Jump to content

Help, advice and information on vocational schools.......Please!!!


Lema
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

As some of you may know I am very new to all this, my daughter has been dancing a few years but only started Ballet classes in the beginning of this year and since then it has been a bit of a whirlwind of auditions, classes and thoughts if vocational school being as she will be going into year 7 next September. I have no experience of vocational schools what so ever and I don't know anyone that's been to one and I really don't know what to expect, so I am asking for any advice from the audition process through to if they get accepted what is it like to go to one, what are the real costs even if you get a funded place I'm sure it is still costly? How often do the children come home? Do they do shows, comps etc what do I really need to know???? So many questions I really would be grateful for any advice from members who have children at vocational school now, in the past, those who have auditioned but didn't get in, those who attended themselves....anything lol :) thank you all x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 69
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Hello Lema ,

There are lots of threads on here if you use the search function and look for the school by name and check out the pinned threads at the top of the page , but here are a few answers to your specific questions .

DS has just finished year 7 at Elmhurst

Auditions -at this stage vocational schools are mainly looking for potential and to some extent the right physique , though obviously this changes over the years, musicality and a passion for dance . Don't worry about how much previous experience she has had .

There are usually 2 stages a preliminary audition and then a final audition. There is a lot of competition for only a few places , especially if you need funding as most do , so treat it as a life experience and then if you get in it's a bonus !

 

Unless you live near enough to the school you have to get used to having a child away from home boarding , which is very hard .

Probably harder on you than your daugher who will probably he having a fantastic and busy time !

Most Ballet schools do not enter children in lower school for competitions much , it interrupts their training too much , but we had permission to do a festival in the holidays .

There is an end of year summer show for all schools , and you get to watch classes periodically if you can get a day off work to go and see !

They come home in our case every third week end as well as the usual holidays , from Friday pm to Sunday but if you live near enough to pick up and return they can go out every weekend after class on a Saturday and return Sunday evening , however they then miss the outings with their friends !

 

Cost - yes very ! There is a scale of contributions on the Elmhurst school for dance website under funding , so you can see what's your contribution according to your income if you are lucky enough to be awarded an MDS place . (For eg from memory, if your combined family income is around 60,000 a year you pay about around 7,500 a year but there are bands and you need to look them up .)

On top of that you need to pay for formal uniform , but not dance uniform (though I imagine girls will need more than their free allowance of uniform monies as they use more pointe shoes as they progress ), the cost of travel there and back twice every 3 weeks and holidays , house outing funds , pocket money and other school trips. You can usually buy decent 2nd hand school Blazers from other parents .

If they get into productions eg Nut Cracker that are outside school term time you may have to be a chaperone at least or at worst , hire an appart ment for the Easter holiday to enable attendance at rehearsals if it's not the schools associated ballet company !

Having said all that we have survived the first year and are now about to do a couple of summer schools - more expense - to keep the dancing going over the summer - reccomended by the school , but not compulsory !

DS very happy there and feels it's his second family already !

If you get a choice of schools with offers of places with funding you are very lucky , but consider the atmosphere and ethos of the school over the distance from home and prestige etc if you can bring yourself to do so !

Good luck and enjoy the roller coaster ride ! Keep asking questions .

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Billyelliott that has been really helpful, I feel like all I've done over the last couple of months is google and use this forum looking for as much info as possible, I have looked at the funding scale before but was more concerned about the extra costs of trips and outings, uniforms, pocket money etc the things that aren't on the schools websites, was a little concerned by the notion of just being billed at the end of the term for extras!! It's nice to hear peoples first hand experiences!! Very grateful for your comment :)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

At Hammond if you are on an MDS then you get a dance uniform allowance, 1 musical instrument lessons & theatre trips included. If you are not on MDS then these have to be budgeted for.

 

Other expenses are standard secondary school expenses. Academic uniform is much cheaper than the school dd would have gone to (no PE kit makes a huge difference). Then there is the Year 7 bonding trip (same as she would have gone in anyway ) & an optional twice yearly French trip.

 

I don't think insurance has been mentioned. It's quite expensive & you can get cheaper quotes but id advise going with the schools policy as it covers all existing injuries/conditions & the school admin deal directly with the company. In dds case though she hasn't been injured her initial physio assessment (which is something you do get billed for) highlighted some issues so she has been able to take advantage of regular physio).

