Red Balloon Cambridge

Red Balloon Cambridge headteacher Jessica smiling

Coordinator’s welcome

Red Balloon Cambridge is a school that’s not a school. For many of our students, their experience of education has not been a happy one, and so we strive to offer something different. While we do help students make progress academically, our main purpose is to focus on the young person at the heart of that process. Our work is centred around our learners, and so we call Red Balloon a Learner Centre. We have no headteacher, no uniform, no staff room. What we are, above all, is a community.

Our centre has been here for over twenty years and is based in a terraced house nestled in the city centre. Students come to us having suffered bullying or other trauma, and often they have been out of mainstream education for a prolonged period of time. We aim to help them recover their self-confidence and self-esteem, to catch up with learning they have missed out on, and to prepare for the next stage in their journey, whether that is gaining qualifications and going to college, returning to school, or some other path.

We offer a very broad curriculum and strive to make sure that it is stimulating and relevant to the young people we work with and also meets their future needs.

We organise trips and visits throughout the year, ranging from short walks to local shops and museums to longer trips to London and an annual outward-bound adventure in the Lake District. We also work closely with our students’ families where this is needed and liaise with the other agencies involved in their lives. Once a student is ready to return to school or to move on to further education, we support them through this process.

When students first arrive at RB Cambridge, they are often shut-down and have little faith in any kind of future for themselves. But, once it is agreed that this is the right place for them, and as long as they are ready to take that first step through our red front door, we will help them rediscover their self-belief and build a future for themselves they can believe in. This is why many of our students tell us that their time at Red Balloon Cambridge is a truly transformational process.

Jessica Lechner

About the Centre

Red Balloon Cambridge provides a safe and supportive learning environment for up to 20 young people from Cambridgeshire and surrounding counties. Our Centre is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 15:30 during term time and students attend full-time or a reduced time-table depending on their needs and abilities.

Students can join RB-Cambridge from age 11 to 16, with those already with us able to stay to the maximum age of 18 to complete their GCSEs. Though we have sixth-form aged students with us, we are not able to offer A-levels. The highest level of education we offer is Key Stage 4 (GCSEs and equivalent).

What our students think

  • “It's a place where I feel comfortable and where I can go at my own pace, I can focus on socialising and on my education comfortably.”

    From the Red Balloon Cambridge Centre

View all testimonials

About Red Balloon

At Red Balloon we judge success and progress for our students against their unique goals. It’s not about getting good grades, we want to see our students grow as individuals and develop the personal skills, social skills and confidence to make their way in the world.

All Red Balloon Centres are based on the three key elements of

to ensure our students get the support they need to thrive. Read more about our Values, ethos and practice.

Negotiated curriculum

At Red Balloon Cambridge, we use a negotiated curriculum. This means that students and staff work together to devise a bespoke programme for each student to follow. It is often the case that, when students join us, they are not ready to work towards qualifications, or even to follow the national curriculum.

Our staff are adept at using topics that our students are passionate about, creatively linking them to the curricular subjects to rekindle their interest in learning. Similarly, students may not be ready to work in groups with others, and we provide opportunity for 1:1 lessons, where appropriate, as well as small group sessions.

Fifty percent of our programme is dedicated to well-being support and therapy and students are offered a range of therapeutic support. Creative subjects, such as art, music and drama are often used as therapeutic opportunities as well as academic pursuits, where appropriate.

At the heart of our community is our community room and recently refurbished kitchen. Here, staff and students come together to eat, celebrate birthdays and other festive occasions, play games or just sit and chat.

See more on What students can expect or Our Values, Ethos and Practice

Find out more about Red Balloon Cambridge

Enrolling with Red Balloon Cambridge

We are currently operating a waiting list of one academic year. To enquire about a place and add your child’s name to our waiting list, please contact us on 01223 357714 or For further information see Admissions.

Before contacting us, you might want to check if our provision is suitable for your child. If RB-Cambridge is not suitable for you or your child, do take a look at our online provision Red Balloon of the Air.

For exams queries, please contact

Contact details

  • Herbert House, 57 Warkworth Terrace,
    Cambridge CB1 1EE
  • 01223 357714
Make an enquiry

Safeguarding at Red Balloon Cambridge

Red Balloon Cambridge’s lead for Safeguarding and Child ProtectionJessica Lechner01223 357714/
07584 621 629
Designated Safeguarding People at Red Balloon CambridgeAdam Southwell
Sarah Deboys

Hannah Curtis

01223 357714
01223 357714


Red Balloon Group Lead for Safeguarding and Child ProtectionRobert Watson07877 857656



The Community and School Immunisation Team have notified the Centre that they will be providing Covid 19 vaccinations for 12 to 15 year olds.

Red Balloon Cambridge students will be vaccinated on the 5th October 2021.

Parents will have received a letter about vaccinations, a copy of the letter can be found here.

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