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Hi all, I'm new to this so please excuse me if I'm overlooking something. My daughter is only 6 but she is ballet obsessed and proving talented at it so we will be applying for junior associate schemes next year for when she turns 8. We can afford the junior associate schemes but my concern is we wouldn't be able to afford standard fees if she was lucky enough to progress into full time vocational training most likely at Elmhurst (if possible) and I'm confused about who's eligible for what funding. Our household income is relatively low at around £33k per year. Looking on websites Seems we'd be eligible for funding (I fully appreciate this is only if she was lucky enough to get through auditions) but I'm confused about bursarys and DaDa eligibility etc etc. I know my question is well advanced considering her age currently but she is wanting to do extra ballet lessons and start Pilates to build up further skill and strength in preparation. So I guess what I'm saying is is it worth us putting all the extra money and time Into her dancing with a view of a future in it if we arnt going to be able to afford vocational training in the future. Thank you for any help xx

Edited by Ian Macmillan
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The four vocational schools for year 7 upwards that are part of the government MDS funding scheme are Royal Ballet School (RBS), Elmhurst, Hammond and Tring.  Entry for all is by auditions - a first and a final audition.  I think that for RBS and Elmhurst the final audition is still to award places as well as deciding who they want to offer the MDS awards to, whereas for Hammond and Tring the final audition is to determine funding as places have already been offered.  The MDS awards are given to those the school feel have most potential and numbers vary according to the school's allocation and how many they are each year but broadly speaking I think most UK children at RBS will receive an MDS, a large percentage at Elmhurst and less at Hammond and Tring.  Hammond offer bursaries to children they would like to attend their school but are unable to offer an MDS to.  I'm sure that online (perhaps on RBS site) you will be able to find a link to the MDS scheme - its a sliding scale of parental income determining parental income.

There are a few other schools that offer good vocational training for under 16s but as far as I am aware they are all fee paying.

Post 16 training and there are a good many more options for vocational training and DADAs are the government funding to help with this, so not something to concern yourself with yet.

 

Your DD is still very young and my advice would be to keep it fun for her and not worry about the future.  A lot could change before she is old enough to start applying for vocational school - not just her likes and dislikes and opinions etc but also the whole funding system, depending on governments plans.  At age 6 my DD was super keen and so were many of her friends.  In year 6 she decided she did not want to try for vocational school as she did not feel ready to leave home.  By the time she auditioned in year 11, there were only 3 in her peer group that still wanted to dance professionally and she was the only one to get offered a place let alone funding for vocational school.  You just cannot predict the future.

Edited by 2dancersmum
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Hi mumofthree I think that if you can afford to pay for all these classes and it's what your child wants to do then yes you should go for it, you can never tell how a child will develop and the funding is completely down to pot luck really, who else is in that audition, what the school are looking for and how well the child does on the day! But basically each school has a number of funded places available and these will be offered to the pupils with the most potential, so after the preliminary auditions you can be offered no place, an unfunded place or the opportunity to attend a funding audition and those who the school believed has the most potential will be offered funding. Apart from White Lodge where everyone gets funding. All the Mds funding is done on a sliding scale in line with household income, Dada's are for 6th form students not lower school. Hope this helps!!

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Great reply 2dancersmum, made much more sense than mine...that's what you get for rushing to answer inbetween doing other stuff lol :D

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Thank you so much for your replies ladies, that's helped put it into perspective. Its so hard thinking about what 'might' happen so far down the line and I'm well aware that although she may show talent now her peers may 'overtake her' in the coming years. I think part of my concern is that I'm on maternity leave with our third baby so currently money is mega tight and I don't want to fritter it away on something that might be pointless in the long term anyway. I'm aware that perhaps the way we handle things now could change her outlook on it for the future. Thank you xx

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Is Pilates offered by the dance school? I've never seen it for such young children! At 6 I think the only reason to take extra classes would be for enjoyment and if you have the spare money. If money is tight you can do a lot at home- there are lots of ballet DVDs for children and you can increase strength/ flexibility etc just by doing normal things like going to the playground and climbing or riding a bike. There are an awful lot of classes for young children but I'm not sure whether it would be worth scrimping to send her. If she is talented and has the right body I don't think doing the extra classes will affect her associate success and at that point you may have more disposable income.

