MBO Impact Report 2019

mulberrybush1

Charity Impact Report 2019

Transforming the lives of all those affected by childhood trauma, through specialist therapeutic services


David

Our ambitious new charity

mission statement:

To transform the lives of all those affected by childhood

trauma, through specialist therapeutic services.

This quote is from David, an ex-pupil. The pictures to the left are of David in 1999 on an

outward bound expedition ready for a caving experience and now as a driver for Thames Water!

He is a valued member of our ex-pupils advisory group.

‘The Mulberry Bush was somewhere

I could go to feel safe whilst learning the

fundamentals I needed in life; learning to

read, write and how to interact with other

people. I learned patience and how to keep

calm when I was finding things difficult.’

1999

2019

3



Why do we need

The Mulberry Bush? 109k+

primary school

incidences

• There were 655,630 new

children’s social care referrals

in the year ending March 2020.

• There were 78,150 children in

care in January 2020 up from

75,370 in 2018. Looked-after

children in England increased

by 28% in the last decade.

• 8,530 children in secure

institutions, children’s homes &

semi-independent living (2018).

• 55,200 children in care living

in foster placements (2018).

• 1,360 children in care

living in other residential

settings or residential

schools (2018) an increase

of 12.4% on 2017.

• As of January 2019, there

were 1,318,300 pupils with

Special Educational Needs

and Disability in England,

representing 14.9% of the

total population. 3.1% of

the total pupil population,

had an Education, Health

and Care Plan.

of SEMH* in

the year 2019

*Social, Emotional and Mental Health

• There has been an increase

in the incidence of Social,

Emotional and Mental Health

in primary aged pupils from

2.19% to 2.3% of the

population to 108,979.

• There has been a 53%

increase in children on

child protection plans – an

additional 18,160 children

– in the past decade.

63%

of all young people in

care are over-10s

404k+

children in

need in the

UK as of 31

March 2018

CEO of the Driver Youth Trust,

said: ‘All the data indicates

that we are seeing an increase

of pupils having an identifiable

Special Educational Need,

particularly in primary schools.

To meet this growing demand,

the sector must be adequately

equipped to effectively

support these pupils.’

The National Need

There continues to be

a national urgency to

address the needs created

by early years trauma.

National reports highlight

the lack of awareness of

the impact of early years

trauma on mental health

and life chances and lack

of provision:

In the 2019 National

Audit Office report on the

Dfe titled Pressures on

Children’s Social Care:

• There is an increasing

demand for children’s social

care. The department does

not fully understand what is

causing increases in demand

and activity in children’s

social care. Until recently,

the departments had not

seen it as a central part of its

responsibilities to understand

drivers in demand for

children’s social care

across all local authorities...

30+

year high of children

in the care system

in 2018 (2)

The department has now

identified what it considers

to be some of the multiple

factors influencing demand

and activity. Some, such

as deprivation, domestic

abuse, substance misuse

and adult mental health are

around need and some are

around local practice and

responses to need... (1)

4

5



The Care Crisis Review

in 2018:

• The Review confirmed the

sense of crisis that is now

felt by many young people,

families and those working

within the system. Many

professionals described

the frustration they feel

at working in a sector

that is overstretched and

overwhelmed and in which,

too often, children and

families do not get the

direct help they need

early enough to prevent

difficulties escalating. (5)

• ...the Review concluded

that there is currently

a significant untapped

resource that exists for

some children in and on the

edge of care, namely, their

wider family and community.

Greater focus on exploring

and supporting this resource

could safely avert more

children needing to come

into care or could help them

thrive in the care system. (5)

The Inspectorate’s Annual

Report (Dec 2018) warns:

• ‘We do not have enough

children’s homes in the right

places across the country.

Information on children’s

needs is fragmented

nationally and locally,

and there is no central

joined-up strategy or plan

to meet children’s needs.’

