Open Arms Ltd was founded in 2016 by Christine and Nick Barratt – Atkin to provide quality Alternative Education for students who struggle with the demands of mainstream school life.

Based on a farm in the village of Escomb, near Bishop Auckland, it is a peaceful setting for students to learn and thrive. There are two provisions on the farm, the second being sister provision Learning Trades Ltd.

As an Alternative Provider, we strive to deliver high quality, effective and inclusive provision, placing our students at the heart of everything we do. We offer AEP to young people displaying a wide range of complex behavioural issues, including those at risk of exclusion and those with social, emotional and mental health needs.

Our Cirriculum

Maths and English are taught at Functional Skills Level and some students may be entered for GCSE level in English Language and Maths.

PHSE is delivered on a weekly basis encouraging debate and understanding of real world issues.

Careers Education is a focus for our older students.

AQA Qualifications are accessible for all our students to achieve.

Afternoons are spent off site, enjoying a wide range of activities including trampolining, golf, high wires, air soft, skating, skate boarding, cycling, gaming, MMA, archery, rock climbing and much more.

Pictures of our activities can be seen on our Facebook/Instagram pages.

Our Students

We welcome male and female students aged 11-16. Students are taught in small classes and work is differentiated to each student’s individual ability.

Students are referred by feeder schools and Education/Health Professionals.

We support our students to realise their full potential, to know their strengths and remove perceived limitations. We want them to connect with and succeed in the world around them, achieve academic and personal targets and progress into education, training and areas of employment they are passionate about.

Our students are based in two buildings. Wear Lodge and Valley Lodge.

The smaller of the two- Valley Lodge has a one to three  staff/student ratio and caters for those students who would benefit from greater individual support in a very relaxed, nurturing environment.

Introducing the team

Christine Barratt – Atkin


BA (Hons) Education

Ben Durrans

AEP Manager

Maths Specialist Safeguarding Lead

Louise Durrans

Senior Teacher Open Arms Provision

English Specialist

Safe Guarding Lead

Joanne Talbot

Class Teacher – Valley Lodge

James Blackburn

Teaching Assistant and Student Mentor Wear Lodge

Callum Dainton


Teacher and Student Mentor Wear Lodge

Emma Woodhall

Maths Teacher – Wear Lodge

Jonathon Collins

Teaching Assistant  Valley Lodge

Martine Creamer

Higher Level Teaching Assistant  Valley Lodge

See our Gallery for more pictures


£90 per day

£2.60 for lunch and breakfast if required.

Transport is arranged by feeder schools.


9:30am -2:30pm


Open Arms Ltd
Three Lane Ends Farm,
Bishop Auckland,
County Durham

For Referrals and Safe Guarding

Ben Durrans

AEP Manager


Telephone: 07369209513