If very talented, they are encouraged to apply for additional ballet classes with the Royal Ballet, a very stringent audition process and to date we have had three pupils successfully accomplish this. Pupils are also given the opportunity to audition for West End shows, film and television, where we have had a high success rate. Children have appeared in west end shows such as Lion King, The Wizard of Oz, Evita, Billy Elliott, Les Miserables, The Snowman, Bodyguard to name but a few. The children as well as learning performing arts gain life skills from attending the school; they gain confidence, and are able to present themselves positively in all aspects of life.
The school is inclusive and multicultural; we currently have approximately 280 pupils attending on a weekly basis during term time.
The school is inclusive and multicultural; we currently have approximately 280 pupils attending on a weekly basis during term time. 54 of those pupils are boys, the rest girls…. I would estimate that at least half of the pupils attend three evenings per week the very younger end of the school (3/7yrs) once to twice a week. Many of the pupils studying all subjects are with us for about ten hours per week. A scholarship scheme is operated within the school.
The school was running classes from the Hartley Centre in the Barking Road up until July 2015. The Centre was closed and we now run our classes from two separate venues, Newham Leisure Centre, Prince Regents lane, and Stratford School Academy, Grosvenor Road, East Ham over 55 hours of tuition is provided per week, employing specialised teaching staff. We currently operate on a Tuesday evening from 4.45pm – 9.45pm a Thursday from 4.45pm – 9.45 pm. Fridays 4.45 pm – 10pm and Saturdays from 8.45am – 5pm.
We also have social gatherings for the parents and children, summer day trips to the seaside, Christmas parties, and prize giving discos.
At present many of the children are attending classes at one venue at the beginning of the evening and swopping to another venue to continue classes in a different subject that same evening. Many car share or have to use public transport. A community spirit thrives in this School the parents more often that not have arrived in this country not knowing a soul and only speaking in broken English. Here they have met other parents, made friends and learned our language. Many of the children in the school make life long friends being bought here by their parents at a tender age and not leaving until their late teens.
We also have social gatherings for the parents and children, summer day trips to the seaside, Christmas parties, and prize giving discos. The school is in the hub of the community, 95% of pupils live in the London Borough of Newham; we have a few who travel from Barking, Leyton, Walthamstow, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge and Havering.
Newham and the surrounding areas fall within the bottom percentiles of the registers for income, education, skills & training, health deprivation & disability, and access to employment & services. This means that despite the desire or interest of children and young adults in the Borough to participate in sport, dance, music and the arts, there are not always the facilities, the community support or the teaching skills available for them to pursue their talents, alongside other more challenging factors that they may personally face. I as principal of the school have realised that I could not continue to run the school in its present state.
The cost of running the school with rents and wages was becoming impossible with parents not being able to afford the class fees and ever increasing rents/wages to pay out therefore, I decided that the only way the school could survive was to try to achieve charitable status. This was achieved in October 2008. The School currently rents community space, this is not cost effective and the Board have been trying to acquire its own “Home” for the school over the past four years. We now have planning permission to renovate a disused squash court site situated on the Newham Leisure Complex. 2 miles from our current location.
The Trust needs to raise 1 million pounds to complete the project and needs to secure the building on a 15 year lease from Newham council on condition that the renovations are carried out, facilities to be offered are: - four dance studios, circus skill training areas, sound studio/recording equipment, study space with computers and IT facilities, boys and girls changing rooms shower facilities, café bar, safe entry and cctv systems and enclosed garden.
A full time ISTD level three and four teaching course is currently offered in partnership with Adult Education during the daytime, this will be expanded . Genres during evening and weekend classes will be expanded to include Cheerleading, rhythmic gymnastics, Salsa, Zumba, Bollywood, classical Indian dance, Latin American, Ballroom, African dance, Adult classes will be introduced alongside classes specifically targeted to groups with disabilities.
We are working very hard to try and make a difference to the community who are interested and have a passion for the performing arts. Please see the rest of our website for further information.