Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

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Welsh Mum
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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by Welsh Mum » Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:20 pm

2dancersmum wrote: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.

This is very well expressed

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 paulears » Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:17 pm

I applaud you for hosting the conference, but the tone of your first post came across as a thinly disguised advert, and you were already prepared for the usual accreditation questions. Only recently we had been discussing the vast disappointment some people had when a dance qualification people had invested in turned out to be vapour.

I found the assertions that you'd carefully considered accreditation and decided against it to be a fudge, pure and simple. I realise you will have strong opinions 180 degrees opposite mine, but if people are going to spend these sums of money, a qualification that meets prescribed criteria is safer. I completely agree with you that your courses could be simply excellent. However, it's a trust issue. As a Stage subscriber, I've read some of their comments and they didn't work for me, I'm afraid. They're a bit like the reviews and notices they publish. A good 'feeling', but it's a random opinion. I am NOT saying the established exam boards are perfect, and after working for four so far in my career, I know how they work - but the National Frameworks do mean parents and potential students can compare better than a college who don't feel recognised qualifications are for them.

It's obviously a Catch 22 situation. Until your graduates are working, you have no flags to wave. This obviously impacts on improvement. I'm just unconvinced you offer something work the risk. I really hope you do, but my advice to people asking about would have to be to say that YOU say your establishment is great, while I can only say I don't know, but I do know quite a few other excellent places, so my advice would be you are a risk. Some people might go for it, but for me it's down to reputation and value for money. In a few years, you may have the reputation and will have people banging on the door. I hope so.

On the subject of Mental Health - it sounded to me as if you thought you were one of the few colleges to consider Mental Heath, and I read it that you believed the others didn't - this is quite untrue, as it's one of the policies waved at the inspectors during their visits, so strong, formal policies on most student based issues are part and parcel of university and dance/acting college activity.

When I was teaching myself, we gave a place at college to a student with a moderate to severe mental health issue, controlled with medication - and we all learned quite a bit about the real difficulties integrating these health issues into the delivery.

Can I finally comment on Equity membership. I've been on the telephone to them today as it happens, organising a recruitment meeting. They try to visit all the Christmas professional shows who have final year students in the company. They do a sales pitch to attract them to join. Success is limited, and they will happily take on new members without any formal qualifications in our subject. The only requirement is professional experience - which panto is ideal, status wise.

There are so many centres for training in arts subjects, and competition for many of them intense. Nowadays, the qualification itself is more important than ever, because so many performers NEED a degree. Not for acting, but for the allied career paths, the main one being teaching. Lots of my old students are now teachers - after Birds, Laines, Arts Ed, LIPA and the other well known places. A couple are now Head of Drama, and earn far more than I do, being excellent teachers - but without their arts degree, their PGCE route would have been problematic. If they had been to your college - what do they do when they get to thirty odd and get a bit stiff and wrinkly. The 'fall back' often quoted is not a fall back, as in second best, but just a parallel career path, which your Diploma cannot provide for.

I have to say that I knew very little about your college - and did Google, but it brought back little of substance, and your web site is so short on solid data. Lots of padding, some slightly odd content - very differing writing styles in some places, and just a lack of academic content. People who do not know you want to know what they will be learning, what kinds of productions will be staged, where they will be performing. what they get for the fees, which aren't exactly cheap. I expected supportive comment - like "I know we're expensive, but our staff to student ratio is far better than X, or Y, and our contact time is Z hours each week, which is substantially higher than most specialist colleges." That's justification, but you seem to say, "we're expensive, you can't get funded, we don't offer recognised qualifications , and are really nice people". That may be quite wrong, but it reads that way to me?

I'm not trying to be difficult or argumentative - you clearly believe in your product, but I AM a sceptic. Before I suggest your place rather than somewhere else, I need something more than a few pictures and a well intentioned conference. Maybe it's just because your post read as a thinly disguised advert? I don't know? That's what I thought. You've not convinced me yet. The trouble may be that if I read it this way, other people could be looking at your site and thinking exactly the same.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Fri Nov 13, 2015 11:43 pm

Hi
Thanks for your opinion on this. I'm not really sure where you looked on our website to find all these allegedly unsubstantiated claims, but our website and literature clearly states that we take a maximum of 22 students/year, that we offer 40+ weeks of tuition a year, with a minimum of 40 contact hours/week. All of these things are well publicised facts. The course structure is clearly laid out, with a clear explanation of how many hours/subject/week. Our productions are well publicised - usually up to a year in advance including where they are being produced. We have a You Tube channel which will allow you to see some of the shows for yourself. As we do public performances from the beginning we have a catalogue of professional reviews that can be sourced online. I won't continue with giving exact reference points as I'm aware that this is not an advertisement, and by strongly disagreeing with your findings, I would need to give specific quotes or links to our website to substantiate what I'm saying, which I would consider to be advertising?

