Worthing learning centre for 'self-excluded' children celebrating after first ever Ofsted result revealed

A new Worthing learning centre has been praised by Ofsted inspectors for ‘providing a lifeline and route back to education’ for pupils who have ‘self-excluded from mainstream schools’.

Red Balloon Worthing Learning Centre – which opened in September 2022 and accommodates 20 learners aged between 11 and 18 – was rated ‘good’ in all areas by Ofsted following its first ever inspection in December last year.

Some children have their places at Red Balloon funded by their local authority through an education, health and care plan – which is why it is regulated by Ofsted.

The report, which was published on January 29, noted that pupils told inspectors they felt listened to and heard.

Inspectors Alice Roberts and Alan Johnson added: “This enables pupils to learn successfully alongside their peers and to redevelop their sense of belonging and self-worth.

“The school is very successfully reintegrating pupils who have previously disengaged from education. When pupils first begin to attend, staff and leaders at all levels work to reassure pupils that their feelings of safety and their well-being come first.

“Leaders have developed a strong personal development programme that forms a vital part of the school’s education offer. This encompasses regular wellbeing sessions, a range of therapies, personal, social and health education, and relationships and sex education.”

Kim Anderson, the head of centre at Red Balloon Worthing, said the first Ofsted report has left staff and volunteers ‘thrilled’ as it ‘reflects their amazing dedication’.

She added: “They have worked tirelessly alongside our learners to support them and encourage them to re-ignite a love of learning. We are extremely proud of our young people who have made such fantastic achievements in such a short period of time."

The inspectors noted that improvements can be made to the curriculum at the centre.

The report noted: “In a small number of subjects, the curriculum has not been designed or is not being successfully adapted to meet the needs and starting points of all pupils.

"This is particularly the case when pupils arrive at the school without the foundations in reading and writing they require to access the curriculum

successfully in other subjects.

"Leaders need to continue their work to refine curriculum thinking in these subjects so that teaching can be more precisely aligned to pupils’ starting points.”

The report also noted that the school has requested to increase the maximum number of pupils from 20 to 25.

The inspectors wrote: “The school is well equipped to manage this modest increase in pupil numbers and feels that slightly larger class sizes (of around five pupils) will provide pupils with increased opportunity for positive social interaction in the school.”

The centre is looking for volunteers to help it continue its amazing work.

A school spokesperson said: “Volunteers are an integral part of daily life at Red Balloon and we are so grateful for everything they do to support our learners.

"We are looking for people who enjoy working with young people and can offer support or a particular skill. If you would like to volunteer at Red Balloon Worthing then please contact Lucy Jackson by email at [email protected].”