks):
  • Residential or Day:
  • Start Time:
    Flexible start dates throughout the year
  • Maximum Number of Students:
  • Age Range:
    16 – 25



General Description

Thornbeck College is an Independent Specialist College that offers personalised learning programmes for learners with autism and neurodiversity, including varying levels of behaviours of concern.  The College offers day placements.  Learners follow programmes that promote their social and economic inclusion.  The College has extensive links with employers to provide meaningful work experience and supported internships.  Flexible start dates are available throughout the year.

Catchment Area

North East 


Outcomes for learners focus on increasing their social and economic inclusion. The College offers a responsive and flexible curriculum which allows learning to be personalised within a broad and diverse learning offer.  The College believes that what a learner aspires to do after further education informs what they learn within their FE programme.  The curriculum continues to prepare learners for life and work in a multicultural society.   English and mathematics is contextualised and embedded within meaningful activities to promote confidence and independence.  The college has a range of innovative social enterprises such as bespoke wedding invitations, confectionary and a community based shop.

Specialist Facilities

A range of vocational workshops including; car maintenance, woodwork, textiles, hairdressing salon.  Access to occupational therapy and physiotherapy.  Extensive community links with employers and housing associations that support transition and preparation for adulthood.  Links with local GFE Colleges and third sector providers. 

Highly effective Positive and Proactive Support (PPS) that is accredited by BILD. In-house PPS trainers and functional behaviour analysis to support learners to develop self-regulation strategies and minimise behaviour of concern.

  • > Our expertise

    We have expertise in meeting the needs of students with:

    • Autism spectrum disorder with associated challenging behaviour
    • Communication difficulties
    • Behavioural difficulties
    • Emotional difficulties
  • > Our curriculum

    We offer:

    • Opportunities to prepare for work after college
    • Opportunities to follow vocational courses
    • Opportunities to prepare for further training after college
    • Opportunities to explore a range of living options after college
    • Opportunities to experience real work situations
    • Opportunities for work experience
    • Opportunities to attend local further education colleges with support
    • Opportunities to improve literacy, numeracy and/or communication skills
    • A programme to help students to look after themselves more independently
    • Opportunities to develop strategies to promote appropriate behaviour
    • Opportunities for students to participate in community activities and to learn about citizenship
    • A transition programme into independent living
    • A transition programme into supported or open employment
  • > Our specialist services

    • In-house physiotherapy
    • In-house occupational therapy
    • Specialist training to enable independent travel
    • Help with finding suitable long term provision

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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.