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Three Counties Youth Ballet


Lemongirl
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My dd has just been accepted for this. It would be for the Junior company. She really wants to do it and I think it would be a lovely experience for her. But I do have my reservations:

 

She isn't doing any associate classes but she is already doing a lot of classes (2 on Monday and 3 on Thursday) plus a couple of contemporary/jazz classes on Sundays (but only 6 per term - this is new). Plus festival rehearsals (only 35 mins approx on a Sat or Sun). I know some children do a lot more but it seems quite a lot to me and I want to make sure she has enough down time.

 

She is starting secondary school so will be having much longer days and more homework. There are a lot of lunchtime/after school clubs at the school and it would be nice if she had some free time to develop other interests.

 

Also my husband is not keen on her doing it and a bit of persuasion would be in order. He thinks she does enough already.

 

But on the plus side, as she would be in the junior company, rehearsals are only 1.5 hours every Friday and finish at 6.15pm. We eat together at 7ish on Fridays so she would be home for that. And as she's 11, she will probably be too old for the juniors next year so perhaps we should take advantage of the opportunity.

 

How do other secondary school pupils manage with homework and doing a lot of ballet?

 

 

 

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Well at least her hours are condensed into two weekdays with the little bit of weekend work you describe. And 1.5 hours,home in time for tea on Friday is good. My inter foundations who are same age don't finish until 6.45pm on Fridays.

 

As for homework, well many of my students come straight to the studios and do homework while waiting for classes. They often say they get more done that way than at home. And some are motivated enough to work in lunch break at school so as to keep evenings as free as possible. Obviously it depends on the students but Im forever amazed at how well some do, many of my students seem to do amazingly well in both GCSEs and A levels alongside ballet, modern and tap! The vast majority then go to University. I think dance students very quickly realise the importance of effective time management.

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One and a half hours early on a Friday evening sounds manageable to me, but will there be additional rehearsals in the run-up to a show? I assume from the timing of the rehearsals that little travel is involved which is a big plus. If your DD is only committing herself to a year and this is her last chance to be in the junior company then I would be inclined to allow her to do it. It is only going to get more difficult for her to do this kind of thing as she progresses through secondary school. If, during the year, your DD decides that it's too big a commitment for het then she need not apply for the senior company and could look at doing holiday workshops instead.

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It largely depends on travelling time, and how much homework your dd's secondary school is likely to give her. Is it a highly academic school?

 

My dd's senior school is hugely academic and the girls got over an hour's homework every night in Year 7. We did know this before she started there and that has influenced some of her dance decisions; for example keeping termtime Sundays free. Even though she gets to do homework during two PE lessons a week, she still ends up spending most of Sunday doing homework.

 

My nieces' school on the other hand doesn't give very much homework at all in comparison, so that would have made a difference. So if you can find out whether your dd's new school will be very homework-heavy, that might help with your decision.

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I did the performances earlier this year, during my GCSE year (and I was doing a lot of GCSE'S)- its only for two terms - September through to March - which was really helpful. They have two Sunday rehearsals each term and then just tech/dress rehearsals the day before performances. TCYB let parents know what they were signing up to at the beginning and didn't put anything extra in either which was really good. I loved my experience with them and will be going back for my third Season starting in September. Well done to your DD lemongirl I hope if she does it she has as good a time as I did and if she does I'll see her in September :):)

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Thanks all. She is going to an academic school and has worked hard to get in there. But they do have an extended lunch break and she has already said she may try to get some homework done at lunchtime if she's not going to a club.

 

Ballerinax - what times are the Sunday rehearsals? Are they all day?

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Also another factor is the journey. We are v v v south Herts - near Bushey. When I took dd to the audtion at Watton, it wasn't a bad journey - about 40 mins on fast roads but I would be doing it week in week out.

 

BallerinaX - do you know anyone who is dancing with them this year from around the Bushey or Watford areas? I thought maybe I could find someone to share the journeys with.

 

Dd would love to do it and Georgie and Shelley seem really nice.

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I think that journey could take considerably longer on a Friday in rush hour, but you won't know exactly how long until you've given it a go.

 

I'd be inclined to do it this year though; homework's only going to increase the further up the school she goes. At least then you'll have given it a try and won't regret not doing it.

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Yes that's v true about homework. It does seem the best time to do it now.

 

Spanner - her audition was on a Friday around the same time as the rehearsals which was useful for judging the journey. We met a bit of traffic coming home but it wasn't too bad at all.

