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Freeman College (Ruskin Mill Trust)

Our Specialist College in Sheffield provides a unique and well supported pathway into adulthood and independence for both day and residential students aged 16-25 years


Freeman College is operated by the independent Ruskin Mill Trust educational charity which for over 30 years has provided specialist practical skills and therapeutic education to young people who have a range of complex learning, mental health and behavioural needs; we provide young people with a chance to gain vocational qualifications and experience of life and work that will prepare them for the future. We offer both day and residential provision and can offer 52 week placements.

Our provision is in Sheffield. The College’s main building is in the Cultural Industries Quarter at 88, Arundel Street, Sheffield, S1 2NG, in a beautiful converted cutlery works where we offer textiles, catering and the bakery. We also have 3 other sites : Leadmill Road in the city centre for Metalwork and Jewellery; Tintagel and the Merlin Theatre in Nether Edge for Art History, Green Woodwork, Health and Well-Being, Music and Drama; and High Riggs in Stannington where we teach Horticulture and Landwork in our market garden. We operate minibuses for students between our sites. We also provide a wide range of work experience opportunities and volunteering opportunities with major and local businesses, including our Fusion Café which is open to the public

Who to contact

01142 525940
College Website

Where to go

Freeman College
Freeman College, Sterling Works
88 Arundel Street
S1 2NG

When is it on?

Time of day
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Inclusion Information

Wheelchair Access
Wheelchair access details
Some of the workshops are not accessible for wheelchair users
Supports special needs and disabilities
Special needs and disabilities experience
Social, emotional and mental health needs
Medical Needs or long term illness
Speech, Language & Communication needs
Down's Syndrome
Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Profound & Multiple Learning Difficulty
Severe Learning Difficulty
Moderate Learning Difficulty

Other Details

Age Range
16 years to
  • Disabled Facilities
  • Quiet Area
  • Days out/visits

Local Offer

Contact Telephone
0114 258 9062
Contact Email
College Website
College Prospectus
College Ofsted Inspection Report
Freeman College Local Offer Document
Local Offer Age Bands
Transitions to Adulthood (16+)
SEN Provision Type

Schools Extended Local Offer Response

If you are a specialist setting what other admissions criteria do you use? 

If a student needs extra support that will cost more than £6,000 a year, the local authority pays top up funding. All students at Freeman College need top up funding to meet needs. The college or the young person’s lead professional will need to discuss this with the local authority as early as possible in the planning process.

We invite interested students for a visit. If the student would like to apply we ask for paperwork and a returned application form. If we think the provision might be suitable and potentially able to meet the student’s needs we will invite the student for a 3 day assessment at Freeman College. Over this assessment we will determine whether we can meet the student’s needs and what levels of support they will require.

Please state the number of pupils on your roll and your average class size 

64 students. The teaching ratio does not exceed 3:1, except in choir sessions. Two classes may be grouped together to enable certain activities, e.g. Drama.

How does the setting identify learners with SEN? 

During the 3 day assessment described above, students are observed in a range of practical sessions and assessed by a Speech and Language Therapist and a Movement Therapist. In addition, specific assessments look at their balance, coordination and fine and gross motor skills, and their Literacy and Numeracy levels. All this information is collated into an assessment report for each student to determine whether the college can meet their needs.

Is your setting physically accessible to all learners? 

There are 4 different sites across Sheffield. We have lift access but because some of the buildings are listed, the adaptations we can make are limited. Some of the workshops are not accessible for wheelchair users.

As we focus on arts and crafts most of the workshops are visually stimulating, with displays of work and paintings, posters and photographs of student activities. However, we also have visually quieter workshops for students who need this sort of environment, and a designated Common Room and Quiet Room for students who need time out from sessions. In addition, some students are timetabled at first exclusively at the quieter Tintagel and High Riggs sites, and only access the busier sites at a pace they are comfortable with.

The setting uses visual aids and timetables.

Where possible, students use professional equipment in practical sessions, e.g. a professional grade blowtorch in Metalwork, to develop responsibility and confidence. Adaptations to this may include ear defenders for noisier sessions, easy-grip knives in Catering, labelled pedals on the floor looms, etc. Specialist equipment not already in place can be requested by Student Journey Managers, tutors or others working with the student. Most workshops also have a quieter working area for students who find the main workshop too busy or noisy.

