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Linda Jasper calls for the proposed EBacc qualification to include the opportunity for young people to continue to study dance.

In September Michael Gove announced the move to a new English Baccalaureate (EBacc) to replace GCSEs because he considers that they do not offer a high enough academic standard. He originally brought in the EBacc as a performance measure in the 2010 performance tables, to recognise where pupils had secured a C grade or better across a core of academic subjects – English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language. The assessment he proposes is a return to written examinations at the end of each academic year, rather than course work or continuous assessment – a form of assessment that is not appropriate to arts and dance practice.

The Programme Board: Children and Young People’s Dance is a grouping of organisations that has a national remit to support dance for children and young people in and beyond schools. It was set up in response to the Tony Hall review into the state of dance education and youth dance in 2008 and its agenda is to address the key issues that are barriers to children and young people accessing dance in and beyond schools. The Programme Board’s statement on the place and role of dance in schools is summarised below.
The EBacc should include an arts subject so that dance can be offered alongside drama, music, visual arts and design as an examination subject. If the Ebacc is created without the inclusion of an arts subject, this will limit access to the arts, including dance, for young people throughout their school life as well as at examination level. Whether it is taught within physical education as a named activity (which is where it currently sits) or a dance/performing arts context, it must be taught as an artform for young people to benefit fully from an education in and through dance. Currently, dance is offered as an examination subject at GCSE, A/S and A Level, providing progression routes for students.

Why is dance so important in education? It has a unique role to play in the curriculum as the artform that combines physical literacy with the imagination and creativity. As a body of knowledge it illustrates the development of human culture and society. It remains a highly popular subject among children and young people, encouraging their engagement in wider learning. For girls and young women, often not attracted to sports, dance remains the most popular physical activity, providing an effective means for addressing obesity and other health problems.
Dance equips and inspires young people to work in the creative industries. These industries continue to be one of the few growth areas in the economy and are recognised worldwide as a hallmark of the UK’s creativity and confidence. Widening opportunities through early exposure to the arts for all young people is vital if we are to create a diverse and talented workforce that retains our leading position in the world.
If children and young people do not have access to and participate in a high quality dance education in our schools it will have an impact on:

• The opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding of composing, performing and appreciating dance from different social, historical and social contexts
• Physical development, maintaining healthy lifestyles and wellbeing
• Widening cultural awareness and understanding of dance as an artform
• Using dance as a vehicle for learning across the school curriculum
• Young people making informed choices in taking an arts subject aged 14 to 19
• The provision of accredited and vocational qualifications in dance
• Engaging young people in a variety of dance forms and working with professional dance artists, companies and arts organisations, widening their aspirations
• Employability, developing confidence and self-esteem, communication and negotiation skills, problem-solving, leadership skills and working with others
• Further and higher education options, career opportunities, employment, recreation and lifelong learning
• Participation in out of school hours learning and engagement in dance activities beyond formal education
• Opportunities to perform in school, local, regional and national dance events
• Identifying young people with exceptional dance potential.

The longer-term impact on further and higher education and conservatoire courses in dance and the arts is great as well. With limited exposure to these subjects, it is expected that there will be a narrowing of the type and backgrounds of young people progressing into the arts and cultural industry professions.
Linda Jasper is Director of Youth Dance England.

This is an edited extract from an article first published by Dance UK at http://www.danceuk.org/news/article/overview-changes-impacting-teaching-...

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