Welcome to Birtenshaw College

Birtenshaw College provides specialist further education for young people aged between 16 and 25 with a range of special needs, including cognitive, physical and sensory impairment; many learners also have a diagnosis of autism or an associated condition. All learners have an Education, Health and Care Plan.

The college was established in 2014 in response to the lack of local further education opportunities for young adults with SEND who were over the age of 19 and had difficulty accessing mainstream college courses because of the environment and / or level of support they needed. The staff team is dedicated to ensuring that learners receive high quality learning experiences enabling them to reach their potential. We believe that every learner at Birtenshaw College should be encouraged to make choices involving every aspect of their college life.

Birtenshaw College provides a structured programme and curriculum which is designed to develop a range of skills including life skills, independence, social skills, literacy and numeracy, work-based vocational skills, and which also provides therapeutic learning activities. We meet each young person’s specific needs through a personalised approach, including supporting them with a total communication environment and through sensory activities, where appropriate.

College Governing Board

Mrs Kathryn Brown – Trustee Governor                                     Mr David Reid – Chief Executive

Mrs Julie Barnes – Deputy Chief Executive                            Mrs Clare Foster – Head of College

Mrs Sara Pickering – Community Governor                         Mrs Jo Wade – Chair / Trustee Governor

Ms Helen Whittle – Community Governor                           Mr Andrew Smith – Community Governor

Mrs Angela Wilding – Parent Governor                                 Dr Caroline Bailey – Parent Governor

Mrs Carrie Webber – Staff Representative                          Mr Tony Long – Trustee Governor

Ms Samantha Connor – LA Governor


Keeping every adult safe is our first priority. All of our staff have an enhanced DBS (previously CRB) clearance and participate in extensive safe-guarding training.


Our classes are taught by qualified and experienced teachers, specialist in Special Education Needs, and each group is supported by a team of Learning Support Assistants.

Recognition of Our Achievements

Birtenshaw College was a finalist for the 2018 Autism Professionals Award for Inspirational Education Provision – Higher and Further Education. ‘Personalised learning is at the heart of the College Curriculum and focuses on the Preparing for Adulthood outcomes and desired long term aspirations’ – judging panel.

Birtenshaw College achieved Fair Train’s Work Experience Quality Standard at Gold Level in February 2020.  Feedback received from Fair Train  stated that ‘the self-assessment and supporting evidence you provided were comprehensive, impressive and very thorough, and the procedures you have in place ensure that all your work placements operate at a high standard. We were particularly impressed with the awareness raising training that you offer to employers, the consistency achieved by having LSAs accompanying your learners, and your commitment to achieving the best possible outcomes for all your learners’.