Thornhill Park School

Thornhill Park School is an independent specialist school based in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear for pupils aged 4-19

Our mission is to work together inspiring, supporting, celebrating and equipping autistic and neurodiverse children, young people and adults.

Children in Need 2020

This year, students at Thornhill Park School have really got into the Pudsey spirit, wearing Pudsey-inspired outfits, including sporting lots of spots and yellow clothes, and decorating the school in the favourite colours of the bandana-wearing bear!

Many of the students participated in a special ‘We’re on (Pudsey) Bear Hunt’, locating pictures of not only Pudsey himself and his friend Blush, but also the famous yellow bear with many of his celebrity chums, including Gary Barlow, Tess Daley and even Stormzy!

There were also many other competitions, including ‘Pin the Ears on Pudsey’, ‘Guess the Number of Sweets in the Jar’ and a colouring contest for younger pupils.  Some groups even made their own Pudsey-inspired biscuits!

Other pupils took part in a sponsored basketball shoot, as well as playing ‘Pin the Tail on the Pudsey’! 

There was also a Cake Sale, with a raffle to win to even more Pudsey-inspired cakes and some of the pupils took part in sponsored walk in the local community, all to raise money for a very worthy cause!

All activities were – of course – carried out sticking to strict social distancing measures!

In total, we raised £405.90!  Well done, everyone!

Bonfire Night Art Competition 

Our students in Class 3 took part in a society wide Bonfire Night art competition. They created a group collage and looked on the internet for images that reflected key aspects of Bonfire Night. The collage was created by having triangles of Bonfire Night images ‘exploding’ from the centre to create a colourful and sparkly masterpiece!

The students thought about onomatopoeic words associated with fireworks and created Jackson Pollack-style splatter paintings to reflect the explosion of colours and patterns of Bonfire Night.

As we all go off on our summer break pupils and staff have reflected upon this unusual time in school and the ways in which we have all come together to support one another. Pupils engaged in art and creativity which has helped them to remain positive and happy during lockdown. Here is a sample of their skills and talents.

We all look forward to being back together in September.

Learning through lockdown - Bubble 6

Although lockdown has changed the way we do our lessons in school we’ve still been able to learn new skills such as cycling safely in the school grounds and when proficient riding our bike and exploring the local surroundings, rollerskating and yoga. We’ve also learned how to adapt to covid restrictions and guidance such as social distancing and extra hand washing. We have shown our thanks to the NHS by decorating our classroom windows with rainbows too.

Learning through lockdown 

Family life has changed so much during lock down. I am delighted to share these wonderful photographs of Vinnie who has spent a lot of time gardening. Gran told us that ‘he has his own plot in the garden – he has planted vegetables and also some flowers to attract bees. He managed to get hold of some wood and nails and built a boat, with very little input from us other than help from Grandad with the sawing. The family have been on bike rides most days and done some foraging, collecting wild garlic to make Pesto and Dandelions to make an immunity boosting drink with lemons and oranges. Vinnie has done a lot of cooking, mainly pasta dishes, smoothies and chocolate crispy cakes. He puts a lot of garlic in things he makes because he says it is a natural antibiotic.’ As you can see both Vinnie and the family have stayed active and productive, making the most of their time together and clearly having fun whilst learning at home.

Well done Vinnie we are very proud of you!


Learning through lockdown

We are immensely proud of our school, pupils and staff. We have been open all through lockdown and have shared precious moments as a school community. Staff and pupils have come together to make the most of this time in school. We have stayed in touch with pupils who remain at home providing education packs and activities to work on at home. The weekly catch up calls are something we all look forward to as we love to hear the great things that are happening at home and look forward to all being together again in school.  We have all changed the way in which we work and play. This has not stopped fun and games and has provided many opportunities for learning

This week bubble 5 share their experiences

Lockdown in Bubble 5


This has been a very strange time for pupils in Bubble 5… We started off as a group of two! These pupils have attended every single day since lockdown began, and have been able to take great advantage of their time in school, focussing on their specific hobbies and interests. This has included so much, but some of the highlights have involved playing the guitar, drums, upcycling a full garden furniture set, growing the most delicious strawberries, writing some fantastic fictional stories and helping to create an amazing Equality and Diversity flag! As the weeks continue on, Bubble 5 is expanding, and so are the learning activities. We have had some superb work done both at home and at school, with one of our students even completing online open university courses – so impressive! Cooking fresh meals for their lunches, and taking advantage of the exercise time by going for short local walks are some of the most favoured sessions, as well as spending time being creative in the Art studio and Workshop. As we draw closer to summer, the pupils are looking ahead to the differences in their school days and planning for September, from social distancing in new class groups to returning to a more ‘normal’ timetable, and this is something they ought to be very proud of themselves for! It has been a very difficult time globally, but the students in Bubble 5 have shown just how resilient and mature they are, and there has rarely been a day they haven’t had a smile on their faces.


