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slanteddance is so excited to be an official learning destination for the Norfolk Children’s University!
Norfolk Children’s University
Norfolk’s Children’s University offers 5 to 14 year olds exciting, high-quality learning activities and experiences outside normal school hours.
Our aims are to develop young people who make full use of the breadth of learning opportunities outside of the school day, to help children become life-long learners, and to increase their skills, knowledge and self-confidence.
It is easy to become a member, you can either do this through your school, or if your school is not currently involved, you can get an individual membership by visiting your local library.
Passport to Learning
Through the Passport to Learning, we aim to encourage children to take part in extra learning in their schools, in out of school clubs, and also to enjoy everything on offer across the county in places like our museums, libraries and outside venues.
As children show that they want to learn by choosing to do these extra things, we celebrate their achievements with certificates and special Graduation Days at the University of East Anglia.
If you are a child aged between 5 and 14 years, and would like to find out about exciting learning opportunities with the Children’s University, you have come to the right place. It’s impossible to know all the questions you might have, so here are a few to get you started:
What exactly is the Children’s University?
It’s an organisation which signposts you to exciting learning activities which take place outside the normal school day – it could be before school, during lunchtime, after school, during weekends or holidays etc. The activities are all voluntary, it is up to you to choose what you do and when, and the learning always has a link to something you could go on to do at a ‘grown up’ university.
How do I know it’s any good?
All of the Children’s University learning activities are checked by your local Children’s University staff to make sure that the learning provided is good enough. The places that offer CU approved learning activities are then given the title of Children’s University Learning Destination and they will visibly display our black and gold Learning Destination poster.
What happens after I have completed an activity?
Make sure you have your Children’s University Passport To Learning with you and the Learning Destination will give you a stamp for the number of hours the activity counts for in your passport. The more activities you do, the more the hours add up! You may also be able to have an online version of the passport, known as the E-Passport, where you can upload pictures and comments for the activities you have done and share them with other Children’s University members, as well as find other activities on offer. As the E-Passport is a very new thing, you may have to be patient and wait for this in your area – not all schools are using it yet, but it is on the way!
At what sort of places can I use my Passport To Learning?
For starters, lots of your after school clubs and holiday activities. Some of the activity clubs in your local area may also be Learning Destinations and there are a growing number of places such as museums and activity days which are also part of Children’s University learning. You can search for Learning Destinations near you by using the menu on the home page. If there is somewhere that you go to and you would like to recommend it as a good place to learn, you can do so by telling your school co-ordinator or your local Children’s University Manager.
How will I know when I have collected enough hours for a certificate?
Your school co-ordinator will check your Passport To Learning and tell you when the next set of certificates will be handed out. For your bronze level certificate, you will need 30 hours, 65 hours for silver and 100 hours for gold. You will usually have the chance to be presented with your certificate at a special graduation ceremony organised by your local Children’s University.
What does it all cost?
Your school will explain how it works locally. Many of the school-based clubs are free, but the usual charges will apply for public clubs and places of interest.
What do I do next?
You can usually only be a member of the local Children’s University if your school is taking part in the scheme. The best place to ask is at your school. You can also check out the details of your nearest local Children’s University centre by using the menu on the home page.
It can be bad enough showing off your moves on the dance floor, let alone putting together a structured dance programme that meets the 2014/2015 curriculum and that you can deliver to a group of 30 eight year olds who probably have a whole lot more confidence with their sense of rhythm than you do! There is also a sense that dance is the ‘short straw’ behind subjects like music, drama and dance, subjects that often fall to teachers who happen to have some experience or natural ability. None evoke the same sense of terror as dance.
A collective groan
When we talk to primary school teachers the overriding message that comes through – via a collective groan – is a lack of expertise and confidence:
“I’d quite happily teach them dance if I knew what I was doing (I’m all for making a fool of myself)”
“In our school, each class teacher teaches their class dance as part of PE….the quality of the lesson delivered often depends on who is teaching it and their own personal experience and knowledge of dance”
“Most feel underqualified and wholly foolish when attempting to teach dance. Staff become self-conscious out of their comfort zone and resort to old hat and overused resources that don’t relate to the children, curriculum or the true potential of dance as a subject”
Resources tend to be a combination of TAs trained in PE, CD/DVD programmes, after-school clubs run by external organisations and ad hoc dance initiatives/visitors. This all still relies on the teacher assembling a scheme of work that, when put together, meets or preferably exceeds, curriculum requirements.
