Jump to content
Moonbeam

Advice on Primary Ballet Exam

Recommended Posts

I’m looking for some advice on my daughters ballet. She’s been at the same school since she was 2 and has danced there for 5 years now, she’s almost 8 and still hasn’t sat her primary ballet exam.  The principal teacher told me in January this year that she’d be sitting in November 19 and now I’ve been told, without any explanation that she won’t be sitting it until March 20, by which point she’ll be at the age when most of the girls in the dance school sit Grade 1.  I know it’s not always important to do exams but I’m worried about this affecting my daughters confidence.  When is it normal to sit a RAD primary ballet exam?  Thanks xx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hopefully one of the moderators will see your post soon and move it to Doing Dance so you get some advice. 

 

Long time since my children were that age but do know my Dd skipped primary exam. Does sound like your daughter being held back so I would be asking for an explanation. Often teachers busy between classes, sometimes better to email or call.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Moonbeam and welcome to the Forum!

 

I have moved your post to the main Doing Dance section.

 

I agree with Jane, I would approach the teacher for an explanation and advice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My daughter didn't start ballet until she was 6, almost 7 so she skipped primary too.

 

I really think you need to speak to the teacher.  I wuold say that the age of 6/7 is the usual age in which to take the primary exam.  By the age of 7/8 most are in a Grade 1 class.  Is there any reason for this that you can think of (lack of concentration to get through the exam, co-ordination issues or nerves about performing in front of a stranger etc?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m not sure to be fair, I do know when she sat her pre primary exam she was with children in the year below her at school but I think that might have been due to numbers for the exam sitting which may yet again be the case this time but we haven’t been told anything other than she’s doing it in March 2020 now. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Jane I think we’re going to try and speak to the teacher tomorrow, I think it’ll be easier face to face.  I can’t think of any reason why they would be holding her back as she is a decent dancer and as far as I am aware has been progressing well and working hard, that’s the last comment I had from the teacher when I asked when she’d be sitting the exam and at that point I was told November 19.  I don’t see any reason for her to continue a primary class for another 6 months, she’ll be bored if they’re learning the same things for 2 years, I would think. I also know other dance schools wouldn’t dream of putting someone her age in a primary class and would instantly move them onto grade 1. I hope I get some answers soon. Thank you all for your replies, I really appreciate it xx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's the possibility that the teacher might have her age/year group wrong? Is she small for her age?

 My DD had to be slightly fast-tracked as the school principal realised that they had her down as a year younger -  she took her Grade 1 at 8.5, but then only did Grade 2 for two terms and joined her peer group in G3 when she was 9.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know when I spoke to the principal in January she referred to her as primary 2 when she was in primary 3 so I do think she has her in the wrong age group, however she was reluctant to budge on this point and when I questioned it further I was told they were right and basically if I didn’t like it I had the option of taking the girls to another dance school if I didn’t trust their judgment.  I’m not a pushy mum but I am getting a bit frustrated with this as my daughter believes she’s sitting this exam in November as that’s what they’ve been telling her but they haven’t told her she’s not sitting it.  I definitely need to talk to them tomorrow about this. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Due to a change of syllabus half way through and various other factors my dd was in a Grade 3 class for 2 years.  In hindsight it was absolutely the wrong thing for her and I wish I had moved her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My youngest has just turned 7 (summer holidays) and took her RAD primary exam earlier this year when 6. My eldest is almost 10, recently gone into RAD grade 3, and if I recall took her grade 1 exam when she was 8, grade 2 before the summer.

 

I’d push them to move her up to grade 1, especially if ballet is something she wants to take seriously. Grades aren’t important for some things, but confidence is. My eldest DD felt ‘behind’ the rest of the children at an audition last year, not because of her ability but because she’d not had the opportunity to try out more complex steps and sequences yet. I talked to her teacher about it and she was very quickly entered for her Grade 2 and moved into grade 3 with some classmates. ( i hope all that makes sense.)  

 

The most important consideration is enjoyment though. Especially when they’re so young. If she’s not enjoying the lessons then perhaps take her for some trials elsewhere? 

