Red Balloon of the Air

What is RBAir?

RBAir is a unique blended online and face-to-face provision for vulnerable young people that puts the needs of each student at the forefront. We offer an integrated wellbeing, education and social development programme where each student attends a time-table developed to support their individual needs, abilities and personal goals.

We share all of Red Balloon’s core values but to help reach those who need us most, we do some things differently – and online!

Who do we support?

We support students:

  • who aren’t yet able to leave their home
  • who live too far away from one of our Centres
  • whose local Centre has a waiting list
  • with or without EHCPs

Students can join RBAir from the age of 11 and many work with us to complete their GCSEs. We have students in years 12 and above who are studying at Key Stage 4 level (GCSEs and equivalent); but we are not able to offer A-levels.

We offer a unique approach to education which can be especially effective for learners with Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). You can learn more about it here.

RBAir is a registered JCQ examination centre so students can take their exams with us in a welcoming and familiar environment.

As students reach the end of their time with us we support them with a bespoke Careers and Transitions programme.

How do we do it?

RBAir provides the three interlinking components which form the Red Balloon support programme. The difference is that our academic provision and therapeutic counselling is also provided online at a distance, meaning that young people can start to work with us before they are feeling ready to leave the home.

  1. Education – Students follow an individualised timetable of online, real-time sessions in a small group size, supported throughout by caring and qualified teachers. Lessons use innovative and therapeutic teaching and learning techniques and hands-on practicals at a distance.
  2. Therapy – Trained BACP-registered therapists provide online and face-to-face therapy and psychological support to help students overcome their challenges, develop resilience and feel ready to re-engage with the world.
  3. Social re-engagement – ‘Link professionals’ (mentors) act as a bridge between commissioners, family, teachers, therapists and all the other professionals involved in a student’s life, as well as being a mentor to the student. The link professional works skillfully to develop each student’s self-confidence at a pace that ensures their personal growth is sustainable.

We have well-appointed facilities in Milton (Cambridgeshire) and Danbury (Essex), as well as student hubs in Reading, Norwich, NW London and Worthing. When students are ready, they can come and meet with their peers and take part in small group sessions such as cookery, forest skills or practical science experiments. We also offer termly trips and activities which all students are supported to access.

Read more about our provision, our curriculum and the subjects we offer here.

Where do we operate?

RBAir’s focus on individual support means that each of our students has a link mentor to support them throughout their time with us, who visits their home and helps them progress to interacting face-to-face again with other students. This means despite parts of our programme being online we do have restrictions on the distances from our hubs that we can support, as we must have link mentors able to provide face-to-face support in the area.

We are currently able to support students in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Sussex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Greater London, Berkshire and Surrey, though we are always expanding to reach new areas, so please do get in touch to see if we are able to support you.


Due to the online nature of parts of our provision, all RBAir students must have a reading age of 10+ and have access to a reliable internet connection.

All new students sign a ‘Community Agreement’, which demonstrates that they want to be with us, they wish to make progress (personally, socially and academically), and that they agree to treat everyone in the RBAir community with kindness and respect.

If you think RBAir might be the right place for your child, please click the following link to complete an enquiry form. One of our admissions team will be in touch with you within five working days.

Click here to complete the RBAir Enquiry Form

Visits to RBAir are encouraged, please get in touch if you would like to arrange a visit.

If RBAir is unsuitable for your child due to the online portion of our provision then please take a look at our other Centres.

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