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RAD presentation classes


taxi4ballet
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I would be very interested to hear people's experiences and opinions regarding presentation classes, as my dd's friend (age 13) is starting grade 6 and pointe and has never actually taken a 'proper' graded exam.

 

She has only ever done the presentation classes.

 

My dd found this out when she asked her friend what mark she got for her grade 5, and she didn't know what dd was talking about!

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They have 2 main purposes.

 

One is to prepare children for the exam, so taking the pres class perhaps 1 term before taking the exam.

 

The other is for children that for one reason or another can't prepare for a full graded exam. So perhaps they have special needs or have a physical disability that wouldn't allow them to take the exam. Also for children who can only attend once a week and not do enough classes to prepare for the exams, especially at higher levels.

 

I personally wouldn't have a lot of confidence in a school that only offered pres classes, unless there was only 1 class per week available and parents understood the difference and were happy with it.

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With the advent of the new RAD grades syllabi I believe that the 'presentation class' is being phased out and as the new work begins to be taught and examined, students will take an examination or a class award, the latter being assessed on elements such as control & co-ordination, timing, musical response, expression and each element is marked as being seen "never, occasionally, generally and frequently" - so it's basic but gives some feedback.

NB At the moment this only applies to the new Pre-Primary up to grade 3.

 

The presentation classes that your DD's friend may have done follows the remit set out by the RAD below....

 

(The RAD document 'Handbook for teachers: examinations and presentation classes' c2004 states:)

 

"What is the nature and purpose of Presentation Classes?

Presentation Classes, with the exception of Grade 8, differ from examinations in that the class

is conducted by the teacher, and the students are not assessed; the Examiner acts as an

‘invited audience’, before whom the students present their work. At the discretion of the

teacher, a limited number of guests (eg parents) may also be invited to form part of the

audience and observe the proceedings. All students are rewarded by the presentation of a

certificate of participation.

 

Presentation Classes are appropriate for:

Students attending schools where Classical Ballet tuition is included in the curriculum and

where the time allocated is generally less than in a specialist ballet school

Students whose attendance has been irregular due to a variety of circumstances

Late starters

Schools where, for a variety of reasons, the teacher has not been able to devote the

usual amount of time required for examination preparation

Use as a preparation for the equivalent examination.

Study for Presentation Classes aims to:

Encourage students to appreciate dance as an art form

Promote the study of Classical Ballet and related dance disciplines primarily as a leisure

or recreational activity

Promote and encourage enjoyment of dance movement as a form of physical exercise

Develop a general appreciation of music"

 

Edited formatting

Edited by drdance
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From what dd's friend has said to her, it seems that almost all of the students at this school only ever take the presentation classes, as dd says that her friend has never learned half the syllabus, nor has she been taught the correct vocabulary.

 

By asking (very tentative!) leading questions I have learned that the friend's mum is unaware that her dd isn't taking exams, and she thinks that her dd is progressing really well and is ready for pointe!

 

It would be really awkward for me to explain, because it would be extremely easy for me to offend her. She would think I was comparing her dd unfavourably with mine.

 

In total contrast, as far as I know, my dd's school (apart from pre-primary) has only ever done a presentation for either a child with serious ongoing health problems, or for one who freaked out at the idea of an exam and needed the teacher in with her for reassurance.

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I've seen a dvd of the school show, the standard is a bit on the grim side I'm sorry to say (we were warned off this school by someone in the know years ago).

 

It just seems a shame that the parents are paying for this, and not getting what they think they are!

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Our school has done Presentation Classes in the past for children who (for various reasons) love ballet but would not be able to take formal exams. I think assuming the parents are aware of the difference between presentation classes and exams, they are a lovely idea.

 

Surely on the Certificate you receive it says something like "....has participated in a Presentation Class"? And doesn't the teacher send slips home saying "your child is being entered for....exam/presentation class on....."? I'm just a bit confused at a parent who doesn't know what their child is doing?

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I think the school does a show one year, and 'exams' the next.

 

Also, I think they only teach up to grade 6.

 

I could well be wrong but my distinct impression is: Could it be that they do presentations almost exclusively because this particular teacher may not be capable of teaching to the required level in order for her students to pass graded exams?

 

Apparently the reasoning is that all of them move up a level together but surely two years in a grade (even on one lesson a week) should be enough for them to learn the whole syllabus and take the exam?

 

As I said, I've seen a dvd, and even to my admittedly untrained eyes you could see sickled feet, pronation, little turnout, lack of balance & co-ordination, rounded shoulders, sticking-out tums and bums etc. Much of which is quite usual from little ones at a village school, but not from the teenagers dancing on pointe! (Well I say dancing, more like tottering around as if on stilts).

 

Worried about dd's friend starting pointe with this person, but what can I say to her mum without getting up her nose or offending her?

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Both of my DD's did one each. My very under confident eldest did one for Grade 2 which she enjoyed and my confident DD did one for Grade 6, which she hated as she said she had done all the work and wanted to show it off!