 

Much love x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I received the message that told me I could move them I almost did I was so annoyed at the way it had been put.  My thoughts after the message were even if I  move her she won’t be able to sit in March so I just thought hang in there don’t lose your patience and she’ll sit her exam in November and hopefully they’ll fast track through grade 1 so she can be in with children her age and obviously now I’m thinking maybe moving her in January would have been a good idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ll speak to her tonight to see how she’s feeling about ballet and if there’s girls in grade 1 that she’s friends with as I don’t think there’s many girls in her primary class that are her age. My youngest just turned 6 and I’ve been told she won’t be sitting pre primary until March next year too.  I’ve always thought I could trust their judgement and maybe it was a confidence thing but if they don’t let the girls do their exams then their confidence isn’t going to improve.  Both of my girls are quite quiet and I definitely feel my eldest is needing moved on to boost her confidence. I can’t see that it’s ability as she got a distinction in her modern exam, I know they’re different and I don’t get to see their ballet often. 

 

Cross your fingers for me tomorrow xx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Moonbeamhow long has your DD been in the primary class for? The RAD specs have a guideline on how many hours a child should spend on each grade before taking the exam and moving onto the next and it states that for the Primary exam they should have  40 hours of teaching. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many schools do not even do pre-primary/primary. I would suggest moving her. She will not be missing out by commencing at grade 1. It is more important for you and your Dd to be at a school where you can communicate with the teacher and feel settled.

Over the years we have stayed too long in one school or another. We stayed because we didn’t want to upset people or hoped it would get better. Dd2 was being held in grade 2 from age of 8-10, for example. When asked why we had a multitude of excuses from not ready, needs to work on strength to “we do not enter until they can get distinction”.  She is now 12 and taking her grade 6 with a different school. Moving my children as been the best thing we have done.

Good luck.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was another girl at DD's old dance school whose mum chose not to query why she was with much younger children and her daughter ended up in Grade 2 until she was nearly 11, despite getting mid 80s in her Grade 1 exam. I think everyone has a fear of being 'that mum' but sometimes you just have to speak out.

Edited by margarite

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, SugarPlum2000 said:

@Moonbeamhow long has your DD been in the primary class for? The RAD specs have a guideline on how many hours a child should spend on each grade before taking the exam and moving onto the next and it states that for the Primary exam they should have  40 hours of teaching. 

She sat her pre primary exam in March 18 so by the time it comes around to March 20 that’ll be 6 terms so roughly 80 hours of classes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Mummy twinkle toes said:

Many schools do not even do pre-primary/primary. I would suggest moving her. She will not be missing out by commencing at grade 1. It is more important for you and your Dd to be at a school where you can communicate with the teacher and feel settled.

Over the years we have stayed too long in one school or another. We stayed because we didn’t want to upset people or hoped it would get better. Dd2 was being held in grade 2 from age of 8-10, for example. When asked why we had a multitude of excuses from not ready, needs to work on strength to “we do not enter until they can get distinction”.  She is now 12 and taking her grade 6 with a different school. Moving my children as been the best thing we have done.

Good luck.

I know how you feel, I have had similar conversations with myself bout wanted her to remain at the same school but you’re right if I can’t even have a conversation with them about it without feeling they’re going to get upset with me then maybe it’s time to look for another school.  Thank you xx

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, margarite said:

There was another girl at DD's old dance school whose mum chose not to query why she was with much younger children and her daughter ended up in Grade 2 until she was nearly 11, despite getting mid 80s in her Grade 1 exam. I think everyone has a fear of being 'that mum' but sometimes you just have to speak out.

I know what you mean.  I had already queried it and was basically told if I didn’t like it to move them.  I’m not looking forward to the next conversation given the response I got in January.  My eldest will be in Grade 2 until she’s 13 now as they normally have 18 months between each grade is what I was told when I queried it before which I think is too long and waiting 2 years seems even sillier x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Mummy twinkle toes said:

Many schools do not even do pre-primary/primary. I would suggest moving her. She will not be missing out by commencing at grade 1. It is more important for you and your Dd to be at a school where you can communicate with the teacher and feel settled.

Over the years we have stayed too long in one school or another. We stayed because we didn’t want to upset people or hoped it would get better. Dd2 was being held in grade 2 from age of 8-10, for example. When asked why we had a multitude of excuses from not ready, needs to work on strength to “we do not enter until they can get distinction”.  She is now 12 and taking her grade 6 with a different school. Moving my children as been the best thing we have done.

Good luck.

That’s a very good point! My eldest didn’t do any exams until Grade 1 and I only agreed to my youngest doing primary because she begged me! 