Thank you bubble 5!


School Diversity Week 2020, 22-26 June

 Day 5 of school Diversity week


We have all had such a great time this week exploring and participating in learning all about Diversity through different activities completed across the school. Our inclusive approach has cumulated in the assembly of our giant Mosaic Diversity flag with work from every group in school.

We have completed diversity maths on Monday, black out poetry on Tuesday, learning about diversity through history on Wednesday, making our own diversity logo in art on Thursday, then on Friday we discussed ‘Black lives matter’ and what this means, we looked at some of the great black leaders such as Martin Luther king Jr.  We learned that he was an American Christian minister and activist who became a spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

Pupils have really enjoyed taking part in these activities and have learnt a lot about what it means to be unique and have begun to recognise and appreciate our individual differences. Pupils have being doing research into: Racism, how our families have changed, PRIDE, Famous people who have faced prejudice in the past including Mohammed Ali, Jesse Owens, and Rosa Parks, Black out Poems and famous people who have shared their life stories. Throughout the week we have been completing different art projects using lots of different techniques and materials; including painting our feet and hands to make some nice bright hand and foot prints. Every group chose what they were going to create each day, using the colours for that day so that by the end week we would have many different creations in the full rainbow of the flag. We have been sharing snippets of the creations throughout this week, today we collected up all the different pieces and the students placed their creations in the correct space to create our rainbow flag.

Day 4: Today we continued our progress rainbow theme in readiness for Rainbow Friday when we put the flag together.

 Each bubble is earning points for our prizes. 


Here is a clue .

Points make .....

Day 3: We have created poems for Diversity week , taken part in diverse family maths session and researched the life of Ann Lister as well as creating art for our progress flag.


Day 2: Today we worked with Green , blue and Purple.

We have fantastic art work to add to our flag for Friday.

Watch this space!

We will be celebrating diversity, equality and inclusion by creating a progress flag. We are all making a collage flag to show that even though we can’t be together, we'll still join as one to celebrate diversity.

Each day we are using the set colours of the flag to create art work and imagery which will be inlayed into the flag.

he Progress Flag was created in 2018, designed to update the existing rainbow pride flag. The design incorporates the colours of the trans flag (white, pink, light blue) and black and brown stripes to represent LGBT+ people of colour. Both groups face disproportionate levels of discrimination, face unique challenges and have histories that other members of the LGBT+ communities don’t. The flag draws attention to these and encourages us to fight for the equal rights of everyone under the LGBT+ umbrella.

We will create a giant collage Progress Flag of photos and art work.

Why don’t you join in! You can wear one of the colours on the specific days below, make a colour themed piece of art to add to the flag or make an item in a different colour each day or come up with your own suggestions.

Each day will be based upon the colours of the Progress Flag.

Each class bubble will earn bonus points each day which can be exchanged for a special treat on Friday.


Monday : Red, orange and yellow
Tuesday: Green , blue and Purple
Wednesday:  white, Pink and Light blue
Thursday: Brown and Black
Friday : All of them!


The finished flag will be uploaded to the website and displayed in school.



Watch this space for Tuesday’s art work !

Thank you to all involved in the making of this lovely short film.

Our pupils are remaining positive and creative throughout the pandemic.

We are delighted to share this little bit of happiness sent our way by one of our pupils who has kept up with his musical studies remotely and has attended school throughout this period of time.

Due to lockdown,  music lessons and beginners' band sessions have been carried out using Zoom.  Online band attendance diminished so instead they made this film, separately from their own homes and gardens.  Our pupil helped 'write' the story, played his trumpet, sang with his sister, and photographed, animated and filmed his toy animals. His music teacher has done a great job putting the sounds and pics together.

We hope it brings a smile your way.

Somewhere over the Rainbow 

The past couple of weeks have had a lot of uncertainty with many of our pupils staying at home however this has not dampened their enthusiasm or creativity.

Pupils in school have been creating rainbows to put in our windows to raise the spirits of residents who may be self-isolating near our school and visitors walking past taking their daily exercise.

We hope that everyone who sees them enjoys them and knows we are thinking of them, wishing them good health and high spirits.

Pupils who are at home with their families have also been creating Rainbows joining us in sending a stay safe and happy message to the nation.


Easter Treasure Hunt

Despite the ongoing restrictions in place due to Coronavirus, pupils at Thornhill Park School still managed to participate in their traditional Easter Treasure Hunt, exploring the school building in search of Easter-related images hidden in all manner of strange places in both the building itself and the yard, whilst carefully adhering to social distancing recommendations!  All received a chocolate egg for their efforts!

 There’s an Easter Bunny hiding out in this World Book Day display!  Can you spot him?

