Bishop Auckland College

Bishop Auckland College is a great place to study and we are proud of the unique atmosphere here – we are welcoming, supportive, encouraging and, most of all, ambitious for your success.

Our staff are absolutely dedicated to really getting to know our students and unlocking the potential within each and every young person. The college is based 5 minutes from the town centre and has easy access to transport links.
We offer a wide range of vocational courses from pre-entry to Degree level including Supported Internships and Apprenticeships.

We have a diverse curriculum offer which considers the needs of all our learners. Each of our full-time learners are on a study programme which involves their main qualification, study skills, Maths, English and work experience.
In the college, we have a specialist high needs area, “Aspire” where programmes are destination led and are meaningful for the learners. The programmes range from Pre-entry to level 1.  In Aspire, there is support made available to the learners throughout the sessions, during breaks and lunches.
The college works with schools to carry out a thorough transition from school to college. Please contact the college on 01388 443 000 to ask for more information about our open events that we hold throughout the year.

When is it on?

Time of day
Session information
Classes start at 9.15am every morning for main stream 9.00am for Aspire.
Late nights for evening courses are Monday and Wednesday

Who to contact

Contact name
Sharron Tunstall
Contact position
Head of School
01388 443 000
Bishop Auckland College

Where to go

Woodhouse Lane
Bishop Auckland
County Durham
DL14 6JZ

Other details

Special offers to Children and Young People's Network (CYPN) Members
CYPN members get the following benefit(s):
The Children and Young People's Network is for 0-25 year olds with a SEN or disability. To become a member of the network please visit: Please contact us for full details of the discount we offer for this.
Referral required?
Referral and availability notes

If you are interested in any of our courses, please contact our information and guidance team and they will make an appointment for you to come into college on 01388 443 000. 

If you have an EHCP and you would like to come to the college please contact your case worker and they will put in a referral with us. From this referral we will be in contact you to discuss courses, support etc. 

Local Offer

Local Offer description

The Aspire Centre is a specialist provision for students with more complex needs. Students follow individualised programmes designed specifically to meet their interests and long-term goals based on either independent living or furture ework related learning. Learning can take place on the college campus, on work experience placements or out in the local community. Referrals for this provision are through Durham County Council or neighbouring local authorities.

Aspire Centre staff liaise with external agencies to provide a bespoke service to meet the individual learners needs appropriate to their disability. Staff are trained to specialise in areas including

  • Autism
  • ASD
  • ADHD
  • ODD
  • MD
  • MLD
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Learning Difficulties
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dyslexia
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Makaton

The college offers staff CPD as ongoing professional development across a wide range of themes.

Contact name
Sharron Tunstall or Natasha Stirrat
Contact telephone
01388 443 000
Contact email or

How do you identify Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)?

How does the setting/school/college know if children/young people need extra help and what should I do if I think my child/young person may have special educational needs?

All learners have access to an Individual Support Plan (ISP) in addition to their Individual Learning Journey (ILJ). The ISP identifies the individual support needs arising from difficulties in learning or barriers to learning, health or community participation. It offers bespoke and intensive support strategies (academic and pastoral) which are monitored and reviewed. This plan includes;

  • Moderation details
  • Document history
  • Indicators of well-being
  • Learners involvement with the plan
  • Personal interests
  • Personal profile and contact details
  • Communication profile (receptive, expressive
  • Social interaction
  • Sensory processing (baseline, strategies)
  • Positive behaviour support plan
  • Individual risk management plan

There is a strong emphasis on the importance of educating learners about staying safe and in enabling learners to take responsibility for their personal safety.

Induction documents, curriculum documents, tutorials and minutes of student council meetings support this. Individual risk management plans and the colleges’ curriculum demonstrate that the college continues to provide the correct balance between opportunities and risk for all learners.

This is achieved through working constructively with learners, involving them wherever possible, in the risk assessment process, implementing a range of strategies so that risk assessments are personalised and recorded in a format that learners can understand. This is achieved by employing a range of strategies to meet the needs of individual learners’ in relation to their current language and communication skills including links with external agencies.

