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British training at Lower and Upper Schools

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14 minutes ago, Anna C said:

 I don't think Taxi is referring to just boarding when she refers to pastoral care - more the treatment of pupils by staff at school? 

Student welfare in general, and in particular the singular lack of support given to students who are struggling physically or emotionally, whether through prolonged injury, illness, issues with mental health or other reasons. There is an all-pervading attitude of schools chucking people on the scrap heap as soon as there's a problem. They don't exactly make all that much of an effort to give the students the support they need in order to try and sort things out.

I have only come back onto the forum to comment on this thread because I feel so strongly about it.

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42 minutes ago, taxi4ballet said:

Student welfare in general, and in particular the singular lack of support given to students who are struggling physically or emotionally, whether through prolonged injury, illness, issues with mental health or other reasons. There is an all-pervading attitude of schools chucking people on the scrap heap as soon as there's a problem. They don't exactly make all that much of an effort to give the students the support they need in order to try and sort things out.

I have only come back onto the forum to comment on this thread because I feel so strongly about it.

Absolutely agree. The students seem to be viewed as a commodity rather than actual people. I imagine there are some who are identified as being outstanding talents who will be considered worthy of more support if they hit a problem, but that doesn't seem to be common.

I remember reading an interview with a senior member of staff at a well known school that was published in one of the dancing magazines a  good few years ago. It was clear that they viewed students with any kind of problem as an inconvenience and that "weakness" was not to be tolerated.  It horrified me to think that these views were considered OK to share in print  with the public, and left me wondering that if that was the attitude that was potentially sanitised enough for public consumption, how much worse might things be behind closed doors.

Obviously dancers do need a significant amount of personal resilliance, both physical and mental, but so do people in lots of other professions. There must be a better way of achieving the end goal, and of developing those who for whatever reason aren't going to get to "the top" to reach their own maximum potential. The bad experiences (at every school) seem to be too common to be explained as one offs.

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Always, always do full due diligence on any school that you are considering applying to. This includes screening for stories in the media. This can be done by typing in the name of the school and following it with 'news stories' or 'court cases' or similar into a search engine. Any findings may or may not influence your decision about going there, but at least it will be with your eyes open.

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2 minutes ago, Pups_mum said:

Absolutely agree. The students seem to be viewed as a commodity rather than actual people. I imagine there are some who are identified as being outstanding talents who will be considered worthy of more support if they hit a problem, but that doesn't seem to be common.

I remember reading an interview with a senior member of staff at a well known school that was published in one of the dancing magazines a  good few years ago. It was clear that they viewed students with any kind of problem as an inconvenience and that "weakness" was not to be tolerated.  It horrified me to think that these views were considered OK to share in print  with the public, and left me wondering that if that was the attitude that was potentially sanitised enough for public consumption, how much worse might things be behind closed doors.

Obviously dancers do need a significant amount of personal resilliance, both physical and mental, but so do people in lots of other professions. There must be a better way of achieving the end goal, and of developing those who for whatever reason aren't going to get to "the top" to reach their own maximum potential. The bad experiences (at every school) seem to be too common to be explained as one offs.

Sometimes the cause of the problem is either misdiagnosed and/or directly exacerbated by the school itself. Who do you turn to then? The students all know that any kind of weakness is frowned on, which means that sometimes they feel that they can't ask for the help they need. 

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1 hour ago, Pups_mum said:

Absolutely agree. The students seem to be viewed as a commodity rather than actual people. I imagine there are some who are identified as being outstanding talents who will be considered worthy of more support if they hit a problem, but that doesn't seem to be common.

 

 

1 hour ago, taxi4ballet said:

Sometimes the cause of the problem is either misdiagnosed and/or directly exacerbated by the school itself. Who do you turn to then? The students all know that any kind of weakness is frowned on, which means that sometimes they feel that they can't ask for the help they need. 

Unfortunately, there seems to be an enormous lack of understanding in particular of emotional problems and an unwillingness to support them which is quite ironic considering studies have shown that very creative people have more of a tendency to suffer from these.  I wonder how much talent has been lost through lack of support?

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I am thinking of Jonathan Cope’s wife Maria Almada who was a beautiful dancer but suffered from severe stage fright. Such a loss to ballet!

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31 minutes ago, All4dancers said:

 

Unfortunately, there seems to be an enormous lack of understanding in particular of emotional problems and an unwillingness to support them which is quite ironic considering studies have shown that very creative people have more of a tendency to suffer from these.  I wonder how much talent has been lost through lack of support?

I might be talking specifically about a lack of co-ordinated support re catching up after time out following injury.

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4 minutes ago, taxi4ballet said:

I might be talking specifically about a lack of co-ordinated support re catching up after time out following injury.

Indeed you might, however time out for injury frequently leads to or exacerbates emotional problems. 

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6 minutes ago, All4dancers said:

Indeed you might, however time out for injury frequently leads to or exacerbates emotional problems. 

If someone is treated appallingly it doesn't help much either.

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It would be interesting to hear if anyone has experienced excellent/supportive pastoral care within the UK vocational system .... 

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There seems to be lots of discussion on RBS, but does anyone have comparison for Elmhurst? 

 

My DD is auditioning for year 7, and we get such a good feeling for Elmhurst but Royal has the name and prestige. I feel like Elmhurst is becoming more forward thinking and current, but I would like to understand if anyone has some comments based on experience?

 

I think it is really interesting looking at the statistics from these schools of how many from lower schools actually achieve upper schools and company roles after?

 

 

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Sadly, from personal experience,  I have to agree and sympathise with the comments in this thread by Sadielou, ribbons, taxi to name a few. I haven't followed this thread for a while, as we have now left the ballet world, but feel very strongly about these issues. The issue for us was not that the school chose to replace British students with those from overseas, but the lack of duty of care before, during and after the process. Many aspects of the  'balletdadblog' resonated strongly with us - same place, different time. My Dd was treated in an appalling manner - I understand that I cannot be specific on this forum - but generally, immoral assessments ( different rules for different students, no standardised assessment criteria or evidence), no reasons given, no emotional or physical support during injury, emotional bullying - being shouted at and belittled in class as well as inadequate pastoral care to name a few. 'Whistleblowing' made things worse for her. This all resulted in post traumatic illness and several years of support from mental health professionals. This high profile lower school is responsible for this and seem to be untouchable.

However, away from the ballet world, things are finally moving forward for us - there is another world out there where happiness and self belief can be found once more. 

I do not plan to comment any more but wanted to support the other stories that have been told. We were very niave year 7 parents and I would have welcomed some insight when making our decision - the British girls in our year who had successful, positive experiences ( about 4 in total) were those who had parents in the profession or who were very knowledgable about it,  outside Physio support and teaching to supplement and strengthen ( frowned upon but essential ) and unlimited financial support to attend everything and anything that is out there ! Such is the reality of the British system, in my opinion ! 

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That's so sad windover60. Glad to hear your daughter is recovering but what an awful experience. Though bear in mind terrible experiences are not limited to the UK- my son had an almost career ending experience in Amsterdam where he was categorically told he was barely good enough to dance with a small regional company (and this said scathingly as if this was somehow a fate worse than death) alongside a full character assassination. 18 months later (as many on this forum are aware) he was the only British graduate to ever be offered a place at the Bolshoi as well as the Mariinsky and is now having a fantastic experience at the Bolshoi with 3 major solos and several demi solo roles under his belt after only 6 months.... The temptation to go back to the Netherlands and give the director a piece of my mind is overwhelming (but DS would be mortified so I am restraining myself!)

 

But I would say his main training in the USA was exemplary as far as pastoral care goes- there were a few hiccups in the ballet training due to several staff changes and I wish he'd gone to Vaganova sooner but I never felt anything other than genuine love, warmth and care from all his teachers at Kirov. It makes such a difference to feel your child is being cared for especially when you are too far away to parachute in and rescue them. Interestingly when DS was considering vocational training aged 13 I was warned by several UK based teachers not to send him to RB (edited to remove what they said about the school as it is complete hearsay, so I probs shouldn't repeat on open forum- sorry) 

 

Edited by CeliB
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1 hour ago, Bimblegirl said:

There seems to be lots of discussion on RBS, but does anyone have comparison for Elmhurst? 

