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Vonrothbart

British training at Lower and Upper Schools

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12 hours ago, Kat09 said:

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

We have....

Support from boarding staff and school helped Dd get through a serious (non dance related) anxiety issue a few years ago. The speed of treatment (thank goodness for BUPA cover) also helped, but school worked with us through the process. Specific teaching staff (academic, pastoral and dance/singing) were individually kind to Dd and her illness was never viewed as weakness. Happy to elaborate in a pm if helpful to anyone. 

 

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1 hour ago, Dancing unicorn said:

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

 ALL institutions dealing with young people should provide access to mental health support IMO. Elmhurst's new healthcare insurance (which is bespoke to the school) has improved mental health support too. An acknowledgement of an issue? Maybe but better than denying issues exist. 

I am so glad your dd is thriving and happy - it's what we all want for our  children regardless of where they study. My non dancing dd had an awful experience of mental health ignorance from the pastoral team and SLT  at her local grammar school which caused untold damage from which she is still recovering a number of years later. 

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I’m reading this thread wondering why I didn’t put my foot down and insist my dd leave vocational lower school. She had some very difficult times and at one point I was told by a house parent ‘they all have problems but unless the child makes a fuss and noise it is easier to ignore’. The quiet child suffering doesn’t impact on the rest of the house as a crying, dramatic one does. Unfortunately for the management I was less easy to ignore. Some problems were resolved but it took a lot of determination and perseverance and if I worked full time I don’t know that I would have had the energy to keep fighting. Always my dd insisted she want to give it one more term or next year would be better because it was a different teacher and after all it was all she wanted to do. 

 

We looked at European sixth forms but naively believed information feed to us by the senior management about their new plans for the sixth form training and decided that it was a case of better the devil you know ...

Im sorry to say I regret letting my dd begin this journey. We are slowly getting back our daughter and she is beginning to enjoy life, make proper friends and not worry about what others think of her constantly. Her confidence and self esteem has grown in the few months she has stepped back from dance. 

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It is so sad to read all these comments.the ballet/dance world is notoriously tough, but naively I thought/hoped things had improved and moved forward.

 

It seems there are both positive and negative views on all the top schools, but what makes sad reading is the very little progress from lower to upper school in all the schools! For a parent with a DD embarking on year 7 and investing so much this is very disheartening.

 

It is so hard going to all these schools, as they obviously show you the best and all the good!

 

I really would welcome any PM’s on any experience they may have, ideally

positive, but also things to look out for.

 

We are considering, RBS, Elmhurst, Tring and YDA.

 

Edited by Bimblegirl
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I have to say it’s very re-assuring to read so many positive comments about dd’s School (& where she is hoping to stay for seniors) from other parents especially as she decided not to audition for some of the bigger names. 

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At Hammond this year to the best of my knowledge every Lower School Dance student who auditioned was offered an US place. 

Not all will necessarily be offered funding & some will leave for schools that are seen as more purely classical or for MT the likes of Laines &  Urdang but I thought it was a statistic worth knowing. 

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1 hour ago, Dancing unicorn said:

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! 

 

In 2018 ALL schools should have mental health support.  I don't think we should be assuming that the school appointed a MH Nurse purely because there are problems.  Some institutions don't have (or pay lip service to) any emotional support for students so I'm glad to see it being addressed. 

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7 minutes ago, Picturesinthefirelight said:

At Hammond this year to the best of my knowledge every Lower School Dance student who auditioned was offered an US place. 

Not all will necessarily be offered funding & some will leave for schools that are seen as more purely classical or for MT the likes of Laines &  Urdang but I thought it was a statistic worth knowing. 

This was also the case last year and all were offered funding too. (I understand that school had more funding allocated from DfE last year due to it not being allocated elsewhere as anticipated, so don’t know what the impact might be this year) 

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3 hours ago, mimi'smom said:

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. 

One of the problems my dd and her peers complained of over the years was that the medical centre was never open at times convienent to them as students so I hope for the sake of the current students this has improved. 

