Activating Dance in Primary School

Claire Somerville, Head of Children and Young People’s Dance at One Dance UK, explains more about the PE & Sport Premium and how it can be used to benefit dance in primary schools.

In 2015, the Department for Education (DfE) published a report on their PE & Sport Premium funding which had been providing £9,000 a year to every primary school in England since 2013/14. It showed that primary schools were using the Premium to improve and increase their dance offer. Indeed, the most popular extra-curricular activity on which primary schools spent their Premium was dance (29% of schools, followed by multi-skills at 25% and gymnastics at 20%). In curriculum time, 23% of primary schools used their Premium to support their dance teaching (second to multi-sports at 25%). These findings highlighted both the school’s need to develop their dance provision as well as their commitment to using the Premium to do so.

In October 2017, DfE updated their guidance to schools regarding the Premium and confirmed that all primary schools will now receive at least £16,000 a year each until 2020.

Photo © Andrew Ford

So how is the Premium being used in schools and by organisations to support dance?

We’ve gathered (and are still gathering) case studies from schools and organisations who are using the Premium to support dance. These can be found on our website. Typically, they tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Dance practitioners/organisations who go into schools to work with their pupils and staff to build a lasting partnership
  • One-off dance projects that have improving the confidence and skills of teachers to ensure they continue to lead high quality dance, as a core outcome
  • Schools that pool part of their funding to pay for a dedicated dance specialist teacher to work across all the schools
  • CPD for classroom teachers and teaching assistants to improve their dance teaching practice


What can primary schools be doing to develop their dance offer?

Happily, dance is a compulsory part of the PE Curriculum from Key Stage 1 to 3, so the framework is there for dance to be a valuable part of every child’s primary education. As the Subject Association for dance we offer some guidance to schools on how the PE & Sport Premium can be used for dance in this handy guide and we’ve created a downloadable guide on how dance can be used to support schools’ Artsmark journey.

We also provide teaching resources as part of our Teacher/School Membership Package aimed at primary school teachers, and CPD packages for primary schools.

For those who may need to make the case for dance with their Senior Leadership Team or school governors/trustees, we worked with Arts Council England and the National Governors Association to create Dance Education: Guidance for School Governors and Trustees.


What makes these initiatives a success?

The success of these programmes and services tends to come from dance organisations offering highly relevant and engaging opportunities for schools, by trained and experienced dance practitioners. Look out for organisations that highlight how their offer will support whole school improvement plans, the health and wellbeing of your pupils and connect with other curriculum areas. By combining all these elements with bespoke approaches to schools, the dance sector has a lot to offer.

We hope the PE & Sport Premium will continue to support the widespread improvement in the quantity and quality of dance provision for all primary school children.


One Dance UK is the Sector Support organisation for dance and the Subject Association for Dance in Schools. It is a membership organisation that advocates for dance, provides support and creates opportunities where there are gaps. For more information see



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Cultural education gives children and young people the opportunity to develop their creativity, both individually and collectively, and that's why our goal is for every child and young person to have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts.

Darren Henley
Chief Executive
Arts Council England

It's so important that children have the opportunity to learn and enjoy arts and culture from an early age. It develops their creativity, inspires future careers and enriches their childhoods.

Artsmark does fantastic work in school across the country, bringing high quality arts and culture into the classroom.

Matt Hancock
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Culture, Media and Sport