The first dance practitioners to take a new industry-led qualification in working with children and young people have graduated.
The Diploma in Dance Teaching and Learning (DDTAL) is the first qualification of its kind specifically developed to demonstrate professional expertise in delivering high-quality teaching to young people in a variety of informal settings. The qualification addresses the need for well-trained and accredited dance teachers beyond statutory education, in order to increase youth participation in dance.
The development of the DDTAL was led by Youth Dance England, working closely with the awarding body, Trinity College London. Youth Dance England developed the qualification as a member of the Dance Training and Accreditation Partnership - a consortium of national organisations dedicated to removing barriers to participation in dance for people of all ages and abilities.
Supported by the PHF Arts programme, Youth Dance England undertook a research project working with three organisations across the country - Yorkshire Dance, Swindon Dance and Trinity Laban - to develop training and mentoring programmes and delivery models for the national roll-out of the new qualification. The research also assessed the effectiveness of training methods and the impact on trainees of taking the diploma. Youth Dance England has been working with the organisations to share the findings of the research throughout the dance sector.
The training provided by the three partner organisations has been evaluated by an independent consultant, Sara Reed, who observed the high standard of practice and the positive impact of the qualification. Sara reported that: "The diploma is a way for a wide range of practitioners to look at their dance teaching and appraise their own performance in an environment of learning rather than criticism. Reflection is a way to make change happen on our own terms and can make what we do of a much better professional quality."
At a seminar held in January by Youth Dance England on the findings of the project, Hopal Romans, an experienced dance practitioner, commented: "Before, I was focused on a particular style and methodology and the experience has challenged that in a good way, to good effect. I think that this diploma will have a very important role to play in the development of teaching children and young people. It has the potential to radicalise and professionalise the sector."
In 2010, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Arts programme awarded Youth Dance England a grant of £150,000 over two years to fund action research to support the national dissemination of the DDTAL.
Image credit Youth Dance England, photographer Brian Slater.