 

My DD is auditioning for year 7, and we get such a good feeling for Elmhurst but Royal has the name and prestige. I feel like Elmhurst is becoming more forward thinking and current, but I would like to understand if anyone has some comments based on experience?

 

I think it is really interesting looking at the statistics from these schools of how many from lower schools actually achieve upper schools and company roles after?

 

 

The pastoral care or lack of could relate to Elmhurst or any vocational school from both our personal experience and hearsay from peers. 

 

There are are a couple of comments earlier in the thread that state the number from Elmhurst lower school that were offered sixth form this year. The schools have no loyalty to their lower school pupils and tell them at sixth form auditions they are up against everyone else. They are however told ‘not to audition far and wide’ as they will miss both academic and artistic lessons. 

 

Those graduates that gained employment (paid) in last few years is very low. Males having more success than females. Our experience is that no guidance was given in the build up to company auditions and in fact permission could be denied to attend auditions if the school was so minded. 

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“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” would perhaps be an apt phrase. Dd doesn’t regret going to vocational school at 16 and the quality of teaching could not be faulted. However, as others have said, it is the emotional put downs by those who should know better that was the problem. Those who complained were ridiculed. Those injured or ill told they had no resilience.

The mental health of our youngsters is so important and is sometimes just ignored or overlooked.  I’m so glad this thread has appeared - this information needs to be in the public domain. 

 

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7 hours ago, taxi4ballet said:

This... with knobs on.

 

Speaking from personal experience, and from what I have been told in confidence by a number of others, the level of pastoral care at almost all the upper schools in the UK is truly abysmal. You can't speak out - we all know what happens to whistle-blowers.

It’s not just upper schools where pastoral care is abysmal!!!!

But I do have to say I can honestly not fault the pastoral care where we are now!!!

Edited by Dancing unicorn
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2 hours ago, Kat09 said:

It would be interesting to hear if anyone has experienced excellent/supportive pastoral care within the UK vocational system .... 

I Very much doubt it!

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7 hours ago, taxi4ballet said:

Speaking from personal experience, and from what I have been told in confidence by a number of others, the level of pastoral care at almost all the upper schools in the UK is truly abysmal. You can't speak out - we all know what happens to whistle-blowers.

 

6 hours ago, taxi4ballet said:

Student welfare in general, and in particular the singular lack of support given to students who are struggling physically or emotionally, whether through prolonged injury, illness, issues with mental health or other reasons. There is an all-pervading attitude of schools chucking people on the scrap heap as soon as there's a problem. They don't exactly make all that much of an effort to give the students the support they need in order to try and sort things out.

I have only come back onto the forum to comment on this thread because I feel so strongly about it.

 

4 hours ago, All4dancers said:

 

Unfortunately, there seems to be an enormous lack of understanding in particular of emotional problems and an unwillingness to support them which is quite ironic considering studies have shown that very creative people have more of a tendency to suffer from these.  I wonder how much talent has been lost through lack of support?

 

2 hours ago, Kat09 said:

It would be interesting to hear if anyone has experienced excellent/supportive pastoral care within the UK vocational system .... 

 

Question is, is the situation - in general - any better abroad?  I know a couple of exceptions have been mentioned, but is that widespread?  You don't want to be jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire, especially if you're in a country where you don't speak the language properly and have difficulty making yourself understood  ...

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For those interested in schools abroad we found DD’s upper school by looking at the existing schools of competition winners at yagp and the prix. If a particular school keeps appearing in the lists year after year but with different students and esp if it is not a household name school you can get an idea of places which may be doing a decent job and are worth researching further. We found one we liked the look of, dd went for summer school, loved it and when she returned got positive comments from her teachers who asked her where she had been dancing over the summer. Of course she didn’t say as the school wasn’t on the list of approved summer schools......

