Step into Dance Taking part in dance classes helps improve the physical and mental wellbeing of students with special educational needs (SEN), according to research from the Institute for Voluntary Action Research.

The researchers found that of the young people who participate in dance classes 88% feel better able to express themselves and 75% feel more physically fit.

A focus group with SEN students emphasised that self-expression through dance can affirm individuality and a sense of self, with one student commenting, “The classes bring out what’s already there… whatever you do it’s going to be good. It’s you and it will be good.” 

Interviews with teachers working in SEN also highlighted the benefits of dance classes for their pupils, “Kids can do things in a different way and sometimes that surprises their teachers.”

The findings came from surveys, interviews and focus groups with young people who participate in Step into Dance – the UK’s largest fully inclusive secondary schools dance programme run as a partnership between the Jack Petchey Foundation and the Royal Academy of Dance. Step into Dance provides extra-curricular dance classes and performance opportunities to 200 mainstream and SEN schools across London and Essex. 

Picture: Alicia Clarke