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When to step in…..


NotadanceMa

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I always find it hard to write on here for fear of my child being identified, but I would like some advice and have nowhere else to ask.

 

When do parents step in if they KNOW there is a problem with a ballet teacher. They know this because they listen to their child’s account of their ballet class and can hear that a teacher’s approach is out of touch in ways that traditional teaching approaches to ballet can sometimes be for certain children with different ways of learning, and sees these concerns reflected in their child’s assessment.


Do parents leave the situation and see how things pan out or gently start to ask questions early on?

There are reasons for me to be reticent we are on full funding and whilst this shouldn’t matter, I fear it makes students more vulnerable. I certainly feel a level of vulnerability I wouldn’t usually experience in the real world.

And what makes it more difficult is my child wants me to stay out of things, they know there is a problem and believe they can handle it on their own. I absolutely know as an adult that they cannot. They are in a position of powerlessness.

 

This problem is not going away of that I’m sure, it feels very much out of my control, but should it be?


This much I know, if we were fee paying I would not hesitate, and I believe my child would feel differently also; that bothers me.

 

I read on here a lot about how parents regret not speaking up sooner, I don’t want to be one of those parents.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Edited by NotadanceMa
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Does the child have SEN? If so potentially you could address it through a more general individual learning plan. I don’t think dance teachers generally have much training with SEN so I think you would need to ask for specific accommodations.

in any school your child will learn very little from some teachers. I’m not sure how you address it, generally you just hope for a different one next year or resort to tutoring.. I can see that if your child is at a vocational school and it’s the dance teacher who is the issue it’s a significant problem. It also depends on whether it’s just the teaching or there’s an element of victimisation or something unpleasant going on?

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@Peonyyou beat me to it. I think writing it out helped me process it a bit better. So I put together a very polite email addressing the issue from the SEN perspective. I didn’t address it directly with the teacher concerned. I have asked for a chat with the SENCO to look at putting together an individual support plan coming from the perspective that my child is struggling and needs additional support etc

 

I think the problem is two-fold, so yes there is SEN which has never been a problem before in dancing, but it absolutely is now.

I believe also and this is the area of difficulty that makes the SEN more of an issue is that the vocational teachers approach is also very questionable, not just with my child but in general. There are issues that are not being dealt with within the classroom and left unchecked.  This is my take on it, I may be wrong.

I also believe that this stumbling block is also part of an out dated culture that still exists within the art form, I don’t like it all. It is here I have to be careful, and yes it borders on unpleasant. 

 

I find it interesting that there has been absolutely outstanding academic support put in place. I mean just outstanding. My child is not behind in anyway they just learn differently, and this in my opinion sounds like it is being used as a stick to beat and humiliate them with. Whether this is a deliberate or intentional or based on a lack of understanding of SEN of that I am unsure. Hopefully it is the latter.

 

I know there are vocational dance training organisations out there that form part of a the UK’s Equality and Diversity Program like Rambert, Central, the CAT schemes, ENB, so I know that SEN is not prohibitive in anyway and neither should it be.

 

It is still tricky within the world of ballet though it is an uneven platform in our experience. 

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I don’t think there is peer assessment, it has never been mentioned.

By mentoring do you mean an older student meeting up with and working with a child offering guidance and support?

Can you tell me what you think it might look like in practice?

Excuse my ignorance. I’m interested because I would also like to possibly offer it as a suggestion.

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I guess peer mentoring is quite a generic term and is also used for older students providing help/ advice to younger ones (which may also be useful!). In the workplace it’s where your colleague observes and assesses your work and gives you feedback. Everyone involved from senior to junior as a regular thing, not in response to complaints. So for ballet teachers I guess it would involve regular observations of classes by a variety of other teaching staff. If they don’t do that then what do they have set up to ensure quality/ safety etc? 

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2 minutes ago, Peony said:

I guess peer mentoring is quite a generic term and is also used for older students providing help/ advice to younger ones (which may also be useful!). In the workplace it’s where your colleague observes and assesses your work and gives you feedback. Everyone involved from senior to junior as a regular thing, not in response to complaints. So for ballet teachers I guess it would involve regular observations of classes by a variety of other teaching staff. If they don’t do that then what do they have set up to ensure quality/ safety etc? 

