Red Balloon Learner


Red Balloon – NW London is a warm and welcoming educational community in Harrow that caters for students who travel from across North West London.

The Centre covers core subjects in the National Curriculum as well as the humanities, art, drama, modern foreign languages, PSHE, and home cooking (leading to a BTec). Information on students’ results can be obtained upon request. We hope to offer a performing arts BTec in the near future. We have access to Harrow School’s excellent sports facilities.

All our students have either music or art therapy to support their emotional well-being, and we offer a range of extra-curricular activities, such as visits to museums and galleries, and an annual residential outdoor activities trip to the Lake District.

We have a strong community of staff and students where we encourage mutual respect, diversity, support and sharing. Vegetarian food is home-cooked at the Centre, staff and students sitting together at lunchtime. We have a garden where students may grow vegetables, play table-tennis or simply relax when the weather permits.

For over twenty years this charity has helped severely bullied young people who self-exclude from school as a result of trauma or other compelling reasons, to get back on an academic track and reconnect with society. Each student at Red Balloon has their own harrowing story, but every student is linked by their shared desire to secure the future that an education offers.

Students at Red Balloon engage in personal full-time recovery programmes that encompass education, personal development and well-being. These can be at one of our established Learner Centres or via Red Balloon of the Air (our distance learning resource). Wherever they are, we want the work involved to be relevant but fun, challenging but unpressured, rigorous but relaxed and always conducted within a community where everyone is treated with unconditional positive regard and respect. We welcome curiosity and encourage students to think independently as they develop a love of learning.

If you travel through our website you will gain a better sense of who we are and how we can help. Red Balloon isn’t for everybody, so don’t worry if you discover that it’s not for you. Feel free though to make a donation on your way out if you can by clicking here.  To watch a short film about Red Balloon please click here.

Finally, Red Balloon believes passionately that everyone should have access to a productive and fulfilling life. If bullying and trauma disrupt your education, prevent you from expressing yourself and scar your personal development – or that of somebody you know or love who might want our help – then please get in touch. We want to hear from you – we are here to help – we do not judge.

Founded in 1996, Red Balloon is a community in which children who have been traumatised by bullying or other events and circumstances can feel safe, regain their self-esteem, get back on an academic track and become confident enough to be able to rejoin their mainstream peers.

The short-term educational and therapeutic programmes run at our Centres help build children’s self-confidence and enable them to return to mainstream education or move into employment or training.

All our students have access to a broad and balanced curriculum of academic subjects, creative arts, counselling or therapy, and personal and social education.

We work in partnership with local schools to improve student attendance and academic progress.

Students in KS4 can work towards GCSE and other qualifications.

When students have regained their self-esteem and confidence, we support them in the next stage of their educational journey – back to school, on to college, or on to training.


Red Balloon Learner Centres (RB) are alternative providers of education and therapeutic care for children aged between 10 and 17. Children attending RBAir are aged between 11 and 16.  Our students follow individual full-time recovery programmes that encompass education, personal development and well-being. The programmes help them regain their self-confidence, get back on an academic track and take responsibility for themselves.

The features that underpin a successful RB student programme are and will remain:

  • A challenging and appropriate academic learning environment.
  • A bespoke personal, social and emotional programme.
  • Membership of a community where everyone is treated with unconditional positive regard.
  • Encouragement to take responsibility for their own learning, from planning to evaluation, and to become independent learners.
  • Both student and staff monitoring and assessing student progress.
  • An emphasis on rigour, curiosity, independence and development of the love of learning.
  • Teaching of relevant social, personal and academic skills needed in the outside world.

All students have bespoke short and long term aims, the latter specified through a placement plan.  A successful programme will enable the student to make a transition (return to mainstream education pre 16; education employment or training post 16) when the student and all concerned consider that to be practicable and achievable. RB will prepare children to live independently and make appropriate decisions.

Red Balloon is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.


All Centres offer the core subjects (maths, English and science) as well as a variety of human and social studies, creative arts, technology and physical activities. Other subjects that can be taken include music, dance, child development, business studies, design technology and cookery. The foreign languages that have been offered in the past include French, German, Spanish, Farsi, Japanese and Russian.

The qualifications that students have obtained while at Red Balloon include GCSE, BTec, Arts Award, Functional Skills, Entry Level English and maths, FCSE, FSMQ, Edexcel Award in maths and ASDAN.

All examination results and outcomes are available upon request from the Coordinator at each Centre.

 Support to students for whom English is not their first language

If we receive a referral for a student with English as a second language, we will seek support from the pertinent Local Authority.

Contact Details

Address  Red Balloon – NWLondon, 13 Kenton Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 2BW

Telephone  020 8864 6433



Proprietor  Dr Caroline Herbert MBE

Acting Chair of Trustees  Dr Caroline Herbert MBE

Telephone  01223 366052

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