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STUDENT HANDBOOK


ALL STUDENTS

Learning Environment

We believe that every child has the right to learn but no one should have to tolerate behaviour that contradicts our aim. There is a consistently high expectation of all students/company members regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or social background. All students are encouraged to improve on their own achievements and not to measure themselves against others. Parents are also encouraged to view their own children’s achievements in this light. Everyone has the right to enjoy learning in an atmosphere of tolerance, respect and where everyone feels secure and valued. Staff work in a open environment where possible, and treat all young people equally and with respect and dignity. Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust empowers children to share in the decision making process and promotes fair play.

Language

We recognize that all members of the Theatre community use appropriate language which does not transmit or confirm stereotypes, and does not offend.

In Loco Parentis

ABOP Staff must secure parental consent in writing (by email/text) to act in ‘loco parentis’, if the need arises to give permission for the administration of emergency first aid and/or other medical treatment. Students cannot be transported in staff vehicles without permission from parents unless in the case of Emergency where it may not be possible to secure permissions.

Abuse

The welfare of students is paramount. All children have the right to protection from abuse. All suspicions and allegations will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately. We have a duty of care to safeguard all children from harm. ABOP will ensure the safety and protection of all students/company members involved through adherence to the Child Protection guidelines.

A child is defined as under 18 according to The Children Act 1989.

Behaviour

ABOP has made a commitment to use a variety of strategies when managing incidents where the code of conduct has not been followed. We are determined to encourage all students to act responsibly at all times and recognize the consequences of their actions. Where students acknowledge that they need to correct their behaviour, they will meet with ABOP Staff to address the issue and hopefully create a positive outcome.

Student Welfare Officer: Gareth Williams  (Bsc. Hons Applied Social Science)

All members of the ABOP Theatre Community must work hard to promote equality in all forms, eliminating all aspects of favouritism, discrimination, harassment and bullying.

Bullying

We believe that all students have the right to learn in a supportive, caring and safe environment without the fear of being bullied. All institutions, both large and small, contain a number of pupils with the potential for bullying behaviour.

Bullying affects everyone, not just the bullies and the victims. It also affects those other children who watch, and less aggressive students can be drawn in by peer pressure. Bullying is not an inevitable part of ‘Theatre life’ or a necessary part of growing up, and it rarely sorts itself out. It is clear that certain jokes, insults, intimidating/threatening behaviour, written abuse and violence are found in our society. No one person or group should have to accept this type of behaviour.

What we classify as Bullying

Bullying is deliberately hurtful behaviour (physical or mental) repeated over a period of time. It is difficult for victims to defend themselves against it. It is important for parents and students to differentiate between bullying and friends falling out with each other. 'Falling out' is an inevitable part of student’s life that they need to lean to cope with. Bullying is neither inevitable nor acceptable.

Bullying can be directed towards gender, race, religion, culture, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, physical/ social disability, personality etc. Bullying can occur through several types of anti-social behaviour and students who feel they are being mistreated should inform a member of the ABOP Staff immediately.

If bullying is suspected we will talk to the victim, the suspected bully and any witnesses. If any degree of bullying is identified the following action will be taken:

Help and support will be given as is appropriate to the victim. Parents of under 18’s will be informed.

Students found to be guilty of this type of behaviour will be excluded permanently from ABOP companies and projects. Class fees will not be refunded.
If, after every step has been taken to address/rectify the situation the victim feels the need to withdraw from classes, projects or companies fees will not be refunded.

ABOP operates a policy of zero tolerance with regard to bullying and violence and will not hesitate to act on this immediately. 

Photographs and Related Publicity

ABOP welcomes positive publicity, however the Theatre wants to safeguard the identity of children by using photographs in a safe manner. In addition the ABOP will endeavor to promote Theatre Productions and Events in a way that will best advertise the business.

We live in an age in which digital technology has vastly increased the use, and potential misuse, of photography. Publicity surrounding concerns about such matters has prompted the Theatre to produce a policy about the use of photography. Generally publicity photographs are a source of pleasure and pride, often enhancing self-esteem for children and young people and their families, and the practice should continue, with safe-practice guidelines.

