So your child wants to study circus at BTEC level. Here’s why they should do it with us.

You want the best for your kids. You want to make sure that when they embark on further education, they are getting the chance to expand their creativity and horizons, work with the best teachers, and develop skills that will help them through life. Our BTEC offers all these things. Find out how…

FAQs for parents and guardians

What’s a BTEC course all about?

Circomedia offers students aged 16+ the chance to study on the UK’s only two-year Extended Diploma in contemporary circus and physical theatre.

A BTEC is a Level 3 qualification that follows on from GCSE. The course features the same academic rigour as A Levels whilst also focusing on more practical learning.

On the course, you’ll have the chance opportunity to work across a range of circus disciplines including juggling, acrobatics, balance and aerial. You’ll develop your performance skills, and learn what it takes to become a well-rounded and healthy circus artist.

We believe that physical theatre takes students and performers beyond orthodox circus and encourages experimentation and performance with an intellectual dimension. It provides students with the opportunity to use the body to tell emotional stories.

The BTEC course  is very much focused on giving students the chance to try out a range of disciplines before specialising. There is a written-work element, and students must choose research topics and complete essays. Students will also have the chance to perform their own devised work at our spectacular venue in St Pauls, Bristol.

After successfully completing the course, may be invited to study for a second year, or apply for our FDA course. Some students choose to take this option, however others feel that after finishing the BTEC they are ready to pursue a career in circus and physical theatre or apply to other schools.

How do students fund their studies?

For BTEC students, there are different levels of finance available. If you are aged 16-18 on 1st September of your year of study, the government will pay your fees regardless of prior qualifications.

If you are aged 19-23 on 1st September of your year of study and do not already have a full Level 3 qualification, the government will pay your fees.

If you are aged 24 or over, you will need to pay your own course fees.

There is a legal requirement that students who do not have an English and maths GCSE at grade C or above (or regional equivalent, e.g. Scottish Intermediate 2 Certificate grade A-C) must study either GCSE re-sit classes or Functional Skills alongside the main programme in order to have a funded place.  If you are unsure whether your qualifications will exclude you from having to take English and maths please contact [email protected]

Unfortunately there is no loan system in place to finance living costs for students on the BTEC course.  If you are aged between 16 and 18, don’t have a full Level 3 already and live two hours away from Bristol you can apply for the Residential Support Scheme.  This is a government grant that will contribute towards the cost of your rent.  Applications are made through our partners Weston College upon enrolment.

Where do students live?

We have a limited number of student houses on our Kingswood site that are rented out by the Creative Youth Network. However we tend to prioritise BTEC students (who often come to study with us aged 16) or overseas students. Students are therefore encouraged to rent privately. As Bristol is a big student city (Bristol University and UWE are both in the city, then Bath and Bath Spa are nearby), there’s plenty of student accommodation available.

Many of our students live in house shares together. This encourages a really good sense of community between our students who tend to support one another, practise together, and collaborate on practical things like lift shares. Student rents in Kingswood and nearby towns/suburbs like Warmley tend to be a lot cheaper than houses in the city centre.

How do students apply?

You can apply to study on the BTEC via our website. Students will need to complete a personal statement. The form asks for all the personal information we require in order to process their application, such as age and education history. However, it also contains questions that give your child the opportunity to tell us a little bit more about who they are.  

We want to hear about their performance and training experiences – and what they’ve learnt from those experiences. It’s not just about your circus skills. We love to hear from applicants who have hobbies and interests beyond the theatre too.

Successful applicants are then invited to an audition.

What do Circomedia students go on to do?

Our alumni have taken many different paths. Some, like Circomedia teachers Catherine Boot, Sebastien Valade and Rachel Pollard go on to teach circus while setting up their own companies and performing. Others set up their own companies and tour the world, such as Charlotte Mooney from Ockham’s Razor. Others go into more traditional theatre, including some students who left us to join the RSC, or pursue a career in stand-up comedy. Many of our students join circus companies, and you will find Circomedia alumni in companies as diverse as No Fit State or Vikki & Webe. Those that don’t join companies work as freelancers – performing at corporate events, cabaret shows, festivals, and on TV.

Then there are students who have decided to pursue totally different careers, using the ‘soft skills’ they develop throughout their studies to pursue careers in the arts, teaching – even horticulture. You can read more about our alumni in the information sheet in your welcome packs.

What non-circus skills do students develop on the course?

We are dedicated not just to transforming our students into well-rounded performers, but well-rounded individuals too.

Learning with us encourages students to practise self-discipline, independent learning, teamwork, project management and time management. Written work gives them the chance to learn how to research and analyse a topic of their choice. They also have a chance to learn about marketing and promotion, IT, and health and wellbeing.

If you have any other questions about the course and studying with Circomedia, email us at [email protected]