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Problems at Summer School (title edited by Mods)


Motomum
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I have read the guidelines about posting experiences from vocational schools. If I get the tone or content of the post wrong, then I am more than happy for the post to be removed.

 

if I don’t post I will explode with annoyance!!

 

my child is on their first ever Summer Intensive. They have the same teacher each day for classical and repertoire. My child came out yesterday really subdued and down which is very very unusual. The previous day they had been effervescent with excitement, Ballet makes them happy always!

 

i asked if they wanted to talk about anything, and they said, points for given to children answering questions quickly and accurately and then the children with the points were given 100% focus of that teacher’s attention in each class over and above everyone else for the rest of the day.

 

my child was 5 minutes late to their afternoon class because they got locked in their dorm room and had to be let out by a member of staff. Apologies for given for being late, but whilst then dancing, even during a solo the teacher would not make any eye contact with my child, and did not allow the class to clap when they had finished their piece.

 

as an adult I get this kind of teaching approach, I don’t like it but  I know it goes on.

as a parent on the other hand, I was seething. Mind games in Primary School children is not IMO ever a good approach to teaching.

 

 

i asked my child how all this had  left them feeling, they said, ‘like I was rubbish, and my dancing was rubbish.’ They felt like they had to keep trying harder to get back the attention that had been withdrawn, but to no avail.

 

 

thankgoodness my child is non-res or they would have had to manage that themselves. There is no way my 11 yr old could emotionally process what was happening without support. Neither would I want them to.

 

others incidents occurred with the same teacher, but with other children so I know I can’t post that here, but experiences of my child were not isolated to him alone.

 

 

is this type of approach usual/normal in people’s experience on here? 

 

 

 

it is the first time my child has encountered anything like this.

worryingly the teacher is one of the top ballet teachers in the school.

 

it will be interesting to see if this style of teaching continues until the end of the Intensive?  

It left me with a nasty conflicted feeling all night, because children don’t understand these type of emotional mind games they are not ready for them developmentally. Even as an adult they wouldn’t leave me feeling very comfortable but at least I would know what they were.

 

apologies again if the post contravenes any guidelines. 

 

 

 

 

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I'm really sorry to hear this.  My dd was a lot older when she had a poor experience of a summer school (she had previously been to lots of others and had been a full time day student at vocational school for 4 years before that, so was able to handle it much better and at least we were able to cross it off her Upper school audition list.

 

Am I correct in thinking that your dc has an SEN?  The answering questions quickly bit touches a nerve as although dd has a lightning fast processing speed, ds has slow Speed of Informatin Processing (he gets extra time in exams including for the viva section of music & dance exams) and I wonder if this particular teacher has a poor understanding of the various issues some children face.

Edited by alison
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Yes my dc does have slow processing speed, so knows not to even attempt to enter that arena.

They know they would never be quick enough.

This wasn’t the issue for them, it was the awareness that the teacher was pitting children with points against those without.

They are incredibly perceptive and sensed an adversarial quality to the classes, and to them it felt ‘off.’

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Summer Schools can be expensive and as a paying customer, no, I would not be happy with this treatment.  In particular, not allowing the class to applaud one child after a solo when - I assume - other children had been applauded? 

 

We were very fortunate with summer schools; even when there was some favouritism there were other positives that made the overall experience worthwhile.   There were one or two we avoided because for various reasons I knew my dd wouldn’t enjoy herself and they’re meant to be fun because otherwise what’s the point?  

 

If the negatives are outweighing the positives then you are not getting value for money and that’s not really good enough.   Is this a school you are considering applying to in future?  

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Yes it would have been my child’s number one choice, the plan is/was for them to apply for full-time Y9.

 

The whole aim of this week was to give just a little taster of what it might be like in full-time training, and for me to see how my child manages. They are managing just fine, but it was me that this riled a lot. 

They are Home Educated, so a school setup would be something they would have to adapt to again for vocational. An Intensive is a perfect little taster of that.

 And also for them to have an immense amount of fun whilst doing something they really love and are passionate about.

 

Nothing would put my child off ballet, nothing, but as a parent it raises red flags for me.

And yes other children had been applauded.

 

I will reserve full judgement until the end of the week.

I posted as I was cross for the children exposed to this kind of nonsense, which unfortunately has the power to knock immature minds off balance early on.

 

I don’t want my child to compete with their peers, not yet anyway, and not in the classroom when dancing;  they have always been taught to admire and adapt the dancing of others that they find beautiful or done really well.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Motomum
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2 minutes ago, Motomum said:

Yes it would have been my child’s number one choice, the plan is/was for them to apply for full-time Y9.

 

That does make it a little more difficult to complain, doesn’t it. 😕 It will be interesting to see if the school seeks feedback at the end of the summer school.  

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My goodness this is such a shame for children giving up their school holiday time to work hard on their ballet in a summer school. 

I think the teachers running these summer schools should be particularly mindful of that ....and that the children are happy to work hard but the general atmosphere should feel light and fun so they all enjoy being with each other as much as possible.....ballet can be competitive enough as it is without encouraging this atmosphere.