Issues of Consent

The Data Protection Act 1998 affects our use of photography. This is because an image of a child is Personal Data for the purpose of the Act, and it is a requirement that consent is obtained from the parents of a child or young person under the age of 18 years for any photographs or video recordings for purposes beyond ABOP's core educational function. It is also important to ascertain the view of the child.

It is highly likely that there will be many occasions during a student’s time at ABOP when staff will need to photograph or video students/company members. Consent must be sought when the student joins the Youth Theatre Programme, to last for the duration of their stay unless a change is advised in writing at the beginning of the term.

If images are taken at an event attended by large crowds, this is regarded as a public area, so permission is not required of everyone in a crowd
shot. Individuals in the foreground are also considered to be in a public area.

Parents retain the right to withdraw consent at the beginning of each term, but they need to do so in writing. Current or archived photographs may not be removed from the website but no further photographs will be taken of the student.

Where students/company members are ‘Looked After’ ABOP must check consent with the social worker, on the parent’s behalf, and there may be other situations (in adoption placements for example) where a child’s security is known by ABOP to be at stake, indicating the need for extra care.

Identifying Students

Images published together with names and details of students allow for a remote possibility that people outside ABOP could identify, and then attempt to contact students directly. In publicity we use the minimum of information.

Journalists/Media

The decision as to whether to allow access to the media will be made by the Artistic Director. To a great extent, the manner in which the media approach children is restricted by the media industry’s own codes of practice, as well as by law. Journalists should not photograph or interview children under 16 years without the consent of a parent or other responsible adult, and children should not be approached during their time with ABOP, without the permission of ABOP staff.

Videos

ABOP will obtain parental consent before a student can appear in a professional video. Parents and private individuals will not be allowed to video classes,  theatre productions or events.

Theatre Publicity/Websites

This is an area that gives particular concern to parents. We do not identify individual students on websites/brochures/poster/flyers etc. and include only appropriate photographs.

Storage of Photographs

Photographs and recordings will remain securely the property of the Theatre.

Parental right to take photographs

Parents are not covered by the Data Protection Act 1998 if they are taking photographs or making a video recording for their own private use. The Act does not therefore legally stop parents from taking photographs or making video recordings of their own children.

However, as taking photographs or recording when other children may be captured on the film would require the consent of all other parents this is not a viable option. In addition photographing or recording Theatre productions is an infringement of ABOP’s Privacy Policy. This also applies to student/parent mobile phones and cameras. Rehearsal and Production photographs will be made available free, online at the end of a show run to the relevant parents.

Photographs/videos must not be taken by students in class, rehearsals or performances without permission from ABOP staff. Images must not be placed on social media or personal websites without permission from staff.

Health

ABOP Staff must be informed prior to registering if a student is suffering from a physical, psychological or anxiety related condition, or is under the care of a hospital consultant, psychiatrist, child psychologist or counselor. If it becomes clear that parents/students have intentionally withheld information regarding current or historic long term illnesses, students will be asked to leave immediately. Fees will not be refunded.

Should such illness present themselves during the term ABOP staff must be advised immediately by telephone or in person, at which time a meeting will be arranged to assess the suitability of continuing. Each case will be considered independently and all information will remain confidential. Should a student be required to leave the Youth Theatre Programme on a temporary or permanent basis fees will not be refunded, but at the discretion of the ABOP staff may be adjusted to accommodate a return.

Please note that students found to be self-harming will be asked to leave immediately. Parents will be informed.

Arrival and Collection

It is important that students arrive promptly for the start of each company class, rehearsals or workshops, approximately five minutes before sessions commence. Students who arrive late miss the warm up and will therefore be unprepared for the session.  Late arrivals affect the work of other students and disrupt sessions. Parents and or students continually arriving late will be asked to address this. If no action is taken, roles will be withdrawn and students may be asked to leave the company, no refunds will be given. Promptness is an important and respectful professional discipline that all students should maintain.

