Examinations provide a progressive learning structure forming a set of motivational milestones from beginner level to a high standard of proficiency and artistry. They provide a scheme of clear incremental standards by which candidates, teachers, parents and carers may measure progress. Examinations are 100% externally assessed by examiners who are selected and trained by the Awarding Body, thus ensuring parity with other dance training establishments throughout the UK and Europe.

The Weston School of Dance & Performing Arts organises examination sessions three times a year at the end of each term, the only exception being Show Term when students will work towards the school’s biennial production. Students are invited to enter an examination when their teacher considers them to be fully prepared. This can generally take between three and five terms, depending upon attendance, practice and commitment. However, examinations are entirely optional and a child’s progress through the school will not be hindered should he or she decline.

In Cecchetti Classical Ballet, Modern Theatre Dance, Tap and Jazz Awards the Weston School follows the syllabi as laid down by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD), a Dance Awarding Body whose Graded and Vocational examinations are accredited by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). Responsible to Parliament Ofqual is responsible for ensuring that all qualifications and assessment meet high quality standards by monitoring awarding organisations, assessments and examinations and taking the necessary action to ensure that the qualifications meet the needs of learners, higher education institutions and employers. The Ofqual is responsible to the Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Furthermore, graded examinations are included in Levels 1 to 3 of the Qualifications and Credit Framewok (QCF) and Level 4 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as shown in the table below.

Qualifications QCF FHEQ Equivalent academic qualification
Grades 1 to 3 Level 1   GCSE Grades 1 to 3
Grades 4 and 5 Level 2   GCSE Grades 4 to 9
Grade 6 and Intermediate Level 3   A / AS Level
Advanced 1 and 2   Level 4 HNC / CertHE


Students can also receive UCAS points for ISTD Level 3 Graded and Vocational Graded qualifications. The number of points awarded depends on the examination result (ie Distinction, Merit or Pass)

Grade 6 Tariff points Intermediate Tariff points
Distinction 40 Distinction 65
Merit 35 Merit 50
Pass 30 Pass 40

A comprehensive overview of Graded examinations can be accessed here.