Red Balloon Cambridge

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 strive to help students make progress academically, we also focus on the young people at the heart of that process and seek to enable them to develop a positive view of themselves. Our work is centred around our learners, and so we call ourselves a Red Balloon Learner Centre. We have no headteacher, no uniform, no staff room. What we are, above all, is a community.

Our first Centre has been here for over twenty years and is based in a terraced house nestled in the city centre, and we have recently opened a second Centre nearby. 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. We strive to make sure that it is stimulating and relevant to the young people we work with and meets their current and 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 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 Red Balloon Cambridge, they often meet great difficulty in building relationships with peers and adults and in seeing a positive future for themselves. 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. 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 operates in two small Centres in central Cambridge. We provide a safe and supportive learning environment for up to forty young people from Cambridgeshire and surrounding counties. Our Centres are open Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 15:30 during term time. Students attend full-time or on a reduced time-table according to 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 individual goals. We want to see our students grow as individuals and develop the self awareness, social skills and confidence to make their way in the world.

All Red Balloon Centres focus 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. It is often the case that, when students join us, they are not ready to work towards qualifications and may find significant difficulty in accessing the curriculum.

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

A significant part 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 in addition to being important areas for learning.

At the heart of our community is our community room and 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

There is usually a waiting list; times vary according to number of referrals made. 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 should check whether 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

We are committed to ensuring that all students are safe – we have robust safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures to protect our students.

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 Educational Trust Lead for Safeguarding and Child ProtectionRobert Watson07877 857656



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