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The Dance Department strives to develop a vibrant, healthy and diverse community of students who experience dance in many styles, whilst providing a forum for gifted dancers to be exposed to a higher standard of training. Dance teaches students how to work successfully both individually and as part of a group, developing social and communication skills. It also teaches self-discipline and management, whilst having fun in a safe and nurturing environment.


Head of Department

Miss R Gatt


Mrs R Wibberley

Miss P Knuckey

Ms J Johnson


Lily Saunders

Celeste Fraser

Abi Olagboyega


Jazz Barr

Olivia Carlton

Zoe Giles

Megan Ross

Key Stage 3


At Key Stage 3, the students take part in a number of different units covering different styles of dance such as Bharatanatyam, Break-Dance and Lindy Hop. However, there is focus on Contemporary dance and contact work throughout most units. The units also make cross-curricular links with other subjects such as Art, Drama, English and Music. Lessons include a range of choreography and appreciation tasks to encourage students to experiment with ideas and be reflective learners. The content encourages students to work effectively in groups, sharing and listening to others’ ideas.

Assessment, Marking and feedback 

Students are assessed using the attached criteria and complete short assessments at the end of every unit. Students are made aware of the assessment objectives and assessment evidence required at the beginning of each unit. Students’ technical progress is monitored in class via self, peer and teacher assessment during practical tasks. Instant feedback is given orally and termly targets are set.

Assessment Grids

Please click here for the Year 7 Dance assessment criteria

Please click here for the Year 8 Dance assessment criteria

Key Stage 4


Dance is a powerful and expressive subject which encourages students to develop their creative, physical, emotional and intellectual capacity, whatever their previous experience in the subject.

The subject content details the knowledge, understanding and skills that students are expected to learn during the course of study. This is set out in three core areas of dance: performance, choreography and appreciation.

This specification recognises the role of dance in young people’s lives and students will study a range of dance styles and style fusions. Apart from the solo performance, they can choose any style in which to perform and choreograph, providing it meets the assessment criteria.

The study of the anthology of professional works will develop their ability to critically appraise professional dance works and provide a springboard for engaging in practical tasks.

Assessment, Marking and Feedback

At Key Stage 4, students are fully assessed against the AQA mark schemes at the end of each unit of study. Students are made aware of the assessment objectives and assessment evidence required at the beginning of each unit. Students’ technical progress is monitored in class via self, peer and teacher assessment during practical tasks and technique classes. Instant feedback is given orally and smart targets are set.

Component 1: Performance and choreography

Practical Exam – Choreography (Solo/Group) and Performance (Solo and Trio)
60% of GCSE

Component 2: Dance appreciation

Written exam (1hrs 30 mins) – 40% of GCSE


Please click here for the GCSE Dance grade descriptors 

Please click here for the AQA GCSE Dance specification 

A Level


A level Dance is a dynamic qualification which encourages students to develop their creative and intellectual capacity, alongside transferable skills such as team working, communication and problem solving. All of these are sought after skills in higher education and by employers and will help them stand out in the workplace whatever their choice of career.

The course involves studying Dance in both practical and academic contexts. Technical training, predominantly in contemporary dance will focus on developing physical and performance skills. Choreography and repertory performance which are central to the course, are developed in the studio through workshops and rehearsal in preparation for public performance and a practical exam. Classroom based analysis of professional works and contextual study of significant companies and choreographers, will inspire practical development and prepare students for an essay based written exam. Theoretical content includes two areas of study (Rambert Dance Company & Independent Contemporary Dance in Britain 2000-present). The course provides an excellent grounding in the practical and academic skills required for degree level study and training in Dance. A Level Dance is accepted as a valid qualification (as one of your three main subjects) by most university courses.

Assessment, Marking and Feedback 

Component 1: Performance and Choreography
Practical Exam – Choreography (Solo/Group) and Performance (Solo and Quartet)
50% of A Level
Component 2: Critical Engagement
Written Paper (2hrs 30mins) - 50% of A Level


Please click here for the AQA A Level Dance specification 

Careers and Alumni

Potential Careers

  • Dance teaching
  • Dance performance
  • Dance arts officer
  • Choreography
  • Dance education
  • Dance film making
  • Dance production
  • Pilates/yoga instructor
  • Youth work
  • Dance project coordinator
  • Dance journalism
  • Dance photography
  • Costume/set design
  • Lighting and technical design
  • Nutrition adviser
  • Dance therapist


We are proud of many students who have gone on to study dance both at university and specialist dance schools, such as London Studio Centre, The Brit School, Northern School of Contemporary Dance and the Trinity Laban Conservatoire.