The college has a wide range of ICT hardware and software which is used effectively to promote and support learning, and to develop learner’s social interaction and communication skills.

Resources such as talking mats, interactive white boards and specialist bespoke equipment are routinely incorporated into activities. The use of inclusive technology provides new opportunities to enable a more personalised learning experience and is used to promote and support learning; anytime and anywhere.

How will you support my child with their special educational needs and disability?

How will early years setting/school/college staff support my child/young person?

The curriculum is responsive to meet the individual needs of learners.

The use of realistic contexts and the community is particularly effective and significant success has been achieved in supporting learners to experience work placements.

A comprehensive curriculum framework provides clear progression routes with accreditation available to enable learners to reach their planned destination.

Pre-entry, initial and baseline assessment is inclusive, thorough and detailed in identifying the learning and support needs of all learners.

A good range of enrichment activities contributes to learners’ enjoyment. Induction and transition planning are highly effective.

The college offers all learners a person centred learning journey which is responsive and reflective of the individual assessed needs. The curriculum is designed to increase meaningful outcomes that young people need in preparation for the next stage of their lives.

The curriculum provides clear progression routes through a destination-led programme with accreditation available where appropriate.

Outcomes of multi -disciplinary assessment are successfully used to inform a robust baseline assessment, providing an accurate basis on which to plan learners personalised learning programmes.

The curriculum effectively engages learners in developing practical skills that equip them with the knowledge and understanding to use and apply functional literacy, numeracy, communication and ICT in everyday life.

Learners make excellent progress in their functional, vocational, personal and social skills in relation to their starting point. The practical nature of the curriculum increases learners’ engagement, motivation and enjoyment.

Curriculum activities are differentiated, well planned, varied, interesting and designed so that they enable learners to develop and transfer skills into a range of environments.

There is a strong emphasis on the importance of education about staying safe and in enabling learners to take responsibility for their own and others’ safety, which is reinforced through induction, curriculum activities and the learner council.

The curriculum effectively equips learners with the knowledge and understanding they require to enable them to make informed choices about their own health and well-being.

Travel training continues to be given a high priority with all learners (100%) having experienced or regularly accessing public transport.  Prior to starting at the college very few learners have travelled regularly using public transport therefore this is a positive outcome that increases their social inclusion. As part of their programme learners learn how to travel safely by public bus, train and taxi. This enables learners to develop the skills required to travel using public transport which is a vital skill for connecting individuals to jobs, community services and social networks. It also increases learners’ independence, self-confidence and increases their participation within their local community and society.

Depending on the course, learners will be invited to various activities.

Examples are:

  • Taster Days, Bridging Days, Student BBQ. Social activities, work placement
  • Developed and sustainable partnerships with schools, other colleges, local authorities, employers and local communities lead to tangible benefits, further improving outcomes for learners promoting social and economic inclusion, well-being, that maybe enriching to individual life styles.

How will you make sure my child's education meet their needs?

How will the curriculum be matched to my child's young person's needs?

The college has implemented a person centred approach which has a sound track record of addressing learners’ needs and issues.

This approach addresses any barriers via a holistic approach through offering a person centred provision which involves a range of specialist staff and other support agencies. Multi-disciplinary assessment procedures further supported by key staff provide learners and their families with continuity which helps them build positive and trusting relationships.

The college recognise the link between health and education. The curriculum effectively equips learners with the knowledge and understanding they require to enable them to make informed choices about their health and well-being. Topics covered include; healthy eating, exercise, drugs, alcohol, spiritual health, mental health and sexual health. Partnership work with external agencies in the community, including the NHS helps create a learning environment where positive well-being is the outcome for all learners.

Learners participate in an extensive social and leisure programme, as part of their weekly timetable and enrichment, to promote healthy lifestyles. Pupils are fully involved in planning what activities they would like to participate in through regular reviews and team meetings with the appropriate staff. 

