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Dance leaders write an open letter to Michael Gove, secretary of state for education

Posted on October 25, 2012

In an open letter to Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, published in the Daily Telegraph on October 18, leading figures in the UK dance community have expressed concern at the exclusion of dance, along with other arts subjects, from the syllabus of the newly-proposed English Baccalaureate that will be introduced as a replacement for GCSE examinations from 2015 onwards. We reproduce below the letter in full.


Sir – We are concerned about the potential damage to dance that will result from the proposed changes to the curriculum. Dance, alongside other arts subjects, is to be excluded from the English Baccalaureate that will replace GCSEs from 2015.

Michael Gove, the education secretary, appears to have ignored the warning in the Henley report on cultural learning that the absence of subjects such as dance from the new curriculum “runs the risk of devaluing these subjects within schools, with a consequent removal of financial investment”. The Government has accepted the report’s recommendation for a National Youth Dance Company, but where will its members come from if they are not encouraged at school?

At primary level, dance is treated as part of PE, but there is a danger that it will disappear from secondary education. Young people are currently engaging with dance at an unprecedented level, as we know from the enthusiasm of young audiences at our performances and the quality of students we are recruiting into our companies. It would be deeply damaging to reverse this investment.

The predominance of dance in the Olympic ceremonies shows how rewarding and involving it can be. Dance offers young people both a physical and an intellectual discipline that contributes to the creativity of the country.

Christopher Barron
Chief Executive, Birmingham Royal Ballet

Kevin O’Hare
Director, The Royal Ballet

Mark Skipper
Chief Executive, Northern Ballet

Nadia Stern
Chief Executive, Rambert Dance Company

Jeanette Siddall
Consultative Executive, Dance Consortium of Large Scale Theatres

Matthew Bourne
Director, New Adventures

Robert Noble
Director, New Adventures

Alistair Spalding
Chief Executive, Sadler’s Wells

Cindy Sughrue
Chief Executive, Scottish Ballet

Tamara Rojo
Artistic Director, English National Ballet


According to a report in The Stage newspaper on October 25, prominent members in the UK arts communities are urging the education select committee to hold an inquiry into the lack of creative subjects such as music, art and drama, in the proposed new qualifications. They have started an online petition in protest, which can be read here

Jonathan Gray is editor of Dancing Times. He studied at The Royal Ballet School, Leicester Polytechnic, and Wimbledon School of Art where he graduated with a BA Hons in Theatre Design. For 16 years he was a member of the curatorial department of the Theatre Museum, London, assisting on a number of dance-related exhibitions, and helping with the recreation of original designs for a number of The Royal Ballet’s productions including Danses concertantes, Daphnis and Chloë, and The Sleeping Beauty. He has also contributed to the Financial Times, written programme articles for The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, and is co-author of the book Unleashing Britain: Theatre gets real 1955-64, published in 2005.

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