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MDS, DaDA and funding alternatives


Dancersdad
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It staggers me how many people allow their children to audition for the very expensive vocational schools with no idea on how they are going to pay for it if they are successful. MDS and DaDA help, but these are so limited that they cannot be relied on to solve the problem at any time of the process and they are horribly misunderstood. Here are some guidelines.

 

MDS - this is a means tested award available only to UK resident pupils at The Royal Ballet School, Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, Elmhurst and The Hammond. All pupils at RBS get an MDS and the other 3 schools have around 8 per annum that they can award. There are usually 30 - 40 young dancers auditioning for the award in each school. An MDS is awarded for a full year and the pupil's performance must stay at an advanced level to continue receiving the award. An MDS cannot be removed mid year (this from the Chairman of the MDS Committee). An MDS pays all fees associated with attending one of the schools including boarding fees. An MDS generally will stop after GCSEs where the dancer would probably be awarded a DaDA - though an MDS can be given at the school's discretion for the 6th Form years.

 

DaDA - This is only available to UK residents over the age of 16. It is only available through certain vocational schools and is also very limited (only 254 DaDAs are awarded across the UK across all forms of performance). A DaDA will only pay tuition fees. The student must pay for all boarding fees (you could still be looking for £3 - 4 000 per term!). DaDA recipients must do the Trinity approved 3 year National Diploma in their chosen field. This is an NVQ6 Diploma equivalent to an Honours Degree. The University of Middlesex will turn this into an actual honours degree after doing 1 year's dissertation on work experience gained during that year. A DaDA may not be used to pay for A level or BTEC diplomas (following the actual curriculum doesn't really give any time to do these anyway).

 

Funding alternatives - most of the easy funding alternatives used to be through your local council. If you could prove your County did not offer the equivalent schooling you could force them to pay a substantial contribution towards schooling outside the County. Since the start of the Credit Crunch Government has allowed County Councils to cut back on this commitment and any commitment to the Arts, so this route has effectively been cut off, but you can still enquire about it. You may be lucky. Apart from that there are some limited charities, but finding them and getting them to fund you £30 000 a year is going to be difficult. Most of them allocate their awards at the beginning of the year, before you realise you might need them.

 

Best alternative - the best advice I can offer is go to Amazon and buy a book called Working 5 to 9 by Emma Jones (£10.13 in paperback and £4.00 on Kindle - download an appropriate Kindle Reader for your PC or other devices). This is one of the most complete and easy to read guides on starting your own small business in your spare time. It has several ideas that can be turned into genuine income generating businesses and you may find this not only funds your child's vocational dancing fees, but might lead to you doing it full time and enjoying working for yourself.

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MDS - All pupils at RBS get an MDS and the other 3 schools have around 8 per annum that they can award. There are usually 30 - 40 young dancers auditioning for the award in each school.

 

Thanks for posting this - I'll have a proper read later, but just to say that these figures are no longer accurate - there are many more MDS places than 8 at Elmhurst for example - I'm sure someone said how many there were last year, but I can't find it at the moment.

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Hi Dancersdad :)

Just to add that DADA recipients from lower income households are eligible for money from the Hardship Fund. I believe this can be a non repayable grant of anything up to about £3400 a year. This grant is calculated on a sliding scale with £3400 being the most awarded down to lesser amounts as the cut off point is reached. I think the cut off is approx £30,000 annual household income but I'm not certain on the exact amount.

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Forgot to add, neither the MDS nor the DaDA can be transferred between schools. While you may be able to get another MDS at another school you will not be able to get another DaDA at any other school unless Trinity College withdraw the school's accreditation to offer the Diploma Course or the Learning and Skills Council (or whatever they are called now) remove the ability for a school to offer the DaDA (usually only accreditation withdrawal will bring this about) and you are forced to transfer to another school to continue with your studies. In very exceptional cases a complete change of direction say from Dance to Acting may allow you to apply for another DaDA, but you are very unlikely to get it.

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Excellent post DancersDad.