I'm all for healthy debate, but your statements are, I'm afraid just inaccurate. Opinion is one thing that of course is subjective, but just writing things that are incorrect is another matter.

Your conspiratorial approach to our position on accreditation is fascinating. As you rightly say we are coming from opposing viewpoints, and each of us are entitled to our own. However there is no 'fudging' as you state. We have chosen (as is our right) to not be part of that system. You can equally chose (as is your right) to think that this is a ludicrous, irresponsible position for us to take, however you can't just keep implying that there's another story here that we're attempting to hide or dodge. It's interesting that when we offer proof to substantiate our position (only because I consider your inference to be misleading, not because I don't think that you have the right to your opinion), you instantly dismiss our proof. Now The Stage and all of their experts are simply random opinions?

Again you're incorrect as we're not in a Catch 22 situation as we have 5 years of graduates out in the industry working...we have a page on our website about every single one of them, and publish our stats regularly. Which is why I stated that currently (as of this moment in fact) 78% of our graduates are working (with 95% of them in paid professional work and the remaining 5% on profit share). Again this is a much publicised fact. So our figures are very clearly waved...and waved regularly. You talk about reputation, and I would point you to the testimonial page which clearly demonstrates what the industry thinks about us. The only Catch 22 situation here is if you're looking for stats that stretch back decades, then yes, of course we can't provide that as we haven't been in existence long enough.

Regarding Mental Health, I have already addressed the issue that most colleges have a policy but our conference is designed to discuss a different model for this (which has already been recognised by our peers as pioneering). I'm not talking about taking a quota of students with mental health difficulties, we're talking about the percentage of performers with known MH difficulties which is higher than the established 1 in 4 statistic. Our industry has just woken up to the fact that we are more susceptible to MH issues than other industries. This is a world wide movement that is gaining momentum. Fortunately the bodies that govern colleges are less cynical and are coming to engage with the process. Policies being waved at inspectors count for nothing if students with MH difficulties are failing to be picked up and supported. Surely we would all recognise that a policy is one thing, yet the implementation of that policy is completely different. You are clearly coming from a fixed point in your thinking (which let's face it, is the same as me), however my 'fixed point' is being currently being discussed by the very organisations that you're holding up as your gospel (for want of a better phrase). If these policies were working, Louise Granger would not have gone on record last year to state that drama colleges have a greater responsibility to look after the mental health of their students whilst in training. Our conference is designed for all of us (including The MTA) to look at what works and what doesn't, and to keep striving to get it right.

Equity will also visit every college as part of their recruitment drive (although I'd prefer to see it as information sharing as opposed to recruitment). All of our graduates become student members in their final year, you no longer need professional experience...you can become a member by going to a course that they consider trains you to a professional standard (just like Spotlight). By law Equity can no longer be a closed shop, so (as I'm sure that you're aware), you no longer need an Equity card to work in professional theatre/TV.

You have inferred that a 'fall back' was written as bad thing (and as I've already expressed above, this was clearly my fault for writing it in a way that could be interpreted as that) I don't believe that, however my writing it was not judging others, it was merely a fact of entry for our course. As a point of interest actually gaining entry onto PGCE's or other general teaching qualification courses can now be achieved but proving a knowledge of a subject via your CV. I believe (but I haven't checked this out, so this could easily be wrong)..that you still need a basic English and Maths qualification e.g. a GCSE, but you can now take a different route to achieve teacher status, as the government have rightly acknowledged that experience can count for as much as a qualification. I believe that this is true in all subjects, not just performing arts.

My point of posting initially, was not to convince you, or indeed anyone else that The MTA was a college to be considered for your children's training (so it most definitely wasn't an advert). Of course I'm going to take offence at statements such as "I need something more than a few pictures and a well intentioned conference", and feel compelled to continue the discussion as that's simply inaccurate. The MTA has been fighting for the past few years for better MH provision in colleges, so this is not some whim that we're on. In July I'm (hopefully) off to a conference in NY (time permitting) at the invitation of PAMA to discuss our model further, as there is great interest in the model at the moment.

