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Carrie Herbert: Rebuilding Victims of Bullying at the Red Balloon Learning Centre

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Red Balloon was founded in 1996 by Carrie Herbert in her home in Cambridge. The charity was set up to help recover children and young people who had been so severely bullied or traumatised that they felt unable to attend school. Red Balloon Centres are small fulltime educational establishments for 11- to 18-year-olds in which students can feel safe, regain their self-esteem, get back on an academic track and become confident enough to be able to re-join their mainstream peers. There are three interlocking elements: academic education, wellbeing and community. Starting with one student in 1996, there are now about 200 attending the four Centres in Cambridge, Norwich, North West London, and Reading, as well as the online Centre called Red Balloon of the Air. The short-term educational and therapeutic programmes build children’s self-confidence, get them back on an academic road and help them make friends and build positive relationships. When they are ready, they return to school or go on to further education or an apprenticeship. Many complete A levels at college and then go to university. Red Balloon’s philosophy and practice are built on a particular view of learning, namely: that the learner needs to take charge of their own learning and decide the what, the how, the when, the constraints imposed, the resources that are needed, the product, and who will evaluate it and on what criteria.

About the speaker:

Dr Carrie Herbert trained as a teacher at the College, Ripon, before emigrating to Australia in 1973 to work as a teacher in the Education Department of South Australia. She returned to the UK in the eighties to complete a Master’s Degree at UEA and a PhD at Wolfson College, Cambridge. She finally left Adelaide in 1990 and set up her own educational consultancy, specialising in equal opportunities, sexual harassment and bullying, before founding Red Balloon in 1996. She has written a number of books on the subject of bullying and harassment in schools and in the workplace.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Education Society series.

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