Information for parents and carers

We understand it can be a worrying experience for parents or carers when your child is placed in a secure environment. We hope this website will help answer some of your questions about Atkinson. If you have any more questions, staff are always happy to help with any query you have, so please ask. There is no such thing as a silly question, we are here to help.

Atkinson is a ‘secure children’s home’. This is important to say because some people who have not visited us may think we are a prison and staff wear uniforms. We would like to reassure you that we are not a prison and the staff do not wear uniforms. We are here to look after your child and help them through any of the difficulties they may have experienced before their admission to Atkinson.

If it is appropriate, you may be able to see your child’s room on your first visit.

Atkinson has a wide range of facilities and the menu above gives you an idea of what it is like living here and more information about us.

The Atkinson School includes art and domestic science rooms, which are available for use outside school hours, and classrooms with computers furnished to the highest standards. Every young person who comes to stay at the Atkinson will have an education assessment to help us develop an individual education programme for them.

Young people will be expected to undertake mixed programmes of education and if they are over 16 they can take part in work experience linked, where possible, to local colleges or to nationally accredited qualifications, (which they can obtain in Atkinson).

The school aims to:

  • enable each child to make the changes necessary to support a return to mainstream school or further education
  • enhance self-worth by enabling students to experience success and cope with disappointment
  • develop competence in basic communication skills and respect for the needs of others

Atkinson provides a safe and secure home for young people ages 10-17 who are referred through the family courts. Young people are placed with us because they are placing themselves and others at risk or have a history of absconding from previous placements.

What you need to know

Key workers

Each young person has a key worker to look after them. The key worker will let you know how your child is getting on and can answer any questions you may have. The key worker will write to you letting you know their name and phone number. If you can’t contact the key worker you can ask to speak to the duty manager or the home’s manager.

There is a high ratio of staff to children.


The young people look forward to letters and we encourage you to send these. To keep the young people safe we do ask for letters to be opened in front of a member of staff.

Phone calls

We encourage you to phone your child often as contact with families is very important. Please try to call between 3.30 and 8.30 pm during school days, unless there is an emergency.  You will need to give our staff a phone number that you can be reached on in case of an emergency.

Culture and religion

Please let us know if your child has any special cultural, religious or dietary needs and we will try our best to meet them.

Health care

Every young person is given a health check by our visiting nurse or doctor on arrival to the home. The nurse visits regularly and we will call for a doctor if any young person is unwell. Your child will have the opportunity to see a dentist and an optician, and can speak to a psychologist to talk about any emotional or mental wellbeing questions they may have.

CAMHS and wellbeing

We have a Health and Wellbeing team on-site that helps support the young people’s emotional health and wellbeing. The team consists of:

  • clinical psychologists
  • a consultant psychiatrist
  • an occupational therapist
  • a reducing exploitation and absence from care or home (REACH) practitioner
  • a drug and alcohol Y-Smart practitioner
  • a speech and language therapist


There may be several meetings during your child’s stay with us and we would really like you to attend them if possible. This is a chance for you to put your views across about how your child is being cared for and let us know what we can do to meet your child’s needs.

Complaints and compliments

We encourage you to share your views on the care your child receives while they are with us. If you are unhappy or have concerns with the service please write to the manager of Atkinson in the first instance.

Atkinson Secure Childrens Home
Atkinson Close
Beacon Lane

If you remain unhappy with the outcome you can contact Devon County Council’s customer service team on 0345 155 1078 or Speak to Ofsted (the organisation that inspects children’s homes) on 0300 123 1231. We would of course also like to hear from you if you would like to compliment the service provided as well.

Support groups, information and advice