Not sure exams are legitimate?

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Kazmama
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby Kazmama » Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:08 pm

We've just paid for her monthly membership (£85) and she is signed up for an easter workshop(£50) and a few day workshops (free because she's on the highest membership), they'll probably miss that money as we always pay in full, on time every single month whereas some people they chase for money for months on end (another thing they complain about, they even asked OH how he keeps fees coming in at his aikido club / deals with non paying members).

I'm letting her go to tap as the teacher for that is nice but unless she really does not want to miss classes I will be keeping her off at the weekends when the principal takes most of the classes. She can keep doing tap (she loves that class) until the end of this month and then we are gone.

paulears
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby paulears » Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:03 pm

Oddly, I'm not certain they are worthless. For many training courses of all kinds, the real success has to be what is sometimes called "value added". An industry expert running a masterclass could well be the best course you've ever been on, and technically, the pretty certificate is just saying you attended. It has no real worth - apart from the expert ideas rubbing off and being remembered.

Do you remember when Rock School music exams started? Loads of kids who had no idea about music theory started producing their Grade 6 certificates and the same thing happened - the established organisations slagged them off for being worthless, but in a few years they started working with Trinity and their qualifications are now serious stuff - and their examiners VERY well qualified. I know a dance college that started taking in full time students, had no link to any 'proper' exam board and the same thing happened. However, they did a pretty good job and soon attracted the proper labelling.

I think, after far too long doing the job for real plus working for the exam boards, that the piece of paper, and the status now have too much importance - and I'm not sure how good the actual content is any longer.

The questions have to be asked about what you get in real skill development and knowledge that furthers your career.

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby woody » Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:58 pm

Cut your losses and run for the hills!

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby Flosmom » Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:45 pm

I think you know what you need to do...

One thing that seems to crop up time and time again, not just in this instance but on other NAPM's stories that have been shared elsewhere, is the inability of grown-ups to hold grown-up conversations with other grown-ups. If the expectations had been set out clearly, for example about the consequences if your DD opted out of the performance, you would know what you were signing her on for and understand what would happen if she didn't complete it.

There should be no surprises. But stuff happens, and when it does it requires clear and grown-up negotiation to find a way through.

If that's not happening, especially if your DD is getting caught in the cross-fire, then my advice is definitely to go somewhere where the grown-ups behave like grown ups and communicate like grown-ups and treat you like a grown-up. Anything else would make my brain explode so you have my sympathy that you are having to deal with it - and I think you have been more than patient so far.

Good luck with your DDs move. And I'm sorry, I know nothing about the exams but my priority would definitely be her happiness and your sanity!

Hope this helps

Deb x

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby Kazmama » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:58 am

paulears - As you pointed out the BDAF are not validated and seemingly set their own standards and as pointed out by riverdancefan from her experience the standards are not the same as say RAD and ISTD.

It would be fine if BDAF grades were the same standard as other examination boards but it seemingly isn't so on paper it sounds good...grade 3 jazz/ballet/whatever but when asked to do a specific technique and the child is clueless or doesn't do it correctly then it's a worthless exam grade.

The exam aspect is just one of many reasons we are going to leave, it's a toxic environment which stresses me out so much, I put up with it for so long because DD was happy there but now the vileness is passing over to her and she's getting upset over things out of her control and I'm not prepared for her to be upset and have her confidence shattered because of one person's vindictive nature.

Woody & Flo - Don't worry we are leaving 100%, DD doesn't want to stop tap class just yet as she adores tap and as it's with a nice teacher I don't mind her going to that but she won't be doing anymore classes with the principal.

The thing with communication Flo is that this woman communicates on her terms, if there is trouble brewing she will be hiding out in the studio away from reception and her "medical conditions" will be preventing her from answering the phone/emails (seriously, they put notes on facebook/send emails around saying calls/emails won't be answered due to staff illness) yet she's in the studio teaching?!?. I agree if she had set out the terms initially stating if you pull out then you be liable for all costs etc etc that would be fair enough but she came up with that little spiel specifically for us as nobody else is pulling out. I don't care about the money, it's the passive aggressive way she does things like this that annoys me and then acts all innocent face to face or as I said in my first post tries to spin it so you are the bad guy.

Thank you all for listening to me rant and rave and offering great advice / info, this place is wonderful!

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby Kazmama » Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:18 am

Just thought I'd update this to let you all know how DD is getting on now, lots more drama with the principal but that doesn't matter any more.

DD has tried out most classes at this new place now and she loves it! She said the standard is much higher and she's actually working hard, getting out of breathe, learning and her love for dancing has totally been rekindled. I'd noticed the past couple of months at the old place she wasn't too interested, she'd often try and get out of going to the classes the principal was taking by saying she felt ill,tired, etc. Yesterday she was so excited because she was going to the new place to dance for 3 hours, she hasn't been that excited by dance for a long time! She was tired afterwards but still came home and practised and wanted to show us everything she had learnt. At the old place she wasn't really a fan of ballet and it was the class she tried to get out of the most, this new place she is doing 2 ballet classes and loves them both!

