Not sure exams are legitimate?

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Kazmama
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Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by Kazmama » Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:15 pm

Just after some advice about DD's dance school, when we first signed up we were completely thrown by the high marks at the school (every child who takes exams has received top marks/distinction etc) and it seemed a nice place DD liked it so we signed up. 18 months later and DD has yet to do an exam, she's supposed to be doing ballet and maybe tap but it's all so vague. The thing that's had me wondering about changing (apart from the principal's passive aggressive remarks towards me/my husband) is how recognized these exams are. They are via an organisation called the BDAF (british dance arts federation) but whenever I read about exams/organisations it tends to be RAD & ISTD that's mentioned.

I've been looking around for other schools but it's tricky, alot of them don't do exams, it's mainly for fun/exercise. There is a place she goes for private singing lessons but the atmosphere isn't very inviting (I've been told by other parents they left because of the nasty/better then you attitude of the kids) but then a few of DD's friends go there for ballet and they seem fine.

She's supposed to be having a try of jazz classes at another school who do follow RAD / ISTD and have regular exams, it's just the worry of whether the kids will be nice. The place she's at now the kids are wonderful, they all respect each other and encourage each other it's just the principal that sours things for us (it all stems back to when I wouldn't sign DD up to her agency). I find her so upsetting/bully like that I can't go there anymore, my husband has to take DD for classes and get all the flack as he just brushes it off wheras it really upsets me.

So honest opinions what do you think is the better option? Keep her where she is due to the nice environment (from her perspective) but are the exams pointless/not recognized elsewhere? Or should I try and get her into one of these other schools and hope for the best?

2dancersmum
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by 2dancersmum » Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:58 pm

I don't know anything about BDAF so I cannot comment on their exams. My DDs have always done RAD for ballet and ISTD/IDTA for other dance styles. You should be able to find details of registered RAD teachers near you on the RAD website and would be able to talk to them/visit schools to get an idea of what they are like.

I don't know how old your DD is or her level for you to be particularly worried about how nice the other children are. Personally I would imagine that given a little time she would soon have a new batch of equally supportive friends. The bit in your post that makes me want to scream out 'move her' is when you describe your relationship with the principal. You should not be in a position where you feel uncomfortable taking your child and your DH should not be having to brush off flack. That is not a healthy environment for your DD to flourish, not long term.

On a separate note re exams - my DDs were probably in the lower grades 12-18 months when they were younger and only did one class a week. I don't think that is that unusual and there can be quite a long lead in to being told 'you're in the exam group' and the exam itself but I do happen to know that the principal usually has to apply 3 months in advance (or more) to get a date and an examiner from the RAD so it may well be a similar story with BDAF. That does depend on the size of the school too.

woody
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by woody » Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:51 pm

I agree with what the other poster said about the atmosphere at the school, after all, you are the paying customer, and at the moment you aren't happy :(

There is a forum dedicated to ballet called balletcoforum.com (sorry, don't know how to do a link) and you might be able to find out some more on there about BDAF.

I must admit it's a new one on me - never heard of it before...

Kazmama
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by Kazmama » Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:04 pm

I've been unhappy since this time last year, that's when the problems started, this time last year they were heading to the west end to dance and the principal kept changing routines and what they needed for costumes (even expecting people to drop everything and drive 30 miles down the motorway to go to a particular dance shop for ribbon at the last minute). She got really funny about some of us going on the train at 8.30am (we didn't have to be at her majesty's until 10 and it's a 45/ 50 min train journey) she wanted us all to get the earlier one at stupid o'clock (think it was 4.30am) and it was a case of what do we all do with young children (some as young as 4) for 3 hours on a cold Sunday morning.

