Thornbeck College is one of the leading specialist colleges in the country. Recognised as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted (2009) and awarded LSIS Beacon Status (2010).

The clear focus for the college’s work, and the basis for its reputation, is the provision of education for individuals with autism, learning difficulties and, or disabilities. The College offers a responsive and flexible curriculum which allows learning to be personalised within a broad and diverse learning offer. 

Personal learning programmes focus on: 

  • Equipping learners with the skills they need for living and work.
  • Gives learners the opportunity to practice and develop work related skills in a range of supported and open employment projects.
  • Develop the life skills needed to participate fully as members of their community.
  • A person-centred approach underpins the programme to ensure it meets the individual needs, interests and aspirations of each individual based on a robust baseline assessment.


Outcomes for learners focus increasing social and economic inclusion. The college believes that what a learner aspires to do after further education informs what they learn within their Further Education (FE) programme.  Progression routes for learners are outstanding with 100% of learners gaining either supported/open employment and/or becoming tenants of their own home. 

Learners make excellent progress and develop functional, vocational, personal and social skills relative to their prior attainment and potential. High quality Person Centred Learning Plans (PCLP’s) are detailed and comprehensive.  They empower learners to be actively involved in setting personal targets, and recording their progress and achievements.  

Partnership work is excellent and a range of innovative social enterprises are used to increase employer engagement and to extend opportunities for learners to develop their skills in real work situations.

There is a clear and direct emphasis on meeting the individual needs of all learners. Teaching and learning methods and resources are effectively differentiated to promote equality and diversity. A whole organisation approach ensures equality and diversity is embedded throughout the curriculum. Staff have extensive expertise in working with learners with autism, learning difficulties and or disabilities. 

The college have an active student council which is supported by specialist staff to aid effective communication. Satisfaction surveys, individual and group tutorials, student council meeting minutes demonstrate that the views of all learners are systematically collected and acted upon to influence organisation development and quality improvement. Support from speech and language therapists and the colleges communication champion support learners with appropriate high and, or low tech AAC aids. This has enabled learners with varying levels of communication needs to express their views in relation to operational and strategic issues by increasing their ability to use a range of communication strategies (e.g. speech, Makaton©, symbol supported literacy, pictures, Talking Mats©, high/low tech AAC devices).

The college has outstanding safeguarding and safety practices for all environments experienced by learners. Good relationships with the local safeguarding board contribute to the highly effective support and training for staff.

For more information on our College please call:
Thornbeck College on 01325 328 088 or email

    - Click here
 to download Thornbeck College Prospectus
    - Click here to download our 'Outstanding' Ofsted Report
    - Click here to download information on Safer Recruitment
    - Click here to download Safeguarding Adults Easy Read
    - Click here to download 2015-16 Term Dates

Thornbeck College Local Offer

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