• ‘Access to therapeutic

intervention and support

for children and families

can be very poor. Although

in some areas children can

obtain services promptly

and the services make a

difference, children in other

areas face significant delays

in getting access to the help

and support they need...

Many of the children we

see in our inspections have

multiple vulnerabilities that

are complex and require

specialist approaches.

Unfortunately, not enough

good support is available.’ (4)

There is a lack of integration

in the roll out of provision

following the initiatives

launched in the mental health

green paper Transforming

Children and Young People’s

Mental Health.

In addition, the National

Teaching School grants will

be withdrawn in summer

2021 resulting in a reduction

in support for schools working

with vulnerable children with

social, emotional and mental

health needs.

These startling statements

demonstrate the need for

The Mulberry Bush to be

extending its efforts to further

its work towards supporting

vulnerable groups.

‘The Bush is also a little piece of heaven in my

heart that I need to revisit often to remind me that

somebody cared and that at some point in my life,

I was truly lucky to have found temporary peace

and respite in my life even if it was for a short time.

I come back because I know the Bush truly cares

about its young people not just whilst placed there.’

Ex-pupil

6



This is how we see the growth of the charity’s work:

Our Therapeutic

Community Model

Practice (through residential

schooling) enables us to

reach 10s of children

and their families.

We are proud of our strong

Therapeutic Community

heritage and continue to build

on how it informs our practice

and services, enhancing the

links between; Practice,

Teaching and Research.

‘High-quality teaching

and research conducted

within our charity allows the

standard of support, care,

treatment and education

provided to the children,

their families, adults and

communities to be at the

forefront of best practice.’

The Therapeutic

Community model is:

‘One of equality between

people and of the capacity

in each of us to help and heal

each other and to contribute

to each other’s development.’

(Ward, A p64 – Intuition is not

Enough – A Model for Practice)

8

As a Therapeutic Community

– established for over 70

years and flourishing in the

current challenging climate,

we have tried to articulate in

simple language why we

have adopted the ‘Showing

The Way’ strapline.

Our belief is that we have

something special that we

want to share with others

and from which many could

benefit. There are six key

areas providing the framework

for how we believe we are

‘Showing the way’:

The Mulberry Bush Culture

Our research and learning identifies the following six key

areas of our culture. They inform how we...

1

Structure a planned

environment

4

Reflect

2

Learn

5

Relate

3

Support

6

Play

These things underpin the work the charity does in all its services.

It is at the heart of the work we take into other organisations.

Our services so far:

• The Mulberry Bush School

(Standlake) offers a haven,

delivering transformative

practice for children displaced

from their families and

communities by their emotional

troubles and trauma. Its work

with families is central to the

specialist therapeutic service.

• The Mulberry Bush Outreach

is a national and regional support

service advancing the education

and training in specialist

therapeutic services for those

who work with emotionally

troubled and traumatised

children, young people, adults,

their families and communities.

• The Mulberry Bush Research

provides international support

and influence in advancing the

education of both the public

Support (through Outreach

services) enables us

to reach 100s of children,

families and communities.

Influence (through school,

Outreach and the International

Centre) has the potential

to reach 1000s of children,

families and communities.

and fellow professionals in the

subject of specialist therapeutic

service by undertaking research,

publishing research materials,

hosting seminars and facilitating

the training of workers.

• The Mulberry Bush Third Space

offers a ‘haven and reflective

space’ as a National Centre for

Reflective Practice enriched

by the Planned Environment

Therapy Archive and National

Child Care Library.



What does Outstanding mean to

The Mulberry Bush?

In our last Impact Report, we set out what Outstanding means to us at The Mulberry Bush. Here we gather some evidence statements of how we have delivered against this over 2019.

What we said What inspectors said What you said

1

Relationships/Trust/Feeling

Safe – allowing others

to build trust in themselves

and us and our structures

and methods – relationships!

2

Putting children, their

families and communities

and achieving for them

at the heart of our focus

– not standards.

