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mummytwo

How long between ISTD exams ? Any advice greatly appreciated.

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I am not sure if posting in right place, as not all ballet related, sorry for the long post !

My 12 year old daughter (school year 7) currently does 5 hours of dance per week, ISTD Tap, Modern & Ballet plus Contemporary and Street.  She is also looking to extend her ballet training.

Her current grades are:   Tap Grade 4 /  Modern Grade 4 / Ballet Grade 3

For the last couple of months her dance school has started to mix the grades with the grade below her current level (girls in school year 5/6) hence not getting a full lesson which is only 45mins.

Also, her last exam in Modern & Ballet was 20months ago, which seems quite a long time.  She did a tap exam in Feb this year, at the time the grades were not mixed, so my daughter and her friend were getting through the Tap Grade 4 quite quickly (the teacher mentioned that they had pretty much covered alot of the syllabus), but, now she has mixed the grades she will probably be in that class for 18 months-2 years.

I mentioned to the Principal that she has been in the Modern & Ballet grade for 20months and when will you be holding the next exam, she said “they have covered the syllabus, but, now working through it”, she also couldn’t say when the next exam session is (probably 6 months away or even longer).  But surely, if she didn’t mix the grades she would be ready for her exam by now.

Really not happy with the situation and feel she is getting held back, she is also a quick learner. 

I really do not want to change dance schools, but, feel I have no choice.  I have looked at a dance school, but they offer IDTA Tap and not ISTD.

Does anyone know a private teacher so I can get her assessed to see if she is ready for her exams (to take an exam at another dance school ?), as if I did move dance schools I would like her to go into the next grade up ?   I am based in South East London.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.

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Hello mummytwo,

 

Our school does istd ballet and in general students would do an exam each year although this is not always the case especially as they move higher up the grades.

For a child in year 7 I would say that grade 3 is not drastically low but at that age there will be some who are at grade 5 or 6 but it depends on how old they were when they started etc.

I'll drop you a pm as well.

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7 minutes ago, mummytwo said:

I am not sure if posting in right place, as not all ballet related, sorry for the long post !

My 12 year old daughter (school year 7) currently does 5 hours of dance per week, ISTD Tap, Modern & Ballet plus Contemporary and Street.  She is also looking to extend her ballet training.

Her current grades are:   Tap Grade 4 /  Modern Grade 4 / Ballet Grade 3

For the last couple of months her dance school has started to mix the grades with the grade below her current level (girls in school year 5/6) hence not getting a full lesson which is only 45mins.

Also, her last exam in Modern & Ballet was 20months ago, which seems quite a long time.  She did a tap exam in Feb this year, at the time the grades were not mixed, so my daughter and her friend were getting through the Tap Grade 4 quite quickly (the teacher mentioned that they had pretty much covered alot of the syllabus), but, now she has mixed the grades she will probably be in that class for 18 months-2 years.

I mentioned to the Principal that she has been in the Modern & Ballet grade for 20months and when will you be holding the next exam, she said “they have covered the syllabus, but, now working through it”, she also couldn’t say when the next exam session is (probably 6 months away or even longer).  But surely, if she didn’t mix the grades she would be ready for her exam by now.

Really not happy with the situation and feel she is getting held back, she is also a quick learner. 

I really do not want to change dance schools, but, feel I have no choice.  I have looked at a dance school, but they offer IDTA Tap and not ISTD.

Does anyone know a private teacher so I can get her assessed to see if she is ready for her exams (to take an exam at another dance school ?), as if I did move dance schools I would like her to go into the next grade up ?   I am based in South East London.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.

Hi. My dd was istd and they did a grade in each subject each year - getting distinctions in exams so dd must have been fully prepared. 

 

We have moved to an idta school and dd now grade 5 for all So this will be taken after 12-18 month. ( Inc time to go over difference in syllabus/steps for below grades for free work part of exam) 

 

I think generally as the grades get higher they take slightly longer but at grade 3/4 I d have said a year. 

 

If you wanted to move you could ask the new dance school to assess her to put her in an appropriate class - its ok to miss a grade if they say so. I m not sure about doing exam on own steam sorry. 

 

It does sound odd mixing with grade below 

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For DD at an all-ISTD school (and always getting distinctions) a grade a year for the numbered grades was 'normal' - once she had a gap of 2 terms, and she had gaps of 4 terms a few times, but once a year (at a school big enough to be its own exam centre every term) was absolutely the norm.

 

It has continued to the vocational grades for Tap - she's just about to take Adv 2 tap at 15 - but Modern slowed down for the big Intermediate - Adv 1 jump (done last term) and I think Adv 1 ballet will be a while yet. But for the numbered grades, 1 per year.

