Learning support worker walks with student down snowy path

Derwent ASC Provision

The Derwent ASC Provision at East Durham College works to provide an all-round education for learners with Autism Spectrum Conditions.

Set up in July 2011, the Derwent ASC Provision was set up to cater for young people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Conditions who are not ready to access mainstream education. As its reputation has grown we now have nearly 100 learners accessing the provision.

With strong relationships and links with many agencies who are connected with learners, and their support, the Derwent ASC Provision provides an inclusive place for learners with ASC to grow and pursue their own goals and targets.

Our ASC Provision

Every learner at the Derwent ASC provision is provided with a personalised, destination-led programme designed to help them pursue their individual goals. 

The Derwent ASC Provision has access to all curriculum areas within East Durham College and can help support an appropriate transition, meeting the needs of the young person. 

These areas include our:

  • Houghall Campus in Durham - incorporating land-based courses including Animal Care, Agriculture and more 
  • Peterlee Campus - incorporating courses such as art, ICT, media, sport and more 
  • Technical Academy (also in Peterlee) - incorporating courses such as engineering, gas/plumbing, electrical and more 

The Personalised Programme

With our personalised programme, we work closely with each learner, and their support, to find the right course area(s) for the learner to ensure their growth during their time at the college.

Individuals complete thorough baseline assessments to identify the most appropriate non-accredited and accredited programme. 

The programmes we offer are: 

  • Personal Progress
  • Skills for Working Life 
  • Employability 

Which route is best for the learner will be decided depending on the individual's personal needs. The Derwent provision will work with learners, and their support, to ensure the personalised programme is the perfect fit for that learner.

The personalised programme is designed to build the learner's skills; with the correct programme in place, we can help learners to gain, or improve, their social, life and work-related skills.

The Derwent ASC Provision also provides close support for the learners' transition into and out of the provision, into mainstream programmes at East Durham College, and is committed to promoting health and wellbeing to enable each learner to achieve their full potential, both physically and mentally.

Student Development

During their time at the Derwent ASC provision, learners can explore their personal and social development through travel training, independence, budgeting, cookery, employment skills, etc.

We provide a curriculum that supports the ‘Preparing For Adulthood’ agenda which involves preparing individuals for paid/voluntary employment and promoting community inclusion by accessing leisure facilities, all of which support individuals to live a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. 

We offer individual maths and English support to help the learner engage and progress. We also offer various vocational tasters to meet their interests and discover possible future employment opportunities.

Ofsted Report 2021

East Durham College was delighted to been graded as ‘GOOD’ following a rigorous four-day, full inspection by Ofsted in September 2021; with an outstanding rating for behaviour and attitudes.

The Ofsted report highlighted the positive work that goes on in the Derwent provision at the college, saying:

"Leaders and managers ensure that the funding they receive for learners with high needs is used effectively in order to support and meet the needs of individual learners. As a result, learners who have high needs are provided with the specialist support and assistive technologies that they need to engage in learning and to make progress. The sequencing of the curriculum within the specialist provision for learners who have autism spectrum disorder helps these learners to improve their communication skills, gain in confidence and prepare for adult life."

Contact the Derwent ASC Provision

Would you like more information about the work we do at the Derwent ASC Provision, or would you like to arrange a visit? You can contact the Derwent ASC team using the following information:


0191 823 7630 or 0191 743 0451


Michelle Forrest, Programme Area Leader - Derwent ASC Provision

Site Accessibility

Please note: East Durham College’s Houghall Campus is committed to providing a supportive and welcoming environment for all our students. The campus, some of which is over 80 years old, has seen over £40m invested in new facilities over the last 4 years. However, there are still some aspects of the site which are not fully accessible and would cause an issue for those with limited mobility or wheelchair users; and due to the nature of the site, adjustments may not always be reasonable at this stage. The College is committed to further investment and improvements of the site, as we work towards ensuring the campus is as assessible as possible. If you have limited mobility or are a wheelchair user and wish to undertake a course at the Houghall Campus, please contact Student Services on 0191 375 4710 in the first instance to discuss your needs and options.