“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.” — Dylan William: Standards for Professional Development
The Royal Ballet School’s Affiliate Training and Assessment Programme not only offers high-quality teacher training to dance teachers around the world but also helps these teachers develop their creative and professional skills by encouraging them to devise their own content and conduct their own assessments. They also benefit from the programme’s moderation process and ongoing support, which enable teachers to ensure high standards throughout their practices.
Those who become Affiliate Teachers of the School receive continuous professional development (CPD) training to hone and develop their skills so they can maintain high standards of teaching across ballet. Here, we’ll explore how The Royal Ballet School supports dance teachers with continuous professional development through the new Affiliate Training and Assessment Programme.
What the Programme Involves
The Royal Ballet School’s Affiliate Programme offers a training and assessment system for selected teachers to deliver courses aimed at students aged 5 to 18, or Levels 1-6, within their own dance schools. The programme is suitable for ballet teachers with a minimum of three years’ experience or graduates of The Royal Ballet School teacher training programmes.
The Affiliate Programme allows for a flexible delivery structure, giving teachers the opportunity to create unique progressive learning pathways for their students. Empowering teachers to guide and assess their own students’ learning allows pupils to develop their knowledge and ability in ballet more broadly than by learning a set syllabus. This approach also favours teachers who value innovation, versatility, and diversity, and who prioritise the need for a holistic approach to dance training for young people. The ensuing culture is one of rewarding dance teachers who pursue and continue to deliver high-level training throughout their professional lives.
Gaining Affiliate Status
Successful candidates selected for the Affiliate Programme participate in an initial mandatory training programme in July before the upcoming academic year. Candidates begin their training with an introductory webinar that provides practical and operational information. A five-day intensive training course on-site in London follows, delivered by The Royal Ballet School’s staff and visiting expert lecturers. The course provides teachers with training in the programme’s content, pedagogical knowledge, and information and support to help them implement the programme within their own schools.
Once they have completed the programme, candidates achieve Provisional Affiliate status. From September to December, Provisional Affiliate Teachers implement the training programme in their schools and, after the first term, submit a video of a sample lesson, which moderators at The Royal Ballet School assess. Successful candidates achieve Affiliate status and continue with the delivery of the programme into the rest of the academic year. Those who do not attain the required standard must take further training before they can repeat the assessment process with a provisional status.
Following the awarding of Affiliate status, teachers must complete the equivalent of a further five days of training online between February and June. Those who wish to deliver Levels 4-6 and the Enhancement Programme can then take further training for these levels. Graduates of The Royal Ballet School teacher training courses who successfully complete the initial training are automatically awarded Affiliate status.
Knowledge and Tools for Teachers
Through the programme, teachers gain knowledge on teaching Levels 1-3 and information on both technical and creative approaches to teaching ballet. The programme offers a holistic approach to the teaching of dance and covers the following subjects: learning outcomes, teaching and learning strategies, student assessment procedures, reflection and evaluation techniques, and The Royal Ballet School Model for Optimal Dance Training. The programme also covers movement and classical vocabulary (including enchaînement construction); choreography and improvisation; healthy dancer, body conditioning, and mindset; and repertoire study.
Mindful of giving teachers the knowledge on how best to promote their Affiliate status, the in-person portion of the programme includes a session delivered by the School’s marketing team. This session explains how to create marketing materials and use digital media, including social media. Teachers also receive a marketing toolkit with:
- Brand guidelines.
- Guidance on best practice.
- Video and photo advice (how to recognise and capture quality content for promotional purposes).
- Assets: document templates, Eflyer/flyers for printing, social media post examples and templates, an e-signature and letterheads.
- Advice: insight into how to uphold The Royal Ballet School’s brand and its values.
These marketing tools ensure that teachers can communicate the structure and goals of the programme to existing and future parents and students. The tools also help parents recognise what an Affiliate Teacher and their association with The Royal Ballet School means for their child’s learning experience.
