Ballroom dancing to be taught in schools

Charity-funded pilot found dancing improved children's social skills and fitness

It's Latin, Julius, but not as we knew it. Latin will make a comeback from today in all state schools, but it will be in the shape of dance lessons rather than the classics.

A report today gives the green light for offering ballroom and Latin dance lessons to all schools to improve fitness levels and reduce obesity. NHS research shows that ballroom dancing can burn up to 300 calories per hour.

The assessment of a pilot project in 29 schools says the scheme has helped "less sporty children become more engaged in physical education". Its authors, Dr Jeanne Keay, dean of education, and Dr Jon Spence, head of physical education at Roehampton University, add that other benefits include improved behaviour and previously shy pupils gaining in self-confidence.

The behaviour improved because of "the disciplined and structured nature of ballroom and Latin dance", their report states. "As a result of working with a partner, they [the pupils] have shown empathy and a mature approach to working together which ... had not been evident previously." One teacher said of the pilot: "These boys usually can't get out of school fast enough and now they're giving up their free time to do this." Another remarked: "Fitness has improved and they go a lot longer than if we had them running round a field."

One of the problems feared before the pilot was that too few boys would apply. But the report says: "After five weeks of lessons, one teacher spoke of noticing boys and girls in year three [aged seven and eight] having conversations as they danced with each other."

Just over 80 per cent of those who participated said they enjoyed the dance classes. Among those who did not, 14 per cent were boys and 5 per cent girls. The report will be launched today by Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova, performers from the BBC television contest, Strictly Come Dancing, (Ms Kopylova won the competition in 2005 as the partner to former cricketer Darren Gough).

The Essentially Dance project – as it is known – will be available to all schools. Mr Bennett said: "It has always been our dream that every young person should have the opportunity to learn ballroom and Latin American dancing and finally this is being realised."

The pilot was funded by the Aldridge Foundation which trained school staff to teach the cha-cha-cha, waltz, jive and quick-step in PE lessons. It was made available to 2,500 pupils aged between five and 17 in 29 schools.

Rod Aldridge, chairman of the charity, said: "As a young boy, I was an under-achiever academically but gained confidence by competing in both sport and dance. It is immensely rewarding to see how this dance scheme has ignited the passion of a new generation of children in a way that can also improve their fitness and social skills."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers