The distinction that wasn’t good enough. And then it was

It’s taken nearly two months, but finally my daughter’s Grade 2 ballet result is in.

I’m pleased to say she got a distinction.

Of course she did. I wouldn’t expect anything less of my super-talented dancer.

But, when I looked at the percentage, I must admit my heart sank a little bit. Because it was ‘only’ 77%. I didn’t say anything, but I knew my daughter had clocked it. It wasn’t good enough for her.

‘I scraped it.’

‘It’s not as good as my modern.’

She didn’t ‘scrape’ it. The threshold for a distinction is 75%, so she is actually 3% into distinction. The whole point of distinction is that it’s supposed to be something special, a big achievement. Not many kids get them and you’re not supposed to get 85 or 90%.

But she got 88% in her modern exam.

The modern exam is with a different exam board. Generally it’s recognised that the Royal Academy of Dance, the exam board she did her ballet exam with, is the toughest. The threshold for getting distinction for modern is 80%.

She didn’t rush to tell everyone she’d got her result. She kept it quiet. She clearly didn’t think it was good enough. It was distinction, but it wasn’t a good enough distinction.

All of the girls from her class who took the exam are talented dancers, which is why they’re now being fast-tracked to Grade 3. I’d always assumed they would all get distinction, but, seeing my daughter’s mark, I wondered if maybe one or two of them had actually got merit.

There was another, scarier, prospect – that one of them might have actually got a higher percentage than my daughter. My daughter is the best dancer among this talented bunch, but who is to know what happened on the day – maybe something didn’t go quite as right for her, maybe one of the others really pulled it out of the bag, maybe the examiner missed things my daughter did or saw something special the others did.

Seeing the need for further reassurance – I gently told her that this could have happened. But it’s ‘just’ an exam. It wouldn’t mean they were actually better than her. I’m no ballet expert and of course I’m a bit biased, but I genuinely think she has the edge over the others.

But I needn’t have worried.

My daughter came out of her first class after the results and told me all of the others had got a merit. For some of them, that would have been their first ever merit. It would have come as a shock to them, just as my daughter’s ‘low distinction’ came to her.

Suddenly, her distinction was good enough after all.

She was the only one to get a distinction. And she didn’t ‘scrape’ it. Finally she realised how well she had really done. Finally she felt able to tell people about her result.

And I felt very proud of her. What an amazing girl.

Silent Sunday, My Sunday Photo, Daughter, Ballet, Ballet exam

“MumofThree

Author: Sarah Mummy

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26 Comments

  1. That sounds like an amazing achievement, well done to her. It’s very hard when children don’t feel happy about something they’ve done

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    • Thanks very much! It is hard. She’s such a perfectionist and she always expects to do better every time, forgetting that what she’s doing is actually getting harder!

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  2. Congratulations to your gorgeous girl on achieving a distinction for her Grade 2 Ballet exam. RAD exams are notoriously difficult, so she did brilliantly. My daughters went up to Grade 6 and ran out of time before leaving for uni to carry on to Grade 7 – I still can’t quite come to terms that they no longer do ballet. I hope your daughter continues to dance for a very long time.

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    • Thanks very much, that’s good to know about RAD exams! Well done to your daughters for getting that far. It’s brilliant that they kept going with ballet for so long. I really hope my daughter keeps going that long. I suspect she will 🙂

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  3. Oh wow a huge well done to her. Such a brilliant achievement and she’s always so dedicated that she really deserves it!!

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    • |Thanks very much! I’m so proud of her, she really does deserve it!

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  4. exam results are always tough. We are waiting for 3 between my 2 girls at the moment and recently they both took the same drama exam – the results for that caused no end of problems. In a few months they will both be taking the same dancing exam at the same time, again one will have to come higher than the other (unless by some chance they get the exact same mark). Hard as it is though it does teach them a lot at their young ages. Things many children don’t learn until they get to GCSEs.

    It is interesting about the different boards. It is true boards do have different requirements but even within the same board the different disciplines are marked differently. We do ISTD for ballet, tap and modern and ballet exams will ALWAYS be marked lower than tap or modern. Distinctions in ballet with ISTD for grade 2 are also rare so it isn’t so much she is doing a different or harder or more strict board (the standard for RAD and ISTD is the same but they mark slightly differently) it is that the discipline of ballet is just much harder than modern. Unfortunately on the very low grades they tend to get marked highly for everything in all boards and therefore they start to expect it. Then they get to grade 1 and above and marks drop generally and this makes them think they aren’t good enough. I really wish the boards weren’t quite so “encouraging” with their marks on the lower grades and were more realistic as it would prevent this drop.