The thing that really tipped things over was when we declined to join her agency, DD was already with an agent (who were multi rep) so when she decided to start up her own agency and asked if DD would join I said sure as long as it didn't interfere with the other agent (I did it mainly to help her out as she needed enough kids to make it viable). Long long story short we get to the point where we've had pics taken, she's on spotlight and then we get a contract that states sole rep, so I won't sign and I basically ask wth? she knows we already have an agent so can't be with a sole rep one, I won't go into the details but she really tried to pressure me into dumping the old agent. She got the hump as well when I kept pointing out things she was doing / saying wrong (there was a massive mess involving GP letters and her not really knowing what she was doing). In the end I said thanks but no thanks and that's when she got nasty, she tried to have DD's spotlight profile removed, she said I couldn't just change the agent's name and well lots of nasty remarks and snide looks, even the staff at spotlight were disgusted with her behaviour and changed both of DD's pins so she couldn't do anything to her profile or even see it.

It was very tense after that but for DD's sake I sucked it up smiled through her BS and just got on with it and eventually things seemed okay between us, I even helped her out when the landlord of the studio was being horrible (that's a long story) and gave her some contacts at the council who could help out. There's lots of little things that go on that I find dubious, like she's signed the kids up to do the national theatre connections which I read is supposed to be age 13-19 yet most of the cast are 11/12 and they are supposed to be putting the play on soon and she's still trying to find people to fill roles. During the school's big play she had angered another set of parents so much the dad ended up in a fist fight with her father (this was whilst the production was going on). I've seen many kids leave in the time we've been there, most seem to be after something has happened or there's been some sort of disagreement. I also find it really disgusting that they talk about people behind their backs and then are all smiles when they walk in the door, there's one mum who they have a good moan about and then the second she walks in with her daughter they are all chatty and smiley with her, it's so two faced. My OH was talking to one of the mums yesterday and she said if the teacher who does the tap class her DD is in ever leaves she would pull her DD out as she's the only good thing there. Gosh sorry that was quite a rant :oops:

If it were just up to me I would move DD in a heartbeat but as I said she is very settled there, loves the other kids and they all get on well(literally every single kid there is lovely not a bad one among them, no squabbles or anything), she's worried about moving because she went to a summer school at another dance place and was treated very badly so she's wary of moving. She is however keen to give it a go, particularly as she'll be able to do jazz again and is very interested in some of the other classes this other place offers.

I just wasn't sure whether to keep DD (she's 8 btw) at the current place as she's due to take her exams / medals in a few months but then I started wondering whether it's worth her doing them if they are not really recognized by other places.

eleanorrigby66
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by eleanorrigby66 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:25 pm

My gosh, this principle sounds like a nightmare!! Is it a well-known/respected school in the area? It seems like you've been helping this woman out a fair bit, and like she needs the support - and maybe it's no wonder if she turns nasty on all her paying customers! Fist fights at recitals?? Sounds like something out of 'Dance Moms'!! :shock:

If it were me, I'd be out of there. In terms of being worried about nasty kids, I don't think you'll find any place filled with horrible children - kids are kids, and especially at 8-years-old I'd have thought she'd make friends in no time. If she's had a bad experience before though, I can see why you'd be nervous... does she have any friends you could rally to go too?

I find it hard to believe she'd go somewhere and be picked on by other children. In my experience, the performing arts world is a very lovey-dovey, kissy-kissy, immediate best-friends-forever one... especially with kids.

If anything it sounds like this woman does not deserve you at her dance school.

JayLou62
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by JayLou62 » Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:22 am

For auditions exams are a guide as to roughly what standard auditionees are working towards. My 16 year old dd currently attends 3 dance schools (fortunate, I know and all 3 schools know she attends elsewhere and are very supportive - something I have discovered is sadly very rare). 1 school does ISTD and RAD (dd has singing lessons with this school but her older sister does adult dance classes there); 1 school does RAD and dd does 2 Adv 1 classes, 1 Adv 2 class, 1 pointe class a week and she goes to a Russian ballet school (that does not do exams) and she does 2 Adv ballet and pointe classes plus Youth Ballet Company (4 hours on alternate Sundays like an Associate programme).
For your dd it depends on what she wishes to do in terms of dance. At 7 my dd wanted to go into ballet and I thought she'd change her mind. She didn't. I wish we'd known about Associate classes when dd was younger but I didn't so we have learnt as we have gone along.
My dd has changed schools before now (she would have had a teacher that scraped children through their exams and had favourites. I spoke of my concerns to the Principal and she wanted us to trial this teacher. As dd wished to go into ballet, I felt we couldn't take the risk so dd moved schools at aged 11. The new school was fortunately closer to our home!). It was hard as dd had friends in the previous school and had been in the school since she was 2 - however she now recognises that it was the best thing she did. She has better teaching and the teachers really know what is 'out there'. We are still in contact with dd's previous school and dd is still having singing lessons with them and are on good terms.
Your dd will adjust as mine did and she may well feel in the future that it was the best thing for her. The school your dd's at doesn't seem very approachable and in my experience that is vital.
Hope that helps a bit. PLease pm me if you have any questions.

