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bethany

6th form level dance questions

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Hello, 

I have some questions related to studying dance at age 16-18 if anyone can help please. I have quite a few questions but I hope it's ok to put them in one post?

Background information - my daughter is currently in year 10 and we are trying to get all the information together to apply next year ready for a year 12 start the year after. Her main love is ballet but she is not at a level to go to vocational ballet school so we are looking at a more general dance course but definitely one that includes ballet. We live in the North so have mainly been looking at Manchester and surrounding areas so far but would consider others. 

 

As far as I can see we have 3 options:

 

1) Study extended btech dance / performing arts. 

The benefits that I can see for this option are that it is free and it would count as A level standard if she wants to then go on to university. 

We are lucky to have 2 colleges reasonably local (one specifically a dance college and one on a general college campus) that have very good reputations locally. 

The downside is that I'm not sure if they're respected within the dance industry. I'm not sure if this is because the training is at a lower standard or if they are considered an easy option? - I was wondering if anyone has any comments about this type of training?

 

2) Apply to a college that offers the chance for DADA funding / level 6 training eg Northern ballet in Manchester

Unfortunately we are not in a position to self fund but we can afford the parental contributions if she did secure funding (which I know is a big if). We have looked into a few of these places and she feels they would be a good option. 

My questions for this option are:

Can you use the level 6 qualification instead of A Levels to apply for uni if you wanted to go on to do a full degree course?

If you accept DADA funding can you still apply for university student loans for fees and cost of living at a later date?

Is it realistic to top up to a degree in 1 year assuming it was in the same subject or in reality is it a case of starting a degree course from scratch?

 

3) Study dance or performing arts at a private college (for example Phil Winstons theatre works)

This is ideal in some ways as it is studied over 3 days a week so the student can work and contribute to their own fees. In order to accept students from age 16 then I understand they must be classed as further education but they don't seem to offer an actual qualification. 

I understand that these places are about being 'industry ready' but what if that doesn't work out. Can you use these courses towards any further study? 

Am I right in thinking that this type of training is usually entirely self funded? 

 

Any opinions / advice would be appreciated. Especially if there are any other things we can look into or if you think we have misunderstood anything. 

 

Thank you 

 

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Hi bethany, and a belated welcome to the Forum.  Lots of questions, so apologies if I've missed anything, but what is your daughter's ambition for a career? Does she want to be a dancer, a dance teacher? If the former, what sort of dancer? Jazz, commercial, musical theatre? Does she sing and/or act? 

 

Would A'Levels and continuing to train locally be an option?  Would she be happy to leave home at 16 or are you only looking locally at this stage? 

 

Sorry for all the questions but I think people will be better able to help if they have more info.   

 

:)

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Hi Bethany,  welcome to the forum

 

I'll try to answer to the best of my knowledge & experience.

 

1.  These Level 3 btec courses are generally designed to prepare students for entry to the Level 6 diploma or degree courses.  They are very variable in standard.  The likes of Preston, one just outside Manchester/Stockport whose name temporarily escapes me, Jill Clewes Academy etc all provide excellent training for someone who is either not ready to go away at 16 or who wants to apply for MT courses that only accept 18 year olds.  Unfortunately there are lots of much lower standard colleges around.

They are not designed to train a student to be industry/audition ready. 

 

2. This is the option my daughter is taking.  She is (funding dependent) going to be going to Hammond or SLP,  Leeds.  This 3 year course is designed to get students industry ready, they have an agent showcase at the end of it.  You cannot usually use the qualification as entry to a full university degree course (though Hammond also offer 2 A levels alongside it) as having a Level 6 qualification means you will not be eligible for full student finance.  However you can top it up to a full degree by a 12-18 month part time distance learning course with Middlesex University  (with student finance) and you end up with  a full BA Hons.

 

3.  I personally feel this is a risky option.  If accredited qualifications are offered, even ISTD/RAD etc teaching diplomas then that gives the studen something at least but a private college awarding its own diploma that is not accredited on the QCF will not gain entry to further study.   There are private colleges that offer unfunded Trinity Diplomas or Btec's.  You also have to take into account that unaccredited colleges have no-one overlooking them to check on standards, welfare etc.  I know a few people who have had problems with such instututions in the past.   Career Development Loans are one way of finding some of these courses.  But be aware they have a very high interest rate and repayments have to be started IMMEDIATELY on graduation regardless of income.  You also have to be 18 to apply.

