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GCSE success for youngsters at Red Balloon school for bullied children

PUBLISHED: 11:36 21 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:37 24 August 2020

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

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

©Mike Abrahams

A school for children who have been traumatised by bullying is celebrating GCSE success for its pupils.

Red Balloon Norwich headteacher Angela Hewett. Picture: Red BalloonRed Balloon Norwich headteacher Angela Hewett. Picture: Red Balloon

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 complete their GCSEs.

Despite a disrupted school year that saw the school having to replace face-to-face sessions with online learning, students are celebrating their results.

MORE: GCSE results 2020 - All of the results from Norfolk and Waveney

Of children who took GCSE maths, 72pc received grades 4 to 9 (the old grades C to A*), and 78pc achieved the same in English. They also gained a whole host of other qualifications.

Students and staff at the Red Balloon Learner Centre celebrate their outstanding Ofsted rating in 2015. Picture: Denise BradleyStudents and staff at the Red Balloon Learner Centre celebrate their outstanding Ofsted rating in 2015. Picture: Denise Bradley

Headteacher Angela Hewett said: “Students and teachers have had an anxious wait over the last few weeks, particularly given the challenging year that we’ve all experienced. And we want students to know that they are all successes and we are incredibly proud of them.”

Red Balloon is a network of small academic and therapeutic centres supporting children who are absent from school because of bullying or some other trauma in their lives.

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

Over their time at the school, students, many of whom have suffered bullying, abuse, or life-long conditions that can lead to them hiding in their bedrooms, progress from one-on-one sessions to small group sessions.

They also benefit from dedicated well-being support and a range of therapeutic support from mentors.

MORE: Schools say GCSEs ‘true reflection’ as pass rate surges

Mrs Hewett said: “All of our students came to Red Balloon because they simply couldn’t attend mainstream school any more; whether because of severe bullying, mental health problems or some other trauma in their lives.

“Many had been missing from lessons for months, if not years.

“No grade on a certificate can ever express just how amazing our students are. Between them, they’ve overcome a whole range of challenges such as post traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety and depression, complete loss of confidence and agoraphobia.

“We’re proud of the progress they’ve made, how much they’ve grown as individuals and we feel privileged to have been part of their journeys.”


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