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Vocational Exams - a question or two....


Gingerbread
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Sorry if this has been covered before, I have looked back over old threads and can't see anything - although I seem to remember it has been discussed.

 

I'm just having a confused moment. Could anyone clarify - Do you NEED RAD inter and/or Advanced exams in order to progress to a vocational school at 16? If you are at or above them in standard of dance / technique /ability and all the rest, and understand the terminology used etc., are you just as well prepared for audition for sixth form?

 

Yes, I am thinking of moving DD to a dance school that doesn't do RAD exams but which appears to have excellent training. Many people have told me it's fine to leave the RAD pathway ..... but others have said the opposite!

 

And for what it's worth, DD hates the repetitiveness of RAD classes.

 

Any comments would be most appreciated, as ever! [smile]

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Interesting question! On the one hand I would say no, but on the other hand, many Easter/Summer Schools ask for a certain RAD standard (or eqiuvalent, sometimes) and I'm pretty sure Elmhurst and Tring both study and take RAD Voc. exams as well as their own syllabus. Not sure about Hammond and RBS, but there must be a reason why vocational schools take RAD, even if it's to allow the students to enter RAD competitions?

 

Edited for typo

Edited by spannerandpony
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I don't think you need RAD exams in order to progress to 6th form at vocational school, although it is probably the pathway for the majority. If you download any application forms for schools you are interested in, you will see that there is a section to fill in on any dance exams taken, exam board, level etc but I think that is just background information as the audition itself is the important bit.. You do need to be at the equivalent standard of intermediate/advanced as you say in terms of technique, terminology etc. The auditions do not contain any syllabus work but are more in the form of an 'unset' ballet class so it is important to be able to pick things up quickly.

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I personally think a mix of RAD work and 'free' work is a good thing. RAD is the only syllabus I am at all familiar with. As far as I know Tring students do their Inter, then miss out Advanced Foundation, going straight to Advanced 1, but don't quote me on that!

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My assumption is that RAD is like the equivalent of a 'industry standard' for summer/Easter schools so that children can be placed into groups by ability rather than age as RAD is perhaps the best known and most widely covered ballet syllabus. RAD exams can be taken at many vocational schools in 6th form too, including Elmhurst, Tring, Hammond, Northern and Central and as spannerandpony says it may be linked to qualifying for competitions or there may be other reasons. For actually gaining a place at a 6th form vocation school, however, surely it is the audition itself that the candidate is judged on and not what exams they have or have not taken, with any exam boards.

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As has been mentioned above I also believe it is used purely as a benchmark rather than a Board Specific requirement, the word 'equivalent' is often used which would accommodate any other examining boards.

 

My daughter has been studying RAD Majors at Elmhurst but she does not wish to continue with RAD and will revert back to doing ISTD majors.

 

Can I add a further 'related' question - are the Intermediate / Advanced grades of RAD and ISTD a comparable level?

 

I only ask as the grades are slightly different and dont compare grade for grade, there are 6 ISTD grades but 8 RAD I'm sure they reach the same end point but a grade 5 ISTD student would be studying at a higher level than grade 5 RAD - just wondered if things level out at the Major grades?

Edited by BankruptMum
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You don't need the exams, whether they're RAD, Cecchetti or anything else. My child has never taken any and I did ask the Associates teacher if it mattered and the answer was emphatically no. Most children from abroad won't have taken exams either.

Re the RAD grades - I'm sure someone will know more than me, but I believe that there only used to be five grades plus the majors, and only relatively recently did the RAD add on grades 6 to 8, which are aimed at recreational dancers.

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Bankruptmum, DD's teacher was talking about ISTD and RAD with me just yesterday and in answer to your question I believe the majors grades are about the equivalent. She was explaining that ISTD is generally considered slightly easier and that at schools which offered both exam boards students would study intermediate with both ISTD and RAD but take the ISTD exam a few months before the RAD one. I don't know how true this is, because although the teacher has done both, she only offers RAD at her own school and I only know RAD so the viewpoint is obviously biased. However I do know this to be true of a well respected and long established school in the next town who do ISTD and RAD alongside each other.