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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To add to my previous advice.

 

If there is any possibility she may be applying for entry age 16 now is the time to start looking.  Don't wait until Year 11.  Start looking into open days, MOVE IT, CDET conference, looking up college showcases on Youtube.  Get a feel for standards and where your daughter feels might suit her.  Perhaps book onto a summer school.  Once she gets into Year 11 the demands of potential auditions & GCSE's will make it much more difficult.

 

 

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Thank you both.

 

I think long term her ambition is to have her own dance school but she would certainly like to work in the dance industry even if just for a short time. 

It's so competitive though that I have asked her to think of a back up plan and she says this would be going into teaching earlier rather than later. 

She would like to go away at 16 which is why we have started looking now in year 10 and we have been to quite a few open days. Northern ballet school and SLP are both within commutable distance but only just so at the moment she says she would rather live away from home. As a mum, 16 seems very young to be leaving home though so I would favour a longer commute over moving out! 

She loves ballet, modern / jazz and musical theatre (but pointe is not yet strong so she is realistic about her ballet skills). She can sing in a chorus and has done local musical theatre shows, panto, English youth ballet etc. She hasn't done ballet associates. 

Personally I would prefer her to do btec / A levels at home and then move away at 18 but only if we found somewhere of a good standard. She's not totally against the idea but it isn't her first choice. If she does stay at home she definitely wants to do performing arts / dance related subjects. She's not interested in doing academic A levels. 

 

 

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I would consider Hammond in Chester then as well as anyone under 18 lives with a school vetted landlady rather than student accommodation. 

Both Hammond & SLP offer ISTD/RAD etc exams that means they can go onto a teaching diploma afterwards. 

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Great advice by Pictures.  Living away from home at 16 is a big step, especially if the student hasn't been a boarder previously.  Dancing for most of a day or all day, five days a week is a huge leap when you're used to living at home and going to academic school.  If the student lives in a catered boarding school, catered supervised accommodation or a homestay environment it's much easier than having to go home after a long hard day and cook, clean, food shop and do your own laundry aged 16 or 17, let alone have the energy to eat enough healthy food.   So if your dd is going to go away to school or college, really check out what's offered in terms of pastoral care - and if you can, speak to current parents or students.  

 

As Pictures says, some privately run colleges/schools are not inspected by any regulatory bodies, and if this is the case - especially if they don't offer a recognised and accredited qualification, personally I think a foundation course and/or A'Levels would be preferable.  

 

Going to Move It is always useful, and I believe that the Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET) hold showcase days where their accredited schools and colleges get together to exhibit to prospective students and parents.  

 

Northern in Manchester, SLP, Hammond are all well worth a look.  Further afield, Millenium in London has an excellent Foundation Year which could then lead onto their full-time course at 18+, but I don't know if they have any homestay or supervised accommodation and that's a long way away from you for a 16 year-old. 

 

Wherever you look at, two more things to consider are 1. where the school's alumni end up, and 2. are any teaching qualifications offered alongside the dance training. 

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May be worth looking at KS Dance in Warrington who offer Trinity Diploma and teacher training. Also Centre Pointe in Denton in Manchester.

I agree with Pictures that going to summer schools is a useful way to get info.

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Yes it's definitely a big step and one I'm not entirely comfortable with. There's a lot to think about.

I will look into those other suggestions and we will add the Hammond to her list of summer schools to think about (She has a list of 4 and I've asked her to pick 1).

Pictures in the firelight can I ask if your daughter is 16 or 18? If she is 18 what has she been doing for the last 2 years and have you felt this has been a good, useful experience for her?

Have you got a back up plan if she doesn't get funding?

Don't feel pressured to answer - I completely understand if you don't want to give any personal information. 

 

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I would always suggest that studying A'Levels is a good idea if at all possible.  If you need to change your career in the future, they would be very useful in enabling you to pursue an alternative path.

 

Our local school suggested to one of our daughters that Business Studies would be a very useful A'Level subject if she was intending to run her own business at any time.  I know that photography is another subject that has been suggested to others who are hoping to run their own dance school.  Any knowledge about how to take decent audition photographs for your students, or even record your shows, would be extremely useful skills to have.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Hull said:

I would always suggest that studying A'Levels is a good idea if at all possible.  If you need to change your career in the future, they would be very useful in enabling you to pursue an alternative path.

