Life at Red Balloon Cambridge
When you step through the door, we want you to feel at home. We are based in a converted house that looks pretty much like all the other houses in the street, and while all our teaching areas are fully equipped for the lessons we provide, they do not feel like classrooms. We want our students to feel ownership of the Centre: this is not a space we provide for you, it is a space we are constantly creating and improving together.
We invite everyone who comes here to take off their shoes, so do please bring slippers or other indoor footwear from home – you can keep them here to change into each day. We do not have a uniform: you can wear your own clothes here, but please dress appropriately for the activities you will be doing and for the weather, which can be chilly here in Cambridge! Our community room has a large, comfortable sofa, and here you will find staff and students chatting together (we all call each other by our first names) and preparing for the day ahead.
What will a day be like?
No two days are the same here! Our staff are mostly part-time, which means different teachers come in on different days, and each morning is a fresh start. For those who need structure in their lives, don’t worry – we have a timetable of lessons and other activities that is shared with all students and is on display around the building. Your personal timetable will be agreed with you before you start, but it is always open to change through negotiation, so if there is a lesson you want added, or one you would rather change for another, just have a chat with Jess. The timetable changes each half-term to reflect students’ priorities.
The mood at our Centres is informal. Our aim is to help our students regain their self-esteem and get back on track – a good outcome is not just about grades, but about our students being happier, more confident and reaching their personal goals. Our small size means we can really focus on the needs of each individual.
Breaks and lunch
The Centre opens at 9.00, ready for our first session at 9.15. We have one morning break of fifteen minutes after the first session, as well as a lunch hour at 12.30. During breaks we encourage all students to come to the community room, or one of the areas nearby. At lunch all our students and staff sit down together to a delicious home-cooked meal made by our housekeepers Raul and Bridget. After everyone has had their fill, there is a half-hour break before afternoon lessons re-start. At 3.30 our students head home.
Most lessons last for one hour, and there are five of them each day, three in the morning and two in the afternoon. Our curriculum is created on an individual basis and has a 50% focus on well-being, and 50% on academic studies. Each student’s timetable is designed with their needs in mind to ensure their education is as interesting and inspiring as it can be.
Have a look at our video opposite to learn more.
Therapeutic counselling is offered to all of our students as part of their timetable at RB – Cambridge. Our counsellors are trained in different types of therapy and can work creatively combining talking therapy with art or play therapy while teaching students different assertiveness and relaxation techniques. Counselling is not mandatory, but strongly encouraged. Sometimes, students take some time to warm up to the idea of counselling and that is OK too. The offer is always there and most students agree that the sessions help them improve their emotional and mental health.
Wellbeing is also about being part of our RB-Cambridge family and feeling like you belong, which is why we do lots of community activities. This includes things like games, sports and cooking, as well as all gathering for circle time after lunch on Fridays. We all have lunch together in the community room, which can be daunting at first for some, but is a great opportunity to sit down together as a community. Wellbeing in Red Balloon is like the blood in our veins or the water in our oceans: it is vital to who we are and is at the centre of everything we do.