3

Equally putting our staff

at the centre. Investing in

staff, their training and nurturing

creativity and innovation which

leads to improving outcomes –

becoming a ‘learning organisation’

– growing our staff members

in order to best support our

children, their families and

communities to grow.

‘Attuned staff provide the children

with structure and predictable

routines. Children seek out affection

and reassurance and the staff

respond with attentiveness and

kindness. Children experience

a sense of security and safety

that has often previously been

lacking in their lives.’ (Ofsted Nov 2019)

‘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.’ (Ofsted Nov 2019)

‘Staff practice is underpinned

by an excellent understanding

of attachment and trauma. This

helps equip them to emotionally

hold the extreme levels of emotional

needs that are sometimes displayed

by the children.’ (Ofsted Nov 2019)

‘Staff are provided with Outstanding

professional development

opportunities.’ (Ofsted Nov 2019)

‘Fantastic experience. Would

have liked an extra week. Learnt

loads. Especially the need for an

understanding of how to relax

around pupils with complex needs;

when to intervene; how to interact

with pupils in a heightened state

of being.’ (PGCE student placement

feedback April 2019)

‘The teachers found the session

really useful and are already using

the strategies this morning with

positive outcomes. In particular

staff members feel it has deepened

her understanding and therefore

confidence in managing the class.’

(Client school feedback June 2019)

‘Today’s training was literally

the best training event I have ever

been on!’ (Outreach school client Oct 2019)

What we said What inspectors said What you said

4Structuring an organisation so ‘Staff act as each others critical

it is not paralysed by meeting friend, providing constructive

standards and bureaucracy but feedback and mutual support. This

one that can learn from research

learning culture extends the staff’s

competence and also provides an

– its own and others – can listen,

ongoing safeguarding layer because

and can aspire to deliver and go staff have a well-informed and

beyond both what is required sophisticated understanding of the

and its charitable objective – but children’s needs.’ (Ofsted Nov 2019)

accepting and not being fearful

of making mistakes.

5Planned, assessed,

evidenced, reflective practice

and provision that adapts to

external drivers and pressures.

6Using the innovative practice

to support and influence

others. Writing about what we

do well and what we learn and

sharing it, nationally and globally.

‘Research informed practice

continues to develop from a strong

and confident base.’ (Ofsted Nov 2019)

‘Staff supervision is child-focussed

and echoes the ongoing reflective

conversations that occur on a

daily basis.’ (Ofsted Nov 2019)

‘Practice in the home has contributed

to a wider learning within the

residential sector through published

papers and training at a local and

national level.’ (Ofsted Nov 2019)

‘I value your input, judgement and

leadership coaching. I know the

whole team want to thank you for

your work with us over the last year

and feel that you have supported

us really well.’ (Leadership Training

feedback Oct 2019)

‘I am sure that we would not have

got the good judgement in the

Ofsted inspection last summer

without your input and support.’

(Deputy Head Teacher feedback July 2019)

‘Thank you so much for such

an inspiring, informative and

empowering session with you both.’

(Outreach Client School feedback Jan 2020)

‘It was truly incredible to work

with the people at The Mulberry

Bush who were so full of passion,

dedication, experience and

knowledge, all to do with children

with SEND.’ (PGCE student feedback

April 2019)

10

11



Practice: Schooling

The heart of the charity’s

practice expertise is The

Mulberry Bush School

in Standlake.

Children placed from all

over England and Wales

receive highly integrated

specialist therapeutic care,

treatment and education

from a highly trained staff

team on an outstanding site.

The school works with the

children residentially and has

a team to work with families

in their own locality or on site

depending on need. Much

of the charity outreach offer

delivers the learning from

the specialist school.

Whilst at The Mulberry

Bush School children make

outstanding progress in

their social and emotional

development and achieve

at least good academic

outcomes.

The quality of relationships

with families is outstanding.

