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Potential "Free School" for boys in London?


Ian Macmillan
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This BBC News item may be of interest to folk in the London area:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk...cation-16762176

 

 

"The Class Free School would be aimed at boys aged 11 to 16 who may have taken ballet classes while at primary school and want to keep dancing into their teens."

Edited by Ian Macmillan
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Unlike the USA there is no "no child left behind act" or similar in the UK. Single sex schools are common in both the independent (private) and state (public) school systems.

 

I believe provision is included in the plans for the Class Free school to run evening classes to cater for some girls and the teaching of pas de deux classes which would be mixed.

 

J x

Edited by Elliepops
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So, this school is privately run - not government?

 

I wonder if a school based on color or ethnicity is legal if privately run?

 

It just seems to me that in a vocation with a paucity of males - such as ballet - free classes are given to encourage boys. But, in a vocation in which there is a paucity of girls - like an engineering school or one based on the sciences - are free classes ever considered to encourage girls?

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Wouldn't this have the same legal status as any other single sex school though? If we are allowed single sex academic schools in both the public and privately funded sectors, then surely legally this is no different - it just happens to offer vocational training alongside academic classes.

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'Free schools' are a recent introduction by the coalition government which basically allows anyone to set up a school in response to need. See definition:

 

 

"Free Schools are non-profit making, independent, state-funded schools. There is not a ’one-size-fits-all’ approach. They are not defined by size or location: there is not a single type of Free School or a single reason for setting them up. Free Schools could be primary or secondary schools. They could be located in traditional school buildings or appropriate community spaces such as office buildings or church halls. They could be set up by a wide range of proposers – including charities, universities, businesses, educational groups, visionary teachers or committed parents – who want to make a difference to the educational landscape. They might be needed because there simply are not enough school places in a local area and children have to travel too far to the nearest school.The thing which unites all Free Schools is that they are being set up in response to real demand within a local area for a greater variety of schools, they meet rigorous standards and they are all absolutely committed to providing young people with the best possible chance to succeed."

 

 

You can set up schools on the basis of gender and religion, but not race. I think the idea of one for boys which offers dance is a great idea. I think I also read about one that is going to set up on the basis of military discipline for parents who think that current state schools offer little in this area. Free schools are about responding to requirements of parents and children and increasing choice, moving away from the 'one size fits all' comprehensive state education, controlled by local authorities.

Edited by Ribbons
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I think this would be a fantastic opportunity for boys. It would encourage more boys to persue their ballet without prejudice from their peer groups. Ballet schools so far have always been female dominated, which may have put some boys off wanting to attend classes, I know some schools have male only classes, but not all schools can cater for this.

 

There is always prejudice wherever you go, but sometimes there is a need for something and it cant always be labelled as prejudice just because it caters for one part of society.

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The overall effect is certainly worthy. It just seemed to me as I looked around the ballet class and realized that (usually) all the boys were paying nothing while the girls' families were struggling so hard to come up with tuition. And, I couldn't ever think of a situation in which the reverse happens. In the various vocations/professions in which women had to break through barriers - there was precious little welcoming help. I look at the many families in the Doing Dance Forum who are sacrificing so much for their daughters to go to dance school. Oh well, I should know that life isn't fair -but I keep hoping.

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I was going to say the same! I would think it would be a great way of offering training in all sorts of disciplines where its not currently available. Although state funding wouldn't support the depth and range of teaching that is available at vocational ballet schools, it would probably support one or two top quality ballet teachers who could certainly do enough work with children to make them ready for 16+. And it would all be FREE as part of your child's education, and they wouldn't have to board! Shame it's too late for my DD (we are one of the seriously struggling families trying to get her through vocational school, even though its a "funded" place). If she were younger, I'd definitely be looking into it!

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Good heavens! :-(. I take it that's p/a not per term?! Similar to places like Young Dancers' Academy. I'm just thinking how massively oversubscribed a free ballet school for girls would be, and wondering how hard it would be to find top quality teachers who aren't already working.....