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Hi Lemongirl, the Sundays were all day, sort of 10-4/5. It seems a lot but it was only one each half of the term. It's these sundays when the whole company, the juniors and the seniors work together and thats always really fun. There were about 10 of us last year who were doing Tring CBA on the Sundays as well and 5 of us who did this were also RBS associates on Saturdays too!!! I dont know how I fitted it all in last year but somehow I did manage everything and I wouldn't change it one bit :)

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Hi again!! Just realized I didn't answer the question about travelling. Last year we had some students from North London but I'm not sure about this year yet - the people I know who are doing it are from all over the place. I'm sorry I can't be more help but I know that there are new members this time I just dont know where they are from, particularly juniors :)

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Sshh, don't tell the teachers this, but I really wouldn't take homework too seriously in the early years of secondary school! On a serious note, some children, particularly girls, spend far too much time on their homework and become really perfectionist about it and, whilst it's nice to receive a lot of praise from teachers, this can lead to problems later on as well as detract from their childhood. Children have years of study ahead of them (at least 10 if they go into higher education) and they do need to pace themselves otherwise they get burnt out, go off the rails or (probably worst of all) develop an eating disorder. I actually feel that a lot of homework is a waste of time, particularly the "make a poster..." or "write something about..." type homework. Schools seem to think that parents believe that there is a correlation between the amount of homework given and the quality of a school, which is not the case, and it is a shame that secondary and, in some cases, primary school children are ground down by relentless, often pointless, homework. And I say this as a parent of a child at a highly-regarded, academically-selective secondary school which his sister will also attend from September.

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I agree with parts of your post aileen, in that it is very important to pace yourself with regards to homework. My dd's school does give a lot of homework but its well-deserved academic reputation stems from more than just the amount of homework it sets.

 

In certain subjects I did have to limit the amount of time my dd spent on homework, but now she is able to prioritise and find a good balance. She's doing outstandingly well so seems to be getting things well balanced for now.

 

I think you need to explain your theory behind the correlation between lots of homework and developing an eating disorder though. I wouldn't like to think we were about to panic anyone whose child is conscientious about homework into assuming they are about to develop an eating disorder!

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Perfectionist, high-achieving children have more of a propensity to develop an eating disorder than the laid-back type. I'm not saying that the more homework a child gets the more likely she is to develop an eating disorder. It's the child's attitude towards the homework that counts. It certainly seems to be the case that there are more girls with eating disorders in more academic schools than in less academic schools, which is probably to do with the type of girl which attends the school but could also be to do with the more pressurised atmosphere at such schools. I'm certainly not wanting to alarm anyone. Conscientiousness is a good thing but it has to be kept in check. I don't think that anyone really knows why a person develops an eating disorder. It may vary from case to case. I understand that there is now thought to be a genetic component. Having encountered eating disorders in my circle of friends and aquaintances, I am approaching my daughter's teenage years with some anxiety, to be honest. I really do not know whether eating disorders can be prevented. All I think I can do is be vigilant, challenge attitudes which I think are unhealthy and encourage my daughter to have a balance in her life between schoolwork, friends, family and interests. What I certainly will be encouraging her to do is not become obsessed about small disappointments and upsets and accept that she won't always succeed or get what she wants however hard she tries. I actually think that the current fashionable mantra that if you work really hard you will get what you want is unhelpful. We all know that life is not like that. Hard work will increase your chances of getting what you want but it does not guarantee it.

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Well, we've gone off topic somewhat, but I do think we need to be careful of making sweeping statements, e.g. "and they do need to pace themselves otherwise they get burnt out, go off the rails or (probably worst of all) develop an eating disorder".

 

Let's try to keep this thread to discussing the original topic. If you would like to discuss eating disorders then I will try to find a link to the previous thread and we can continue the discussion there.

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I don't actually want to discuss eating disorders. I was just making the point that children shouldn't take their homework too seriously in the early years of secondary school and should take up opportunities like TCYB before school work becomes much more important in later years.

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Some really good points raised here, thank you. Now to persude dh, which could be difficult!

 

Dd has already said she will try to get some homework done at lunchtimes to have her evenings free, they have an extended lunch period. She will just have to be organised.

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Being organised is a valuable life skill and the sooner it is learnt the better. Why don't you tell your dh that your DD is only committing herself to two terms of rehearsals and that you will review things after that.

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Good Luck with decision making Lemongirl, and congratulations to your dd for getting into the Junior company.

 

Is there anyone you know who has already done year 7 at this school that you can check with about actual homework workload?

 

I found that ds spent the most time in year 7 at his grammar school on homework for food technology and various non academic subjects that I knew he would never continue to GCSE, so I would agree with aileen on this one. I used to limit the time he could spend on food technology homework. He got surprisingly little homework in his core subjects for year 7 and 8. He has found time to do 3 lunchtime clubs, does 6 dance or performing arts classes after school a week, Hammond Associates 3 sundays a term, learns 2 musical instruments, and manages his homework amazingly well by using time on the bus, spare lunchtimes and time in the school library after school before his dance etc classes. The only time things have slipped was when he lost revision time this Easter because of English Youth Ballet, so exam marks slipped slightly in this summer's year 9 exams.

