Life at Red Balloon Reading

RB-Reading 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 the heart of Reading. Our curriculum is created on an individual basis and has a 40% focus on well-being, and 60% on academic studies. The mood at our Centres is informal, with no uniform and students 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.

To find out more about what life is like at Red Balloon Reading, take a look at our video below.


Each student has their own timetable of subjects and well-being sessions across both the morning and afternoon. Sessions 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. Sessions 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. Our sessions are 45 minutes long and there are six sessions in the day.


Therapeutic counselling is offered to all of our students as part of their timetable at RB-Reading. Our therapists are trained in different types of therapy and can work creatively combining talking therapy with music or play therapy while teaching students different assertiveness and relaxation techniques. Whilst therapy is not mandatory students are encouraged to have some therapeutic input 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-Reading family and feeling like you belong, which is why we do lots of community activities. This includes things like games, sports and cooking, as well as all gathering for circle time after lunch on Fridays.

Breaks and lunch

The Centre is open from 8.30 am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. A normal day would start at 9 am with a 15 minute tutor time session followed by two 45 minute sessions then a short morning break of 15 minutes followed by two more sessions of 45 minutes. Then we have lunch from 12.30 – 1.15 pm followed by two more sessions of 45 minutes. The day finishes for students at 2.45 pm. During breaks students can be found in the community room. At lunch all our students and staff sit down together for a delicious home-cooked meal made by our housekeeper Charlie. After everyone has had their fill there’s time to play games and talk before afternoon lessons re-start.

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