About us

St. John’s College is a non-maintained specialist college, working with autistic people, the majority of whom also have learning disabilities. Some of our learners also have conditions such as epilepsy, hearing or visual impairments, or mental health needs. We also support autistic learners who have an additional profile of pathological demand avoidance syndrome.

Each of our learner’s curriculum is shaped by their individual strengths and interests. We support our learners to develop their skills in the NAS’s four key areas:

  • Difference in social communication and interaction
  • Self-reliance and problem-solving
  • Sensory processing
  • Emotional well-being

St. John’s College has an outstanding training package which ensures our learners are supported by a highly skilled staff team who respect their choices and lifestyle. We have high expectations for our learners, helping them to achieve success in their future lives.

Young people can attend our college on a residential, day, full- or part- time basis, in partnership with other providers, or on a sessional or outreach basis.



Caring for children and young people for over 135 years

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Children and young people have been cared for at St. John’s for over 135 years. The founder, Miss Jane Borradaile, opened St. John’s as a seaside convalescent home in 1886.

Miss Borradaile had been campaigning for over ten years to open a free institution for the care of the poor and needy from the East and South-East of London. She organised appeals to raise money for the project.

In her first appeal, she wrote: “In the first place, I am anxious to make an entirely free home, no weekly payment to be required, for any patient.”

In 1956, St. John’s transformed into a school for children with learning disabilities. It has continued to provide the very best in education, care and support to the present day, maintaining the vision of our founder, to support those most vulnerable in our society.


St. John’s was founded in the Victorian era. We are proud of our heritage and of all the children and young people who have passed through our doors.

  • 1875

    First appeal for funds made by Sister Jane Borradaile.

  • 1886

    Sister Jane secured funds to open St. John’s at Walpole Road where we remain to this day.

  • 1890

    Foundations laid for the chapel (now the Wolfson performing arts studio).

  • 1918

    Sister Jane Borradaile died, leaving St. John’s more than £500 (almost £40,000 in today’s money).

  • 1956

    St. John’s becomes a school for children with learning disabilities.

  • 1971

    Walpole Road site is refurbished.

  • 1991

    New classroom block (Sea View) opened.

  • 1994

    Further education unit opened to provide for students up to 19 years of age.

  • 2001

    St. John’s opens a new school in Seaford.

  • 2007

    Age range at the college extended to 25.

  • 2010

    New chief executive, Mark Hughes arrives and total refurbishment of St. John’s begins.

  • 2012

    Refurbishment work completed.

  • 2013

    St. John’s unveils a new brand and website.

  • 2016

    St. John’s celebrated its 130th year with a varied programme of events, culminating in a two day creative arts festival.

  • 2017

    Simon Charleton appointed as new chief executive.

  • 2018

    Launch of ten new service developments.

  • 2020

    Launch of new strategic plan.

  • 2022

    We become the licensed Autism Education Trust partner for Brighton & Hove.

  • 2023

    St. John’s School in Seaford closes its doors, after 22 years.

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    St. John’s College became part of IJʿ¼, the national charity standing with autistic children and young people.


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