In a Nutshell

Children in the forest illustration

Our three-year residential programme runs for 38 weeks a year

What is progress for our children and families?

Our children arrive from environments of family breakdown, high anxiety and trauma. Our work is about long term change and to achieve this we do not expect to perform any quick fix or miracle cure pieces of work. We build relationships with children and families and engage in building a more stable future together. High expectations are important and we are not interested in making excuses for any lack of progress. It is vital for all involved however that those expectations are realistic.

For some of our children – their experience of instability, trauma and abuse means that a period of stability without areas of identified achievement, but without major acting out; allowing adults to look after them, can be real and important progress. For some children the trauma in their lives outside, sadly, is ongoing.

Our experience and data over the years demonstrates that many children once they feel safe at the Mulberry Bush School make good and sometimes outstanding progress in English, Mathematics and Social and Emotional Development. Our Pen pictures of the children are often helpful in beginning to understand our children and their contexts.

Our Strategic Vision:
Our ambitions at The Mulberry Bush Organisation

Vision Statement: ‘Transforming troubled lives together – with care, insight and influence’ Our charitable objective – ‘Reaching More Children’

The Mulberry Bush will be a thriving therapeutic community. The charity will have a strong national and international profile for its innovative and successful work with the most challenging children in the UK and their families. The school will have a well managed waiting list.

The Mulberry Bush will use its insight and experience to provide influence, leadership, support and training across Britain, including through The International Centre for Therapeutic Care, the Community of Communities and Ofsted Nationally, as well as regionally through The Mulberry Bush National Teaching School Alliance, The Mulberry Bush Outreach and the engine of all our work – The Mulberry Bush School.

The Mulberry Bush School will be a centre of excellence: pioneering therapeutic work with traumatised children and young people with severe social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and their families. Staff will be the best trained in the sector. The school will ensure greater stability during placement through the development of guaranteed 52 week options. Transitions will be smooth to the next placement due to the identification of a school or schools that understand our work and provide high levels of continuity and consistency of experience for the children.

The school will ensure the 24 hour curriculum and staffing to support it, is flexible and trained to meet the wide ranging needs of children maximising indoor and outdoor opportunities to learn socially, emotionally and academically. All children placed at the school will make excellent progress in all areas, consequently they will be healthier. Evidence of all progress will be provided through standardised or validated assessment data. Staff will feel supported to use their collective knowledge to develop creative responses in working with children and families. How we differentiate our work with foster carers, adoptive families and birth families will be clear, as will our assessment systems. Excellent progress will be made by families addressing together the issues maintaining the problems they face. This will promote their reintegration as a family unit with longer term emotional stability and engagement with schooling and learning.

The Mulberry Bush will extend its influence to reach more children and families through its innovative practice informed by practitioner research. This will specifically inform and drive the Training and Outreach programmes which will be delivered to education, social care and health professionals through the National Teaching School and Outreach services. In pursuing this ambitious vision The Mulberry Bush will ensure that it maintains the highest quality and standards. Staff will all feel they have a stake in the future success of the charity’s work.

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To develop our National and International profile – insight and influence

  • Developing our work via The Mulberry Bush Outreach and Teaching School Alliance, The Mulberry Bush Research, Ofsted, the Community of Communities Network at The Royal College of Psychiatrists, and via our own free alliance The International Centre for Therapeutic Care

Establish a well-managed waiting list for residential places

  • Developing more effective integrated referral systems that reach stakeholders
    with targeted marketing
  • Ensuring we offer the best value for money we can
  • Develop structures that ensure we learn from feedback from stakeholders

To increase the stability of placement for pupils at the school and in their transition to secondary provision.

  • Develop more flexibility in our model by exploring 52 week options, secondary provision and fostering
  • Reviewing and improving our transition planning

To review and develop our 24 hour curriculum and assessment systems

  • Develop our curriculum to prepare our children for their next steps in life
    and education
  • Ensure our assessment systems are robust and supportive of our work
  • Extend outdoor learning opportunities, sensory provision and social skills development opportunities

To increase the training opportunities and support structures for staff

  • Develop a broader portfolio of training experiences across the education
    and care sectors
  • To ensure accreditation where possible and links to the TC core competencies
  • To have systems in place that establish the impact of training on practice

To develop the range and clarity of work that we undertake with families

  • To develop a service model for work with families and networks
  • To extend the range of ways we work with families incorporating creative therapies
  • To develop ways to measure effectiveness of practice against achievable standards including stability of placement

The Mulberry Bush School

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Our aim is to reintegrate all children placed with us into an appropriate family and school

What External Validation is there of the Quality of Our Services and Our Outcomes?

  • National Training Award for the Medium Sized Employer – Winner 2012
  • Consistent Good or Outstanding judgements since 2007 in Care and Education – most recently: Ofsted Care Standards Inspection January 2017 ‘Outstanding’
    Ofsted Education Standards Inspection November 2012 ‘Outstanding’
  • We are a National Teaching School named The Mulberry Bush Outreach
  • We have ‘Accreditation’ by the College Centre for Quality Improvement at the Royal College of Psychiatry for Therapeutic Community Work with Children and Young People 2014 – 2017
  • We have a Research study by the University of Warwick on our service that is registered by C4EO
  • We have a Basic Skills Agency Primary Quality Mark – 2012
  • We hold the Investors in People Award
  • Our Oxfordshire Scores on the Doors Award System for Food Hygiene 2015 – Rated as Excellent
  • We are in the final year of a 7 year longitudinal Outcomes Study on the effectiveness of our service in conjunction with the Institute of Education
  • We are working with the University of East London on a 2 year Qualitative Research Study
  • We are the host organisation and founder of the International Centre for Therapeutic Care

Our Governance Network:

A broad and well established governance network is important in the credibility of the service:

Our Board Of Trustees have wide ranging expertise including:

  • Education Consultant
  • Fostering Expert
  • Child Protection Barrister
  • Research expert
  • Childcare Consultant
  • Ex Chief executive of a Fostering Agency
  • Marketing Expert
  • We have a close working relationship with the Forensic Psychiatrist for the Thames Valley
  • We work closely with our local CAMHS service and the Consultant Child Psychiatrist visits the site half termly to review children’s medication
  • We work closely with Barry Armstrong (LADO) and his Oxfordshire Safeguarding Team
  • We employ Coram Voice to provide an independent advocacy service for our children
  • We have a close working relationship with Thames Valley Police reviewing our relevant policies and procedures
  • We have close working links with both Standlake Primary School and Dunmore School in Abingdon, allowing our children to experience mainstream education.

Our Staff

We have approximately 100 staff across the different departments of the organisation. Our staff are among the most highly trained in the sector and we pride ourselves on excellent training and support for them. We strongly believe that if we do not look after our staff well, we cannot expect them to feel able to look after the children well.

All staff working with the children complete our Foundation Degree in Therapeutic Work with Children and Young People. It is accredited by the University of the West of England. This qualification now has equivalence and is recognised as such by the Department for Education. We aim to have a staff ratio of one adult to three children, although this will depend on individual and group needs and the task in hand. All our therapists are professionally qualified in recognised therapeutic approaches and our teachers are all qualified. Over the past five years our staff turnover has averaged at 10%. This compares well against the national average for children’s homes which is around 27%. Low staff turnover is important to us because the consistency and continuity in care and relationships for the children is central to our work. Staff across all departments work closely together to ensure a seamless experience for the children.