Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

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theMTAonline
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Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:28 pm

Whilst most parents are looking at colleges to see how well their graduates are 'singing, dancing and acting' at the end of the course, The MTA has always campaigned for colleges to be judged on their pastoral care policy too, specifically with regards to Mental Health provision. We are running a short conference next March that some of you might be interested in attending (or registering an interest in). Full details can be found here:https://www.facebook.com/events/911328365625354/ The MTA is recognised as a pioneer in this field (https://www.thestage.co.uk/opinion/2015 ... ign=buffer) and are currently the only UK college to have a robust mental health policy at the heart of its training http://www.thereviewshub.com/blog-annem ... t-college/

In case you're thinking that we don't care about the 'other stuff too'? then please check out http://www.themta.co.uk/2015/10/ambassa ... -20142015/ and you'll see that our graduates are more likely to work than if they went to one of the 'elite' top 5 Drama UK colleges (based on their last published survey looking at the graduates that started training in 2012). Check out our ambassador pages to see what EVERY graduate is up to http://www.themta.co.uk/ambassadors/

For those wondering we don't offer a degree...just an independent diploma. Our course is only suitable for those students interested in becoming professional performers (not those already thinking about their 'fall back' professions).
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paulears
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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by paulears » Sat Nov 07, 2015 6:19 pm

Only recently on here people have been talking about qualifications outside the National framework, and I did have to smile.
... an independent diploma. Our course is only suitable for those students interested in becoming professional performers (not those already thinking about their 'fall back' professions).
I think you will find that the well known names, with track records and a bit of history might be interested to think that they're not preparing people for a career as a professional performer. Your Independent Diploma is something you have produced yourself, contains course content you believe is valuable, and it will be delivered no doubt by industry professionals who will pass on their skills and knowledge. This is fine and dandy, but the ONLY person who knows what your standard is, will be the graduate. If they fill in an official form, your qualification will be unknown, and perhaps not even worth anything. In a few years time, let's say somebody wishes to emigrate to the US or Australia. One immigration gatekeeping element is qualifications. Will your Diploma confer on the the same 'value' as a Degree, even from a less known provincial university, or perhaps a specialist college who has franchised a degree programme from a real university. I don't like the system we have that sticks every course on the Governments level framework, but it is a national standard, and will contain specific content. Independent Diplomas can be very worthwhile, but ONLY if the Diploma you issue is respected and understood by other people.

Your fees are fourteen grand a year, and you say
The MTA has actively decided against applying for accreditation as we feel that our independence from any umbrella organisation gives us far more flexibility to offer a constantly evolving course. ........... Our students are therefore not eligible for DaDa awards. Under exceptional circumstances The MTA might offer a student a part scholarship towards their fees. Students accepted onto the course will be eligible to apply for a Professional and Career Development Loan.
I'm not sold on the idea of the constantly evolving course - you mean you will just teach what you like, when you like, and nobody will know what they will be doing until the do it?

It means your students will be those to whom funding is not an issue, so maybe just a bit elitist?
Due to the fact that The MTA is a brand new college none of our students are eligible for grants or Student Loans. Therefore all students are required to find the full course fees themselves – plus support themselves living in London.

Just recently we had a dance school principal who issued his own dance exams. Lots of people paid for these and it fell over, badly - leaving people who had paid for worthless exams out of pocket.

Your courses could be simply excellent - we have no idea. You have some great people onboard, and no doubt in a few years will be producing graduates of ultra quality. In the meantime, you want people to pay a considerable amount for an unknown quantity, with no external oversight, and without wanting to jump through the Government's quality system - which oddly, I really do understand. I think some of your website comment needs modifying, because to the casual reader, some statements just don't have the ring of truth. Your students are not eligible for grants of student loans not because you are new, but because you have decided the need to meet published standards is not for you? Plenty of new degree courses at colleges and performance venues of all kinds can get into the system for their first year - indeed most could not run the course unless they did!

It's up to you to sell the programme, and justify the expense, and minimise the risk. I have no idea of anything other than what I read, and I'm sceptical. You have loads of staff, but I assume most are employed on as and when contracts, presumably when they are not working professionally - which is I think, a fallback job, which many of us have done ourselves.

