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The Red Balloon Learner Centres

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The Red Balloon Learner Centres
RBLC logo.svg
Established 1996
Headteacher Carrie Herbert
Location Cambridge, Norwich
North London
A maths lesson at Red Balloon Cambridge (c. 2005)

Red Balloon Learner Centres, often referred to as Red Balloons, are UK specialist learner centres providing a safe, full-time learning environment for children aged eleven to sixteen who have self excluded from mainstream school for reasons of being the victim of bullying, assault or trauma. The first centre, in Cambridge, was set up in 1996.[1] There are now five centres: Cambridge, Norwich, northwest London at Harrow, Merseyside and Reading. There is also a 'virtual centre' called "Red Balloon of the Air" whose aim is to provide a recovery programme online to children who live too far from one of the physical centres. The Red Balloon Learner Centre Group is a registered charity, as are the individual centres.[2]

General information

The main aims of the Red Balloon are to:[3]

  • help children who have been severely bullied or suffered trauma
  • provide a safe environment with clear boundaries for behaviour
  • provide individual, full-time academic, pastoral and therapeutic programmes
  • encourage and expect consideration and respect at all times
  • restore self-confidence
  • teach students how to respond to bullying
  • help students regain control of their learning and succeed
  • help students return as soon as possible to mainstream education, or progress to further education or find worthwhile employment

The staff and students at a centre work together as a community. The centres provide a range of activities such as textiles, clay-work, painting, African drumming, electric guitar and piano. Typical facilities include a purpose-made science lab, a technology studio, a landscaped garden and a therapy room. There are only fifteen students at any one time, and most of the teaching is done on a one-to-one or small group basis, with the exception of sports, drama and PSHE activities.[4]

Notable donors to the Cambridge Red Balloon include the Freemasons' Grand Charity and Cambridge University Press football club.[5][6]


  1. ^ "Ben visits Red Balloon Centre, Cambridge". Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Charities matching "Red Ballon"". Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Red Balloon". Children England. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "Red Balloon". Cambridge and Peterborough NHS. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Ridgeons League (12 August 2009). "£25k is massive help for charity - Cambridge City News". Cambridge News. Cambridge Newspapers. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Ridgeons League (22 April 2011). "CUP are aiming to Press on in league with groundshare plan - Cambridge Local Football". Cambridge News. Cambridge Newspapers. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 

External links