Choosing a school for your child can be a challenging task!  Battling your schedule, choosing the right class or programme and making the big commitment of enrolling in a school are some of the questions new parents are faced with.  But are they the RIGHT questions?  Here are the key questions I think you should ask and the main points to consider when choosing the right performing arts school for your child.

There are two main areas to focus on when looking at a school.  The school itself, it’s staff team and processes and quality assurances in place as well as their track record and experience.  Secondly the actual classes that you want to enrol your child in at the school.  If I were you I would focus all your energy on the first item on the agenda – the school.  Focus on finding the people that are going to take care of your child and nurture them educationally and vocationally to achieve their full potential as a performer and human being.  There are several features that all quality schools will have in place – Qualified teachers, appropriate insurances, a track record of success, professional facilities, the list goes on…

The council for Dance Education and Training or CDET have defined the features of a quality institution and created a quality kitemark called Recognised schools.  A Recognised School is a pre or non-vocational dance or musical theatre school that is committed to putting the safety of its pupils first and meets the following nine requirements of good professional practice.

Arts1 News: How to choose the right Dance and Musical Theatre school

Here are the nine benchmarks set out by the CDET

  • Have and adhere to appropriate Professional Policies and Procedures in respect of the following: health and safety (including safe dance practice), safeguarding, equal opportunities and customer service (including feedback
    and complaints)
  • Ensure valid Disclosure  and Barring Service (DBS) certificates are in place for all members of staff including teachers, administrators and all ancillary staff
  • Hold appropriate and adequate Insurance
  • Adhere to the CDET Code of Professional Conduct and Practice or recognised equivalent
  • Make the Nine Requirements for Recognised Schools document publicly available, together with the following Key Information: contact details, timetables and venues for examinations and all performance events
  • Ensure that the majority of teaching is delivered by teachers with appropriate Teaching Qualifications i.e. hold a CDET, Ofqual or other government recognised teaching qualification at QCF Level 3 or above. Teachers not holding (or working towards) such a teaching qualification should be in the minority but  will still demonstrate Professional Experience to the satisfaction of CDET
  • Employ or engage all teachers on appropriate Teaching Contracts
  • Conduct  annual Staff Appraisals and offer relevant Continuing Professional Development within the organisation
  • Keep formal Financial Accounts which are independently inspected or audited where required by law.

My advice is that you should look for a recognised school, but there are also great schools that are not part of the CDET scheme so for those institutions you should ask them important questions using the points above as a guide.  You could also ask

  • What floors will my child be dancing on? (these should ideally be sprung – beware concrete or other rigid surface as there is an increased potential for injury)
  • Who will be my child’s teacher(s)?  What experience and qualifications do they have?  Do they have success stories that fit your idea of success?
  • Are their first aider’s on site that have completed a full qualification?
  • Can you take examinations or get involved with performances?
  • If singing is being taught does the teacher have a thorough anatomical understanding of the voice?

Question 2 – what class or programme of classes are right for my child?

This is relatively straight forward to answer.  If you find the right school and the people you trust to guide you and your child, it is simple.  be led completely by the school.  This sounds obvious but with the pressures of a clash with swimming lessons, two other children to juggle and life in general it can be difficult to make it work, but if you have chosen the right school they will be absolutely expert in helping you choose the right class for your child.  Put all your energy into finding the institution and then put your trust in them to help you make the best choices.

Arts1 is a performing arts school recognised by the Council for Dance Education and Training in Milton Keynes.  Our team train the talents of young performers from the age of two years old and our programmes range from single classes to full time training in Dance and Musical Theatre.  It is our mission to deliver a programme of quality performing arts classes in an aspirational and nurturing environment where students are inspired to develop their skills.

James Grimsey
Co-Founder & Head of Sixth Form