or tel. 01865 300202

Learning to live, living to learn

The Mulberry Bush School


Since 1948 we have offered a warm welcome to vulnerable children aged 5-13 from all over the UK. We have five beautiful residential homes, an on-site school, a clinical therapies and networks team and a training team. These are all located on one fantastic site which offers open spaces, play areas and places to grow, thrive and learn through play.

The Mulberry Bush School works with the most challenging children in the country, and with their families and carers. Our aim is to help the children and their families thrive and achieve fulfilling lives within their communities and as part of society.

You can download a copy of our Information Booklet for parents, carers and professionals here

Living in, living well


We offer integrated 38-week and 52-week specialist residential therapeutic care, treatment and education for primary aged children made vulnerable by their severe Social Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties and are proud that every child in our care receives love, support and development

What that doesn’t tell you is how much care, love, support and development each and every child in our care receives. Each child is an individual. A person. We never forget that. We help them to build relationships with adults and with each other, all within an integral therapeutic environment – our ’24 hour curriculum’.

Whether through psychotherapy, drama, music or family therapy, our children are encouraged, nurtured, cared for and developed.

Our highly trained, well qualified and motivated team of caring professionals support our children all the way. Children who previously couldn’t fit in with mainstream education develop a curiosity about the world around them and become confident, enthusiastic learners whether working independently or in groups.


Standlake, Witney
OX29 7RW
Tel. 01865 300202

Referral & Enquiry Procedure

See the process whereby a child’s admission to the Mulberry Bush School takes place by clicking here: Flowchart of the Process of a child’s admission. The document follows the progress from initial enquiry, through the referral stage and up to the point of admission. On the admission date there will be a ‘Getting to Know You Meeting’ attended by the child, their carers and the lead professional. We would then begin our assessment and expect the LA to liaise with us to arrange reviews.

Placement Request

Please download and complete the Placement Request Form
It may be useful to keep this document to hand as an easy reference tool if you are referring a child to the school.

We hope that the flow chart and notes are helpful, but if you wish to talk at any stage, please call Angus Burnett on 01865 300202 ext 228 or 07775 441730

The information we will need from you:

We suggest at the beginning of an enquiry/referral that people send:

  • EHCP
  • Chronology
  • Any relevant professional reports

At the early stages of a referral it is useful to get an overall picture of the child. The documents forwarded by the Local Authority (or any other referrer) should be able to help us decide on the appropriateness of the child’s referral to the Mulberry Bush. The sooner we are able to do this then either – the referral can proceed efficiently with the confidence that the child will be suitably placed or, we can let you know that the child may make better use of a different provision and, where possible, make recommendations. The documentation will also allow us to define indicators and contra-indicators for progress.

We do not expect you to send us all the information you have. We find that the most useful documents are usually:

  • EHCP – the most recent copy with any amendments.
  • Chronology
  • Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist, Psychologist or Educational Psychologist reports –
  • these are especially useful if they are recommending residential provision and provide
  • the reasons for this. It can also be useful if they are also favourable to other forms of intervention. These papers provide insight into the child’s way of thinking.
  • Recent school reports.
What have Ofsted said about us?

Read our most recent Ofsted Inspection of the Education provision (January 2018)
Read our last Ofsted Inspection of Quality Standards (November 2019)
Read our recent Ofsted Assurance Visit report (September 2020)

Our most recent Ofsted Inspection of the Education was in January 2018 and rated the school as ‘Outstanding’ in all areas:

  • The leadership team has maintained the outstanding quality of education at the school since the last school inspection.
  • While in your care, pupils make momentous strides in their learning, confidence and self-esteem.
  • The new approach to assessing pupils’ progress is now properly embedded across the school and assists teachers in sharing with pupils what they need to do in order to improve their work.
  • The key therapeutic approaches you adopt are woven through every aspect of the school, including the curriculum.
  • Your staff are also acutely aware of the impact they have on pupils. Nothing is left to chance. Every aspect of each pupils’ care is planned in minute detail. Consequently, pupils whose experiences have been negative in other educational institutions, including special schools, often have very positive experiences at your school.
  • Safeguarding within the school is rightly focused on developing pupils’ understanding of how to conduct safe relationships. Social and emotional learning is sensibly prioritised within the school curriculum.
  • The school has strong evidence which shows that its work to help pupils make sense of their own complex and often traumatic life stories is having a positive impact.