The setting has disabled toilets.

There is access to a quiet room, but our students can also pick alternative quiet spaces that they feel safe in.

Students can dine in the Common Room or Quiet Room. Staff can also accommodate students in other spaces as needed, although the ultimate aim would be to encourage them to eat socially.

How does your setting adapt the curriculum for learners with SEND? 

This is planned initially at Admissions level based on the student’s prior learning, wishes and ambitions and the assessment, and passed to the Student Journey Manager when the student enters the college. Although we try to plan an end point, the programme has the flexibility to adapt to the student as they learn, change and develop.

As far as possible, students at similar levels are grouped together to enable collaborative as well as independent working. Because the curriculum is centred on arts and crafts the teaching style is very visual but tutors can adapt to students who prefer auditory learning. However, as we are a post-16 provision the emphasis is on preparing students for learning and working in the ‘real world’, where they must adapt to the routines and methods of a mainstream college or workplace. Over the course of a student’s programme, differentiation often gives way to an increased level of challenge and a greater emphasis on independent working and initiative.

We will always adapt our provision to suit the learner if necessary, including different start and end times, part-time provision and beginning and ending the day on a different (usually quieter) site.

Extra-curricular activities include social groups (including nights out); the Student Council; the Friendship and Respect Forum; sports activities organised via Learning Disabilities Week; trips to city centre events (often linked to our Equality and Diversity work); sessions at our sister college, Clervaux; opportunities to work at Whirlow and Lane End Farms; a residential trip for second-years (usually Mull). Tutors can also organise day trips based on particular projects.

What training have your staff received to support learners with SEND? 

Our training is dictated by the sort of students we have and has included attachment disorder, sexualised behaviour, mental health, self-harm, etc. All staff complete training called Positive Approaches (behaviour management) and training around practical skills therapeutic education. The Speech and Language team can also provide visual resources including information on Makaton and PECS. Individual strategies to support the learning of each student are also provided to staff.

Before a student starts, Admissions prepares a 1-page student profile providing key information about a student – this summarises all the information in their file and includes teaching strategies. These are made available to tutors in the week before term starts in September and can be shared amongst all staff. Targets are likewise made available. Admissions also prepare an initial risk assessment which is then reviewed and updated by Student Journey Managers. All tutors have copies of these in their rooms (stored securely). Staff attend a meeting every morning where announcements are made about students, including changes to strategies or risk assessments. We do not use peripatetic or supply teachers.

The in-house therapeutic team comprises a GP, Speech and Language Therapist (and assistant), counsellor, Massage Therapist and Movement Therapist. We also have regular visits from a psychiatrist and Sexual Health Counsellor who work across the Trust. Being based in the centre of Sheffield, we can also access NHS facilities as necessary.

Relevant staff receive medication handling training and we have designated first aiders at each site. We do not assist with feeding or hands-on personal care beyond, e.g. prompts or accompanying students to the toilet but remaining outside the cubicle. 

How do you communicate with and involve families? 

Each student has their own Student Journey Manager. The Student Journey Manager will form a very strong link with the parent normally through phone or in person.

At Admissions level, targets are set in accordance with S139as, application information and the 3 day assessment, all of which can reflect parents’ wishes. We have termly reviews that look at progress and targets and the parent is invited to support the student if necessary. We also have annual reviews to which parents are invited.

We have a family day before the start of term in September for new starters. Parents can come and meet staff and other families.

At present, all our families are able to communicate in English. However, we would request funding for an interpreter if this was necessary.

How does the setting evaluate the effectiveness of its provision for learners with SEN and how often does it do this? 

This is an on-going process. The college has a Self-Assessment Report and a Quality Improvement Plan which are added to throughout the year by the College Management Team and reviewed annually. The college also conducts an annual Parent-Student Stakeholder survey. More informally, all staff are encouraged to reflect on their practice and discuss concerns, suggestions or strategies with their line manager. Suggestions that affect individual students are reviewed and developed by the relevant Student Journey Manager; those that affect the curriculum or qualifications by the Tutor Team Managers and relevant staff. Suggestions that affect the college are passed to the Principal and, if necessary, the Leadership Council and/or Trustees (the Trust-wide overseeing bodies). Any changes are passed down in the same way.