That such a good point. I didn’t think about it in relation to the teacher.

My child has said that on occasion when there has been some concerns expressed about the teacher by students which there has been then the SENCO or one of the Pastoral Care Team has sat in on a class. My child said it’s absolutely pointless though as the teacher is always completely different and the children then have no recourse.

Mentoring for the teacher is a fantastic suggestion it invites transparency, but I fear this may well be exactly the opposite of what is wanted here.

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13 hours ago, NotadanceMa said:

Do parents leave the situation and see how things pan out or gently start to ask questions early on?

There are reasons for me to be reticent we are on full funding and whilst this shouldn’t matter, I fear it makes students more vulnerable. I certainly feel a level of vulnerability I wouldn’t usually experience in the real world.

This is a particularly chilling & far too familiar element that is very very wrongly an associated issue adding real anxiety to what is clearly  a concerning situation....& one far too many of us on here I suspect can identify with in one way or another...

I am not sure I can offer any specific advice as really don’t feel qualified & certainly feel a huge guilt as not sure I have handled concerning situations well myself (fear of losing funding?? Fear of exacerbating situations??Fear of child being victimised or in some way disadvantaged??) 

Sending you hugs & I hope your find the courage & strength to listen & act ok your gut feelings & insticts as a parent x

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17 hours ago, NotadanceMa said:

My child has said that on occasion when there has been some concerns expressed about the teacher by students which there has been then the SENCO or one of the Pastoral Care Team has sat in on a class. My child said it’s absolutely pointless though as the teacher is always completely different and the children then have no recourse.

The behaviour of this teacher is already on the radar. You speaking up might just be the extra evidence required by senior team to act. 
As someone who has had a child go through vocational training on funding I can appreciate it is difficult to put your head above the parapet but what is happening now will have long term impacts on your child’s well-being. 
My Dd at times hated that I spoke up during her journey but now that she is in the ‘normal’ world she recently told me she appreciated and fully understood what and why I was doing it and I was trying to protect her and her peers. She has come to realise how the behaviour they endured as students was at times coercive and damaging. 

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@Peanut68and @Jane Thankyou 

 

It is interesting for me that I am focusing on on my child’s SEN. I know in my heart this is not the issue. It is a problem, but not where my concerns lie.

The teacher in question is doing things that I do not want my child exposed to. I want to outline them here but can’t. They are doing these things to my child. My child told another teacher about an incident in class. The teacher in question was made to apologise. I knew though when my child told me what had happened that the teacher would get them back for this and they did.
I asked my child what do the other children say, and they say, ‘oh the teacher really hates you’ shocking, but I suppose it’s not on them. Although there is whole class bullying, and yes coercion and shaming. but it is accepted as part of the culture by the students. I know another student has complained about being shamed in class, but nothing changed.

 

I am aware that this teacher has been there a very long time and is close friends with AD, so where does that leave a complaint progression? If not a complaint, a concern.

 

I am finding that on the breaks home I am constantly working with my child to help them find was to manage the classes with the teacher. I have even told them, it is them who has to change and just get through until next year. I know this is the wrong thing to do. I also can hear that my child believes the problem is them. 


It is worth saying there are no concerns in any other area of dance with other teachers at all. My child is thriving and loving everything.

 

I have gone around the houses for now via the SENCO and will wait to see if this helps. The situation is disheartening.

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21 hours ago, Peony said:

Do they do peer assessment and mentoring in the ballet world? It might be something to ask as it’s certainly gaining popularity in education and other sectors. 


 

certainly  it does happen  in some places  ... 

as an Adult  learner,  i've been in classes where the  AD of the organsiation has been  doing an observation of  the teacher   ,   and as adults   there;s a  constant  dialogue with  our teachers  some of whom also teach YP - the power dynamic  in adult class  is different to with kids ...   also a lot of the adults who take class   have  academic  grounding to back up their  views  ( as many of use teach, assess, mentor and QA  in our day jobs )

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I suppose the problem is that peer mentoring is great for those who want to improve. But in this case the teacher appears to know their behaviour isn’t acceptable because they deliberately change it when under scrutiny. So it’s more a case of trying to prevent them being able to target your child. Senco might help as there will be a plan put in place that can be monitored. Depending on what the behaviour is you could go above the school with safeguarding concerns?

