Male student in a red top next to the black shiny bricks outside the main buidling of East Durham College's Peterlee Campus

ED aCademy (14-16 Alternative Pathway) School Referral Service

Welcome to the ED aCademy! We are a specialist service within East Durham College offering an alternative pathway for 14-16 year olds who are not engaging with mainstream education. 

ED aCademy was previously known as the Transitional Development Unit (TDU) and Service (TDS).

With specialist support from our staff and the fantastic facilities at the college, ED aCademy aims to re-engage students into education.

ED aCademy works alongside existing vocational programmes across the college, allowing ED aCademy students to access a wide range of different vocational options ranging from construction to hairdressing.

From day one, ED aCademy students are encouraged to address factors affecting their learning, developing a deeper understanding of the impact of their actions on themselves and other people.

By offering students the opportunity to explore vocational options (taught by specialist, experienced lecturers) we aim to raise their awareness of future educational and training preferences, and give them the opportunity to explore subjects they may not have had the opportunity to study in mainstream education. A strong focus on core subjects and PSHE will help students to prepare for their post-16 pathways.

How We Support Students

As an alternative for mainstream education, we understand that students need support every step of the way to help them re-engage with education. At ED aCademy, we do this in many different ways, including:

  • MENTORING: We understand that every student is different, and we’re here every step of the way with mentoring for every young person on the programme.
  • ADAPTING: Encouraging students to adapt to new situations in an appropriate manner to prepare them for life after school and future employment.
  • CHALLENGES: Fresh new challenges every day keep students engaged as they move towards accredited learning.
  • ENCOURAGING: Students are encouraged to reflect on their learning experiences and to talk about what went well and what didn’t.
  • CONTACT: Students can expect regular contact time with ED aCademy staff both in and out of learning environments.
  • PRAISE: We acknowledge and praise good behaviour; at the same time, negative actions are confronted and challenged.
  • BUILDING SKILLS: With support and encouragement, students are inspired to develop their existing academic and practical skills, as well as learning new ones.
  • BEHAVIOUR: We encourage ED aCademy students to develop an understanding of how their behaviour affects others.
  • MATHS + ENGLISH: Maths and English skills are essential for any student at EDC, including those in ED aCademy.
  • REFLECTION: Regular reflection sessions allow students to understand how they are progressing.
  • PSHE: Personal, social, health and economic lessons allow students to widen their skillset even further.

Important Information

ED aCademy is open for students from age 14-16.

Please read the following information carefully for general information on the programme, associated costs and other related items:

  • All pre-16 attendees of the ED aCademy programme remain on their relevant school or agency roll.
  • Current charges for the ED aCademy are £200 per week.
  • Depending on the choice of vocational area, the student’s learning programme can be at any of our three campuses (Peterlee, The Technical Academy, also in Peterlee, or at Houghall in Durham).
  • School/agencies/parents are expected to pay for essential equipment and PPE clothing.
  • If the student is on free school meals, than a meal voucher (value of £2.50/day) can be issued to them and costs will be added to the monthly invoice.

FREE Bus Travel

East Durham College has a contract with Arriva North East, and all of our students can travel to and from college FREE of charge on ANY Arriva bus from Monday to Friday (Term Time) on production of their college ID badge. If for any reason the Arriva service is not appropriate, we can reimburse the student’s bus fares on days of attendance (subject to agreement from school and on submission of a valid bus ticket) and add these costs to the monthly invoice.

Contact Us




CALL: 0191 375 4810 or 07834328938