 

Our local school suggested to one of our daughters that Business Studies would be a very useful A'Level subject if she was intending to run her own business at any time.  I know that photography is another subject that has been suggested to others who are hoping to run their own dance school.  Any knowledge about how to take decent audition photographs for your students, or even record your shows, would be extremely useful skills to have.

 

 

 

Absolutely.  Some 18+ schools (London Studio Centre is one that comes to mind) require A'Levels or equivalent.  Dance can be such a fickle career that any academic back up is useful.  Those two A'Levels Hull mentions would be very relevant.  

 

I suspect too that the academic side of a dance degree - not just in performance but also for example the BA in Dance Education at RAD HQ - must be more manageable if you've taken A'Levels.  Less of a leap than from GCSE straight to degree.

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My daughter is 16. She had originally planned to do A levels at normal school & audition at 18 but following advice and feedback from her current teachers they felt she was ready at 16. 

 

SLP offered her a scholarship if we committed to them with a deposit - but didn’t indicate the amount just it would be less than a Dada so we haven’t paid the deposit for that. She was also offered a musical theatre scholarship at the private Abbott’s Bromley School but only 10 per cent. She could have done a btec plus 2 A levels there but we can’t afford it. 

 

As well as Dada Hammond offer generous bursaries so we are hoping if she doesn’t get a Dada she may get a bursary that will be affordable. If that’s not the case her back up will probably be the Btec Extended diploma at a local dance school with an excellent track record of getting students into college at 18, or normal academic school & travel to as many high quality dance school classes as possible. (Hoping it doesn’t come to that). 

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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5 hours ago, sarahw said:

May be worth looking at KS Dance in Warrington who offer Trinity Diploma and teacher training. Also Centre Pointe in Denton in Manchester.

I agree with Pictures that going to summer schools is a useful way to get info.

 

Yes I forgot that they also offer a general dance course as I tend to associate them more with classical ballet. Also I know they have Dadas but nowhere that I can find anyway on their website is there a mention of this. 

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8 hours ago, Picturesinthefirelight said:

My daughter is 16. She had originally planned to do A levels at normal school & audition at 18 but following advice and feedback from her current teachers they felt she was ready at 16. 

 

SLP offered her a scholarship if we committed to them with a deposit - but didn’t indicate the amount just it would be less than a Dada so we haven’t paid the deposit for that. She was also offered a musical theatre scholarship at the private Abbott’s Bromley School but only 10 per cent. She could have done a btec plus 2 A levels there but we can’t afford it. 

 

As well as Dada Hammond offer generous bursaries so we are hoping if she doesn’t get a Dada she may get a bursary that will be affordable. If that’s not the case her back up will probably be the Btec Extended diploma at a local dance school with an excellent track record of getting students into college at 18, or normal academic school & travel to as many high quality dance school classes as possible. (Hoping it doesn’t come to that). 

 

Thank you for sharing this. It sounds very similar to my daughter's plan. I hope it all works out for you both. 

 

 

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Thank you all for your help. 

 

I can understand those of you who would recommend the A level route but it's very difficult when that's not what she wants to do. However,  I will discuss this with her as another option (relevant A levels and local dance training for 2 years).

I'm encouraging her to keep an open mind while we gather all the information. 

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Bearing in mind A levels are free til age 19 another option is go to dance at 16 and review after 1 year with the option of returning to A levels.

 

I also agree that careful consideration of living arrangements at 16 is vital. A long commute is undesirable after a full day's dance.

Edited by sarahw
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My DD is in her first year of BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts. She is very academic but had had enough of the academic world, knew she wanted to be in the performing arts world but wasn’t ready to go away at 16. We have been incredibly lucky as a new 6th form college opened, it only does BTEC or Foundation course. She is absolutely loving it however she is doing an A level off her own back through an online college but that’s because she is also passionate about English. So she will end up with that A level plus her btec which is the equivalent to 3 A levels, she is looking at auditioning all over the place next year, all the course she is looking at are degree course. 

The college she is at has been set up by the person who originally set the BTEC course up at Pendleton College. The course there has an amazingly successful track record of students going on to have successfull careers in performing arts. 

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5 hours ago, bethany said:

Thank you all for your help. 

 

I can understand those of you who would recommend the A level route but it's very difficult when that's not what she wants to do. However,  I will discuss this with her as another option (relevant A levels and local dance training for 2 years).

I'm encouraging her to keep an open mind while we gather all the information. 

