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Seeking American experiences in UK 16+ schools


ballet2431

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Hello! Finally, after spending most of COVID combing this forum, coming out of lurkdom.¬†ūüôā

 

A bit about my DD. My DD is 14 (freshman) and left home a few years ago to attend a pre-professional day program. Her collective weekly training averages 32 hours a week and she attends virtual school. (On this forum, I think it more often referred to as homeschooling, but she's part of a virtual school and I have zero involvement in her learning.) She's very keen on her next big dance step being a jump across the pond to UK or Europe - preferably UK - into a vocational school or a conservatory.

 

We are absolutely willing to support her pursuit of this big goal ... however, one detail I want to understand further. If your DD/DS left America to study dance in the UK (or Europe in general), how did you handle high school? Did you wait until after graduation? Did your dancer attend an American online school? Are there many hours of outside classwork for a BA much like attending an American college? I am also curious of what the homework load for BA classes is outside of the studio. 

 

Thank you for any input you can share!

 

 

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Hello and welcome out of the shadows! ‚ėļÔłŹ I was just wondering if you‚Äôve also posted on the US-based ‚ÄúBallet talk for dancers‚ÄĚ forum, in case there are more US folk there who have crossed the pond?

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The only experience we have is second hand and is slightly different.  A friend of dd came to the UK for vocational school at a younger age (our year 10 so age 14).  She did UK GCSE's aged 16 and then moved to a different Upper School where she did UK A levels and a diploma so she came out of the American system completely.  

 

There are three strands to the UK vocational system.  One set of schools offers the Trinity Level 6 Diploma which is equivalent to a BA hons degree level but without the academic element.  Some schools such as RBS, Elmhurst, Tring & Hammond offer UK academic A Levels alongside this diploma.  These are the qualifications you use to get into university here.  They do require a lot of study outside of the classroom. It's probably the course that keeps most options open for those who are academic. 

 

Another set of schools don't offer A levels just the diploma which can, if a student wishes be topped up to a full BA Hons degree by doing a year long distance learning course.  With a BA Hons degree you can apply for Masters programmes or teacher training etc.  It's a higher level than graduating high school.

 

Then there are a limited number of schools (Central, RCS, Rambert etc) that offer BA Hons degrees in classical ballet that you can start aged 16.  The contact hours for these courses are usually long and there will be some academic element to them.  Taking Rambert as an example they have Critical Studies with academic assignments and have to complete an 8000 word dissertation in the final year.

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Dd has told me about another friend who came to the UK aged 16 and she has been doing American school online alongside her Trinity Diploma.  It's been very tough as she has been in college 8.30am - 6pm Mon - Fri then has been studying well into the night.  I'm not sure that would be possible if she was on a BA hons course with the additional academic element to it.

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10 hours ago, ballet2431 said:

Did your dancer attend an American online school?

 

The usual thing in UK vocational schools is to pursue UK secondary school qualifications, and these are generally part of the programme of studies in full-time ballet schools. Such qualifications are nationally standardised, although with some differences in the 4 nations of the [devolved] United Kingdom. The GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) at around age 16 and then the matriculation qualification - A Levels (Advanced GCSE) or BTEC (a more vocational/practice-based qualification) or the International Baccalaureate or in Scotland, the Highers. These higher level qualifications (A Levels & equivalents) enable progress to university education, if desired.

 

There are some differences in standards between the UK and the US because of much earlier specialisation in the UK¬† (for better or worse). They are nationally standardised in terms of standards, curricula and examination/assessment, rather than local/State based as in the US. Going from GCSE to A Level/BTec requires a much greater degree of specialisation than in the US. And it's a 13 year system (from start of school to matriculation -it's never called "graduation" from secondary school ūüėȬ†) whereas I think the US system is 12 (but I could be wrong there, family members have skipped years going from the EU to the US system).

 

My experience of years of teaching US exchange students at university level, (and what I also know of family members' education in the US) is that A Levels are the equivalent of the AP system in the US - and nearer to¬†the standard required for Freshman university year in a US college. My French & German younger family members would also argue that the French Bacc or the German Arbit√ľr are also of a very demanding standard - again, this is about specialisation, and also US university basic degrees are 4 years rather than our 3 years (except in Scotland where university students do 4 years & generally graduate with a Masters qualification). We don't use the US practice of SATS for university entrance.¬†

 

So your DD would have some adjustments to make in terms of her level of study according to her age (I jumped up 18 months going from the UK education system to that of a non-European country as a child). However, she'd have internationally-recognised qualifications which are very transferable across Europe. 

 

It might depend on what she wants to do in terms of a dance career - stay in Europe or return to the US? And the Plans B or C or D if there isn't a dance career - where might she want to live, study and work post high school?

 

Personally, I would think it would be quite tough to be in a UK/European vocational dance school and be doing a very different kind of secondary school syllabus. But you know best how your DD can work & organise herself.

 

 

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I know of an American who came at 15, I think, and carried on with the US curriculum online while also eventually getting a diploma in dance. But not my child, so I can’t comment on the details, and nor do I know. Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that in some countries, Germany for one, home schooling is illegal, so a student couldn’t continue with that, I think.

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A friend's daughter came to the UK aged 16 after gaining a place on the Trinity level 6 diploma course in Professional Dance. She had the option to take 2 A levels alongside the diploma and opted to take A level English literature as she was unsure of the workload of doing 2 A levels and the coursework for the diploma too. She found that plenty as typically in college from 8am to 7pm and she did have to adjust to the English system, not just in academics but also in dance classes. She had specialised in ballet but tap, commercial jazz, street and contemporary were all fairly new to her. After graduation she returned to the US - she would have loved to have stayed in the UK or EU but it was due to her visa that she could not - if I remember rightly she had a student visa. She soon found work in the US and has been part of a dance company for the last few years as well as doing other projects. The link below explains the level 6 dance course - level 6 is a vocational equivalent to an honours degree - it is the ratio of dance-academic that is different - level 6 is approx 25% academic whereas the honours degree is upwards of 40%. For level 6 dance element - different schools colleges offer teaching in different styles but not not all styles will necessarily be assessed for the final qualification - ballet is plus at least one other (can't remember the details and the link no longer gives course breakdown as it used to). Assessment is on technique ,studio based and on stage performances

 

https://www.trinitycollege.com/qualifications/PPAD/level-6-dance

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I'm also wondering whether the Royal Ballet's Beatriz Stix-Brunell (and maybe other dancers over here) went through a similar sort of situation?  It might be mentioned in some interviews - I'm thinking perhaps old Ballet Association reports, if there's an appropriate one in her case.

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