The Shires at Oakham

Located in the beautiful market town of Oakham, The Shires at Oakham is both a children’s home and a school for 8 young people with autism. Additionally the children may have learning difficulties, challenging behaviour and other conditions such as ADHD and epilepsy. The children at The Shires at Oakham may also have other associated medical conditions such as hearing or visual impairment, asthma or allergies. Children placed at The Shires at Oakham all have Education, Health and Care Plans (previously a statement of special educational needs) that specify their specific needs and the strategies that should be employed in order for their needs to be met.

The ethos of The Shires at Oakham is very much characterised by a ‘can do’ attitude. Staff share the value of creating a home-from-home for children that reflects a family atmosphere. Staff at The Shires at Oakham are experienced in supporting children with autism and understand how and when the environment needs to be adapted in order to maximise the potential of each individual and help to minimise stress. The Shires at Oakham’s approach is firmly based on a therapeutic model, supporting staff to help the youngsters make sense of the world in which they live.

The home has a safe, fenced and private garden for recreational use. There is a patio and garden area for the children to socialise and relax outside in the warmer weather. There is also a vegetable garden within the grounds that the children can access. The children are encouraged to spend time outdoors, growing plants and vegetables and exploring the grounds.  The children’s home comprises of a building designed to provide accommodation for 5 children with all the bedrooms on the 1st floor. The main building has 5 bedrooms, all of which are single occupancy and three have en-suite bathrooms. The other two can access two other bathrooms.

Child Protection and Safeguarding Children

The Shires has Safeguarding and Child Protection procedures, policy documents and a training programme that incorporates Government and Policy Legislation. Staff are given a copy of the Child Protection Procedures. Staff receive annual training from an outside consultant. Parents/carers, social workers, placing authorities and other significant people are offered a copy of the Child Protection policy.

The Shires provides policy guidance, which sets out clear guidelines and expectations in the school with regards to appropriate relationships between all staff and the children. At The Shires we provide a very caring and professional setting in which the children will be given full emotional support without it being detrimental to their safety and well-being. All staff are aware of their responsibilities for Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of young people.

The Shires has a duty of care and therefore a responsibility to pass on any child protection and safeguarding concerns to the relevant children’s social care services.

Our safeguarding policy can be downloaded below

Safeguarding Policy

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We take all complaints seriously. We have a full complaints policy and procedure which is available from the school office or for download below. Initial complaints should be made to the Principal, Debra Eason, via telephone on 01780 411 944 or via email to If the complaint is concerning the Principal please contact Lynette Edwards via e-mail to  An appeals process is included in this policy.

During the academic year 2018/19 there were no complaints at The Shires Oakham.

As much independence as we can achieve

Opened in 2016, The Shires Oakham comprises a light, spacious, autism-friendly school building and a separate residential dwelling close by.

Young people have their own individual bedrooms, with some including ensuite bathroom facilities.

Each person’s room can be set up how they feel happiest, with the furniture, colour schemes and decor they prefer.

Interim registered manager Caroline Trevor explains the reasoning behind enabling young people to tailor their own environment:

‘It’s all about person-centred care and creating areas where the young people feel comfortable and relaxed.’

The school incorporates a dedicated space which caters for students who require any therapy, from occupational to speech & language.

And very small class sizes — with one-to-one staff provision as required — means they’re not overwhelmed and receive the attention they need.

Staff and students regularly visit the local library, museum and shops, maintaing strong links with their community.

Developing life skills alongside academic achievements, plus regular contact with family at home, are prioritised for young people at The Shires Oakham.

Watch the video to learn more about this unrivalled provision for students with autism and hear from our staff.

For more information or to arrange a visit, please contact us via the details below.


Meet our Registered Manager

Amy Merchant is the Registered Manager at our Oakham Children’s Home and has more than 10 years’ experience of caring for children with autism. She understands the huge decision parents make reaching a decision to place a child in a residential school, and does everything she can with her team of staff to make the transition as easy as possible.