When swapping exam boards, however, I think I am correct in saying that you cannot take RAD Advance without having first done RAD Intermediate and likewise you cannot take ISTD Advance without first passing ISTD Intermediate.

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As I understand it, vocational exams and grade exams are unnecessary when applying for vocational upper schools.

 

At my daughter's school, YDA, they do not do the exams, but all of the classes are unset, they never ever know what they are going to have to do in each class and they then do performances twice a year.

 

The students this year are in the Royal, ENB, Elmhurst, Central, etc. finals and some have already been offered places at Laines, Millenium, Northern and Rambert, so obviously it has not been detrimental to them.

 

Clearly the exams are a benchmark and something to put on the forms, to indicate their level and I have just filled in that they do performances and that my daughter is at equivalent level to intermediate.

 

However, really the dancers at sixth form auditions need to go in and pick up the steps quickly and perform and really doing RAD classes, which teach the same steps for a year at a time, is not useful experience for this.

 

My daughter's previous teacher did all of the RAD grade and vocational exams and it was a big money earner, but I think it can become very boring for the student repeating the same syllabus week in, week out.

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Rowan is right - exams are not necessary. In any audition it is what they see on the day that counts. For summer schools etc. yes exams passed is an easy way to gauge students' levels, but again is not a requirement.

 

With regard to the RAD higher Grades 6 - 8 these are recreational and do not include pointework. I feel they are misnamed as I seem to spend a lot of time explaining to parents that these RAD grades are not equivalent to the music Grades 6 - 8 which are for serious music students. The real equivalent are the major exams.

 

Balletmadmom - we were posting at the same time - I agree with you a diet of syllabus only is boring (for the teacher too!)

 

Edited to add last sentence

Edited by Pas de Quatre
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thank you for all the replies!

 

Can I deduce that on the whole, children are taking RAD/ISTD/cechetti/whatever syllabus purely because that's what is offered at the dance schools, be they "local" or vocational, and it's simply a "default" route for many?

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Ballet schools in the UK tend to be affiliated to one or other of the big boards. This does have the advantage of knowing that the teacher is qualified to teach dance, at least to a basic level. In other countries they have the opposite problem where just anyone can hang out a sign and call themselves a dance teacher and you have to take pot luck at whether the training is any good or not. Methods of training like RAD or Cecchetti, etc, are perfectly valid methods, but I do think the exam system can be a bit of a stranglehold on both pupil and teacher, as Pas de Quatre indicated. But the exam system is the way it tends to be done in this country, and that is what is expected by parents and pupils alike. I certainly felt pressurised when I looked around and realised that most children were doing exams and maybe my child should be doing exams too. However, if you look on the mainly US website Ballet Talk, you'll see that over there that many would regard doing exams in ballet as odd and counterproductive.

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Having trained in both ISTD and RAD I would say the content level of the vocational exams is very similar. When I did my Intermediate exams(many years a ago!!) I did them within a couple of weeks of each other (RAD first)and gained a better result in the RAD exam but was always lead to believe that it was expected to be the other way round!! When I started off teaching i taught RAD for the first five years at my own dance school and ISTD at another school and enjoyed teaching the ISTD syllabus more due to there being more free work (even in the Primary grade although mainly set they can be given different combinations!)so I changed my own school to ISTD. The ISTD vocational levels have much more set work in them but any exercise can be given as a free exercise barre,centre etc in the exam so dancers have to be very well prepared! When my dd took her RAD Inter she found the free work given in the exam to be a lot simpler than the ISTD Inter. I think it is good for dancers to take the exams it takes a lot of hard work to get to the level of passing at vocational level and the result can be an indicator of a students suitability for vocational training.

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Hi Bankruptmum,

 

 

The good news is that most of the ballet organisations have agreed on standards for the vocational exams, and they are interchangeable.

 

From the RAD website:

 

"4.2.2 Award of some Vocational Graded Examinations is dependent on the previous

Examination having been passed, as shown in the table below.

