The purpose of the curriculum at Birtenshaw College is to enable learners to develop their self-awareness, life skills, independence skills and to raise their aspirations and motivation, supporting them to make a smooth and successful transition from Birtenshaw. The views, interests and aspirations of learners and their parents / carers, as outlined in their Education and Health Care Plans, inform our personalised approach to learning and the appropriate pathway for each learner.

Model 1 Pathway: Learning for Living (Pre Entry M1-M8)

Progression Focus: Developing life skills and the ability to make choices.

Model 2 Pathway: Preparing for Adulthood (Pre-Entry M4 – M8, Entry Level 1-3). Progression Focus: Increased independence and development of employability skills for voluntary work.

Model 3 Pathway: Preparing for Employability (Entry Level 1 – Level 2)

Progression Focus: Increased independence and preparation for paid employment.

Communication and Calculation/English and Maths

The Model 1 and 2 Pathways offer Pre-Entry to Entry Level 3 accredited courses as appropriate.

The Model 3 Pathway offers Functional Skills in English and Maths

Learners on the Model 1 and Model 2 Pathways consolidate, develop and apply their communication and calculation skills in applied learning contexts.

All learners have a daily session of Communication on their timetable.

Non-accredited Schemes of Work (RARPA Recognising and recording progress and achievement-) are based on the Preparing for Adulthood outcomes which are based on what disabled young people say is important to them. These include paid employment and higher education, housing options and independent living, good health, friends, relationships, community inclusion and choice and control over their lives and support.

Friends, Relationship and Community

Aimed at helping learners to develop skills in building healthy friendships and appropriate relationships. The curriculum focuses on:

  • Friendship and relationships,
  • Personal safety,
  • Travel within the community,
  • Knowing your community,
  • British Values.


The Health curriculum aims to provide the knowledge and practical skills needed to support learners` well-being.

The curriculum focuses on:

  • Staying physically active and healthy,
  • Identifying and managing own health needs,
  • Identifying and managing emotional states/mental health.

Independent Living

Learners are given opportunities to develop their independence skills within the new purpose built flat and are encouraged to have a greater say in their future. The curriculum focuses on:

  • Dressing and clothing care,
  • Personal Hygiene,
  • Healthy cooking, eating, nutrition,
  • Home management and home safety,
  • Financial management,
  • Personal growth, awareness and problem solving.


The Social Model of Disability

Birtenshaw supports the social model as a way of understanding disability. This model, unlike the medical model, says that disability is not caused by an individual’s health condition or impairment itself, but by the way that society treats and creates barriers for people with health needs. The barriers generally fall into three categories:

  • the environment – including inaccessible buildings and services,
  • people’s attitudes – stereotyping, discrimination and prejudice,
  • organisations – inflexible policies, practices and procedures.

Using the social model enables Birtenshaw to identify the barriers that prevent disabled people from fully participating in society and encourages society to become more inclusive.

Barriers to Employment

Some possible barriers disabled learners may experience in gaining and keeping employment include:

  • negative attitudes or low aspirations,
  • skills and qualifications gaps,
  • lack of information, advice and guidance on employment opportunities,
  • lack of flexible, personalised employment programmes,
  • unfair treatment in the workplace,
  • issues related to access.

 Minimising Barriers to Employment at Birtenshaw College

We believe that disabled young people have a right to work – we want employment to be seen as a key part of their life. Learners on curriculum Models 2 and 3 follow the Employability Pathway and will be supported into employment in a number of ways.

Information, Advice and Guidance

The college has achieved Stage 1 of the Quality in Careers Standard. This is the national quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) in schools, colleges and work-based learning. It is fully aligned with the eight Gatsby Benchmarks for “Good Career Guidance” and fully complies with the Department for Education’s ‘statutory guidance’. Clare Foster, Head of College, leads the Careers Programme at Birtenshaw College. You can contact Clare by email to or by telephone 01204 602330.

Staff at College provide impartial advice to help learners and their families make informed decisions. This can be done formally at review meetings or through informal chats and Preparing for Adulthood meetings. Birtenshaw College has a Service Level Agreement with Connexions who deliver impartial advice and guidance to learners and their families.

The purpose of the Careers Programme is to enable learners to develop their self-awareness and to raise their aspirations and motivation which will enable them to make a smooth and successful transition from College to adulthood. Our Careers Policy is available to view here.

Provider Access Statement

Learners access a variety of opportunities and events which are integrated into our careers programme and the wider curriculum. These are delivered internally, with input from external providers where appropriate.

