Thornbeck College is the only Independent Specialist College in the North East graded Outstanding by Ofsted.

Thornbeck provides personal study programmes for learners with autism learning difficulties and, or disabilities. Programmes focus on equipping learners with the skills that they need for living and work. The college have developed a range of vocational pathways which currently include; floristry, retail, horticulture. These pathways provide opportunities for learners to develop work related skills in real –life working environments. 

Thornbeck College workshop

Recently the college opened a hairdressing salon in partnership with East Durham College. Learners attending Thornbeck College and learners studying hair and beauty at East Durham College run the salon. The salon offers hair, beauty and barbering services for individuals with autism in the North East region who experience extreme levels of anxiety when having their hair cut, usually due to their difficulties with sensory processing. The salon provides specialist staff support for clients and the option of much longer appointments. It is also open to the general public. Following feedback from individuals with autism, parents and carers this social enterprise has a very positive impact within the region.

The College are in the process of further increasing their vocational pathways and are currently refurbishing another building on the site. This development was made possible by a successful bid to the Education Funding Agency Independent Specialist Provider Building Improvement Fund and this contribution will fund 50% of this £375,000 development.

Christine Dempster, Director of Education at NEAS said; “This new building will enable the college to increase its offer of vocational pathways available to learners and will include car maintenance, woodwork and catering.”