I can empathise. My DD was much the same and her father and I "strongly encouraged" her to do A levels. She didn't enjoy 6th form and though she passed them all she didn't get brilliant grades and is now going a degree course she could have joined at 16. With hindsight I sometimes wonder if we should just have let her go at 16. However, I'm still not sure, as I think she has coped much better with being away than she would have done at 16. Plus, she's not aiming for a classical career. Much like your daughter she'd like some kind of general dance career, with some performance experience if possible but probably heading for teaching in the long term. In those circumstances I doubt there's really any huge benefit to completing a degree and then looking for work at the tender age of 19.Whilst it's common for teens to want to "grow up" as soon as possible, I'm not convinced that that's in the best interests of the majority. Adulthood is vastly over rated in my opinion! 

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5 hours ago, bethany said:

Thank you all for your help. 

 

I can understand those of you who would recommend the A level route but it's very difficult when that's not what she wants to do. However,  I will discuss this with her as another option (relevant A levels and local dance training for 2 years).

I'm encouraging her to keep an open mind while we gather all the information. 

You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it revise. My dd was adamant that she did not want to ( a) stay at school or (b) take A levels. So at 16 years old she went away (far away) into full time dance training. I was pretty worried about her doing this, but having said that she could go if she got a place in training did not want to go back on my word. I also knew that she would not get particularly good A level grades under duress; made worse by having a very academic older sibling.I have been impressed at how well she has coped with 'adulting' , with very long days while on tour and generally looking after herself.  I'm not convinced that any career in dance awaits her, but she does have a lot of options in future from going back to A levels (free at our local college to age 24) doing a degree conversion course or becoming a dance teacher.  At least she has learned some valuable life skills and appreciates how fortunate she is to be doing what she loves. Ultimately there is no 'right' answer, you have to do what works best for you as a family.

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17 hours ago, Anna C said:

 

I suspect too that the academic side of a dance degree - not just in performance but also for example the BA in Dance Education at RAD HQ - must be more manageable if you've taken A'Levels.  Less of a leap than from GCSE straight to degree.

This is a good point.

I was talking to my DD about this recently actually and she says she's found the academic element of her course easier than A levels so far, and there are definitely transferable skills. For example, she applies what she learned from analysing text in English literature A level to analysing choreography, and apparently some bits of psychology have been useful too. So maybe 6th form wasn't wasted after all!

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On 05/03/2018 at 12:51, bethany said:

The downside is that I'm not sure if they're respected within the dance industry. I'm not sure if this is because the training is at a lower standard or if they are considered an easy option? - I was wondering if anyone has any comments about this type of training?

 

You've had loads of good advice. I'll had my twopenn'orth:

 

What's respected in the dance industry? well-trained, high achieving talent. If she's good enough, she'll get dance jobs. Qualifications - for performance - are not so important.

 

So you're really asking questions about what would give your daughter the greater number of options in the future - so that she has choices, if she's not suitable for a career as a performer. And if she is good enough & well-trained enough for that career, she'll want to have options after that career.

 

For a dance career, I think it's important to get a sense of where her training/talent is in comparison with peers - who will be the other applicants for jobs along with your DD. Auditioning for summer schools etc will give you that indicator. Do a few auditions, and you'll get an indicator. Like others, I'd really advise against your Option 3. If your DD is good enough, she'll get funding; if she's not good enough, then you're throwing away money better spent on her education in a different way.

 

Training to become a dance teacher will require at least an undergraduate degree (although that's only the start of it). For the kinds of studio-based courses, a BTec plus a relevant A Level would be required for university level entry. And most Dance/Performing Arts degrees will look kindly at a BTec. An additional A Level is always a good thing because it also gives a set of academic skills in writing and reading and research. I teach performing arts at a Russell Group university - so not probably a target for your DD, but just to say that - contrary to so much you read about Russell Group universities! - we take UCAS applicants with BTecs, but they do find the first year very tough and have to really fight for their abilities & self-esteem, because we require an AAA level of academic writing. But they generally adapt and thrive, if they can get past the first hump.

 

So, while people are saying A Levels, I think a BTec would be fine - you need to get the body while it's at the best age for dance training. Intense brain training can wait! (And this is a university professor saying this ... :P ) There are lots of ways of picking up formal qualifications, post-21.

 

Good luck!

 

 

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I think its worth adding to Kate’s post that you don’t need an undergraduate degree to teach in a private dance school (you said her ambition one day was to own her own school). You just need a teaching diploma from the relevant awarding body eg ISTD DDI/DDE. 

