Bringing dance to primary schools - in conversation with primary school teacher lisa webb

Bringing dance to primary schools – in conversation with primary school teacher Lisa Webb

Over the past year, Lisa Webb, teacher and Key Stage Manager at Manor Park Primary Academy in Sutton, has been introducing students to the enriching world of the arts through The Royal Ballet School’s primary school dance programme, Primary Steps on Demand. 

After dancing herself until high school and raising two daughters with a passion for dance, Lisa found her way to the teaching profession later in life. 

The local school wanted someone to take over dance as part of the PE curriculum. In the early days, my two daughters would dance with the children and conduct workshops. It progressed from there, and my role got bigger and bigger. I became a Key Stage Manager, managing Years 1, 2, and 3 at Manor Park Primary in Sutton, Lisa recalls. 

Working as part of a wider team at Manor Park Primary to achieve the Artsmark Gold Award, Lisa was on the hunt for dance opportunities for her students and, through her daughter, found Primary Steps on Demand from The Royal Ballet School.  

Despite many dance schools in the Surrey area, she was immediately drawn to the online and accessible nature of the programme designed specifically for primary schools. After extensive research, Lisa pitched Primary Steps on Demand to the entire school assembly and was met with a wave of interest.  

We’re a school that thinks about a child holistically from the minute they get up to the minute they go to bed; we have a big wrap-around care system. At that stage, I said, ‘Well, I can either teach this through the school from Nursery up to Year Six as a dance lesson to every class, or I can take it on as an after-school club,’ she says.  

With unbridled enthusiasm, Lisa took the initiative to start teaching Primary Steps on Demand as an after-school club at her Sutton school hall. Two afternoons a week, she imparted her passion for dancing to her 30 students, igniting their own love for movement and self-expression. 

One of my favourite things is seeing their enjoyment of the programme and having children come to a class where they may not have a background in anything dance-related. 

I hear students say often throughout the year, ‘This isn’t what I thought it was going to be, Mrs Webb.’ And I say, ‘What did you think it would be?’ And they say, ‘When we look at those videos in class and have to do something, we thought it wouldn’t be as fun.’  

Primary Steps on Demand is a dance education programme designed to be adaptable and accessible for every child, regardless of their abilities or learning needs. At Manor Park Primary, where over 50% of students learn English as an Additional Language (EAL) and 40 different languages are spoken, Lisa has tailored her classes to meet the varying needs of her students. 

Many staff often pop by as I play the music loud in the hall, and they’ll see 30 children fully engaged without talking, just watching and focusing, which is hard in any session.  

They have to watch and do, rewind, watch and do. That whole process is quite difficult for some children when you’ve got needs, but they all do it beautifully in one lesson, and I think that is a big bonus for anyone. I wish everyone could come and see how that works. 

I can tell that that alone is 100% pure engagement. For some children, it is a love; for others, it’s just a time when they don’t have to think about anything else, she says. 

Although she has been fortunate to have the support of her two daughters, Lisa’s own love for developing her students’ creativity, self-confidence, and self-expression is what drives her to be the best teacher she can be.  

Lisa shared her advice for teachers considering implementing Primary Steps on Demand in their Schools.  

You don’t need dance experience; you just need to know how to teach. You don’t need to know how to teach dance. I can almost guarantee you’ll have a full class in any school.  

The whole package has been amazing. It is nice and easy to use as a teacher, which is a big bonus for me.  

With Lisa as their guide, her students are not just learning to dance but are also enjoying an outlet for creative expression and experiencing the many physical and mental health benefits of dance.  

Find out more about Primary Steps on Demand and request a free demo here