 

Mixing with the grade ABOVE is normal - DD used to have e.g. 1-2 lessons at her own level + 1 mixed with the one above - but mixing 'down' seems odd if it isn't also balanced with mixing 'up'.

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I’d say on average a grade a year. You can actually go into the website and look at the spec for ISTD and just chat with your dd about what they’ve covered, what she feels confident with, etc. You might find some content on YouTube too. There is also recommended hours on there I think which includes practise hours. 

 

I say average because sometimes my dd did grades a lot quicker ie; one term. But depending on teacher/classes/other students it could take up to a year if you are waiting for others to catch up. Especially if the schools needs to have minimum numbers before holding an exam session or if the teacher wants to put a whole peer group in together in which case ... welcome to the world of being held back :) 

 

youll need to think about how you feel about that and how important it is to keep progress going at the rate you would like and balance that with moving. 

 

It’s going to feel very different if there are younger children in the class but try to see if it’s reasonable for the teacher and if your child is going to be impacted with people who don’t get it as quickly or who don’t practice at home that much. 

 

Don’t be tempted to race through grades with lower marks than your dd could obtain as it’s not worth it as more important in my view to develop technique in line with the structure.

 

20 months seems excessive so possibly it’s “operational efficiency” for the teacher/school ie; bigger class sizes = more profitable. Class sizes seem to get smaller as they go up through the grades so you might find more schools do this.

 

even if your dd did the exam would there be a class available at the next grade? If so, could she overlap it now? 

 

You could try the Saturday school at urdang in London perhaps? 

 

 

 

 

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Hi, that's a tricky situation! Can I ask if it's just in your daughters classes that the teacher is mixing in the lower grades and have you had the courage to ask the principle for the reasons behind this change?

I do understand your concerns though especially if the teacher is now spending time getting others up to speed rather than bringing the original class up to exam ready!

i agree that about a year in the grades is about right but we've seen the pace slow down as my DD's have reached grade 4 and beyond because of the increasing degree of complexity and strength needed, preparation for shows etc, mixed ability class and new people accepted into class!

If your dance school is quite small it may be that the teacher currently doesn't have enough grades that are exam ready to hold exam sessions at the dance school at the moment which is equally frustrating!

I would begin to have a look round for another dance school if your daughter was keen to progress! I'm sure a new teacher would move her up to the next grades if she could see that your DD was capable. That might be less messy than trying to slot your DD into exam slots with a new school especially when exam dances are choreographed by the individual teachers, well in ISTD modern and tap anyway, I'm not familiar with ISTD ballet!

Just to add...doing ISTD grade 5 tap would make more sense to your DD than switching to IDTA tap because the ISTD grades all have step build ups that help with the progression and understanding so look for what your DD knows ideally! X

 

 

 

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Talk to the principal again. This time be direct. Any decent school will respond honestly to you.

 

Had similar situation at my dd's school where her friends took the exam and she didn't, but bricked saying anything to avoid confrontation, to my dd's detriment who ended up staying down another year. But I won't let that happen again. 

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my girls do ISTD, their school are slow with exams but generally 5 terms I think sometimes less, sometimes more if there has been a show or exam dates thrown out of plan for some reason or a class just taking longer to get to grips with a grade. 

 

My 9 year old is in grade 2 ballet, and about to go into grade 2 tap and grade 3 modern, my 10 year old is in grade 3 ballet, grade 2 tap and grade 3 modern.

 

my take on it is there are 6 grades and I have always assumed grade 6 was really for 16-18 year olds, obviously some will want to do vocational exams alongside that but some schools do the grades then do vocational after. 

 

it also depends how many hours a week on each style. I think ISTD say 60-70hours of taught time on grade 3, can't remember, it is on their specifications somewhere. so at 1hr a week of ballet and 1hr of tap and 1hr of modern then you are looking at 60 lessons between exams. based on that then 20 months isn't surprising really. The mixing with lower classes is more of the concern as she will get bored soon if she isn't already. Have numbers been dropping and they need to combine classes to make it worth running the classes?

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At her last dance school my DD was doing IDTA. She went 2 years between G1 and G2 for "operational reasons" until we got fed up waiting and changed schools. She is now doing G3 RAD aged 11 so she hasn't exactly caught up but she is being taught much better technique and has made lovely progress. It helps that she has started pointe and Inter Foundation too. 

 

So I would consider the big picture - grade numbers aren't everything if the teaching is good, your DD is happy and making progress. If not, seriously think about moving or adding an associates class. 

