We are committed to improving the lives of thousands of vulnerable people, their families and communities through a relentless focus on caring and learning. To achieve this, we set exceptionally high-quality standards across all of our homes, schools and fostering agencies.
Exceptional safe and nurturing spaces
Acorn Care and Education
Acorn Care and Education specialise in working with children and young people who have complex needs. Their needs may be behavioural, emotional, social, learning, physical or a combination.
We build care around the unique situation and individual circumstances of each child by providing frontline fostering, educational and care services.
Discover how our specialist living and learning services help vulnerable children and young people throughout the UK.
Hillcrest Children's Services
Hillcrest Children’s Services is a national provider of specialist therapeutic children’s homes and schools. Well positioned on all key commissioning frameworks and trusted by a third of all Local Authorities (LAs) in England, Hillcrest provides a child-centred therapeutic approach to care and education.
Our DfE registered special schools offer full curriculum as well as vocational training.
Our services offer a stable, secure and supportive environment in which the children we care for can develop the skills and confidence necessary to help them fulfil their potential.
Options provide care and education to children, young people and adults with autism, complex needs and learning difficulties.
We offer a pathway of services carried out by specialist, highly trained staff across our education, care and therapeutic teams. We also provide a person-centred approach to education and care, looking at the full needs of the individual and adapting our support approach accordingly.
The National Fostering Group
Our collection of local, independent fostering agencies works with every LA in the UK to provide safe and nurturing environments for children in need.
With 100% of our agencies rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted and equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it isn’t surprising that more people choose to foster with us than any other independent fostering provider in the UK.
Our success in numbers
What people say about us
Every aspect of the school’s work is scrutinised. Governors have a good oversight and know the current strengths of the school and areas of development. As a result, they are able to provide appropriate support and challenge that drive improvement. Governors are ambitious for all pupils."Ofsted - November 2018Wenlock School
As a parent, I would have never been able to offer my son this opportunity and I’m so proud of him for getting a place. He had problems at school from an early age, but where he is now has brought him on so much and given him the confidence to want to do more with his life.”Parent of one of our Acorn pupilsFollowing an Outcomes First Group expedition with the British Exploring Society
The Shires became my home. Now I’m able to live semi-independently and I’m loving it!”Former PupilThe Shires
I can’t quite believe that I’ve been given the amazing opportunity of going firstly to Scotland at Easter and then to the Amazon in the summer. This type of trip has been a dream of mine since I got involved in Duke of Edinburgh and did the National Citizenship Service. It really is the experience of a lifetime. Thanks.”One of our young people in foster careFollowing an Outcomes First Group expedition with the British Exploring Society
Positive Outcomes are achieved through a dedicated and skilled staff team who maximise the potential of young people to achieve excellence.”Hillcrest Acorn Cottage - Ofsted Report
Children feel happy, safe and secure in their homes."Ofsted2018 - Alpha Plus Fostering
We’re happy again as a family and you can’t put a price on that happiness. All our lives have been totally transformed by The Shires and they have done more for Dominic than we could have ever imagined.”ParentThe Shires
Alpha Plus is an amazing company to work for, the support they give is superb and you can always pick up the phone night or day and speak to a friendly voice."EmployeeAlpha Plus Fostering
Jay are a local provider and work closely with LCC placement team to offer suitably matched, local foster provision for Leicestershire looked after children. Communication between the teams are highly effective."Ofsted2019 - Jay Fostering
Pupils make significant improvements to their behaviour and attitudes. Staff understand this aspect of pupils’ special educational needs very well, set high expectations and provide highly appropriate and consistent support that enables them to succeed.”Hillcrest Manor House School - Ofsted Report
My foster carers are really nice. They help me when I'm upset and worried. They are the best foster carers in the whole wide world."One of our young people in foster careNFA Wales
Jay are a local provider and work closely with LCC placement team to offer suitably matched, local foster provision for Leicestershire looked after children. Communication between the teams are highly effective."Leicestershire County Council
We came to Crookhey Hall and when I walked in, it was lovely and Scott liked it. The atmosphere was lovely, very welcoming and calming from day one. He’s never looked back. I don’t think I’ve had many incidents. It’s always been a calming environment. The teaching staff are fantastic. I call them a little family. It’s a lovely school.”ParentCrookhey Hall School
A strong and commendable emphasis is placed on meeting the educational needs of children placed. Carers act as strong advocates for children placed with them. They ensure that suitable education, training and employment options are in place. Children learn the value of education and have aspirations for their futures. Several have gone on to study at university or have plans to do so."Ofsted2018 - Jay Fostering
At Mounthfield Heath we create a safe nurturing environment where the curriculum is creative, inspirational and relevant to the children’s presenting needs and their future aspirations.”HeadteacherMountfield Heath School
My mum and dad wanted to foster and I was worried I wouldn’t get as much time with them. It hasn’t been like that at all and Tim is just part of our family now."Sunflower birth child
It’s great that staff know who you are and you can just drop in without making an appointment."Sunflower foster carer
Underley Garden has given us peace of mind...we can stop worrying about his future now because we know he has one. We’re just so happy he is at Underley and so pleased with what they are doing for him.”ParentUnderley Garden
The reason the school is so special is because it has a really unique blend of academic and vocational facilities combined with access to therapy and pastoral support.”PrincipalWestbourne School
The children are kept busy, and many take part in a myriad of after-school and weekend activities. This includes after-school sports, music lessons, cultural visits to museums and holidays. These opportunities enrich children’s lives, improve confidence and enhance self-esteem, while setting the scene for the children to reach their learning and social potential."OfstedNFA East - 2017
The quality and access to therapy is excellent. The play therapist came into our house and gave us tips and info on trying new approaches and they worked!"Sunflower foster carer
They have created a safe school where pupils’ wellbeing is at the heart of everything that staff do."Options Higford - Ofsted Report 2018
Staff provide pupils with highly effective and individualised support to help them manage their own behaviours. Teaching is also carefully planned to meet pupils’ interests. This helps pupils to improve their behaviour considerably and attend school more regularly.”Hillcrest Glebedale School - Ofsted Report
The children and young people benefit from positive relationships with staff members, and this helps them to make good progress. The staff talk enthusiastically about the children’s and young people’s progress and how the good care that the children and young people receive is significant in improving their lives.”Options Barton – Ofsted Care Report 2019
Options Kinsale treats my son as an individual and they support him well.”Options Kinsale parent
Led by an inspirational headteacher who has the highest aspirations for pupils, committed staff are relentless and successful in their drive to improve the life chances for all pupils.”Options Trent Acres - Ofsted 2018
Sensitive support from staff ensures that pupils make rapid progress in their personal development. Pupils say that the school has given them the confidence to succeed.”Hillcrest Jubilee School – Ofsted Report
Pupils are lively and happy in this busy and purposeful school. They enjoy close relationships with adults and bond with each other. It is clear that some pupils are developing confidence and greater self-esteem. For many pupils, this is the first time they have enjoyed coming to school.”Hillcrest New Barn School - Ofsted Report