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bethany

choices at 16

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I would be interested in hearing experiences in training (particularly away from home) at age 16. I am especially looking for information that is not always easy to find on the website such as

- accommodation options

-accommodation costs

-hidden costs

-how did your child adapt to moving away 

-any concerns about safety

-if the course was mixed age groups (eg some starting at 16 and some at 18) how did this work? 

At the moment we are trying to narrow down options and get a general feel for how things work so I'm not asking about any particular schools, all information would be welcome. 

 

Thanks in advance 🙂 

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Dd is loving being away from home (although its only about 40odd miles)

 

She had some problems at first due to getting injured (not being able to dance makes her unhappy), tiredness and organising lunches (supernoodles for lunch every day does not make for an energetic, healthy dancer) and an adjustment of social groups but she is loveing the independence and the fcat that there "aren't many rules at home"!!!

 

Accommodation : For us and her living with a host family has been the best of both worlds.  I don't think she would have got through her initial hiccups half as well if she'd beenin independent srudent digs.  It costs £130 per week and includes breakfast and evening meals. She has to buy her lunches.

 

Hidden Costs : Taxi fares to physio.  Theatre trip.

 

Adapting to Moving Away - As I said above there have been issues but the school has excellent pastoral care and communication which has helped.

 

Safety - I have no concerns in this regard.

 

Ages: Some are 16 year old school leavers, some are 18 year olds who have done A levels and btec.  Apart from a couple of house parties where alcohol has been available I don't think there has been any issues with regards to the different ages from what I have heard.

 

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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My DD went at just turned 16 (summer birthday) to a school just over 100 miles away from us.  , First few weeks in particular she was homesick as she adjusted to her new environment and started making friends.

Accommodation - with a host family, breakfast and evening meal provided, laundry done for them, had to sort own lunch but there was bread provided for sandwiches. Costs out of date as it was a few years ago now.

Hidden costs/ extra costs - theatre trips, health insurance, contribution towards productions, travel home and to auditions in final year

Ages - just under half her year started as 16 year olds, just under half at 18 with few 20+. Ages did not appear to matter in terms of classes or social life - the odd house party but mostly to exhausted to do much so it was more movie nights or meals out then anything else.

Adapting to being away, very homesick at the start , especially at the stage of still making friends but by half term she could not wait to go back again as she loved it, loved doing what she loved all day every day and a great set of friends.

No concerns about safety, host family, school, friends all supportive and looked out for each other.

Graduated over 3 years ago, hence no costs quoted

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Thanks everyone for the replies and private messages. You’ve been a big help 

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One thing to bear in mind is that, unlike 6th-form at schools, some establishments (particularly those offering a degree programme with entry at 16), will not speak to or engage with parents. So students under 18 have to be very independent and self-reliant, as they cannot rely on parental backup if they need it for any reason.

Edited by taxi4ballet
Edited for clarity
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My 19yr old DD shares private halls accommodation with a mixture of ages from 16 upwards. It’s very noticeable how much the 16yr olds struggle with the practicalities of life away from home plus dealing with illness and home sickness! Luckily most of the younger dancers head home each weekend which my DD feels is their salvation. As a parent I’d be very wary of sending my 16yr old off to full time dance training without onsite support, it just seems a step too far on top of long hard days in the studio. 

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Bethany, re costs, you might find the following threads helpful, even if they are a bit old:

 

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, taxi4ballet said:

One thing to bear in mind is that, unlike 6th-form at schools, some establishments (particularly those offering a degree programme with entry at 16), will not speak to or engage with parents. So students under 18 have to be very independent and self-reliant, as they cannot rely on parental backup if they need it for any reason.

This is something I hadn't thought of so thank you for raising it. 

Do you think this is particularly dance related? Even if she suddenly had a change of heart and decided to do A levels she would go to a local college as her school doesn't have a 6th form. 