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3 minutes ago, alison said:

 

 

 

 

Question is, is the situation - in general - any better abroad?  I know a couple of exceptions have been mentioned, but is that widespread?  You don't want to be jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire ...

Yes that is very true. Equally though a few months ago a 15 year old very proficient American dancer said to me ‘I don’t really mind where I train as long as I get to train- it doesn’t make all that much difference which studio you are in.’ I was just struck by that as something you would just never hear a serious UK dancer of her age say. I believe she had been in several places and just had a decent experience in all of them. Maybe she was lucky and naive...

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3 hours ago, Kat09 said:

It would be interesting to hear if anyone has experienced excellent/supportive pastoral care within the UK vocational system .... 

 

Yes we have. 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had complaints about various issues over the last 5 years but not pastorally. And the complaints have always been dealt with in a courteous manner even if I did not always get the outcome I wanted. 

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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4 hours ago, angel said:

 

7 hours ago, Kat09 said:

It would be interesting to hear if anyone has experienced excellent/supportive pastoral care within the UK vocational system .... 

I Very much doubt it!

 

 

Elmhurst has been superb with us whilst dealing with an extremely tricky situation. The senior staff have been nothing but supportive, and I know other parents who would say the same. I do think there is a long way to go with regards understanding adolescent mental health, but the same could be said of non-vocational schools I visit on a daily basis!

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With regard to mental health, Elmhurst have recently appointed a mental health nurse to their team at the health and well being centre and have always had student advocates on the staff. 

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Mimi’s Mum - yes but you have to ask the question, why have they had to appointe a mental health nurse!!!!! 

I could say more about a lot of things about my dd’s previous school but prefer not to! 

Someone quoted in a thread, could have been further back in the original thread, ‘the grass isn’t always greener on the other side! Well I have to say in our case we found our greener grass, and would be more than happy for our dd to stay put and be happy! 

Edited by Dancing unicorn
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Also positive experience with mental health @ Elmhurst we had very good care with a mental health issue. Firstly with a lovely house parent - so we were lucky because they vary tremendously - but she spent hours calming and talking and persuading and being available at night ....then the Med team phoning me regularly talking about family history and getting referral for counselling and then CBT and self esteem coaching.

They organised accompanied visits on my behalf in term time and after a year or so the problems resolved!

I was very worried at the time being so far away but it was handled well!

DS is the stronger for the experience!

I’m talking about something that happened 3 years ago and it was not caused directly by the environment though stress in general may have precipitated things ....it’s something I struggled with as a teen!

Edited by Billyelliott
For clarity!
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I’ve had a niece go through this school and I’m sorry but she’s so broken she’ll never dance again. As a family we wish we had known the extent of the bullying (students and staff) and how let down she has been by the people we were asking to help her. She’s building herself back up but a serious talent has been lost and more importantly a healthy happy young girl has gone through a horrendous experience that will scar her for life. I wish we’d had balletdadblog strength (although different school) and complained but it left the whole family tired and exhausted and just pleased to seethe back of the place.

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3 minutes ago, Dancermum2003 said:

I’ve had a niece go through this school and I’m sorry but she’s so broken she’ll never dance again. As a family we wish we had known the extent of the bullying (students and staff) and how let down she has been by the people we were asking to help her. She’s building herself back up but a serious talent has been lost and more importantly a healthy happy young girl has gone through a horrendous experience that will scar her for life. I wish we’d had balletdadblog strength (although different school) and complained but it left the whole family tired and exhausted and just pleased to seethe back of the place.

That’s so sad! - the experience can vary tremendously and sometimes the house parents are the cause of the problem in the first place, we also found bullying from other pupils  took ages to deal with!

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Dancermum2003 - know the feeling! Been there done all that got the t shirt! Dd still suffers now although we are in a much better school, the scars are still there and does raise its head from time to time! 

But this is what she wants to do even after all that’s gone on! 

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