All of this said, this debate is both pointless and not helpful to the cause that we are trying to promote. So I will respectfully bow out of it now, and allow everyone to do their own research to make their minds up. Our facts are transparent for all to see, we have an open door policy for people to actually see our work in practice. The details on the conference are clearly on my initial post - maybe you should take a risk and come to that and hear the facts of how other policies (& indeed ours) get played out in practise.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by paulears » Sun Nov 15, 2015 5:14 pm

It's good to hear you're clearly sold on the system, and it works -- which is really nice. Your percentages are also very impressive, so again - it suggests you're doing a good job. So I'm very happy to defer to your inside viewpoint, you are, after all, at the sharp end. People can look at the info on the site and decide for themselves. Things do change very quickly in this business - I remember somebody a few years ago not very positive about Performers College in Essex, but now it constantly gets very good reports from the people who have been there, and every training provider has to start somewhere.

Beat me over the head in a few years time when you're in the Bentley and I'm on the bus!

best wishes
P

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:22 pm

Hi Paulears
Whilst I know that I said that I would bow out of the debate I feel compelled to point out that The MTA was started to provide ethical training - which I'm afraid means that our success won't be measured by my motor vehicle (or indeed a large home). As ever there is a blog that you can look up if you have the urge, which will explain this policy in a lot more detail. However I'll be sure to say hello as I filter past on my little scooter.

You also make an excellent point about how quickly the industry changes, and with that the impact it has year on year with many of the more established colleges. So my advice to all of you parents out there would be to check the latest stats available from all colleges, don't just be seduced by a successful heritage. That would also be true of The MTA, we are only as good as our current graduates.

Best wishes

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:25 pm

Given some of the discussion that we had about this very subject recently, and given that I'd already named for you all that the accreditation system is no longer what you think, I thought it pertinent to post this news item:https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2015/uk ... ign=buffer
As I mentioned earlier in the thread, the times are achanging very quickly. Just looking for 'accredited' colleges might be a little short sighted, given that using that as your criteria, you are now omitting amazing colleges like RADA, LAMDA etc.
The degree debate is another one altogether...however I think that you can now see where I was going with my comments about accreditation. Referring right back to some of the things inferred in earlier posts, our conclusion on the existing system (which I posted further up on this thread), is now being shared by some rather major players. So for those of you that were initially cynical...there was no 'fudge' - just a very well informed opinion on the current state of the drama school system in the UK (albeit one sided of course).

As ever I wish you parents all the luck in the world working your way through this minefield. If you are confused, please feel free to give us a ring to discuss your children's options (with no obligation to have The MTA on your list I should add)

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by paulears » Sun Nov 29, 2015 9:16 pm

Well, RADA offer their own shorter courses and of course credited BAs and MAs, and Lamda are so well established their examinations and examiners are amazingly well respected, and are perhaps a Gold Standard other aspire to. If anyone wishes to get a formal qualification with them, it's one of the options as with RADA.

It's just a personal choice when it boils down to it isn't it? The sad thing is that some people drop out and never complete their education, we're just discussing the job application form process in the future - "do you have a degree?" putting no sadly consigns you to the failure pile no matter how good you are, stops you becoming a teacher without maybe an extra couple of years study, and with career lifespan for many being so short - chopping a number of years off at the start just seems to me a risk. Plenty of people have the Diplomas from uncredited colleges, and if they are talented it probably doesn't hold them back at all - but an average person will have much more trouble when their career path falters. If you filter out the 'low' flyers and don't take them on so all your graduates are employable, then your reputation will rise - but that's an accountancy headache, and many credited colleges go down the take anyone route.

I hope it goes really well and over the next few years you flourish - but I bet in a year or two, you will be tempted to dip your toe in the franchise water.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Sun Nov 29, 2015 10:33 pm

Hi Paulears
The degree debate aside (as we will never agree on that, as we're coming from very different areas, and no doubt with very different life experiences to base our 'life findings' on). It clearly is personal choice, and always should be.

I'm curious why you seem to think that success must equal expansion (in your particular example using the franchise method)? The basic ethos behind my college is that all profits must be ploughed back into the charity (in fact if you read our Articles of Association you would discover that the college can never be more than it is today...running one course, for a maximum of 22 students...with all the other USPs that you'll be able to discover online). So I'm afraid that your bet is sunk before it can even be placed my friend.


