Life at Red Balloon Cambridge
We aim to provide a warm and welcoming experience for all students. 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 mainstream 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 developing and improving together.
We do not have a uniform but students are expected to dress appropriately for the activities they will be doing. Our community room has a large, comfortable sofa, and here staff and students chat together (we all call each other by our first names).
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. That does not mean that the days are not structured: there is a timetable of lessons and other activities that is shared with all students and is on display around the building. Bespoke timetables are agreed with all students. These are open to change through negotiation. 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 and 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 trained chef Raul. 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 is a mix of wellbeing support, personal development and academic work. Each student’s timetable is designed with their needs in mind to ensure their education is as interesting and inspiring as it can be.
The video opposite provides further information.
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.
Positive mental health and wellbeing are increasingly understood to be the foundations upon which individuals are able to live satisfying and enjoyable lives. We therefore encourage students to participate in a range of community activities. These include 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 is vital to who we are and is at the centre of everything we do.
“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