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Taxi4ballet if you really are concerned about this girl beginning pointe at this particular school, you could perhaps mention how much 'injury prevention' work (ie more than one class a week, vocational graded classes) and perhaps make her mum aware of the dangers of pointe work if a dancer hasn't done any of that - you could suggest that in order to be safe it's important that young dancers have a certain level of technique and a good way of knowing this is their latest exam result, particularly the scores they got for technique...

 

I would hope that if the teacher is registered with the RAD then they have at least passed the RAD teaching certificate - having said that, I have colleagues who are examiners who do see a WIDE variety of work!

 

Something else to consider is this: I went to a very mediocre 'once a week' school for most of my childhood. I got a merit at grade 5 and then automatically began pointe work at grade 6. I was oblivious to the dangers, and my lack of technique, as were my non-dance parents. I even failed pre-elementary as it was then, and my teacher told us it was luck, quotas, they decide if you pass as you walk in etc etc It wasn't until I went to secondary school, made friends with girls who went to a very large and successful festival school and went along to a festival to watch them that I discovered a whole other world...

 

Without giving you all the gory details, eventually I moved to a school where I had brilliant teachers & got to a level where I was technically strong enough to pass Intermediate, get Honours for Advanced 1 modern, get ISTD modern associate (1st teaching exam) pass A-level dance with a top 5 mark and got a scholarship to London Contemporary Dance School.

 

Maybe showing this girl or this girls mum what she's been missing might be enough?

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Maybe,very subtly,you could invite her and her daughter to watch an end of term class at your school,or some sort of performance,so she can see the standard ,or rather, the difference in standard,between the two schools.

 

This is a lovely idea, but I'm not altogether sure it would work (for several reasons too long-winded to go into here).

 

The mum is quite happy for her dd to stay at this school, she likes it, it's local, convenient and cheap, and she doesn't seem to care much either way. Her dd is having one lesson a week for fun and enjoying it, but dd and I worry that she is going to cause herself a mischief, as she is nowhere near the level needed for pointe (through no fault of her own).

 

Oh well, nothing we can do really...

 

I'm genuinely all in favour of presentation classes, when they are used, as others have said, for the right reasons.

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I took my daughter out of a dance school that wanted to put her on pointe when she was only just 10. At that time, she neither had the strength nor technique, never mind the lack of physical and emotional maturity! When I refused to give permission, I was bombarded with text messages telling me that I should trust their judgement. They basically wanted to put my dd and another four in her class on pointe in the September and have them performing on pointe in the show that was scheduled for the following March. Incidentally, the other girls had only been taking ballet classes for a few months as prior to that, this school had only offered free style jazz classes. I have since learnt that older girls are now allowed to go on pointe on request. I find it quite scary when I hear of some of the bad practises that go on.

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I can't help wondering what view the RAD takes of schools who do presentation classes all the time and rarely (if ever) enter students for the graded exams.

 

Anyhow, my dilemma solved as dd says her friend has talked about giving up...

 

What a shame that your dd friend has talked about giving up! Could she not try a different school? Or maybe a local summer school (although possibly too late now) where she could meet students from lots of different schools and see if any would suit her better.Its a big, exciting world out there and it seems a shame that your dds friend's experience has been so limited in comparison.

 

I don't know whether the RAD really mind about the proportion of presentation classes to exams.At the end of the day its all income! But it does seem hard for tthe examiners to go to a place just to see presentation classes! It seems to me that the students might just as well do non syllabus classes and learn a lot more- rather than continuing to only learn the same exercises week in week out just for a piece of paper!

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I had always assumed that the number of students presenting their work, rather than being examined, would be very small at any school. I did not know that some schools get their students to present their work as preparation for a subsequent exam. Presentation classes do of course cost money. At my DD's school only one or two students, perhaps at Grade 3 or 4 level, would present their work at a single examination session. Generally, no-one presents their work. I suspect that beyond Grade 5 most students give up if they are unable to take exams. In my uninformed opinion, I would be rather suspicious of a school which did not enter its students for exams yet offered syllabus-based classes.

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It's also worth remembering that all Examination/Presentation syllabus used by teachers are products which those teachers choose to buy and then choose to pay to have examined/presented, I think the RAD think far more of selling their products than they do worry about how they are being used or anything of Schools who use more of one type of product than another. It should be remembered that teachers don't work for the RAD, we may hold RAD qualifications but we are also consumers of the RAD products and it is at our discretion how we use them.

 

That said a quick visit to the RAD website should explain all the differences to any pupil or parent who is perhaps being misled.

 

I am also reminded of another school who used presentations rather than examinations, here it was a matter of cost, of not only the exam but also extra coaching classes in term before the exam, the majority of parents were unable to commit to the cost of all the coaching classes but children were allowed to sit the presentation with only one extra class giving recreational children a much cheaper route to continue through the syllabus.

 

Every school is different.

 

Tx.

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I think Totty is right - the RAD sells products that we may choose to use or not, sometime they seem to act as if they are a franchise. To my mind they are one examination board among several, just like for GCSEs and A levels in ordinary schools. Each teacher/school can decide whether or not they wish to enter pupils for exams and if so which board they wish to use.

 

However, I do think teachers should always be very honest with parents about what they are doing and why.