The progress of work

with children in therapy is

‘Outstanding’. Families report

that the work done with

them is ‘Outstanding’.

School aims

and ambitions:

• The Mulberry Bush School

sets exceptionally high

expectations for children.

It sets targets that are both

challenging and realistic.

Outcomes are always at

least good and in most

cases are outstanding.

• The school strives to ensure

children and their families

thrive and achieve fulfilling

lives together, both within

their communities and as

part of wider society.

• They work tirelessly to

manage the anxiety, create

stability and provide a

challenging but nurturing

therapeutic experience that

starts to heal the traumas.

• The work is about long

term change and to achieve

this they do not expect to

perform any quick fix or

miracle cure pieces of work.

They build relationships with

children and families and

engage in building a more

stable future together. They

work to enable the child to

return at the end of their

stay at The Mulberry Bush,

to an appropriate school

and home setting; able to

function more appropriately

in mainstream society.

• The experience and data

over the years demonstrates

that many children, once

they feel safe at The

Mulberry Bush School, make

at least good and often

outstanding progress in core

subjects and in their social

and emotional development.

What the

families say:

‘Foster carer days

are very helpful.’

‘The family weekend was

brilliant full stop!’

What the children said:

• 69% of children felt they were

getting better at learning

• 64% felt that they can keep

themselves and others safe

• 63% of children felt that

adults let them know when

they are doing well

of children

said they felt

good when

they did well!

Safeguarding audit

The recent safeguarding

audit found that the school

has ‘record keeping and

recruitment processes

that are among the best

in the county.’

By the end of their time

at the school, children:

• make excellent progress

socially and emotionally

• levels of physical

interventions decline

• are more able to play

with other children

• feel that they are able

to cope with living in

and working in groups

• are better able to regulate

their behaviour

• are more able to play

• need less physical

intervention

• enjoy the school activities,

trips and events

• are more able to feel

good about themselves

when they do well

‘I am proud to be an ex pupil of The Mulberry Bush. The

therapies and coping mechanisms that we were taught as

children helped me throughout my adult life, and enabled

me to be a loving caring member of society.’ (Ex-pupil)

What

Ofsted said:

‘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.

This lays the foundations

for the children to start to

heal and to develop resilience

to overcome adverse early

life experiences.’

(Ofsted November 2019)

‘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.’

(Ofsted November 2019)

‘Influential leaders and

managers are unwavering in

their determination to improve

the children’s life chances.’

(Ofsted November 2019)

12



Support: Outreach

This year:

• Fda – National Student

Survey – satisfaction

score 100%

(national

average 84%)

• We have delivered work to

schools and organisations

through 140 partnership

agreements

100+

people have

watched the

Resilience/

ACE scores film

Training numbers reached

2018/19:

• 48 Peer Review schools

• 118 staff, training in

Team Teach level 1 since

September 2019* plus 22

in de-escalation techniques

• 108 staff, part of observations

and workshops led by

The Mulberry Bush Outreach

*external to The Mulberry Bush School

renewable

training

courses have

been run

• 158 trained in attachment

• 43 Teacher trainees

• 22 staff undertaken

Behaviour as Communication

course outside of

The Mulberry Bush

• Carried out quality

assurance visits to 9

special schools or pupil

referral units on behalf

of 2 local authorities

• Worked as the school

improvement partner

to 8 special schools

or pupil referral units

• Provided regular

supervision to 3 special

school headteachers

• Project Nurture Network

event: 25 people from

14 different settings

(Oxfordshire)

• National Nurturing Schools

Program 6 month follow up:

5 people from 2 different

settings (1 Oxfordshire)

• Theory and Practice

of Nurture Groups: 21

people from 14 different

schools (7 Oxfordshire)

87%

of our 71 staff working in

the education and group

living teams are trained

to level 5 or above

Feedback from

Head Teacher

about SIP:

‘Thank you so much for

your support and advice,

it has been such a lifeline

for me in my job here.’

