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By Anna Davis
London Evening Standard
January 20,2012

A father is setting up a dance school for boys after being inspired by his ballet-loving son.

Tim Stirrup is applying to open a free school, which he says could become the first state-funded dance school in the country. He took action after seeing friends of his son David, 13, giving up the hobby when they reached secondary school age.

David is training as a professional ballet dancer after winning a place at private Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham. But Mr Stirrup said many of the teenager’s friends had stopped because of a lack of teaching provision.

Next month he will submit plans for the Class free school to the Department for Education. If the bid succeeds, it will open next year as a secondary for boys aged 11 to 16 in east or central London. He said: “Dancers are passionate, focused and disciplined. Boys can benefit from the activity and the discipline will carry into academic work.

“There’s already lots of provision for girls’ ballet but not so much for boys. Boys dance in a different way and need different training.”

Students would have daily dance lessons, including contemporary, tap and street styles, and study traditional academic subjects. Classes would run until 5.30pm with girls attending after hours so boys can do “pas de deux” training, where they learn how to dance with a partner.

Mr Stirrup, a former maths teacher who lives in Bishop’s Stortford, is director of communications at the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. He has daughters aged 11 and 14 but they are not as interested in dance as his son.

He said: “David has been dancing since he was three and showed a real talent. Nobody in the family has done anything like this before.

“But when boys get to secondary school it is so much harder. It is difficult to find classes and there is peer pressure.”

© 2012 ES London Limited

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