 

Hope she has a great time if she does it :)

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Lemongirl, The Three Counties Youth ballet sounds to me a great opportunity for a young student and Aileens advice about telling your dh that its only committing for two terms is very sensible. Its also a great way for your dd to find out whether dancing is something she wants to pursue more thoroughly bearing in mind that the older she gets the more schoolwork she will have.

 

Incidently,years ago, we let our ds perform in Royal Ballets Cinderella because knowing how tedious long rehearsals can be and how tiring, it was a way of finding out whether he still wanted to be a ballet dancer once he'd experienced how hard and unglamorous it is. Unfortunately or fortunately,depending how you look at it, my ds adored every minute and its now,many years later, his career. But seeing him so happy with his experiences with Cinderella was a factor in allowing him to train full time.

 

Finally, does your dd really want to do it? If so then she may resent having to pass up on this opportunity now, especially if when shes older she still loves to dance but school work or other factors prevent her from doing as much. I know far too many adults who get really upset that their parents stopped their ballet lessons because they were expected to follow the accepted University route!

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I would caution against taking homework too lightly if your DD is attending a very academic school - I know, to my cost, that at some schools the material is not gone over again at KS4 - the expectation was that it should have been learnt and the student should be ready to move on (non dancing DS wasn't!)

 

However ... high achieving schools like high achievers - again using the example of the same school a very talented musician was allowed to attend a conservatoire in London two days a week during sixth form - he went on to gain an organ scholarship at Cambridge. The same school celebrates the international Irish Dancing champion - he used this skill for GCSE and A level PE, and a Performing Arts qualification.

 

I think most schools will be understanding IF you keep them informed and involved - all performers make (many) sacrifices along the way, and if it means missing the odd lunchtime club or sleepover most will feel it is a price they need to pay.

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Meadowblythe, I'm not saying don't bother with homework at all, just that it should be kept in perspective. It's obviously Lemongirl's decision, but we are only talking about 1.5 hours on a Friday evening (when most children don't want to do their homework after a week at school) plus four Sundays all before the end of March in Year 7. Whilst I would not worry unduly about homework, I might want my daughter to have some down time on Friday evenings, and she may find that socialising takes place on Friday evenings, particularly if the other pupils come from a wide area, although she might well be able to join her friends later if she is finishing at 6.15pm.

 

I think that all extra-curricular activities need to be reviewed yearly as the child moves up through secondary school.

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Whilst an adult perhaps would be able to 'relax' a little in one school year but understand that they need to step up a gear the next I'm not sure a child would get the right message from this. Quite often homework is simple, in the early years it is mainly set to get the child used to actually doing homework (some primary schools still dont set any/very much) and learning the importance of deadlines, being solely responsible for their work etc. Its not just about the academic content. All these tasks a dedicated dancer will find very natural/easy and therefore homework wont be an issue anyway.

 

I think a lot depends on how much homework they are used to doing at primary school and how much the secondary school require - my children have found secondary school a lot easier than their primary school - a lot less demanding in KS3.

 

Back on topic - Lemongirl, as your daughter has been fortunate to have this opportunity, perhaps you could suggest a trial run given she has a major change in education in September and nobody knows how she will cope/react etc., let her start and then you can make an informed choice as to whether she is benefiting by being an Associate, perhaps she will prefer it to one of her other commitments and give one of those up as a compromise? Its difficult to turn something down when you haven't experienced it first hand.

 

Good luck and congratulations on being offered a place!

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As a teacher (science) in mainstream secondary schools as well as a dance teacher I can safely say that different schools have different opinions on homework. I agree with the comment that in year 7 homework may appear to be mundane but some schools see it as important training for later in the year (s). Having said that, some schools set it but don't mind if it's not actually done because parents expect homework to be set at least once a week, so the school sets it because they want to appease those parents (although I did find this to be the exception). Other schools have homework timetables, so that you know in advance when the homework will be set. If your DD's school has a homework timetable this might be useful.

 

Something else to consider is that schools have a list of Gifted and Talented pupils, and often make concessions for these pupils. You could perhaps find out who the G&T co-ordinator is in your DD's school and explain that she has a particular talent for dancing, and has been offered a place with TCYB, and would the school make any concessions in this case?

 

Another option, if you're really worried, might be to take a laptop in the car on the way and she can do a bit on the way to rehearsals!

