MovementWorks® Developmental Dance Movement™ Programme

MovementWorks® logo

Aims and Objectives: MovementWorks® is a research driven organisation providing inclusive dance movement programmes that are mainstream and SEND appropriate. The Developmental Dance Movement™ Programme is designed to accelerate learning; integrating core curriculum and early learning goals whilst optimising physical development and enhancing global understanding and communication.  Previous studies evidence very promising results and highlight particular benefits for children with developmental delay.

Funding Sources: Participating groups have utilised school Pupil Premium, Primary Sports Premium, Occupational Therapy department funding, Arts Council England Awards for All. The MovementWorks Project has received Catalyst funding from The Royal Society of Arts and is currently establishing charity status and seeking project development and core funding.

Timescale and delivery details: The programme is delivered across an academic year as a minimum once weekly intervention.
Context: Pre-school, Reception, Year 1+
Location: LBO Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Thurrock
Settings: Mainstream and special schools; community children’s centres

Description of the arts activity

Underpinned by academic research, the MovementWorks® Developmental Dance Movement™ Programme (DDM) is a unique multi-sensory whole body learning experience which uses dance movement activity as a specific and intentional kinaesthetic tool to accelerate children’s development and learning in the early years. Movement and physical difficulties are often early indicators of developmental disorder since they mirror the neurological organisation of the brain. The MovementWorks® approach focuses on the interface between cognitive neuroscience, educational theory and movement science optimising development in a structured, socially interactive and enjoyable way. Weekly sessions last between 35-45 minutes and take the form of various dance movement based games and activities. They are not focused on learning any particular dance style or steps but encourage children to practice the defined physical and thinking skills identified by science, that help overall developmental progress and therefore also increase self-esteem and well-being. The programme fosters a fully inclusive model.

Details of the project participants

Target population: Young children, especially those disadvantaged by economic, social and/or limited physical or cognitive capacities.

Methods of recruitment: Currently mainstream and specialist schools, early years settings (e.g. children’s centres) local council and OT referrals. It is anticipated to conduct a future project in a pediatric hospital or a similar healthcare setting.

Project management

Roles and Responsibilities:
Programme and lead researcher: Ali Golding MSc, PG Cert SEN, BA(Hons)
Megan Scarff BSc, Hilary Palmer PG Cert SEN
Research Consultant:  Elsie Burns
Project Assistant: Thea Davis
Quality Assurance: All practitioners undergo extensive training and ongoing continuing professional development. Inter and intra data analysis reliability and trustworthiness addressed through various monitoring processes undertaken with academic rigour in association with university partners.
Costs to participants: Delivered on a whole group level, the programme is inexpensive compared to other therapeutic and educational interventions that aim to positively affect similar objectives. Fees to schools/settings are kept as low as possible through subsidising direct costs with a view towards sustainable fund raising. Breakdown of provision and monitoring costs are bespoke and vary according to group specifics and circumstance.

Ethics and consent: Previous studies have undergone approval through the ethics committees of City University and Cardiff University respectively.

Evaluation methods and findings

Previous studies have used mixed methodologies to yield both qualitative and quantitative results. As a research led organization we are progressively developing our evaluation processes with organisations such as Project Oracle and we are currently working on a new study design in partnership with Greenwich University Family Care and Mental Health Department.
Previous findings support the underpinning of neuroscientific research and highlight aspects of accelerated learning theory while identifying particular benefits for children with specific learning needs. Case studies demonstrated accelerated learning through observed changed behaviour. T-test results from Aston index pre-post scored G-H figure drawings showed significant differences (p=0.005) in visual-motor integration and developmental maturity.

Studies indicate the potential for accelerated and cross-curricular learning for all children and suggest that children with SEN and particularly those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) benefit significantly. There is evidence of both transfer of learning and an increased understanding of studentsʼ development needs on the part of participating teachers. Consequently, using a DDM programme as an OT intervention for children on the Autistic Spectrum to enhance school performance and support other occupational goals is promising. Using a DDM programme is an example of interprofessional practice between OT and other professional disciplines beyond orthodox health and social care. DDM could enable children with ASD to successfully engage in occupations of productivity and leisure and consequently address potential issues of occupational injustice for this client group. Based on experiences with assessing progress through DDM, an observation sheet to inform in-depth knowledge of developmental status and enhanced intervention on an individual and group level has been developed and could be adapted to include OT specific observations and concerns.

It is concluded that Developmental Dance Movement™ can provide opportunity for physical, emotional and cognitive advancement for young children. Particular additional benefits for children with further needs include improvement in social and learning engagement, behaviour, language development and self-esteem.

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England