Employ My Ability - Gillingham, North Dorset

Co-educational Day Sixth Form / College

Thorngrove Garden Centre, Common Mead Lane, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 4RE

01747 822242



Head of School

James Dunham

Age Range

16 – 25 years

Total Pupils


Special Needs


Find your Future

We believe further education across our vocational settings is an exciting opportunity to develop your knowledge and work skills in preparation for adulthood and the world of work. Moving from school to college can be a challenging time for both young people and their families. We have developed a range of support options to help students manage this transition successfully and with our support we are confident you can meet and exceed your expectations.

Most of the learning and work experience takes place at our two beautiful and vibrant sites in Dorset. Our Moreton Campus, at The Walled Garden near Dorchester, and our Gillingham campus at Thorngrove Garden Centre in North Dorset. Our unique environments host hospitality, horticultural and retail facilities that help students with learning disabilities and Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) develop vital skills, expertise and confidence. We offer strong vocational qualifications alongside real, hands-on work experience which enables our students to leave us with a clear pathway into employment within the local community.

We offer qualifications in horticulture, catering (hospitality) and retail skills, operating from Entry Levels 1, 2 & 3 and Level 1 & 2. We operate during industry relevant hours 9-4.30 over a 38-week yearly timetable to ensure students are prepared for future employment. As well as industry-relevant qualifications we also help students to develop a clear understanding of core functional skills in Maths and English. These crucial skills provide each of our students with a clear advantage when making the transition into employment. We also offer a range of holistic therapies helping students tackle their own individual difficulties that may restrict learning experiences. Our therapists can assist students, slowly overcoming obstacles and helping them to develop the confidence they need to enter industry employment roles on their own terms.

Every student will gain valuable on the job training, in a safe and secure environment helping them to build confidence and acquire real life skills, making the transition to the industry world less stressful. Our exquisite learning paradise is a relaxed and open formal and working walled garden with a Garden Shop and Café open to the public, while Thorngrove is a fully functioning Garden Centre with glasshouses and café too! These are a vital part of the Employ My Ability experience, giving extra real-life hospitality, horticultural, and retail industry training.

Work and education are only part of the experience we provide here at Employ My Ability. Students will spend time learning social skills and interacting with activities situated in our Walled Gardens and excursions out into our local communities.

If you are interested in finding out more about us and would like to have a look around – we are more than happy to organise this. Just contact us on 01929 405 685.

You can also keep up with the our latest in EMA's journey by visiting our website, or following us on social media.