External providers interested in coming into College should contact Clare Foster, via email, to discuss the nature of the visit and identify the most suitable opportunity. Once a visit has been agreed, we will provide an appropriate room to facilitate the visit, along with any equipment requested by the provider where it is available. Providers are welcome to leave a copy of their prospectus or other relevant course literature for display at our College which will be available for learners to access.

Destination Data


(% of Leavers)


(% of Leavers)

Continued at Birtenshaw 37.5% 44%
Enrichment Service (Birtenshaw) 0% 22%
Adult Social Service Provision 62.5% 28%
Community Based Supported Voluntary Work Placement 0% 6%

 Work Experience

Work experience is an opportunity to introduce young people to the world of work, and layer up the skills needed to help them into employment in the future. We believe that, through effective partnership working, the barriers that currently prevent young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) from accessing work experience, can be broken down to ensure that lives can be changed – one experience at a time.

We are developing three Work Experience Models at Birtenshaw College:

  1. Experiential Model where a young person accesses several work experience opportunities during their time at Birtenshaw to broaden their understanding of the world of work, and to inform future study options. This may be undertaken internally on the small holding and within the kitchen.
  2. Vocational Model where a young person is matched to an employer linked to their longer – term employment aspirations. This is often undertaken one or two days a week, for an extended period of time and enables them to layer up the skills needed to do the job.
  3. Extended Model part of a structured study programme, where the student is based primarily with an external employer for an extended work placement, i.e. a supported internship; intended to help students obtain sustainable paid employment by equipping them with the skills for work through learning in the workplace. The internship normally lasts for a year and includes an unpaid work placement of at least 6 months.

Accredited Schemes of work

Learners are able to achieve the following qualifications on the Employability pathway:

City and Guilds Skills for Working Life: Animal Care (Entry Level 2 and Entry Level 3)

City and Guilds Skills for Working Life: Horticulture (Entry Level 2 and Entry Level 3)

At Birtenshaw College we offer the City and Guilds ‘Skills for Working Life’ qualifications in both Animal Care and Horticulture at Entry Levels 2 and 3. These qualifications will support learners to develop their personal and work-related skills that are needed to progress into supported employment or to enhance learners’ independent living skills.

Learners will have the opportunity to participate in a range of work experience activities. At Birtenshaw we have animal small holding with rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks and goats. We also have a range of outdoor learning environments including a polytunnel which is used to grow fruit and vegetables

Animal Care

Learners will study the following units:

Entry Level 2 Entry Level 3
· Recognise small animals

· Recognise parts of the body of small animals and their function

·  Recognise types of animal housing and bedding for small animals

·  Assist with cleaning housing for small animals

·  Recognise types of foods and feed small animals

·  Recognise farm animals

· Recognise types and parts of the body of small animals

· Assist with catching and restraining a small animal

· Check that a small animal is healthy

· Groom a small animal

·  Show visitors around a small animal enterprise


Learners will study the following units:

Entry Level 2 Entry Level 3
· Recognise plants

· Recognise, use and care for tools used in horticulture

· Prepare and plant an area

· Weed a planted area

· Fill plant containers

· Maintain a fence

· Recognise parts of plants

· Harvest a crop

· Insert plant material

· Control weeds in a planted area

· Edge up an amenity area

·  Water plant material by hand

·  Construct a composter

·   Shred waste vegetation

City and Guilds Hospitality and Food Studies (Entry Level 2 and Entry Level 3)

Birtenshaw College offers an exciting opportunity for learners to access a course of study up to three years, formally accredited by City & Guilds. Hospitality and Food Studies is offered at Entry Level 1, 2, and 3. Learners will access supported learning through both practical sessions based in the college catering kitchen and on site café.  The qualification will demonstrate learners’ specialist knowledge and skills such as

  • Health, safety and hygiene
  • Preparing, cooking and presenting meals and snacks
  • Housekeeping
  • Shopping

These qualifications can help learners to look after themselves and live more independently or perhaps take the first steps towards a career in hospitality.

BTEC Business Administration (Level 1)

The Pearson BTEC Level 1 Award, Certificate and Diploma in Business Administration has been developed to give learners the opportunity to:

  • Engage in learning which is relevant to them and will provide opportunities to develop a range of skills and techniques, personal skills and attributes essential for successful performance in working life
  • Achieve a nationally recognised Entry 3 or Level 1 vocationally-related qualification
  • Progress to employment in a Business Administration sector
  • Progress to related general and/or vocational qualifications.

Personal Progress

Pearson Edexcel Personal and Social Development qualifications are available from Entry Level 1 to Level 2. The aim is to develop learners’ skills in a broad range of areas, including communication, reading and writing, mathematics, skills for independent living, and skills for the workplace and engaging with the world around you.