New school aims to keep boys dancing

The Class Free School, a proposed new 'free school', hopes to encourage boys aged 11 to 16 who may have taken ballet classes at primary school and want to keep dancing into their teens.

Tim Stirrup, the schools promoter, told the BBC News website he believes that, for a variety of reasons, many boys are forced to drop ballet once they reach secondary school.

Peer pressure to do something more conventionally macho can be one factor, as can sheer lack of time, he says.

Mr Stirrup says that ballet particularly gets squeezed out of the lives of teenage boys: “If they are offered a dance option at school it will more often be a form of street or contemporary dance."

There are vocational boarding schools, he explains, but these are extremely selective and focused on turning out professional dancers. Mr Stirrup sees a need for something in the middle ground:

“I want Class to offer a broad and balanced academic curriculum. So some pupils might well go on to join the Royal Ballet School at 16. But someone else might decide instead perhaps to go off to the local sixth form college and do A-levels in maths, physics and chemistry instead."

If given the go-ahead, the school would open in London in September 2013. Decisions on which free school applications will be supported are expected in July this year.

Britt Tajet-Foxell, a Chartered Psychologist, comments:

“I can only think it will be a positive experience for boys. The inspiration and confidence gained from mastering the ballet steps may have a positive carry over effect on other subjects, and the discipline and structure required from doing ballet class may help better organise and plan the day ahead. Also being one of many boys doing ballet class may enhance the sense of belonging as it will become the norm.”