Vol.3, No.1, 111-117 (2013) Open Journal of Preventive Medicine
Designing extra-curricular dance programs: UK
physical education and dance teachers’
Simon J. Sebire1*, Jade McNeill1, Laura Pool1, Anne M. Haase1, Jane Powell2, Russell Jago1
1Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK;
*Corresponding Author: simon.sebire@bristol.ac.uk
2Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
Received 19 December 2012; revised 20 January 2013; accepted 27 January 2013
Many girls do not engage in sufficient physi-
cal activity (PA). Dance is a popular form of PA
among UK secondary school-aged girls and
extracurricular dance programs delivered by
dance specialists may provide an alternative
way to increase PA amongst girls aged 11 - 12.
The purpose of this study was to explore the
views of physical education and dance teachers
on the structure, content and delivery of an ex-
tra-curricular dance-based PA intervention for
adolescent girls. Methods: Semi-structured quali-
tative interviews were conducted with eleven
physical education teachers and eleven dance
teachers, and were analyzed using thematic
analysis. Results: Themes identified addressed
key logistical and content/delivery-based fac-
tors to be considered when designing a dance-
based PA intervention. Logistical factors in-
cluded optimizing participant recruitment and
aligning external providers with school behavior
management policies. Content/delivery factors
focused on teacher-student rapport, facilitating
dance competence, and balancing teacher and
student-led time. Conclusions: This formative
study highlighted that an extra-curricular dance-
based PA intervention would be welcomed in
UK schools. A number of considerations central
to the design and delivery of such a program
were identified from key user groups which can
be used to inform the development of school-
based dance (and non-dance) interventions
aimed at increasing PA amongst adolescent
Keywords: Physical Activity Intervention;
Intervention Des ign; Qu alitative Research
Physical activity (PA) is associated with lower levels
of cardiovascular risk and type 2 diabetes among chil-
dren [1,2], and is linked with improved psychological
health including emotional well being, self esteem and
confidence [3]. Despite this, many young people do not
meet PA guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate-to-
vigorous PA per day [4] and there is an age-related de-
cline in PA during childhood, particularly among girls
[5] during the transition from primary (elementary) to
secondary (high) school [6]. Therefore, childhood and
adolescence are key periods to promote PA and the de-
velopment and evaluation of interventions to target PA
during youth is a priority [7].
Schools are a popular setting for the implementation
of interventions, due to their frequent contact with most
children. However, many school-based interventions
have not yielded increases in youth PA [8]. Due to the
pressures to raise academic standards and improve test
scores, curriculum time devoted to PA and physical edu-
cation (PE) is limited [9]. Therefore, there is a need for
interventions delivered at school, but outside of curricu-
lum time.
Dance is a highly favored form of PA among UK sec-
ondary school-aged girls [10]. Dance does not require
exceptional abilities or equipment and can motivate and
excite young people, develop team working and creative
thinking [11,12]. Importantly, participating in dance
contributes towards moderate-to-vigorous PA amongst
11 - 18 years old girls [13].
However, although dance is part of the UK PE na-
tional curriculum, it is usually only taught during one
term for six weeks. Furthermore, an audit conducted by
the Youth Sports Trust [14] raised concerns about the
quality and equality of school-based dance provision. It
was identified that only 8% of teachers had a dance spe-
cialism and 60% of PE teachers were generalists without
dance qualifications. Limited curriculum time, and the
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S. J. Sebire et al. / Open Journal of Preventive Medicine 3 (2013) 111-117
skills and expertise needed to teach dance suggests that
extra-curricular dance programs delivered by dance spe-
cialists may provide an alternative way to increase PA
amongst adolescent girls aged 11 - 12 [15].
Guidance for the design and implementation of
school-based dance programs is not available. However
it is crucial to conduct and disseminate formative and
feasibility research so that interventions can be devel-
oped which align with best practice and user group ex-
perience [16]. As such, the first aim of the present for-
mative study was to explore dance and PE teachers’
views on key considerations for the structure, content
and delivery of a dance-based PA intervention for ado-
lescent girls. PE teachers’ views were sought on school-
based issues (e.g., logistics, dance provision & perceived
interest) and dance teachers’ views were sought on de-
livering dance- based PA programs.
Incorporating theoretical frameworks in to the devel-
opment of interventions facilitates an understanding of
the process and mechanisms by which interventions
might work [17]. However, the apriori selection of a
given theory may exclude potentially important factors
that are part of the intervention context (e.g., dance). As
such, the second aim of this study was to use the views
of the dance and PE teachers to identify a theoretical
framework which could guide the development of a
dance-based afterschool PA intervention.
