GCSE success for youngsters at school for traumatised children

Children at Red Balloon Norwich

Children at Red Balloon Norwich who have been traumatised by bullying are celebrating GCSE success. - Credit: Mike Abrahams (posed by models)

A school for children who have suffered severe bullying and trauma is celebrating GCSE success for its pupils.

Red Balloon Norwich, in Earlham Road, was founded in 2006, and has up to 40 young people aged 11 to 16 on its roll who despite not being in mainstream education still completed their GCSEs.

As with other schools, Red Balloon has faced a hugely disrupted year due to the pandemic having to replace face-to-face sessions with online learning. 

Despite this students are celebrating their results with children who took GCSE English language and maths, 86pc received grades 4 to 9 (the old grades C to A*). 

They also gained a whole host of other qualifications, including Btecs and NCFE vocational qualifications in subjects ranging from animal care to music.

Heather Jolly, head of centre at Red Balloon Norwich.

Heather Jolly, head of centre at Red Balloon Norwich. - Credit: Red Balloon


You may also want to watch:


Head of centre Heather Jolly said: “Students and staff have coped with enormous challenges over the last 18 months, having to make considerable adaptations because of the changes in the assessment regime brought about by Covid. We are incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved.”

Red Balloon is a network of small academic and therapeutic centres, and Red Balloon of the Air, a mix of online and face-to-face therapeutic and educational support for children unable to attend school because of severe bullying, mental ill-health, trauma or medical conditions.

Most Read

All students are given the opportunity to negotiate their curriculum.

Red Balloon Norwich

Red Balloon Norwich provides therapeutic and educational support for children unable to attend school because of severe bullying, mental ill-health, trauma or medical conditions. - Credit: Red Balloon

This means that teachers use topics that students are passionate about – like horse riding, manga comics, paintball or car racing – and creatively link them to the curricular subjects to rekindle their interest in learning.

Ms Jolly said: “All of our students have come to us because they simply couldn’t attend mainstream school any more. Many had been missing from lessons for months, if not years.

“Between them, they’ve overcome a whole range of challenges such as post traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety and depression, complete loss of confidence, agoraphobia and eating disorders.

Exam test

Of Red Balloon Norwich children who took GCSE English language and maths, 86pc received grades 4 to 9. - Credit: PA

“No grade on a certificate can ever express just how amazing our students are. We’re proud of the progress they’ve made and how much they’ve grown as individuals. We hope our students are proud too.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter