Children with SEN stage dance performance for HRH The Countess of Wessex

Children in North Yorkshire had a spring in their step when they received a royal visit.

HRH The Countess of Wessex with pupils at The Forest School in Knaresborough

HRH The Countess of Wessex was at The Forest School in Knaresborough recently, as part of a visit to the We Can Dance charity, which sends professional dance teachers into schools to work with young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

The Forest School provides education for pupils who experience a range of special educational needs between the ages of three and 16 and hosts weekly dance lessons with the charity.

We Can Dance teaches pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties, autism, physical disabilities, sensory impairments and behavioural difficulties and funds lessons in 16 SEN schools in the North of England. They include Springwater School in Harrogate, Mowbray School in Bedale, Springhead School in Scarborough and The Dales School in Northallerton. It is a small charity, run by eight volunteers.

Some of the benefits of the dance classes include increasing pupils’ confidence and self-awareness, developing concentration skills and co-ordination and also providing social interaction and a sense of achievement. 

The Countess of Wessex met with the Headteacher of The Forest School, Michelle Farr and Chairman of We Can Dance, Yvonne Nicholson, along with other members of the volunteer-run charity, before watching a dance performance by 11 pupils. The performance featured in The Royal Family’s official twitter and Instagram feeds. 

Charity chairman, Yvonne Nicholson, said: “The children had a wonderful time performing for HRH The Countess of Wessex.

“We were delighted that The Countess was able to see one of their dance lessons and experience the joy and happiness that dance brings to all children.

“The children couldn’t wait to share their skills and perform for a royal visitor; it was an experience they won’t forget.

“We were delighted to share our work and look forward to supporting more schools in the future.”

The Countess also visited classes throughout the school, which was decorated with red, white and blue bunting for the occasion and other decorations put up by the students.

The children were all treated to a Royal Picnic instead of their traditional school lunches.

Before the farewells, pupils performed a sing-and-sign performance for their royal visitor.

Headteacher of The Forest School, Michelle Farr, said: “The dance was something the children had been putting together over recent weeks. It was a lovely experience. She was really encouraging with the children, who had also decorated the school for her visit. 

“It was a really nice way for them to learn about the monarchy and democracy. Meeting the Countess of Wessex was also a great learning experience for them. We spent the whole day learning about the history of the royal family and looked at family trees with the children.”

This story was published 9 October 2019