As for pastoral care? I suspect the primary care comes first?

Tess
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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by Tess » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:39 pm

I also know that MTA take a SIGNIFICANT deposit to hold open a place on their courses and then don't refund it ....

However I do think the mental health of all our young people does need considering, just not sure if MTA are the best to promote this ...

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by paulears » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:34 pm

I'm not sure they are the only college to have this - a quick Google of the subject shows the majority of universities have them. Birds have one, as do Urdang and others - and during my search many also consider easting disorders too, and have systems in place to cope.

The more I read this the more it looks like a disguised advert.

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riverdancefan
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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by riverdancefan » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:04 pm

Talk about cocking a snook at parents who encourage their kids to do a degree so yes " they have something to fall back on"
Does that make them any less dedicated or prepared to work hard to succeed ?
I think not ! it might actually contribute to the determination to make a career in performing arts , there is a certain element of security there for them in a very uncertain world.
I call it responsible parenting and covering all the bases.
Last edited by riverdancefan on Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by fartoomuchtodo » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:15 pm

LIKE BUTTON for Paulears and Riverdancefan!!!

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oscar
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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by oscar » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:09 pm

On the whole students who go through the audition process and start a course are dedicated and believe they can succeed. The reality is that some will and some won't . They will hopefully go through times when they are gainfully employed on the stage etc but there will almost certainly be times when they won't !! Having a decent qualification to help through the leaner times surely isn't a negative thing. Our young performers will get older and they can't all be as lucky as Tommy Steele and co who have tread the boards in their profession until a ripe old age. Will an unofficial qualification help then ??? As I have said before ,it is not the quality of training that is in question . Those on accredited courses can walk away with a qualification & equity card & in my opinion and DS that is really important.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by paulears » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:41 pm

As we all know that the entire arts world is a kind of pyramid, where the bulk of the work is at the lower and wider part of the pyramid and the real 'names' and talent are at the pointy bit on top, some of that stuff in the post seems, as oscar points out - something we all know. One of my good friends has realised that despite having had some really nice jobs, she's approaching 40, and appears to have hit the ceiling for what she does. Too old for some things now, so she's looking sideways. The notion that this is not valid is really strange for a principal. Most dance school/performing arts centres who wish to gain status seek to get proper accreditation so their students are able to get funded/loan valid. This one decided not to? I wonder if 'not able' might be closer?

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:24 am

Hi
I'm intrigued by the responses to my original posting, in particular why paulears and riverdancefan have become fixated on the factual statement at the beginning of my post that we don't offer a degree course. I understand that to many people this is really important, and therefore if that applied to you there was little point in being concerned by The MTA.

I had constructed a long detailed answer to all the points raised, but rather frustratingly the post failed to post. So rather than attempt to go through every point again I'll keep it succinct. I would urge Paulears and Riverdancefan to do a bit more googling on The MTA. There are countless articles written about us in the industry press - just this past fortnight The Stage has highlighted on 3 occasions our Mental Health policy and has urged other colleges to consider it as a model. Whilst you're correct that all colleges will offer a counselling service - what we are fighting for is something much more robust. Mental Health is a major issue in our industry, and just last year Equity went on the record stating that colleges should be addressing the issue.

Paulears your cynicism is fascinating. Although I thank you for your valid observation on our website, where some old copy had remained online (regarding it stating that we're a new college). I have now amended that section. Your final inference that we weren't able to get accredited is actually really quite insulting. Again I would urge you to do your research - you will see it well documented why we operate outside of the 'establishment'. If you research some more you will also see top industry professionals currently questioning the validity of the accreditation system at the moment...citing The MTA as one of the successful models that operates outside the system. You clearly didn't research us well or indeed my faculty, as you would have seen that our most recent stats, published this week show that right now 78% of our graduates are working. If you went through our faculty list, you would have seen that we are entirely staffed by hugely successful West End performers, all currently working actually.