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riverdancefan
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by riverdancefan » Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:43 am

My DS attended a dance school years ago that did these exams, the standard appears to be nothing like that of RAD and ISTD and some other ballet examining boards. They don't come cheap do they?
Every child, no matter what level they were at got distinctions and top marks...what a waste of time and money it was. When DS moved schools he had to unlearn all the mistakes and relearn the correct way.

I am sure like others have said , your DD will make new friends and quickly feel at home in a new dance school. At the moment this woman is taking your hard-earned cash and laughing about it. She sounds JUST like the owner of the dance school my DS left behind, a tyrant , a gossip, unprofessional, totally unpredictable and a bully. He was sad to leave as it was all he had known, he missed his friends but it was THE best thing we did, and even he saw that at 9 years old. He blossomed when he moved, I hadn't even realised how this horrible woman was affecting him too. We do have a to travel a bit but it's been worth it.

Sometimes you just have to go...we went and within 1 year there was a stream of children ( some who's parents had been staunch supporters of this teacher) leaving for other dance schools, you may be the first but I bet you won't be the last. I really sympathise with you, a dance school can be as important as a mainstream school to children who love to dance, it's a huge deal to them, they spend so much time there.

Just to add further - DS has never had another problem since leaving that school, everywhere he attended has been fantastic!
"Tall and proud my mother taught me, this is how we dance" - RIVERDANCE

Kazmama
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by Kazmama » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:42 pm

Eleanorrigby - I don't think it's well known, when I was originally looking for a school I stumbled across it on facebook, their website doesn't exactly scream professional but we went to their open day and DD loved it, she was only meant to try 1 dance style for 30 mins she ended up staying for nearly 3 hours. The problem as well is the spiel you get, we were told how amazing DD is, how she has natural talent and she put her in grade 2 tap when she had no prior experience and put her in the older acting group with the 10-13 year olds when she was age 7. I've seen her do it with every new parent that comes through the doors, fawns over the children making out they are amazing and would do well in this class or that class and basically sucks up to them alot, I even think to myself I wonder how long before they get on her bad side and end up with a load of grief.

I think DD is just worried anywhere else will have nasty kids because of the bad experience at another school, I think the problem with the summer school she went to was there was such a variety of ages working together that it was easy enough for kids to be picked on (it was a girl twice her age picking on her, stealing her lines, putting her down, she told the teacher who did nothing just told her to 'get on with it'). The new place she's trying tomorrow seems to have them in appropriate age groups, the class she's trying out are aged 7-10 so perfect age range and she seems quite excited. I'm sure once she moves she will be fine it's just being somewhere for so long she is so used to it so it's a bit nerve wracking for her but we can only give it a try if it doesn't work out we'll keep looking.

JayLou - DD knows what a nightmare the principal is, she says she treats her fine but she's seen how nasty she's been to me and OH and how she talks about other parents/children so she doesn't like her. Fortunately she only has her for ballet & the singing part of their musical theatre, the rest of her classes are taught by other teachers. I'm hopeful my DD will be just like yours and settle in well at this new place, thankfully the teachers are ISTD and RAD registered.

