Ferndearle has two residential homes, both of which are based in Folkestone, Kent and which are within five minute walking distance of each other. This allows for them to operate individually as a home but close enough to be able to join together and to feel part of the same Therapeutic Community. We have a specialist School that is situated across both Sites and is registered by the DfE as an SEBD provision.


Heather Lodge is set in beautiful surroundings, complete with a walled garden to the rear with a swimming pool. There is a large park to the front of the building.  The Home is registered for 8 young people but we tend to operate at 6.


The Birches is close to a large park; a walk away from a seafront park which has lots of adventure play equipment and is close to the Town Centre and Sea Front. There is a large secure garden to the rear of the property with play equipment and an astro-turf football pitch.


Both homes are within walking distance of mainline railway stations and within five minutes drive to the M20; a walk or short drive to all health facilities (hospital, dentist, GP); with access to numerous sports and community social clubs. Both homes run as therapeutic communities and both follow the Therapeutic Standards developed by The Royal College of Psychiatrists Quality Improvement Initiative ‘Community of Communities’ (CofC). Heather Lodge is a member of CofC and so is externally reviewed against the standards on an annual basis by CofC, being in its 11th cycle of membership and annual review.

Age Range, Sex and Duration of Placements

Both homes are mixed sex and provide assessments, short, medium and long-term placements.  For an explanation of the different types of therapeutic placements, click on the Types of Therapeutic Programmes page of this website.   Both homes cater for young people aged between 4 and 17 years, although young people may stay up to the age of 18 and above in line with Ofsted’s ‘Wholly or Mainly’ Policy.

The range of needs of the children for whom Ferndearle is able to provide care and accommodation for

Our homes cater for young people who have complex needs and presenting behaviours that are the result of trauma stemming from abuse and neglect in their early years.  The young people typically present with some form of an attachment disorder and significant trauma related developmental delays that are far behind their chronological ages. We do cater for additional needs such as learning difficulties or organic disorders such as Autism, but we do not admit young people into our residential settings unless they have a need that is trauma related as this is our primary specialism

Due to the above, our young people may have significant risk taking behaviours including, absconding; vulnerability to sexual abuse; verbal and/or physical aggression; criminal offending behaviour; vulnerable to being a victim or perpetrator of bullying behaviour; inappropriate sexualised behaviour; self-harming behaviour; racial or other discriminatory behaviour; a tendency to make allegations; threatening behaviour in the wider community and other forms of behaviours derivative of trauma.   Almost invariably, the young people who come to Ferndearle tend to be unable to function appropriately emotionally, socially, recreationally and educationally.  For these reasons they are often excluded from mainstream society and do not feel part of everyday living. 

Service Provision

The relatively large children’s group in our homes supports our therapeutic model as much therapeutic work is undertaken through group work; systemic group therapy and the group living experience.  For an explanation of our Therapeutic Model and what we mean by Therapeutic Community, click on the ‘Home and the ‘Therapy & Therapeutic model’ pages of this website.  Our Homes provide:

  • Integrated therapeutic intervention of therapy, care & education;
  • Therapeutic care staff that are highly trained to deliver care during their day to day interactions that are in tune with the developmental and emotional needs of children with trauma related difficulties – click on Therapeutic Training to obtain an overview of the quality and depth of the therapeutic training;
  • In-house therapeutic training based on psychodynamic/systemic/attachment theory and practice.  At Ferndearle, we are in a privileged position in that ALL training days include the application of the theory to our current work with the young people in our care at any one time (click on the above link for contents of training);
  • 24 hour Care Plans that identify difficulties/needs along with therapeutic interventions in each aspect of the child’s routine from getting up to going to bed;
  • Holistic Care Plans which together with the 24 hour care plans are overseen by Ferndearle’s Systemic Psychotherapist; informed by clinical assessments and are reviewed weekly by Heads of Care/Education/Therapy and/or monthly by the Systemic Psychotherapist and the whole residential care staff team.
  • Therapy and Holistic Assessments;
  • Weekly individual therapy and group systemic therapy;
  • Key-worker sessions between 4 to 6 a week;
  • Therapy for additional needs such as speech and language and occupational therapy;
  • Family therapy to improve significant relationships for children who are not going home;
  • Systemic family work with birth/adoptive or foster families or with both, to integrate children into their future placement in a family environment;
  • Independence programme designed specifically for young people to live independently;
  •  Extensive clinical consultation for staff;
  • A structured group living experience underpinned with a healing/maturational therapeutic milieu that operates through consistent boundaries and routines informed by evidence based theory and practice;
  • Therapeutic interpersonal relationships that model safe, secure and insightful parenting that enables emotional containment.