I'm saddened that such an important issue has been hijacked by the factual statement that we made that we're not the right college for you if you're looking for a fall back career. Good training can provide you with a career for life. Of course your casting bracket changes, but in reality the older you are, the better your chances of working (as the competition lessens).

We believe that a course should evolve as every year group is different, the industry changes every year - it's our responsibility to train the students that we currently have for the industry that they're about to enter. It's most definitely a new approach, and indeed it's an approach that made The Stage name us as The School of the Year in 2012 after just 3 years, naming us a 'new force in drama training'.

RE: the large deposit - it's in line with other colleges. To clarify our position on it though, when we offer a student a place it's because we really want to work with them, therefore we are actively trying to discourage people holding onto places as a 'fall back'. The hope is that a large deposit means that we only end up getting the people accepting that have already researched and have decided that we are the right college for them.

Again though I'll end curious as to why the post got hijacked away from the important subject we were attempting to raise awareness for. Riverdancefan in your last statement you talk about responsible parenting and covering all bases, you rightly mention that it's an uncertain industry. So I would leave you with this thought - whether your child is holding a degree or a diploma in their hand at the end of their course becomes worthless, if mentally they are not robust enough to deal with the industry. Which is why we're campaigning for a greater Mental Health provision in all drama colleges. Our hope that responsible parenting will eventually mean that alongside deciding whether your child goes down the degree or diploma route...you will also check out a college's pastoral care policy too, and base your final decision on both factors.
Last edited by theMTAonline on Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

theMTAonline
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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:29 am

Apologies me again - Oscar you are factually incorrect. You don't have to go to an accredited college to have an Equity card anymore. An 'accredited' student will be accepted onto the Spotlight Graduate book, but if Spotlight considers the training at the college to be of a high enough standard, your graduates can still go into their main book (which indeed is the case with The MTA). So our graduates leave as members of Equity and Spotlight, the same as their peers on an accredited course.

I suppose it's also worth stating that you no longer need an Equity card to work in the industry. We stopped being a closed shop back in the 80's. That said we advocate that our graduates join the Union.

I hope that clears the situation up for you?

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riverdancefan
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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by riverdancefan » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:47 am

Completely missed my point
And thank you for the advice however as a nurse of 30 years standing and of course a Mother ( as most of us here are , I'll be sure to check out all aspects of course I will be remortgaging for and working my fingers to the bone to support him.
My point was in response to yours which appeared to infer that parents or kids who seek a back up plan are going to be less focuses on reaching their goals ... As if its an "opt out " clause ?
Which I can assure you it isn't.
I am clearly not the only persons who reads it like this...
"Tall and proud my mother taught me, this is how we dance" - RIVERDANCE

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by Hecouldshine » Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:44 am

I can certainly applaud you MTAonline for the impact and reputation the Stage award you, which I have been following over the last few years. I can see you are about pure training for the profession. You do what it says on the box - no qualifications necessary and effectively none given - it's all about practical training. There will be young people who find that is exactly what they want, but they will have to find the money for the training.

Equally there are young people who want the best of both worlds - they want a degree, and a student loan and have the qualifications to get on those courses. They are different things and each are valid pathways. Personally I would want the qualification pathway for my kids but they would have to meet the criteria to get on a university course. We have had a discussion on here about GSA demanding AAB A levals or equivalent, for their courses, which denies talented youngsters access to their courses. Colleges decide their own methods and we parents/youngsters chose what works for us. We could never afford a course without a student loan, and probably not even those private colleges that charge more than the £9000 the student loan covers, so my kids are destined to go the degree route if they want musical theatre careers. But I respect your aims and methods, you have proved yourselves in the industry.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:35 am

Riverdancefan - my point was that I was saddened that the post had been hijacked to discuss the merits of a degree, and a statement that I made to introduce the college, which was making the exact point that Hecouldshine has picked up on (so thank you!) was that everybody has to chose the right route for them, but if your route had a degree as an essential part of it, we were not the college for you. I apologise if you read an inference that really wasn't there - there's nothing to suggest that students that are training with a 'back up' in mind are any less focussed, hell I'd probably say that they're having to be twice as focussed, as they're essentially thinking of two careers at once.

