By the end of her six-year stint at the school, Ms Ward had worked her way up to assistant head teacher and revolutionised performing arts with a new studio, complete with sprung floors and mirrors. Dance became one of the school’s most-oversubscribed subjects and pupil attendance soared.
Ms Ward added: “I had a boys’ dance company with 40 boys in it, we did loads of cross-curricular projects where we taught maths and science through dance to engage kids in their learning.
“We also looked at how dance impacted on attendance. The days the students had dance, attendance was at its peak.”
Ms Ward was then recruited to join a leadership team to turn around a failing school in North London which was plagued with gang problems.
“I learned huge amounts there,” she said. “One of my babies was attendance. It was literally going and knocking on doors getting kids into school in the mornings.”
Ms Ward was appointed principal of Elmhurst in autumn 2010 and has since held open days for local headteachers.
She is also keen to increase the number of applicants from youngsters in the West Midlands and said her time at inner-city schools proved how inspiring dance could be. She said: “Dance is so engaging as an activity.
‘‘Classical dance can be quite off-putting to young people but when they see it close up, they realise the physical challenge of it.
“A lot of the media hype over the past few years has done us a great service.
“Sometimes the classical industry has pooh-poohed that but we should celebrate it. Billy Elliot, Britain’s Got Talent, X Factor, all of those have really engaged young people with dance, and that is just the start.”