Careers Information and Jobs - Teaching Dance in Schools

Teaching Dance in Schools

There are an increasing number of opportunities to teach dance both in and outside of the curriculum. In primary schools dance is mostly taught by the pupils' classroom teacher. In secondary schools there are many opportunities to teach dance as an individual subject or combined with other subjects such as physical education, drama or performing arts. Dance is part of the National Curriculum and the number of examination courses for or including dance is growing. A number of new initiatives have helped to strengthen the place of dance in schools and have led to an increase in the provision of extra-curricular dance clubs. Currently there is a shortage of qualified dance specialists working in schools.

We have a lot of enquiries from people wanting to know what qualifications they need to teach dance in schools. The answer depends on the way in which they want to work, for example:

- as a teacher delivering dance as part of the school curriculum
- as a visiting dance artist/practitioner delivering work during curriculum time
- as a dance artist/dance practitioner teaching outside of curriculum time

The following guidelines provide an overview of the current situation regarding teaching in maintained or non-maintained special schools in England. The qualifications needed for teaching the Post 16 sector (further education) are different to those required for schools. For further information see below.

By law the following people are allowed to teach in schools during curriculum time:

- Teachers with qualified teacher status (QTS) For further information see below
- Trainee teachers on employer based teacher training routes to QTS (e.g. the Graduate Teacher Programme) For further information see below
- Overseas trained teachers who have taught in England for less than four years (to continue working QTS must be achieved within four years)
- Instructors (e.g. actors, dance artists, language specialists but without QTS) For further information see below
- Staff employed to assist or support the work of anyone in the above categories, subject to having the necessary skills, and being supervised and directed by the teacher (e.g. classroom assistants).

  • You can teach in independent schools, academies and free schools in England without QTS, but it's a definite advantage to have it.
  • You need QTS to teach in any maintained school in Wales and in Scotland you'll need the TQ.
  • Qualified Teacher Status

    QTS is awarded to teachers who have demonstrated that they meet the required Professional Standards for Teachers which can be gained by undertaking a training programme/course accredited by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). QTS is awarded by the General Teaching Council (GTC) to those who successfully complete the training programme/course and who also demonstrate that they have met the professional standards. The standards include a requirement that trainees pass skills tests in ICT, literacy and numeracy before they are awarded QTS. Once QTS is awarded, teachers become NQT’s (Newly Qualified Teachers) and must successfully complete a one-year induction period in order to continue working as a teacher. Teachers with QTS must be registered with the GTC in order to be employed in schools.

    For those wishing to teach dance in secondary schools, there are two main routes to gaining QTS. For both you need a degree, normally with a minimum of 50% Dance, plus GCSE’s at Grade C or above in English and Maths:

    - The PGCE Route is a one year full-time course at a University or other higher education provider.

    - School Direct offers employment based routes to Qualified Teacher Status. The programme can offer graduates a salary while they work as a teacher in a school and train at the same time.

    Currently, there are no undergraduate courses in Dance with QTS but most Bachelor of Education Courses for Physical Education (with QTS) include some training to teach dance.


    Instructors are unqualified teachers who may be employed to carry out the same work as qualified teachers to give instruction in a particular subject or skill where special qualifications and/or experience are required but only for the period for which there is no qualified teacher or trainee teacher available to supply those skills/qualifications. We are aware that dance artists/practitioners find work in schools on this basis but in this situation there is no guarantee of anything other than short-term employment. You will be expected to have enhanced DBS clearance but should, if employed as an instructor, be covered by the schools insurance policy (check!) See below for further information about DBS checks and public liability insurance.

    Visiting dance artist/practitioner delivering work during curriculum time

    In this role artists and practitioners are visitors to the school who have been invited to provide a specific dance experience which may be linked to specific projects or celebrations. The details of the work should be negotiated with the school and tailored to meet the needs of the school and the pupils. The fee is agreed with the school and a contract drawn up. Teachers have overall responsibility for their classes and should be present throughout. When working in this context you should have a current enhanced DBS clearance and an appropriate level of public liability insurance. See below for further information about DBS and public liability insurance.

    Dance artist/dance practitioner teaching outside of curriculum time

    There are increasing opportunities for dance artists, dance practitioners and other out of school dance providers to work in schools delivering breakfast, lunchtime and after school dance clubs/activities either employed by the school or sometimes by a School Sports Partnership. When working in this context you should have a current enhanced DBS clearance and an appropriate level of public liability insurance. See below for further information about DBS and public liability insurance.

    Teaching qualifications other than QTS

    Increasingly schools are asking about teaching qualifications held by dance artists/ providers who are looking to work in schools (e.g. supporting GCSE within curriculum time, after school clubs etc.) In some dance styles (ballroom dance and ballet for example) there are well established and recognised governing/ awarding bodies where the level of teaching qualification is recognised by those who work in that style but which may not be understood by teachers in schools.

    The Dance Training and Accreditation Partnership (DTAP) is seeking to:
    - establish a nationally recognised qualification for those teaching dance to young people outside of the formal school sector (first pilots are planned for September 2009)
    - take forward work to develop regulation of dance leadership, teaching and facilitation in the informal sector
    - develop greater communication and collaboration across the dance sector on issues of quality, standards and good practice

    Working in Further Education

    Teachers in the FE sector are now expected to work towards gaining Qualified Teacher Status in Learning and Skills (QTLS) or Associate Teacher Status in Learning and Skills (ATLS). The qualification route taken to towards QTLS status or ATLS status is determined by the role and the breadth of teaching responsibilities undertaken rather than the number of hours taught. There are a variety of ways in which professional status can be achieved (all of which are possible whilst working) and specific time limits in which this must be achieved. For further information click here
    The Institute for Learning (IfL) is the organisation responsible for awarding professional status. Teachers with QTLS or ATLS are not qualified to teach in schools.

    CRB/ DBS Checks

    A DBS (previously CRB) check is the term used to describe the process of gaining clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service of your suitability to work with children, young people and vulnerable adults. To work in school settings you need Enhanced Disclosure. Even if you have a current disclosure certificate, some schools require that you are checked again before they will employ you and this usually takes several weeks. For further information click here

    CRB/DBS offer an Update service which is now available. i.e. if you have a current CRB check you can sign up for the update service (at a cost of £13 per year) which means that where ever you go an employer will be able to just check the validity of your CRB rather than you having to get a new one for every employment. You can access the service, and information about it, here -

    Public Liability Insurance

    When working as a dance artist/practitioner in schools settings, you need to have your own public liability insurance. The school, school sports partnership or local authority should be able to advise of the level (£5 million is usually the minimum). You may be able to obtain this through your own professional body or through organisations like Dance UK or the Foundation for Community Dance. If you work for a dance agency, dance company etc. you should be covered through their insurance policy but only for work you undertake on their behalf. For any other work you will need your own cover. Check carefully to ensure you have an appropriate level of insurance for the work you are doing.