 

Also, i moved my eldest from a ballet school after finding out they’d merged the primary, pre-primary and pre-school classes together and she spent all lesson skipping with 3 year olds. I made my polite goodbyes and moved on. We’ve never looked back, she’s now at a lovely local school doing RAD and their own associates plus 2 non-syllabus classes each week elsewhere, my youngest is at the same school having fun on a more recreational route but still getting high quality reaching.

 

I would go to a few trials though. It was very clear at a trial class how different local classes can be! I looked for happy children, gentle teachers and a relaxed yet purposeful environment. I also asked to watch classes in higher grades which showed more about the overall feel of the place, classes got smaller but more dedicated which was great to see. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do the higher grades (5-8) and vocational grades appear on the timetable at your DDs’ school? I wonder if the teacher is delaying moving students up because she only caters for the lower grades... Grade 2 at age 13 is very, very low. You would expect a DC to be in grade 5+ or vocational grades (inter-foundation onwards) by then.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think one of the bigger issues we face is the availability of RAD dancing schools in the area.  I’ve always been proud to say the girls go to a RAD ballet school but I’m starting to wonder if I should have picked somewhere else that they would have progressed. I know it’s not always important but I know it’ll start to affect their confidence when they start noticing others in the classes above them that are the same age as them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can’t see grade 8 on the timetable but I do see the others there.  I really can’t work out what the benefit of 2 years pre school a year and a half pre primary and 2 years primary have if girls her age can start in higher classes than she’s in. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RAD is an excellent training system, but if it is tying you to a school that is not working for you it is well worth looking at other options. My daughter studied ISTD ballet until she started at vocational school for Year 7, and was able to transfer to RAD without any problems. ISTD has more unset work in the lower grades, which is great for audition preparation, and there is greater emphasis on understanding the French terminology. It should definitely be seen as a worthy alternative.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moonbeam if you roughly state the area you are within then people can recommend good schools to you.

Grade 2 at 13 is very slow progress. Most children at 13 would be studying interfoundation/intermediate and are usually somewhere in grades 4-6. RAD is a good syllabus but there are many others just as good.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you it’s good to hear about other methods of training, we just put the girls where we were recommended by a friend of a friend that is a dance teacher so I have nothing to compare it to.  I’m still hoping to have an open discussion about the future plans for exams and once I know what the plans are I will be in a position to make a decision.  I might be wrong with my timings, maybe once they move past grade 1 they speed up a bit but the earliest for grade 1 will be just before 10 with this delay.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DD is at an all ISTD school - so does ISTD ballet as well as tap and modern theatre.

 

It's good quality training - alumni at BRB and a variety of dance colleges (usually at 18).

 

She has taken an exam each year, pretty much, though obviously it slows down at the higher vocational grades . She would have been Grade 4 or so at the end of primary?

 

If you are looking at Grade 1 at 13, you do almost certainly need to find another school.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Moonbeam said:

I can’t see grade 8 on the timetable but I do see the others there.  I really can’t work out what the benefit of 2 years pre school a year and a half pre primary and 2 years primary have if girls her age can start in higher classes than she’s in. 

 

Pre- primary and primary are lovely for developing musicality, sense of poise, performance and fun. They are not necessary though. It’s gr 1 that’s THE most important beginning of building the foundations of good ballet technique - correct posture, use of turn out, correct use of feet and arms. 

Wherever she goes, try to ensure that she has plenty time in Grade 1

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Valentina, it’s very interesting you say that as the reason I was given for her spending a year and a half in each of the pre primary and primary classes was to build the foundations and now it’ll be 2 years in the primary class which I’m not sure of the benefit.  I am hoping I can get her into a grade 1 class soon. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To give a teachers perspective - there may other reasons why the exam is not happening in November such as not having enough other pupils (in other grades) to run a session. To run an  RAD day you have to have a minimum of 3 hours otherwise you have to team up with another nearby teacher. I'm having a session in November but I'm worried about it because a lot of my kids were doing show work all last term and I don't know how much of the syllabus they will remember. Yet some of them will have been in their grade over a year and if I delay it another term then that feels like too long. It's never an easy decision but thats why the RAD offer class awards as well as exams. I almost always use the class awards at primary as there's no need for them to do the full exam, and the exam is challenging for most 6/7 year olds unless they come twice a week or do lots of dancing and festivals etc (which my kids at my school don't do). 

 

If you don't mind your daughter not sitting the exam, ask your teacher if she can just move up to grade 1. Or if you want her to have the exam experience could I suggest the class award?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...