ESPA College – South Hill

Services/focus of the Karten Centre

South Hill is a specialist post 16 college located in Ashbrooke, Sunderland. All of the students have autism and moderate to profound learning disabilities. It offers a vibrant and extensive curriculum from within the building and in a range of community settings.

All students engage in the core curriculum and most attain Entry Level qualifications. Functional skills in literacy, numeracy and ICT are fully embedded across the curriculum. There is a well-established outdoor education programme incorporated into the Duke of Edinburgh award. The site has its own pleasant gardens with a vibrant horticulture area.

Centre specialisms:

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Centre Address

9 The Cedars, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear SR2 7TW, UK

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Karten Centre Manager

Patrick Cahill
Martin Bishop

Contact Details


0191 5165080


Host Organisation

Education & Services for People with Autism

Host Organisation Address

North House, Ferryboat Lane, Sunderland, SR5 3 RL

Centre setting

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Karten Centre Website

Centre Established

March 2021


Our learners are aged between 16 and 25 and most are day students, although we do have around 5-10% of learners who live with us in our college residences.
We have a mix of 3 and 5 day placements which are mostly educationally funded programmes alongside a small number of socially funded places. We are open 38 weeks per year - educational programmes, Monday to Friday and follow the usual school holiday schedule. We also have the option to offer 50 week placements for socially funded programmes.

Typical ages of clients

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We are an autism specific college and all of our learners have a confirmed diagnosis or identified traits of being on the autistic spectrum.

Many of our cohort also have secondary or co-morbid conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and OCD.

Type/s of disabilties

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Technology used in the Karten Centre

As we have 4 different centres we have a range of different equipment across each site which includes fully equipped IT suites including relevant desktop hardware, multiple mobile devices including iPads, Amazon devices and laptops. Mulltimedia editing hardware and software, photo editing software, Communication In Print and a range of AAC devices and support software.

Assistive Technology

This changes overtime and with each new cohort but currently we are using:

A T10 Dynavox communication aid for:

• Using Colourful Semantics for to practice sentence building and using grammatical structures using his communication aid
• Exploring how you can use a communication aid functionally in different contexts
• Developing vocabulary that can be used regularly
• Developing vocabulary for expressing feelings


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Karten Centre Staff

In South Hill which is the nominated Centre we have around 45 staff currently working there

Karten Centre Hours

We are open from Monday to Friday each week but can open during holidays or evenings for some provision.

Our learning programmes usually operate between 9.30 and 3.30 each day.

Services offered to the Network

We would always be happy to share our experiences and expertise around engaging learners on the autistic spectrum with different technologies.

Additional Information

The college is extremely keen to develop its Sensory Programme and environments and would be keen to hear from and work with other partner Centres to help improve and develop these resources for our communities.