2.1. Participants
Physical education teachers were recruited from 10
secondary schools, without a dance specialism, from
Bristol (UK) to represent a range of socio-economic sta-
tus (SES) groups. Eleven nationally-recognized expert
female dance teachers were recruited using a snowball-
ing method. To be eligible for inclusion, dance teachers
were required to have a minimum of two years teaching
experience, hold dance education qualifications equiva-
lent to UK A-Level and have worked with the target
population for a minimum of one year. Participants in-
cluded current dance teachers, dance educators, national
and local dance development officers and school-based
dance leads. All participants provided written informed
consent. The study was approved by a University ethics
2.2. Procedure
Semi-structured interviews were employed to allow
the PE and dance teachers to talk freely and openly
within a framework of topics. Twenty two interviews (11
dance teachers and 11 PE teachers) were conducted ei-
ther face-to-face or by telephone by two trained inter-
viewers and were digitally recorded (Mean duration = 40
minutes; range = 30 - 50 minutes).
A semi-structured interview guide was developed in
collaboration with an expert with extensive exp erience in
dance teaching and education. It aimed to facilitate open
discussions and prompts were used to gather in-depth
perspectives. The PE teachers’ interview explored: 1)
logistical issues within a school environment (e.g., facili-
ties, timetabling activities and travel/safety concerns); 2)
how to structure the dance program and its content and 3)
recruitment into an extra-curricular dance program. The
dance instructors’ interview focused on content and deliv-
ery of dance sessions for adolescent girls. Topics included:
1) barriers to participation in a dance program; 2) success-
ful strategies to teach dance, aid development and pro-
gression; 3) effective ways to retain participation and 4)
the content of the session, (e.g., enhancing enjoyment
and behavior management strategies). Following com-
pletion of 22 interviews it was agreed that saturation had
been reached.
2.3. Data Analysis
Recordings were transcribed verbatim, anonymised
and transcripts were imported into NVivo (Version 8,
QSR, Southport, UK). As the data were considered ex-
ploratory, we adopted a thematic analysis approach [18]
using three stages. First, transcripts were read line-by-
line and annotated with codes that described notable
content. Second, a different team member reviewed all
annotated transcripts to scrutinize codes and themes and
to identify any differences in interpretations. Another
team member acted as the arbitrator of any differences in
interpretation. Third, codes were analyzed for links in
order to generate themes.
Ten themes were identified which highlighted factors
pertinent to the design and delivery of a school-based
extra-curricular dance program (Table 1). The themes
were grouped into two higher-order themes; 1) Perceived
Need and School Logistics contained themes addressing
current dance provision, school logistic issues, partici-
pant recruitment, program cost and behavior manage-
ment and 2) Dance Program Content contained five
themes addressing dance genre, building enjoyment,
teacher-student rapport, fostering ownership and per-
formance opportunities. All themes are discussed in de-
tail below.
3.1. Theme 1: Perceived Need and School
Dance provision. All of the PE teachers highlighted a
lack of dance provision in their school and a need for a
dance program. In addition, the majority of PE teach-
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S. J. Sebire et al. / Open Journal of Preventive Medicine 3 (2013) 111-117
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPEN ACC ESS
Table 1. Summary of themes.
Theme 1: Perceived need & school logistics
Dance provision Lack of dance in schools
PE teachers not confident to deliver dance session
School-based logistics Facilities & space
Timetabling to avoid clashes
Participant recruitment Recruit using “taster sessions”
Personal “live link” rather than printed materials
Cost of program Payment may prevent participation & bias sample
Payment may increase commitment to program
Behavior management and expectations
Align rules with behavior policies within school
Establish agreed expectations for teachers and pupils
Balance rules with pupil input
Theme 2: Dance program content
Genre of dance Focus on developing skills in a focu sed number of dance styles
Enjoyment/group dynamics Establish a group dynamic early
Facilitate inclusion using games
Relationship development and rapport Gather pupil input/evaluation
Use verbal encouragement & feedback
Creativity and ownership Progressively increase pupil input to foster confidence
Balance pupil input and ownership with structure and guidance
Routine & performance piece Work towards developing a performance piece
Encourage pupil decision making in what to perform and who to perform to
ers felt they lacked the knowledge, confidence and abil-
ity to teach dance.
Yes I definitely think there would be a demand, […] I
do a little bit of dance, I teach half of Year 7, but I ha-
vent got that much experience.” (PE 4).
Its just basically getting the pupils, or people, in-
volved, and getting somebody actually to take the ses-
sion… Im not a dancer, or a dance specialist. I cant
take the sessions.” (PE 2) .
