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Age Requirements for RAD Exams


Piccolo
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I'd be grateful to know what peoples thoughts are on this... According to RAD regulations (on their website) there are minimum age requirements for their exams. However, hearing through word of mouth, it seems that quite a few children have been entered successfully for exams despite being a year or so younger than the required age. Is that an old policy? Is it better to wait until your child is the right age? Maybe there are reasons for this. Or is it better to keep moving forwards?

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I know that historically this used to be the case. I know one child who was allowed to do some early grades early. However, I'm not sure they allow it any more because my dd teacher was telling me she's ready to take gr1 with a group who are ready but because she's only 6 she can't.

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In the lower Grades, some time ago my DD used to be able to do them a year early as she has a late birthday and the rule used to be you had to meet the required age in that year if you were 6/7/8 or whatever that year it was fine. So I think she did a couple of exams in Jan/Feb. but didn't meet the minimum age until nearly Christmas.

I am sure I read on the RAD website it has changed now and you have to be that age in that half of the year.

Any way if you did an exam a year ( which a lot of school don't) you would reach the minimum age for grade 6/ inter found. I am not sure you would want to do it any faster than that.

I am sure you will find the information in the exam section of the RAD website.

Here it is:

 

"

To ensure safe dance practice, candidates must have reached the following minimum age by:

  • 1 January (for exam sessions taking place between January and August); or
  • 1 September (for exam sessions taking place between September and December), in the year the exam takes place:
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As I understand it, the rules have changed relatively recently. It used to be that you could do the RAD exams if you passed the minimum age before the end of the year in which you were sitting the exam. Thus, in theory, a child who was to turn 11 on December 30th, could sit an exam with an age limit of 11 in January of that year, when they would in fact only just have turned 10.

Now, as I understand it the age is taken from the beginning of the year, not the end, meaning that it isn't possible for a child to be entered until they have passed the minimum age. I remember reading somewhere that this was a deliberate manoevre on the part of the RAD to discourage people from entering exams too soon. If that is the case (and hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong!) I would say that this is a very clear message from the RAD that they don't view doing the exams early as a good thing.

I'm just a mum, and certainly no expert, but from what I have seen of the new syllabi, they look like they require rather more maturity to fully master than some of the old grades anyway, so I wouldn't see there being any value in rushing them.

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I have checked the RAD website and it seems that 7 is the minimum age for Grade 1 to Grade 5.  I cannot believe that any child of 7 would be ready for the new Grade 5, which has very difficult elements in it.  However, for the sake of argument, let's say that you are incredibly talented and manage to pass your Grade 5 at 7 - you would then have to wait 4 years to do your Intermediate Foundation, which has a minimum age of 11!  If you only have one hour long lesson a week, that's one thing, but if you have two x 90 minute classes a week I don't see why you wouldn't be ready to do IF after a year.  So the whole minimum age is problematic.

 

If the minimum age for Grade 1 is 7 and presuming that you do one exam a year, then you would probably be 11 by the time you got to Grade 5, unless you skipped a couple of levels, so why keep 7 as the minimum age for Grade 5, but insist on 11 for IF???   I do appreciate that pointework is the problem, but really there are only very, very basic exercises in IF - 2 on the barre and one in the centre, not a great challenge physically. Intermediate, on the other hand, has a minimum age of 12 and I personally find that it's the rare student who doesn't need two years between IF and Inter, which requires far greater maturity and strength, particularly because of the demi-pointe shoes.   So it doesn't quite make sense.  I do feel that when we have the odd "baby ballerina" the teacher should be allowed to decide if the child is ready or not.  And what about boys, who don't do pointe work?

Edited by Dance*is*life
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Thanks all for your insights - really helpful. So dd would technically be able to do her voc exam in this half of the year. That would be the ideal scenario for dd. Like most schools though, I suppose, there is only one exam entry per year and ours is next summer.

 

By the sound of it, dd is older than the average age for her graded class, which maybe explains why she gets a bit bored and will try and get out of doing it sometimes. She likes to miss the odd week and dip back in to it when things have progressed. This worries me a bit. If the exam is not until next summer, will it still be holding her attention? I'm not sure...

