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Dancing builds bridges

I was inspired by a visiting speaker from Magpie Dance, an inclusive community dance company for adults with and without learning disabilities based in Bromley, to begin a collaboration with the company. Our school has a reputation for excellence in dance and we frequently look for exciting initiatives to support our work with charities. The resulting shared project over the past 18 months has been a new experience for everyone involved.

In the early stages, we offered rehearsal facilities and raised funds for Magpie. The culmination of the partnership was a joint show, "A Celebration of Dance", performed in February, with all proceeds going to Magpie. The show featured performances by our students and Magpie dancers, and one dance choreographed for four Year 9 students and four adults with learning disabilities. A dance called "Intermingling" explored very different dance styles and life experiences. The final dance was a document of the journey the school and the charity have made together.

Our students enjoyed the project tremendously. One says: "I feel more mature now and it is something I will remember all my life"; another: "This was a new experience for me as I have never met a disabled person on a one-to-one basis. I have now made an excellent group of friends." Other comments included: "Before the first rehearsal I was excited and a little anxious. The atmosphere was happy, lively and cheerful"; and "I feel very privileged to be chosen to work with the Magpie group. I now have a completely different opinion and view of disabled people."

For the Magpie dancers, it was their first opportunity to work with a mainstream school. We feel our "Celebration of Dance" made a positive example of inclusive education and the learning outcomes for everyone involved have been immense.

l www.magpiedance.org.uk

Jenny Butler

Deputy head, Bromley High School, Kent

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