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18 minutes ago, Karen said:

This was also the case last year and all were offered funding too. (I understand that school had more funding allocated from DfE last year due to it not being allocated elsewhere as anticipated, so don’t know what the impact might be this year) 

 

Our year group is a lot bigger than yours was so I’m not sure if there will be enough for everyone or not. 

 

I heard on the grapevine that at least one MT college lost their funding last year so I wonder if that’s where the extra came from.  

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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6 minutes ago, Jane said:

One of the problems my dd and her peers complained of over the years was that the medical centre was never open at times convienent to them as students so I hope for the sake of the current students this has improved. 

It’s open until 8 on weekday evenings and until 2 (I think!) on Saturdays, so reasonably accessible?

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16 minutes ago, Jane said:

One of the problems my dd and her peers complained of over the years was that the medical centre was never open at times convienent to them as students so I hope for the sake of the current students this has improved. 

 

No it hasn’t 😔

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56 minutes ago, Jane said:

I’m reading this thread wondering why I didn’t put my foot down and insist my dd leave vocational lower school. She had some very difficult times and at one point I was told by a house parent ‘they all have problems but unless the child makes a fuss and noise it is easier to ignore’. The quiet child suffering doesn’t impact on the rest of the house as a crying, dramatic one does. Unfortunately for the management I was less easy to ignore. Some problems were resolved but it took a lot of determination and perseverance and if I worked full time I don’t know that I would have had the energy to keep fighting. Always my dd insisted she want to give it one more term or next year would be better because it was a different teacher and after all it was all she wanted to do. 

 

We looked at European sixth forms but naively believed information feed to us by the senior management about their new plans for the sixth form training and decided that it was a case of better the devil you know ...

Im sorry to say I regret letting my dd begin this journey. We are slowly getting back our daughter and she is beginning to enjoy life, make proper friends and not worry about what others think of her constantly. Her confidence and self esteem has grown in the few months she has stepped back from dance. 

I can identify with this.  My DD wanted to leave at Easter in her first year.  The Director at the time persuaded us that we had no option for her to stay...that I would have to pay the full fees for the rest of the year if she didn't at least complete the year and threw in that DD had a promising career ahead of her.  Then we were in a cycle of, next year the teacher might be better, student relationships more healthy, I've started so I'll finish etc...damage done during this time is immeasurable.   

 

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I can’t yet begin to reflect on our vocational journey as we are still on the roller coaster. I’m not as brave as some of you parents at sharing your experiences. It’s reasuring, in not a good way, that we are not alone in our struggles. I firmly believe that very few children go through the ballet training system unscathed. I feel very upset just writing this but I’m so glad the moderators have let those strong enough to share their experiences do so. Thank you x

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20 minutes ago, Farawaydancer said:

It’s open until 8 on weekday evenings and until 2 (I think!) on Saturdays, so reasonably accessible?

It always said that on paperwork but the reality didn’t match that in all the years my dd there. And a number of times I tried to ‘call in’ when I went to visit on Saturdays with no success. 

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Dancermum2003 - we understand completely - I sincerely hope your niece gets the help she needs and a new future emerges for her. We were also too broken and exhausted to go in all guns blazing at the time. A lot of comments have been about upper schools so I just wanted to add that I was talking about a lower school (WL) where children are 12/13 when this is happening to them. Totally unacceptable and seemingly untouchable ( even with the strength of balletdadblog) . It is hard to imagine the effects of this until it happens to you.  My advice would be do not be afraid to remove your child immediately if you feel it is necessary. Cost implications can be dealt with legally. 

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53 minutes ago, Picturesinthefirelight said:

I have to say it’s very re-assuring to read so many positive comments about dd’s School (& where she is hoping to stay for seniors) from other parents especially as she decided not to audition for some of the bigger names. 

I had two at this school and our experience of pastoral care, particularly in the boarding house, was abysmal.  One day when my DD was unable to attend school in great distress, she was left all morning on her own with only a cleaner in the house.  I was genuinely concerned that she wouldn't survive the morning.

 

Other DD experienced bullying behaviour for two years with nothing done, even though I had made boarding staff aware.  In fact when I had a meeting, before deciding to change schools, the dance staff were supportive as well as the Head but the boarding staff praised the bullies exemplary behaviour in the boarding house and made us out to be liars.  Counselling was offered but no support in the boarding house?!  DD's are Much happier now.   

