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Benefits of advanced vocational exams?


ElllieP
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Can anyone give me some practical guidance on the benefits – in theory or practice – of RAD Advanced Foundation and Advanced 1? eg do you gain UCAS points for them, and if so do universities or courses really consider them for any course other than drama/performance/dance? And do you need either, in order, say, to teach dance?

 

My DD is not going down the vocational school or dance college route (been there, done that, with voc school). She has Intermediate and now just likes to do ballet for exercise, enjoyment, and to put her early training to use. We are lucky to have an excellent dance school which offers all vocational grades, but we live a fair distance away. The advanced classes are always late in the evening and the can knock out homework for an entire evening. Exams always mean more classes to fit in, too. With GCSEs looming, followed by AS, A levels etc we’re wondering…what is the point?  She could carry on taking class but not take the exams, but would she be missing out on something? Maybe having got to this level she should have something to show for it?

Any views? 

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I heard somewhere that you need to have gained Advanced 1 in order to be qualified to teach the vocational syllabus in RAD. I believe gaining Intermediate is the first rung of the ladder in order to teach the grades. However, I don't know if this is all true but maybe another forum member can confirm or correct me about this. But if it is true, it may be beneficial for your DD to to continue with the Advanced Foudation and Advanced 1 if she thinks she may want to teach ballet one day.

 

Where I live in the UK, you 'need' to do the vocational syllabus in order to do pointe work. There are very few separate pointe work classes so in some way most dancers (not including the ones at vocational school) don't have a choice, and this includes adults too. So if your DD doesn't have this problem/restriction, that is great, but if her school only covers pointe work in syllabus classes, and it's something she would like to continue, she may not have a choice but to continue with the Advanced syllabus.

 

I hope this is helpful.

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Most good universities look at A level grades and so will ask for say AAB. My ballet teacher tried to tell me to do the exam for the ucas reason but to be honest even the universities that ask for say 280 points might specify that these only come from say 3 A Levels. If she wants to go to university, I would say the time is better spent studying and just dancing for fun. She can always bring in her past achievements and dedication to ballet by mentioning it in her personal statement :) if she does want to teach I was researching diplomas in dance education and it says you can apply with just intermediate. If not I would think she could always take the advanced exam later, after college even if she decides to go a more dance route. Not sure if this is at all helpful but good luck to her in her GCSEs, my sister is just starting her mocks so I understand the pressure!

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Ellie, my daughter's LAMDA higher grades were not accepted by any of the universities she applied to, even though she was applying to do drama and they are supposed to count as extra marks just as ballet vocational exams are supposed to and I do not know of anyone else who had either of these grades having them taken into consideration.

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If she can fit the Advanced classes in, and wants to take them, then yes they do give UCAS points which could come in handy. If I remember rightly my friend's dd was short of 30 UCAS points for her first choice of Uni and fortunately had taken an extra at school qualification which had given her 30 points. It was a sort of General Studies thing but I remember the Uni saying it didn't matter where the extra points came from. This was not for a drama or performance based course.

 

So had she taken and passed an RAD vocational exam she could have used the points from that. It all helps!

 

As others have said, I do *think* you need at least RAD Intermediate to get an RAD teaching qualification but I have no doubt that an Advanced Vocational exam would be very helpful.

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UCAS points are awarded for Intermediate, advanced foundation and grades 6 and above as these are level 3 qualifications, but, paradoxically there are no points for the advanced levels as these are level 4. As to whether universities will accept them for non dance courses, I'm not sure, but I doubt they would be taken into consideration for highly academic courses. That said, if two candidates were equal in all other respects, being able to demonstrate that you have had the determination and work ethic to reach an advanced level in say, dance or music, could tip the balance perhaps.

In terms of teaching, to achieve the Diploma in Dance Instruction with the ISTD you have to have intermediate, but to do the Diploma in Dance Education, advanced 1 is mandatory. Only teachers with the DDE can teach vocational grades, but those with the DDI can teach the regular grades. With the RAD I dont think it's divided that way, but intermediate is required to commence teacher training. My DDs teacher teaches the advanced grades but has not done the exams herself, so it can't be essential.

