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  • The Mulberry Bush Outreach

The Mulberry Bush Outreach

“…understanding behaviour as a communication”

The Mulberry Bush Outreach was designated a National Teaching School in 2013. Using the Mulberry Bush values our ambition is to work collaboratively with education, social care and health providers to develop outstanding outcomes for vulnerable children across the country. This is achieved through the promotion of professional staff and organisational development underpinned by research.


What we offer:
Free consultation

We are happy to visit your organisation to think collaboratively and identify or clarify the presenting difficulties. The reflective nature of the consultation means that a fuller understanding can be reached. We can then appropriately target interventions as needed. Our model aims to move away from external support dependency by identifying the skills within your organisation, so that you can develop your own support structures, but at the same time we’re never far away!

“After my reflective consultation, I was able to go home and enjoy my weekend – leaving school at school.”
Head Teacher, Oxfordshire

As part of our charitable objective to reach more children, our aim is to offer the highest quality support based on our own core principles of:

  • Supporting staff needing a good psychodynamic understanding to provide an informed psychodynamic approach
  • The development of a reflective culture at all levels
  • Collaborative working for all professional staff

To date we have worked alongside almost 400 schools and care settings across Oxfordshire, the South, South East and South West of England. Our work has varied from supporting Teaching Assistants to develop new strategies for vulnerable learners to working on long-term pieces of work with whole staff teams who wish develop a more therapeutic and nurturing environment.


The Mulberry Bush Outreach Case Studies

Read a full report on cases The Mulberry Bush Outreach have helped. 

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Social Emotional and Mental Health Study

Case Study 1: Year 6 pupil

What were the presenting difficulties the school faced with this child?

  • Risk of permanent exclusion (previous permanent exclusions, managed move to our school in Year 6)
  • Disruptive, physical and verbally challenging behaviour.
  • Absences from class with the gap widening academically, socially and emotionally.
  • Extended (but frequently not well used) time with support staff – cost implication to the school.
  • Poor response to rewards/sanctions.
  • A short ‘window’ of opportunity for school to make a difference before                                                                                        transition up to KS3.

How did school respond to these difficulties –

Through the The Mulberry Bush Outreach project with the Mulberry Bush School we developed:

Clinics – Clinics are meetings held with teaching teams and facilitated by Mulberry staff with the aim of developing shared understanding of the needs of the child causing concern, leading to adapted provision based on that understanding. Through clinics the team around PW gained a greater perspective of the messages his behaviour was communicating and subsequently how best to work ‘with’ him.

Joint observations – Key staff in the team around PW took time to observe him in social situations as well as in class, interacting with his adults and staff. Time to reflect on what was observed enabled connections and next steps to be established. Interventions and adapted provision followed. A new timetable was developed for the child which included planned times of one-to-one support outside of class and clear expectations of the staff and task. This was shared and discussed with the child as well as weekly reviews with his parents.

Outcomes as a result of adapted provision

  • No more Fixed Term Exclusions between term 2 and term 6.
  • Positive links established with parents who felt included in the planning process
    for their Son.
  • PW more on task in lessons and less disruptive within class. Engaged in SATs and achieved Level 4’s in Maths and English.
  • Improved QCA scores, significantly in conduct score.
  • Successful and positive transition project in the summer term with new school being invited to clinics. This supported transition planning and ensured a ‘seamless’ induction into his new school where his new team shared a collective understanding of his needs and the subsequent provision needed.

Case Study 2: The Situation

  • A child had been demonstrating a high level of disruptive behaviour in EYFS, this escalated in Year 1.
  • HT only member of staff trained at appropriate level to respond to this.
  • HT had to use physical restraint at one point.
  • Parents requested support

The Plan

  • HT arranged 3 twilight training sessions for whole staff team at The Witney Hub on the CAF TAC approach.
  • HT evaluated packages of training and support currently available for individual pupils.
  • Team teach training with the Mulberry Bush completed by whole staff team with a package that was delivered across the year 2013-2014.
  • Individual Behaviour Plan put in place in Sept 13 for pupil and a £1000 package of support for pupil was purchased with the view that the holistic approach taken would provide whole staff training that would benefit the whole school.

Mulberry Bush Child Focused Plan

STEP 1: The Mulberry Bush Outreach completed an observation of the pupil

STEP 2: Behaviour as Communication and Team Teach training

STEP 3: Manual Handling plan written and Behaviour Management Plan reviewed in the light of the Teach Team training.

STEP 4: First Child Focused Workshop all afternoon- all staff involved in working with the pupil met for a whole afternoon that was lead by The Mulberry Bush Outreach.

STEP 5: HT met with parents –  parents agreed to establishing a consistent pattern for wrap around and nights at each house.

This was the main turning point in the use of the positive/nurturing approach to supporting Social Emotional and Mental Health now in place as the school.

Why? Because ground rules were set by The Mulberry Bush Outreach – that each member of the group was safe to tell the truth about how they were feeling during the session. HT reassured staff that no judgement would be made about their professional ability if they stated they were lacking confidence in working with the pupil= We established an emotionally safe environment to talk.

