YDance (Scottish Youth Dance) – the national dance organisation for children and young people in Scotland – has been selected to share one of its educational success stories with an international audience.

Anna Kenrick, Artistic Director of YDance, will speak about the organisation’s Shake It Up project at ITAC4, the Fourth International Teaching Artist Conference, in New York City in September. The conference is a biennial gathering for artists who work in community and educational settings.

Shake It Up, which began in January 2017 and is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, is a four-year programme aiming to raise attainment for over 2000 primary school children, from 12 schools, in four local authority areas. The areas selected – Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and Clackmannanshire – are part of the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge; a large-scale education programme focusing specifically on reducing the attainment gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children and driving forward improvements in educational outcomes, specifically in the areas of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.

Working in close partnership with teachers to plan and deliver the programme, two professional dance workers each work for a day a week in a primary school, using dance to teach a range of academic subjects. This enables children to learn through dance and leave a suitable legacy of teachers with the skills and knowledge to continue to develop this kind of integrated curricular delivery.

The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at Glasgow University is running a full evaluation of the project and have discovered the positive impacts being involved in the programme is having on teachers and pupils. Teachers have been surprised and impressed at the ways dance can be used to reinforce pupil learning and develop new approaches to teaching. Pupils particularly appreciate the active nature of the programme and find it refreshing to work with the topics and subjects in a different mode. Pupils have also reported Shake It Up has made them feel happier at school, has helped them get on better with their teacher and helps them remember facts about subjects.

By attending ITAC4, YDance hopes to not only share its own success story with its international peers, but also discover what other practitioners are doing in the field of dance in education, and the use of dance (or other art forms) as a method of teaching curriculum subjects.

Anna Kenrick, Artistic Director of YDance said:

“Shake It Up is a cross curricular project which uses dance to teach a range of subjects on the Scottish Curriculum. It is unique in its approach and length, and the success we are seeing has been overwhelming. We are very pleased to be able to share our ideas and learning at ITAC4, with artists from around the world. Our hope is more children across Scotland and the world get a chance to use creative dance to learn about a range of subjects, breaking down barriers to education and raising children’s attainment and confidence.”