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There's more than 6 grades. After grade 6 it goes to Intermediate Foundation (which is a voluntary grade and some teachers skip this) and then Intermediate, then Advanced 1, then Advanced 2.  (so 4 more after grade 6 and they all get a lot harder).  Have a look on the ISTD website under the Exams section. 

 

https://www.istd.org/examinations/

 

My 13 yo is taking Intermediate and overlapping Advanced 1. Some of her friends her age have already taken Intermediate.  

 

The Grade 6 class at one of our local dance schools is aged between 12-14 years and I would say this is consistent with other dance schools we've attended. 

 

Most of my dd's peers will aim to reach advanced 1 everything (ballet, tap, modern) if at all possible before going off to college but not compromising on technical progress along the way to achieve this. It's an aspirational target they all seem to share if they know at this age they want to go down the vocational route. 

 

Some dance teachers are completely out of touch with kids going off to college at 16. They still think they go off at 18 and then do ISTD Intermediate lol.  A lot of teachers have no clue what the audition standard is like, student fees weren't about in their days so the pressure to do well at auditions and get DaDa funding is new to them. It's not just getting a place, it's also about getting scholarships and funding unless you can afford to pay £25-30k.  Depends if you have a teacher that is out of touch or whether you have one that is in touch with recent students auditioning and going through the funding audition.

 

Sorry, but if I had realised all this a few years ago I would have put a rocket up a few teachers bottoms, or moved schools sooner, or not cared about their peer groups or minimum class sizes, and not been so co-operative and sympathetic about the little sally-delicate-socks who misses half a terms full of classes yet the class gets held back for :)

 

(gosh I've turned into such a jaded dance mum hahaha) 

 

 

 

 

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ours seem to do vocational alongside the higher grades but from my point of view I am happy with just 6 grades in my field of view as my girls are recreational dancers. they are dedicated, they always turn up, one is always top of her class by quite a way in exams and the other is always top or in the top 2 marks so by being recreational they are still doing very well but they will not go on to be dancers and they will not even go on to take vocational exams so those aren't important to us. if they had therefore got to grade 6 by the age of 14 for the child who will never be able to do pointework because of joint issues what would she do then anyway.

 

 

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21 hours ago, annaliesey said:

I’d say on average a grade a year. You can actually go into the website and look at the spec for ISTD and just chat with your dd about what they’ve covered, what she feels confident with, etc. You might find some content on YouTube too. There is also recommended hours on there I think which includes practise hours. 

 

I say average because sometimes my dd did grades a lot quicker ie; one term. But depending on teacher/classes/other students it could take up to a year if you are waiting for others to catch up. Especially if the schools needs to have minimum numbers before holding an exam session or if the teacher wants to put a whole peer group in together in which case ... welcome to the world of being held back :) 

 

youll need to think about how you feel about that and how important it is to keep progress going at the rate you would like and balance that with moving. 

 

It’s going to feel very different if there are younger children in the class but try to see if it’s reasonable for the teacher and if your child is going to be impacted with people who don’t get it as quickly or who don’t practice at home that much. 

 

Don’t be tempted to race through grades with lower marks than your dd could obtain as it’s not worth it as more important in my view to develop technique in line with the structure.

 

20 months seems excessive so possibly it’s “operational efficiency” for the teacher/school ie; bigger class sizes = more profitable. Class sizes seem to get smaller as they go up through the grades so you might find more schools do this.

 

even if your dd did the exam would there be a class available at the next grade? If so, could she overlap it now? 

 

You could try the Saturday school at urdang in London perhaps? 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much Annaliesey, I will definitely have a look at the syllabus on ISTD and chat with my DD to see what she has actually covered.

 

Yes, I believe there is a class available for the next grade on a different evening, i'm pretty sure that is also mixed grade 5/6.  

 

 

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21 hours ago, Clarkd3 said:

Hi, that's a tricky situation! Can I ask if it's just in your daughters classes that the teacher is mixing in the lower grades and have you had the courage to ask the principle for the reasons behind this change?

I do understand your concerns though especially if the teacher is now spending time getting others up to speed rather than bringing the original class up to exam ready!

i agree that about a year in the grades is about right but we've seen the pace slow down as my DD's have reached grade 4 and beyond because of the increasing degree of complexity and strength needed, preparation for shows etc, mixed ability class and new people accepted into class!

If your dance school is quite small it may be that the teacher currently doesn't have enough grades that are exam ready to hold exam sessions at the dance school at the moment which is equally frustrating!

I would begin to have a look round for another dance school if your daughter was keen to progress! I'm sure a new teacher would move her up to the next grades if she could see that your DD was capable. That might be less messy than trying to slot your DD into exam slots with a new school especially when exam dances are choreographed by the individual teachers, well in ISTD modern and tap anyway, I'm not familiar with ISTD ballet!

Just to add...doing ISTD grade 5 tap would make more sense to your DD than switching to IDTA tap because the ISTD grades all have step build ups that help with the progression and understanding so look for what your DD knows ideally!

 

 

Hello Clarkd3

 

Thank you for your message. 

 

Yes, some of the other classes are also mixed.  I haven’t asked the principal as to why the grades are now mixed in DD’s class, what makes it even more frustrating that the principal is in the same building doing paperwork I believe, while the mixed grade lessons are taking place, surely she should be separating the class like she used to previously, maybe then my DD would be ready for her exam by now.

I dread to think when the next exam session will take place (last exam session Feb 18’), holding my DD back even more.

I know of a good dance school, but, they offer IDTA Tap and would like to keep the ISTD syllabus, plus I feel we are stuck there as she also does competitions.......really hard to find a school which ticks all the boxes !

 

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8 minutes ago, mummytwo said:

 

Hello Clarkd3

 

Thank you for your message. 

 

Yes, some of the other classes are also mixed.  I haven’t asked the principal as to why the grades are now mixed in DD’s class, what makes it even more frustrating that the principal is in the same building doing paperwork I believe, while the mixed grade lessons are taking place, surely she should be separating the class like she used to previously, maybe then my DD would be ready for her exam by now.

I dread to think when the next exam session will take place (last exam session Feb 18’), holding my DD back even more.

I know of a good dance school, but, they offer IDTA Tap and would like to keep the ISTD syllabus, plus I feel we are stuck there as she also does competitions.......really hard to find a school which ticks all the boxes !

 

Try and speak to the principle if you can about your concerns, it might help you to understand her reasoning and vice versa! Good luck, it’s all a minefield but I have learned from reading this forum  that parental instinct is usually right! X

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23 hours ago, Clarkd3 said:

Hi, that's a tricky situation! Can I ask if it's just in your daughters classes that the teacher is mixing in the lower grades and have you had the courage to ask the principle for the reasons behind this change?

I do understand your concerns though especially if the teacher is now spending time getting others up to speed rather than bringing the original class up to exam ready!

i agree that about a year in the grades is about right but we've seen the pace slow down as my DD's have reached grade 4 and beyond because of the increasing degree of complexity and strength needed, preparation for shows etc, mixed ability class and new people accepted into class!

If your dance school is quite small it may be that the teacher currently doesn't have enough grades that are exam ready to hold exam sessions at the dance school at the moment which is equally frustrating!

I would begin to have a look round for another dance school if your daughter was keen to progress! I'm sure a new teacher would move her up to the next grades if she could see that your DD was capable. That might be less messy than trying to slot your DD into exam slots with a new school especially when exam dances are choreographed by the individual teachers, well in ISTD modern and tap anyway, I'm not familiar with ISTD ballet!

Just to add...doing ISTD grade 5 tap would make more sense to your DD than switching to IDTA tap because the ISTD grades all have step build ups that help with the progression and understanding so look for what your DD knows ideally! X

 

 

 

Just out of interest, what’s classed as a ‘small school’ and what would be classed as ‘large’?  Is it based on pupil numbers per school or pupils per class? Thank you. 

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It can be quite daunting talking to dance teachers and school principles, but from my experience it always helps. For example, I couldn’t understand a few years ago why my daughter was in a grade with children a year or more younger than her, turned out the dance school had her birthday wrong. As she’s small for her age it wasn’t obvious, it was only when I discussed it with the teacher that the error came up. She was then moved up a grade!

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I understand your concerns re the tap as the IDTA syllabus is very different from ISTD (e.g. wings are done much much earlier and are central to the syllabus, not just peripheral/optional as they are in ISTD) and she would almost certainly need to drop back to a lower grade if she were to switch, at least initially, in order to catch up.

 

I am surprised no-one else has commented on the 45-minute classes - bad enough for a single-grade class, but for a class with combined grades, 45 minutes is IMO totally inadequate. (are there one or two of these classes per week BTW?)

 

However combining grades is much more feasible in principle for ISTD ballet than for any other syllabus because the focus is on steps rather than long combinations which all have to be learned. (Also bear in mind that while your DD is being "held back" by her grade being combined with the one below, their experience will be the opposite because they are being combined with the grade above!)

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22 hours ago, balletbean said:

Just out of interest, what’s classed as a ‘small school’ and what would be classed as ‘large’?  Is it based on pupil numbers per school or pupils per class? Thank you. 

Hmm, I’d say a small school is based on low total pupil numbers which I guess has a knock on effect to small classes and maybe just one teacher doing it all? 

