By Dr Alison Daubney, Stagecoach Performing Arts

There is often a certain rhetoric used in education that we at Stagecoach find to be unhelpful, the latest of which is the emphasis on the need to ‘catch up’. Yet another burden of expectations and pressures heaped on young people, just at the time when ‘recovery’ should mean a focus on holistic development and wellbeing.

The performing arts are a powerful force that should be at the forefront of bringing young people back together in a meaningful and healthy way. Here’s how.

Mental health – Worryingly, 67% of young people believe that the pandemic will have long-term negative effects on their mental health.

Even going back to school has been a stressful experience for many young people. Performing arts participation provides ideal ways for young people to alleviate their physical and mental stresses while meeting their social, emotional and psychological needs through collaboration and focussed engagement, bringing a sense of purpose and ownership to their lives and work.

Wellbeing – Placing psychological/emotional wellness at the centre of education alleviates the pressure and stress placed on young people as a result of the focus on academic achievement. The performing arts offer inspiring and creative ways for young people to enhance their wellbeing through participating in learning activities that promote strong feelings of competency, friendship and control.

Social interaction – Removal from the normal social world through repeated lockdowns and ongoing restrictions impacts young people significantly as social interaction is a vital developmental need for all.

The performing arts play an important role in ensuring that young people feel part of a wider community, maintaining a vital element of pre-pandemic life and securing certainty where there would otherwise be further anxiety.

Continuity – As lockdowns are imposed and then lifted, maintaining a sense of continuity is difficult. Regular engagement with their friends and teachers at Stagecoach, whether online or in a venue, provides an ever-present, and ideal stabilising force for young people as they continuously move in and out of different learning models and bubbles.

Physical health – Ofsted’s recent report on the impact of the pandemic found evidence that some children had regressed in some basic skills and learning while others had significantly lost physical fitness. Physical activity is central across the performing arts and stimulates flexibility, strength and endurance.

Re-integration – There is a need for a holistic reintegration of children back into schools and performing arts provides an accessible way for that to happen. Sir Kevan Collins recently emphasised this point stating:

“I think we need to think about the extra hours not only for learning but for children to be together, to play, to engage in competitive sport, for music, for drama because these are critical areas which have been missed in their development.”

Feeling successful – All people like to feel successful and when this happens, we feel very motivated and engaged with what we’re doing. Social comparison occurs in all walks of life and our need to feel and demonstrate our competence has been neglected from young people’s lives during the pandemic. Performing arts provide multiple ways to promote self-expression, feeling successful and gaining enhanced confidence.

It is abundantly evident that people of all ages thrive through inspiring and meaningful engagement with high-quality performing arts.  Whether it is online, in-venue, at the theatre or in holiday workshops, young people at Stagecoach always speak positively about finding ‘their thing’ and ‘their people’.  Perhaps now, more than ever, being inspired and immersed in something we love, is at the heart of belonging, recovery and our own personal and collective roadmap to the ever-changing ‘normality’ we all crave.

About Stagecoach

Stagecoach Performing Arts recently reported a surge in new student enrolments (50%) as it reopened its schools across the UK and welcomes students back for the Summer term. Stagecoach prides itself on building Creative Courage For Life® among students, which is more important than ever as children’s mental health, confidence and development have been impacted by the lockdown. Performing arts’ powerful impact on improving children’s mental health, along with the need for social interaction, a creative outlet and a happy and positive environment where children can be themselves and make friends have been key contributors to this spike in enquiries and enrolments.

Stagecoach is the UK’s largest network of performing arts schools, with more than 2,000 extra-curricular performing arts schools worldwide. Stagecoach aims to make a difference in its students’ lives by teaching Creative Courage for Life®, with many students going on to be professionals and world-renowned actors, singers and dancers. Early Stages classes are available for children aged four to six and Main Stages classes take place for six to 18-year-olds every weekend.

For more information about Stagecoach, please visit their website https://www.stagecoach.co.uk/   or call 01483 247404