 

Edited to add that actually there is no formal requirement for a private dance teacher to have any qualifications but most parents will look for a syllabus school with qualified teachers. 

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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Yes, Pictures you're right, but , as you say ... people/parents will look for some kind of qualification in dance. If a teacher hasn't had a professional career, then that qualification probably needs to be a really excellent one. I know I am very wary of dance schools where the teacher's biog. basically says that the teacher trained in the school s/he teaches at, and has only a syllabus qualification. It's quite a narrow training ... And there are some really excellent dance teacher-training degrees, with proper attention to anatomy and properly scientific principles: Laban, RAD and so on. Just something to weigh up.

 

 

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Rightly or wrongly I tended to avoid teachers with university dance degrees & go for those with ISTD/RAD/BBO teaching Diplomas as they always seemed to produce the best results. Th exam board teaching Diplomas do include things like you mention & require attendance at external workshops or regional centres. 

 

The importance of a good teacher was brought home to me last night though. Ds goes to a BBO dance school & because he is a late beginner (he’s 14) & autistic he’s been having privates to avoid being in a class with 7 year olds. 

 

His teacher (who is a dance school trained BBO teacher) came to me & gave me a precise run down of how he learns, how you think he’s not paying attention but it’s just processing time, & what she has to do to best facilitate his way of learning. She didn’t know he has a diagnosed slow speed of information processing, she showed more insight than the teachers at his previous secondary school who did know about his diagnoses!

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On 05/03/2018 at 18:09, bethany said:

Yes it's definitely a big step and one I'm not entirely comfortable with. There's a lot to think about.

I will look into those other suggestions and we will add the Hammond to her list of summer schools to think about (She has a list of 4 and I've asked her to pick 1).

Pictures in the firelight can I ask if your daughter is 16 or 18? If she is 18 what has she been doing for the last 2 years and have you felt this has been a good, useful experience for her?

Have you got a back up plan if she doesn't get funding?

Don't feel pressured to answer - I completely understand if you don't want to give any personal information. 

 

Whilst I would normally agree with you. I soon realised that ballet focused pupils have to go at 16. MT appear to have more flexibility. I researched Schools incl accommodation etc. Post GCSE’s. It is a challenge as they all vary so much.  Northern Ballet School has secure accommodation immediately behind the school. Whilst not boarding they are self catering but specifically accommodate the 1st yrs together.  Away from the uni students also within the block. 24/7 security and staff on call. Reassuring for us parents. No public transport needed. The school also offer the current DDE and DDI teaching qualifications. Which is changing in name. This would certainly be a major factor on your DD’s quest to run her own school. They offer the Jazz focus and promoted as a Dance school rather than MT. Lessons in singing are on the syllabus to support the dance rather than the triple threat level. 

Good Luck. It is a challenge and a hard one but attendance at some SS certainly helps towards decision making. Either for or against the school or the whole idea of going at 16 for both of you. 😉

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Just wanted to say that I've read all your messages and opinions. 

I wasn't sure whether to ask on here with it being a ballet specific forum but I'm glad I did - lots to think about!

I'm sure it's not going to be an easy decision whatever she decides but I'm at least hoping to make sure she has all the information she needs. 

Thanks very much. 

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Hi again, I just thought of another query if you don't mind? 

 

If your children were successful in securing a place but not in securing funding what would this say to you about their potential?

I've just had a discussion with 2 mum's from our local dance school. One feels that to get a place is a good achievement in itself (we didn't go into details but I got the impression she would potentially be able to fund her daughter's place). The other felt that it indicated they are not up to the required standard so would be worried about self funding even if she could afford?

 

I realise this is another one of those questions that comes down to personal opinion but I'd be interested to hear what you think.

 

 

 

 

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Funding is a very difficult one. Unfortunately there isn’t enough money to fund every child and every college/school have different ways of awarding it and have different amounts to divide up. I know plenty of children who have been awarded funding from one place but not another. I don’t believe it says anything about the potential of your child, if they have been offered a place they see potential in them no matter whether they can offer them funding or not. 

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Bethany this is a million dollar question!

 

My personal feeling is that a funding offer does increase the chance of the student being employable at the end. However I don't think it's that clear cut due to late developers, injuries etc.

 

I think there is clearly an over supply of training places. You always need a Plan B!!

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