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Bit of a moan about DD's (academic) school


Pups_mum
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I should start by saying that DD goes to an excellent school and the vast majority of the time I am very happy with it. But just occasional things really annoy me! To be honest, they have never shown any great interest in her dancing. For example, whilst other pupils' extra curricular achievements (sport, music etc) do on occasion get praised in the newsletters, DD has never had a mention. This may partly be her of course, as she doesn't push herself forwards, and it may be that the kids who get the mentions are keener on talking about their achievements, but there have been other things, such as her PE teacher putting in last year's report that she ought  to take up a "physical pursuit" (despite knowing she dances for an average of 15-20 hours per week.)

Then this week, she had a careers meeting. She is interested in primary school teaching, and apparently the careers teacher was stressing how important it was that she gained some experience of working with children. Fair comment - I have no issue with that. But what did annoy me is that apparently when DD told her about all the work she does at her dance school, including the fact that she has started working towards her ISTD DDI and hopes to pass that in at least a couple of genres before she goes to university, the teacher was pretty dismissive, implying that that wasn't "real teaching".

The general attitude to dancing in the wider world gets right up my nose sometimes. If DD had reached the same level of proficiency in say a musical instrument or athletics, I'm sure it would be perceived as a "good thing" by a lot more people. I wonder why people don't seem to realise that our DCs are just as talented, and just as dedicated and hard working as their sporty/musical etc friends? Many people I speak to (and not just at school) seem to think that ballet is just about looking pretty in a tutu. DD has a t shirt with the slogan "Ballet - like a sport, only harder". I think I may encourage her to wear it for the next non uniform day!

I'm not expecting any solutions by the way, just wanted to rant to some people who might understand my frustration!

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I don't think that many people realise how hard ballet is. Unfortunately, shows such as Strictly give the impression that it's easy to learn to dance. To put your dd's dancing into context, I don't think that many children spend 15-20 hours a week on music, sport or other ex-curricular activities and it might be worth pointing this out to the school.

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I totally understand your frustration.  We always found teachers understood it far more when we put ballet in academic terms - not just UCAS points but saying  when an exam was GCSE or A level equivalent.  Just to reassure you though, several of DDs 'friends' who helped on Saturdays at ballet to get experience found that when they applied to university for primary school teaching , the interview panel were impressed rather than dismissive of both the hours spent dancing and the hours spent assisting in childrens dance classes.  I believe all of them got into their first choice of university.

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It was a change in head teacher that caused a change in attitude at DD's school.  Competing at National levels (Ballroom/Latin) didn't justify a day off to attend never mind practise (frustrating when training for county cricket or football enabled a afternoon off almost weekly)

 

New head = flexi schooling (just like the athletes), recognition, respect & most importantly support

 

& now they are living every moment of auditions/results with us - it's such a change!!

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I should start by saying that DD goes to an excellent school and the vast majority of the time I am very happy with it. But just occasional things really annoy me! To be honest, they have never shown any great interest in her dancing. For example, whilst other pupils' extra curricular achievements (sport, music etc) do on occasion get praised in the newsletters, DD has never had a mention. This may partly be her of course, as she doesn't push herself forwards, and it may be that the kids who get the mentions are keener on talking about their achievements, but there have been other things, such as her PE teacher putting in last year's report that she ought  to take up a "physical pursuit" (despite knowing she dances for an average of 15-20 hours per week.)

Then this week, she had a careers meeting. She is interested in primary school teaching, and apparently the careers teacher was stressing how important it was that she gained some experience of working with children. Fair comment - I have no issue with that. But what did annoy me is that apparently when DD told her about all the work she does at her dance school, including the fact that she has started working towards her ISTD DDI and hopes to pass that in at least a couple of genres before she goes to university, the teacher was pretty dismissive, implying that that wasn't "real teaching".

The general attitude to dancing in the wider world gets right up my nose sometimes. If DD had reached the same level of proficiency in say a musical instrument or athletics, I'm sure it would be perceived as a "good thing" by a lot more people. I wonder why people don't seem to realise that our DCs are just as talented, and just as dedicated and hard working as their sporty/musical etc friends? Many people I speak to (and not just at school) seem to think that ballet is just about looking pretty in a tutu. DD has a t shirt with the slogan "Ballet - like a sport, only harder". I think I may encourage her to wear it for the next non uniform day!

