Image: Linda Carter
Training at the Conservatoire schools is an intensive process. It is characterised by uncompromising technical standards, small class sizes, a high proportion of one-to-one teaching, a curriculum enriched by the involvement of contemporary practitioners, access to industry-standard facilities and strong levels of student support. Preparation for gaining employment is integral to the training and students are focused towards understanding how to find work and how to manage oneself as a working professional.
Courses usually involve more than 35 hours per week of supervised contact and a teaching year of at least 33 weeks. Teaching staff are employed by the individual schools, which provide their own range of resources and facilities. The level of support given to students is high, and examples of extra specialist support which might be provided would include body conditioning and access to physiotherapists and osteopaths.
The courses are located firmly in higher education. This reflects the fact that they require critical thinking and involve the training of the mind as well as the body. Students are encouraged to become reflective and proactive creative artists, able to identify their strengths, equipped with a range of transferable skills and ready for entry into the dance, drama and circus arts professions.
Performance plays a crucial role in the students’ training. Drama students will usually take part in six pieces each year. Dance students work with a range of choreographers, from those who are at the beginning of their careers to established names, often collaborating on new projects.
Each of the schools has its own approach to the training of students. This follows the values and ethos particular to the school, responds to traditions and new developments in the art form, and looks to the present and likely future needs of the profession. The Conservatoire encourages this diversity whilst also seeking ways to benefit students through cross-school discussion of learning and teaching and other opportunities for the schools to work together for the benefit of students, such as collaborative performances and projects. The Conservatoire has a Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy which outlines its plans for enhancing the quality of the learning and teaching provided through the schools.
At present, the Conservatoire does not have degree awarding powers and the degrees and other qualifications offered by the Conservatoire schools are validated by other HE institutions as listed below:
University of West of England
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
University of Kent
Central School of Ballet
LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art)
London Contemporary Dance School
National Centre for Circus Arts
Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance
King’s College London, University of London
RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art)
The Conservatoire itself is also directly accountable to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) for the use of public funds to provide the training offered by the schools, and for managing the quality of the learning and teaching it provides.