riverdancefan - That was exactly my worry, whether their standard was a universal standard because some of the kids(the favourites) seem to be whizzing through their grades, my OH said it was a bit dodgy that someone who is on the board with the exam people has kids who get distinctions in every exam.
riverdancefan wrote: a tyrant , a gossip, unprofessional, totally unpredictable and a bully.
That is her to a tee, she is very very good at blagging her way through things and if you dare question her then you get an earful but always in a very passive aggressive way wherein you feel like the bad guy. If your child is one of her favourites then you are sitting pretty but if you disagree with anything at all you get put into the naughty pile. I think all but the newest parents have complained about something or other but like me they all seem to put up with it because of the kids. The children are all such lovely kids and I honestly think that's why it's still going because they are all good friends and probably like our situation too worried about moving elsewhere incase it's not as friendly, I think it's very telling that out of the 5 years it's been running only 1 kid has been there the whole time.

I've explained to DD about the exam situation and she's coming around to our way of thinking, this is what she wants to do as a career and she agrees with us that she needs to be somewhere that she can get the right training, it's just taking the first step that's a bit scary.

Thank you all for your advice x I just hope this new school works out well so we can get away from the other place for good.

2dancersmum
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by 2dancersmum » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:41 pm

First step is always scary but so worthwhile to get away from the quite frankly shocking situation you are in at the moment. I would try and reassure your DD that anywhere will feel strange at first and although she will feel a bit of an outsider, if she is friendly to other children she will soon fit in and make friends. Summer schools are a very different environment to normal classes - especially if your DD goes to one where the majority already know each other and levels are more mixed. This is not just about the value of her exams and overall training but more that your DD is in safe hands, where you know she will be allowed to flourish and not be witnessing all the unpleasant unprofessional behaviour.

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by Robin64 » Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:07 pm

I think you should move and find a better school if you think your DD might enjoy dance in the long term. She may or may not get serious about dance. She is still only young but it is best to start with good habits and I would be unhappy with the classes going from all you have said. One example is the teacher putting pupils into higher grades when they may not know the basics (you mention tap). She should be mastering the basic steps first as she is young. Obviously a teacher might start someone at a higher grade if they are a bit older and need to be with similar age kids but I don't think this is the case here. It all sounds too disorganised and a bit unprofessional. If she has any aptitude then you are most likely to want a better school sooner or later anyway so you might as well change now. Sounds like it isn't that nice for you as parents either and that is a shame. I would take my custom somewhere nicer.

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by paulears » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:02 pm

All the usual qualifications that get awarded are listed http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_fo ... anisations here.

The Council for Dance Education and Training have validated these organisations examinations:

Validated Dance Awarding Organisations
British Ballet Organisation
British Theatre Dance Association
Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
International Dance Teachers Association
National Association of Teachers of Dancing
Royal Academy of Dance
United Kingdom Alliance of Professional Teachers of Dancing and Kindred Arts

I suspect that you should consider not being on the list as 'illuminating'?

Of course, any organisation can issue a qualification if there is no need for it to carry any form of industry wide acceptance, or perhaps UCAS points. It's worth is really what it's worth to you. If somebody or an organisation you know and trust issues a non-validated qualification it could be very worthwhile - even quite daft ones. Imagine Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey and Len getting together and setting an exam, and then being the examiners - I'd expect somebody getting through with high marks to be a very useful person, and maybe if they wanted to do ballroom to performance standard in their kinds of show, the certificate would be a good indication of standard. However, somebody with a lesser standing could produce a certificate that is essentially worthless.

The BDAF web site says very little, and the usual 'validated by..." is missing. In the absence of any real information or explanation, AND the worrying phrase
Artistic Major Examinations are not set by the board, which allow the teacher to create the exercises to suit the candidate artistically
This is what worries me - with no system for setting common standards as in mark schemes or teacher/examiner accuracy, or simple common difficulty standards then it is open to random marking. The same dance seen by two teachers would get different marks. This is a real headache for national exam boards in any subject - as in why a National standard is required, not local tweaking to suit the teacher and candidate!

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by Kazmama » Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:19 pm

2dancers - She's come home from school feeling alot more positive about trying a new place, she's quite excited really. She normally gets on well with other kids and everywhere we go she ends up making a new (temporary) friend so I'm sure she was worrying for nothing, she'll come out tomorrow all smiles with new best friends.