With the extortionate price of all training (whichever route you take), of course responsible parents are checking out all aspects of courses, but as this trail alone proves, people are also misunderstanding that having access to a counsellor, or having a pastoral care provision, compared to the model that we're trying to implement, which is putting the onus on the college to train staff to see problems almost before they become overwhelming is very different. I have publicly challenged Drama UK on this issue, as currently they are not prescriptive about what level of provision they expect their accredited colleges to provide.

I would urge you to come to the conference and find out more about it. Hecouldshine thanks for summing up us so perfectly - we are the indeed the ronseal college (doing exactly what we say on the tin). We also have an open door policy, so maybe those people that are remarkably cynical about the college, should just pop in and actually see for yourselves what we're all about. In fact I would urge all parents to do that with all the colleges wherever possible. You'll get a much more accurate picture of the college and its students than an organised Open Day.

All the best to all of you trying to work your way through the drama education maze out there - it's not an easy decision, whichever path you chose.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by 2dancersmum » Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:59 pm

Perhaps the reason the thread was 'hijacked' as you put it was because your initial post came across as a mixture of promoting the Conference aswell as promoting your own organisation (an advert) for where to train and included some statements that were bound to be challenged and therefore overshadow the mental health care provision you were aiming to highlight.
Comments like :"most parents are looking at colleges to see how well their graduates are 'singing, dancing and acting' at the end of the course" - well actually no - most parents are hoping that their children will be happy, healthy and able to work in their chosen profession and they are looking at ways they can afford to give them the opportunity.
" our graduates are more likely to work than if they went to one of the 'elite' top 5 Drama UK colleges " - rather controversial and I cannot help wonder what other colleges would think about this statement. You may well have a good track record of getting your graduates into work - but so do they !
And the comment that for me did irritate the most : " Our course is only suitable for those students interested in becoming professional performers (not those already thinking about their 'fall back' professions)." I rather thought that the aim of all the colleges - with independent diplomas, Trinity diplomas or degrees - was to prepare their students to become professional performers and that this is why students themselves went to these colleges.

Your most recent post gets your points across so much better than the first one. Avoid the sweeping statements that come across as promoting your own course and dismissing others and I think you would find the responses much more positive and on the subject you wished to discuss. This forum describes itself as 'an information site for the parents of performing children' and most parents come on here seeking information. It is not an advertising forum and you do not generally find schools and colleges promoting themselves.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Fri Nov 13, 2015 5:57 pm

Hi 2dancersmum
Many thanks for your clarification, and apologies for my lack of clarification in my initial post. I was attempting (seemingly badly), to contextualise the college as opposed to just 'appearing out of the blue' as a new college organising a conference. The comparison to the other colleges was actually based on the most recent survey that Drama UK has published, in which they specifically referenced their "top 5 colleges". The full stats can be found on our website, so it wasn't just a sweeping statement, it was one based on known statistics. Of course I could have stated my source for the statement, which might have allowed the statement to hold more weight? The intention wasn't to advertise the course, so many thanks for explaining to me why I felt that the issue had been lost in the ongoing discussion. I trust that the latter post has now got my main point across in a better light.

Just to clarify the point about wanting students that weren't already thinking of a 'back up career', it is again based on a fact - on every audition day we have a number of auditionees already discussing their 'back up', and was again (seemingly a poor) attempt to contextualise who we were. In spite of our various awards and recognition The MTA is very young, and therefore I was working off the assumption that people wouldn't know who we were, hence my attempt to contextualise the college prior to stating why we felt that we had any authority to hold the conference.

The point of the post was (and continues to be) that we are holding this conference, and I thought that it might be of interest to parents to be involved (which would imply that I am aware that parents want their children to be happy and healthy) - so I was attempting to raise awareness of the issue and the conference.

However I appreciate your constructive feedback, and I trust that my response has answered those points that you've raised? As I said above in an earlier post, judging by some of the misinformation out there, and quoted above, the conference really might be a good idea to at least hear the difference approach that each college takes over Mental Health provision and to inform your decision making further.

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