The Educational Dance Initiative to be launched by Leeds Beckett academic
Following extensive on-going work with a number of primary schools across Leeds and University’s Distance Learning team, Dr John Connell, is creating online resources – The Educational Dance Initiative (EDI) –for teachers to utilise in support of young people’s participation, attainment and achievement, in and through dance.
Dr Connell, who is a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett, explained: “Research suggests that dance is the least taught subject in schools as a physical activity even though it is statutory at Key Stages 1/2 (five to eleven years old) and now 3 (11-14 years old) with options to elect for Dance at BTEC, GCSE and A Level.
“The initiative, in essence, is the dance professional development of teachers in primary schools, a bid to facilitate and promote the inclusion and motivation of young people in dance. This subject is my absolute passion and to be able to offer as many opportunities as possible on a national and even international scale, for young people to have access to it, is my ultimate goal.
“Currently one of the major drawbacks preventing dance being taught more widely in our schools is the demands placed on teachers’ and trainee teachers’ time. Research suggests that many teachers, although skilled in pedagogy, do not necessarily possess the tools, skills and confidence to feel comfortable teaching the subject. This is where the EDI will support teachers’ practice. The online resource will give teachers, country-wide, exactly that – access to a programme they can undertake which will give them the opportunity to use the tools of dance and pedagogical skills they possess, to make dance an integral part of their curriculum.
“The EDI will also have a continuing process of development, not just for the young people who will benefit from it – but in that the initiative will maximise Government opportunities for professional development and attainment in schools and the community. It will also present links nationally and internationally with other experts in dance practice to facilitate the development of the resource, which will help ensure its longevity.
“Ultimately the EDI will be a marketable product that will engage and motivate teachers, students and young people to achieve and attain the highest possible engagement permissible.”
The development of the EDI is based upon the cross-collaborative creative partnerships between Leeds Beckett University and teachers in schools.
It is expected that the first phase of the EDI, entitled the ‘Collage of Dance’ will be ready to be rolled out and piloted in a number of primary schools regionally in September, while in coming months Dr Connell will hold a series of Dance Master Classes for teachers in a selection of Leeds primary schools. The classes are video recorded and edited to form an integral element of the support to teachers and young people in the schools.
Dr Connell added, that if successful in its first phase, there would be opportunity to develop the EDI further – rolling it out internationally and giving teachers the opportunity to gain qualifications as a result of fully engaging with the programme.
He said: “The goal would be to develop the dance resource nationally and internationally, with a view to placing Leeds as the hub of educational dance practice, particularly important at a time when Leeds is bidding for the Capital of Culture.
“The plan would be that once rolled out, designated teachers would lead further master classes in different areas of the UK and abroad formalising awareness of the dance practice and the online resources. From the initial resource, ‘Collage of Dance’, there will be an abundance of creative, cross-curricular and cross-collaborative experiences that all teachers and young people will attain and achieve. This will enhance the learning and teaching styles, strategies and approaches of students at Leeds Beckett University in the first instance and teachers in schools and the community, to support young people’s attainment and achievement.”
Photo: John Connell (left) teaching dance at Holly Bush Primary School.