The Royal Ballet School’s students receive exceptional training in classical ballet and other dance styles. As the School’s latest Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) report shows, students also enjoy an “excellent” academic education.
Inspectors from the ISI, an independent agency that reports to the Department for Education, visited The Royal Ballet School in autumn 2022. The resulting ISI report awarded the School the highest rating for students’ academic achievements and personal development.
The ISI also concluded that The Royal Ballet School passed the Focussed Compliance Inspection (FCI). This means the School meets the standards for policies and practices that the Department for Education sets for UK schools.
ISI inspectors’ three-day visit to The Royal Ballet School
The ISI gives schools one day’s notice to host a team of inspectors, who then spend three days collecting their findings. In October 2022, inspectors visiting The Royal Ballet School observed lessons and extracurricular activities, spoke with students and staff, and examined samples of students’ work.
On top of this, the inspectors reviewed the provision for and performance of students for whom English is not their first language and those with additional learning needs.
The inspectors also talked to the School’s chair of governors, attended tutor group meetings, and visited boarding houses. Students of the School study, train, and board at two sites in London: White Lodge in Richmond Park (for ages 11-16) and Upper School in Covent Garden (for ages 16-19).
Key takeaways from The Royal Ballet School’s 2022 ISI report
The Royal Ballet School’s 2022 ISI report highlighted the School’s continued efforts to give students learning classical ballet an outstanding education.
These are some of the key takeaways from the report.
Royal Ballet School students are eager to learn
The inspectors concluded that students of The Royal Ballet School show dedication to continuous learning and evolution. In addition to being enthusiastic about gaining new knowledge, students are adept at applying methods and techniques.
Students also demonstrate high levels of focus and effective study skills in classes. They diligently ask probing questions as they reflect on their work. The School’s students are also “curious thinkers” who “show confidence when analysing, hypothesising, and synthesising.”
This disciplined and eager approach to learning, which students learn in their ballet classes, continues in the classroom. Students show a “resolute sense of purpose” towards their academic work. They respond positively to the School’s ethos of encouraging responsibility, individuality, creativity, and time management in their learning.
David Gajadharsingh is The Royal Ballet School’s Academic and Pastoral Principal. He describes the School’s philosophy as providing a “broad, accessible, and challenging” academic offering that supports students on their educational journey.
In addition, the School seeks to enhance students’ “understanding of themselves” and prepare them for life in the world of dance and beyond. The School provides bespoke career guidance to Upper School students, plus support for those applying to UK and international dance companies.
Royal Ballet School students show discipline and resilience
The ISI report found that Royal Ballet School students are resilient individuals who make the most of the tools the School gives them to flourish. This resilience is present throughout their academic and artistic work.
Students also have “exceptional self-discipline” and high expectations of themselves that inspectors noted were “beyond the norm.” They understand the steps they must take to improve their skills and performance.
The School encourages students to be brave, take risks in their learning, and view failure as part of growing. Dedicated teachers and senior leaders support students “exceptionally well.” In turn, students value the School’s staff highly.
While students work hard, they also enjoy the many opportunities for fun and relaxation the School provides.
White Lodge has a comprehensive programme of weekend trips and activities. The programme includes a range of activities, including:
- Visits to London attractions and museums.
- Cinema and bowling trips.
- Crafting workshops.
Older students at Aud Jebsen Hall, in Pimlico, have activities to choose from every Saturday evening and Sunday. All Upper School students take advantage of their location in central London, making the most of the culture on their doorstep.
Royal Ballet School students are kind and compassionate
The report emphasised the School’s commitment to creating a respectful, compassionate environment for young dancers. Students demonstrate kindness, empathy, and maturity towards each other and collaborate well.
The students’ compassion extends beyond the School, as they regularly raise money for charity and arrange collection boxes. The young dancers’ “love of being at school and their unwillingness to compromise their behaviour” underpins their excellent moral understanding.
Students also benefit from the supportive, trusting relationships they build with staff members. Alongside the boarding and wider healthcare teams, all academic and artistic teaching staff have a pastoral responsibility and duty of care to students.
The students’ empathy informs their “excellent understanding of diversity.” They show compassion and tolerance for one another, such as when helping overseas students settle in.
Boarders enjoy roles of responsibility, such as acting as a guide for new students. This tradition is part of the School’s comprehensive induction programme for newcomers. New students also receive support from an academic tutor. The School even gifts each student joining White Lodge a special welcome teddy bear.
Any students who struggle with social or emotional difficulties can turn to the School’s dedicated professional team for support. The School’s mental health lead is a clinical psychologist, and a counselling service is available at White Lodge and Upper School. In addition, many staff members have mental health first aid training.
Ringing endorsements from Royal Ballet School parents
As part of the 2022 ISI inspection, visiting inspectors reviewed questionnaire responses from students, staff, and parents. The School’s Artistic Director Christopher Powney described the responses from parents as “overwhelmingly positive.”
Gajadharsingh, who also carries out inspections for the ISI, was confident that few other schools in recent years have received “such supportive outcomes from the questionnaires.”
Powney added that it was “hugely gratifying” to learn so many parents feel the School is succeeding across its range of offerings and activities. He also thanked the School’s staff for their “tireless and completely professional support.”
About The Royal Ballet School
The Royal Ballet School is a celebrated educational centre that places students at the heart of its endeavours. An international institution, the School attracts young dancers with exceptional talent and potential in classical ballet from the UK and overseas.
The School prides itself on providing students with the ideal educational setting in which to flourish academically, artistically, and athletically. Students grow into exceptional young dancers, nurtured through the School’s extensive dance and academic curriculums.
The Royal Ballet School also delivers supporting programmes to equip students with the necessary tools for careers as performers. These programmes include:
- The Choreographic Programme.
- The Creative Artist Programme.
- The Healthy Dancer Programme.
- Performance Opportunities.
These programmes also foster students’ creative instincts and skills beyond dance performance. The School’s priority is to cultivate thoughtful, curious, and well-rounded artists with a broad knowledge of and appreciation for ballet.
The Royal Ballet School also works to create opportunities for people to engage with ballet outside its full-time training course, including through digital access.