About The Stable School

Our School

The Stable School is a an Independent Special Educational Needs primary and secondary school, situated across two sites in the heart of St Catherine’s Hill, Christchurch.

We provide high-quality care and education for children and young people aged 6 to 16 years old who have an Education Health and Care Plan for Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs (SEMH). Our learners have a range of needs that may include childhood trauma, social anxiety, school phobia, Autism, ADHD, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), among others.

Our learners are at the centre of everything we do and we offer extensive support to their families as well as working with a range of outside agencies.

We put great emphasis on the positive impact relationships play in young peoples’ lives, especially those that experience childhood trauma or who have a high number of ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences).

We embrace the wider benefits that learning outdoors brings and are working towards a Trauma Informed School status.

As a school, we know that for children and young people to be successful in education their needs must be met, and this is at the heart of everything we do.

Across our two sites, we deliver core subjects and additional curriculum such as AIM qualifications, humanities, art, and ICT.

At The Stable School we have adopted a trauma informed and holistic approach to our learners’ development. This means that therapeutic needs are addressed in every area of school life and a therapeutic approach is integrated into our classroom experience. Our specialists (including Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Psychotherapists, Counsellors, Trauma Informed School Diploma Practitioners, and ELSA trained staff) work with individuals, groups and whole classes alongside school staff to upskill all practitioners. This approach ensures sensory integration, communication support and trauma informed practise happens in every classroom throughout the school day.

The school supports learners to embrace different learning opportunities, whether that be surfing, bushcraft, forest school, radio station, animal care, biking, cookery school, or visiting a local place of employment, thus opening up experiences and building their cultural capital.

We believe every experience is a learning experience and all staff maintain a non-judgemental approach to working with young people. Staff always put the children first and utilise their extensive range of expertise to nurture and address the needs of each child. A combination of educational, pastoral, social care and therapeutic experience provides a robust integrated and holistic approach for our learners.

Our Purpose, Mission, Vision and Values are central to everything we do at The Stable School.


To ensure every learner has a positive destination and can flourish independently post 16.


For all young people at the school to be good readers, good learners and good people.


To deliver high-quality teaching and education with a strong, coherent curriculum, and excellent personal development opportunities.


We believe in the right of every learner to access a high-quality education and that we are here to enable all learners to achieve, regardless of need. We do this specifically for our learners through high-quality, personalised, trauma informed, therapeutic approaches.

John Shanahan – Principal

As Principal of The Stable School, I am delighted to work with the fantastic team, the amazing families, and the local community we serve. As a school, we are also delighted to be part of the Melrose Education group of schools, and to work with their wonderful team who support the school in its ongoing journey.

I have been a school leader in a wide range of contexts including mainstream, international, independent, and multi-academy groups. My most recent experience has been working with schools and academies with specific specialisms, primarily SEMH and Autism.

Having experienced the journey personally, I wholeheartedly believe in the power of education to change lives. Throughout my career, I have always been driven by the prospect of genuinely transforming lives through a child centered approach and creating opportunity through transforming young people’s access to education and achievement.

My leadership is values driven, with a focus on authenticity, trust, and integrity. I am a leader that puts people first and I work with all stakeholders with kindness and care, always supporting those I work with. I am transparent with those I support as I know this enables clarity of purpose, which is delivered with empathy and sensitivity.

I believe we must both work with, and support our families, to enable their children to achieve and succeed. What we want for all our learners is to become good readers, good learners and good people, so they are able to succeed and thrive beyond school.

At the Stable School, we provide high quality, consistent and predictable experiences for all learners to enable them to reach their absolute potential. My core belief that any child can achieve, has been powerfully cemented by my own experiences of developing and building a growth mindset culture. This culture believes (and expects) that all learners have the potential to grow, develop and rapidly achieve, regardless of circumstances.

It is an honour to work with and serve this community and I look forward to doing so as we grow and develop into the outstanding school all our children need.

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