The Mulberry Bush

Outreach service provides

training, consultation and

support to schools, care

services and organisations

working with challenging

or vulnerable children, their

families and communities.

They also provide all the training

for the staff at our school,

which is focussed around the

level 5 Foundation Degree in

Therapeutic Work with Children

and Young People.

‘The underpinning principles

of the work of The Mulberry

Bush align particularly well

with colleagues working

in the School of Education.’

Jon Reid, Senior Lecturer, Child

Development and SEN Inclusion

at Oxford Brookes University

‘Staff were really

encouraged by the idea

of changing mindsets and

thinking about what the

child is trying to communicate

rather than what bad

behaviour she is showing.’

Course participant

Outreach Case Study

Throughout 2019-2020 the

Outreach team supported a

local secondary special school,

which Ofsted had judged

inadequate. We ran fortnightly

training sessions and reflective

groups for the whole staff team,

and provided regular school

improvement input to senior

leaders. As a result school

leaders reported:

• The leadership team had all

led their areas of responsibility

increasingly well and had

become a more cohesive group

• Staff on the whole understood

and supported the ethos of

the school, and had become

a more effective team

• The line management

structure was in place

• Behaviour difficulties

had decreased

• A bespoke curriculum to

prepare students for their

next stage in education,

employment or training

was underway

• The school day had been

reorganised making it easier

for students to cope

• Links with external

organisations were in place to

share knowledge and practice

• Relationships between

parents and school staff

were improving

• The therapy team was

established

‘As you know, I value

your input, judgement and

leadership coaching. I know

the whole team want to thank

you for your work with us over

the last year and feel that you

have supported us really well.’

Principal

15



Support: Our Research

The Mulberry Bush School

is committed to research

in therapeutic residential

and foster care.

It aims to develop and

shape a research culture

to influence practice within

The Mulberry Bush and

other schools, agencies

and providers of care to

vulnerable, traumatised

children and their families.

We collaborate with

researchers in academic

and other childcare settings.

The following are some

examples of current projects:

success rate

of improving

children’s ability

to resolve trauma

1

University of Sussex 2013-ongoing

Development of The SEA Scale

The SEA Scale (Social & Emotional Adjustment Scale) is due for virtual

launch in 2020. We are recruiting a group of early adopters.

It is a brief 25 item questionnaire measuring the socio-emotional abilities of

children aged 5-13. Initially devised by a multidisciplinary group of Mulberry

Bush practitioners because none of the existing measures adequately

considered the social and emotional aspects which are central to the

work at The Mulberry Bush.

Professor Robin Banerjee,

Jasmine Williamson and

Dr Helen Drew from the

University of Sussex helped

create the SEA Scale and

gathered the initial data.

2

Dave Roberts 2013-2020

Qualitative, exploration of the ‘therapeutic approach’ – case study

• Parents and carers are often unclear about the therapeutic nature of the

school, and how this can be maintained at home.

• The Mulberry Bush therapeutic environment positively affects children’s

ability to understand their feelings.

• Group-work model poorly understood by children, staff and parents

3

UEL Research Team 2017-2020 draft findings

Reflective practice

The reflective practice culture (RPC) emerges as distinctively

psychodynamic and systemic. It creates and sustains a zone of tolerable

receptivity to the children’s problematic behaviours and feelings,

so that both children and staff can remain optimally psychologically

safe to engage together in the therapeutic task.

4

Dr Steve Farnfield 2017-2020

Attachment, trauma and play

Quote from The Mulberry Bush Story Stem Research:

‘In attachment terms, this is an extremely distressed population of

children...but The Mulberry Bush can claim a 72% success rate in terms

of improving children’s ability to resolve trauma and loss, to improve the

quality and coherence of their play as well as their attachment security.’

