PUPILS at a Furness school wanted more to do than the usual written tests and sums so they called for out-of-hours activities to get more involved in the performing arts.

Those voluntary sessions evolved into the county’s first GCSE dance course.

The Mail, on Tuesday, February 16 in 1994, told how dedicated youngsters at Dowdales School, Dalton, were willing to give up their spare time for a chance to do more dance, music and drama.

The article noted: “It seems pupils at Dowdales are worried that note enough arts subjects are included in the National Curriculum and have requested extra GCSEs in drama, dance and music.

“They happily give up an hour-and-a-half after school each week to study their chosen subjects.

“Compared to the number of hours allocated to other subjects this may not seem like a great deal but the pupils, some taking exams a year ahead of time, usually gain excellent grades.

“Five pupils are taking the music exam this year and since the exam has been taken at the school, no one has gained less than grade C.

“Students play their instruments, take a practical exam and write their own compositions using a computer. Courses are run on different nights of the week and this enables a few pupils to take more than one subject with the favourite combination being drama and dance.”

Among the school’s dance pupils were Hannah Brockbank, Sarah Coward, Maya Stratton-Brook, Cathy-ann Legg, Katrina Lewandowski, Sherry Hatton, Elizabeth Hazlehurst and Cheryl Mantle. 

Within two years Dowdales was established as the only school in the county offering an accredited GCSE examination course in dance.

The Mail, on August 31 in 1996, noted: “Fancy footwork from dancing queens Joanne Rogan and Ruth Johnson has earned them a grade A in their GCSE results.

“They were pirouetting for joy after learning they had both gained the top marks in Cumbria’s only GCSE dance course at Dowdales School."