Appreciation of, and engagement in, the performing arts together make an essential contribution to supporting the happiness and wellbeing of individuals and society more widely, which is especially important in the current context. Regretfully, students have missed significant periods of practical creative learning due to successive national lockdowns and local restrictions. To help alleviate pressures on children and schools, ministers should encourage increased outsourcing of performing arts provision to specialist teaching practitioners, such as those preparing students for Ofqual-regulated graded examinations, further to support learners of diverse backgrounds and those in challenging circumstances.
Awarding organisations offering graded examinations promote progression and achievement in dance, drama, music and musical theatre by assisting the work of private teachers, and delivering world class assessments. The wealth of professional expertise fostered within awarding organisations’ networks of teachers should be better utilised to nurture a more productive working relationship between them and mainstream schools and colleges, particularly in a context where resources may be limited.
As background, these awarding organisations operate in 100+ countries globally and have an approximate combined:
- turnover of more than £175M each year, of which £120M is directly related to examinations activity in the performing arts. The proportion of income generated in the UK compared to overseas is in the order of 55% to 45% respectively.
- annual examination entries in the UK of 1.1M* and 0.75M overseas. Out of a total 1.85M, 725,000 entries are in dance, 925,000 in music, and 200,000 in drama.
- engagement with 80,000 teachers in the UK and 100,000 overseas.
- UK staff of over 1,000 along with 2,500 examiners.
The booklet titled Restarting the Sector 2021: Covid-19 and Practical Lessons in the Performing Arts is available here.
Preparation for graded examinations develops high standards of performance, perception, creativity, knowledge and understanding. The examinations provide a scheme of clear incremental standards by which students, teachers and parents/guardians can measure progress in acquiring genuine command of the skills required in each discipline, whether for educational or social purposes. The range of specialisms awarded encompasses an extensive list of dance genres, drama disciplines, musical theatre and musical instruments and styles, catering for, and drawing in, a diverse group of learners.
In support of the sector, CDMT also publishes Graded Exams: The Definitive Guide which can be accessed here as an e-book.
* The figures above include regulated and other provision. Ofqual-regulated graded exam certifications in 2019 stood at 0.5M in England.