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 schools and the situation at North East Autism Society

The School and 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 pupils, learners or staff attending our school’s/ or College. If a pupil or 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 School/ College to advise us on the actions that should be taken in School and College.

The Department for Education has launched a helpline for young people, 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 pupils, learners and staff of the School and College, taking advice from Public Health England, the National Health Service, and the Departments for Health and Social Care and Education.


Trips and visits

All trips and visits scheduled in the coming months will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, seeking relevant advice where necessary. Further information will be shared with parents of pupils and learners participating in planned trips in due course. At the moment, it remains our intention to run these trips, but we will keep this under continual review, based on any updated advice from the Department for Health and Social Care.


Offsite Curriculum

For those pupils who access our Offsite Curriculum provision it is business as usual but we will be checking in advance before we attend daily activities to ensure that the facility is open. In the event that an activity centre, such as a library is closed we may need to adapt the curriculum, but in any event we will ensure that the needs of our pupils are met.


Communication with parents

The School/ College will continue to keep parents and carers informed through the School/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 students

All students 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 School/ College to remind students of this. Hand sanitisers are already installed around the school. Tissues are also available in every classroom.


The message of the School/College to students has been one of reassurance, and we trust that parents will support this message. As adults, we are able to recognise that some information shared on social media is inaccurate but young people 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:



School/ College closure

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


Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our children, young people, adults, 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 your child’s/ learner’s class teacher/ key tutor or email the School/ College directly at [email protected] and your email will be forwarded to an appropriate member of staff.

World Book Day at Thornhill Park School

Pupils and staff have come together at Thornhill Park to celebrate World Book Day! Everyone has pulled together to come up with fantastic costumes from strange and fantastical worlds of our favourite books.  We have had characters from Willie Wonker and the chocolate factory, Harry Potter, 101 Dalmatians and Room on the broom. Pupils have come to school dressed up and have been spending the morning completing a World Book Day themed treasure hunt around the new school site. Everyone is looking forward to spending the afternoon in a world book day themed coffee afternoon. Fabulous effort everyone the costumes are outstanding!

To celebrate World Book Day 2020, pupils were given the opportunity to come to school dressed as their favourite literary characters, such as Willy Wonka and Harry Potter, with prizes awarded for ‘Best Costume’ for students in Pre-14 and Post-14 groups.  Staff also got into the spirit, wearing character costumes instead of their normal clothes.

Pupils were also challenged to complete a World Book Day Treasure Hunt, with literary clues hidden all around the new school building.

Students also completed World Book Day-themed activities in lessons, including creating their own ‘Best Book from Childhood’ reviews, as well book covers, book marks and matching fairy stories to their descriptions; other pupils created their own Gothic-themed descriptive stories, inspired by famous Gothic novels, such as Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ and the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

Parents were also invited into school for a combined Fair Trade Fortnight and World Book Day Coffee Afternoon on Thursday!

Some of the famous faces in the Treasure Hunt! The students had to find 20 characters or authors.

Students – and staff! – reviewed some of their favourite novels from childhood and beyond!

Students’ early drafts of their Gothic-inspired spooky stories, following in the footsteps of Bram Stoker and Edgar Allen Poe.

World Book Day Awards

Pupils, staff and visitors ended the day with an award ceremony for best costume and best participants in the Literacy treasure Hunt.

There were four trophies in total and four delighted pupils!

Class 1

Class 1 have enjoyed exploring their new classrooms and enjoying a range of sensory activities:

  • We loved painting some Spring pictures to decorate the classroom
  • Attention Autism sessions exploring our senses
  • Choosing toppings for our breakfast
  • Accessing our favourite lessons
  • Having tea parties

Safer Internet Day 2020

Pupils participated in Safer Internet Day, focusing on the theme 'Together for a Better Internet', developing their awareness of remaining safe online. Pupils created cut-up poems (or 'decoupe' in French!) on the subject of internet safety, imitating the style of poets and lyricists such as David Bowie and Thom Yorke from Radiohead. 

Other pupils used their Persuasive Writing skills to write a letter to a fictional friend in which they encouraged them to be more careful when sharing personal information on the World Wide Web.

The Green Plan It Challenge

As part of RHS ‘The Green Plan It’ project this week a group of staff and pupils took their 3D design model and presentation to the Winter Gardens and presented their ideas to a panel of judges.


The concept of our project was ‘The Me Garden’ for our new school which was based around the ‘Zones of regulation’ strategy that we use across the school.


The group first decided on their team name which was ‘The Groovy Gardeners’ and then named the garden project ‘The Me Garden.’

It was split into 4 zones reflecting how our students are feeling.

  • Happy or Calm
  • Tired or Sad
  • Anxious or Silly
  • Angry of Mad


Judges were very impressed with our ideas and we won the competition, collecting the overall winner trophy for our ‘Me Garden’ ideas. Pupils and staff alike enjoyed the day and were very proud to be announced as the winners.