Dancing in the Inner City
I am Katie Tucker, Lead Teacher for Dance at Great Barr Academy: an inner-city school in Birmingham. I came into the school as a maternity cover, with a 60% PE timetable, and 1 GCSE Dance group. But now I teach the BTEC Tech award Level 2 to year 10 and 11, and BTEC Level 3 Performing Arts to Year 12, next year is exciting as I have Dance at KS3 for the first time.
Working in an inner-city school has its own challenges, regardless of the subject you teach. We have a particularly high number of Pupil Premium pupils, and many of our children have had little to no dance experience, but that can also lead to real senses of achievement as the discover things they didn’t know about themselves. For many of our pupils, trips to the theatre will be the first they have ever been on. We work closely with ACE Dance and Music and have performed curtain raisers with them for the last five years.
Dance has such positive effects in our school, be it through the issue based topics we explore, helping with pupils mental wellbeing and thinking about their own thoughts and feelings in topics such as bullying, homophobia, racism, knife crime and homelessness. For many of our challenging pupils, it gives them and outlet, a way to express how they feel when words seem too much for them. It also gives them a sense of belonging and a purpose, to be a part of something positive.
I am part of an incredible Performing Arts department, who value the arts and know how important it is that all pupils get a chance to well-rounded curriculum. My vision for dance from now is to expand and to increase my uptake further. I think now I have managed to get dance into Key Stage 3, that this will be the natural progression. Really exciting times!
My advice would be to keep fighting and to never underestimate the value and impact of ethos across your department, what do you stand for? What values do you want the children to uphold? Have as many performance opportunities as you can and allow the children to experience as many dance styles as they can. Try to reach out, and don’t feel like you are on your own.