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I think as she is only 6 that Pilates etc wouldn't be necessary for her to be successful in the future. If you are under financial pressure currently then I would consider these to be optional extras. Pilates is actually quite tricky to understand - it may even put her off?

 

Posting at same time as Moomin

Edited by sarahw

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Hello Mumofthree and welcome to the Forum!  I do hope you will share your DD's progress with us.

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They don't run Pilates at her dance academy but her teacher suggested it. She is exceptionally flexible (it comes from me as I have quite extensive hyper mobility syndrome) but with that utter flexibility comes some instability and her teacher suggested Pilates as a means of gaining a little more strength and control as she gets older and longer limbed. I'm in my postpartum period after giving birth and have been going to Pilates (as I did previously) but I've been going in the day but she wanted to join me if I found an evening class.

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Mumofthree just to put things into perspective for you, my dd had only been doing ballet for 12 months when she auditioned for White Lodge, Tring and Elmhurst and she made finals for all 3 and was offered a place at Tring....so getting lots of training in at a young age isn't always the be all and end all, especially if she has a natural ability, tun out, flexibility etc I'd look at associate classes when she's old enough but if you are on a budget I wouldn't worry about extra classes too much at the moment! ????

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They don't run Pilates at her dance academy but her teacher suggested it. She is exceptionally flexible (it comes from me as I have quite extensive hyper mobility syndrome) but with that utter flexibility comes some instability and her teacher suggested Pilates as a means of gaining a little more strength and control as she gets older and longer limbed. I'm in my postpartum period after giving birth and have been going to Pilates (as I did previously) but I've been going in the day but she wanted to join me if I found an evening class.

Pilates certainly will be extremely useful once she is old enough to grasp the concept, but certainly not something you need to worry about at the moment. I would be very surprised if a reputable qualified pilates instructor would teach such a young child during an evening adult class in any case. Unless she is long-backed and is doing a lot of gymnastics at this age, she is better off concentrating on correct ballet basic technique until she is old enough to need (and understand) Pilates. :-)

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Thanks. Feel a bit more relaxed now having spoken to you guys. We will chill out for a year and will look at JA next January (she will turn 8 next february) :) thanks

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As a Pilates teacher I don't accept children into my classes under 12, and then it depends on the individual and their level of body awareness.

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Mumofthree, with your household income, it is likely that (should your dd be offered a funded place) you would be likely to qualify for most - if not all - the funding available, which is MDS for lower schools and DaDa for upper schools. Some of the upper schools offer student loans instead, so work on the same student loan principle as going to university.

 

By the way, it isn't essential to train full-time from age 11, it is quite common to start full-time at 16-18. Many of us on the forum have dc's who were non-vocational and carried on with 'normal' school, and then successfully auditioned and were accepted for 6th-form/upper school training.

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Mumofthree just to put things into perspective for you, my dd had only been doing ballet for 12 months when she auditioned for White Lodge, Tring and Elmhurst and she made finals for all 3 and was offered a place at Tring....so getting lots of training in at a young age isn't always the be all and end all, especially if she has a natural ability, tun out, flexibility etc I'd look at associate classes when she's old enough but if you are on a budget I wouldn't worry about extra classes too much at the moment!

Did she accept the offer  of Tring Lema?

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No vonrothbart as she didn't secure funding and we can't afford the fee's, she has been offered a place again this year so got to go through it all again!!

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No need for more then lots of 'dancey' training before age 8, for fun - and then continue with more serious and regular training after age 8.  Lots of improvisation and acting could be good now, and then keep up the same for keeping the priority of 'dancing' over 'doing steps correctly'.... when studying to become a professional dancer...

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And if not accepted by one of those four schools, there are lots of other options, including abroad, where in some good schools the training is free if accepted at audition....

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Lema - you see the situation your in is the one that concerns me most, her being offered a place then not funding and we simply wouldn't be able to afford it so she'd have to miss out or like you reapply. You'd think they would work the funding on to those that 'need' it most as the priority over the talent level, it seems this way you might have parents who are very affluent and would be able to afford standard fees Being offered funded places. I understand their contributions are higher but it makes me sad when lower income families have to miss out.

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This is a topic that's been discussed many times over the years, and if you click on the tag "finance" under the thread title, you can read through the various threads on funding. The sad fact is that there are often not enough funded places for the number of talented dancers applying. But by the same token, there aren't enough jobs with ballet companies for all those dancers graduating from upper schools. The whole process is a gamble really where anything could happen along the way.

