Thornbeck College

Thornbeck College is an Independent Specialist College providing personalised programmes to autistic and neurodivergent individuals

Working together to inspire, support, celebrate and equip autistic and neurodivergent people to fulfil their potential in life.

End of Year Achievement Video

Thornbeck College – Scarecrow Competition


Well done to everyone who participated in our Scarecrow Competition.

The results are in and we can confirm that the winner is Joe who designed and created the Chaser Jenny Ryan from the The Chase quiz show. Well done to Joe!

Today the horticulture group unearthed a litter of baby rabbits who are living in one of our raised beds

Scarecrow Competition: Vote for your winner below: 

Thornbeck Bake Off Competition

Keeping in contact with each other as a team and with our learners and families is crucial to keeping our college community connected as well as contributing to keeping everyone’s spirits up.  Learners and staff participated in a Bake Off Competition where participants were required to get themselves in the kitchen and practice their culinary skills.  There were some fabulous entries. Well done to everyone for taking part.

  • 1st Place Matthew Kerr
  • 2nd place Ciara Lund
  • 3rd place  Alisha Adams
  •  Staff winner Leigh Tolley

Joe has made a COVID-19 Time Capsule to bury in the garden for somebody to find in the future. Joe included a range of resources in his Time Capsule to represent himself including a newspaper article explaining all about COVID-19, photographs of himself and family, activities that he has been enjoying at home and pictures of his favourite books and television programmes. I’m sure whoever finds this in the future will be fascinated by the items that you have included in your box Joe, well done!

Independent Living Skills

"Whilst working from home, Thomas Barton has been making bread, tidying his bedroom, washing up, vacuuming, dusting, window cleaning, cooking pasta, bolognese, lemon cake, bread and watering plants"

“Joe has been making the most of the current situation and has been taking part in lots of activities at home!

He has been enjoying baking bread and pastries with Mum, making lunch for the family and even successfully made risotto for tea one night! He is enjoying spending time in the garden planting seeds and is helping out around the home too; filling the dishwasher, pegging the washing out and sorting the recycling. It’s lovely to see you transferring the skills you have learned at college to the home environment Joe, keep up the good work!”

Coronavirus Symbol Information 

Please click to download:

Friday 13 March 2020
Update on Coronavirus

I am writing to provide information with regards the coronavirus infection.

Government guidance to colleges and the situation at North East Autism Society

The College receives daily updates from the Department for Health and Social Care, Public Health England, and the Department for Education. This guidance is published at the links below:

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus from any learners or staff attending our College. If a learner begins to develop the symptoms of coronavirus (fever, cough, difficulties in breathing), parents should use the NHS 111 service to seek medical advice. In the event of a confirmed case, the NHS and Public Health England will advise parents on the course of action to take, and where necessary, will contact the College to advise us on the actions that should be taken in and College.

The Department for Education has launched a helpline for learners, parents and staff to raise questions about the coronavirus outbreak:

The Society’s Senior Management Team is reviewing the government’s guidance daily, and will take all necessary action to protect the learners and staff of the College, taking advice from Public Health England, the National Health Service, and the Departments for Health and Social Care and Education.

Communication with parents

The College will continue to keep parents and carers informed through the College website, text messages and through written communications, acting on the advice of the relevant public bodies. To do this, it is vital that we have accurate and up-to-date contact details for all parents.

Communication with learners

All learners have been spoken to regarding good hand hygiene (hand washing techniques) and the NHS ‘Catch It, Bin It, Kill It’ advice. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has recommended the use of e-Bug to teach students about hygiene.

Information is displayed around the College to remind learners of this. Hand sanitisers are already installed around the college. Tissues are also available in every learning environment.

The message of the College to learners has been one of reassurance, and we trust that parents will support this message. We are able to recognise that some information shared on social media is inaccurate but young people and learners may struggle to interpret some of these messages correctly. The BBC News website has published a helpful guide for parents speaking to young people about the current situation:

College closure

We will provide further details regarding college closure should this happen but please be reassured that this will be a last resort and we will only close if the Government officially instructs us to do so.

Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our learners, employees as well as the continuity of our services.

We will continue to comply with government and public health organisation guidance in order to keep everyone safe.