Equivalent qualifications in Ballet from the following Awarding Organisations are also

accepted:

· British Ballet Organisation (BBO)

· British Theatre Dance Association (BTDA)

· Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD)

· International Dance Teachers’ Association (IDTA)"

 

Its does say though that to take the RAD Solo Seal, you need to have disctinction in the RAD Adv 2

 

"3.3.15 Candidates entered for examination must normally have passed any required prerequisite

examination. Where this is not an RAD examination, a copy of the

Certificate must be included with the entry form. In certain circumstances it may be

possible for candidates to enter for an examination and the required pre-requisite in

the same session (see 3.3.20, 4.2 and 6.2.10 below.) This option is not available for

entry to the Solo Seal Award, where Advanced 2 with Distinction must have been

attained prior to entry in every case."

 

http://www.rad.org.uk/files/ART372_20111216%20EIRR%20v4_EN.pdf

 

ISTD web site:

 

"Prior Learning

Intermediate Foundation is an optional examination, otherwise these examinations must be taken in order. Each

qualification, other than Intermediate Foundation, must be achieved as an entry requirement to the following

examination. It will be deemed that the pre-requisite qualification has been gained if certificated by a) the ISTD

Headquarters in London or B) another awarding body with the same qualifications accredited by the QCA (BBO,

RAD and BTDA)"

 

Hope this helps!!!

 

NL

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My dd attends a RAD school but her teacher will freely admit that when auditioning for schools at 16 it will not matter what exams she has taken. Also Central are stoping RAD grades and starting their own syllabus.

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Coming at this topic from a completely different angle ... irrespective of whether or not these exams are necessary, I know my dd certainly feels a great sense of personal achievement when she takes an exam and achieves the desired result. As flowerdew said, at vocational level these exams take a lot of hard work ... and a good result is a great personal achievement and a big confidence booster.

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Yes, I agree Moneypenny. Some students positively relish the sense of achievement which comes from taking an exam; my dd finds it marks her progress for her. I do think if you have a very syllabus based school it is important to find a balance by doing performance based activities like EYB, and if possible, a good non-syllabus associate class.

 

Thanks Janice and Ellen, I had forgotten that info about Central! It's the Junior School who are moving to non-syllabus work, as the Pre-Seniors are already non-syllabus, aren't they. In that case, I wonder whether Central's RAD Majors Classes will continue? Hope so!

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Thanks for that info on requirements on taking an exam, Nana Lily. My DD has just about outgrown her dance school and with her teachers help we have been looking for schools she could continue her training. We had been told by someone at an ISTD school that she would need to go back into intermediate as she would not be able to take ISTD Advanced otherwise. One for the 2 principals to discuss I think, if that school turns out to be DDs only option. DD has no objection to doing some intermediate classes but since she took her RAD intermediate well over a year ago and has been doing both advanced 1 and the new intermediate syllabus ever since it does seem like she would be moving sideways rather than progresing.

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Apart from the frustration of the additional cost I wouldn't see doing ISTD Intermediate as a problem, more a means to an end. My dd did ISTD Intermediate when she started at NBS, even though she had done her RAD Intermediate several years before. I think the school encouraged them to do it to open the door for ISTD teaching qualifications if they wanted to go down the teaching route. My understanding was that the syllabus was sufficiently different that she enjoyed learning it, and I think they learned the syllabus and took the exam within a couple of months. Hopefully your dd will be able to get the ISTD intermediate under her belt very quickly, perhaps doing the classes alongside Advanced classes.

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I feel there is certainly a space in the market for dance schools that offer a non-syllabus class alongside any exam syllabus work. Most schools in our area do not offer this and unless your child is on an associate program, it is difficult to find this elusive non-syllabus class. Perhaps some of the forum's teachers can comment on why this may not be so readily available?

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This is what Central has said on their website about the change from RAD. ' The new syllabus will enable Central to offer a fuller and more diverse dance experience, with more performance opportunities than are currently offered. '

 

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This is what Central has said on their website about the change from RAD. ' The new syllabus will enable Central to offer a fuller and more diverse dance experience, with more performance opportunities than are currently offered. '

Thanks for that information Janice &Ellen, I have looked at the Central website and read the whole letter about them stopping following RAD syllabus and they address questions about this move on their part very comprehensively.

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