Student voice meetings demonstrate a workable service user led service.

Arrangements for promoting safeguarding to learners are effective and available in a range of formats to meet individual needs.

Safeguarding issues are covered during induction to the college and refreshed each term throughout learner’s programmes. 

All behaviour is seen as a method of communication and systematic observation and recording of an individual’s behaviour provides an objective measurement of an individual’s opinion.

The management of varying levels of anxieties, which can result in what others may deem as challenging behaviour, is a particular strength within the college. Wherever possible learners are involved in a multi-disciplinary approach to devise personalised proactive behaviour support plans designed to reduce or eliminate levels of anxiety in an accessible format.

The college has effective policies and procedures to demonstrate effective administration, control and monitoring of medication. These include;

  • Administration
  • Responsibilities and delegation procedure
  • Control and use of medicines procedure
  • Storing medication appropriately and record keeping procedures.
  • Control and monitoring
  • First aid checklist
  • Grab sheet/Grab Bags
  • Medication checklist
  • Record of medication taken from premises
  • Parental consent form

Each term the college formally collates, and analyses data collected from learner voice surveys. The college has implemented a wide range of specialist strategies to obtain the views of all learners.  Skilled staff use their knowledge of learners’ expressive and receptive communication skills to implement strategies to ensure that the collection of data is effective and fully inclusive.

How will we know my child is progressing?

How will both you and I know how my child/young person is doing and how will you help me to support my child's/young person's learning?

Each pupil at The Aspire Centre has a Home-School diary, class staff communicate in these on a daily basis to let you know what your child has been doing. At The Aspire Centre they work hard to make the school a welcoming one, so that you will feel comfortable enough to contact them in order to ask any questions you have about your child's learning. As parents, you are welcome to organise meetings with your young person's class teacher to look at the work being done in class and to discuss ways in which you can support this learning at home. Where it is felt appropriate, learners will be given homework to complete with you over the weekend.

Learners in Main stream will have the support from a mentor to support in college and a personal tutor. 

At any time parents, can contact SENCO with any concerns or updates regarding individual learners.

How will you support my child's overall wellbeing?

What support will there be for my child's/young person's overall wellbeing?

A holistic approach to teaching, learning and support is embedded throughout the young person's college year, consideration to their every need, not just educational but social, emotional, physical and medical needs. The college has very good links to a number of outside agencies who they work with to ensure that each pupil gets the fullest provision possible. Staff have a vast wealth of experience and expertise, the additional curricular activities offered such as outdoor education, turn taking, sharing, being part of a team and sharing ideas. Learners can access a wide range of activities that encourage their social, moral, spiritual and cultural development such as whole school celebrations, sport events and special celebration days within college.

What specialist services and expertise is available at or accessed by the staff?

What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the setting/school/college?

Each learner in college will have their needs assessed and the appropriate support put in place if possible. Learners on Main stream and the specialist Aspire provision will all be assessed in their first 6 weeks on programme to determine need.

The Aspire Centre is a unit within Bishop Auckland College, whose staff are trained to a high standard in Education. 

In the Aspire Centre all staff work closely with pupils who have a range of complex medical needs, in order to meet their highly profound needs.

A core team of staff who have additional training in order to safely meet the needs of this group of young people. The college work closely with the Specialist Epilepsy nurses who provide guidance around medical management plans. Staff also work closely with Physiotherapists, who work directly on delivering therapy programmes and advice where necessary and who also advise on specialist standing and seating equipment, hoists, and standing frames. The Occupational Therapists advise on equipment, seating, positional issues. 

College firmly believe that links with the local community and county teams are paramount to the wellbeing of each individual learner.   

How are staff trained regarding SEND?

What training are the staff supporting children and young people with SEND have had or are having?

The college pride themselves on the Professional Development opportunities offered to staff. Staff work with pupils with a wide range of needs and so occasionally core groups of staff are trained in specific areas. Staff are trained in Manual Handling, this enables them to safely move pupils with physical difficulties without putting themselves or the pupils at risk. The Aspire Centre is a unit within Bishop Auckland College, all staff are trained to a high standard in Education. 

