As the first initiative to train school teachers to teach ballroom and Latin American dance within core PE provision, Essentially Dance is unique within the UK. Our National Curriculum based training packages are delivered to teachers and non-teaching school staff in stages - beginners, intermediate and advanced - and are then suitable for Key Stages 1 through to 5. The scheme gives every school the opportunity to offer its students the chance to take part in an alternative form of PE. The activity can be enjoyed by anyone of any age, and through this can help to break down the barrier between girls and boys, young and old, bringing forward the possibility of cross-generational activities within local communities.
On signing up, schools will receive training for two staff, to be used alongside three DVDs with demonstrations from Darren and Lilia, a CD with music, and booklets guiding them through the dances. The training resource will cater for all kinds of learning - visual, audio, and kinaesthetic (learning by doing). A high quality product, with rigorous controls over the teaching accreditation, schools across the country are already signing up to receive training following the pilot.
The pilot, mainly funded by Rod Aldridge and The Aldridge Foundation, is in 29 schools across England - in Darwen near Blackburn, Salford, Rotherham, Bromley in south London and Falmer near Brighton. 52 teachers and non-teaching staff were given the opportunity to train, then teach their students, before showing off their new found skills at launch events around the country hosted by Darren and Lilia. At the time of these launches, Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, said of Essentially Dance:
"From ballroom to ballet, dancing is a fantastic way for children to keep fit and have fun.
We want to encourage everyone to take part in physical education and we know that dance is a great way to improve fitness and can attract young people who perhaps do not enjoy competitive sport such as football or netball. Dance forms part of the PE and sport curriculum and I hope both teachers and children will quickly see the benefits from these pilots.
Making physical activity an attractive option for all young people is especially important if we are to tackle obesity and give young people enjoyable and positive activities they can take part in both during and after school.”
The Aldridge Foundation will launch the pilot scheme's evaluation - undertaken by Roehampton University - in June 2009.
The programme came together through a partnership of Rod Aldridge with Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova. Rod, Founder of The Aldridge Foundation, had been keen for some time to introduce ballroom and Latin American dance into schools, as had Darren and Lilia. Between them, they brought together the other members of the key team - Dale Bennett, CEO of City Limits Dancentre; Sue Cooper, a former Partnership Development Manager in Yorkshire; and Lorraine Drolet, a former Championship dancer and dance teacher from Croydon.