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In retrospect I agree Windover and I’ve often wondered if the fees issue could be dealt with by a medical letter explaining that your child is being made ill by the environment. Be a strong school that chased the parents of an ill child for the full years fees. 

 

I think a lot of the comments, ours included relate to both lower and upper schools as I recognise the posters. 

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Besides care of existing students it is worrying that all the artistic directors are increasingly trotting the globe to search for other people’s work. I would query what value is really being added by a school taking students who are basically already company ready and which the top companies will have no issue finding anyway if they are so minded. I know of international students who saw US as an audition for the company. They were not going for anything other than a bit of final polish and a self marketing exercise. This is really disheartening for the ex yr 11 home grown students who quite frankly are often streets behind and very disheartening too for other UK students at finals (of which my DD was one) knowing that realistically so many places at the top schools would be allocated in this way. I also struggle with the fact that 14 and 15 year olds are increasingly taken into US. To me this in itself is an acknowledgment the training in Yr 10 and 11 is for students who are already well behind.

 

I would urge parents going through  the yr 7 audition process not to be fooled by brand names and assume that having a child at any of the lower schools will set them up with exactly what they need and be a ticket to top intensive classical training at Yr 12. It really isn’t. 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Jane said:

In retrospect I agree Windover and I’ve often wondered if the fees issue could be dealt with by a medical letter explaining that your child is being made ill by the environment. Be a strong school that chased the parents of an ill child for the full years fees. 

 

I think a lot of the comments, ours included relate to both lower and upper schools as I recognise the posters. 

 

I'm not sure "strong" is the word I'd use....were you being polite, Jane? :)

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We are still in the system and I can not comment in detail.  Though I believe pastoral care at my ds school has been first class (certainly in our experience). Although, in his first year there, it later transpired that he had been bullied by the head of house (luckily this person left after 2 terms I believe - I hope as other pastoral staff saw his true nature).  

 

Ds still rehabing after surgery and is understandably struggling mentally with getting back into dance, worries that he is really fixed and terrified he will damage himself again.  It appears he is having no outside pressure to push himself - thank goodness- and is allowed to pretty much pick and choose what he knows he can do. Going to Pilates, Physio, gym and his own ballet barre. Tricky time and only time will tell if the support at school

is enough.  As I said he is struggling and I worry about him but he will not let me approach school as fearful it will somehow impact him negatively. I will know more once I have had him home for Easter so he has time to truly open up. 

 

As I have said in this forum before, I have a complete love hate relationship with ballet and there is a great deal wrong with a lot of the teaching in this country, and I don’t just mean vocational training either.  We have also experienced some truly awful teachers, damaging young people’s mental health way before they hit vocational age. 

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My daughter is hoping to start at YDA in year 7 and have only heard positive things about them. Perhaps because it’s much smaller it seems really caring x

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I just want to add that I'm so grateful for this thread; that so many people are acknowledging there is a huge problem is reassuring and is a step in the right direction for actually addressing it.  

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7 minutes ago, Flora said:

Besides care of existing students it is worrying that all the artistic directors are increasingly trotting the globe to search for other people’s work. I would query what value is really being added by a school taking students who are basically already company ready and which the top companies will have no issue finding anyway if they are so minded. I know of international students who saw US as an audition for the company. They were not going for anything other than a bit of final polish and a self marketing exercise. This is really disheartening for the ex yr 11 home grown students who quite frankly are often streets behind and very disheartening too for other UK students at finals (of which my DD was one) knowing that realistically so many places at the top schools would be allocated in this way. I also struggle with the fact that 14 and 15 year olds are increasingly taken into US. To me this in itself is an acknowledgment the training in Yr 10 and 11 is for students who are already well behind.

 

I would urge parents going through  the yr 7 audition process not to be fooled by brand names and assume that having a child at any of the lower schools will set them up with exactly what they need and be a ticket to top intensive classical training at Yr 12. It really isn’t. 

 

 

 

No, you are right Flora.  Nothing is guaranteed in the ballet world!  

