The September 2015 Dance in Primary Schools survey

In September 2015 School Dance Week conducted a survey of dance activity in primary schools.

The results show just how important dance activity is within most primary schools, with our figures confirming and expanding on figures found independently by a survey conducted earlier this year by the Youth Sport Trust.

Below is a summary of our key findings…

Dance in Early years settings

While only a third of nursery classes undertook dance activities, this figure rose to 70% when we looked at reception classes.  Only 20% of schools did not teach dance at all in the early years.

Mostly the dance was taught by the class teacher, but it is interesting to note that a quarter of the schools that taught dance in the early years used a specialist member of staff, and a further 8% brought in an external specialist.

Dance within Key Stage 1

By Key Stage 1 dance was firmly established in most schools with well over 80% of schools having dance on the timetable, again with the majority using a specialist member of staff, but with the number of external specialists being slightly higher.

Dance within Key Stage 2

The highest dance activity in schools comes in year three with over 82% of schools having dance taught within the regular timetable.  The figure then declines slightly year by year, down to 72% by year six.

Once again the class teacher is the most common teacher of dance (64%) while a specialist staff member is involved in just over 40% of schools.  An external specialist is involved in just under 11% of cases.  (These figures add up to over 100% as some schools utilise different arrangements at different times of the year).

Workshops and performances

Overall, in the past five years around seven in ten primary schools have arranged an interactive dance workshop in the school, while just under half the schools have watched a dance performance.  Fewer than one in ten primary schools had no engagement with either a dance workshop or a dance performance in the past five years.

Validation through comparison with other research

Although our research focussed on different specifics from those researched by the Youth Sport Trust, in its 2015 School Sport and Physical Activity Survey, where the research overlaps the findings are very similar.    

For example, in Primary schools the Youth Sport Trust found the most popular activity was football, offered in 89% of schools with dance second offered in 67% of schools – a figure very much in keeping with our findings.

When the Youth Sport Trust asked about the contribution that physical and sporting activity makes to the lives of children, 95% indicated that such activities make a positive contribution to life skills such as confidence, resilience, resourcefulness, teamwork, and communication skills.

They also said the activity contributed to achievement (91%), behaviour and truancy (70%) and attainment (69%). 

Given these findings we are confirmed in our view that there is every reason to promote and encourage dance in primary schools.

Furthermore, the recent scientific findings as to the long term value of participating in dance which we also show on our web site confirm the huge importance of encouraging dance in primary schools.