School-based logistics. PE teachers highlighted chal-
lenges associated with running an extra-curricular pro-
gram such as facilities and timetab ling alongsid e existing
It would be space, where you would do it, and what
other activities are going on outside because we have
rounders and cricket and things going on, in different
areas.” (PE 4).
Some schools have a stand-alone dance studio, but
others might be competing with other activities and
sports, and even subjects with the sports halls etc. So, it
would have to be carefully planned and be integrated
with the schools other extra-curricular activities.” (PE 8).
Participant recruitment. Both PE teachers and dance
specialists highlighted the intervention recruitment proc-
ess as a key factor in a dance program. PE teachers sug-
gested that a “dance taster session” which reflected the
program and was delivered during a PE session to reach
the entire year group, would maximise recruitment.
Thats always quite a good way of getting to, to the
girls, definitely. Taster sessions.” (PE 1).
Posters… or information giving, doesnt always lead
to much uptake… a live link, is much better. Or an active
link where there is some kind of personal interaction.
(PE 8).
Cost of the program to pupils. Participants held mixed
opinions of whether the dance program should be paid
for by the pupils, or free of charge. Some PE teachers
suggested that a fee may deter some pupils and their
parents from signing up, resulting in a recruitment bias
towards higher SES participants:
I dont think youd get, I dont think youd get a rep-
resentative sample.” (PE 4).
I think when money is involved, again, you get those
kids who do everything anyway, … and they have to pay
for it, and they have to pay up front. And, so many par-
ents said, cant afford it.” (PE 2).
However, some participants thought that a fee would
increase perceived value and commitment to the pro-
I dont think there s anything wrong with kids paying
to attend. If there is a charge, then it will help them to
commit to it I think. On the other hand you dont want to
price people out of th e market. So it might be that a token
charge might be made of say 50p a session.” (PE 8).
Behavior management and establishing expectations.
PE teachers and dance teachers highlighted the impor-
tance of continuity between the behavior policies of the
schools and those used by the external dance teachers.
S. J. Sebire et al. / Open Journal of Preventive Medicine 3 (2013) 111-117
Ground rules, because an external person going in,
sometimes the school have behavior policies and things
like that and the dance teacher needs to work alongside
those policies to some degree, so that there are those
kind of boundaries in place without being too strict with
them. Its just aligning the dance teacher with a much
broader knowledge of whats happening in school time
and behavi or pol i c i e s.” (Dance Teacher 7).
The dance teachers also stressed the importance of
clarifying the expectations of both the teacher and pupils
from the start of the dance intervention. However, they
also highlighted the importance of achieving a balance of
agreed rules and being too strict.
You can draw up a contract between the student and
the teacher and you say, this is what we expect of you,
this is behavior, attendance, uniform and performance.
What do you expect? As students on this project, what do
you want from it?” (Dance Teacher 4).
You have to have an approach that when its out of
school you need to be out of teacher mode, because out
of school its their choice to come. So you cant be too
strict. But then its laying those foundation and ground
rules and bounda ries still, so that its not a free for all.”
(Dance Teacher, 7).
3.2. Theme 2: Dance Program Content
The dance teachers converged in their views of the key
dance content that should guide the development of an
extra-curricular school-based dance intervention. Factors
included specifying a dance genre, structuring sessions to
optimize ownership, enjoyment and teacher-pupil rapport
and the inclusion of a performance element.
Genre of dance. The dance teachers suggested that
participants should work towards learning one style of
dance to facilitate the development and refinement of
individual skills.
I think it would be probably best either do one, or
maybe at the most, two styles. Because that way youre
going to get the most out of them and theyre going to be
able to learn more.” (Dance Teacher 2).
Establishing enjoyment and group dynamics. The
dance instructors noted the importance of activities
which foster friendships and generate a group ethos:
I would go ahead with name games, some ice break-
ers, particularly in the first couple of weeks. Because the
key thing is, the group needs to get to know each other…
and hopefully, theyll feel more included and want to
come back because they are making new friends.”
(Dance Teacher 4 ).
I would go in with a whole taster of games and ac-
tivities, different styles, but very short, five, ten minute
tasks, then move on to keep it really snappy.” (Dance
Teacher 7).
Relationship development and rapport. The dance
teachers highlighted the importance of establishing a
good relationship with th e pupils. This was characterized
by two-way communication, listening to pupil opinions
and encouragement.
You need to develop a good rapport where you are
continually asking them for feedback as well and they
wont come back if they didnt like it. So its quite im-
portant that at the end of each session you say what have
you enjoyed today, what has gone well, what shall we
change for next time?” (Dance Teacher 10).