We measure success on the numbers of careers that we are launching versus the numbers of graduates that we are producing, and as we've already stated those numbers previously, then there is a strong argument for us flourishing already, and indeed with an increasing number of our graduates having earned enough (through performing) to have paid off their loans/course fees within just 5 years...we have no desire to dip our toes anywhere. Actually maintaining stats like ours is hard work enough, so god forbid we'd want to add to that workload. Oh for your bet to be real...as our Hardship Fund would willingly make good use of the money that you would have lost :lol:

Your assumption of course is based blind, without any knowledge of an ideology or a political thinking....however working off the information that you've written, I fear that we are coming from the opposite sides of the arena in that area too.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by paulears » Tue Dec 01, 2015 6:24 pm

Well, having seen the seedy money based life of university, college and even high schools, the overriding feature was simply money and retention rate. I'll sit back quietly and send you all my luck - but 22 students seems very limiting in so many ways, but if it works for you, then that's clearly the important thing. Your AoA would seem to me to be a potential strangle hold on your development, when that excellent ultra talented 23rd student wants to join you and you have to say no. As a small college, your success will be your major selling point. I hadn't realised you were so small - but even acorns grow, and at some point the allure of more money might well be very, very tempting. Tell me I'm wrong in five years.
Best wishes
Paul

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by pg » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:53 pm

I'm very interested to see the colleges that are withdrawing from DramaUk accreditation. I think this is significant for all those trying to assess the best courses to aim for.

I shall watch with interest to see what happens. A shake up looks inevitable.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:27 am

Hello again
PG you're right insomuch that a huge shake up is inevitable. As I had hinted to you all prior to the announcement this has been known for quite some time amongst the drama school community. I would strongly urge all you parents though to let the facts of the courses help inform you, not just the 'accreditation' stamp. Find out exactly who's teaching your children, find out what the full stats of every college is, not just their headline soundbites. All information should be available (but you do have to push to find it in some colleges).

Paulears I am curious as ever by your 'take' on things...which always makes me compelled to answer. Your dogmatic insistence that success is based on growth? It's great that you personally evidently base success on monetary gain, however many, many performers (myself included) base success on personal and career happiness. Not many professional performers go into theatre for the money, as quite frankly we'd be forever unfilled. Therefore money is not the driving factor, but rather creative freedom and indeed creativity, and in the case of my 'other life', it's to provide an ethical training establishment for like minded performers. The argument about what about the 23rd 'talented performer' that missed out on a year is a pointless one...as the same argument holds true for every single college. Every establishment will have their upper limit...meaning that the next 'talented performer' that came along too late will miss out (or actually..will have to wait another year). Just like when I'm casting a West End show, I miss out on lots of talented performers...the reality is that not everyone can get into the show. We all have a limit. The same argument is surely true for every single job (not just performers)?
Were the money the driving force then The MTA could have grown many years ago (& indeed rumours have often circulated about our growth e.g. when we were named as School of the Year, when we recently relocated). However I would reiterate to you the same ironically that I personally reiterate to my father at regular intervals since opting to be a performer over 25 years ago...for some people money does not buy happiness, personal fulfilment does. If the allure of money was ever going to turn me, I guess I wouldn't have persevered in this industry for so long. I understand that this is a concept that you find difficult to comprehend...however life would be dull if we all thought the same eh? So it's with great authority that I can tell you right now that you're wrong.
Being small (and therefore being able to offer our students a bespoke training) is actually our strength not our weakness. That said the pressure of being under such intense scrutiny would not suit every student, some thrive more in a larger environment. Which goes back to why it's important that when parents are doing their research they find out how many people the college intend to take that year, and then of course it's working out which methodology works best for your child.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by paulears » Sun Dec 13, 2015 5:49 pm

I suppose I am nowadays very concerned about money. Oddly, my own philosophy seems very similar to yours - to me money isn't as important as it was, and I'm fortunate to be able to turn down work I don't fancy. However a great deal of my work involves shuffling money for other people's productions. Education frustrates me because in the ideal world, what is important is growth of the individual, from whatever level they start at to their ceiling. This seems to really cause friction with the notion of 'quality'. I remember when visiting LIPA with one awarding body, their insistence that from the point of entry, they were casting their shows. So many colleges want the very best internal productions, but nowadays they are so expensive. The integration of all the elements, acting, singing, dance, production - so stage management, lighting, sound and now frequently video, alongside the costume and makeup department all mean compromises if you are smaller - and while you can do many things in a small college, how it looks and sounds is vital. So throughout my involvement with theatre education which I think started in 1994, money and facilities were always an issue. This spiralled almost out of control across the country with the rapid spread of Performing Arts with BTEC - and from what I saw, the universities and specialist colleges benefited from students more prepared than before. They in turn were then able to do even higher level work.