Sought Outcomes

There are many sought outcomes in the homes that range from individual goals specific to changing dysfunctional patterns of behaviour, improving school attendance, building self-esteem, social and independence skills, to affecting significant emotional development.  This latter outcome has specific focus at Ferndearle as it impacts on the long term success of other outcomes.  Developing emotionally means enabling our young people to recognise and name feelings; to learn to manage and contain these feelings and behaviour themselves, such that they are no longer dependent on the therapeutic community to do this.  They thus learn to practise and experience a different sense of being. 

The overall objectives, however, are the same and are:

  • To help young people to develop healthier attachment styles;
  • To enable the young people to catch up in their developmental stages to their chronological age, thereby giving them the possibility of reaching their potential emotionally, socially, educationally and in all aspects of their current and future lives. 

This will lead to the further general outcomes of either:

  • Supporting the young person to return home to live with their family;
  • Enabling the young person to become ready to embrace and manage a foster placement;
  • Remaining within the familial setting of The Birches or Heather Lodge and prepare for independent living, by being supported to work through a preparation for an independence programme called ‘Ready, Steady, Go’.  Irrespective of the care plan, all young people learn independence skills, however, the aforementioned programme is specifically designed for young people who remain at Ferndearle and whose next move is independent living.  

Summary of CARE Ethos
Ferndearle works on the principle that the essence of the therapeutic task is to enable young people to feel safe enough and secure enough in their environment to work on their deeper emotional problems and to have the confidence to take the risks necessary to develop to their potential.
The school and home are therefore designed to be nurturing supporting environments with clear established frameworks and structures which are consistent and reliable; with clearly defined expectations of behaviour; with boundaries which are stable enough to keep and make a damaged young person feel safe, but not too rigid that they impede normal child development and the growth of independence.
Alongside this, the therapeutic environment is committed to providing unconditional care and acceptance and will work with acting out behaviour in a safe way with a focus on understanding the underlying reasons. In this respect, therapeutic staff are trained to provide containment to the troubled child such that eventually:
“the child or young person feels secure enough to be able to participate in dialogue and expression of thoughts and feelings, in a way that develops a knowledge and understanding of how to deal with, and contain, emotions and behaviour” (Service standards for therapeutic communities for children and young people – 2nd edition).


For a full description of our education service, click on the Education page of this website which will take you straight to the Ferndearle School Website .

Ferndearle has a very STRONG commitment to education; to this end, the homes work very closely with Ferndearle School or Schools in the community to support attendance; to work on the emotional blocks to learning; to increase attainment and to reward educational endeavour. There are daily handovers between care and education staff. As part of Ferndearle’s Culture of emphasising the importance of Education, the first part of the evening after school in the homes is structured to support homework. The Culture of the importance of endeavour in education is also supported by the Homes’ positive reward approach.


Irrespective of whether a young person is educated at Ferndearle School or a community School, Ferndearle provides one-to-one or group tuition in the evenings Monday to Thursday (and other evenings/weekends when required). This is to help with school homework, or with reading that is set for those who do not have homework on any specific day, and to help children to catch up in any areas where they are behind.