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Interesting Developments at White Lodge?


Ian Macmillan
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Accepting that the proposal may have come as a surprise, on reflection it seems little different in kind from day schools hiring out halls etc to help budgets along and, if I'm right, the Upper School has also seen its premises in town used for commercial purposes from time to time. As external funding reduces, the Governors would be remiss if they did not seek to use whatever advantages their facilities confer to help plug the gaps - and in this case, I imagine they can offer very attractive premises indeed, albeit at a price. The trick will be to ensure that the School's normal activities can continue unaffected.

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Well in these financially challenged times I suppose needs must and all avenues must be explored. I am shocked though; I thought RBS had loads of wealthy benefactors. Just goes to show that nowhere is exempt from these current economic stresses. Surely all schools received flat funding, so how are they managing?

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I was shocked that RBS seems to be financially precarious but I don't think the proposals are tacky or tasteless. Many buildings, historic or otherwise, offer these types of events to generate revenue. As Ian says above, the trick will be to ensure that the school's activities are not affected.

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I suppose if they were planning on providing large marquees in the grounds rather than letting people trundle through the lovely sprung floor studios in heels maybe a safer solution so still providing the ambience of the park for weddings and functions.

Ax

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I am not surprised, the RBS really are not as wealthy as people think and millions were spent just to get a rather shabby building (I remember being so disappointed on my sons audition day!) up to date with the 21st century- I imagine that will take years to pay off.

 

Yes the fees are very expensive but class sizes are small and all the students are means tested, very few fall into the wealthy benefactor bracket! And consider the costs involved just to maintain a listed building never mind all the staff fees- not just ballet teachers but the administrators, excellent boarding staff, health professionals, academic staff etc etc

 

I personally can't see the harm in generating some extra income by hosting a few weddings ( what a lovely place to get married, especially if you are a dancer with links to the place!) Obviously I am sure it goes without saying that they would take care not to impact adversely on the running of the school and there is no need for such events to be held anywhere near the sprung floors!! The fact is that there are many weeks when the school is unoccupied and it surely make sense to utilise the facilities. And as for Queen Mary turning in her grave, well the Royals held many grand parties there, afterall White Lodge was built as a hunting lodge!

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I don't think it's a bad thing. As others have said, lots of stately homes etc do this sort of thing to supplement their income and I'm sure it will all be carefully done. Times are tough, and the costs of maintaining a Grade 1 listed building of that size must be enormous. We looked at buying a listed house once and the rules and costs of maintenance put us off the idea, and that was only a comparatively small family home.I can't imagine what maintaining WL must cost, never mind the running costs of the school itself. I think the RBS should be commended for looking at different ideas to remain financially viable rather than simply raising the fees and I wish them success with the venture.

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I guess most of the dance schools charge similar fees but RBS class sizes are a lot it smaller than most.

Well not any more. DD's friend reports that "loads of new students are starting in September and all the years, even year 11, are being filled up to the maximum". This seems contrary to the last few years that I know of where they seemed to be happy to carry places if they couldn't find people of the required standard.

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As far as I'm aware the average is still 12 boys, 12 girls boarding but ballet class sizes can vary if there are day students also attending. I believe also that sometimes extra room (boarding wise) can be made if a certain year for example isn't full- this would obviously free up space should a really promising student for any of the older years audition- the Royal will not turn real potential away if there is a place. But likewise they will not fill a place unless they are certain that the student will benefit from the training. A glance at the year groups in the end of year programmes shows quite clearly varying class sizes. In my sons year 11 there were 14 girls and 12 boys but the year 7 group that year had 13 girls and just 10 boys.

 

When I had my 2nd look around before accepting ds place I was told that the previous director would sometimes take as many as 30 students a year! Can you imagine how crowded the dorms were! But the new boarding blocks simply don't have that many beds.

 

Incidently, however large or small the year, be it 20 or 28, the students are still streamed academically which means smaller class sizes than most schools as far as education is concerned which is taken very seriously by the wonderful teaching staff there. Even though its now been 3 years they still ask after ds!

Edited by hfbrew
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hfbrew, I think what you describe has been the case previously but all the signs are that all the year groups are being filled up for September with lots of new joiners. Whereas previously spaces were carried, every year will now be pretty much full and the class sizes in year 9/10/11 will be 14 or 15 each.

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Where are they putting them, there are only so many beds in the school or are they selecting those who can be day students!

 

I thought they already had a wedding licence as when DS was there a wedding was held. The salon looked lovely with the view out of the window. Maybe it was a one of licence!

 

The biggest problem the school has with holding events is access after dark as the gates to the park are locked. A problem also to parents during winter when the gates are locked at 4pm.

 

Other than that as long as it doesn't disturb the school why shouldn't they rent it out it is a lovely location.

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hfbrew, I think what you describe has been the case previously but all the signs are that all the year groups are being filled up for September with lots of new joiners. Whereas previously spaces were carried, every year will now be pretty much full and the class sizes in year 9/10/11 will be 14 or 15 each.

Are you talking girls or boys? Even in past years its not been unusual to have 14 or 15 students of either sex in any given year, especially if a couple are day students. However all of the 14 girls that were eventually in my sons year were boarders. Its a good sign if places are being filled, hopefully bodes well for the future of ballet in this country!
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  • 3 weeks later...

well I don't really see the problem with this as the children are not even back to school yet!! Also why not make some extra cash rather than go under in the next few years which would be terrible. Everyone is feeling the pinch these days and we all have to do the right things in order to survive and get through this! White Lodge is a beautiful place so why not let it out for these functions?

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I have to agree with Plie, if the children arent affected which they clearly cant be as they arent back at school then there is no harm done at all. The school is using its best assets to bring in extra revenue to keep the school going. Without the school we wouldnt have our famous White Lodge and that would be a real shame.

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And holding such events such as the one unveiling the Range Rover may well bring more patrons to the cash strapped Ballet World too! Its not compromising the students (who are not even there), will bring some much needed income to the school (surely this will help keep fees under control) and perhaps enlighten and educate more people about White Lodge. Shouldn't ballet be made accessible to everyone?

 

I wouldn't mind hiring out my garden to unveil new cars...

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