Teachers also receive access to information and content via the School’s Video on Demand platform.
The programme’s unique approach to student assessment empowers teachers to take greater control of the process by giving them the option to conduct their own assessments when they decide students are ready. Once students have completed the minimum training hours, teachers can carry out assessments at any time throughout the school year. They can record the assessments on video within their schools and submit these via a secure online platform to The Royal Ballet School for moderation.
Examining students via remote and video-recorded assessments is becoming a more common procedure. The Royal Ballet School recognises the growth in the impact of digital media and the necessity to reduce carbon footprint wherever possible. Remote video assessments are free from the constraints of examiner availability, costs, and the environmental impact of travel. Plus, the freedom to decide when assessments take place promotes the responsibility and expertise of the teacher to make informed decisions about their students’ progress. However, teachers also receive guidance through ongoing monitoring and moderation of their students’ assessment results.
Affiliate Teachers must submit assessments for moderation by The Royal Ballet School at least once every two years to ensure consistency across the teaching body. Those who successfully deliver the programme remain Affiliate Teachers. Those who do not attain the required standard undertake further training and repeat the provisional period. This moderation allows teachers to further develop their observation skills and understanding of performance criteria.
Maintaining Affiliate Status
As well as submitting students for assessment at least once every two years, to maintain Affiliate status, teachers must annually submit a current Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, safeguarding policies, and relevant insurance and legal certificates, alongside payment of an annual membership fee. They must also attend three days of CPD training per year, provided by The Royal Ballet School.
CPD training allows teachers to develop a range of pedagogical and theoretical proficiencies and practical skills that they can apply within the studio. One such learning opportunity for classical ballet teachers is ‘Inspire’, a professional development programme that offers seminars with exciting ideas to guide new approaches to classical ballet teaching. The Royal Ballet School also delivers one-hour ‘Enlighten’ webinars, where established dance teachers can update their teaching skills and add to their CPD portfolios.
The Inspire Programme comprises two series of seminars that set out aims for the growth of teachers’ skills and knowledge, each containing component modules for study. None of the seminars are syllabus-based as each includes both theoretical and practical elements. Participants can observe the teaching of a classical ballet class and are encouraged to engage in discussion and reflection. Teachers learn an array of pedagogical topics and explore various elements of ballet technique and artistry, with emphasis on the teaching and learning process:
- The basic concepts of classical ballet technique, including posture and placement.
- How we learn to dance through motor learning.
- Developing skills in teaching specific techniques, such as pointe work and enchaînement construction.
- The theory of good teaching and the development of a personal philosophy of teaching.
- How students learn and how to develop good communication through use of vocabulary and voice.
- Concepts of motivation and effective feedback.
- Lesson planning and time management.
- Developing observation, reflection, and evaluation skills, including the evaluation of relevant teaching strategies, methodologies, and practices.
Leading the Way in Classical Ballet Teaching
By engaging in the School’s structured professional development programme, associated teachers maintain and develop high standards for their practices. Not only do teachers enjoy greater satisfaction in their careers and lives, but students’ experiences and skills also flourish. The goal is to offer as many students as possible a greater sense of purpose, efficacy, autonomy, and self-respect, equipping them for careers in the world of ballet and beyond.
The Royal Ballet School seeks to advance a culture of CPD amongst its Affiliate Teachers that will help raise the bar of excellence in classical ballet teaching, leading the way for others to follow and emulate.
About The Royal Ballet School
At the forefront of dance learning and teaching, The Royal Ballet School has a commitment to excellence, both in its students’ training and in its staff and associated dance teachers’ training. Alongside its world-renowned eight-year ballet and academic course in London for young dancers, the School also runs programmes that extend training to recreational dance teachers so that many more young people can access a high-quality classical ballet education. The Royal Ballet School’s teachers continually engage at the ‘growing edge’ of expertise in teaching and classical ballet to train students for futures as performers and choreographers at The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and other leading dance companies.