Nurturing children Through education

Merrywood Education follows a model of nurturing children through education, based on the neuro science of developmental trauma.

Merrywood was set up to ensure that every child is given the opportunity to thrive academically regardless of their trauma or circumstances. We offer a school of opportunity and an expectation that every member of our school community is treated equally and is safe and secure.
Set up from 10 years’ experience of working within mainstream and pupil referral units across London and the South East of England, the experience of working with so many different settings has enabled us to develop a trauma informed therapeutic model to support children to reach their maximum potential.

Merrywood has a unique way in which we work with children, using neuroscience to better understand the science behind trauma and behaviours, seeing behaviour as a language and a symptom.

The needs of the children are kept at the centre of everything we do, and staff wellbeing is put at the very top of the list to ensure our team can deliver the most outstanding care to children. Staff development is steered by clinical supervision, holistic therapy and extensive training.

We have developed a model of ‘Nurturing Children Through Education’; a model that keeps the school family in the centre of families’ and children’s future progression. We walk hand in hand with families and provide trauma informed family support. We believe that together we can achieve more and that parents’ knowledge is key to the progression of our children.

Our Merrywood Needs Based Curriculum has been created and developed by a team of academic and therapeutic specialists, aimed to deliver a meaningful and impactful curriculum that is accessible and adaptable to all of our children.

As Merrywood continues to grow, it is our aim to offer more and more therapeutic educational services to other local authorities, train mainstream schools and offer an outreach service that will reduce the number of children being excluded from educational settings. We want every child to thrive!

Merrywood’s main focus is to nurture and support children educationally, socially, morally and physically. Our four priorities are:

Providing a stable, home like, consistent and therapeutic environment in which children can develop respect, self-esteem and an ability to value themselves and others
Developing the child’s own moral values and self-awareness
Providing a framework in which children develop an understanding of their personal strengths, needs and capabilities
Facilitating academic progress that will enable the children to successfully access the next phase in their education


● Instilling a desire to learn by setting relevant targets, providing appropriate support, and rewarding achievement
● Developing lively, enquiring minds fostered by increasingly independent learning
● Encouraging parents to be active partners in their children’s education
● Fostering self-reliance and motivation
● Providing a safe, stimulating and nurturing learning environment
● Encouraging children to act creatively and with imagination
● Supporting an understanding of the children’s pasts which will help them to live successfully in the present, and to plan intelligently for the future
● Promoting cooperation in all aspects of school life
● Facilitating discussions, debate and learning how to value the differences and diversity within our school

Children benefit from an individualised, inclusive and nurturing setting where they have the opportunity to explore deep-rooted issues and traumas through therapy.


We act in a safe way, we look after each other and we are free from harm here at Merrywood. Merrywood is a safe environment in which to explore some of the difficulties we face in our lives.


We talk about our feelings, manage our emotions and offer support and guidance when we are feeling wobbly. Security helps us to have a strong sense of belonging at Merrywood and helps us to learn and manage our own mental health.


We are all humans at Merrywood and we look after each other. Every person in Merrywood is equal. Equality means we can all be ourselves here at Merrywood and feel part of the Merrywood family.



Therapy Dogs

Our therapy dogs are trained to provide affection… MORE

Occupational Therapy

Our Occupational Therapist supports our children’s physical … MORE

Play Therapy

Our Play Therapist works weekly with our children … MORE

Educational Psychology

The role of our educational psychologist is to increase our children’s … MORE

Speech and Language Therapy

Speech and Language Therapy is integrated into our curriculum … MORE


Our core aim is to provide a nurturing space for children to grow educationally, emotionally, morally and socially. Children develop a deep understanding of themselves as an individual and a connected part of society. They learn to understand and value themselves and their unique offering and grow an appreciation of learning, realising their ability to engage with education.

CLAIRE GUNGAH – B Ed in Primary Education, NASENCO


CLAIRE GUNGAH – B Ed in Primary Education, NASENCO – has had extensive breadth and depth of experience working with vulnerable children and families throughout her career in a range of educational settings, including a residential day nursery and mainstream schools across inner London boroughs and Surrey.

She worked as Assistant Head and Inclusion Manager for seven years in an area of significant deprivation, supporting children with complex needs and challenging circumstances on their journey to success in mainstream or specialist education. Most recently, she was instrumental in setting up specialist learning bases within a mainstream setting for those children who were unable to access formal classroom education due to either significant learning needs or complex mental health challenges and presenting behaviours.

Claire is passionate about meeting the needs of every child and finding the potential within, regardless of their starting point. She has worked within a system that does not always have the capacity to provide for those children most in need and firmly believes in and shares Merrywood’s vision to do just that. She relishes the opportunity to truly provide for children and families’ individual needs through a carefully planned, multi disciplinary, holistic approach to learning that is genuinely child centred, aspirational and expertly supported.
A Message from Claire:
“The children we work with have had a challenging start to life. Our aim is to provide them with the skills to succeed in whatever life journey best suits them, including carefully supported reintegration into mainstream education where possible.

As Head of School, I will bring together my experience in mainstream schools with the expertise of specialist education to develop a uniquely bespoke model of provision. I hope to replicate the model to ensure access for as many children as possible across local authorities, also working within mainstream settings to develop educational professionals’ understanding of the ‘Nurturing Children Through Education’ model and how this can be embedded within all settings.

Effecting genuine, positive change for our most vulnerable children is what I have been working towards throughout my whole career and I truly believe that Merrywood’s model of education can achieve this.”



Merrywood’s Needs Based
We place our children’s personal and social development at the very centre of everything we do, helping to create well rounded, happy children who can access learning.