I think that all the children should be given some individual personal encouragement at some point in the week ( even if it means the teacher keeping a mental note ....or even written one ...of who they haven't spoken to yet!) 

Some of these summer schools are extremely expensive so children should be feeling they've achieved something positive by the end of the week. 

It could be for some younger children eg 10/11 year olds that it's the first time they've experienced such an intensive time ....just working a whole day on different aspects of Dance....for as long as a week ...so this can be tiring as well so any negative comments/ experiences can seem heightened. 

Hopefully for the OP's child things will improve as the week goes on. 

 

 

 

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I just want to clarify my child is having a fabulous time, but this approach got into their head in a way that shouldn’t happen in a child so young.

 

They love ballet enough to bound into the school today raring to go again.

 

It is me that is cross 😡

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Sorry to hear that your child had to experience this. It is such a shame that our children have to experience this type of behaviour from adults. I have seen this and worse several times at non vocational dance schools, I have witnessed it aimed at my daughter and many others. As an educator, parent and generally decent human being, it does not sit well with me. I have heard other dance parents describe it as "discipline" and allow it to happen because "that is what dance training is like" . It is toxic, bullying behaviour and not acceptable under any circumstances. The dilemma of confronting it with the risk of making things worse for your child is not something that we as parents and paying customers should have to worry about, but sadly we do.

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@joyofdance this approach has nothing to do with discipline; it is toxic, and IMO emotionally abusive. It gives our children the wrong message, the wrong aims, and creates vulnerabilities and divisions in an already highly pressurised, competitive environment.

 

@SissonneDoublee you are right, this is only a week, but for the children who are subjected to this on a regular basis so that it because their normal worries me a great deal.

 

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I Know myself well enough to realise I won’t be able to leave it alone. I will wait until my child has finished the week.

 

Something similar happened one time when my child was a JA that was brought to my attention by another parent and I let it go then.

 

It’s a strange position to be in as parent, usually I am assertive and a strident advocate for my child. The ballet world has me somewhat disempowered, and I think it is one because my child has SEN and I know this makes aspects of their dance life more tricky to navigate, and two because I don’t want to ruin their path through training by what might be something that is just part of the fabric and culture of vocational training schools.

 

its certainly has me thinking lots today.

 

 

Edited by Motomum
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RE reading the original post something has struck me.

If this teacher knew about your Child's problem he/she may well have not allowed the clapping as for some children loud noises like clapping can unsettle them. 

For example I know there are special music concerts which children can go to ....I believe they are called "Relaxed Concerts" .....in which clapping isn't allowed. 

I would have thought a child being able to cope with a ballet class though wouldn't have quite as sensitive needs as this. 

So perhaps it was the "divide and rule" type not allowing clapping for some ....but allowed for others .....after all! 

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5 minutes ago, LinMM said:

RE reading the original post something has struck me.

If this teacher knew about your Child's problem he/she may well have not allowed the clapping as for some children loud noises like clapping can unsettle them. 

For example I know there are special music concerts which children can go to ....I believe they are called "Relaxed Concerts" .....in which clapping isn't allowed. 

I would have thought a child being able to cope with a ballet class though wouldn't have quite as sensitive needs as this. 

So perhaps it was the "divide and rule" type not allowing clapping for some ....but allowed for others .....after all! 

My child’s additional needs do not manifest themselves in that way. My child wasn’t the only child who didn’t receive applause, but as per forum guidelines we can only write about our child’s direct experience when talking about vocational schools.

 

This is not about my child’s SEN, this was about the teachers behaviour.

 

And yes you are right if my child had sensory issues around noise he would not be dancing.

 

Usually noise sensitivity with autism is when the child is under particular additional stresses, and also it is usually particular sounds, not all sounds.

Edited by Motomum
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Thankyou all for your responses I feel much calmer now. I will talk to the Intensive Coordinator once the week has finished. I will post once I receive their feedback.

 

I want to end by saying this post was not about my child’s SEN, there were other children involved and on the receiving end of the teachers displeasure.

 

Slow processing speed has nothing to do with intelligence, it is linked to Dyslexia, and means some children have difficulty accessing stored information quickly. It is a SpLD. The points allocated were not the issue, it was the divisive use of the points that bothered me.

 

The school have made all the adjustments required for my child’s SEN. This has never been an issue in any aspect of their involvement with my child, they have been outstanding in this area as they should be as what they offer is outlined in their SEN report.

 

 

 

 

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It is a very old fashioned way of teaching to pit one group of pupils against another.  Healthy competition is fine, but this isn't.  However, I am confused, if your dc is non residential, why were they in a dorm room at lunch time?  Were they on their own, or with others?  Was the locking in accidental or was it a form of bullying by someone else?

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It may not have been related directly to Sen but to use a points system in this way is highly discriminatory to many children with an spld without taking into account the extra processing time some may require and to furthermore use the system in the divisive way you describe further exacerbates the discrimination. I’d be hopping mad.  (I’d never heard of information processing speed until it was mentioned on my ds’s Ed Psych report so I’m no expert but the way it was explained was that it takes some people a little longer to access the stored information/knowledge from the brain to action it. )

 

Teachers are supposed to be professional & treat all students fairly and not take things beyond their control out of them. 