“...encouragement, constant feedback, letting them
know how close they are to reaching their goal, or
achievement, whether its a show its looking really
good for the show, cant wait to invite yo ur parents and
especially if theyve got their input then it would cer-
tainly start to be more fun and enjoyable.” (Dance
Teacher 1).
Creativity and ownership. All of the dance instructors
noted the importance of student-directed time as a means
of fostering ownership. The participants noted that the
initial sessions should be mainly teacher-led with stu-
dent-led time introduced and increased over the course of
the intervention as the girls increase in confidence and
The first couple of sessions, its mostly teacher-led
because they might not have any dance vocabulary in
their bodies. They might not be brave enough. So I would
just give very simple choreographic task and games
where they didnt even know where composing dances,
they just felt like they were playing games to get them a
bit more brave.” (Dance Teacher 11).
It was suggested that student-led input would be en-
hance the development, confidence and creative thinking
of the pupils whilst also giving them the opportunity of
working with other pupils within the class.
It encourages that ownership and attracts what you
want to achieve and they certainly need a chance to put
into action what they see, or they might have created
their own little movements at home that they want to
show off.” (Dance Teacher 8).
The dance instructors highlighted a number of chal-
lenges that dance teachers might face with student-led
time including keeping pupils engaged, dealing with pu-
pils with varied abilities and providing sufficient struc-
ture to student-led tasks. They suggested a number of
potential means of addressing these difficulties:
I think keeping a really tight time frame, very clear
structured tasks. Right, Ive taught you that sequence, I
want you to put that together, three of you, all facing
different directions, and add one more of your own.” So
its very clear.” (Dance Teacher 6).
It is that role of just watch and see and step in if
needed. Sometimes Ill go to a group and Ill just hover.
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S. J. Sebire et al. / Open Journal of Preventive Medicine 3 (2013) 111-117 115
And theyre doing so well Ill just step back because
theyre doing all the right things, including everybody,
not spending too much time chatting about other stuff.”
(Dance Teacher 9 ).
Routine and performance element. The PE teachers
and dance teachers suggested that working towards a
dance performance with the option of demonstrating
what the pupils had learnt would positively influence
their motivation, encourage engagement and create a
sense of belonging am ong st pu pi l s.
I would definitely build it up towards a performance.
Absolutely, thats always got to be the aim.” (Dance
Teacher 11).
The element of performance can take many different
forms and I think that has to come from the young people
to keep them engaged.” (Dance teacher 7).
We have an evening of gym and dance where they
can show the work to their parents and those are always
really powerful and really popular both in terms of rein-
forcing girls attitudes and the likelihood theyll stay
with dance and in a role modeling effect, inspiring others
to want to take part.” (PE 7).
The first aim of the present study was to engage PE
teachers and dance teachers in the process of developing
an extra-curricular dance program by identifying fac-
tors that might influence its design and delivery. PE
teachers felt that there was a lack of dance provision in
schools, and the majority lacked the knowledge, confi-
dence and experience to teach dance. This is consistent
with the findings of Youth Dance England [12] which
highlights the lack of provision across schools in Eng-
land and that many teachers who deliver dance within the
national curriculum are general PE teachers with no
dance qualifications. Youth Dance England have noted
that priorities for dance in schools are: to improve the
workforce of teachers delivering dance, to increase the
accessibility of dance in the curriculum and during ex-
tra-curricular activities and to focus on the least engaged
individuals. As such, one possible solution is to recruit
specialist dance instructors to inspire and engage youth
in dance as a form of PA.
In order to effectively recruit participants, an interv en-
tion must target all pupils within a scho ol year group, be
relevant, reflect current trends, be appropriate for and
adaptable to the ability level of participants to be opti-
mally challenging and encourage pupil input. Delivering
a fun and exciting taster session may inspire and excite
pupils about dance and encourage recruitment. These
findings agree with the beliefs of adolescent girls identi-
fied in previous research which suggests that fun (of
moving, having a sense of freedom, creativity, self-ex-
pression & learning new skills), social interaction,
teacher support and links to current trends are important
in engaging adolescents in dance [19,20].
Logistical issues that were highlighted included align-
ing the program with current extra-curricular activities to
avoid competition with other PA opportunities. Again
this reflects previously identified perspectives of adoles-
cent girls [19]. Such competition may influence recruit-
ment and the composition of participant groups. It is
therefore necessary to carefully target less active girls for
whom attending an extra-curricular dance class would
represent an addition to their weekly activities rather
than a displacement of an alternative PA. Further, in line
with previous work [21] both the PE teachers and dance
teachers stressed the importance of establishing expecta-
tions for behavior and attendance. The findings suggest
that aligning these with the school behavior policy is
essential so that the intervention has clear and consistent
guidelines which th e participants are familiar with.