If you have any further queries regarding this situation, please contact the College directly at [email protected] and your email will be forwarded to an appropriate member of staff.

National Careers Week

Thornbeck participated in National Careers Week which provided learners with impartial Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) to support them to make well-informed decisions about their future. A range of activities were planned to support learners to develop their knowledge in relation to available opportunities for life after college. Activities learners participated in included:

  • A careers visit from the recruitment advisor for McDonalds.  The learners were given a presentation on a range of roles within McDonalds and what the benefits of working for the company are.  The learners were able to asks their own questions about working within the company including the apprenticeship scheme
  • A tour of  a hotel and a spa  from a range of employees, sharing information about their employment  e.g. Maid, Waitress, Groundsman etc. Learners planned key questions to ask the employees in their Tutorials sessions prior to the visit. Learners participated in tasks which would be part of the role set up by the employees to give learners an insight of what the job entailed e.g. setting tables as a waitress
  • A tour of Darlington College to support learners to identify FE opportunities linked to their end goal and planned destination 
  • A visit to the job centre to search for live employment vacancies in the local area
  • A range of college based  activities relating to job stereotypes, CV writing,  work rules, work wear and job and apprenticeship searches

Safer Internet Day 2020

A range of activities were planned across the curriculum to promote Safer Internet Day, with the theme: Together for a better internet. Learners participated in the follow:

  • Discussions around potential dangers online
  • Ensuring their passwords for secure and increasing understanding of why their personal details should not be shared online
  • Activities to support learners to construct an online profile picture that represented them but did not share their appearance or identify

Participating in the event provided an opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.

Image result for safer internet day 2020


Groups participated in activities to raise awareness of the LGBT community. Learners researched LGBT history, identifying the meanings behind the colours of the flag and celebrity figures who actively support LGBT.

Sessions supported learners to understand different relationships, improving their social awareness and understanding of a range of relationships

Image result for lgbt flag

Chinese New Year

Learners at Thornbeck celebrated Chinese New Year, Learners participated in a range of activities including visiting the Oriental Museum, enjoying Chinese Food on their lunch menu, and participating in Chinese traditions such as  decorating the dining area with lanterns, identifying the purpose of red envelopes and identifying which animal they are using their birth year which has increased learners knowledge of equality and diversity and social inclusion.

Australia Day

Learners have participated in activities to raise awareness and learn about Australia Day on 26th January 2020. This has included identifying Australia on the world map, discussions about some of Australia’s signature animals, places and food, and researching information about the current bush fires. Next week the learners will have the opportunity to donate money towards this cause at a small in-house bake sale on Wednesday 5th February, supporting the development of their awareness of the larger global community.

Recycling and Sustainability Week

Learners participated in recycling and sustainability week. The college utilised used food tin donations from parents,  which the learners have recycled into personalised money tins to use at home as part of their Tutorials sessions. This has increased the learners awareness of recycling and sustainability, as well as gave focus to budgeting and saving money.

Recycling an sustainability was also a  focus across vocational areas. Woodwork have made bird feeders from recycled tea pots, cups, wine bottles and wine glasses. Confectionery requested old Christmas cards from staff and learners which will be used as fudge packaging. Cosmetics completed research and identified a soap charity that sends soap from large companies such as hotels to 3rd world countries. Learners have made a range of soaps to support the charity.

Community Inclusion Initiative

Learners and staff at Thornbeck collected a selection of festive treats to donate to the Giving Tree Appeal  an organisation who works with parents and families in very difficult situations, many of these families are unable to afford to buy Christmas gifts for their children. The Giving Tree ensures these children do not go without a gift or treats at Christmas. 

General Election 2019

Learners looked at voting and  the UK elections as part of their Tutorials sessions. Learners increased their knowledge about what voting is and the process required to register and make a vote. Easy read manifestos were provided to increase learner understanding in relation to democracy and rule of law.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD)

Learners at Thornbeck celebrated International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) during tutorials sessions this week.

Learners researched different disabilities and matched ways to support individuals to access equal opportunities. Learners presented work in a range of different formats to share their information with the college. Learners took part in activities such as blind football and used resources from Guide Dogs for the Blind to simulate what it may be like for people with a visual impairment and communicated using Makaton to support individuals with extra communication needs.