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3 hours ago, NotadanceMa said:

@Peanut68and @Jane Thankyou 

 

It is interesting for me that I am focusing on on my child’s SEN. I know in my heart this is not the issue. It is a problem, but not where my concerns lie.

The teacher in question is doing things that I do not want my child exposed to. I want to outline them here but can’t. They are doing these things to my child. My child told another teacher about an incident in class. The teacher in question was made to apologise. I knew though when my child told me what had happened that the teacher would get them back for this and they did.
I asked my child what do the other children say, and they say, ‘oh the teacher really hates you’ shocking, but I suppose it’s not on them. Although there is whole class bullying, and yes coercion and shaming. but it is accepted as part of the culture by the students. I know another student has complained about being shamed in class, but nothing changed.

 

I am aware that this teacher has been there a very long time and is close friends with AD, so where does that leave a complaint progression? If not a complaint, a concern.

 

I am finding that on the breaks home I am constantly working with my child to help them find was to manage the classes with the teacher. I have even told them, it is them who has to change and just get through until next year. I know this is the wrong thing to do. I also can hear that my child believes the problem is them. 


It is worth saying there are no concerns in any other area of dance with other teachers at all. My child is thriving and loving everything.

 

I have gone around the houses for now via the SENCO and will wait to see if this helps. The situation is disheartening.

 where is the oversight  ?   in normal academic schools  the answer would be board of governors  and/or Ofsted  ... but even then   if they can turn on the charm ... 

sad to say i'm hearing a similar story  about a London based teacher of adults  and their own classes  / classes where the building provider is less interested in their  good name 

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This sounds so familiar, this teachers behaviour has nothing to do with your child. It is this adult teachers problems, they are being cruel and damaging to children. This is a safeguarding concern. However like all the rest of us who have been there, you either address this situation or not. I did address the situation for my child, but seeing as it was the director of dance that was being cruel, all the other teachers where too scared to say anything. 
Because all the other teachers were lovely with my daughter and strongly believed and supported her, we allowed her to stay in the school. The principle didn’t teach, but she could cause a lot of emotional damage if she chose too. 
Good luck with this situation, but it is not your child, it’s the teacher who is massively at fault. 

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What I would do, and what I have done in the past, is ring the school and ask for a meeting with the teacher concerned. I would say, my child has started to feel extremely anxious in these classes and I want to ‘ explore’ what could be causing this and how we might work in a slightly different way so that my child no longer feels such anxiety and so so she / he can offer his/her best work. I can’t stress enough, how important it is to be open and honest and to put any defensiveness and blame to one side for the time being. Not easy, I know, but your child deserves this issue to be resolved, the teacher must learn valuable lessons and the fastest way in my opinion is this approach. When the school realise you want to ‘ discuss and discover’ what is going on so that your child and the teacher can work together to resolve the issues, then the defensive, protective school procedures will begin to soften a little, and they will probably agree to a meeting with the teacher plus the Deputy Director. You are not going to ‘complain’ about the teacher although you may feel you have every right to, and that would be an equally legitimate response if you choose that route. It’s really important to stress any mental health issues that might be arising due to the teachers approach to your child but also to LISTEN and take on board any issues from the teacher and the Director. Ultimately, you are looking for an open discussion which could bring this situation to an end. This approach has worked for me in the past ( although slightly different issues) and there has been no comebacks or retribution. I feel the schools are fearful of parents and lawsuits ( and let’s face it there’s a lot they need to be concerned about! ) and so put up this defensive barrier. But over the years we’ve shared many problematic things with staff and sometimes I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the outcome. 
I would also be constantly discussing this with your child, so they are completely aware that this is not their problem and that the teacher needs help in understanding how to be a helpful, kind and decent coach. 

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