I'm not expecting any solutions by the way, just wanted to rant to some people who might understand my frustration!

This sounds SO familiar!!!

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LinMM if only! The vast majority of schools are only interested in either raising their profile in the local community therefore increasing their intake (and the £ that comes with each child) and raising their % of pupils who get 5+ A*-C GCSE including English & Maths.

 

Despite being someone with obvious dance experience any gaps on my science teaching timetable are filled with extra classes for year 11 or extra support for English & Maths.

 

Until the government place any value on arts in schools, most headteachers won't understand their relevance, unless they are a supporter of the arts.

 

Having said that - some schools do have 'gifted & talented' programmes where concessions are made for certain students who fall into this category. My last school had an excellent set up - my present school has nothing!

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Having said that - some schools do have 'gifted & talented' programmes where concessions are made for certain students who fall into this category. My last school had an excellent set up - my present school has nothing!

My dd is on the school 'gifted and talented' list - but, after speaking to the G & T co-ordinator once when we really needed some advice and assistance, they said it is really only focussed at the academic side, and they couldn't offer any help...

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Students who are dancing at a level which amasses UCAS points and is recognized as equivalent to GCSEs/A levels certainly should have their achievements acknowledged by their academic schools if they wish to do so. (DD would be horrified at the idea but then that's her decision - we are trying to get her to 'shout' about her dance achievements at school but it's like wading through treacle!) I think you might be right, Pups_mum, that it is the students and/or parents who 'push themselves forward' at the school whose achievements in any sphere are recognized. DD was at school alongside a talented violinist and it seemed that not a day went by (slight exaggeration - possibly not a week went by ;-) ..) without her advising and/or her mother telephoning or going into school to advise of her every achievement. This was anathema to DD as she saw it as boasting.

 

I do see that talented athletes or musicians are more easily able to show and to use their talents at school, in school teams and in orchestras/choirs. Even teachers who know nothing about sports or music can therefore see those talents in action in a school setting. This usually isn't the case with dance; although to be fair DD was regularly asked about and complimented on her dancing having done ballet and tap solos in a school concert.

 

Presumably dancers can only be denoted as 'gifted and talented' in an academic secondary school setting if they have those qualifications which amass UCAS points or GCSE/A level equivalence. Without confirmation of the high level of their dance study, how could schools justifiably put them on a par with the talented athletes and musicians, sometimes even offering extended periods for handing in homework just on the basis of their dancing? I am not saying that only high level vocational exams 'count', but academic schools rightly or wrongly understand and should recognise UCAS points/GCSE or A level equivalence because that brings the dancing on a par with high level academic qualifications. If schools didn't want evidence of such equivalence, surely then any out of school activity, at whatever level, should qualify for recognition and extended homework time?

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I should also have said that your DD's careers teacher is plain wrong, Pups_mum and I have also known many primary teaching applicants whose experience assisting with dance classes (especially alongside dance teaching level qualifications as in your DD's case) was very helpful to them in gaining first choice university places. Your DD will be able to explain how assisting with dance classes has given her a real insight into teaching and the need to tailor her approach for children of different abilities, needs etc.

 

In terms of university entrance, admissions tutors have been known to accord high level dance qualifications the recognition they deserve, even if schools don't always do so. A student from DD's dance school applied for medicine and was asked about her dancing - she was preparing to take RAD Advanced 1 at the time of her interview. The admissions panel head went so far as to phone the head of DD's studio to advise how impressed the panel was at the student's explanation as to what she felt her ballet lessons had given her in terms of dedication, concentration, dealing with frustrations, never ever giving up, time management skills as an extraordinarily high level in terms of balancing huge amounts of homework with many hours of dancing, etc. She had also advised of the academic equivalence of her ballet qualifications and the admissions panel head had researched the RAD after her interview to check this and also stated that they were impressed in terms of its longevity and evident prestige. He then advised that the student was at the top of their list in terms of offers of places (she received an offer that same morning which was at the lowest possible A level requirement for the medical degree). So your DD should take heart and put her careers' teacher's comments where they very much deserve to be ;-)

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It sounds like our daughters' school. The staff always moaned if they needed time off for exams or auditions but were very quick to demand praise for any credit our daughters and several other talented children might accrue. If it was anything to do with sport, though, they would fall over backwards to cooperate. :( Grr!

