A London-based drama school has said it will delay the start of its term indefinitely until it is possible to teach classes face-to-face, because it does not believe it can deliver the same quality of training online.
The pledge has been made by the School, which was set up in 2019 by former members of staff from the Poor School and is backed by patron Joanna Lumley.
Students enrolled on the two-year actor training course are due to begin classes in October. However, if social distancing measures are still in place and it is not possible to deliver lessons face-to-face, the start of the course will be pushed back "until such time as it can run without interruption or compromise".
The School director Trudi Rees said: "Our training is an intensive, practical course and I simply don’t believe that students would be best served by conducting the first term’s work online.
"Aside from the obvious practical difficulties of acting in a scene with someone who is on a two-second delay, taking the course online could seriously disadvantage those students who do not have access to the necessary technology, or a quiet space at home, and this goes against our ethos of accessibility and inclusivity."
The School also raised concerns that some neurodiverse students, such as those with autism, may struggle to engage with remote learning via group video conferencing.
Rees said: "With a course such as ours, the group dynamic is really important right from the start, and if the students are unable to meet face-to-face until part-way through their first year this dynamic will be harder to find.
"The amount of uncertainty surrounding the current situation has, understandably, raised concerns for those hoping to start their training in the next academic year, with many wondering whether their courses will go ahead and, if they do, whether they will be moved online for the autumn term."
Rees added: "By planning to delay the start of the course if necessary, I hope to reassure our students that their training will not be compromised and that they will get the drama school experience they signed up for, even if it is a little later than expected."