I guess it depends on your DDs schedule and how important doing the exams is to her. My DD is a similar age to yours (GCSEs this year) and also doesn't aspire to a professional dance career, though she is contemplating teaching. She is currently working on Advanced 1 and hopes to do the exam in 2015. She feels it is too much to do in her GCSE year, though she is going to do Intermediate modern and tap next spring I think and she has already started studying for the DDI in ballet and national, though she can't actually register for the course til the next academic year. She is trying to get ahead of the game so to speak, as she desperately wants to pass the DDI in at least a couple of genres before she goes to university. I wish she was as dedicated to her maths homework! I do sometimes worry that she is taking too much on and that her academics may suffer but she is determined to do it all. She is up before 6am every day, even at weekends, to get her school work done so that she can spend evenings and much of the weekends at the studio, either doing her own classes or helping the teachers. I think if she can keep up with the school work it's a good thing, on a number of levels, but it's only important to me because it's important to her, if you know what I mean? If it does get to the point where she is struggling, I will encourage her to postpone her dance exams. After all, there is no upper age limit on taking the exams so no necessity to take them quickly. I think it's teaching her a lot of self discipline to keep going with them at the moment though, and she does actually seem to enjoy doing the exams, so i am happy to support her. It's parents evening next week though, so I may have changed my mind by this time next week!

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Did your dd do drama a level Fiz?

 

Usually universities won't accept points from both a drama a level & Lamda as they are deemed to be too similar in content

 

Years back when dh & I applied to do our music degrees at separate unis they would accept ABRSM Grade 8 & Theory in lieu of music a level (but not as well as)

 

The school dd would have gone to had she not gone to voc school doesn't offer dance gcse or A level so she would have found ucas points useful there (though of course the very academic unis only want traditional a levels. )

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To teach ballet: nothing actually required unless you want to be a teaching member of an examining board, then in most cases intermediate is needed.

UCAS points: as most people have said, even though there are points for level 3 qualifications, the more demanding university courses will stipulate grades requirements (eg AAB) and that theses grades must be in specific subject areas, rather than a points score. Or even if the entry requirement is a points-score they may also stipulate that it has to be from no more than 3/4/5 qualifications.

 

At the application stage, universities like applicants who are well rounded and who can commit to hobbies to a high level so for applying it would look good on her personal statement, it shows that this student has a level of motivation, commitment and work ethic towards something which is essentially a hobby so it shows unis that she'll commit and work hard, and achieve high standards.

 

Once she has an offer of a place, however, it's not so crucial - but don't drop the classes completely!

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Wow thanks everyone, that's really interesting and helpful. Pups_mum - your DD sounds very impressive and dedicated and this will stand her in very good stead. The work experience she is getting now will be great for teaching.

 

It's also interesting about the UCAS points - it's confirming for me that it's definitely better to get your points from academic studies, although as Fiz says A level courses themselves might not be better as an experience.

It also seems  that intermediate is the key stage in the vocational exams. 

Maybe overall it would be good for my DD to get that Adv 1 (maybe miss AF?) but perhaps as a goal for some point in the next 2.5 years before she leaves school. Exactly when is a good time is another whole question as I know from experience with her older siblings that the pace doesn't exactly slow down after GCSEs! Luckily her dance school would be fine with that and not insist on her taking exams - by this stage the classes now have a mix of some adults and university students.

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Ellie, I would ensure that your daughter has time to breathe, too! My daughter took and passed 10 GCSEs and 4 A levels, and had extra curricular lessons in singing, drama, tap, jazz and ballet. We had several mini meltdowns and very little time for relaxation. :(

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My non dancing son is following a vocational degree but even that didn't accept his alternative UCAS points - but it was a very useful tool to emotionally blackmail him into practicing for his grade 8s  :huh: .  He also found that having the Grade 8 pieces of paper meant he could back up his claims he was musical with written evidence - and he was challenged on this at interview.

 

However, in terms of your personal statement getting the exams does show that you are dedicated, disciplined and able to offer both academic and non academic skills.  I suspect this is where their true value lies in terms of university entrance.  

 

meadowblythe

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Something you might like to consider Ellie is the changeover dates for the RAD Syllabus.  The current AF and Adv 1 will only be examined until December 2014.  The new Syllabii will be examined from January 2015.  So it rather depends on when your school is going to change its classes.  The new exam content is rather complicated, with each exercise being very "choreographed" so they will take a long time to learn.  

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My non DS had a mixture of grade and point offers for university but found even those on points specified that the points were to come from no more than 3 A levels and one even specified which 3 of his A levels.  He took 4 traditional subject A levels ie maths, physics, chemistry, geography. Also, its misleading for them to say points rather than A or B grade as all those asking for points stated how many points had to come from his maths A level (which is the same as saying minimum grade required)  All universities stated that General Studies did not count at all. 