A lack of perceived value
Another major problem is the perceived value that is put on dance in the primary curriculum. Youth Dance England shares the Government’s ambition for “every young person to have access to the highest quality dance teaching at every stage of their development”. In YDE’s publication ‘Dance In and Beyond Schools’, the authors suggest that “[Young people] will understand the status of dance in the school through, for example, the amount of time allocated to dance, the quality of the space in which it takes place, the enrichment activities and qualifications available and the ways in which achievement in dance is celebrated.”
Unfortunately the emphasis given to dance within individual schools can vary enormously. It should be so much more than a box to be ticked; rather a subject that can inspire all those involved and become central to a school’s creativity and PE programme.
Dance has proven benefits that go way beyond the classroom. It can give primary age children confidence, help them learn the value of teamwork, and has obvious health benefits through exercise. Children who struggle with traditional academic subjects, for whatever reason, can shine through dance. Indirect benefits for all pupils include improved concentration, behaviour and learning. It even works both left and right saide of the brain simultaneously!
For primary school teachers, the ability to deliver an effective, engaging dance programme provides huge rewards as they see the tangible changes in their pupils’ behaviour.
Teaching teachers to teach dance
As professional dancers who have also worked within mainstream education, we have seen firsthand the cold sweat of a responsibility that sits well outside a teacher’s comfort zone. Our passion is to see every primary school teacher who ‘volunteers’ to teach dance feeling confident, inspired and with a growing passion for dance that is infectious for students.
The key lies in providing schools with a foolproof and comprehensive teaching resource for dance, which any number of teachers can use.
Although there are many dance resources available, most complement an existing dance programme rather than being a ‘dance bible’ for busy teachers. At slanteddance, our aim has been to create a comprehensive, totally flexible scheme of work for EYFS-KS2 dance. We realised that it needed to meet current curriculum needs, provide easy-to use lesson plans (schemes of work) and at the same time teach teachers how to structure a dance lesson so that as their confidence grew, they would be able – if they wanted – to create their own lesson plans with the same confidence. It also needed to be flexible enough to accommodate a single dance lesson, a block of dance activities or an academic year’s worth of lesson plans.
We felt it was important to incorporate practical tools – flashcards, reward charts, certificates – and that DVD-based training was vital to see the lessons in action. The manual is something that can be revisited time and time again, allowing any number of teachers to build from shared skills, teaching tips and techniques. Evaluation and the ability to chart progress was also key.
Central to the slanteddance programme is a structured methodology for every lesson: SESCC.
Our SESCC methodology is borne out of professional dance teaching:
Any theme or topic can be created using this format to ensure a safe, effective, engaging dance lesson. We provide a growing library of lesson plans, but our hope is that as teachers grow in confidence they will create their own, which can potentially be shared with other teachers.
A dance network
This idea of teachers sharing lesson plans and lending support to one another has subsequently led us to create a free network for primary school dance teachers, with half-termly newsletters. The network offers up to date information on curriculum changes that affect dance, alerts teachers to new lesson plans, and provides a forum for conversation, support and sharing best practice.
By now you may be thinking “Hmm. That’s all very well. You are professional dancers and I simply can’t imagine anyone making me feel confident about teaching dance”. Claire Levitt was one such teacher.
Inspiring dance in Attleborough Infant School
Attleborough Infant School is one of the largest infant schools in Norfolk. As a Yr X teacher, Claire Levitt was asked to take on dance for EYFS & KS1. After significant research into the resources available and conversations with Martin Radmore, Norfolk County Council’s PE Co-ordinator, a decision was made to buy the slanteddance Education Pack. Eight days after receiving the pack a team of teachers used their newfound confidence to run a four-day, mixed-gender afternoon dance club. In just four sessions and with very little planning, the students were able to work collaboratively to choreograph a dance, selecting their own music and incorporating the key movement skills they had just learnt.
