Shake It Up

Shake It Up

About Shake It Up

Shake It Up was a four-year initiative funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which used dance to support improvements in attainment levels in primary schools.

In January 2017 YDance launched the Shake It Up programme to raise attainment for over 5000 primary school children in four local authority areas identified as part of the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge – Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and Clackmannanshire.

Shake It Up was designed to enable children to learn a range of curriculum subjects through dance, increase pupils’ engagement through a kinaesthetic approach, and leave a sustainable legacy of teachers with the skills and knowledge to continue to develop this kind of integrated curricular lesson delivery. Sessions covered a range of subjects including numeracy, literacy, science, health and wellbeing, and social sciences.

Two full-time Dance Education Artists in Residence each worked one day a week across six primary schools for a period of two years to deliver the sessions. They worked in close partnership with selected teachers to plan and deliver the project ensuring the benchmarks of the subject were met through the dance workshops.

Project Aims

  • Increase pupils’ engagement with learning
  • Increase in subject knowledge, achievement and attainment
  • Improve self-confidence, social skills, concentration and team working
  • Improve health and wellbeing through physical activity
  • Develop new methods of effective teaching by exploring ways to use dance in cross curricular work
  • Develop teachers’ skills and confidence in delivering dance as a subject and teaching through dance

Running alongside the delivery programme, a research and evaluation impact study was carried out by the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow.The findings of the research are now available:

YDance ‘Shake It Up’ Programme Evaluation – Final Report >>>

The following are some of the key findings of the study: 

  • Shake It Up was seen by most teachers as having a positive impact on pupils’ wellbeing. This was often expressed in terms of improved social skills and better self-confidence and perceptions of peers, skills and abilities which were transferable to situations out with the Shake It Up sessions.
  • Among the younger pupils, the programme was most frequently reported as a good help in relation to feeling happier at school (64%), getting on better with their teacher (62%) and remembering facts about subjects (60%).
  • Teachers frequently reported particular success for the programme in engaging those learners from disadvantaged backgrounds who were traditionally seen as being less likely to engage in learning.
  • Teachers commented on how the Shake It Up learning process helped bring another perspective to what was being learned in the classroom and assisted pupils to better conceptualise the topics and knowledge in different but complementary ways.  
  • One headteacher stated that improvements in pupils’ literacy was observed for those involved with the programme, particularly those learners from SIMD 1 and 2. This had been highlighted in school data collected for their Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) monitoring.
  • The programme had also proven very helpful in promoting the learning engagement of pupils with social and emotional needs. In one example, a male P5 pupil who was difficult to engage with had enjoyed the programme so much he went on to join an after-school dance club and won a local authority award. “He is a different child; he’s found a passion.”
  • The evaluation reveals that the Shake It Up programme has made a positive impact in line with its stated objectives.


Shake It Up is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation with additional funding from Garfield Weston Foundation, New Park Educational Trust, Gilchrist Educational Trust, James T Howat Charitable Trust and Commonweal Fund.

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