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About Us

Welcome to Open Box Education Centre: a nurturing, caring and vibrant school which supports our students to meet their full potential, academically and as individual young adults, and prepares them to take the next step towards realising their aspirations with hope and confidence.

In the last 16 years, initially as a charity and now as a registered Independent School, we have supported hundreds of Year 10 and 11 students to achieve qualifications, build skills, gain confidence and self-esteem and experience acceptance and success before moving on to college, apprenticeships and employment.

We are proud of our status as a trauma informed and attachment aware school, whose core principles of care, nurture and bespoke provision are based on an understanding of the neuroscience of trauma and an in-depth knowledge of the needs of each of our students. Our school’s unique approach has been recognised this year with two awards: TISUK Trauma Informed School Award and Essex Attachment Aware Gold Award. Please click here to see a copy of our report from TISUK

Relationships, Resilience and Resources
We work on the principle that young people can thrive and achieve when they are able to recognise and experience positive RELATIONSHIPS, build and develop RESILIENCE and have access to a range of creative and educational RESOURCES. 

I am proud and confident that:

  • Our fantastic team of dedicated, caring and skilled staff, who demonstrate positive and restorative RELATIONSHIPS based on unconditional respect and regard, support our students to communicate and interact as part of their community

  • Our therapeutic support and interventions, including counselling, mentoring, social & emotional skills coaching and collaborative work with wider agencies, support our students to understand and develop RESILIENCE that will allow them to persevere and thrive in the future.

  • Our bespoke, broad and balanced curriculum, including GCSEs, Functional Skills and a wide choice of enrichment subjects, equips our students with the RESOURCES they need to move on to Post-16 study and adult life.

An Educational Home
Many young people come to us after struggling to find an educational option that meets their needs.  At Open Box, they find a secure place to learn and hope for the future. Our small school of only 20 students can cater for each individual’s needs and students are referred to us for a variety of reasons.  Open Box is a positive choice for young people and their families, many of whom are looking for:

  • A place that is nurturing and small with a bespoke curriculum that is designed around their individual social, emotional, behavioural and learning needs.

  • A place that provides an ‘educational home’ for those who may have found themselves ‘educationally homeless’ through permanent exclusion, moving home at a difficult time or unwise elective home education.

  • A place for those who have experienced hurt or trauma where they can find hope, healing and wholeness as well as finish their education in an environment that understands the impact of trauma on learning and behaviour.

If you would like to know more about us or would like to come and visit, please contact us on 01992 577 300 or by email at and we would be happy to arrange a time when we can welcome you to our school and show you around.

Mrs Alison Dolan

Our Vision

Open Box Education Centre provides a programme of alternative education for students aged between 14 and 16 years in Years 10 and 11.

We are an independent day provision for pupils with who typically have social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) and who are at risk of exclusion or have been excluded from mainstream education. We place equal value on the educational, social and psychological development of our pupils and use a whole school community approach to help vulnerable young people to do better than their circumstances might have predicted by developing academic resilience in our pupils.

We define academic resilience as pupils achieving good educational outcomes despite adversity. We understand that our pupil’s experience of childhood adversity (ACEs) impacts their capacity to learn and behave. In response we provide a relationships led, supportive and stable school environment that enables our pupils to feel connected, respected and emotionally and physically safe, which in turn allows for learning and academic progress. We work in partnership with our pupils, their families and external agencies to bring about wellbeing and healing for our pupils

  • Leadership and staff share an understanding of trauma’s impacts on learning and the need for a school-wide approach to promoting academic resiliency

  • The school supports all students to feel safe physically, socially, emotionally, and academically

  • The school addresses students’ needs in holistic ways, taking into account their relationships, self-regulation, academic competence, and physical and emotional well-being

  • The school explicitly connects students to the school community and provides multiple opportunities to practice newly developing skills

  • The school embraces teamwork and staff share responsibility for all students

  • Leadership and staff anticipate and adapt to the ever-changing needs of students

  • Alongside the core curriculum, the school encourages choice and empowerment amongst pupils by being flexible in curriculum design and offer, according to the individual interests and needs of the pupils.

Our Core Values

Ensuring a Safe Learning Environment

In accordance with our Health & Safety Policy, Fire Safety Policy and premises management, all staff have a responsibility to maintain a safe and secure learning environment and will receive annual training on these issues.

The Principal oversees the pastoral care of all students, liaising with the link staff member from the referring agency regarding student needs and keeping records of concerns. The Principal, in the role of Designated Safeguarding Lead, keeps records of safeguarding concerns and safeguarding referrals and attends all professional and social care meetings, liaising with all the professionals involved with the care of a student.

All students have the option to meet with a professional counsellor once a week, the school nurse once a term and the sexual health nurse at least once a year. The Principal liaises with the School Immunisation Team to ensure that all students have access to an appropriate immunisation programme.

Ensuring Good Pastoral Care

Monitoring Student Progress

The progress of students is monitored in a range of ways:

  • Subject teachers monitor student progress on a daily basis through marking students’ work and assessment activities.

  • Subject teachers report formally on student progress twice a term, reviewing progress against targets set previously and setting new targets for each term. Personal targets for attitude and behaviour are also set for each student once a term by the Principal.

  • Targets and teacher comments are recorded on a termly Progress Report which is shared with parents and students at a termly Progress Meeting with an update every half term.

  • The link staff members from referring agencies are invited to termly Progress Meetings for each student. Where staff are unable to attend meetings, Progress Reports are shared with the referring agency.

The attendance and punctuality of students is monitored closely on a daily basis. Strategies for monitoring and improving attendance and punctuality are as follows:

  • If a student does not attend a session, and no authorised reason is provided by the parent or carer, or is significantly late (30 mins or more) a phone call will be made home as soon as possible to establish the whereabouts of the student.

  • Students are given verbal reminders every time they are late for a session and are told when their lateness is considered a matter for concern.

  • Attendance and punctuality is reported to the referring agency on a weekly basis, with any serious concerns flagged up by an email to the link staff member to discuss any necessary action. This may mean a meeting with parents or a warning letter to parents.

  • Attendance and punctuality is reported formally twice a term in the Progress Report and is discussed with parents and students at the termly Progress Meeting. Targets are set and reviewed for attendance and punctuality where necessary.

Monitoring Attendance and Punctuality


Open Box Education Centre is an independent alternative provision school offering a full time KS4 programme of education, registered with the Department for Education.  DfE registration:  881/6069

Proprietor: Open Box Education Centre Limited.

Registered in England. Company No: 11000646.

Registered Office: The Box, St John’s Road, Epping, Essex, CM16 5DN.


Chair of Governors:      Mrs Sara McLean.

Contact via the school office 01992 577300 or

Open Box Education Centre is committed to providing an environment which values and includes all students, staff, parents and visitors, regardless of their educational, physical, sensory, social, spiritual, emotional and cultural needs and intends to increase the accessibility of the school, and to develop a culture of awareness, tolerance and inclusion. Our site has disabled access.


Please contact us, if you have any queries regarding our provision.  We will be very happy to accommodate as much as possible.

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