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Hi Lemongirl, congratulations to your DD! I have read this thread with interest and fully understand your reservations in light of your DD starting at an academic secondary school in September.

 

Whilst it is important to get into the habit of doing homework and of good time management, it sounds as though the Three Counties rehearsals will not impinge on your DD's homework and other activities, as the rehearsals are after school on Friday (when, as Aileen said, most children would want a break from homework anyway) so she would never have to choose between homework due the next morning and her rehearsal. The Sunday rehearsals are only twice per term and I am sure that your DD will be able to ensure that she has done all of her homework prior to these so that she can spend the day rehearsing without distraction. As your DD has worked to achieve entry to her academic secondary school, she is clearly academically able and I am sure that she will be more than capable of embracing the ballet opportunity, plus all of the extra-curricular activities she may want to try at her new school, without her academic achievement levels dropping.

 

Don't forget that if your DD eventually follows an academic route, universities and employers will want to know what else, other than academics, she has focused on and achieved in. There are so many children with excellent academic qualifications that those who, like your DD, have also worked on and achieved in other fields such as high level ballet will stand out; even more so when this also proves

that their time management and organisational skills are extremely well developed as a result. Those children who have dropped everything except for their academic work to concentrate on academic qualifications to the exclusion of all else don't have that advantage.

 

Maybe it would be a good idea for your DD to talk to her dad and reassure him that she will work very hard to ensure that she develops excellent organisational skills in terms of homework, ballet and other activities and that she appreciates his misgivings but will prove to him that she can manage everything? I appreciate that he is concerned that she has a big educational step to take at the same time as the Three Counties opportunity but I am sure that your DD, like all dancers, is focused and determined enough to make the most of every opportunity, academic, balletic or otherwise and will be eager for the chance to prove this!

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I've been on holiday with minimal internet access via my phone so couldn;t post this before but I feel that this blog (based in a speech at prize givingthat the headteacher of the academically selective school my children will probably go to) is relevant to the discussion.

 

Overschooled but undereducated?

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Questioning the purposes of education is an age-old business but we should never become complacent and think that we have finally got it just right. After all, the basic function of education in all societies is surely to prepare young people for the kind of adult life which that society values and wishes to perpetuate. As society evolves, so must our educational goals, although the values that underpin them remain constant.

 

I recently received a briefing paper about a book to be published in November called Overschooled but Undereducated. There is something about the title which immediately resonates. In the paper, which is incidentally addressed to the government and our MPs, there are a number of very challenging questions which all of us should consider, whether we are educators, pupils, parents or governors. But there was one question which caught my eye. Why are those aspects of schooling that children enjoy most called extra-curricular, as if they don't matter so much and are only informally offered?

 

You will see from my previous postings that this has been a theme of mine recently. League tables have been produced in abundance as usual at this time of year by most of our daily newspapers but what do they show? They by and large show academic achievement. And x School has risen up the league in most cases. Does that mean that we are better than we were last year? We all celebrate the academic achievement of all our pupils. These grades are the product of great endeavour and relentlessly focused teaching. But they are not the full picture. They are not even half the picture. Yesterday I made a visit to our Lower 6th formers who are on a two day team-building visit to Ambleside. I witnessed our young people in a new environment, engaging in tasks which were both demanding and challenging. They were constantly being put into new groups, adjusting to the dynamics, having to both lead and be led, having to listen and offer opinions, having to show both creativity and initiative. There is no league table for these pursuits but these are the skills which, coupled with their academic grades, will launch our pupils into the world with resilience and confidence.

 

One of the other questions asked by the think-tank was why, in a country with a fully funded public education system, do some 7% of pupils on average attend independent fee-paying schools? Of course there are plenty of good answers to this question, not least the fact that your child is guaranteed an education in which high achievement is valued and respected by the pupils themselves. But also at x we have the vision, resources and staff commitment to ensure that our school does not divide into curricular and extra-curricular. And we will continue to be uncompromising in what we offer and what we expect pupils to get involved in outside the classroom.

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Thanks to everyone for your input, it really is helpful and I appreciate the time you've all taken to reply.

 

I do think she should do it. Apart from anything else, she really wants to and knows she may not get the opportunity again. The seniors rehearse for much longer on a Friday which may not be possible for us.

 

I haven't talked to dh yet but I will and explain it all to him. Now the problem for me will be the logistics. I am fine for getting her there and as it's only 1.5 hours it makes sense for me to wait around. However this time on a Friday I am getting my dinner ready (we are Jewish so have a special meal on Friday nights, sorry should have pointed that out earlier!) Ideally I want to find someone who lives fairly close to me to bring her back and I could help out with taking. Or something like that. Anyway I'm hoping something is possible.

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