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Best Foot Forward

July 28, 2016

Red Balloon’s CEO writes:

Best foot forward…

In a difficult year, I am pleased to say that Red Balloon has more than held its own. The difficulties at Kids Company have made it a challenging year for children’s charities in general. 2015/16 has also been a year of change for Red Balloon, experienced most sharply by our online provision, RBAir.

Change is a conundrum. It can be fast moving, unstoppable, and unpredictable. It creates a plethora of new opportunities and challenges. As we come up to the Rio Olympics, let me use a sporting analogy. The last year at Red Balloon has been like running the 400m hurdles. You must keep going, jumping the hurdles and maintain your stride.

As I look back at this year, it seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye (or rather the 48.5 seconds it took Edwin Moses to win the race in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles). As any parent, child, or teacher will know, a hurdle that educational institutions have to clear is the school inspection. But any hurdle is an opportunity by definition. Let’s apply this to Red Balloon. 2015 saw RB-Norwich receive an ‘outstanding’ from Ofsted; RB-Cambridge judged ‘excellent’ in various categories of the ISI inspection; and Red Balloon of the Air win e-learning’s 2015 award as ‘best e-learning project – not for profit sector’ (eight projects were shortlisted) and in June 2016 RBAir got a top rating from the Cambridgeshire Local Authority review.

Hurdles 1 – 4 cleared – phew! There were only six others.

Growth has been the surface upon which the hurdles have been placed in 2015/16. Since December 2015, the number of students accessing RBair has more than doubled, from 15 to over 30. While exciting, growth strains organisations, particularly small organisation. Small charities lack the resources yet must deal with greater variability than their larger counterparts. It remains crucial this doesn’t compromise the quality of the programme we offer. This sets up the hurdle race for 16/17…

Quintus Travis, CEO Red Balloon

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