London Contemporary Dance School - Megan Whorlow

Megan Whorlow has been offered a place at the London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS). Here is a report on her experience and the school:

"My audition for London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS) was due to take place on the 24th of March, however, it was changed to a video audition due to coronavirus. I sent in my showreel of my best dance moments as my audition tape and a few days later I was informed I had a call-back interview with teachers from LCDS. Although I came away from the interview feeling positive, I was informed that I had not got a place on the course but I was on the reserve list, so if anyone didn’t take their place, it would be offered to me. 

Luckily, on the 29th of April, they sent me an email informing me a place had become available if I wanted it so of course I said yes! 

I’ll be on the BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance undergraduate course which runs for 3 years and includes various modules such as Ballet, Performance, Choreography and Professional Studies. Whilst studying, I have the opportunity to work with leading choreographers and renowned dance practitioners to create and perform a broad range of works, and to grow as a versatile artist. I will be able to perform my work to public audiences in the theatre and on tour.

London Contemporary Dance School was founded by Robin Howard in 1966 and as part of its courses LCDS also offers pilates, body conditioning, free electives in Choreology, Anatomy and Scenography, and ballet studies. LCDS is home to some renowned choreographers as LCDS's first year's intake included Richard Alston, Ian Spink and Siobhan Davis who went on to perform with the main company before founding their own. Students of the School have gone on to accept contracts from a variety of prestigious dance companies including Adventure in Motion Picture, Random Dance Company, DV8, CandoCo, Diversions and the Rambert Dance Company at Sadlers Wells."

Northern School of Contemporary Dance - Pranju Rai

Pranju Rai has secured a place at the Dance Conservatoire, Northern School of Contemporary Dance. They are keen to nurture versatile and independent dance artists to shape the future of dance. Pranju has written this review of her journey:

"Hello, my name is Pranju Rai and I am part of the class of 2020 graduates here at Highworth. I had for the longest time planned to continue my education through university, just like most of my peers, where I would study Human Biology.  With my subjects being Maths, Biology and Dance and a genuine interest in the course, I felt it was a suitable path to follow. However, I took a leap of faith when I decided to audition for an established dance school. The majority of my dance training has been within Highworth, I took GCSE and A Level dance purely as the fun exciting subject to have on the side of other academic classes. This interest soon grew into a passion and dance quickly became a career option I pondered over many times throughout Sixth Form.

In Year 13, I decided to apply and was fortunate enough to receive a place at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) under their CertHe Contemporary course, which is a one year intensive programme consisting of modules such as: Dance Techniques: Ballet; Contemporary Dance; Dance Performance; Choreography; Dance Repertoire; and Contextual Studies. As described on their website, this course allows dance artists to take the necessary steps to prepare them for further in depth professional training in an institute like NSCD or another conservatoire.

A little background on NSCD, it was established by Leeds City Council in 1985 as the first dance school within the public sector. Its founding principal Nadine Senior was awarded an MBE for her services to dance, as well as the current principal Janet Smith who received hers in 2015. Just one of many successful students from NSCD is Akram Khan, who directed the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony."




We provide a programme of enrichment activities for all students from September through to February in preparation for our annual show. Students audition to be part of the show and attend a weekly session as part of a Dance Company. In March we hold a ‘Dance Sharing’ to present the work created within timetabled dance lessons. Throughout the year we take groups of students to perform in outside venues such as: The ‘Breaking Waves’ Performance, ‘The Great Big Dance Off’, curtain raisers and other Dance platforms. The student prefects run a weekly class to create fun dances in a range of styles including lyrical, street, commercial and musical theatre. Those serious about pursuing a career in Dance may wish to challenge themselves by attending short programmes with visiting artists during the Spring and Summer terms.

Trips and visits 

Regular theatre trips, residentials and workshops with visiting companies also form an important part of the enrichment programme. This past year we attending the ‘Move It’ dance exhibition, visited New York City for 4 days with Sixth Form students and attended many professional performances at theatres such as Sadler’s Wells and The Marlowe.

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