 

I do remember a previous thread a few years ago that really alarmed a newish ballet parent who said that she had been put off one particular school.  As useful and as important a discussion as this is, it should be remembered that 1. Not all parents of ballet students are members here; there are others who are no doubt quite happy with their child's vocational school, but we're not hearing their stories.  Secondly, I'd urge all prospective ballet parents to read and absorb people's posts here, bear them in mind, BUT visit the schools, do your research, ask questions, get a gut feeling and *then* decide whether to accept an offer.  No school, ballet or otherwise, is perfect for everyone but it would be awful if our experiences alone swayed a new poster so much that they were completely put off.   So important to explore every avenue when making such a huge decision. 

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My DD always had good pastoral care from house staff and academic staff. The real issue is the treatment in the ballet studio and the way they behaved on occasion was deplorable. The void that exists between ballet and other staff means that these problems can’t be addressed as they operate in their own world and other staff very much know their place and often aren’t ever spoken to or acknowledged by the Ballet staff. It’s like there are two completely different schools within one.

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I agree Anna with your post above and plainly no school is perfect. Also UK schools must work within the stricture of the UK system and we parents would probably not be happy if academics were jettisoned in the way some international students jettison them at 14 or so. Appreciate this has also all been discussed before. 

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10 minutes ago, Anna C said:

 

No, you are right Flora.  Nothing is guaranteed in the ballet world!  

 

I do remember a previous thread a few years ago that really alarmed a newish ballet parent who said that she had been put off one particular school.  As useful and as important a discussion as this is, it should be remembered that 1. Not all parents of ballet students are members here; there are others who are no doubt quite happy with their child's vocational school, but we're not hearing their stories.  Secondly, I'd urge all prospective ballet parents to read and absorb people's posts here, bear them in mind, BUT visit the schools, do your research, ask questions, get a gut feeling and *then* decide whether to accept an offer.  No school, ballet or otherwise, is perfect for everyone but it would be awful if our experiences alone swayed a new poster so much that they were completely put off.   So important to explore every avenue when making such a huge decision. 

This is absolutely right, BUT what do you do if a dc has only one offer? or falls completely in love with a school? Truth is that ballet exerts a will o' the wisp glamour and to put  your hands in your pockets and walk away is more than many of us can do. Even if we have misgivings...

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1 minute ago, Anna C said:

 

No, you are right Flora.  Nothing is guaranteed in the ballet world!  

 

I do remember a previous thread a few years ago that really alarmed a newish ballet parent who said that she had been put off one particular school.  As useful and as important a discussion as this is, it should be remembered that 1. Not all parents of ballet students are members here; there are others who are no doubt quite happy with their child's vocational school, but we're not hearing their stories.  Secondly, I'd urge all prospective ballet parents to read and absorb people's posts here, bear them in mind, BUT visit the schools, do your research, ask questions, get a gut feeling and *then* decide whether to accept an offer.  No school, ballet or otherwise, is perfect for everyone but it would be awful if our experiences alone swayed a new poster so much that they were completely put off.   So important to explore every avenue when making such a huge decision. 

Anna C, we hear the positives all the time on here and I have never seen such a useful and measured discussion about this topic.  It is easy for those reading to think that those commenting all have DC's who haven't been successful in the school and so have a reason to feel negatively about the school.  I have heard So many sad stories from my DD's year who have been through WL, all the way through to US or for only a year.  

 

I feel genuinely sick to my stomach when people I like tell me that their child has a place there.  I remember the excitement and pride when she got in vividly.  I'd only heard about the school from JA's and other parents who didn't dare tell me anything negative for fear of saying something about their own DC that might get out, which I fully understand now.  However....

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While I agree with your above comment Anna C, I think this thread is very important as people are speaking out in a situation in which they do not feel threatened. I'm not planning to say any more as we are no longer associated with the ballet world. However, we did have issues regarding fees following a medical letter so if anyone wants advice re that I'm happy for them to message me. Wishing everyone all the best in whatever you do - mental health and happiness is the most important thing and life is long  ! That's my pearls of wisdom !!! 

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