Students under 11 years must be signed in and out of class by a parent. Students and parents should remain quietly in the waiting area while waiting for class to commence or on collection. Students 11 years will be allowed to sign themselves in and out of sessions and leave a location during rehearsals with parental permission.  Over 11's may arrive at class and depart unaccompanied with written permission from parents.  All personal belongings should be taken home and rubbish placed in the bins provided.

Absence

Staff should be informed of any absences/lateness before the start of class or as soon as you are able in case of emergency. Please TEXT the student’s name, class attending and a brief message to the Education Mobile 07961 805625

This number is constantly checked by staff and will remain on during class. In case of emergency please RING the Education Mobile.

Holidays

Staff should be informed by email of all holidays at the time of registering. 

Payment

Weekly classes: All fees must be settled termly and in advance, at the time of enrolment and in line with deadlines.

Workshops/Holiday projects: All fees must be settled at the time of booking in line with deadline dates, before the project commences.

Once paid, Fees will not be returned or refunded for any cancellation or withdrawal made before the term has started or during the term. Students withdrawing mid season from SO Theatre will be asked to settle payment for the remaining twelve months and may incur costs associated with production changes and licences. Scholarship students will be expected to repay all monies if withdrawing from the programme within the twelve month period. One terms notice (after the twelve month period) must be given to leave SO Theatre Company. 

All parents should think carefully before enrolling and settling fees. 

Clothing

We do not ask students to adhere to a rigid uniform. However, for comfort and staging please make sure your child wears appropriate clothing for Youth Theatre sessions, i.e. clothing that is suitable for movement work and for sitting on the floor. Please see the website for details.

Break Times

Please note that students under 16 years are not allowed to leave the site during any break times unless they have written permission from parents. This is due to the Safeguarding and Fire Regulations Policies employed by the venue. Students over 16 years must inform staff if they are leaving the site and sign in and out.

Food & Drink

We would encourage students to bring only ‘healthy’ snacks/lunch and drinks for refreshment breaks. All students must bring still bottled water to class. Fizzy and milk based drinks are not allowed.

Student Mobile Phones

Mobile Phones are completely banned from use during class and should be switched off and left in the waiting area. Emergency communication with staff should be done via the Education mobile 07961 805625. Students will only be able to access their mobile phones during breaks or at the end of sessions.

Student Contact with Teaching Staff, Professionals, Adult Performers, Band Members etc.

Students over 11 years may communicate with the Artistic Director via mobile, social networking sites and email with permission from parents. All Facebook communications however must be transparent. Records will be kept. Students abusing this privilege will not be allowed to communicate directly. Students under 18 years are not allowed to ask ABOP Adult Performers, Band Members Sponsors, Patrons, Part Time Staff, or Members of the Professional Company for mobile telephone numbers, email address or communicate via social networking locations.

Parents must give written permission (via hard copy or email) for children to register their numbers on the Education Mobile. Students will only be contacted regarding Theatre matters and all text/email messages will be copied to parents. ABOP take student/adult privacy and safety very seriously. Any student found not to be adhering to the policy will be given one opportunity to address the matter. Should any inappropriate contact continue students will be asked to leave the Young Actors Programme. No refunds will be offered.

In case of Emergency

In case of a genuine emergency, students should not hesitate to use the Education Mobile or any other source of communication if they are unable to contact family and need assistance on their way to or from class.

Projects

These are often open to internal students and external candidates. There may be restrictions. Registration on the ABOP Young Actors Programme does not guarantee acceptance on holiday courses or principal roles. All candidates will be expected to audition.

Contact

For ease and to maintain a low carbon footprint parents will normally be contacted via email, text, or facebook. Please notify ABOP if any of these options will present a problem.

 

Additional: SO Theatre’ 

Terms & Conditions

Admission is by audition /invitation only.

It is important that parents and students appreciate that being involved in ‘SO Theatre Company’ is a privilege and brings with it group responsibility. Members must be thoroughly committed and of the correct temperament if offered a place or cast. Consistency must be maintained to ensure company rehearsals can run smoothly on a week to week basis, and performances are presented to a high standard. A lack of commitment can disrupt rehearsals, and can impact upon the other member’s involvement. 