    I am pleased she has realised how well she has done. Ballet is a hard discipline, and it is a discipline rather than a hobby in my opinion. She is obviously very talented but not only that she must also have worked very hard and it is the hard work that she needs to learn to recognise and be proud of as she has done all that herself.

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    • should add – when I did ballet Pass Plus and Highly Commended were the more usual marks, I don’t think I knew anyone who had got distinctions/honours/whatever they called it then in RAD. I was a perfectionist (well still am) and I think we just never even saw the really high marks as achievable so it wasn’t an issue that we didn’t get them if that makes sense.

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      • That does make sense and that’s interesting to hear. I was terrible at ballet and gave up when I was 7, hence my lack of experience with such things. I even FAILED a modern exam. Can you imagine?!

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    • Thanks very much, this is all so interesting and helpful. I’ve only got the one daughter, so I’m learning as she does. It must be very stressful having two daughters do the exams at the same thing! I know how much rivalry there is between my kids in everything they do and they’re not doing the same exams at the same time!
      My daughter does her tap and modern with ITSD too. It’s interesting to hear that they mark lower on ballet too. I agree, ballet really is a discipline!
      My daughter started too late to do pre-primary and only did primary as a class award, so grade 1 was her first time of doing an exam and getting a proper result.

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      • well I get the impression that at preprimary and primary they do tend to overmark to try and increase the children’s confidence and I am not entirely sure they use the full range of marks they should so children are often more clustered together. As they go up the grades the marks seem to be much fairer and realistic, harder to GET the marks obviously but I think the ones who work hard and are naturally talented get rewarded more appropriately and will have a bigger gap between them and others.

        Whether she chooses to go on and be a dancer or not she will be gaining so much from her time spent dancing now, it sounds like she is a real allrounder and could go on and do anything she wants to in the future.

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  5. Aww what an achievement and star she is. I love reading about how she is getting on. What an amazing girl. x

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    • Thanks very much! She really is amazing. I’m so proud of her. x

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  6. Oh bless her, she’s an absolute superstar in the making. I’m so glad she was pleased in the end.x

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    • Thanks very much. It’s silly, but she really didn’t think she was good enough until she found out the others hadn’t got the distinction. x

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  7. Your girl is amazing!! Well done to her…She works so hard so it was very well deserved x

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    • Thank you! I’m so proud of her. It really was well deserved. x

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  8. Well done to her. They do beat themselves up about these self imposed targets don’t they? I read this and I reminded of H’s response to getting his cello medal. I don’t know where it comes from because I’m certainly not encouraging it and I know you aren’t.

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    • Thanks very much. I’m really not encouraging it! She does set herself very high standards. She’s aware that she’s the best and constantly wants to be doing better. Judging by the other comment above, as well as her classmates’ results, it sounds like the examiners do mark harder as they move up the grades, so she will have to accept a ‘low distinction’ as being a real achievement!

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  9. Your daughter sounds so much like my niece, she actually got her French GCSE remarked as she wasn’t happy with their first grade. Your daughters grade really is an amazing achievement, I’m glad she worked out how good her grade was. Well it was better than good. A big congratulations to her #SSAmazingAchievements

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  10. Well done your daughter, I love reading about her dancing. She’s done fantastically well, you must be mega mega proud! Thanks for linking up with #SSAmazingAchievements

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  11. The worst part is the wait…My 9 year old took her grade 3 RAD ballet in December and although we know everyone got a distinction we still don’t have the marks. Think I’m more nervous than she is as my daughter is also very tough on herself and anything below what she has in her mind as a good result will not be good enough

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    • We have just had back results from ISTD tap and modern from November for daughter number 2. I agree the wait is just so long. For us they were excellent though, both in the 90s so distinctions but the marks ranged down to very low 70s so a good marking range which makes her high marks more impressive. She was top in both by a long way so the fact she actually practices at home unlike the others must be showing.

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      • Wow! Very well done to her! We’re still waiting for the marks for Grade 3 ballet from November. Practise at home really does pay off – my daughter always practises at home too.

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        • I do find it strange more don’t practice. If you were paying to learn an instrument you would expect to practice. Why is dancing any different? I am hoping that as they get older then those who aren’t really bothered about their dancing or don’t enjoy it will drop out and the classes as a whole will be more enthusiastic and work harder. They are only 7 and 9 so there are still some in the class who started it when they were little because their parents wanted them to and I think a few really don’t want to be there.

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    • Exactly the same here! My daughter took her grade 3 in mid-November and although I know what she got (and we’re very pleased!), we still don’t actually have the marks.

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