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I took over a school a few years ago that only entered pupils for presentation classes and the students and parents thought they had been taking exams!! It was very awkward as I had to move them down a couple of levels before I could enter them for grade exams. A dance teacher friend of mine mainly enters her students for the presentation classes but this is down to difficulties she has with hall/studio availability so finds it difficult to put on extra exam classes to prepare her students and also for financial reasons as a lot of her students parents cant afford the exam fees/extra classes. The idea of the presentation class is a good option in the case of my friends dance school but teachers should not be trying to mislead their students and parents by calling presentation classes exams.

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I disagree that the RAD are only concerned with money - obviously they need to make ends meet, but the depth of thought behind their syllabi and how they train their teachers shows that they have a mission regarding the training of ballet. Obviously not all teachers are as good as each other but I do know from colleagues who are examiners, that they are rigorously trained and all exam results (and feedback on work seen in presentation classes) are carefully scrutinised. I have heard of one teacher alledgedly being 'stripped' of her RAD qualification because of her exam/presentation class entries.

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From the dealings we've had with the RAD, I've been hugely impressed. My dd's done the Genee Dance Challenge twice now, and took part on the free PDTD classes earlier in the summer, plus I've had cause to email various departments several times. The staff have always been highly professional, friendly, kind to my dd, and don't strike me at all as merely trying to make money by selling their syllabi.

 

Now obviously I'm not an RAD teacher but as a parent I've always thought highly of them.

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Sorry I think having re read my post I sound a little flippant, what I was really trying to explain is that as long as their is no questionable teaching on show at an exam session the RAD are not concerned with percentages of Exams or Presentation.

 

Like Dr Dance I have heard of teachers being questioned about their teaching and even some required to attend additional courses in order to be allowed to remain RAD teachers.

 

Tx.

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  • 2 years later...

I met a lady recently who was asking about my 10-yr-old's ballet commitments. When I said she had two Grade 3 classes a week plus a private lesson, but next year would have four classes a week as she's doing two Int. Foundation, one open, plus a private, she said "Oh, you should move to OUR school. My daughter is 13 and doing Intermediate – and still only has one class a week!" I had to try to conceal that I was horrified!

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A friend of mine once invited me to watch her daughter's end of year show and I was horrified!!!!!   They spent a fortune on tutus and costumes, but I didn't actually see anyone perform a ballet step!  Not even the big ones - there was something that might have been an attempt at an assemble, but that was all.  I felt I couldn't remain silent, so told her honestly what I thought.  This was a highly intelligent woman with a job in academia and I'm afraid she was totally insulted :-(  It also took until our niece was about 12 or 13 for my sister-in-law (who is an ardent theatre, concert and ballet goer herself) to move her to the school where I was teaching, in spite of her knowing that I was a serious teacher. I taught her more in the couple of years she was with me than in all the seven years before, but it was really too late.  The arguments are always - it's handy - she has friends there - it's fun for her there.  The fact that they are not learning anything doesn't seem to enter their heads.  Oh well it's obvious that life isn't dance for them!

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I must admit that when choosing a school when DD was five (now almost 11), my chief criteria were: 1. Being in a nearby suburb, and 2. Being able to book it all online. So we did a fairly recreational four years in church halls. But then our school merged with the 'most serious' school (that I had ruled out because it was in town with terrible parking. A conscientious ballet mum I was not). I did have doubts about this at first, especially as they had done Grade 1 TDI and then had to do Grade 1 RAD so we felt we were repeating ourselves, even after they explained the exam we had done was equivalent to RAD Primary. But after watching her for a year, they asked DD to do private lessons and competition work – so it now seems a blessing in disguise, as she has ended up with the best teachers in town. The recreational kids' mothers are all a bit disgruntled by the strictness and extra exam classes, however!

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I think we all start off with the ballet school that's handy and fits in with regular school and other extra-curricular activities.  I went to a local school, when I first started at age 3 1/2, but I was very lucky in that it was a really good school for those all important first years of training.  The problem seems to be if and when the child reaches a point where she needs to move on.  Parents can't always recognise when this is necessary, especially if their child seems happy and enjoys the lessons.  And of course there is not always a valid alternative that is manageable logistically.   My Mum had the intuition to know when it was time for me to move on and bless her, was prepared to take me on two buses after school, so that I could take classes that were more challenging and serious.  That doesn't always work out.  I know my Great Niece learnt for about 5 years at the local "round the corner from the house" dance school and I started nagging my niece after about two or three years that her daughter was wasting her time there and not learning anything.  My niece finally took her away, but they have not been able to find a good school whose location and timetable fit in with the regular school run and heavy homework schedule, so she's actually given up dancing, which is such a pity  :-(.  

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"I think we all start off with the ballet school that's handy and fits in with regular school and other extra-curricular activities."

 

I did that. Total dance ignoramus that I was, I managed to pick one of the two very serious dance schools in the town. So while I, in many ways, was actively looking for a couple of years of DD in a pretty pink leotard doing skipping around a village hall, what I got was ruthless rigour and total commitment, whuich is only increasing 7 years later!

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