Speaking of unprofessional the principal is having a total hissy fit because someone has left a bad review on the facebook page. She's reeling off a load of reasons why her place is great and in the same paragraph is saying it's probably a troll as they've never had anyone with that name attend the school (plus they are in the US). She's also apologising to anyone who may be offended by it??! The person just said it's a rubbish school and to look elsewhere, nothing offensive about it but she's completely lost it talking about contacting her legal team and he needs to remove the review and post an apology explaining he has the wrong school etc...it's just very childish.

Robin - To be honest I think she put DD in grade 2 because there was only 1 kid in that class (who was much older), DD picked it up very quickly and when some more kids joined tap it became grade 1 & 2. I have no idea what level DD truely is, she seems to be quite good at tap but I am biased lol. This new school want her to try out the grade 2 modern class to see how well she can dance/keep up so they can figure out what grade to try her in for the other styles so that's promising rather then just deciding she's "amazing" and needs to be with the older kids.

Paul - Thank you so much for that information, very interesting indeed so the exams are worthless, I think we'll give them a miss, hopefully we will be long gone before they are meant to happen anyway. I also just told DD about the BDAF and she said she wants out of there, she doesn't want to waste her time taking exams that won't mean anything when she's older (sometimes she has a very mature head on her shoulders). So I think that's given her the extra boost to wanting to move, I have said if she doesn't like this place we can try others until we find somewhere she will enjoy and does have recognized examinations.

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by francescasmum » Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:09 am

Why don't you ask the teacher (IF YOU ARE BRAVE ENOUGH) what the initials stand for, you might get a clue there?

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by lyndahill » Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:57 am

I have been reading the comments on this topic with interest. At the age of only 8 years old I think you can move your DD to another training school without thinking she might not make friends. Every dance school my DD has gone to has always had lovely children - the summer schools are different as I think some parents put their children in them for the childcare and not the training! I am surprised though that a teacher would put an 8 year old in for a Grade 2 exam if she hasn't taken exams before. My DD has been dancing since she was 4, be it Irish dancing, ballet,etc and is now 12 and has only recently started taking exams. She is a strong dancer and can out dance some girls much older than her, however because of the technique required her teacher put her in an age and ability related class and she has only just done Primary Modern and Grade 2 ballet at the end of last year. Although she got a distinction in both she is definitely learning at her level. Don't take your daughter to a school that will whizz through the Grades regardless of the mark that your DD would get. You could be a bad Grade 6 ballet dancer at the age of 10 or a great Grade 2 at the same age and that will show if your DD goes for auditions,etc in the future. Good luck in finding a good, reputable dance school for your DD. I'm sure if you ask on here there'll be someone in or around your area that can name some.

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Post by riverdancefan » Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:26 pm

lyndahill wrote:I have been reading the comments on this topic with interest. At the age of only 8 years old I think you can move your DD to another training school without thinking she might not make friends. Every dance school my DD has gone to has always had lovely children - the summer schools are different as I think some parents put their children in them for the childcare and not the training! I am surprised though that a teacher would put an 8 year old in for a Grade 2 exam if she hasn't taken exams before. My DD has been dancing since she was 4, be it Irish dancing, ballet,etc and is now 12 and has only recently started taking exams. She is a strong dancer and can out dance some girls much older than her, however because of the technique required her teacher put her in an age and ability related class and she has only just done Primary Modern and Grade 2 ballet at the end of last year. Although she got a distinction in both she is definitely learning at her level. Don't take your daughter to a school that will whizz through the Grades regardless of the mark that your DD would get. You could be a bad Grade 6 ballet dancer at the age of 10 or a great Grade 2 at the same age and that will show if your DD goes for auditions,etc in the future. Good luck in finding a good, reputable dance school for your DD. I'm sure if you ask on here there'll be someone in or around your area that can name some.
Agreed Lynda - it's not a race, although some seem to see it that way, DS does them when he is ready, and prepared and as good as he can manage to be, even if that's every two years, our children are still young, plenty of time :D :D
"Tall and proud my mother taught me, this is how we dance" - RIVERDANCE

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