Our most recent Ofsted Inspection of the Quality Standards was in November 2019 and rated the school ‘Outstanding’:

  • Exceptionally well-trained staff go to great lengths to support the children, all of whom have experienced trauma in their earlier childhoods. The staff give them stability, understanding and the confidence to achieve.
  • Staff convey warmth, acceptance and empathy in their interactions with the children. The children learn to be in a group and to conform to rules and expectations. Consequently, children begin to understand that they can have a positive influence on the social and physical environment in which they live.
  • Staff and the children have a sense of belonging to a supportive community. Children enjoy living in a well-equipped and child-centred environment.
  • Staff work in close partnership with the children’s families and with their professional networks. Positive communication and collaborative relationships help to build trust and engagement.
The Mulberry Bush School Statement of Purpose

You can download a copy of the full Statement of Purpose Here

Our mission statement is:

To transform the lives of all those affected by childhood trauma, through specialist therapeutic services.

Our aim:

The Mulberry Bush School works with the most challenging children in the country, and with their families and carers. Our aim is to help the children and their families thrive and achieve fulfilling lives within their communities and as part of society.

The children have all suffered severe and enduring complex trauma in their early years; by that we mean that their traumas occurred in relation to the adults who were their trusted main carers. These damaging events and relationships lead the children to display the most extreme anxiety creating behaviours, which then gives rise to multiple placement breakdowns and school exclusions. The impact of their repeated experience of adults’ inability to cope with and survive them, has compounded their trauma and creates unmanageable levels of anxiety in the children and their professional and family networks. Children act out this anxiety and confusion through a range of extreme behaviours including; violence, damage to property, sexual inappropriateness, fire setting, absconding, roof climbing, self harm, soiling, smearing and wetting, inappropriate aggressive or racist language threats and allegations.

The Mulberry Bush School is different to other residential placements as we create an environment to emotionally contain such extreme levels of emotional and physical unmanageability. Our aim is to manage the anxiety, create stability and provide a challenging but nurturing therapeutic experience, that starts to heal the traumas. Our ambition is to work with the family towards returning the child at the end of their stay with us to a stable home base and appropriate school, able to function more appropriately in mainstream society. Our early intervention helps to break the cycle of deprivation that will otherwise lead to an enactment of high risk and abusive behaviours into their adult life, hence our work is both emotionally and financially cost saving to society .

The Three Core Principles

The organisation has three core principles that underpin its therapeutic work:

  • Staff need a good psychodynamic understanding to provide an informed psychodynamic approach
  • The development of a reflective culture at all levels and in all disciplines is paramount
  • Collaborative working is central to a high quality treatment environment


Our core values:
  • We believe in the benefits of a Therapeutic Community approach.
  • We value and promote a psychodynamic approach to all aspects of our work, specifically a belief in the value of reflecting on experience and learning through such reflection.
  • A belief in the importance of understanding the meaning of behaviour as a form of communication used by children who cannot find other ways of communicating their confusion and distress.
  • We work with a belief in the dynamic nature of individual and group relationships
  • We value and promote an integrated approach to assessment, planning and delivery of services.
  • We are committed to supporting staff through training, professional development, supervision and consultation.
  • We are committed to a way of working which does not punish or judge people and which both respects and enables them to express their unspoken thoughts and feelings.
  • We believe the above must apply to all people who use Mulberry Bush Services no matter what culture, race, religion, gender, ability or age and stage in life people may be at.


Our model of practice:

Since 1948 the Mulberry Bush Approach has continued to evolve and our current work is adapted and highly attuned to the needs of each child and family. Our work is underpinned by psychodynamic principles which enable us to provide an intensive and highly integrated therapeutic milieu. This lived experience includes; group living, education, individual and group therapy, nursing and specialist consultation, and works in close partnership the children’s families and their professional networks.

Enabling the development of meaningful relationships is at the heart of our work. This requires us to place emphasis on understanding our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. We incorporate new ideas and current research including trauma informed brain development into our practice, whenever appropriate. This approach sits alongside our belief in the importance of clear boundaries within a planned and predictable environment. These convey a sense of containment and safety that has often been lacking in the children’s lives. We help children to learn to be in a group and conform to its rules and expectations; we help them learn to self-regulate, and we keep children’s enthusiasm and expectations high in relation to their educational achievement. To achieve this, our staff are trained to view behaviour as a communication.

By understanding the emotional meaning of the behaviour, and reflecting on the impact of this with the children, we help the children make sense of their complex inner worlds. This self-reflective stance is built into all our staff support systems. We believe that if our staff are to work effectively with such challenging children, they have to themselves feel valued and supported.

For Parents & Carers


You can download a copy of our Information Booklet for parents, carers and professionals here. This contains details of how we look after the children, how and when to contact them and us, and other useful information while they are in our care.

School Calendar 2021/22

You can download our 2020-2021 calendar of important dates here.