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Pupils & learning

Guest blog: Rediscovering the value of dance education


The pandemic has impacted on all areas of education. Levels of physical activity among children and young people fell while schools were partially closed. Dance and other enrichment activities were heavily restricted as school leaders worked to keep pupils and staff safe.

Here we explore some of the ways governing boards can now re-establish and support dance education in their school or trust – you can explore these themes further in our Dance guide for governing boards.

Championing dance in schools 

High-quality dance education thrives when governing boards and school leaders celebrate and champion dance, advocate its value to parents and enable all pupils to engage and participate. Teachers often tell us how much they value the support of their senior leadership team and governing board:

“I am incredibly lucky that I have a hugely supportive headteacher and senior leadership team who are looking to expand dance across the school both within and beyond the curriculum.”  - A level secondary school dance teacher 

“We have a huge enrichment programme in our school and since introducing this we’ve noticed a significant increase in student uptake in dance qualifications at key stage 3 and 4.” - College dance teacher

Dance is for everyone! 

Dance education can make a significant contribution to young people’s development and the vibrancy of school life. For example, dance can support: 

  • whole school improvement 
  • building skills for life 
  • mental and emotional wellbeing 
  • improved physical health 
  • enriching cultural experiences 

Here are our top tips to support school leaders and governing boards building a culture that embraces dance education.

  • Work to remove any preconceived ideas about who can dance or what a ‘dancer’ looks like. Giving all pupils access to dance through effective curriculum design provides equality and a level playing field for all. Pupils also see dance as a way of expressing their own culture and a vehicle for appreciating others.
  • Ensure there is a strategy for dance in school with measurable and achievable goals. Structured schemes of work should be used involving choreography, performance and appreciation. These can be shared as models of good practice with other settings. 
  • Offer pupils a range of performing opportunities in school and externally. Partnerships with dance organisations can expand and enhance the school’s offer. 
  • Provide opportunities for teachers to take part in dance-based professional development to promote best practice and stay up to date with sector news. One Dance UK offer curriculum appropriate beginners programmes Ready, Step, Teach! and Take The Leap! for teachers with a foundation knowledge in dance.

Preparing for creative futures 

According to the Creative Industries Federation, jobs in the UK’s creative industries were growing at four times the UK average prior to the pandemic, with one million people employed in these sectors and a further one million jobs projected to be created by 2030. This data suggests that, as a significant contributor to the creative industries, there is a need for the next generation of dance workers to be effectively trained and supported.

Dance education provides pupils with transferable skills essential for a variety of careers, not just in dance. Leadership and teamwork skills are built through choreography and performance. Perseverance and resilience skills are acquired through the repetition of movements in technique classes and through exploration in choreography. Appreciation and analytical skills are learnt through pupils’ reflections on professional work, their own choreography and work by their peers. These skills contribute positively to each pupil’s success in life.

One Dance UK is the Subject Association for dance, advocating for the importance of high-quality dance education. For resources, programmes, advocacy tools and more, visit One Dance UK.

Explore our cultural education guides for governing boards covering dance, art, craft and design, music and creativity across the curriculum.