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...and who would pay for a free dance school for girls when the families will do almost anything to pay for them as it is now?

 

There are an overabundance of girls struggling and striving...but for each little girl she is a world of dreams unto herself. The same is true for a little girl who is attracted to the sciences like engineering, physics, mathematics, etc. Is there a "safe" place for her - to be among her female peers, not bullied by others.....or thought odd.....taught by women as well as men....I don't see that.

 

I think this is a situation in which the cart needs to come before the horse. Build a school and perhaps they will come...out of the closet so to speak....and we'll all be richer for it.

 

Signed: A dreamer

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I agree that there should be more boys in the ballet world, but think that this should be addressed pre secondary school and become an excepted part in our society. As a parent of a daughter we have often seen that vocational schools seem to have more scholarships for boys and that 'boys need to be encouraged', both sex need help especially financial. It should be even for girls and boys and each person should be judged on their own merits if we continue to favor either sex the problem will continue to grow.

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Hi all,

 

I must confess an interest in this discussion... But am writing just to add some facts about these types of schools.

 

The proposed school is to be a state funded school, probably the most similar example in the US would be a Charter school. So the school teaches all the academic subjects as well. The Ballet Tech school in New York is the nearest example I could find.

 

With regards to coed status, it would actually and rightly be illegal under UK laws to restrict access to a state funded day school based on sex if the school is a coed school. But if it is a single sex school, admissions are obviously just for one of the sexes.

 

So yes, it would be perfectly possible for a group of parents to set up a girls school, with dance as a main aspect of the schooling. Especially if it was based in a locality with little all-girls provision.

 

If a coed school was to be set up, then you would not be able to restrict access on sex, so would probably have a higher number of girls.

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A very interesting venture. I think it is great that someone is taking the intiative to use the Government's Free School scheme to provide ballet training, but I wonder whether they will actually get enough boys interested to make it viable. Perhaps if not they will open it up to girls too...

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Maybe another way to look at this......

 

Why do girls dance? Because they want to.

 

Why do boys dance? Because they want to.

 

If boys are given free schooling does that really mean there will be more male dancers? Or - does it mean that dance will be seen as not valuable - something not worth paying to learn?

 

I wonder how many boys would go to learn to dance just because its free for them? I'm not sure that anyone - boy or girl - would endure what it takes to be a dancer simply because the schooling is free.

 

Free tuition would enable a talented boy with no financial means to study - but that's true for girls, too. So, if there was a school with 30 tuition free places available - 15 should be for girls and 15 for boys. Yes, the waiting line for girls would be longer - but that can't be helped. At least 15 girls would also have a chance who might not otherwise - along with 15 boys. Thus, everyone would see it as "valuable" rather than a way to simply get a boy to walk in through the door.

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May I congratulate you on this initiative Tim. I knew I had read your postings on here (or rather the old site) before but I didn't want to out you :ph34r:

 

I definitely think there is a need for this sort of school. One where a boy can continue at a level that allows him to potentially chose vocational training at a later stage, rather than commit himself to a boarding school at a young age when he isn't sure what he wants in life (cf future Segei Polunins :( ) Also it would encourage boys who wouldn't get into vocational school (maybe for physical reasons) to continue ballet training - either for their enjoyment, or for other dance styles/musical theatre etc.

 

I just wish there were more opportunities for boys to dance together and be encouraged by each others' presence. The best around atm is the RAD boys only weekend scheme.

 

I am the mother of a boy who wouldn't want to go to boarding school/voactional school, but just loves his dance and musical theatre! We have survived the transition to secondary school, but a boy in my daughter's ballet class has just given up - in his first term at secondary!

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I really don't want to use this board as an advertising route! But the questions are really interesting.

 

The school is not intended to be a competitor to the full time vocational schools turning out <insert appropriate dancer's name here> for professional ballet companies - although if that happened, and after 16 a student went on to vocational school, then great. But just as important is the student who wants to be a scientist, and who loves dance. This school would give that child an opportunity to do both.