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This is a big hole here. The RAD exams are really not a question of age. They print the age requirements but it is common sense that you would not be entering a 7 year old for grade 5! Any teacher who tried would probably receive a very concerned phone call from HQ. Each grade requires so much attention to detail, maturity strength etc. I know a lot if teachers rush through grades and there is no need. Ballet students are there to learn to dance!! Not just learn a set if exercises and get a certificate! What about learning artistry, musicality, appreciation etc etc. I was fortunate to have trained as a teacher with the most respected RAD examiners whom helped devise both old and new syllabus. I'm not bragging but just as a guide for you - I work for a big school of exceptional reputation with the students gaining high merit and distinction grades most distinctions average over 90%. Our grade 5 exam students are year 8/9, however many of those will also be in Intermediate Foundation or Intermediate having taken the Inter Foundation exam in year 7. Very occasionally I will have a year 6- 11 yr old, take Inter a Foundation, this has happened three times in 20 years. Twice I was called by the RAD to say are you sure as the two girls were only going to be 11 on the day/day before. But they were exceptionally strong and both received respectable 86/89%. Please don't get bogged down with age and if yr daughter is bored then I would recommend finding a diplomatic way to talk to her teacher, we are not mind readers and I think most students will not always show they're true feelings thus leaving us teachers without a clue! I hope you manage to resolve the situation. I don't wish this to come across in the wrong way so please don't take it as such.

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Yes you're absolutely right in all you say IMHO. I just needed to run things by people on here. There's a lot I don't know and how do you know unless you ask? Re graded class, I will have a chat with Dd's teacher. Dd is fortunate to have excellent teachers. I'm sure things will work out.

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Piccolo, if your dd is showing signs of boredom in her grade class and the exam isn't due for a while, perhaps the teacher would let her join the class above as well. Is there a non-syllabus class she could do too?

 

My dd used to get stuck in a rut, wouldn't make all that much of an effort, and didn't progress because she was bored. Joining in with the next level up (just for fun) re-kindled her enthusiasm and helped her a lot, both with the challenge of learning new and harder vocabulary, and helping her feel that she was actually getting somewhere at last!

 

Extra classes help with strength too.

 

Edited to add: Forgot to mention, the RAD age requirements are for taking the exam, you don't have to wait until they are old enough to take the exam before starting the syllabus. Everything in the vocational grades can be learned in soft shoes first, and the pointe exercises can be done on demi-pointe.

Edited by taxi4ballet
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  • 3 weeks later...

DD and I have chatted to a lot of other dc's and parents over the years, and one thing that strikes me a lot is the difference between RAD teachers and the age and grade of their students when they start the vocational grades.

 

I've known students who started IF around mid-Grade 4 aged about 9/10, and others aged 14 and in Grade 7; and a whole variety of other combinations in between. 

 

There doesn't seem to be any particular reason for it either, it just seems to be the way individual teachers prefer to work.

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Yes I too am very surprised to hear about anyone doing their G5 exam after already having passed IF! (as opposed to skipping G5 altogether which would make more sense.)

 

IF is definitely intended to be taken after Grade 5 as the work is a progression. Of course that does not (& should not) preclude IF being studied concurrently with the grades from mid G4 onwards as someone suggested, just that in the normal course of events you would expect someone to be ready for G5 before they were ready for IF as the level of technique required is lower!

 

It would also be very possible for someone to be strated on IF after G6,7 or 8 if, for example,  they were not deemed ready to start pointe work any earlier.

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Hee hee love a debate :) it is just, as I say, occasionally how it works out. The new grade 5 is very challenging and obviously newer than the new IF so in the cross over some students have been studying the IF for a while and have been ready before being ready for the new G5. But also we do like them to stay in an age peer group in grades, some students will never be capable of taking the vocational grades, so we hold the more able students back with them in the grades but let them accelerate in the vocationals. It has always worked and all examiners have remarked that it is nice to see G 5 and particularly the G 6-8 candidates so strong and mature and giving the work justice. We can't argue with that! So currently I have for example 3 Adv 2 students in Grade 8 still, but they love the light relief and less pressure. It prevents us having a talented 10 yr old in with a struggling but lovely 16 yr old, and is less degrading for the struggling 16 year olds to be with their friends, who may be v talented but they are friends! They prefer it to the alternative of being I n with tiny Fonteyns.