 

Several of DDs friends went to university this year and anyone applying for a course that requested an interview was asked at interview about their dance training and asked to provide evidence.  This included friends applying for medicine, fashion and drama.  The girl who went off to study medicine decided she would skip adv foundation and take adv 1 but she spoke to her teacher about her time commitments so she did not take the exam with her friends but they tried to time her readiness so that she took it in the summer session after her A level exams had finished.

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Fiz - I 'liked' your post to support it rather than liking the fact that you found the gcse/a-level time challenging.

 

Those wonderful DCs are high achievers. By their very nature they are driven, motivated and perfectionist but can veer toward over work, stress and both physical and mental burnout. I suffered it first hand and am still learning how to manage it (a fine case in point, actually, as I've taken a day off work today, finally giving in to a nasty cold after I coughed so much in front of a year 8 group yesterday that the kids got quite concerned and asked if I needed a glass of water!)

 

Relaxation and fun are important too!

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However, I remember reading this http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/jan/10/how-cambridge-admissions-really-work article last year about would-be students of natural sciences, and being struck by this line:

 

There is far less interest than is popularly thought in extra-curricular activity. An academic remarks with bafflement that a candidate has "got his violin grades on there".

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Extra curricular activities won't get a candidate who doesn't measure up academically onto their degree course of choice, however stellar those extra curricular activities may be. Where they can make a difference is where two candidates have very similar or identical academic qualifications and extra curricular achievement at a recognisedly advanced level could swing the decision in favour of that candidate. Even more so, a candidate who not only states that they have, say, RAD Advanced 1 or 2 or grade 8 theory of music and practical music with distinctions but also states how that extra curricular achievement has benefited them and how it will benefit them in terms of the degree course for which they have applied will almost certainly have an advantage.

 

A girl at DD's studio who was studying RAD Advanced 2 was interviewed for a place on a medical degree course and when asked about her ballet she explained the time commitment and dedication required and the difficulty level with its attendant frustrations and knock backs. One of the interview panel actually telephoned the studio owner to advise how impressed the panel had been at her eloquent explanation of all that she had learned from studying ballet at such a level - he had also researched and was impressed by the RAD website and credentials - and that there had been no discussion required, she was the only candidate for medicine whose place was unanimously agreed upon by the panel without discussion and even before she had left the room.

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Something you might like to consider Ellie is the changeover dates for the RAD Syllabus. The current AF and Adv 1 will only be examined until December 2014. The new Syllabii will be examined from January 2015. So it rather depends on when your school is going to change its classes. The new exam content is rather complicated, with each exercise being very "choreographed" so they will take a long time to learn.

 

Sorry to go off on a slight tangent, but can you clarify something PdQ - will students be able to take the new Advanced Grades before Jan 2015? Did you mean that from Jan 15, ONLY the new syllabi will be examined? Is there a crossover where both syllabi will be examined?

 

Just asking because dd's teacher wants her to take the new Adv Foundation next summer, i.e. July 2014.

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I just wanted to clarify about what is needed to teach with the RAD. Intermediate and the Adv1 and 2 examinations are not teaching qualifications but qualifications that will enable you to apply for an appropriate teacher training course and gain a teaching qualification through that further training. Hope this helps :-)

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No there is definitely no overlap.  All exams in 2014 will be the current AF and Adv 1.  The new versions were launched this autumn so teachers can already use this in their teaching, but it will not be examined until 2015.

 

Ohhhh! I had better check with dd's teacher! Thank you. :-)

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Just chipping in with my own experience... My daughter went off to vet school this year and had passed her advanced 1 ballet early in her first year in sixth form (and also doing advanced 1 and 2 tap and modern). She cut right back on how many classes she went to straight after passing the adv 1 ballet exam - to one evening doing ballet and one evening doing both tap and modern, as she needed time to concentrate on college work which was far more important, but didn't stop altogether - they need some exercise and relaxation too.

 

Her dancing (including mention of festival solos and groups) went into her PS to show a high level of commitment, teamwork and confidence. They have to have extra-curricular stuff on their statements (the vets schools told them at open days) - sports stuff, volunteering etc, to show they're not just spending all their time studying - they're looking for well, rounded individuals. A couple asked her about it during interviews but we'll never know how important it was! (But she did get two offers and two waiting list places from for interviews - although what she learnt from the 12 weeks of work experience was probably far more important!!)

 

So what I'm saying is I suppose, if you need high academic grades you've got to concentrate on the academic studies but there is no need to stop other activities - just trim them back a bit.

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