About Us



St. John’s is a non-maintained specialist provision, 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 learner’s curriculum is shaped by their individual strengths, interests, and challenges. St. John’s is awarded with Autism Accreditation by the National Autistic Society (NAS). We support our learners to develop their skills in the NAS’s four focus areas of: 

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

St. John’s 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 School or College on a residential, day, full- or part- time basis, in partnership with other providers, or on a sessional or outreach basis.



Simon Smith (Chair)   Trustee/Trustee finance/Estates sub-committee
Bill Catchpole  Trustee/Trustee finance/Estates sub-committee
Anna Thatcher  Trustee
Linda McMillan  Trustee
Mary Fawcett  Trustee
Peter Redwood  Trustee/Trustee finance
Karen Nicholls  Trustee/Governor
Nadia Cowdrey  Trustee
Caroline Bell  Trustee


Caring for children and young people for over 130 years

Children and young people have been cared for at St. John’s for over 130 years. The founder, Miss Jane Borradaile, opened St. John’s as a seaside convalescent home in 1886.

Miss Borradaile had been campaigning for over 10 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 and 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.

The Timeline

St. John’s has seen the turn of two centuries. We are proud of our heritage and all the young people who have passed through our doors.

  • 1875

    First appeal for funds made by Jane Borradaile

  • 1886

    Secured funds to open St. John's on Walpole Road (where we are to this day!)

  • 1890

    1890 Foundations laid for the chapel (now the performing arts studio)

  • 1918

    1918 Jane Borradaile died, leaving St. John's more than £500 (a lot of money in those days!)

  • 1956

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

  • 1971

    Walpole Road site 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 the school in Seaford

  • 2007

    Age range at the college extended to 25

  • 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 re-brands and launches new website.

  • 2016

    St. John’s celebrated its 130th year with a varied programme of events which culminated in a two day creative arts festival for our young people.

  • 2017

    Simon Charleton appointed as new chief executive.

  • 2018

    Launch of ten new service developments.

  • 2020

    Launch of new strategic plan.

Additional Information: Accounts