Our Story

Building on a legacy of change

OTO might be a new online school, but it builds on years of experience and expertise in the world of specialist education. To understand the story of OTO, we need to go back almost twenty years to a hospital school in North London for children with some of the most severe cases of eating disorders in the country. Driven not by exam results but by a profound understanding that education, health, and wellbeing were intrinsically connected with one another, a different model of education grew out of this hospital, almost by necessity. What we discovered was that education for these children was essential to their recovery, and that it was most effective when it was highly personalised, taught in small groups, and took into account the whole of the child's needs. It was here, therefore, where the foundations of OTO were laid.

As the hospital schools grew in number from one to two to four, the dynamic between the model of education and the outcomes of the children became more and more profound. Importantly, this also came at a time when the successes within these hospital schools stood in stark contrast to what many of us saw as clearer signs of the failings of traditional, mainstream education. Why was it, we asked ourselves, that so many children were falling through the cracks? And what could we do to change it?

Not long later, the first plans were drawn up for a new school that would take the principles and lessons learnt from the hospital schools and apply them to a broader demographic - a school that would help reshape the vision for what education should be for all learners. This school was called the Orange Tree School. It specialised, and still continues to specialise in, providing neurodiverse learners (long the canaries in the coal mine of education) with a world class education that fit around them - not the other way around.

Jump forward again a couple of years to 2023 and - much like the evolution from hospital schools to Orange Tree School - OTO came into being as an extension of this underlying philosophy of putting the whole of the child first and seeing how we have to adapt. To us, OTO marks not the endpoint of a long journey, but the continuation of the never ending quest to reimagine schools and provide the best outcomes for all learners.

We are so excited to continue this quest and we hope you will join us, too.


What will your OTO journey look like?