What support do you provide for the learners' overall wellbeing? 

We monitor students’ wellbeing through weekly 1:1s, and systems which allow tutors, support workers and residential staff to input and communicate any observations to all concerned. We would recommend different programmes for students to help them individually e.g. counselling and other therapies.

Our Equality and Diversity Coordinator organises themed days or weeks, often based around national disability events, e.g. World Autism Day, Mental Health Awareness Week. Students are encouraged to take part in related activities in sessions and at breaks and lunchtimes.

Most sessions are arranged around a central work table and tutors encourage conversation between students. As there are no more than 3 students in a session staff are aware of who is struggling to join in and can use different strategies to help them. Students are encouraged to spend breaks and lunchtimes in a communal area and staff will try to engage with those on the periphery.

Tutors, support worker and S&A staff spend break and lunchtime with the students in communal areas. Staff are also on duty in the main courtyard and Common Room before college starts and during breaks. Tutors collect their students at the start of each day and take them to their first session.

We are flexible in how we do this and can adapt to the needs of a particular student. At present, students with this difficulty are supported through outreach work with support workers, by starting and ending their day at one of the quieter sites, and by accessing a part-time timetable or a shorter day.

What kind of behavioural interventions do you use? 

The city centre and Tintagel sites have a Support and Attendance office which monitors attendance in sessions and behaviour on the site. Tutors notify S&A if students are not in session. If attendance is an issue, Student Journey Managers work with the student and their family to identify the cause and put solutions in place.

Before a student starts at the college, Admissions completes a risk assessment which includes all potentially challenging behaviour, possible triggers and suggested strategies. All tutors have copies of these risk assessments and copies are kept at each S&A office for support workers. These risk assessments are reviewed and updated by Student Journey Managers and any changes are announced in the morning meeting.

If a serious behaviour incident occurs in college, the priority is to keep the student and others safe. Each student will have identified de-escalation techniques. Tutors and support workers will try to manage the behaviour in the first instance and call for help from S&A or Safeguarding if necessary. All staff are trained in restraint techniques (CPI/MAPA) but these are only used as a last resort, where the student poses a serious risk to themselves or others. Following a serious incident, the student will talk to their Student Journey Manager and/or the Deputy Principal or Principal. Behaviour agreements will be put in place if necessary and agreed with the student. If a student is excluded, on their return to college they will have a reintegration meeting with the Deputy Principal/Principal, their Student Journey Manager and the Safeguarding Manager (if necessary) where a way forward is put in place. The emphasis is on understanding the behaviour and helping the student to understand their behaviour, in order to promote a sense of responsibility and self-management.

How do you ensure learners with SEND are included in non-classroom based activities? 

Activities are made accessible to all students. Where necessary, this is facilitated through the use of support workers. Allowance can also be made for students with mobility problems, e.g. rest stops on a walk with the Geology group or a route that is relatively flat or on well-maintained paths.

Do you offer Breakfast Clubs, After School Clubs or Holiday Clubs? Please specify. 

After School Clubs - Residential students have opportunities to attend social events, e.g. cinema, bowling, and visit other college households.

Holiday Clubs - Day trips and other activities are organised for 52 week students during college holidays.

How do you consult with and involve learners in their education? 

The wishes, preferences, etc. of the student are taken into account at Admissions level and reflected in their proposed programme and targets. Beyond this, students have weekly 1:1 sessions with their Student Journey Manager where they can discuss any issues and strategies. Where students are non-verbal, this may be done through observations, e.g. if a student shows distress or disengagement during a session this will be fed back to the Student Journey Manager. Students also attend termly and annual reviews where they can reflect on their progress and make plans for the coming term or year. There is also a Student Council which passes on and discusses ideas for improvements to sessions, the college, ideas for trips, etc.

Do you have an online prospectus? Are there open days for families and learners? 

We have online and paper copies of our prospectus. We have open days every half term for potential students and Admissions conducts individual visits.

Do you offer outreach to home educating families? 

Our facilities and sessions are only available to students enrolled at Freeman College.

Does your setting offer any additional services for learners with SEND? 

All our services have been described in the above sections.

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