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DrDance - I feel very strongly about "raising their % of pupils who get 5+ A*-C GCSE including English & Maths" if DD's school had thier way she would have done@

GCSE Eng Lang, Eng Lit. Maths. 3 Science, Language, Humanity, ICT, RE, Options 4 = 14 actual GCSEs if any of the options were BTECs then they 'double up'

 

It frustrates me that more is good, as I feel without additional knowledge it's pointless

 

DD has ended up with 6 & is taking 7 more 9 GCSEs & 2 BTECs - which I feel is pointless puts her under unbelievable stress & will actually damage her marks - the school actually agree as 2 school years groups later they systems has been abandoned.  So DD's year & the one after were an experiment that went wrong!

 

She is in the Sports G&T which have Yoga, Pilates, fitness testing and diet advise, all straight after school & DD is in class then - so she can't attend (the footballers/cricketers have theirs at lunchtime)

 

& as for the "you shouldn't abandon her education at GCSE level" which I get regularly - I always point out Level 6 is second year degree so not quite GCSE level, but I get back "but it's not real education is it?"

 

Sorry Pupsmum, that's my bit of a moan over

 
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Thanks all. I'm really pleased to hear of experiences where dancing to a high standard has been beneficial to non vocational students. There is a very large amount of work involved in doing the DDI,and the main reason that i let DD start the course whilst still at school is because i thought it would be beneficial to her potential teaching career so I was more than a little disappointed to hear that the careers teacher had dismissed it so readily. From seeing what DD is studying there seems to be a lot of transferable skills, plus i think it demonstrates her commitment and enthusiasm for teaching as well as dancing. It's good to hear that other people have had this kind of thing recognised. I guess the careers teacher just doesn't understand what is involved. At primary school DD got masses of encouragement - in fact the teachers there still follow her progress, come to watch her perform etc. But that school has the Artsmark Gold award whereas the secondary is a science specialist school. Mind you, after reading some of the other comments i don't think i should complain. DD's school are disinterested, but not obstructive. We've never had problems getting time off for exams etc at least. It sounds like some of you have encountered outright hostility, which at least we haven't experienced. Well done to all who are hanging in there despite lack of support from their schools.

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Probably because its an area of Dance she knows nothing about and so feels a bit threatened as "Head" of Dance!!

 

I fear it's the general atmosphere overall in Education particularly at Secondary level where there is a lot of pressure to get better academic results and to improve take up of Maths and Science at the moment....so theArts are missing out a bit for recognition at present.

In Primary schools where one teacher is responsible for a whole class there should at least be more chance of recognition of achievements outside the school curriculum area.

So much can depend on the Head and how supportive he/she is of the Arts in general. But also how much a Head really supports individual staff development and what they may be able to contribute to the school. Where you hit on a Head like this its a great place to teach because EVERYONE is encouraged to offer their speciality and help other teachers in the school too so ALL the children's achievements are recognised and praised.

Unfortunately when the National Curriculum, Ofsted, and more importantly League tables came to the fore some great Head teachers (I know, as well as some very poor ones) were sort of forced into retirement trying to,keep up with all the changes and some parents just cannot see beyond league tables when assessing a school unfortunately!!

 

I'm not saying that no change is welcome in Education and by the nineties it did all need a good overhaul and Ofsted or at least some more proactive Inspection regime was overdue but I just hope we're not throwing the 'baby' out with the bath water and starting to forget the rounded ness of true Education as well as trying to serve Society's needs.....also important!!

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It seems to me that organized education (public/private/gov't) schools, on the whole - generally speaking - have a problem dealing with the arts.  the many posts above illustrate that. Here is another.......