Further findings suggest that:

• Helping children with the impact of the loss of family must be

thoroughly incorporated into the work in all areas of their lives.

• At The Mulberry Bush children diagnosed with autistic spectrum

condition are amenable to changes in their attachment style.

5 Retrospective

study of ex-pupils

Mixed methods – pilot stage

2018-ongoing

Discussions are taking

place with a potential

university partner for this

exciting study looking at the

life experiences of ex-pupils.

Funding is being sought

and ideas gathered for the

study design.

The image to the left was

produced by Scriberia during

a conference in September

2019 entitled Trauma Informed

Practice: What works

with children and families.

The presentation was called

Bringing alive the minds of

traumatised children: practice

and research.

The conference was co-organised

by The International Centre

for Therapeutic Care,

Family for Every Child and

The Institute of Recovery

from Childhood Trauma.

16



Influence: MB3

Reflective spaces for

meaningful experiences

Over the last year we

have launched The

Mulberry Bush Third

Space. This is a National

Centre for Reflective

Practice in Toddington,

Gloucestershire.

Its goal is to offer a ‘haven

and reflective space’ for

meaningful experiences. This

is provided by our outstanding

residential and conference/

event accommodation

complemented by a beautiful

meadow and woodland.

MB3 works in collaboration

with organisations to provide

bespoke reflective training

events, such as trauma

informed practice, as well

as designing its own Reflect,

Experience and Act (REA)

experiences across adult

and children’s services.

These allow the space for

people to come together

and share information,

discuss new ideas and

practice and to plan

integrating this back into

their working environment.

The addition

of our Yurt

The addition of our Yurt in

June 2020, provides a space

for talks to be conducted

‘in the round’, as we actively

encourage a move away from

IT reliant presentations to a

more interactive experience.

Our extensive

archives

Housed at MB3 is the

National Childcare Library

and an extensive archive of

special collections from adult

and children’s therapeutic

and planned services.

worth of special

collections are

available at MB3

Our principal

collections include:

• Joseph Berke

• Harold Bridger

• Barbara Dockar-Drysdale

• David Wills

• George Lyward

• Richard Crockett

• Cassel Hospital

• FICE-International

• Finchden Manor

• Henderson Hospital

• International Centre

for Therapeutic Care

• Messenger House Trust

(Josephine Lomax-Simpson)

• The Mulberry Bush School

• Peper Harrow

• Association of Workers

for Maladjusted Children

• Planned Environment

Therapy Trust

We have welcomed

researchers, academics,

archivists and service

providers and users to the

centre to spend time reflecting,

thinking and learning.

Our children are able to

use the meadow to practice

camping and communication

skills, to cook in a fire pit

and to enjoy the freedom

that a safe outdoor

environment provides.

‘I live at The Mulberry Bush

Third Space but I have

been used throughout

history to represent human

characteristics, from the

ancient Egyptians to Native

Americans. I am a symbol

of subjective truth and

emotional intelligence.

I am a symbol of stability,

to withstand adversity

without backing down

and giving up. In African

cultures, I am a symbol

of working too hard, and

needing to take a break,

especially when in charge

of taking care of someone

else, as only those who take

care of themselves will be

fit to take care of others.’

18

Our collections have been published online www.mulberrybush.org.uk/archives



Influence: Our International Centre

Reaching Out

Our International Centre

for Therapeutic Care

has a mission:

To share models

of therapeutic

care, and to extend

the influence and

insights gained

from our member

networks, in order

to improve services

and outcomes for

traumatised children,

young people,

their families and

communities.

Over this last year we have

hosted regular research

group events with a

variety of speakers and

coordinated a conference

on ‘Multidisciplinary

Approaches to Trauma

Informed Practice’.

The events had some

great feedback!

‘So much new information

and time to reflect and

enjoy the company and

conversation of everyone

around me.’

‘Very rich discussion –

great facilitation.’

‘The whole day was

informative and engaging

and enabled me to explore

a range of new strategies.’