 

Then there was a small costume fee in the summer term for us plus having to but a few small items (dress from Primark etc for tap)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok outings £150 for a team building weekend away type outing once a year , one end of years trip to Alton towers £30 , £ 30 a term house funds , covers pizza at weekends and transport to various ballet productions , subsidised by the friends of Elmhurst , some extra optional weekend treats about £15 a time , ohh and the cost of make up ! Especially at end of year shows ! Mobile phone contract ......etc.meals out at leave out weekends

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much pictures, I really want to get a realistic view on the costs involved as we are far from rich and I don't want to embark on something that is out of our reach financially, and I know the chances of getting into one of these schools is extremely slim but to even audition I think you need a realistic idea of what your letting yourself in for because if you know full well you can't afford it you then need to consider, do I even audition or not and if you do you need to explain to dc that even if by some miracle they got a yes that they wouldn't be able to accept :\ it's all so much to talk in, I hadn't even considered insurance!!! Thank you so much for your reply x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm terrible I like to have as much information as possible, it's just hard as nobody at our local school really does ballet and most haven't even heard of Elmhurst, tring or Hammond so I have nobody to talk to locally!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At Elmhurst BUPA is included in the MDS (probably other schools too) but not the excess should your child need treatment. The cost of some other treatments is also passed on to parents eg sports massages. Our uniform allowance has run out every year too! Frequent trips to see BRB (I thought we were charged for these, albeit at a subsidised rate but I may be wrong) One music lesson included in MDS (it used to be 2 and some people have absorbed the cost of the second one so their DC can continue with the 2 lessons). 

Best of luck to you and your DC - great idea to get information before you get swept along - once prelims start it becomes very intense. It is a huge financial (and emotional) sacrifice but we wouldn't have it any other way.  ;)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And when you look at income bands, also bear in mind that its gross income before tax and everything like the value of benefits in kind, bonuses, share dividends, pension contributions, basically absolutely anything deemed as income into the household, you have to bear your financial soul for mds.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks mimi'smom we kind of had a crazy experience with the associates as I had never even heard of such schemes and as I said dd only been taking ballet for 7 months, although doing other dance for a few years, and teacher suggested I took her along as she is "The Royals type" teachers words not mine, so I looked around online found 4 local associates classes RBS, Elmhurst, MIDAS and Graham Fletchers Ballet Associates so just auditioned for them all not expecting to get into any but thinking it would be a good chance to see what auditions are like, next thing we know we have 4 yeses and not really knowing what to do!! In the end we have accepted 2 and turned down 2 but my choices were very hard to make due to lack of information and knowledge, therefor although not expecting any yes letters from vocational I decided there was no way I was going in blind again so gathering all the info I can before we even apply for audition!! All your help has been great ad hopefully answering others questions too!'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The costs easily add up from the start. There is an audition fee and unless you are living very close hotel stays need to be factored in for auditions/ induction days.

Apart from the usual costs for uniform etc you need to allow for bedding, duvets, pillows etc.

Some end of term events eg carol concert are timed so early that they necessitate a hotel stay unless you are very local.

If your child is in different casts for different end of year shows and you want to see them dance everything then there are extra show tickets to purchase. Some events at dc school can only be attended if you are a Friend of school so had to join last year to see her perform.

Some of arranged house trips can be expensive and if your child doesn't want to go we have had the situation where it has suddenly been announced they need to be off site too meaning either a pick up after Saturday class or an early Sunday morning start to take them out for the day.

All of these individually seem like manageable amounts but when you add it all up over a term it can be a bit of a shock!

I think it is sensible you are gathering information at this stage. We worked out a worst case scenario for costs when dc offered place, we underestimated the number of trips we would do and the amount of miles we would put on the car. Also didn't realise at start it was possible to get basics like joggers, ballet shoes from other outlets rather than the expensive school supplier. Did help the MDS uniform allowance to last a little longer in subsequent years but has always run out before end of year!

I would say overall it hasn't been easy and involved some lifestyle changes to support dc through vocational lower school but it hasn't been impossible. Upper school might be a different matter!

