Buzzing about dance in schools

Buzzing about dance in schools

Dance4 has been working recently with Tuxford Academy in North Nottinghamshire.

Their Head of Creative & Expressive Arts, Tori Richardson has sent us a blog entry about how teachers and students have found this experience.

"Tuxford Academy were initially put in touch with Dance4 as part of the StepUp2 programme for Artsmark, having identified Dance as a key area for development within the Academy provision. Our vision is to establish Dance as an equally regarded art form to Music, Drama and Art. To do this we needed to make space in the curriculum, develop staff confidence in teaching Dance, and foster a ‘buzz’ about the subject which would grow amongst the student body in coming years. 

Dance4 has been supporting our vision at Tuxford Academy since July 2013. Through regular contact with lead staff at the academy, Dance4 has enabled the following experiences so far:

  • Expert practitioner to deliver workshops to all KS3 students over the course of a whole school Creative Arts curriculum day. This was a huge success in generating excitement and inclusiveness in Dance and particularly improved boys engagement. Staff from all subjects including the leadership team were involved and many barriers were broken down in the process of the sessions. 
  • Expert practitioner to cultivate year 8 gifted and talented group over the course of half a term. This established a group of students who would be likely to pursue a GCSE in Dance in the future. Students confidence, skills and understanding were nurtured leading to many of these students later auditioning for dance roles in the whole school production that summer.
  • Identifying visits to local performances which would engage and inspire students for example Jasmin Vardimon’s Park & Nobulous at Nottingham Theatre. 
  • Expert practitioners to lead a group of KS4 students through a series of workshops leading to the achievement of Bronze Arts Award. 
  • Bringing a CAT taster session to Tuxford for students with an interest or established ability in Dance. 

The impact of the above on staff CPD has been incredible. Staff have learnt directly though involvement with expert practitioners, but also have been provided excellent CPD sessions which have been catered to meet the specific needs of the staff and school. 

A good judgement of an effective CPD session is always whether staff implement learning soon after the session. Astonishingly, Tuxford Academy staff felt immediately confident and capable of teaching and planning Dance the very next day after a Dance4 CPD. 

For example, non-specialist staff were able to teach full classes the ‘mass-bolero’ over the course of two weeks leading to a performance of 120 students in a school flash mob. 

Dance4 has been integral in Tuxford Academy moving towards their vision of providing a quality dance curriculum for all students and continue to support our development. Their understanding of the possibilities and barriers within education and links to very effective practitioners has been a winning combination in helping transform our students experience of Dance in school. This is a partnership we hope to remain and develop for years to come."

Tori Richardson, November 2014

Quotes from staff about Mel Knott’s CPD session

“I gained clear ideas for a new scheme of work”

“I learnt a taught phrase which I feel confident teaching tomorrow”

“Ideas for exercises which I can encourage students to develop”

“Mel was brilliant, she is clearly a talented dancer and I liked how she considered teaching realities rather than all ‘blue sky thinking’ we sometimes see in CPD”

“I found the session really useful. I found Mel’s delivery style really infectious and found myself really wanting to get involved”

“I was so excited to teach my dance lessons the next day, and it turned out to be the best dance lessons I’ve taught yet. Things are so much clearer in my mind now”

“I have noticed my own dance vocabulary developing too which is forcing the students to do the same”

“I found the session really good in the sense I felt comfortable in the knowledge that I could effectively teach the ‘cartoon’ SOW and that we were given lots of ideas and methods to make it last an entire half term”

“The session met my expectations and more – as I used the same warm up as she used with us in my teaching today. And I came away feeling more confident about teaching Dance”