What we discovered

We identified:

  • That the team were feeling embarrassed and lacked confidence in their ability to improve the behaviour of the pupil.
  • We were not providing a consistent response
  • That the pupil was attending wrap around care and a child minder with little consistency across the week and this was also resulting in very long days.
  • The parents had divorced and the pupil was spending alternate nights at each house.

What worked?

We asked ‘What is this child communicating to us through this behaviour?’

“I feel unsure where i am going each day – I do not feel safe”

  • All staff- office staff- LSA’s- teaching staff- Servery staff greeted the pupil with unconditional love every day- everyday a new clean slate.
  • Teach Team Manual handling training resulted in team approach to most challenging behaviour- resulting in consistency across team.
  • Signposted supported to the Hub- parents accessed parent training and support. IBP was shared across all settings and with the Hub.
  • Nurture training planned and the development of our Nurture provision has broadened staff understanding of Social Emotion and Mental Health.
  • Strategy of unconditional love was agreed between home and school.
  • TA and pupil had a toy each that were placed together when pupil got to school- transition toy.
  • Communication book was shared across all settings.
  • Pupil no longer needs and IBP!
  • Will still need some further support but pupil can now be fully assessed for any other underlying SEN whereas last year the ‘Behaviour’ got in the way.
  • Staff levels of professional dialogue regarding Social Emotional and Mental Health has improved 100%.
  • Whole staff team meet each short term to review the selection of pupils attending ‘in house’ Nurture provision.
  • Transition of pupils to local school supported by HT/SENCO meetings and Nurture Leads meet.


Teaching School Alliance

As the lead school in the The Mulberry Bush Outreach Teaching School alliance, as well as continuing to be a National Support School, we are one of a few focused on the needs of children experiencing social, emotional and mental health difficulties, which are often exhibited through behavioural difficulties.  Our alliance is built from a range of outstanding special schools from across the south, south east and south west of England.

Please contact us if you are interested in learning about our work, think that we could provide support to your school or are interested in being considered to join our alliance.


The Mulberry Bush Outreach

What people say about us

inspirational training yesterday. The information was excellent, and the attitude of reflective, thoughtful engagement, even with such a big group, was exactly the way I want the new staff team to work.– Oxfordshire Head Teacher  Quote

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“I just wanted to write to thank you for an excellent day’s training on Tuesday.  All week staff have been telling me that it was the best INSET they have had for years and have been full of praise. There have been lots of conversations about children in the light of what staff  learnt on the day with you and it has really shifted their mindsets and improved their understanding.  Thank you!  You delivered it all so well too – not easy after the 6 week holiday. I look forward to working with you again in the future”
(Head Teacher, St John’s Primary School, Wallingford, Oxfordshire)


“The Mulberry Bush Outreach enables teachers and others to work together to learn to understand what children are trying to communicate by their behaviour… The Mulberry Bush Outreach staff empower those they work with to feel confident about changing how they think and feel about children’s behaviour and hence how they respond.”
(Sian Morcom, Ex Deputy Principle Educational Psychologist and Behaviour and Attendance Team Leader)


“I enjoyed the learning around the area of attachment and how many children it must affect in our school.”
(Rachael Higgs, Inclusion Lead, Carswell CP School)


“Ray was brilliant at mapping what he did for us to our own needs and responding to the group he was training. His ideas and strategies were great, but even more importantly, his manner with people was brilliant, making them feel valued and that their contributions had value, and encouraging people to join in. It was such a positive session.”
(Hannah Barton, SENCo, Wood Farm Primary School)


Reflective Space
“Gives my team time and permission to reflect, empowers you to be open, to express your thoughts in a safe inclusive environment… The reflective space gave me the chance to have a voice, express my concerns.”
(Senior Leader, Edward Feild Primary)


Training Sessions
“We work with children from challenging circumstances… As a staff we had a number of strategies to draw upon to deal with ‘the moment’ but have always felt that we weren’t dealing with the ‘why’ question. Why are the children behaving in this way?… The Mulberry Bush Outreach led a whole staff INSET introducing attachment. I could see the pennies dropping as the morning went on. The staff were starting to see and understand that behaviour is a means of communication and that we could offer children the stability needed. The INSET was pitched at the perfect level for staff and there was a good balance of theory and then opportunities to apply and reflect on our setting and our children.”
(Head Teacher, Queensway School)  Quote 

feature-school The Mulberry Bush Outreach

Behaviour Support for Schools and Professionals helping those who help others. National Specialist Outreach for Social Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMHD).

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feature-mboxThe Mulberry Bush School

By improving the life chances and social inclusion of traumatised children and young people, we create long-term benefits to society by reducing anti-social behaviour and its impact on families, schools and communities.

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Our free alliance whose aim is to share knowledge about therapeutic care for children and young people, and to support the use of reflective practice and research, in order to improve service quality and ensure excellent outcomes.

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