When it comes to PE, running, jumping, skipping and ball games often take precedence over dance. This is a pity because the development of co-ordination, movement, control and balance that come naturally to dance are the skills that need to be mastered before children can become proficient at the usual playground games.
Often the lack of opportunities for dance are not down to deliberate neglect but lack of expertise or knowledge. The arrival of a new resources pack from the Combination dance company (its first in 11 years) is welcome news.
Since setting up in 1988, Combination has built up a reputation for dance in education. To encourage more teachers and sports co-ordinators to incorporate dance into PE sessions, the company has produced a resource pack which distils the most successful elements of their school workshops.
The package comprises a handbook written by Combination founders Faith Simpson and Elaine Vanner. Original music (supplied on CD) is written by regular Combination collaborator Kieran Macmanus.
The handbook outlines workshops or sessions. Each incorporates warm-up and cool-down ideas, a brief explanation of the aims, and a step-by-step guide to the dance routine. The photographs of children performing the move use models older than the target group and do not amount to a guide on their own. However, the descriptions of the moves are clear. A song that has the right mood or tempo accompanies each routine.
The authors have ensured the pack has relevance outside PE sessions and include ideas for further discussion loosely based on national curriculum areas. But uninspiring photocopiable illustrations for pupils to colour in on the themes of the sessions are unlikely to appeal to the target age group. If you want to explore the themes - such as emotions or the physical effects of exercise - further, you should have few problems finding more suitable materials.
Where the pack succeeds is in providing comprehensive but not prescriptive easy-to-follow lessons that can be used by teachers who have little or no previous experience of teaching dance.