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10 hours ago, Clarkd3 said:

My 19yr old DD shares private halls accommodation with a mixture of ages from 16 upwards. It’s very noticeable how much the 16yr olds struggle with the practicalities of life away from home plus dealing with illness and home sickness! Luckily most of the younger dancers head home each weekend which my DD feels is their salvation. As a parent I’d be very wary of sending my 16yr old off to full time dance training without onsite support, it just seems a step too far on top of long hard days in the studio. 

 

This is exactly my concern. Thank you for your honesty. 

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11 hours ago, Clarkd3 said:

My 19yr old DD shares private halls accommodation with a mixture of ages from 16 upwards. It’s very noticeable how much the 16yr olds struggle with the practicalities of life away from home plus dealing with illness and home sickness! Luckily most of the younger dancers head home each weekend which my DD feels is their salvation. As a parent I’d be very wary of sending my 16yr old off to full time dance training without onsite support, it just seems a step too far on top of long hard days in the studio. 

 

I couldn’t agree more.  My dd went away into full time training at 16 and with hindsight I shouldn’t have let her go into anything except homestay, catered boarding or a purpose built block with residential houseparents onsite.  We live and learn though! 

 

Some 16 year olds are very independent, especially if they’ve boarded before, so cope very well.  Others find having to shop, cook and clean for themselves after a long hard day in the studio extremely difficult and can suffer a lot, both mentally and physically.  Tiredness and homesickness can become overwhelming in even the most mentally robust student and even eating enough can become a chore if the student has to cook.  If the accommodation is not supported and there are no staff residing in the accommodation, parties can become problematic too, especially if there is a mix of 16-19 year olds.  

 

You will know your child and what they can cope with and as I say, lots of 16 year olds can and do cope being away from home.  Just don’t underestimate the huge leap from being shopped, catered and cleaned for to having to do EVERYTHING for yourself on top of leaving home and dancing for 8-10 hours a day.  

 

I hope I don’t seem to be a harbinger of doom; not at all my intention - these are just things that hadn’t occurred to me at your stage in the journey and if you are armed with as much information as possible, you can make a decision based on what support your daughter might need.  ☺️

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2 hours ago, bethany said:

This is something I hadn't thought of so thank you for raising it. 

Do you think this is particularly dance related? Even if she suddenly had a change of heart and decided to do A levels she would go to a local college as her school doesn't have a 6th form. 

My DD did A levels at a 6th form college prior to her dance course and I was often on the phone, it was never an issue in that educational setting 😊

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DS did degree at 16, the staff did not generally deal with us directly - I think in one case I did get an email in the first year assuring us that a situation was under review.  Having said that, he took to halls and life in general with enthusiasm - it really wasn't a problem.

 

Just to put an opposing view, having done his growing up early, he was confident to take a job abroad at 18.  I think had he come straight from a more catered and structured environment the move would have been overwhelming.  As it was, he found it extremely challenging for the first few months.  Learning to shop and look after yourself when you don't speak the language is hard enough, as is taking class in a foreign language, without having to learn the basics of self sufficiency too.

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My Dd is in the second year of a 3 year diploma and in year 1 stayed with a host family which I believe was absolutely the best thing (it was also a school requirement). She has moved to independent student living in year 2, with 2 second year close friends and 2 third years. She has just come home for half term and looks well and happy. She says it’s great and not as hard as she expected. For my peace of mind, I have made emergency dinners and put them in her freezer, in case there is an unexpected long, hard day. We give her a monthly allowance and do an Internet shop whenever needed. 

As lots of others have said, it’s about knowing your child and what’s best for them. Many of dd’s friends  have remained in host families in year 2 - it’s so individual as to what works. 

I do believe, however, that it would be a very special 16 year old who in year 1 coped with a demanding course, social changes, domestic chores and cooking, and thrived in the process. 

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I must admit, I still find it hard to comprehend the thought of anyone starting a degree course at 16 ... maths geniuses and the like being an exception, perhaps.

