The negotiated curriculum

We work hard to ensure our students re-ignite their love of learning and feel able to continue their education. At Red Balloon we understand that a one-size-fits-all approach to education simply does not work. We all have different interests and learn in different ways so we embrace this knowledge to allow our students to really thrive.

That’s why all our Centres operate using a negotiated curriculum. Involving each individual in deciding what they learn and how they learn, and incorporating students’ interests wherever possible is the key to successful learning. Each of our students has an individual programme of learning designed with their interests, needs and goals in mind, ensuring that their education is as interesting and inspiring as it can be.

Have a look at our video below to learn more.

Well-being at RBAir

The foundation of helping our students to grow as individuals and learners is ensuring they are supported with their mental health and personal well-being. Our staff includes a team of therapists and regular therapy sessions with an individual therapist are offered to all of our students as part of their timetable. This ensures that throughout their time with us, our students have dedicated and professional help to heal emotionally, care for themselves, and develop the resilience they need for the challenges of the future.

Link mentors

Each of our students at RBAir has a link mentor throughout their time with us, who among their other roles is the student’s mentor and key point of contact. From helping them get their laptop working for the first session, to accompanying them on a practice commute to their next school, our link mentors are there to support our students each step of the way. Our students have regular meetings with their link mentor, whose aim is to support the student face-to-face according to their individual needs. Our link mentors also ensure that our students interact with people in the real world, as well as online as our students feel more confident. Link Mentors will also accompany students to meet with other students at RBAir so they can start building friendships with their peers.

Student hubs

RBAir is unique, as our students can be quite spread out across the country, but we have small hubs of students in the same area, and when this occurs we set up student hubs. Student hubs are like mini RB Centres, visited by RBAir students to do lessons, clubs or activities together along with their mentors. This allows our students to meet one another in a safe, supportive environment, and to build their confidence and make friends with their online classmates.

Practical subjects such as science and art

You might be wondering how these types of lessons can work in an online setting, and we’ve thought innovatively to come up with solutions. Each of our students is provided with a resource box, full of goodies for them to use as part of their practical lessons. Don’t worry, there’s nothing dangerous in there, and all contents are simple household items that nevertheless help support learning, or act as the materials for an experiment. Be it measuring gas release from baking powder and lemon juice, to finding the physical resistance of different spring sizes, we’ve got creative to ensure our students can experiment at their desk while following the online lesson.

Art students are sent portfolios and any necessary art materials to use in their homes, as their art teacher supports them online to develop their skills with each medium. Teachers can provide step-by-step demonstrations of techniques and students can share each stage of their artwork piece online for instant feedback and guidance.

PE and other physical activities are negotiated with the link mentor, who is aware of each student’s personal interests and abilities. Fitness sessions might start with a dog walk together and develop into membership of a local gym, or students can use our fitness videos to exercise in the privacy of their home. Once a young person is confident attending student hub meetings, they can take part in fun group physical activities with other RBAir learners.

Subjects available at RBAir

The following subjects are currently available at RBAir, and the qualification levels at which they are offered:

Animal CareASDAN
ArtGCSE, Arts Award (Bronze, Silver or Gold), ASDAN
Business StudiesGCSE
Computer ScienceGCSE
English LanguageGCSE, Functional Skills, Entry Level Certificates, ASDAN
English LiteratureGCSE
MathsGCSE, Functional Skills, Entry Level Certificates, FSMQ, Edexcel Award in Maths, ASDAN
Additional subjectsAQA unit awards, Lifeskills challenges, and a range of other ASDANs, depending upon the interests of the student

Additional subjects

We offer AQA units which allow students to study areas that are of particular interest to them and receive certification for successful completion.

Our face-to-face provision offers ASDAN Lifeskill Challenges. These include English, Maths and PSHEE, and support our young people with personal care, travel, independence and the skills they need to prepare for adulthood.

If a student is particularly interested in learning about a subject we don’t currently cover, then we will investigate ways to provide this.


Extra-curricular activities at RBAir

We know the measure of a successful education is not simply achieving high grades in exams – real accomplishment is about growing as an individual, improving your skills and self-confidence over time, and building and maintaining trusted relationships. In addition to subject lessons, PSHEE, mentoring and well-being, RBAir provides additional activities to help our students grow, as well as have some well-deserved fun.

After-school online clubs are open to all and various supplementary activities are run over the course of the year, often as part of mentoring sessions. Trips are also taken as small groups or sometimes joining students from our other Centres. We also run an annual residential sailing trip, helping our students gain some experience in planning and teamwork while enjoying sailing the River Orwell.

Red Balloon of the Air is a proud Rainbow Flag Award Recipient