Education: negotiating a curriculum which students find engaging

Education has the power to transform lives. It provides a gateway to achieving a rich and rewarding adult life. We recognise that true learning only occurs when students are safe and secure, so they can focus on acquiring new skills and knowledge.

“What I’ve valued most about Red Balloon is that the teachers are easy to approach. Also, the lessons can be tailored because class sizes aren’t too huge. They can be individualised.”

A “negotiated curriculum” is the central building block of our broad and balanced timetable and operates on a number of levels. Students choose what they wish to study and what they want to achieve. We place our trust in them to make appropriate choices, and they’ve never let us down!

Students who feel empowered to follow their interests set themselves ambitious targets for their own success. Our dedicated team of qualified teachers are delighted to support them.

Allowing students to explore their interests is the first stage in re-engaging with education in a way that is stimulating, exciting and fun. Max, for example, had been out of school for many months. During that time he spent a considerable time fishing, and became the main focus of his life. He was encouraged by his English teacher to talk about his hobby and all he had learnt. For Max, finding out that his knowledge on the topic far exceeded that of his teacher was an immensely empowering … but the next stage was transformational.

Max’s teacher suggested he create a manual to help fishing beginners and a powerpoint to support a talk at an angling club. These were inspirational tasks for him to complete. All through the process he was constantly refining his spelling, punctuation and grammar; he wanted to get it right and be proud of his work. As the tasks developed, Max considered higher order concepts such as simile, metaphor and writing for an audience. These are all transferable skills that supported Max’s future success at GCSE.

Red Balloon does not claim to have a monopoly on this approach; excellent teachers have been using engagement strategies since schools began. The structure of its learning however, small groups and freedom to tailor learning to each student, means that our teachers can truly make learning come alive.

“I value the freedom of choice and opinion that Red Balloon offers me”