Findings were mixed with regards to whether the
intervention should be free of charge or carry a fee.
Some participants believed a fee would be a barrier to
some pupils whereas others thought it would enhance the
value pupils place on the program as it is common to
incur a fee for extra-curricular activities. If a fee were
charged, it would be important to balance cost with value
for money and ensure that it does not prevent participa-
tion amongst low income groups. Further research using
economic frameworks is required to explore adolescents’
and parents’ preferences with regards to financial charges
for such programs.
Physical activity interventions should be grounded in
theory to facilitate their development and to identify why
and how they are effective or ineffective [22]. Accord-
ingly, the second aim of this study was to use partici-
pants’ perspectives to identify a theoretical framework
with which to design a dance-b ased PA intervention . The
opinions forwarded by dance teachers and PE teachers in
the present study suggest that self-determination theory
(SDT) [23] would provide an appropriate theoretical
foundation. SDT is a theory of motivation which con-
tends that motivation, well-being and behavioral en-
gagement are optimized when individuals experience
satisfaction of psychological needs of autonomy (i.e.,
being the origin of one’s behavior), competence (i.e.,
feeling effective & skilful in one’s environment) and
relatedness (i.e., feeling a sense of connectedness with
others). In the present study, the participants’ narratives
referred to enhancing ownership, student-led learning,
the progressive development of skills, building rapport
and using small groups for learning which map on to the
concepts of autonomy, competence and relatedness. SDT
has previously been employed to understand cognitive
and behavioral factors among dancers and need satisfac-
tion in dance is associated with indicators of well-being
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S. J. Sebire et al. / Open Journal of Preventive Medicine 3 (2013) 111-117
In terms of dance program content, dance teachers’
knowledge and experience can help to create a relevant,
fun and enjoyable dance intervention whilst fostering a
supportive relationship with and between the pupils. In
line with the views of adolescent girls [19], dance teach-
ers emphasized the development of participant owner-
ship of the dance intervention. The social context such as
the classroom climate created by teachers is an additional
feature of SDT which emphasizes how teacher-created
climates influence pupil motivation and psychological
need satisfaction [25,26]. Dance teachers can enhance
autonomous motivation and need satisfaction by 1) be-
ing autonomy-supportive (e.g., giving choice during
dance sessions), 2) providing structure (e.g., clear ex-
pectations guidelines and rules) and 3) being interper-
sonally involved (e.g., showing interest and understand-
ing pupils). These empowering strategies, many of which
were articulated by the dance teachers and PE teachers in
the present study and have previously been documented
by adolescent dancers [20] and have positive effects on
the motivation, need satisfaction and psychological well-
being of dancers [24,26].
Although the sample size was small, we were able to
triangulate the views of the PE and dance teachers and
there was clear evidence of saturation where no new in-
formation was obtained within the later interviews. We
are therefore confident that the data are an accurate rep-
resentation of the views of dance teachers and PE teach-
ers in the local area. A further limitation is that although
participants offered their experiences of the teaching
strategies that they have previously found to be success-
ful, and there was consistency among participants in this
regard, we are unable to identify the degree to which
these were successful in engaging young people or
whether their opinions reflected strategies that they be-
lieve would work rather than what is effective in prac-
The data presented have shown that an after school
extra-curricular dance program would be welcomed in
UK secondary schools. Developers of extra-curricular
interventions need to respond to logistical challenges
posed in school settings. A dance intervention can be
grounded in behavioral theory and run by specialist
dance teachers using a combination of teacher-led tasks
and student- directed time with the aim of increasing PA.
The intervention should focus on being fun, energetic
and encouraging, work towards a dance performance
element and developing pupils’ skills and confidence to
engage in dance and PA more broadly.
This work was supported by the National Prevention Research Initia-
tive (http://npri.org.uk), consisting of the following funding partners:
Alzheimer’s research Trust; Alzheimer’s Society; Biotechnology and
Biological Sciences Research Council, British Heart Foundation; Can-
cer Research UK; Chief Scientist Office; Scottish Government Health
Directorate; Department of Health; Diabetes UK; Economic and Social
Research Council; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Coun-
cil; Health & Social Care Research & Development Office for Northern
Ireland; Medical Research Council; The Stroke Association; Welsh
Assembly Government and World Cancer Research Fund. This work
was also supported by a Career Development Fellowship (to Dr. Jago)
supported by the National Institute for Health Research. The views
expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not neces-
sarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or
the Department of Health.
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