Good luck with it all.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, although MDS covers theatre trips to see ballets at Hammond, there have been 2 other theatre trips that we had to pay for. Also taxi fares for before school music theory lessons and a visit to the doctor's. I would very much over estimate expenses if I were you as they have certainly been more than I thought (though worth it).

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gosh, this is a really useful thread - thanks Lema for starting it and for everyone's comments. Like you Lema we are totally green behind the ears on all this. My 8yo DS started classes in Sept, it was suggested he audition for JA in May and he got in which totally floored us. Now I'm obsessive-compulsive lurking on here to work out what the heck might be in store for us!!! There's lots of talk about festivals and summer schools and vocational schools, and it feels like a whole new world. The advice on this forum is invaluable - you're all helping a fish out of water see where the water is, even if I've got a lot to learn about what's in it!!! Thanks all.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Lema another potential cost if your child is not on a funded place are learning support lessons.

Also at Hammond there are 2 types of funded place the MDS and school bursary .

 

After having 2 DCs at vocational school I would also consider , although it does feel a little early to be doing so , if it's a purely classical route you would like your dd to take or if she is an "all- rounder " good at modern , tap, singing etc she would be perhaps better at one of the schools that offer more than just ballet to a high standard.

 

If you are not keen on the idea of boarding and do not live too far away from Leeds the CAT scheme at Northern Ballet is seriously worth considering also funded by the MDS.

 

Good luck it is quite a stressful time.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow so much to take in!!! And pay out by the sounds of it!! Kind of wish the schools could just say....right on top of your fees it will cost you aprox £???? Per year plus travel to send your child here!! Make life easier for us all haha :D

Thank you again for everyone's input, think I'm going to do a spreadsheet to try any get my head round it all!!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing that we have found gruelling is having to take every 3rd Friday off to pick up dd by 4.00pm for Exeat or whichever holiday and then spending the weekend way from home with a long trip back after we take her back to school on Sunday or very early on Monday morning. Perhaps less of a consideration if you are not 280 miles away, but we certainly could not do it if we were not running our own business with autonomy over diary arrangements.

Apart from the means tested fees contribution, we have spent on school uniform (not covered by MDS), a couple of trips/outings - about £60.00 this year, some optional), £50 ish on make up for end of year production (nothing survived from last year!), copious birthday and Christmas presents for room mates and others and what feels like shares in Starbucks for Saturday trips into town! Then there's graze boxes and the, 'mum, I never get any post' parcels and 'everyone else has got .....' Which is of course not covered by MDS!!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think distance is a big thing to consider we are 100-130 miles from three of the main schools we'd be looking at, which isn't 250 miles but still if we had to go to pick dd up every 3 weeks it's £90 fuel to go there and back twice!! That's a big financial commitment in itself!! Thanks Karen for your reply :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are 420 miles round trip ! That was 840 miles for a weekend leave until we met another dd and mum who live near us ! Now we lift share and it halves the cost for both of us and it's lovely company in the car ! The other option is the train ! Excellent service from new street and there is probably some other dd/ds going her way !

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't know that the vocational schools had exeats so frequently. Most children attend prep schools fairly close to home and only go to boarding schools a long way from home at 13. Even if your child can reasonably be expected to travel by train on his or her own at, say, 13 or 14 is the station nearest the school accessible by public transport or would the school be prepared to accompany your child to, and pick your child up from, the station? It is a very individual decision when a parent is happy to let his/her child travel alone. If your child is travelling on a Friday and Sunday evening she will be travelling in the dark for much of the year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dd's school arrange a taxi to the station and at the moment we have a grandparent chaperoning ! But it won't be long now before they can travel independently ! We are lucky that ours is a straight through train ! Only now going into year 9 we are considering it ! But when I think of the risk of driving tired late at night on the M5 in the winter ! The train looks safer !

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow cotes and I thought 260 mile round trip was a lot!! Would have to look into trains as I don't drive so if it was a Friday pick up it might be a case of me getting a train there and then train back with dd, gosh I can't believe there is so much to consider and we haven't even applied to audition :D I have a lot of respect for those of you that are living it week in week out, it sounds like such a massive commitment financially, mentally and physically!! Well done to all you parents!!!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...