 

Can I just add a couple of points

 

With regard to DADA awards - You still have to pay a small proportion of the annual fee (around £1800). However if you are on a low income (and I'm not sure what the cut off is) you can apply to have the parental contribution paid for you AND for an award towards living/boarding expenses. If the child normally lives with only one parent, I understand that it is that parent's earnings which are considered, so I have heard of families jugglingtheir access arrangements so that the child lives with the parent with the lower income. I believe that Dada's are open to European Nationals (I'm think my dd had some German friends who were on Dada's). Dada funding is under review so may change next year.

 

Student Loans - a few post 16 courses are degree courses so are eligible for student loan funding. So this means the student takes a loan for the cost of fees and living expenses which then has to be repaid over their working life (if they earn above a certain threshold). This has the advantage that you don't have the expense up front, but does mean that they are not eligible for a student loan if they should decide they want to do a degree in the future.

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Oh also forgot to say that DADAs are available to all students from an EU country. That's always seemed a little unfair to me as there are few schemes available in the EU that British students can apply for. Not that my opinion counts for anything!! ;)

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Julie, as far as I know they only have 8 - 10 per academic year. They may have more on offer if pupils have been assessed out of the scheme. I do know the MDS Committee was trying to get more awards or to even try and get to the same point as RBS where everyone is means tested, but they are fighting a battle agains claims of exclusivity and the success of the CAT centres that are far more broadbased and are far more accessible than the vocational schools.

 

Dancemad, you are quite correct. I can't believe I forgot about it as DS has this funding. It is however available for all HE students studying away from home and not just limited to the Arts

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When my dd auditioned for Elmhurst 3 or so years ago, the Principal at the time stated that within 2 years they hoped to have almost all MDS places at Elmhurst. I can't remember the exact figures but she certainly said they had more than 8 per year. I'm sure she said that they hoped to have about 90% MDS places within 2 years.

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My dd knows that she wouldn't be able to take up a place without funding, but she has decided that she would rather audition and run the risk of having a place offered and turning it down than to never try at all.

 

You've got to be in it to win it!

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I wish there were more parents like you Taxi4Ballet. It is all well and good auditioning, but for those who can't afford it you must make certain your child understands that no MDS means you can't go, even before they audition. You need to emphasise that getting offered a place means they are in the very top bracket of talent and not being able to afford it doesn't mean they are not highly talented. It only means the schools are charging too much.

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Of course the schools should be running at a profit - each of them in recent years have done an enormous amount of development in their buildings and that couldn't be done otherwise. They're not charities afterall (but I do take the point that generally in the UK we seem to be expensive - isn't everything?)

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But spanner, they are not businesses!! I would have thought that ideally they should be aiming to break even, perhaps with some money in a contingency fund if they are lucky. expenditure on buildings etc is essential and would come out of income. Profit is what is left over after all necessary expenditure has taken place. I wonder if parents with children at vocational schools would like to see better facilities, better teaching etc etc or money sitting in a bank account while pleas are being made for more money?

 

Edited as Julie and I were posting at the same time.

Edited by Jellybeans
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Surely private/independent schools are businesses? As Julie says, they have to make money in order to invest money into the school. Think about all the building work at Tring with the beautiful new studios etc. - the students benefit from the wonderful facilities but the money has to come from somewhere.

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Would be interesting (if I were actually interested in such things ;) ) to look at the annual report - I think the RBS one is quite easy to get hold of - to see what kind of profit they "sit on". I can't imagine it's much as I know that it can cause a problem when some payments from students/parents are late - like any organisation, they are depending on the money coming in to pay their very considerable wage/amenities bills.

 

And just because there aren't share-holders doesn't mean they're not businesses - Wikipedia say:

 

A business (also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers.[1] Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit or state-owned.

 

Edited to add - here's the link to the 2010/11 RBS Annual Report - see page 25 (or 21 as printed on the page)

 

http://www.royal-ballet-school.org.uk/publications.php?s=1

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They may be able to call themselves charities, but to do so I think they have to be able to show some benefit to the wider public, and not just to their pupils....hence outreach activities?

 

And as a charity they can have a reserve "pot", I suppose?

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According to information given verbally at auditions, there are 20 MDS awards this year for Elmhurst and 14 for Hammond. We were all told that the MDS awards were cyclical - ie the number of outgoing year 11 MDS awards become the new year 7 MDS awards (this from Hammond) so I guess can vary from year to year.