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2 hours ago, Clarkd3 said:

Hmm, I’d say a small school is based on low total pupil numbers which I guess has a knock on effect to small classes and maybe just one teacher doing it all? 

Thank you. It would be interesting to know from other members of this forum what the difference is in class sizes between the Grades and then between Vocational to  Regular Dance Studios for the higher grades. 

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3 minutes ago, balletbean said:

Thank you. It would be interesting to know from other members of this forum what the difference is in class sizes between the Grades and then between Vocational to  Regular Dance Studios for the higher grades. 

My dd is in a school with around 100 students. 

Grade 5 tap does 1:1 as no one else her level

Grade 5 modern 10 in class and g5 ballet 8 in class however around half wont take the exams by choice. 

 

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I would say I work for a large school but class sizes vary- 

 

approx 500 students, 19 teachers, 7 studios over 4 venues. Biggest class size 20 ish smallest 2-3. Vocational grades range from classes of 3-15. Although a lot tend to stay with the same cohort all the way through, with a fair few opting out of exams around age 13 if they decide they just want to keep up classes for fun. 

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We have a small RAD school , just over a hundred with 2 teachers . Class sizes are between 12 - 18 students. Intermediate  has around 18 and Adv1 has 12. All students from grade 2 (average age 7-8) must take at least 2 ballet classes each week and they also take Lyrical, contemporary, Acro and tap ( non syllabus). Average time in a grade is a year. Some take less time , some a little more.  Vocationals generally 18 months.  

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On 14/06/2018 at 17:50, balletbean said:

Just out of interest, what’s classed as a ‘small school’ and what would be classed as ‘large’?  Is it based on pupil numbers per school or pupils per class? Thank you. 

that's an interesting question 

could also be to  do with the resilience of the school  to staff absence and their ability  to  increase the numbers of classes they offer  (  teachers and /or spaces - space is interesting  simply because  of space  -  and not just becasue  the older / taller people need more linear metres of barre for the same number of students / travel more )

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19 hours ago, dancertaxi said:

My dd is in a school with around 100 students. 

Grade 5 tap does 1:1 as no one else her level

Grade 5 modern 10 in class and g5 ballet 8 in class however around half wont take the exams by choice. 

 

Grade 5 appears to be where the classes appear to drop in size. Maybe a reflection on pupils being in senior school. Interests begin to change. 

15 hours ago, Bluebird22 said:

I would say I work for a large school but class sizes vary- 

 

approx 500 students, 19 teachers, 7 studios over 4 venues. Biggest class size 20 ish smallest 2-3. Vocational grades range from classes of 3-15. Although a lot tend to stay with the same cohort all the way through, with a fair few opting out of exams around age 13 if they decide they just want to keep up classes for fun. 

Wow, that is an amazing number of pupils. What kind of area do you cover? 

7 hours ago, BBA said:

We have a small RAD school , just over a hundred with 2 teachers . Class sizes are between 12 - 18 students. Intermediate  has around 18 and Adv1 has 12. All students from grade 2 (average age 7-8) must take at least 2 ballet classes each week and they also take Lyrical, contemporary, Acro and tap ( non syllabus). Average time in a grade is a year. Some take less time , some a little more.  Vocationals generally 18 months.  

That’s an impressive amount of Adv1 pupils for just over 100 pupils. 

 

My DD attends a school with just over 210 on the register. However, the top grades there are so few. Only 3 (incl my DD) took RAD Intermediate this morning. Probably only 20 are 14yrs+ across all genres. 

 

I know of another local school with just one pupil after Intermediate but a school of similar size to my DD’s. Struggling to justify studio space for just one pupil. They are a business after all.  

 

Such a shame as I can understand teachers love the time with their seniors. 

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Even way back when I was dancing, our school usually had c 5-8 students in each RAD vocational grade (then pre-elementary etc) and about 3-6 students from other dance schools attending each of the vocational grades as these weren’t available due to lack of numbers in their own dance schools. 

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A large school would be one where there are multiple teachers, and well-populated classes available for all grades in all/most of the genres taught at any given time, and sufficient pupils to hold exam sessions more than once per year in a given genre, i.e. no pupil is ever held back (or forced to move up before they are ready) purely because no other classes are available.

 

A small school is usually a "one-man" or "two-man" band which struggles to get viable classes particularly at the higher grades, and cannot get the candidate numbers to hold exams until several classes are all ready at the same time (inevitably meaning that some pupils are held back and others miss out on the chance of doing exams because they are not ready by the relevant date). Exams may therefore not be held every year.

 

Of course the vast majority of schools actually fall somewhere between these two extremes.....!

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