Red Balloon during the pandemic: information for parents and carers
Date updated: 10 February 2021
Red Balloon Centres – meeting our statutory obligations
Students at Red Balloon are classified as vulnerable by the government so our Centres are committed to remaining open during the COVID crisis. There are two instances when Centres may have to close, however, and these are as follows.
- In the event of staff and/or students being confirmed as COVID positive. The decision over whether full or partial closure is necessary will be taken by the Head of Centre, in consultation with their trustees, and in strict adherence with national guidance from the Department for Education and Public Health England. There can be no consultation as the law on this is very clear. Such a decision will take into account what other alternatives to full or partial closure are practicable. The priority will always be to ensure the safety of students and staff.
- If national restrictions are introduced which require the temporary closing of all educational settings including face-to-face provision for vulnerable learners and the children of key workers.
This information is intended to provide clarity and transparency to students and parents or carers about what to expect from remote education where restrictions require students to remain at home.
Details of how restrictions might impact Red Balloon of the Air students is included here
If Centre students have to study from home
Students who usually study in a Centre will be able to continue their Red Balloon timetable from home, if the Centre has to close. They will receive broadly the same curriculum online as they would in their Centre. However, we may need to make some adaptations (for instance to their timetable) depending on the availability of staff and whether activities can be transferred online.
For details of what to expect where individual pupils are self-isolating, please see here
If students don’t have digital or online access at home
We recognise that some pupils may not have suitable online access at home. Students will be offered a Red Balloon loan laptop if their household does not have one to spare. If your household does not have access to wifi, please contact your Head of Centre for further advice.
How sessions will be run remotely
Academic lessons will be taught live, as will any mentoring and therapy that students normally receive.
Sessions will be delivered via the Google platform within normal Centre opening hours, and students will receive instructions about how to access these.
Students may also be set long-term project work and/or internet research activities or directed to other online teaching resources.
Students are expected to attend all sessions unless there are mitigating circumstances. In these instances students, their parents or carers should contact their Centre straight away.
If a student does not appear online for their session, then a member of Centre staff will telephone, email or message their parents or carer to check that all is well.
Parents and carers are asked to help support their child’s education by setting household routines which facilitate their attendance.
Feedback on students’ activities can take many forms and may not always mean extensive written comments for individual children. For example, verbal discussions, whole-class feedback or quizzes marked automatically via digital platforms are also valid and effective methods, amongst many others. Staff will ensure that students are informed of how they will receive feedback on their work, in advance.
Additional support for students with particular needs
We recognise that some pupils, for example those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), may not be able to access remote education without support from adults at home. We acknowledge the difficulties this may place on families, and we will work with parents and carers to support pupils in the best ways possible.
Remote education for self-isolating pupils
Where individual pupils need to self-isolate but the majority of their peer group remains in school, how remote education is provided will likely differ from the approach for whole groups. This is due to the challenges of teaching pupils both at home and in school. Please discuss arrangements with your Head of Centre.
Health, wellbeing and safeguarding
The health and well-being of all our students, staff and families continues, as ever, to be our number one concern. We are keeping the situation under frequent review so that we can respond to any NHS or Department for Education guidance, and we will continue to inform you in advance of any planned changes.
If you have any safeguarding concerns about any Red Balloon student please contact the following designated safeguarding lead:
Red Balloon of the Air: firstname.lastname@example.org
Red Balloon Cambridge – email@example.com
Red Balloon Norwich – firstname.lastname@example.org
Red Balloon NWLondon – email@example.com
Red Balloon Reading – firstname.lastname@example.org
Red Balloon of the Air (RBAir) students
RBAir students normally receive their academic lessons online, so these arrangements will remain unchanged unless there are extenuating circumstances eg: a high number of staff are taken ill. If this happens, students will receive notification from RBAir’s administrative team. Please be assured that cover will always be sought, however, to ensure continuity of education and care wherever possible.
During lockdown times, limited face-to-face sessions and mentor contact may be possible. If this is the case for your child, you will be contacted in person to discuss this with your link mentor and/or your face-to-face teacher. It is important to ensure that you and your child feel comfortable attending these.
If your child is not attending in-person sessions then these will be online or telephone sessions instead.
During lockdown, there will be no group sessions in order to minimise contact and avoid routes of transmission.
If you require any further information
Advice on safe online learning can be found on our website here
If you have any questions about online learning, then please contact your Red Balloon Centre.