With a small student cohort each year, and probably lower overheads by virtue of the size of the organisation, you seem to be offering something students want. To many, though, they couldn't afford it without the various funding arrangements that are usually available. I'm sure you could make special arrangements for people you really wanted, but finance is important to the health of a business, so you obviously have limits. To maintain your income stream you need high quality students with independent funds, and if that is maintainable, it's an ideal arrangement, High quality training, without the rules and strings attached that being franchised or 'approved' entails. You will be judged on your successes, which is an old feature of education, before it turned into an industry.

The only real drawback is generating the status and reputation that any small business needs to grow. I've come back to growth again. Without growth there is a chance of stagnation. Not now, but perhaps later on. Money is often a nasty commodity - being essential, but tainted somehow. It would be easy to come up undersubscribed and have to take less able students to survive. This is exactly what happened in schools and colleges when the bubble burst and many simply gave up. It appears you have found your niche. I'm really not disagreeing with so many of your comments, just the one that matters to many of them - working life. The lack of a qualification (and I understand your position on this) is for me, the decider in assessing overall 'worth'. The best ones will be working, hopefully for a long time, but the less placeable ones, remembering we're in a very blunt and deceitful industry, have no consolation prize of something that will work on a CV - and this is what concerns me.

I've got 15 performers under 28 in the company at the moment, and they all have a qualification of some kind, most are multi-talented but some are educationally very narrow. Even with their qualifications and performing ability, some have missed out on basic life skills for the performer - I think that based on 5 weeks, around half will not remain doing what they are doing now. A mix of personality, attitude, ability and temperament. Hopefully all your graduates would be in the positive half.

My rose tinted specs got broken a long time ago. My days are filled with issues of all kinds, I have MONEY as a huge component of my role. I've tried every discipline I could over the years, and have discovered I'm quite good at what I do. I don't think I could say I actually enjoy it any more. When I perform on stage, as I still do, I rarely get the excitement I used to. It's nice, but as soon as I'm off, I'm thinking about the next one, the travel, the hotels, and it starts again. Oddly, I do enjoy going to colleges around the country in my role working for one of the awarding bodies - I enjoy seeing the work the students do, and I enjoy the differences, but I don't like the huge quantity of rose tinted glasses so many people wear. Over all, I enjoy my life, it's the best it's been for years but I'm rather glad my youngest son who followed in my footsteps decided to stop doing it, get a 'normal' job and get a mortgage. Only this week, signing as a witness to a house purchase, one of my older cast members told me how hard it had been to buy a house with a mortgage, being a single lady - listing her profession as actress.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by theMTAonline » Thu Dec 17, 2015 3:13 am

