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Thornfield House special School, Newtownabbey


We have a vibrant post-primary department, which provides specialist education for young people aged between 11 and 16 years of age, who have Speech, Language and Communication Needs.

Key Stage 3

Our Key Stage 3 pupils follow a syllabus which meets the full requirements of the Northern Ireland curriculum. The areas of learning are –

  • English                                 
  • Mathematics                          
  • The Arts                               
  • Learning for Life and Work         
  • Environment and Society
  • Science and Technology
  • Physical Education
  • Religious Education 

Key Stage 4

Our Key Stage 4 pupils undertake academic and vocational courses which lead to accredited qualifications. Currently our pupils are able to obtain qualifications in the following areas-

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Learning For Life and Work
  • Art and Design
  • Home Economics
  • Occupational studies
  • Environmental and Land-Based Science

Teaching and Learning

Our teaching in Thornfield House Special School is determined by the individual learning needs and styles of our pupils. Our students are taught in small classes with a high adult to student ratio. We deliver an engaging curriculum which aims to prepare our students both for life beyond the classroom, and for the demands of formal examinations. Pupils receive therapy, individually or/and in a group setting, from our team of SLTS.

Newtownabbey Learning Community

Thornfield House School is a member of the Newtownabbey Learning Community which consists of ten local post primary schools and Northern Regional College (Newtownabbey campus) who work collaboratively to deliver an extensive range of curriculum opportunities for young people, aged 14-19, in the Newtownabbey area. Pupils in KS4 at Thornfield House have the opportunity to work towards 2 Occupational Studies examinations, in a range of vocational subjects, at NRC.


The delivery of Careers and Employability at Thornfield House School is designed to enable our young people make informed decisions and choices in relation to career development. Our students will develop those skills necessary for the successful transfer from school to further education and to prepare them for adult working life.

We aim to provide our young people with a comprehensive range of careers information which is appropriate to all levels of ability.

In the subject area of Careers and Employability we aim to…

  • Enable students to be actively engaged in their own career planning processes.
  • Increase students’ knowledge and understanding of occupational opportunities and their relevant training routes.
  • Inform students’ decision-making in relation to their final career /further education choices.
  • Develop collaborative partnerships between Thornfield House School and employers /training organisations and schools in the local community.
  • The design and delivery of Careers/Employability is planned within the context and takes into account the guidelines of the Northern Ireland Curriculum.
  • The delivery of Careers/Employability extends through K.S.3 and K.S.4 and is an integral part of the Learning for Life and Work programme.
  • Students have access to..

-Careers guidance & information.

-Personal Careers Planning

-Careers education

-Work experience placements in year 12.

  • Transition support services.

-Transition Service NI

-DEL Careers advisor

-Transition Support from the NOW Project

  • The Careers and Employability programme is delivered through collaborative experiences with external agencies.
  • Through the delivery of Employability and Careers Education our  objective is to enable a smooth transition for 16+ pupils, create further opportunity for meaningful work placements, teach valuable life skills and prepare our students for further education and the world of work.

Pastoral Ethos

In Thornfield House we are proud of our strong pastoral ethos. We believe students learn best when they feel valued and secure. Our pupils know they can approach their teachers about any difficulties they are experiencing. We also have a school counsellor who will work with individual pupils. At Thornfield House we are proud of our students and never underestimate their ability to achieve!