• A  A  

Summary of Findings

Research Findings (to autumn 2017)

Research question 1:

Can Universal Design of Instruction (UD) principles be applied to the teaching and learning of the codified form of ballet? (studio research findings)


The UD informed approach enabled access for all dancers to all selected exercises during studio weeks

There’s existing flexibility in some syllabus exercises; it’s not prescribed how all movements must look / be taught                                                     

The Researcher and Associates felt the individualised versions of exercises retained the aesthetics and qualities of ballet               

Ballet teacher noted benefits of UD-approach in open class (research) setting, inc. value of playful UD tools   

Growth in confidence of dancers making choices in individualised versions (boosted by working in an integrated context)                        

Benefits observed of applying UD approach with a diverse, integrated group (observed positive impact on ALL dancers)                          

Positive impact on dancers of using different / a combination of language (e.g. your 1st or ‘narrow’ position) + useful to define the UD approach through its own glossary

Boosted ambition (in teacher and students) re. what disabled students could achieve

Teacher noted positive CPD (refreshed practice) in teaching methodology



We haven’t yet tackled exercises with more intricate patterns and/or jumps for example              

There was some self-censorship amongst dancers (who knew the ‘usual’ version); syllabus DVD, exercises are standardised on a highly trained, non-disabled dancer

A need to extend discussion and understanding around modern-day ballet, e.g. some parents have a very traditional perception of the genre

It has been challenging to use UD tools during very time-limited syllabus classes                                               

Challenging for disabled dancer(s) to sustain commitment to individualising in usual weekly class (where all other children do the same version)

Challenge preparing for filming in limited time with a diverse group (including different levels of experience in dance) = akin to exam preparation

Balance to be struck with language / terminology: it could alienate (as makes UD seem like whole ‘new’ approach); whereas some teachers are familiar with elements under different ‘names’

(Despite) lack of disabled role-models (teachers and Dance Support Workers)

Aligned awareness / equality training would help boost confidence around disability community

“It’s just brought in a new way of teaching things which I am finding beneficial straight away. It has sort of fired up my enthusiasm really. It’s the best CPD I’ve done actually”   (Ballet Teacher)

Research question 2

What initial and/or ongoing support do teachers, disabled children and parents need to sustain participation in private dance school classes?  (local infrastructure findings)

  • Parents need information and reassurance to feel they’re making informed decisions in enrolling their child and, ideally, a larger number of inclusive schools (so more choice re. location, time of class, etc). 
  • Parents of disabled children were encouraged by subsidiary well-being benefits
  • Peer support was invaluable: existing and new friendships / relationships between the children, parents and teachers / professionals supported learning and transition to dance schools
  • Dance Support Workers can be invaluable in supporting the whole class and help support conversation with parents of disabled children. However, they need to understand the school culture, teacher preferences in how to work, etc.  Long-term, ideally, the schools’ assistants would have DSW skills
  • Simple tools (e.g. dancer information form) and guidance aided effective integration / induction of new students into local dance schools
  • Ongoing (manageable within limited capacity) teacher CPD, mentoring and/or advice is needed: in applying the UD approach, around the disability community and around safe practice
  • Funding, partnership and/or advice to explore the feasibility of a more ‘open’, less time-limited class (e.g. a small group ‘coaching’ class)
  • Need for clear teacher guidance from examining bodies around whether individualised exercises are acceptable and/or contain ‘reasonable adjustment(s)
  • Advice on setting clear criteria for classes / dance schools; as more disabled children seek to enrol (especially as ‘flagship’ inclusive schools develop / word-of-mouth spreads), there’s greater need for clarity around how diverse a group of students can be accommodated safely and equitably
  • Support in negotiating with landlords &/or accessing capital funds to address physical access barriers
  • The right / different funding models to support teacher CPD and / or access for dancers

“The legal frame work is there and you can say to anybody this is what the law says and I’m bringing my child. However, you do not want your child to go into an environment when people do not get it”   (Parent)