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To be honest, we still joke about the value of his degree.  But it got him where he needed to be, and he's already looked at "upgrading" it in the future.  There are definite options, ironically especially as it wasn't an honours degree.  

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1 hour ago, alison said:

I must admit, I still find it hard to comprehend the thought of anyone starting a degree course at 16 ... maths geniuses and the like being an exception, perhaps.

Perhaps that's where the trouble lies - all university-overseen regulations etc are designed with the assumption that all degree students will be adults (ie 18+), therefore parents will not be kept in the loop. Since the students are treated as legally independent adults, the university/institution won't discuss information regarding the student with parents. Presumably for confidentiality reasons & data protection etc.

 

Dance students are almost unique in being able to start degree courses at 16 or 17, so they are caught between a rock and a hard place, still legally children on the one hand, but having to be treated as adults on the other. Sometimes they will need parental support, or someone to advocate for them, but the schools won't allow it.

Edited by taxi4ballet
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Hi everyone, thanks for sharing your experiences.  I'm 'happy' (not quite the right word!) to hear both sides to the story, the negatives as well as the positives. 

I do feel worried about it. 

In terms of independence she's able to cook, knows how to make a very quick meal when she's tired, do her own washing, sew her own pointe shoes etc (not that she always does these things but she knows how to!)

But I worry more about being isolated, what she would do if she was ill, who she would talk to when she's had a bad day. 

Lots to think about over the next few months! 

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Bristol university is giving all its first years the option to allow parents/guardians to be informed of staff have concerns about the students wellbeing. Why the dance schools that offer the degree can’t have a similar system in place is beyond me. 

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Well, 17 is one thing - lots of Scottish students can start degree courses at that age -  but I suspect that for most 16 is a different matter.

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5 hours ago, Clarkd3 said:

My DD did A levels at a 6th form college prior to her dance course and I was often on the phone, it was never an issue in that educational setting 😊

a sixth form college  may still do that,   an FE college however  ... 

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51 minutes ago, bethany said:

Hi everyone, thanks for sharing your experiences.  I'm 'happy' (not quite the right word!) to hear both sides to the story, the negatives as well as the positives. 

I do feel worried about it. 

In terms of independence she's able to cook, knows how to make a very quick meal when she's tired, do her own washing, sew her own pointe shoes etc (not that she always does these things but she knows how to!)

But I worry more about being isolated, what she would do if she was ill, who she would talk to when she's had a bad day. 

Lots to think about over the next few months! 

 

Yes, those are very valid considerations.  Being able to get home reasonably easily at weekends can really help some students - even if they don’t actually come home, it’s reassuring to know that they *could* if necessary.  My daughter needed a second opinion about an injury from her own Dance Physio but had she been at the other end of the country from us, that wouldn’t have been feasible.  Other things to think about are:

 

Is there wifi and is the signal decent so that if they need to FaceTime you, they can?

What, if any, mental health support and qualified medical staff are available?

Does the length of the school day mean that going to the GP is manageable?

Is there enough to do nearby that the 16 year olds don’t need a car?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dd is 16 and started a BA course last month. First half term has been fantastic - she is very happy! The most important thing for me was that she made friends and was never lonely. This hasn’t been a problem at all because she is surrounded by people with lots in common with her. She has made lots of friends ranging in age from 16 to 20+, across all 3 year groups. She has been shopping with them, out for food, to the cinema and theatre, and to a couple of house parties. Far from being concerned about her being with older students, I find it comforting, because they all seem lovely and like they look out for each other. They all seem very committed to becoming professional dancers. She has spent tonight watching Strictly at a friend’s - she took along marshmallows and Haribo (proper dancer food!). She desperately wanted to live independently but because the vast majority of 1st years were doing Homestay I insisted on that option. The Homestay is the only part of her new life that she’s not 100% thrilled about, and I think she would have been fine sharing a house/flat with other students. She doesn’t like having no choice over her dinners and would prefer to cook her own choice of food. I do think it’s important that she sees me or her Dad at least once a fortnight, and that we text/call/Facetime every day - makes me feel confident that I’d pick up on any issues quickly. 