Edited by balletqs
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Hee hee love a debate :) it is just, as I say, occasionally how it works out. The new grade 5 is very challenging and obviously newer than the new IF so in the cross over some students have been studying the IF for a while and have been ready before being ready for the new G5. But also we do like them to stay in an age peer group in grades, some students will never be capable of taking the vocational grades, so we hold the more able students back with them in the grades but let them accelerate in the vocationals. It has always worked and all examiners have remarked that it is nice to see G 5 and particularly the G 6-8 candidates so strong and mature and giving the work justice. We can't argue with that! So currently I have for example 3 Adv 2 students in Grade 8 still, but they love the light relief and less pressure. It prevents us having a talented 10 yr old in with a struggling but lovely 16 yr old, and is less degrading for the struggling 16 year olds to be with their friends, who may be v talented but they are friends! They prefer it to the alternative of being I n with tiny Fonteyns.

Totally agree, I ve just had lovely IF results from pupils still working on grade 5 ( partly due to the new syllabus which wont be examined until January anyway). But although they are very able I do feel that they are not mature enough for grades 6-8 yet.

And I too have advanced students in grade 8 who also find it light relief and less pressure whilst still being very demanding.

The schools I teach for however are not slaves to syllabus so a student will generally take longer to cover all the grades especially factoring in biannual shows! We do like to ensure students know a lot more than exam exercises and of course most of our students are recreational.

 

However those in the vocational grades will progress very much according to ability and will be entered for these exams if ready regardless of their non vocational grade.

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I suppose it is a difference in philosophy. Personally I do not believe in holding talented students back for any reason & would therefore expect to find a large spread of ages in any class, increasing with each grade, as those who were ready earlier would take their exam & rapidly move ahead of their main "peer group" while late starters would continue to join at the lower levels. (Obviously incorporating a teen-adult beginners level so that they were not put in with the 7-year olds!)

 

I once had a bad experience with a "peer-group" type school whereby it was deemed so important to keep students with their peers that only the better ones were ever entered for the exams at all, with the remainder being moved up each time anyway & falling further & further behind the level of the class until most of them gave up because they were made to feel like "no-hopers" (just there to make up the numbers) while the exam students got all the attention & corrections.

 

Being left down in a lower level is not the only thing that can erode a student's confidence...... Obviously it would be more likely to do so if that student was the only one "kept down", but if it was the norm throughout the school for different students to proceed at different rates, & if teens &/or adults  were seen to be joining the graded classes too, and the student knew that there was still a chance of them being able to pass the exam "eventually", it would be far less of an issue.

 

I take your point about the new Grade 5 - however in these particular circumstances I do not understand why they were not pushed through on the old syllabus instead of starting on the new one. (But then I think the new grades should have been introduced more gradually, so that the vast majority of hose who had come up through the old grades should have been expected to continue on that track, with the new Grade 5 only being taught to those who had done the new Grades 1-4). This is because both syllabi have a structured progression but they are very different, so students should not be switching between one to the other, especially at the higher levels.

Edited by youngatheart
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I once had a bad experience with a "peer-group" type school whereby it was deemed so important to keep students with their peers that only the better ones were ever entered for the exams at all, with the remainder being moved up each time anyway & falling further & further behind the level of the class until most of them gave up because they were made to feel like "no-hopers" (just there to make up the numbers) while the exam students got all the attention & corrections.

 

We know of a school just like this - dd's schoolfriend goes there. The whole class moves up a grade in a bunch once every two years (as they have a show year and an exam year).

 

She's now 15 and in 'Grade 6', and hasn't actually taken an exam at all since her Grade 2 Presentation class years ago. Only a couple of students in the class ever take the exam proper, the rest either do a presentation class or get told that they're 'good enough to move up to the next grade' without the bother of having to take the exam(!).

 

There's another issue with the friend doing pointe exercises while wearing demi-pointe shoes in class (she actually thinks they are pointe shoes according to dd), but that's a subject for a whole other thread...

 

There's no way I can broach the subject of this terrible (IMHO - I've seen their school show on dvd, Ye Gods :wacko: ) school with the mum, I don't really know her well enough, and she might take great offence and think I was comparing her dd unfavourably with mine.

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I feel very sorry for that 15 year taxi! Most of my students take exams if they wish, I am often more pleased with those who against all odds squeeze a pass than the one who always get distinction!

 

Certainly wouldnt push students through the old grades if it wasnt necessary especially if it meant compromising on doing non syllabus work. It was far better for my IFs (all high merits and distinctions) to use their limited lessons to pass that exam rather than push through the old grade 5.!

 

I too wouldnt hold talented children back and am lucky to work with schools that cater for both vocational and recreational students.

 

Obviously everyone has their own way of doing things for perfectly valid reasons! But I do like all students to have as many opportunities as possible. Ok so this means that my exam results do indeed range from 40- 90 but I'd rather that than exclude any student who was not guaranteed a good mark!

