Life at Red Balloon NW London

RB-NW London has teachers, students and lessons, but that’s where our similarity with school comes to an end. We’re a small community of friendly staff and students, based in a converted house in Harrow. Our curriculum is created on an individual basis and has a 50% focus on well-being, and 50% on academic studies. The mood at our Centres is informal, with students wearing home clothes and calling the teachers by their first names.

Our aim is to help our students recover and get back on track – a good outcome is not just about grades, to us it’s about our students being happier, more confident and the things they are achieving as individuals. Our small size means we can really focus on the needs of each individual and support them to reach their goals.


Each student has their own timetable of subjects and well-being sessions across both the morning and afternoon. Lessons might be individual up to small groups of 2-3, and are at the pace and level our students need to catch up on anything they’ve missed. Lessons take place in one of our small classrooms, science lab, art room or music room, and if it’s really nice weather and the subject is suitable there’s also a chance to be outside instead.

Find out more about the subjects we offer here.


Therapeutic counselling is offered to all of our students as part of their timetable at RB-NW London. Our therapists are trained in different types of therapy and can work creatively combining talking therapy with art or music therapy while teaching students different assertiveness and relaxation techniques. Therapy is not mandatory, but strongly encouraged. Sometimes, students take some time to warm up to the idea of therapy and that is okay too.

The offer is always there and most students agree that the sessions help them improve their emotional and mental health. Well-being is also about being part of our RB-NW London family and feeling like you belong, which is why we do lots of community activities. This includes things like games, sports, horseriding and cooking, as well as all gathering for circle time after lunch on Fridays.

Breaks and lunch

The Centre opens at 08:45, ready for our first session at 09:00. We have a morning break as well as a lunch hour at 12:30. During breaks students can be found in the community room, art room, music room or in the garden. At lunch all our students and staff sit down together to a delicious home-cooked meal made by our cook, sometimes spilling over into a quieter room for those that like a calmer lunch space. After everyone has had their fill then there’s time to play games, chat, or participate in one of our lunchtime clubs like Karaoke, Debating, Film Club, or Craft before afternoon lessons re-start. At roughly 3:30 our students head home.

  • “Red Balloon is a lot more informal, it’s a lot more relaxing and there’s a lot less pressure.”

    From the Red Balloon NW London Centre

  • “I value the feel of a community I get when I’m at Red Balloon. ”

    From the Red Balloon NW London Centre
    In Red Balloon NW London

  • “The difference between mainstream and Red Balloon I find is that Red Balloon are a lot more understanding, you can talk to them. ”

    From the Red Balloon NW London Centre

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