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Out of step

Dance could be waltzing out of the classroom because curriculum reforms do not leave enough room for it, according to Linda Jasper, the executive director of Youth Dance England.

The new key stage 3 curriculum, which is based on skills rather than specific activities, is too vague because it does not make studying dance mandatory, she said.

"It has gone incredibly generic and there is a real danger dance might be ignored," she said. "Because there is a shortage of specialist teachers and it can be expensive to resource, schools which feel less confident about it will drop it or not encourage pupils to take it. If the Government wants to get more girls into sport, this has to be addressed."

The current KS3 curriculum specifies that pupils must be taught either dance or gymnastics. But the new plan, which comes into force from 2008, states only that pupils "may" study dance.

Lord Adonis, education minister, is conducting a review of dance teaching due out later this year. A campaign led by Tony Hall, executive director of the Royal Opera House, has called for better training, more equipment and a greater variety of styles available to pupils.

"If it's the bloke who usually does a bit of footie or netball being forced to do an hour of dance on a wet Wednesday, of course kids will be bored,"

Martin Harvey, principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, said last year.

They believe that bhangra and street dance will attract more pupils and turn around the declining numbers of girls who opt to take PE.

Forty per cent of girls have dropped sport by the age of 18, research has indicated.

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