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I completely agree with your last sentence hfbrew! A hard-won pass can mean just as much to a student who had once been told they "could never pass a ballet exam" as a distinction can to a "star" student.

 

Re the old vs new syllabus we will have to agree to disagree (regarding focussing on the IF and not the G5 in the short time available) although I think the problem actually lies with the RAD not allowing a longer transition period and not stipulating to teachers that they were expected to remain on the old syllabus for existing students partway through their grades, and the new grades should have been made available for examination one year at a time with the lower grades being discontinued one year at a time, with a one-year overlap period where either version could be taken to accommodate those wanting to take longer.

 

Taxi I really feel for your daughter's friend - actually the school in question sounds rather similar as it was also putting people on pointe who really had no business to be there......

Edited by youngatheart
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I echo hfbrews comments as I feel the same. I certainly would not encourage pushing through the old syllabus when they have so much to gain from the new and all students were thrilled to be able to start the new work. How lovely for them to have the grounding and strength from the old syllabus to go on to the new syllabus with. It certainly shows in their results. We are a huge school that does everything!! So we are doing what works for us as a school to nurture and boost the confidence of all students. All students take the exams if they wish even the ones who struggle we get them through with a merit. In twenty years I've had one hands worth of a Pass mark and they were students with learning difficulties or lack or attendance. Also, sometimes these are the students whose joy of dance shines through in an exam no matter what shape or size they are, or how limited their technical ability. You can still help them become a confident 'dancer' with musicality, artistry and feeling often missing from students whom just 'learn' a grade. The talented ones are not held back at all as they have their vocational work to concentrate on. And all our graduating students if they want a dance career gain DADAs and scholarships to the top ballet schools and MT colleges. So for us this way works. I respect everyone has a different way of working there is no correct way, but I think it is great if students are getting a whole training from each grade, not just scratching the surface. Anyway back to the original topic. I would just repeat that people should not be hung up on grades. If the student is bored they should indeed ask if they can join a higher class as well as their own or a vocational class for strength or perhaps try another dance genre class as well as ballet. :)

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Interesting discussion.   We only have one exam session a year around March/April.  So we have about 6 months of twice a week classes to prepare the exam work, after which we spend the rest of the year with non-syllabus classes and working on the dances for the annual performance.  I try and allow as many children as possible to take the exams, but there are kids who don't want to do exams - they don't want the pressure - and that's OK too.  We do have a policy of putting everybody up each year to the next level, regardless of whether they have taken the exam or not.  If they are doing the work to the best of their ability (even if that ability is limited) and have learnt that grade, we wouldn't hold them back.  Sometimes a really talented child will jump a level, but this is always the exception.  In general we find that they need to do each level in turn as it builds on the previous one.  Most levels have mixed ages, but the bulk are about the same age with just a few younger and older.  New girls are slotted in according to ability and previous training, but with an eye on their age so that they will feel comfortable with the other children. 

 

I was surprised to read that Grade 4 students would also start learning IF at the same time.  Doesn't that muddle them?  From Grade 7 our students get a third non-syllabus classical class and that gives them the break from exam pressure.  I have to say that in recent years we have stopped sending the students in for exams altogether after Intermediate.  The higher level vocational exams are so very expensive here, that I can't justify the expense to the parents. 

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Dance is Life I agree it is such a shame that some students are held back by finances. Sorry to hear that. We too do free work classes alongside the syllabus although these are by invitation. But a lot gets done in syllabus classes too. The children don't get confused in our experience. It is good 'prep for rep'. And the music really helps them especially with the new syllabus. We def don't push students to do exams if they don't want to but most do. One of the biggest reasons for taking a little more time on the grades is that they get a longer period of time to do the character work. Essential for style! And also so that they can still attend a grade in their A level years if they wish. We did try a 'teen class' but it wasn't popular and they wanted to be in their peers classes. It is all so dependent on the schools aims/size/other classes as far as I can see c.

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TFB - oh my word - what a nightmare that would be! Especially in a group lesson, and with people of varying levels of musicality - Hee Hee. I must run this thread past my dad. He's a musician. I'd love to get his view on all this, although he's now pretty much retired in terms of teaching. He also has quite strong views when it comes to teaching though. Yes I know that you can't really draw on the experiences of the music world's teaching practices to influence dance training, and vice versa, but I'm sure it would be great if you could.

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