Values, ethos and practice

Red Balloon is built on three core values

Wellbeing, community and education are at the heart of what we do.

To help our students get the most out of their education we aim for them to be happy, supported emotionally and feel a valued member of their class and peer group. We know that the students who join us may have been through some difficult experiences, and they may not have been at school for months or even years. But we also know that they can be happy and confident again, and we’re here to support them to make sure they get there.

It’s our aim to help our students regain their self-esteem and grow as individuals to reach their goals. We help them develop the confidence and skills to reintegrate with their peers and to successfully return to mainstream education, or move on to appropriate alternative provision, further education, training, or employment.


Mental health and emotional wellbeing are essential to being a happy and healthy individual, not only important in their own right they also form the foundations to enable us to thrive and to succeed.

Throughout their time with us our students are able to have counselling or therapy as part of their timetable, to help them with the problems they have been facing and support them in developing resilience against any issues they may face in the future.


Our Centres are small and focused on making students feel part of the family. Our students have often had similar experiences so there’s an innate level of understanding and acceptance already, and our inclusive atmosphere makes sure everyone feels valued. We seek to engage students in communities that are both supportive and demanding, so they understand both the value and realities of communities we experience throughout life. We believe it’s important that students belong to the community and that they accept responsibility for their contribution to that community and for upholding the rights of the other community members.


We know education is not just about exams, and it’s not one-size-fits-all. We work under a negotiated curriculum, where the student has a say in what they want to learn, so we find an approach that enables them to learn successfully and feel motivated to attend. Our students come to us at various levels of ability, and we support them to get back on track and level with their peers, so they feel confident and capable when their time with us comes to an end.

The student voice

For every student there is someone who knows what teaching methods work, what topics inspire, which things seem hard and what the student thinks – and it’s the student themself. So we involve each student in creating a programme tailored to their needs and goals, so they can get the most from their time with us. It’s something we stick to throughout Red Balloon, with students able to talk about what they’d find valuable to learn – be it quadratic equations, baking, or learning to travel on public transport, if it helps the student grow it’s valuable.

The student promise

All our students agree to three conditions when they join us:

  • That they want to come and will attend regularly;
  • That they want to learn and make academic progress
  • That they will behave with respect and consideration towards the other students, the staff, visitors and the property