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That’s great, BlueLou! I’m so glad.  For what it’s worth I think you were right to insist on Homestay for 1st year.  Plenty to adjust to already and by Year 2 it sounds as if she’ll be ready to flat share. 

 

FaceTime’s a great invention, isn’t it.  So good for keeping in touch but also for answering quick questions! 

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25 minutes ago, BlueLou said:

Dd is 16 and started a BA course last month. First half term has been fantastic - she is very happy! The most important thing for me was that she made friends and was never lonely. This hasn’t been a problem at all because she is surrounded by people with lots in common with her. She has made lots of friends ranging in age from 16 to 20+, across all 3 year groups. She has been shopping with them, out for food, to the cinema and theatre, and to a couple of house parties. Far from being concerned about her being with older students, I find it comforting, because they all seem lovely and like they look out for each other. They all seem very committed to becoming professional dancers. She has spent tonight watching Strictly at a friend’s - she took along marshmallows and Haribo (proper dancer food!). She desperately wanted to live independently but because the vast majority of 1st years were doing Homestay I insisted on that option. The Homestay is the only part of her new life that she’s not 100% thrilled about, and I think she would have been fine sharing a house/flat with other students. She doesn’t like having no choice over her dinners and would prefer to cook her own choice of food. I do think it’s important that she sees me or her Dad at least once a fortnight, and that we text/call/Facetime every day - makes me feel confident that I’d pick up on any issues quickly. 

Host family/ landlady a requirement at my dd dance school too until they're 17. Also not 100% thrilled either but I think it eases them into it. I have heard of those living independently going for easy option of a microwave meal or a snack as they're too tired after their day but everyone is different. Definitely not lonely either. And always someone available at the end of the phone/face time, even if wants a chat even just about what they've done that day.

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I very much agree with your post Jane.

Sixteen is not eighteen and am surprised these schools won't engage with parents if need be  where it's a sixteen year old involved. If ordinary schools have a duty to care at sixteen why not these Dance schools? 

Well done Bristol Uni I would say....

As some eighteen year olds would  find it hard if have to do everything themselves and it's the first time away from home. 

I can remember being a very independent young lady but when I went to stay in Germany for just six weeks when I was fifteen I was surprised by the degree of homesickness I felt...just not expected or anticipated at all!! And at least my meals were being cooked for me! 

Four years later it was a different story. 

At nineteen it was a different story.....I was well able to cope abroad for six months at a time ...no problems!!

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Great to hear about these different experiences and suggestions!

 

I know of 3 mums in Australia this year that made an emergency flight - to Europe and the USA - to help their 16 year olds who were sick or injured.  In all of these cases the student came home to recuperate and then one has gone back again.  The other two are considering their options.  I don't think they regret giving it a go but it shows that you have to approach it with your eyes wide open.  It may become a short term experience rather than 3 years of training.

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I think these schools are legally in a very dubious position. Some years ago someone I know had real problems with one of the schools where her daughter started a BA Hons at 16. There were on-going health problems, declared on the application form, but once she started the course the mother felt totally frozen out.

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DD is at a local vocational 6th form, she didn’t feel ready to go away at 16 so we felt this was the best of both worlds. However, the following was drummed into -

now you are at college they don’t need to bother your parents with any problems

 

Basically the staff wanted to freeze  us out. Thankfully DD wasn’t having any of that and continued talking to us about everything. I have had some truly awful meetings with the heads of the college and often found myself pointing out that she was only 16/17 and lived under my roof, relied on me to get her there etc. We are now in year 2 and applying for degree courses, things aren’t great but they have accepted that some students need and want help and support  home as well as college. 

 

On the plus side if she had gone away at 16 she would have been doing the wrong course. 

 

As parents we we know our children better than anyone. There isn’t one path that suits all, there are many different paths we just need to help them find the path that will work for them. 

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