Do I have to take my exam?
So I often get asked if my pupils have to take exams to progress from class to class.
The short answer is No.
The longer answer is longer!
I am a DDE qualified member of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and as such I am entitled to enter pupils for dance exams in several genres. Unqualified members who have ‘provisional’ membership can do the same however this is being phased out as some teachers have been known to keep their provisional membership running for a long time! You’ll find the RAD are doing exactly the same thing.
To acquire my qualified status I have studied part time for several years, the ISTD DDE qualification is a comprehensive qualification taking in Life Span, Health and Safety, Lesson Planning, plus culminating in a 2 hour practical exam with a 60% pass mark - so you can be sure your teacher has to be committed to achieve their pass.
There are various exam boards available - do your research and make sure you pick a reputable school teaching a recognised syllabus. Just googling I have found several small boards I had never heard of. Some schools hold internal exams which will not hold a value and be recognised. I suppose this could be useful for children who aren’t so keen on formal settings.
The ISTD is the biggest exam board for dance in the world. It has two distinct branches - Dance Sport (latin and ballroom, sequence, disco and rock n roll) and Imperial Dance and theatre faculties (Imperial ballet, Cecchetti ballet, tap, modern theatre, classical greek, national and classical Indian dance). My genres fall into the second category. Our exams are recognised by the QCF and ofqual and once they reach a certain level have ucas points awarded. There are costs associated as they are privately held exams, like music exams. If you were lucky enough to take the exam within a primary or secondary school the school might cover the cost of it.
This link takes you to the ISTD regulated qualifactions framework - file:///Users/newuser/Downloads/regulated-qualifications-framework-and-level-descriptors%20(1).pdfI
Personally think that taking dance exams is a really good experience for children. They begin at a fairly young age, approximately 6 or 7, and learn the discipline needed, they practise, attend class, ensure they are wearing the correct uniform and have their hair correctly groomed. By the time they reach exams at school the word doesn’t have fear associated to it anymore. Because they are well prepared and practiced they have developed skills they can then transfer to the school exam hall.
I will not enter a student until I am sure that they will achieve the best mark they can. Our last modern candidates achieved 14 merits and 10 distinctions between them!
I really believe that their progression through exams is valuable - I’m their teacher and as such I’m massively bias about their abilities! An external exam proves to them and me that they are progressing and keeping up with the expected level of achievement. The report they receive can give them some insight into what elements they need to work harder on and where they already shine.
I won’t insist that a child take an exam if they don’t want to. I think that forcing anyone into a situation where they are unhappy is a no no. However for my ballet students I do insist that they take their Grade 3 before I will allow them to progress to pointe preparation in Grade 4. Every other grade I am happy to negotiate!
I hope that this gives you an insight into my views upon exams.