National dance company raising attainment in primary schools one dance step at a time

Photo: Paul Watt Photography

YDance (Scottish Youth Dance) – the award-winning national dance organisation for children and young people in Scotland – have released the official findings of their innovative four-year primary education programme focusing on interdisciplinary learning and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

In January 2017, YDance launched the Shake It Up programme to raise attainment for over 5,000 primary school children in areas identified as part of the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge – Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and Clackmannanshire.

Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Shake It Up was designed to enable children to learn a range of curriculum subjects through dance, increase pupils’ engagement through a kinaesthetic approach, and leave a sustainable legacy of teachers with the skills and knowledge to continue to develop this kind of integrated curricular lesson delivery. Sessions covered a range of subjects including numeracy, literacy, science, health and wellbeing, and social sciences.

Two full-time Dance Education Artists in Residence each worked one day a week across six primary schools for a period of two years to deliver the sessions. They worked in close partnership with selected teachers to plan and deliver the project ensuring the benchmarks of the subject were met through the dance workshops.

Running alongside the delivery programme, a research and evaluation impact study was carried out by the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow. The findings of the research are now available at

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