 

The public schools here (American definition - gov't schools) at one time decided to offer dance, including ballet, as part of the arts portion of the curriculum to the general school population beginnng in the elementary grades.

 

A county wide meeting was called with teachers and other movers and shakers in the arts communitty - including me (just a teacher - not a mover and shaker) - to discuss with school officials how to implement this program.  

 

What a terrific idea!

 

That is, until it was made very clear to the arts community representatives that no teachers with expertise in the various arts fields would be involved.  I thought my ears were failing me when I realized the regular elementary school teacher who teaches the children to count, read, write, etc., would for a small segment of the school day (or week) also teach music, painting and dance - including ballet.

 

To be sure i understood this correctly - I stood up and asked point blank of the august panel seated on the dais:  "How will you teach ballet if you have never taken a ballet class?"

 

When the answer was:  "We are trained educators and we can teach anything."  I knew the entire proposed program was a charade and I left.  No one who has not taken a ballet/dance class is qualified to teach it.  it's not something one learns to teach by reading a text book.

 

This to me remained a vivid illustration of how unknowing and often ignorant academia can be of the arts added to the many the illustrations in the posts of others in this thread.

 

This lack of understanding was underlined to me when the computer at a four year college was programmed to give any student who wished to take more than two yrs of ballet/dance as a "failure" and given a failing grade.

 

This lack of understanding is not, of course, universal among general academia - but it is pervasive enough to make life difficult for the student aspiring to an artistic field of endeavor.   

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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As a careers adviser, I know this teacher is completely wrong in her comments. Unfortunately, since schools have been given the responsibility for delivering careers advice, many have not trained staff to an appropriate level. Dance teaching experience is a great thing to put in a UCAS personal statement. Good luck!

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At least dance exams at a high level have now been recognized by educators (in the UK at least - Anjuli, your post was worrying in terms of the US attitude!) in terms of awarding UCAS points for them. This is a major reason why I think it is very short-sighted for non-vocational dance schools in this country to do festivals instead of or in preference to exam sessions - festivals provide great performance experience but the vast majority of dance students will not choose to - or may wish to but sadly be unable to - take their training to a vocational level. I fully accept that for vocational students exam passes are unimportant as their ability will rightly be judged on what is seen in an audition. However, non-vocational dance schools which don't do exams or do them rarely, meaning that their able students are 'officially' working at a relatively low grade leve and have no means by which to prove otherwise, are selling the vast majority of their students short by depriving them of the chance to obtain UCAS points whilst pursuing their passion for dance. I don't think any university admissions tutor is likely to be impressed by the mere statement that an applicant dances at a high level, or by festival successes - whereas they will and do take note of dance exam passes which have awarded the applicant UCAS points.

 

As a matter of interest, do all of the examining bodies in the UK award UCAS points for high-level exam passes? I only know about the RAD as DD's dance school teaches RAD.

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Perhaps the career advisor meant that experience of teaching dance alone would not be enough and that it is expected to have work experience in a school and she just put it very badly? Istd, idta also give UCAS points I believe but would they counted towards unrelated degrees? It is a long time since I went to uni but all of my points had to come from a choice of 3 out of 4 a levels!

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In my opinion it isn't necessarily whether UCAS points from dance exams count towards university entrance - although for some degrees they may well do so - but more that dance exams at a certain level have been recognized as having equivalence to academic achievements. And whilst the dance UCAS points weren't counted ( and weren't needed) by the applicant for a medical degree I mentioned in my post above (no 14), the student's explanation of what her ballet studies had given her, as well as her explanation of the UCAS points she had amassed from it - which the admissions tutor then researched and stated that he was impressed by the RAD - put her at the top of the list for offers of places to read medicine at an elite university.

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I took CSE's and O' Levels at school but when I tried to go to university 5 years ago I had to do an adult course consisting of GCSE equivalent of Maths English and Science's all of which I had taken already. I always thought academia results were for ever but this proved me wrong

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My daughter didn't need the points (as her degree would only look at grades for her A levels), but her personal statement was greatly strengthened by her references to her dancing exams, festivals etc (team work, commitment, confidence) and she was asked about it in at least one of her four vet school interviews (she said they were very impressed at the level she was working at).

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