In Claire’s words: “So much learning took place so quickly. It was an amazing moment to see, assess what they had been learning, as well as building their creativity and expression.” The feedback was unanimous in support of a regular dance club. In identifying what made it so successful, Claire says “The SESCC structure made it easy to build skills and creativity…it’s easy to follow and full of ideas…and the lessons in the DVDS with running commentary mean that you hear why the dance teachers make the choice they do throughout the class. This is a tool I will go back to again and again. Each time I watch it I get something new from it.”
Perhaps most telling of all is Claire’s parting comment: “A huge thank you for 100% improving my confidence!”.
Article published in Primary Teacher Update- July 2014
 Dance Manifesto quoting a Physical Education and School Sport Club Links survey, taken from the Foreword of YDE’s ‘Dance In and Beyond Schools’ publication
Well 2013 has certainly been an eventful one being jam packed with events and opportunities! The beginning of 2013 began with a bit of disruption due to the snow but once we were back on track we had loads of new classes added to the timetable and we began our skill building term!
Hen parties were popular this year and we had people bopping to the Fame kids, Abba and Michael Jackson to name a few! Birthday parties were also popular and One Direction made an occurrence throughout the year!!
Big shout out to the family who created the fantastic slanteddance cake for Lauren ‘s birthday party, it was her class uniform colour and had our logo on it!
This year we have been motivated to encourage and inspire primary schools to teach dance in their schools and so we launched our qualification, Dance in Education level 3 accredited by OCNER. Since March we have had 2 cohorts and are looking forward to next year, as we will be running another 4 courses as well as it becoming a national qualification! Alongside this, we saw the launch of our new resource pack for schools ‘Maximising Dance in your School’ which is now going out to schools across the world as well as a heavily pregnant Bryony being filmed by the Norfolk County Council on delivering high quality dance within schools!
As usual we had a busy summer rehearsing for our June shows, Lord Mayors Main Stage, The Norfolk Show and running slantedarts Summer school. The June shows welcomed new groups to our community and as always was a great success. All our outdoor performances had great weather so we got to perform lots of times and got rave reviews from our audiences and bookers. The summer term also brought us lots of additions to the slanteddance community including lots of new little brothers and sisters being born and director, Bryony’s little one!
Summer school was great fun as always exploring performing and art on a range of topics including pirates and ghosts!
September saw the beginning of two more slantedarts groups; Drama at Bignold Primary and Creative Performance on a Saturday morning. These classes are an opportunity for the children to express their creative ideas through songwriting, choreography and drama. The drama group worked alongside our tutors to create their own original story about Christmas and they performed this in our end of year show. The slantedarts creative performance group developed a piece based around colours and emotions. This song took nearly the whole term to create as they juts kept running with it. The end product was a fantastic 8.5 minute song and dance which explored a range of musical influences. For many of them, this was their first ever performance and we were so proud of them. Now both groups have done their first piece we know that their creative ideas will be even bigger and better next term, I can’t wait to see what they create!
Our end of term shows were held in December and showcased all the young talent we are honored to teach. We welcomed more new groups and parents and sold out both OPEN Youth venue and the Platform Theatre, City College Norwich!
Other opportunities this year have been; auditions for Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Snow White at the Sheringham Little Theatre and A Christmas Carol with the Northern Ballet Theatre, slanteddance’s new street and break dancing scholars programme and our peer mentor scheme for members of our classes to assist and inspire the younger children.
2014 brings even more classes to help you keep to your New Year’s resolutions including our brand new adult choir and kids singing group with leading vocal coach Mark Read. Already we have been booked to perform at the Lord Mayors Main Stage and I’m sure our new singing groups will make an appearance…. flash mob anyone?!!
We also excited to launch our street examinations (optional) starting in January, email us email@example.com if you would like more information!
Our ‘Bring a buddy’ scheme begins in January.
If you have a friend you would like to bring, fill in a card to claim your discount!
For regular updates join our facebook and twitter @slanteddance. Look forward to another great year, bring on 2014!!!!