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Exam entries - left out


betsy
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Hi.  I am new to the forum but have been reading posts with interest as my daughter who is 13 is a keen dancer.  She currently attends classes twice a week and has just been entered for her intermediate foundation exam.  The school only do these exams once every other year.

 

Whilst I am pleased for my daughter I was annoyed at the way the teacher announced who was taking exams at the end of class.  Parents were in watching as it was the last class of term and she just went down through the register saying yes or no if they were to take their exam.  No explanation was given to anyone told no and my daughters friend (who is 2 years older and has been in the class for longer) was a no.  Having watched the class myself I am non the wiser as to how the children are picked and thought the whole process could be handled more sensitively.  Seeing a couple of girls leave in tears was upsetting for all.  Does your dance school do things differently?  I want to say something to the teacher but don't want to rock the boat for my daughter.

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It certainly does not sound the most sensitive way to do things - in front of the class would have been bad enough but in front of parents even worse.

 

At my DDs school not everyone will be selected to take the intermediate foundation exam. They are usually told individually who will be taking the exam and it is often only a few a time. Some move up without ever taking an exam. Is your school very small as it does sound slightly odd when you say they only do the exams once every other year.

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It seems to me that delivering a "yes" or "no" is a good time for a parent/teacher conference.  There should be a "why" to accompany every "yes" or "no."

 

It is a time for feedback on things accomplished and things that need more work.

 

A yes or no is directional nor informational.

 

And certainly not in public.

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I left the school my youngest dd went to over just this issue. It was watch week and the teacher went down the ballet lines telling the children who would do the exam. She had not said no to any of them but she told my five year old she was not ready but told a girl who had been there four weeks that she was exam ready. This child had never done ballet before either! I had watched the class and I could not see why my daughter was less prepared than any of the others for the exam. However I said nothing but when I approached the teacher to wish her Happy Christmas, she jumped down my throat before I spoke, saying " Please just accept my opinion, your daughter is not exam ready"! She blushed when I said I had not intended to argue with her. On the way home, my daughter cried and two other mothers said they could not understand why my daughter had been singled out. I thought about this over Christmas and decided to change schools. I had not cared for this one anyway and this had resolved things for me. I sent her to a much bigger school which was far less convenient for us but I had first spoken to the principal who is a children's examiner for the RAD. She watched my daughter in her first lesson and said she was at a loss to understand why her previous teacher had made such a decision. She put my dd up a grade and got her to take the exam for the other grade at the next session. My daughter got honours for her exam and the child who had only just started ballet was told she could not take the exam after all by my daughter's previous teacher! Three other parents left after that.

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At DD's dance school, a preliminary list of candidates for all exams is put up on the board at the same time as the timetable for the next term (all exams are taken termly, though there will sometimes be no candidates for particular grades).

 

It is often amended over the followng couple of weeks - sometimes a child can't make the extra class time or exam date, sometimes a child has been missed off or after consultation between parent and teacher may be added on or removed.

 

It's not a 'big reveal' type moment. In general, we know quite a long time in advance. i know, for example, that DD is likely to take her next ballet grade at Christmas, possibly slightly earlier than the little group she has so far taken exams with, but if not quite ready she will take it next Easter in line with her expected' progress - a year for lower grades and 4, occasionally 5, terms for higher ones seems normal. I would expect a consultation with her teacher - head of the school - if she was to be delayed further, but not otherwise.

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We give out letters and if Im unsure I write a note asking the parent to discuss options.

 

Im appalled at A. The way it was publicly announced who, or who was not doing the exam, in front of parents.

 

B.why on earth is a pupil still doing inter foundation at 15 if the teacher had no intention of entering her? Afterall its not a compulsory exam. She should at least be moved to intermediate now.

 

If the schools I teach at did what this teacher did we would be out of business!

Edited by hfbrew
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There is always the option to be entered when the child is ready at a dance test centre. These are available each term in larger centres. I know there is one in Liverpool for example. Key is if DD or DS is prepped to do this with people they don't know is the key difference. At inter foundation level this should not be a problem. It isn't a compulsory exam but good to do for experience as intermediate is really important. Inter foundation is like the prep version, it counts but not as much as the next level. It saves dance schools from having to host exams every term and be a bit more flexible, you may need to be prepared to have some private preparation lessons as the school won't be doing that as part of their normal schedule however the teacher and school should offer training sessions which you can book for prep.

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Does anyone have comments to make about how results are handled too?  It depends a bit when they arrive, but generally I read them out in class, but will omit any candidate who is not present on that day.  If the results arrive during the holidays, parents are free to telephone/text me for their own dk, but I will not give out any other dancer's result.

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My dcs teachers hand out the reports at the end of the lesson but I don't think they say the grade (although the kids compare straight away!). They then very kindly deal with any disappointment in individuals.

They would never do as initially described for exam entry. Generally they enter the whole class together. More able students will also be doing the class above to enable a 'jump' at some stage. If some are not completely ready they do a performance award instead.

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DD's teachers always enter vocational exam candidates (RAD) at an exam centre rather than having intermediate and intermediate foundation exams in the studio. The principal believes that it is important for vocational exam candidates to have the experience of dancing in an unfamiliar studio and quite possibly with other candidates who are not known to them (DD was with strangers for inter foundation and with 2 classmates and one unknown candidate for intermediate), so that they don't continue to rely on having the 'comfort blanket' of the graded exams with their friends in the school studio. Obviously other teachers may not agree and perhaps that is why Betsy's teacher only enters exam candidates every other year?

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At my DD's dance school the invitation to exam entry is sent by letter, and it is a request to the parent to say the student is ready, and then asks if you would  like to undertake the exam.

