School denies child Royal Ballet role

EXCLUSIVE: A GIFTED ballet dancer has been left devastated after her primary school refused her permission to act as an ambassador for the world renowned Royal Ballet School.

EXCLUSIVE

A GIFTED ballet dancer has been left devastated after her primary school refused her permission to act as an ambassador for the world renowned Royal Ballet School.

Paje Campbell, 10, of south Kilburn, was selected from hundreds of children to perform at primary schools as part of an outreach programme.

But after months of rehearsal and only days before it began, Paje’s mother, Petagaye Harrison, received a letter from St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School, in Canterbury Road, Kilburn, refusing permission.


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Ms Harrison, said: “She was meant to start the tour on Friday. She’s done all the rehearsals, she’s absolutely devastated. It’s what she wants to do. It’s a brilliant opportunity for her. They should be supporting this talented child.”

The school’s vice chairman of governors, Danny Wade, said in a letter dated September 21, ‘we are unable to give permission’ due to her sitting SATS – which take place in May next year.’

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The RBS’ outreach programme, Primary Steps, would mean Paje taking off one day a week for five consecutive weeks and is aimed at introducing young people to ballet.

Paje has been attending the RBS at weekends for two years as a junior associate.

She also attends a private ballet school in the evenings four days a week.

Jim Fletcher, RBS’s spokesman, said: “To be accepted at RBS you must display exceptional talent. It’s one of the world’s great ballet schools.

“We were not able to discuss with the head teacher, but we would really like to use her in the future.”

St Mary’s headmaster, Alphonsus Reilly, refused to speak to the Times or the RBS but his secretary said the board of governors were responsible for the decision.

However, Julie Taplin, deputy chief executive of the National Association of Gifted Children, said: “It’s down to the discretion of the headteacher.

“If he refuses it would then be down to the parent to put a case to say how it would benefit the pupil and the school, such as giving it positive publicity.”

A request to speak to the chairman of board of governors at the school was not returned.

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