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7 minutes ago, Pas de Quatre said:

It is a very old fashioned way of teaching to pit one group of pupils against another.  Healthy competition is fine, but this isn't.  However, I am confused, if your dc is non residential, why were they in a dorm room at lunch time?  Were they on their own, or with others?  Was the locking in accidental or was it a form of bullying by someone else?

 

Dd has been on residential summer schools where going to friends dorms during lunch and break times has been strictly forbidden and others where it has been allowed or encouraged but yes, that is something to consider. 

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1 hour ago, Picturesinthefirelight said:

(I’d never heard of information processing speed until it was mentioned on my ds’s Ed Psych report so I’m no expert but the way it was explained was that it takes some people a little longer to access the stored information/knowledge from the brain to action it. )

 

That might explain a lot of things.  Why didn't they have this when we were young? :(  They barely even recognized dyslexia when I was at school.  (Having spent my post-school exam period helping out at a junior school with some pupils who had "reading problems", I wondered if one of them was dyslexic, but didn't have the confidence to bring it up with the teacher.  A few years later on, having done a language pathology course at university, it was obvious to me that that was what his problem had been, and I wished I'd said something)

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1 hour ago, Pas de Quatre said:

It is a very old fashioned way of teaching to pit one group of pupils against another.  Healthy competition is fine, but this isn't.  However, I am confused, if your dc is non residential, why were they in a dorm room at lunch time?  Were they on their own, or with others?  Was the locking in accidental or was it a form of bullying by someone else?

The non-residential students have all been allocated a dorm and a bed and a locker.

The lock in occurred because the key code changes daily but my child did not know this so only had the old code and couldn’t get out for class.

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1 hour ago, Picturesinthefirelight said:

It may not have been related directly to Sen but to use a points system in this way is highly discriminatory to many children with an spld without taking into account the extra processing time some may require and to furthermore use the system in the divisive way you describe further exacerbates the discrimination. I’d be hopping mad.  (I’d never heard of information processing speed until it was mentioned on my ds’s Ed Psych report so I’m no expert but the way it was explained was that it takes some people a little longer to access the stored information/knowledge from the brain to action it. )

 

Teachers are supposed to be professional & treat all students fairly and not take things beyond their control out of them. 

My child has at least enough awareness of their areas of difficulty to know not to even enter into this, but lots of children don’t and would feel awful with this approach.

You are right though, this way of teaching is outdated for exactly the reasons you have outlined.

 

I’m all for healthy competition but there are better ways that get better results from all students equally.

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6 minutes ago, Motomum said:

The non-residential students have all been allocated a dorm and a bed and a locker.

The lock in occurred because the key code changes daily but my child did not know this so only had the old code and couldn’t get out for class.

That to me is a major safety breach. A code to get in yes,  but a code to get out, no way. What if there were a fire, a bomb scare or other reason for fast evacuation? 

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So sorry to hear that your child has had a bad experience! I know that you are considering applying for full time in a couple of years, so of course if you feel like it would impact your chances of getting considered for a place then don’t take any further action, but I would make a formal complaint.

When schools are inspected they are required to show any complaints made and how they have responded or made changes to rectify these. There was a post higher up the thread that mentioned parents dismissing treatment of their children by teachers or similar because of their reputation and I think that it’s definitely the case with this school and the only way that things will improve going forward is if parents keep complaining about the treatment of their children instead of putting it down to “the ballet world” and maintaining that culture of staying silent and hoping that their child makes it through to graduate. Their mental health and well-being has got to come before ballet. Especially as they are still developing into young adults. 

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Sorry I’m confused if they have a Key code changing every day then surely the key code is to get in to private dorm rooms. I don’t understand why they were needing a key code to get out of a bedroom ? 

And none of the group knew the new code. 

Sounds odd 

 

 

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I would personally voice my concerns sooner rather than later - it gives the establishment a chance to address the issues when all concerned are present.  

 

I would also personally strike the school from my list of future establishments.  I think there would always be a niggle in the back of my mind.  We had a very similar experience, my DS disliked the buildings and staff he encountered so much in a summer school he refused to audition for a full time place.  His argument was that the school chose this way to present itself, its dance school and ethos.  He didn't fancy 3 years under  this regieme, even if it wasn't fully representative.  

 

The key code issue doesn't sound great either.  

 

If I've learnt one thing through 10 years of vocational training (DD attended musical boarding school and now conservatoire) it's that you shouldn't go just because of  reputation.  It may be great for some, but if it's not right for your child they will never flourish in an institution, however prestigious.    If alarm bells ring - listen!   

 

I hope the rest of the course goes well.

 

 

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What school or summer school is this? Why are we all protecting it? NO teacher should ever be allowed to emotionally bully or damage any young, vulnerable pupil. Why allow this toxic approach to teaching continue? You must report this behaviour, as adults it is our duty to protect young children and adults  

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