 

However, your daughter is only 6 so although it's great to get a head start by doing research (the pinned thread on Lower School FAQs is also worth a read), you really don't need to be worrying about funding for Year 7 at this stage. Try to enjoy the journey a step (or a term) at a time, see what happens at auditions for JAs, and take it from there. :-)

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I doubt there are many parents who can comfortably afford the cost of vocational training (or high quality non vocational training come to that). What starts off as a once a week hobby can quickly escalate into an all consuming passion that takes up huge amounts of time, energy and money. I wonder if we realised at the time, how many of us would opt out of that first ballet lesson? That said, I am currently allowing my youngest child to jump head first into a different potentially financially crippling activity, so I have clearly learned nothing from my experiences as a dance mum!

i think Anna C and others have given excellent advice. None of us know where the journey will end - even those who seem to have absolutely everything going for them do not have long term professional success guaranteed, and the majority of dance mad children will never dance professionally at all. Our family life has revolved around dancing for about the last 15 years and I have no idea whether my DD will even get accepted onto any of the courses she has applied for for next year. But we have had some great fun, made some brilliant friends and learned a lot along the way. Even if she goes no further, I think her dance experiences to date have benefitted her hugely.

At 6 years old, absolutely nothing is predictable. Your DD may be destined for greatness on the ROH stage, or she may go on to have dance a lovely lifelong hobby, or any number of points in between. Or by next year she may have found a different passion altogether - who knows? The key thing is that she enjoys herself. Don't worry too much about the future,especially not things that you have no control over.

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Lema - you see the situation your in is the one that concerns me most, her being offered a place then not funding and we simply wouldn't be able to afford it so she'd have to miss out or like you reapply. You'd think they would work the funding on to those that 'need' it most as the priority over the talent level, it seems this way you might have parents who are very affluent and would be able to afford standard fees Being offered funded places. I understand their contributions are higher but it makes me sad when lower income families have to miss out.

Mumofthree although it is a rather upsetting situation to be in it is a situation we were well prepared for, thanks to this forum. Dd knew from day one that if she wasn't offered funding then she wouldn't be going, and it has just given her more drive and something to work towards!! She also knows that it may never happen for her, just as it don't happen for many other passionate dancers out there who just don't make the cut, for various reasons, that's the reality of being a dancer I'm afraid. All I would say to you, or any parent of a young dc, is make sure that the child fully understands how brutal the dance world is, make sure they understand your personal situation completely (not just for vocational training but as someone else said even none vocational training costs can soon run away with you) and that they learn not to take things to heart because sometimes life just isn't fair and they need to brush themselves off and carry on!!

With regards to the funding, well yes it would be nice to reserve it to those who need it most but at the end of the day the schools just want the best pupils they can get, those most suitable to the training, and if that child has a higher earning parent then that shouldn't mean they have less right to the help, the schools only have a set amount of beds, they just want to fill them with the best dancers, regardless of family situation.

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I think the funding process is right, personally I think it should be ranked on talent rather than finances, don't get me wrong my Dd cannot go to upper school if successful without funding but would find it unfair if a less talented child was given priority due to finances,,just my opinion of course

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My point exactly Flexible Fred, although it would be nice for low earners to get funding priority it wouldn't be right, talent and potential must be the deciding factor, just a pity there isn't more funding available, but isn't that the case in most situations like these!

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A lot of other parents I know have told their dcs that they can only accept places on dance courses designated as degree level (that qualify for student loans) and if they get diploma level offers they have to turn them down.

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Hi mumofthree

I think it's never too soon to start researching/planning ahead..BUT as your dd is still only very young at 6 years old I would stress that the key thing at this age is to make dancung a fun and enjoyable event..it can all too quickly become a chore and a bore if too much pressure to succeed is applied too soon:)

How about contacting a local gymnastics school for recreational classes to help with flexibility and conditioning?

This forum is invaluable!! There are many ballet experts and experienced parents who post on here ready to answer any question you may have:)

As far as your funding worries go..by the time your dd auditions for year 7 the way the funding is awarded and amounts may well have changed as may your own financial circumstances-so please don't worry unnecessarily!

The very best of luck to your dd for the future..enjoy every step of her dance journey and remember everything is meant for a reason...the highs and the lows:)

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