Hi Paulears
It's interesting that we essentially come from the same position...let me try to answer some of your points, as I believe that we should be able to validate each decision we made (which incidentally is also an active policy at the college for both students and staff).
So firstly we don't decide our shows until we have our cohort for the year. I can't say what other colleges do, like you I guess, I've heard the rumour that shows have been chosen and then the year groups have been accepted around the show, but other than rumours and hearsay I don't know if that's true. However we most definitely work in a different way. Our way definitely has its challenges (especially in a cohort which has a big gender imbalance, but then we just have to work harder to find the perfect show OR work with partners to write a show that's appropriate (and with a core policy of supporting new writing we are very lucky in that respect)).
Absolutely shows cost a lot of money to produce, and we put on at least one show a term - but again it depends on your vision. I could spend thousands on the most elaborate set etc that would leave an audience wowed by our designers...but actually the industry are coming to watch our students, and whilst they most definitely expect a certain level of production value (which we are able to provide by careful budgeting and industry partners that sponsor our shows) I don't want them leaving talking about the set. Therefore I don't think that we have to grow for that purpose.
The ongoing debate of students affording drama school training can actually be extended to a student being able to afford any sort of HE training, the financial difficulties are not unique to our industry. The nature of our robust business model means that actually we are able to help and support students that are struggling. I am constantly amazed by the stories of students being asked to leave some of the large establishments over fees, or not being permitted to graduate due to fees arrears, yet we have never lost a student due to their financial struggles. So that just comes down to constantly thinking outside the box, and being solution focussed as opposed to corridor thinking on fees.
Your returning point on growth I believe to be wrong. A course can grow without a college growing. By having a faculty that are all currently working in the industry (at West End or equivalent level) it would be impossible to stagnate, as we are all constantly feeding back to the students a course relevant to 'today'. I believe that a good course is always evolving so for example 2 years ago we became the first MT college in the UK to split the focus of our acting course 50/50 between stage/screen. I would argue that that is a course growing...but growing to meet the demands of the industry not growing to generate a profit. Given that our graduates from then on in have gone on to work on various projects from Sky One dramas, BBC dramas, and extensive work on the ever growing internet series...I would consider that 'growth' to have worked. So having the correct faculty will prevent stagnation (I believe).
Your point about colleges taking in less abled students is a valid one, and a known issue throughout our industry. However that comes down to greed, and I'm sorry but I believe that it's corrupt to take a student if you know that that student has little chance of a career at the end of your course. However staff working at the coal face are being over ruled by accountants at some other places, and their frustration at this is phenomenon is well known.
So we are taking students that we truly believe could make a career out of theatre/TV, and our stats to date back that up. We have one afternoon a year where our graduates return to speak to our current lot, and I'm as amazed as you will be to hear the stories of our graduates that have already earned back their college fees, that are saving up deposits to buy homes. Now clearly that is not all of them...but as our more recent announcement stated...right now 78% of my graduates are working, and 95% of them are in paid jobs(quite a large percentage are actually on very well paid jobs), the other 5% are on a guaranteed income that will see them take home above the living wage this Christmas. In our 5 years the lowest percentage of grads we've had in work at any one time has been 68%. We believe that if the training and the career plan is realistic, you can make a success of this lifestyle. They are only being taught by people that have walked this walk. You're right that it's a lot to do with attitude and temperament, but that's where our pioneering pastoral policy comes into play, as we take a holistic approach to the students' development.
The degree discussion (which of course we have long agreed to disagree on) is a fascinating one. We have so many students that took the degree route, so have already paid £27,000 for their education, yet the degree didn't equip them for the industry. So they are being forced to spend that amount of money again on a vocational route. I just think that that's a huge outlay when possibly by choosing the right college (even if it's offering a diploma) you could save yourself half that money. The degree route has a different bottom line - I know that from experience, my background involves writing courses at both HE and FE level. Yes it gives you a back up - but maybe do the back up course when you need it (at which point you'd get more funding assistance as a mature student anyway). I just feel so desperately sorry for my students who have paid all that money already, and yet within a week of coming to us they're left saying 'but why wasn't I told this 3 years ago?' Given that a degree (or indeed a diploma) counts for zero in our industry...as no casting director will ask you about it, they will just want to know what you can actually 'do' on the day, does a degree top A sound any different from a diploma one, is a degree pirouette any different from a non qualified one? Of course not. At the end of the day you want your students to work, and that will come down to a million factors...but none of those factors will involve their educational qualifications.
Finally I agree with you about people wearing rose tinted glasses within the education system...but the question has to be who gave them to the graduates? Your argument needs to be with the establishments that are handing out these glasses at the end of their courses (be that diploma or degree courses)...and they tend to be given out by a staff group with no real working knowledge of the industry today. My lot (for example) can't ever wear those specs...as one week they are taught by someone who's a lead in the West End, then the next week they are taught by that exact same person who is now a waiter. They are confronted with the reality on a daily basis, and I think in fairness, the good colleges will all be stripping them of those glasses within a few hours of starting their courses.
If you 'stick with the programme' you should be able to have it all - the 'dream career' and the mortgage and kids etc...but you just have to have a different timescale to your friends. Again a good college will be telling their students that from the outset, as you're easily looking at a 10 year difference (if not more)...however as my staff (and indeed myself) all prove, it is possible...but only if you're looking at the world through plain glasses.

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Welsh Mum
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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by Welsh Mum » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:32 pm

Just impressed you have so much time to devote to posting in here :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.

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Re: Conference on Mental Health in Drama Training

Post by Hecouldshine » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:33 am

Great debate. I agree with you Welsh Mum - but I appreciate hearing all the views and experiences being aired.
He could go and he could shine, not just stay here counting time,
Son, we've got the chance to let him live

from Billy Elliot the Musical

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