Learning Support Assistants and Teachers are trained in understanding Epilepsy and how to administer emergency medication and has close links with the Speech and Language Therapy department which has allowed them to develop a high level of knowledge and skills across their staff team. Over the year, the Speech and Language Therapists deliver termly training in a range of specialist areas.

Regular internal training sessions focus on the range of SEND needs within the school including ASD, SLD, ADHD, and Learning Difficulties. 

What activities outside the classroom will there be?

How will my child/young person be included in activities outside this classroom including school trips?

All pupils take part in community visits and outings throughout the year regardless of their needs. 

Independent Living Skills are taught holistically, and weekly/daily visits are made to local communities. 

Work placements are included into each curriculum timetable and allocated weeks are planned within the college year. College works in partnership with external agencies and employers to provide opportunities to work in a supported work placement.




How will you support my child's needs?

How accessible is the setting/school/college environment?

The college is located in central South West Durham, in Bishop Auckland, easily accessible by bus routes and main feeder roads. The college is fully wheelchair accessible and there are accessible toilet facilities on every floor.  

My child is going to be starting or leaving soon, how will you help them?

How will the setting/school/college prepare and support my child/young person to join the setting/school/college or the next stage of education and life?

The College meet with parents, guardians, families, and local authorities to plan and develop a smooth transition from schools to college.  The team develop and adapt different approaches to secure a better outcome for all learners.  Links are made with local authorities and schools to organise taster sessions to socially include all young people. This will enable them to make informed choices and help them make a good transition into college. 

Activities are planned with a shared vision of outcomes that are focussed on the aspirations of each young person.  All activities are developed from information from transition schools and will be planned to anticipate the needs of all young people with SEN.

Transition/feeder schools link with Woodhouse Lane Campus to plan and develop programmes based around personal aspirations and needs of each individual learner.

Under the Autism Strategy, SENCO's will work closely with the young person to inform the young person of their rights, and this be built in to each EHC Plan.

What is available to help my child with their education?

How are the setting's/school's/college's resources allocated and matched to children's/young people's special educational needs?

Once the college know that a young person has a place at college, they visit them in their current setting and talk to the staff and the young person.

The college SENCO will meet with parents and hold discussions around what they want for their child and the best ways that the college can provide that support.

SENCO will meet with parents, learners and local authorities, to identify achievable/realistic long term goals for the individual. 

All learners have access to 'ILP' Individual Learning Plans. This will identify and structure a tailored course.  Support needs will also be identified. These will be mapped to long and short term goals.

What support can I expect for my child?

How is the decision made about what type and how much support my child/young person will receive?

If a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health Care Plan specifies that a pupil requires 1-1 support, the school will provide that. If the feeder school has identified prior to entry the requirements of support, college will assess needs and implement the support at an appropriate level.

In the college support is given on a 1-1 discussion on the required needs. If this level of support is not enough, and that there are Health and Safety implications, then we would have discussions with the Local Authority to see if they can help to provide additional support if required.

All learners are given appropriate support throughout the day depending on the required need. 

How will I be involved in my child's education?

How are parents involved in the setting/school/college? How can I be involved?

The college actively encourage all parents/carers to keep close contact with them and pride themselves on the strong home-school relationships they have.

Parent/carers are invited to student/parent open nights.  This gives opportunities for staff and families to discuss achievement's as well as underachievement's. 

Worries and concerns can be dealt with on a daily occurrence through contact with SENCO and tutors.

College provide twice yearly reports on their young person's progress.

College talk to parents regularly to set clear outcomes and review progress towards targets set.


Durham County Council's Families Information Service does not promote nor endorse the services advertised on this website. Anyone seeking to use/access such services does so at their own risk and may make all appropriate enquiries about fitness for purpose and suitability to meet their needs.
  • Logo

Journey planner

Address: Woodhouse Lane  Bishop Auckland  County Durham

Powered by Open Objects