 

I really believe that dance can help academic studies, that there are neurological reasons why dance should be considered as an everyday component of school life, and the school will build on that research as well. Addressing Anjuli's very valid points, I think the difference is that this school is not a dance school, with academic education. But a general academic school, with lots of dance. Does that make sense? It would be great to offer 15-15 as suggested, but under UK Sex Discrimiation laws, this would be illegal for me to do.

 

And maybe next year, CLASS for Girls... not sure we could write the Government applications for 2 schools in the 3 weeks left on the application deadlines!

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I'm very interested in your suggestion that it is good for boys who might want to be scientists as well. Interestingly I think there are a fair number of boys with asperger's who benefit from dance - often very good mathematicians. I think there is something about the music unblocking things for them and allowing them to be much more co-ordinated in a way that sport can't deliver. I haven't got any evidence for that, just anecdotal/observation!

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In dance there is a shortage of strong male dancers. There is not a shortage of females. It not as though females could do the same job as a male, they can't lift another female and it would be odd for women to play male roles at a professional level.

 

The difference for science, engineering etc is that the job can be done by either gender equally so there is no need to try to encourage women by offering free training.

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I think it is fair to say that a lot of girls leave dance/ballet training when they start secndary school too but because they are a very small percentrage of the class it isnt as noticeable.

 

At 13 students of any gender have the opportunity to try their hand at a greater number of sports/activities at school and generally want to start making a stamp on life and start making their own decisions. Scouts/St John/Dance are often all ditched for other sports or more social activities.

 

I am sure this new school will be a godsend to those who live locally to it and leave many parents of young male dancers living further afield feeling very envious - it is a fact though that 'good tuition' for all dancers is strongly lacking throughout the UK, here's hoping this venture encourages more to individuals to follow this lead.

 

Good luck!

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As a parent of a young male dancer I must admit to feeling that it would be a good idea if for no other reason that as one poster pointed out for boys to be afforded the opportunity to dance together. My DS is the only boy in his ballet school and came to ballet in his teens. He was the only boy in Ireland to complete Inter Found and is now preparing to be the only boy doing his Intermediate. It is extremely difficult for him to have no peers to compare himself with etc. and we have to travel a considerable distance 4 times a week to ensure he gets decent training and we have no idea whether it is even enough :-( We pay just the same as any parents of female students and in my view get less "bang for our buck" so to speak because he is the only boy and therefore cannot be catered to during all classes. He is very fortunate with the school he attends and is encouraged every step of the way but there is only so much they can do! I only wish there was something available for us here that wouldn't mean he has to leave not only home but the country to pursue his dream.

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As a parent of a young male dancer I must admit to feeling that it would be a good idea if for no other reason that as one poster pointed out for boys to be afforded the opportunity to dance together. My DS is the only boy in his ballet school and came to ballet in his teens. He was the only boy in Ireland to complete Inter Found and is now preparing to be the only boy doing his Intermediate. It is extremely difficult for him to have no peers to compare himself with etc. and we have to travel a considerable distance 4 times a week to ensure he gets decent training and we have no idea whether it is even enough :-( We pay just the same as any parents of female students and in my view get less "bang for our buck" so to speak because he is the only boy and therefore cannot be catered to during all classes. He is very fortunate with the school he attends and is encouraged every step of the way but there is only so much they can do! I only wish there was something available for us here that wouldn't mean he has to leave not only home but the country to pursue his dream.

Wow - good luck to your son DamhsaMom. He (and you!) must be very dedicated and determined.I can imagine it must be very lonely to be the only boy in the whole country at his stage. I wish him all the luck in the world with his future plans.

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In are experience the class is stopped while the boy is taught, boys are given more encouragement be it in normal class, festivals, and vocational school. Is this 'free school' going to cater for dancers [ballet and contemporary ] or a mixture of dance styles like hip-hop, Irish, commercial jazz. A higher proportion of boys do street dance and this is seen as 'more exceptionable ' , in my opinion it is not another school that is required that will segregate dance boys but a strategy that will change stereotypes and make boys dancing except-able.

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