Order Form

Festive Products

This week at Thornbeck College the learners have been busy getting products ready for the Society Christmas Market. Contributing their part to the wider NEAS community, learners have been busy working in teams to make festive wreaths, chocolates, cosmetic products, candles and Christmas decorations. These products will also be available at Thornbeck College’s Winter Fayre on Wednesday 11th December at 1:30pm.

Christmas Market 2019

Remembrance Day 2019 - British Values

Halloween - Functional Skills and Creative Design

This half term the learners have been making and preparing Halloween decorations for the college.  The learners researched, planed and created a range of bespoke decorations embedding functional skills and creative design.

The learners arrived in fancy dress, carved their  own pumpkins that had been grown on the College Horticulture site and enjoyed a scary disco.

Work experience

Learners are currently volunteering weekly at RSPB Saltholme, with some learners working on reception or in the shop and others helping around the grounds.

Those working in the grounds help with maintenance jobs around the reserve, such as clearing areas, cutting back shrubs and scarifying grass.

Jessica Hodgson, FE tutor at Thornbeck College said, "Working at the RSPB Saltholme creates opportunities for the students to develop their employability skills and helps to increase their confidence.

"It is great to see them make progress towards their own personal goals."

Global Hand Washing Day

On Tuesday 15th October learners  at Thornbeck participated in Global Hand Washing Day. Learners increased their awareness about the importance of washing  their hands and how germs are transferred to their hands by touching everyday objects. Learners identified the stages of effective hand washing, practiced their hand washing technique and used UV germ lotion and UV lights to  check their hand washing had been effective. Ensuring they wash  their hands appropriately has had a positive impact on their health

Hello Yellow

On Thursday, 10th October learners and staff at Thornbeck College participated in sessions wearing yellow to support Hello Yellow; a children and young people’s mental health charity on World Mental Health Day.


Learners participated in activities to promote their own mental well-being including planting yellow flowers in planters around the college site,  aerobics, muscle relaxation and sensory. They identified emotions through zones of regulation and used a blob tree to identify and explain the emotions of others.


Travel Training

Learners have participated in weekly travel training sessions. They have planned and participated in a range of activities  in the community and travelled using various modes of transport. Learners have planned their journeys, requested and paid for their tickets and accessed community facilities. This has supported the development of their independent living, functional maths and communication skills

Health and Safety Week

Learners participated in a range of activities as part of Health and Safety Week. As the Aycliffe site is currently being extended, staff utilised the naturally occurring opportunity as a teaching, learning and assessment resource. Learners identified a range of health and safety signs and their meaning on the building site and met with construction workers and site manager to identify their safety procedures.

Other activities embedded across the curriculum included health and safety checks of the classroom environments, identifying appropriate PPE for work tasks, identifying unsafe practices and appropriate control measures  and updated the fire evacuation procedures and displayed this in a range of formats across the College environment

Health and Safety

Macmillan Coffee Afternoon

Join our adults and staff at Thornbeck College for a cuppa and cake in support of Macmillan on Friday, 27th September from 2.00 pm. There's also a chance to purchase some handmade products by the adults.

New horticulture site is proving to be a huge success 

Fay Strong, Vice Principal said; "The development of the horticulture site is proving to be an invaluable resource. The new teaching environment has supported the adults to develop their functional and employability skills. The college has utilised a range of fresh fruit and vegetables the adults have grown within the kitchen environment and fresh produce has been sold to a range of stakeholders."

The adults at the college have also used the flowers they have grown to support their floristry enterprise.

Horticulture site at Thornbeck College

Thornbeck College achievement awards and summer market

The whole college came together with family and friends to celebrate our end of year achievement awards and summer market. The event was a huge success which allowed learners to celebrate and reflect their achievements from across the year. One learner performed a beautiful rendition of a Bruno Mars song, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

Certificates were presented for accredited qualification, non-accredited targets and for work experience achievements. The summer market raised a fantastic total of £352.53 from a range of stalls including confectionery, cosmetics, candles, woodwork and horticulture products. Have a fantastic summer Class of 2018-19 from everyone at Thornbeck.

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