‘Opportunities to

share research – useful

opportunities to gain

feedback and suggestions

from experienced and

knowledgeable colleagues.’

‘The seminar on Trauma and

how some of the young people

I work with feel regarding what

they have been through –

I will definitely see trauma

in young people differently.’

The ICTC has a global reach with

connecting networks and through its voice –

The Therapeutic Care Journal www.theTCJ.org

3.2k

subscribers

to our

website

Twitter

followers

370

members

worldwide

The Mulberry Bush Organisation

Facebook

Likes

130k+

page

views

1.5k+ regular subscribers

to our Therapeutic Care

Journal www.thetcj.org

23k+

website

users

of our ‘hits’

are now from

mobile devices

International Centre for Therapeutic Care

80k+

website users

and 120k

page views

21



Developing

Our Services

OUR STRATEGIC PLAN AMBITIONS BY 2023

School

The Mulberry Bush

School will be a UK

centre of excellence

for specialist

therapeutic treatment

of emotionally troubled

and traumatised,

children, young people

and their families.

The Mulberry Bush Charity

The Mulberry Bush Charity will be a leading charity for advancing the education,

training, research and specialist therapeutic services for emotionally troubled

and traumatised children, young people, adults, their families and communities.

Learning & Research Centre

By 2023 the Learning & Research Centre will

be an international centre of excellence for trauma

informed practice, teaching and research.

The Mulberry

Bush Outreach

will be a national

provider advancing

the education,care

and training for

emotionally troubled

and traumatised,

children, young people,

adults their families and

communities and those

who work with them.

The Mulberry Bush

Research will be

recognised as a major

research contributor

informing the practice

of therapeutic work with

emotionally troubled and

traumatised children,

young people, adults

their families and

communities.

The International Centre for Therapeutic Care

will be recognised as an influential global network

influencing therapeutic and trauma informed practice

with services for children, young people, adults,

their families and communities.

New Charity Service

A new service for secondary aged pupils and their families will be established.

The Mulberry Bush

Third Space

The Mulberry Bush

Third Space will be

a National Centre for

Reflective Practice

advancing education,

training and research

and a haven for

emotionally troubled

and traumatised,

children, young people,

adults their families

and communities.

The Ex-pupils Advisory Group

We have looked to strengthen the support we offer by learning from our ex-pupils.

The newly formed Ex-pupils Advisory

Group comprises eight adults (former

pupils) from across the decades since

the school opened. They meet to discuss

the work of the school and the charity’s

services and provide advice, through

the lens of their experience, to help us

improve our offer, both to current pupils

and families and to those who have left.

‘Being a member of the

Ex-pupil’s Advisory Group

is very rewarding. Sharing

life experiences with other

ex-pupils, and bonding over

our childhood adversities,

is very cathartic.’

Group member

22



‘By exploring our life experiences after leaving

The Mulberry Bush, I hope our stories can be

utilised to help younger ex-pupils now and in

the future, to receive appropriate aftercare to

support them on their journey to adulthood,

and a fulfilling life.’

Member, Ex-pupils Advisory Group

Finance

In the last financial year, The Mulberry Bush spent around £6,000,000 in supporting

traumatised children, their families and communities. Our main areas of spending were:

£3.9 million

On residential schooling – our 38 week provision

£600,000

On step down 52 week provision

£590,000

Investing in our sites and service development

£420,000

Supporting other schools, children’s

homes and organisations

£230,000

Supporting and training our staff

£110,000

Investment in our archive

£60,000

Investing in research

Around

£6m

Reserves: The charity had reserves in excess of its policy of holding 9 months.

It was intended that the excess would be invested in refurbishment and the development

of new services but is now being used to support the charity through the COVID-19 pandemic.

