I remember trying my child out at a very good school non-residential. Training offered 5 days a week.
I remember looking through the door window on my child’s trial class and seeing the teacher slapping bottoms, pushing their finger into the small of children's backs to knock them off balance and pushing the children when they were doing things wrong. Pushing children into lower positions whilst doing floor barre exercises. I had never heard so much shouting in my life, children were crying at the barre, and parents were routinely chatting on benches outside the door.
The point I am making is not one parent batted an eyelid, not one. And no my child didn’t go there.
I have no doubt this was a completely normal accepted part of dancing training at this school.
I know it’s not vocational, but as @glissadesaid above human nature is a funny thing, this was just this schools normal. Nobody intervened and IME this has not been at all unusual along the way.
Of this much I am absolutely certain coming from a place of complete ignorance with an older child new vocational boarder, ballet training once outside the realms of RAD ISTD and into the more unregulated world of ‘elite ballet training’ is nothing like anything I have ever encountered. Mention words like safeguarding, child protection, emotional well-being and yes schools for the most part will have policies and a pastoral care team, and yes parents know what they are BUT my experience is nobody is really that bothered; because for me the culture that still exists inside traditional ballet training organisations is a perfect breeding ground for abuse on a continuum from mild to extreme.
My child has often said over the years if they’re not being screamed at and incessantly corrected then the teacher doesn’t like them and if they are having a bad day then they know they will be ignored. And maybe ignored if they’re having a good day, but it’s not good enough. Where else does this happen.
My child has many friends in vocational schools since Y7 and the system inside for ballet classes is generally there are 2-3 students in each year carefully selected as being the best and are given more focus than the rest of the class. If you look in the schools’ policies yes this is how they work, but anecdotally this is at the expense of other students and then there are many debates on here as to why the lower school students don’t feed naturally into certain upper schools, maybe this is why.
Are we told this as parents when we tour a school at Y6 of course we aren’t we might not send our children knowing this. It fits though doesn’t it with the % of those training becoming professional dancers.
, but it feels too brutal to consider at Y7, yet it is how the system is working.
Where else does this kind of teaching happen outside elite training institutions and where else would it be tolerated? Sport, gymnastics work in a similar fashion, and again these have been areas with major abuse exposes.
Someone mentioned it’s just like regular school, no it isn’t and don’t be fooled into thinking it is. How can it be?
The reason I believe we hear so little about the difficulties is that parents and children alike have learnt to accept practices that would not ordinarily be tolerated. What we then hear about on here and in the news are the most extreme end of the difficulties.
The amount of conversations I have had along this journey with my child over the past 4 years since leaving the safe and secure world of our local dance classes in the school hall is that parents would tolerate pretty much anything to get and keep their child in the main vocational schools.
A friend of friend whose daughter was at vocational was assessed out Y10 with an eating disorder and no support, still sent her son to the same school 2 yrs later.
I don’t think though from reading they are the member parents who write on here for the most part.
All In the pursuit of a ballet dream.
These are of course my opinions and experiences, general and broad based because I can’t give specifics, names of schools and details or I will break rules of posting.
I already know the path will not be smooth, bullying has already started in my child’s experience and whilst bullying isn’t unusual, the nature of the bullying was and the way it has been dealt with is less than satisfactory. I have decided as my child is ok, this is not the bill I willing to die on, not yet anyway.
I am wholly aware that every time I write an email, make a phonecall, ask a difficult question that I run the risk of making things difficult for my child. And it is one of the risks.
The bullying is not enough to make me remove my child of course it isn’t, but i have now found myself wondering what would be, but it is a warning shot over the starboard bow for sure. Thing is we all know about the warning shots but my experience away from this forum is that parents still send their children anyway.
Apologies if there are any bits that contravene rules of board, please remove or edit accordingly.
I have tried to be as broad and as general as I can be because I don’t want my child and their school identified, or where their friends are or schools they have been involved with.
It is worth noting that I recently helped a friend to contact a LADO which happened to be Westminster, they ended up speaking to the Safeguarding lead there, who said they had spent the whole summer sorting through complaints of abuse arising out of both non-residential and vocational ballet schools. She said they have been overwhelmed by the amount of complaints they have received.