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'Dance….an essential part of every child’s education’

This month we were pleased to launch our primary school Teacher's Resource that utilises dance and film to explore issues of health and well-being. With this resource, we aim to empower teachers and their pupils to explore ways to think, feel and relate to one another and be ourselves, linking to Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education, Physical Education and Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural Education. We think our collaborator Briony Campbell captured these aspects of the resource perfectly back in September. We look forward to working with her further as well as Film Director Daisy Scalchi, Lighting Camerman Raz Firmager and of course all the schools involved.

We are honoured to announce that our foreword has been written by Sir Ken Robinson and to publish a small taster:

‘A couple of years ago, I was interviewed for a feature series on education on BBC Radio 4. At one point the interviewer mentioned a well-known TEDTalk I’d given, in which I said that dance is as important in education as maths. “You can’t be serious,” she said. I told her I was; and I am. Dance has essential roles in the education of all young people. Most children spend twelve of their most formative years in school: crucial years when they are developing physically, cognitively, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Education should support them in all of these areas, and dance, properly conceived and well taught, does exactly that’.

Watch Ken talking about the importance of Dance in Education here.

We invite primary schools in East London to join us! Drop us an email to discuss booking an initial training session to gain access to our print and online resources and help us to add to the evidence base and importance of getting more movement into the school curriculum through embodied learning.

Why Now?
There are many agendas that feel pertinent to raise in the support of more dance in schools at this moment in time….

- Physical Inactivity – contributes to 1 in 10 deaths in the UK. Dance not only provides a non-competitive outlet for physical activity but also supports emotional health and well-being and social skills
- Mental Health – With the rise in mental health issues, Challenge 59 fosters individual attributes and skills, promoting health through embodied learning
- Health Promotion in Schools - A report commissioned by Local Government Association in 2015 highlighted the need for investment in prevention, advising a ‘Transformation Fund’ with a focus on preventative measures. It claimed that just £1 spent on a schools smoking or bullying campaign can save as much as £15

‘Where health promotion takes place, predominantly in schools, there is evidence this can translate into better educational attainment which is associated with good health literacy’.

Limited health literacy is linked with unhealthy lifestyle behaviours such as diet, smoking and inactivity. The ability to speak, listen, read and write can help to make informed decisions. Health Literacy projects increase health knowledge, encourage positive lifestyle change and empower people. Inter-disciplinary initiatives are highlighted in addition to integrated, cross-sector working.

- Ebacc and the decline of arts in education. Schools often try to provide provision after school and out of curriculum time. Arts should be accessible for all socio-economic groups and is a basic right of the child
- UN Rights of the Child – Four articles from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (that the UK ratified in 1991) – That every child should have access to artistic and cultural activities, that every child has the right to a health education, and an education that fosters individual talents and personalities, and that they have the right to expression, to have a voice and to be heard
- Nesta suggest: ‘There is a compelling case that the time has now come for person and community- centred approaches for health and well-being. The drive for services to do more to empower individuals and communites is growing’ (‘Realising The Value – Empowering People, Engaging Communities’ by Nesta, Mar 2016)
- STEM/STEAM debate – the creative industries are the fastest growing sector and the debate to add Arts and Design to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths continues. Businesses are speaking of young people being ill-equipped with the skills required for the future workforce, creativity being one of them

There is a growing body of evidence about how dance can contribute to the health agenda. We are delighted to be working with the University of Bath, Centre for Physical and Cultural Studies, in evaluating the impact of Challenge 59 on participants, teachers and communities alike.

We’d like to finish with some of Sir Ken Robinson’s words on Challenge 59’s Teacher's Resource:

‘I welcome the powerful inspiration and practical resources that Challenge 59 is offering to schools…. They’ll discover too that just like maths, dance should be an essential part of every child’s education.’

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