25



References

(1) Pressures on Children’s Social Care –

National Audit Office 23.1.2019

(2) Are these the priorities for children’s

social care in 2019 Community Care

(3) University of Lancaster research

– Violent proletarianisation: social

murder, the reserve army of labour

and social security ‘austerity’ in Britain

(4) https://assets.publishing.service.

gov.uk/government/uploads/

system/uploads/attachment_data/

file/859422/Annual_Report_of_

Her_Majesty_s_Chief_Inspector_of_

Education__Children_s_Services_

and_Skills_201819.pdf

(5) The Care Crisis Review –

https://www.frg.org.uk/images/

Care_Crisis/CCR-FINAL.pdf

(6) https://www.theguardian.com/

society/2020/jan/09/councils-underhuge-pressure-as-number-of-childrenin-care-soars-england

(7) https://schoolsweek.co.uk/

send-pupil-proportion-rise-dfe/

Testimony

of an ex-pupil

The Mulberry Bush School was the

only place that I ever settled in for any

significant amount of time, it was the

only place over my childhood that ever

felt like a real home, the only place out

of (65) placements that didn’t breakdown,

leaving was the hardestthing I ever had

to do, and not by choice, leaving was the

downfall of my entire life, 53 children’s

homes, 7 secure units and 1 foster place

later, I have serious mental health issues,

multiple suicide attempts under my belt

and a criminal record list longer than I care

to admit (all before the age of 16) I needed

the continuity the Bush offered to continue

for many more years than it could, my life

would have been so much better, I would

have been a better person, the only place

that ever tried to understand me and help

me to have some self worth. Without the

Bush I think I would have been lost forever,

somehow as I had to adjust to life on my

own after the care system spat me out,

I managed to claw back a somewhat

semi-decent person but everyday is

a fight and truly exhausting.

I come back to the Bush as part of the

ex-pupils advisory team because I honestly

hope in this day and age that other young

people just like me are not being failed like

I was after the Bush, I come back because

I want to see how things are improving,

such as the newly built 52 week house

which I know would have benefited me

hugely at that time, it makes me hopeful

that less kids are suffering overall and it

humbles me that I can try and help in a

small way, the Bush is also a little piece

of heaven in my heart that I need to revisit

often to remind me that somebody

cared and that at some point in my life,

I was truly lucky to have found temporary

peace and respite in my life even if it was

for a short time. I come back because

I know the Bush truly cares about its

young people not just whilst placed there,

I am fortunate that I have 2 important

people in my life whom I met at the Bush,

they still come and visit me in blue moon

and they are a lifeline if I need it, these

people have been in my life for 25 years

and I wouldn’t be me without them, and I

hope future generations of the Bush has a

couple of staff that check up on them, visit

once a year, make a few phone calls and

take an interest in the distance, when you

have nobody else, its everything.

The main things I learned at The Mulberry

Bush that have helped me in my life are:

• To be proud of who I am.

• To accept my good and bad points.

• To accept responsibility for my actions,

and always work on the negative

aspects to improve them.

• To always communicate about my

feelings, both good and bad, as bottling

up things never solves the problem.

• Talking about my emotions and feelings

is vital, as it enables me to work through

the issues, learn from the situation,

and be happier in myself.

• Also, by telling my children every day

that I love them, it makes them feel

better too. As sharing the good

feelings is just as important.

26



“Outstanding”

Contact

Ofsted

The Mulberry Bush School

Abingdon Road

Standlake

Witney

OX29 7RW

Telephone: 01865 300202

Email: reception@mulberrybush.org.uk

The Mulberry Bush

Learning & Research Centre

93 High Street

Standlake

Witney

OX29 7RH

Telephone: 01865 594700

Email: lrc@mulberrybush.org.uk

The Mulberry Bush Third Space

Church Lane

Toddington

Cheltenham

Gloucestershire

GL54 5DQ

Telephone: 01242 621200

Email: mb3@mulberrybush.org.uk

mulberrybush.org.uk

Registered charity number: 309565

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