Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) scheme

About

The Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) scheme is a year-long progressive training programme for young people from across the UK. This programme is available to participants aged 11 to 18 years who demonstrate exceptional potential in performing and circus arts. Successful applicants are provided with one year of free training.

The National Centre for Circus Arts runs the circus strand of this scheme in partnership with our host school, the London Contemporary Dance School at The Place.

Most CAT students train as part of the London Youth Circus programme every Sunday (although you can also train at another circus school, elsewhere in the country, as an External CAT student).

All CAT students must commit to additional training during the week and other enrichment opportunities provided through the scheme. The average training hours per week for a CAT students range from 11 – 18 hours. 

Notification

Not based in London? You can join our CAT scheme whilst training at another circus school find out more

Funding

The CAT scheme is a government initiative funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and managed by the Music and Dance Scheme (MDS). The MDS provides targeted means-tested fee support and grants to designated centres of excellence for the education and vocational training of young musicians and dancers.

Grants are graded on income of both parents before tax. Students can be eligible for full or part grant - where a part grant is offered parents pay a termly contribution towards the scheme.  

Who it's for

The CAT scheme is available to anyone, you do not need to be a current student at the National Centre for Circus Arts to apply. 

Potential CAT students may not have taken a circus class before, or they may have already enrolled on our youth classes or be taking circus classes elsewhere, all are invited to apply.

Becoming a CAT student at the National Centre means you will be enrolled as part of our London Youth Circus programme and take on extra classes that are intended for CAT students only.

You don’t need to be the most flexible or strongest in your class. We are looking for CAT students to show:

  • Potential
  • Commitment and dedication to taking your training to the next level
  • A genuine passion for circus and interest in the arts for the future

What you'll need to do

From all of our CAT students we expect dedication, commitment and an excellent attitude towards training. As this is a government funded scheme, students must adhere to guidelines to be on the programme. It’s important to point out that if these expectations do not suit your current schedule, then the CAT scheme may not be for you:

  • Weekly dance training
  • Weekly circus training - approximately 11-18 hours per week
  • Committed attendance - CAT students must attend at least 80% of their classes
  • Attendance at regular training plan meetings
  • Attendance at intensive training opportunities, held three times a year during half term breaks.

Training and Support

Additional training and support provided through the CAT scheme includes:

  • Mentoring – parents and students take part in termly meetings. These are specialised training schedules which allow us to set goals and targets ('individual training plans') and talk about where the student’s training could go next.
  • Intensive workshops – students work with professional performing and teaching companies to enhance and learn new skills.  
  • Trips to see shows – subject to availability, students will be offered tickets to see shows throughout the year.
  • Access to additional circus skill and fitness classes during the week at the National Centre for Circus Arts. 
  • Paid support to take external classes at other training centres (theatre, dance, gymnastics etc).

How to apply

There are limited spaces on our CAT scheme, and not everyone who applies will become a CAT student or be asked to take part in audition. New applicants can apply up until the age of 16 and current applicants are able to stay on the scheme until the age of 18.

There are a number of ways you can access the CAT scheme:

If you're currently on the London Youth Circus:

  • Students currently training with us on the London Youth Circus may be invited to apply for the CAT scheme and asked in for a panel interview.
  • If students are currently training on the London Youth Circus and are interested in being a CAT they should register their interest by contacting participation@nationalcircus.org.uk. Our team will assess their application and if we would like to progress further students may be evaluated during their class time and asked to take part in a panel interview.

If you are not currently training on the London Youth Circus:

  • You will need to apply to take part in the London Youth Circus audition.
  • There’s no additional or special audition for CAT, and we may ask you to return to the National Centre for an interview. Please apply for the audition by completing an application form here.
  • In some circumstances, if you have not been successful on being a CAT student, you may be asked to be an London Youth Circus student.
  • If you want to be a CAT student but live elsewhere find out more about becoming an External CAT student.

Behind the scenes on the CAT Scheme

Interview with Centre for Advanced Training student Francis and mum Charlotte.Francis is a Centre for Advanced Training

Read more
Interview with Centre
for Advanced Training student Francis and mum Charlotte.Francis is a Centre
for Advanced Training

Book a place for the London Youth Circus (LYC) Open Day and learn more about that as well as our Centre for Advanced

Read more
Book a place for the London Youth Circus (LYC) Open Day and learn more about that as well as our Centre for Advanced