 

With regard to results - they are given to the individual child.  All entrants are warned not to discuss their exam marks unless it is mutually agreed with the other candidates to ensure that nobody feels uncomfortable as not all children will have achieved extremely high marks.  My DD consistently gets distinctions, but does not share her results as she doesn't want people to think she is bragging.  Her choice!

 

It works really well and creates much more of a team enviroment rather than a competitive and unpleaseant environment. 

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Hfbrew, I'm glad you have said that remaining in inter foundation at 15 seems inappropriate - we have friends whose DC did grade 3 ballet at 12 and is still working on grade 5 at almost 14 and whose aim is to dance as a career, preferably in classical ballet. The teacher will not move them straight to vocational exams instead of graded exams because she wants them to get very high marks. Surely a talented child cannot fail to get very high marks if doing grade 3 at 12, when equally talented children doing inter foundation or intermediate at the same age may not get such high marks simply because the exam work they are doing is so much more difficult?

 

It does annoy me that some teachers seem to think only of maintaining their record of high exam marks when this will not be to the benefit of talented, ambitious children who are not allowed to tackle more appropriately challenging work for fear of slipping out of the high 80s.

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Exam results are read out in class exactly as you say Pas de Quatre. If only a few students have done an exam,(as ours too do the vocational exams at an exam centre rather than the studio and only when they are ready) then those students will be kept back at the end of class to receive their results. It is up to them then if they wish to share their results with friends or not. The teacher much prefers to personally give out results and is sensitive as they get older and to higher grades to the wishes of the individual student who may wish to keep their result to themselves.

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Hfbrew, I'm glad you have said that remaining in inter foundation at 15 seems inappropriate - we have friends whose DC did grade 3 ballet at 12 and is still working on grade 5 at almost 14 and whose aim is to dance as a career, preferably in classical ballet. The teacher will not move them straight to vocational exams instead of graded exams because she wants them to get very high marks. Surely a talented child cannot fail to get very high marks if doing grade 3 at 12, when equally talented children doing inter foundation or intermediate at the same age may not get such high marks simply because the exam work they are doing is so much more difficult?

 

It does annoy me that some teachers seem to think only of maintaining their record of high exam marks when this will not be to the benefit of talented, ambitious children who are not allowed to tackle more appropriately challenging work for fear of slipping out of the high 80s.

 

I can think of a few reasons for someone being in inter-foundation at 15 and not ready to take the exam (not that I'm an expert in these matters!):

 

1 - they have only recently started ballet as a teenager or are returning to ballet after a long gap

 

2 - they are dancing purely for enjoyment/recreation and are not bothered about taking exams

 

3 - they may dance only once a week and aren't strong enough to cope with pointework

 

4 - they may not have the right physique for vocational ballet

 

5 - the teacher might not be very good... ;)

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You are right taxi for ballet,these are all valid reasons why some older students may be in inter foundation. I did chuckle at point 5!

 

But the original post mentions a 15 year who has been in the grade a long time. Now I know lots of students will never be ready but it seems that in this case the student was working towards the exam and because of this schools policies will have to wait longer which seems pointless to me.

 

Obviously it may be that a lot of non syllabus is taught rather than focussing just on the set work in which case then the students are still getting variety in their training, and perhaps its the only class at a senior level in this school. Still doesnt excuse the teachers insensitivity.

 

And I really get annoyed when I hear about teachers only entering students if they will get high 80s. This is pure and simply syllabus teaching for the sake of ones records and not to my mind a proper education in Ballet. I do teach syllabus and I value exams but not to the exclusion of all the steps not included in any one grade.

 

I am so glad I teach in schools where all students are encouraged- we have very large sessions. And we are pleased with all successful results. High 80s are the exception rather than the norm but it hasnt mattered one jot to the all vocational schools who have taken on our students. (The only school Ive never had a pupil at is Elmhurst,simply because Ive had no applicants for it!)

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And I really get annoyed when I hear about teachers only entering students if they will get high 80s. This is pure and simply syllabus teaching for the sake of ones records and not to my mind a proper education in Ballet. I do teach syllabus and I value exams but not to the exclusion of all the steps not included in any one grade.

 

I am so glad I teach in schools where all students are encouraged- we have very large sessions. And we are pleased with all successful results. High 80s are the exception rather than the norm but it hasnt mattered one jot to the all vocational schools who have taken on our students. (The only school Ive never had a pupil at is Elmhurst,simply because Ive had no applicants for it!)

 

Unfotunately I have come across ballet teachers doing this, just teaching for the sake of exams. One reason I left one RAD school was because of how they dealt with exams. The students there all covered grade 6, 7 or 8 work and completed the exam in a year or less (when they got to higher grades). One girl said she 'was rubbish' (her exact words) because she had been in grade 7 for a year and still had not done the exam! At this school, the students just focused on learning the set work so they don't learn any new ballet steps outside what is in the syllabus. Another student, who had been through all the higher grades, said she did not realise she was rushed through the exams until she left to go to university.

 

This school also published names and marks of students who got distinction in their exams on the noticeboard and then later on, the website. So it was great for the students who got high marks in the exam (I would imagine), but not so great if you got anything lower. So if you didn't get distinction, everyone knew. :(

 

Personally, although I am not a teacher, I still don't get why there are teachers around who are only happy to enter students for exams if they look like they would get high 70s and above. It's a well-known fact that vocational schools don't take marks into account anyway, for who they accept onto upper schools. If we need proof, Darcey Bussell is a famous example. I think she has mentioned before that she did not get very high marks for Intermediate. It hasn't done her dancing career any harm!

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