 

Angela x

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Maybe I just have a different view of profit! obviously money needs to be available for reinvestment, including the upgrade of facilities etc. If this reinvestment comes out of profit then that is good but to me, profit is what is left when there is nothing left to spend the money on and I can't see the vocational schools being in that position any time soon!! And by Business, I was thinking more corporately, as in companies with directors or shareholders that, traditionally, take a share in the profit.

 

We are probably all being pedantic and I often feel that I have to explain myself on he forum but what I mean is that I would be surprised if any of the schools have a whole lot of surplus cash left over and the luxury to try and think of something to spend it on.

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Oh - I agree with you completely Jellybeans (let's not get bogged down in the definition of a "business" - I work at a college where we teach it so I suppose I'm thinking more from an official term than perhaps how the general population sees it) - as I said in my last post I also don't think the school's are sitting on lots of extra money after the fees are in and the bills are paid. It's an interesting question that others are asking about how other schools in other countries can be so much cheaper. I don't know much about how they're funded - do they get more from their governments perhaps? Our government funding only goes to the children for their fees, not directly into the schools which are privately run.

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Independent schools generally have charitable status as it's much more advantageous. However, regulations are changing (or may recently have changed) in order to make schools have to do much more to prove that they are performing some kind of benefit to the wider community. That's quite difficult for most normal schools, but easier for vocational schools.

 

The schools are able to build up quite a level of reserves of they wish (or if they are able; I'm talking about what is permitted). Obviously there's no shareholders taking big drawings so if they want to use the surplus in providing improved facilities or scholarships or kept for the future, that's up to the trustees! I think we'd probably be surprised at how much they have in reserve. Both Tring and Hammond have undertaken big building projects. That money has to be built up. Maybe other countries' schools have more access to grants for that type of project?

Edited by Regattah
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the schools are businesses but making a profit doesn't meant that parents are being ripped off, the staffing costs are higher than state schools also there are smaller class sizes, the buildings cost more to equip and maintain and the staff development costs are generally higher too.

 

If you look at the fees paid for the schools they do look horrendous but most private schools are around 15 - 25K a year for just the local 'non-presitgeous' private schools and then there are the dance classes on top, essentially you are paying for private education and exceptional dance classes and, in my view, i don't feel they are excessive. Other countries may charge less but they are sometimes state or privately subsidised where the UK subsidies only the top % through the MDS funding and the like.

 

I do have concerns about parents who do not have a realistic view on the probability of getting funding, it is so hard to get and often a child will be exceptional in their school but then when compared with the others they are fighting for a funded place among the the elite and this is often not considered, when a child gets offered a place and can't fund it then there is often huge conflict of feelings, i've found parents get a range of emotions from anger to hurt to disappointment and the expectation of funding means that they will crash when its not realised.

 

Often the child is unable to cope with the 'rejection' and loses sight of the fact that they have won a place in the first place and therefore are talented and worthy, they are just not the best of the best so you find children of 10 or 11 facing what seems like the end of a dream and they can sometimes take this as someone telling them they are not made for dance which is NOT what was being said, or a family will sell everything to fund a child who then has the additional pressure of knowing that they are the cause of the remortgage/house sale/pension cash in etc and of course where there are siblings in the house this often means the entire family sacrificing for one child leading to resentment potentially.

 

It is a rollercoster of stress and elation and more stress and i do think that schools should maybe outline the consequences of an offer a little more, but i'm not sure if even then that would make a difference :(

 

I know that personally, i wouldn't go for a place without having some sort of plan in place, even if that plan was a worse case scenario, as it just causes so much stress on all concerned if that plan isnt' in place and everyone has to know what the options are, i've seen too many families torn apart because not all the family members buy in to the plan

 

.... thats just my view anyway :)

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You used to be able to view a report about mds funding which showed that Elmhurst had about 20 mds places a year. The new website appears to no longer show these reports. The reports made interesting reading. It also showed the music schools. All of the schools can award the MDS places to a student in any year. Funded places are not transferable but Tring lhas obtained extra places by offering mds to those assessed out of white lodge so they can continue their education (can't remember what they called them ) also the cost of a DADA is not £1800 a year it is currently £1275 a year

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