Members enrol in the company for a period of twelve months, with fees settled in three payments. After which time, if standards are being met, they will be invited to remain for another twelve months and so on at the Artistic Director’s discretion.  Members of the company are not allowed to join for just one term. Members may be excluded by staff at the end of a term, 12 month period or project should their work not meet the necessary standard required. Staff must be informed of late arrivals and absences immediately and ALL holiday dates must be shared .

Parents must also be aware of their commitment required when young people become members of the company. All members of the company will at times be required to meet with the Press, Sponsors, Patrons, fundraise and market their shows. Parental support and involvement for under 18's, is very important. 

‘SO Theatre’ is a performance company where members are required to perform a minimum of 3 times per year. 
Company members unable to attend rehearsals, technical, dress rehearsals and/or performances, or withdrawing from the company during the term and/or rehearsal period (unless due to serious illness or bereavement) will be considered not to have satisfied the requirements of the company and will no longer be able to continue, or return to the company in the future. No refund of fees will be offered or discussion entered into. ABOP reserves the right to re-cast roles at any time during the rehearsal period if it is felt that standards are not being maintained and a production may suffer.  ‘SO Theatre’ company requires a considerable amount of time and expense to run and production work which is costly, is heavily subsidised by ABOP. Productions are inconvenienced by performers who are unable or unwilling to satisfy the criteria, and agreements made. This can have a detrimental affect on staffing, work levels and the moral of the company.

Company members who wish to step out of the company before the twelve month period is up will be invoiced for the remaining period. Parents removing students receiving funding from sponsors or patrons without the adequate notice will be expected to re-pay the funding received in full.   Any late payment or refusal to settle any amount owing will result in interest increments of £25 per week and further action will be taken to retrieve monies.

Company members returning after an approved break cannot be guaranteed a place back in the company. Students must apply to re-audition along with other prospective 'audtionees' to confirm their acting ability and vocal training has not diminished in the interim period. Special consideration will not be afforded to any candidate. The Artistic Director's decision is final and no conversation, email or social media communication will be entered into regarding places offered or refused. 

So Theatre company members are required to maintain school/college grades while in the company and behave responsibly at school. Places will be at risk should grades or behaviour drop below acceptable standards. Members should be honest and open about school homework deadlines and exam dates so that ABOP staff can assist to limit any anxiety.

Company members are expected to be prompt, attend consistently and prioritise Company classes, rehearsals and performances above ALL other performing arts commitments, excluding school drama GCSE/A'Level/AS Level, College/University examinations. Due to the number of students and members of companies involved individual members cannot be accommodated with regard to other performance commitments. Members will be expected to be aware of all dates they are required and monitor these throughout the year. Members should beware that leading up to shows they may be required to attend additional sessions. Weekly sessions/rehearsals are compulsory in the lead up to performances and members must be able to manage their time, energies and emotions during rehearsals and performances. 

Due to time constraints members of the company are not allowed to be members of any additional external Theatre Company, Youth Theatre Company, Young Actors Company, Performance Art or Hobby Performance Group during their membership of SO Theatre.

Members of SO Theatre represent Anything But Ordinary Productions during performance work and as such should always maintain high standards. 

ABOP SO THEATRE COMPANY MEMBERS WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED/VIDEOED AS PART OF PRODUCTION PUBLICTY.

Members are expected to meet deadlines, be polite, well disciplined, and kind and supportive of each other. Students found to behaving inappropriately, constantly telling lies, or making fellow members feel uncomfortable will be asked to leave the company. Students under 18 years will not be allowed to develop romantic relationships with fellow cast members while on ‘outreach projects’ supervised by ABOP staff. Bullying will not be tolerated.

It is a privilege to be a member of SO Theatre where staff and young actors are thoroughly committed to high standards of performance and behaviour. It is imperative that all members understand the commitment required when offered a place.