I just can't believe the difference; the atmosphere, the teachers, the standard of dance and most of all how happy she is about dancing again, I just wish we'd pulled her out of the old place a long time ago!

Thanks again to everyone for your advice xx

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby Fruitcake » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:40 pm

Have been following this thread with interest.

Am so glad you've finally made the decision to make a fresh start and that your DD is happy with the change.

It can only be onwards and upwards from here.

If it's any comfort, we did a similar thing with DS and his music, and have never looked back. It's never an easy thing to do, but sometimes we just have to go with what feels right for our DC.

Best of luck for the future......your DD sounds like a lovely little girl.
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby islandofsodor » Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:19 pm

Well it appears everyone's concerns about these so called exams were valid as police are investigating Ben Anderson about alleged fraud regarding his exams.

I can't link properly but it's in The Stage facebook feed.
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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby Kazmama » Wed Sep 30, 2015 10:56 am

Thanks for the info islandofsodor, so glad I didn't waste money on exams with the BDAF.

It's been over a year now since DD moved and the difference in her is just crazy,she's like a different kid and she absolutely LOVES to dance now, I think in total she is doing 16 classes, as well as helping choregraph a dance in another class, 2 hours of gymnastic tumbling (to improve her dance tricks/flexibility) and an hours singing a week. She would basically live at the new school if we let her, she loves everything about it, the classes, the teachers, the kids, the other parents, not once have I ever heard her complain about dance (other then when a class was cancelled lol) since we've been there. Unlike the old school she's also been put in for exams (and received distinctions), been given amazing opportunities (she's now in her second year running of panto) and is treated so nicely(as are all the kids, there will always be 'favourites' but everyone is treated in a fair and positive/encouraging manner), it is literally like one big loving family which is how it should be.

I don't think any of us including DD herself realised just how much her confidence had plummeted at the old school. Once she'd been away from there for a while she admitted to me that the principal wasn't always that nice to her, not in a direct way but as mentioned in my previous posts in her typical passive aggressive manner. So every other kid would be praised but not DD, the principal lavished 99% of her attention on the other kids in the class, DD said it was like she didn't even exist. It had been going on so long it was normal to her so that when I was asking if she was ever treated badly she initially said no. Now she knows how students should be treated she can reflect back on what was a very negative experience and see just how much it affected her.

The school itself had a mass exodus after we left, I think all but a dozen kids left soon after we did and then last September a few more left, think they have maybe 10 or so kids left. I know she spread a lot of lies about not just us and why we left but about everyone who left, the most common reason being that people discriminated against her because she's now disabled (which is a load of rubbish as people stuck with her for nearly a year after she became wheelchair bound).

I think it's incredibly sad that someone can be so twisted, if it wasn't for her terrible attitude towards people she would probably be a really great teacher. If she got a job teaching drama/singing in an established school she'd probably do really well but trying to keep a dance school going when you have so few students seems like madness to me.

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby paulears » Thu Oct 01, 2015 12:01 pm

https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2015/pantomime-producer-accused-of-fraud/

There's the link. I think this does rather sum up the status of examinations. What is a 'qualification'. It's actually perfectly OK to give people a certificate of programme completion, and maybe to word it with the term 'recognised study'. If a qualification is not on the list that a university would use, or on the funding authorities list, then warning bells should sound. There are a few exceptions. Let's say Simon Cowell introduced examinations. He is in control of a huge company, and like him or hate him, it cannot be denied his talent and experience make money - and what he says goes for something. So without any kind of Government approval, the Simon Cowell seal of approval does mean something - even if you had to pay to get it. If it turned out nobody ever got rejected, or failed, then his reputation would be impacted - not something he would like.

Ben Anderson does not appear to be, or ever have been a company director, and the British Dance Arts Federation is not a Limited Company - so he is NOT a Company Director, although if he is self-employed, he could almost call him self that, as arts groups frequently have job titles called director - as in the Director of a play or show, so he could argue that one. He certainly cannot be Manageting Director, because the company does not exist, based on my search of Companies House and another source. As a self-employed person (like me) does he have any status other than reputation? No. Seriously, I'd not realised the sums people were paying. It looks like he has the same status as any decent dance school, who can use a word template and print of a certificate that looks pretty.

He also looks like a teenager. I find it odd that older people believed him - he's little more than a kid! I note a Facebook presence - which could be handy for questions? (but is unattended and abandoned)
https://www.facebook.com/BDAFdance
The website address on the Facebook page www.bdaf.co.uk does not appear to be registered as a UK web site any longer. There is a single new message on the Facebook page, but it's not been updated for ages. Their address, Artlen House, Eric Road, SS13 2HY Essex is a private street? Arlen House is unknown to Google? All this should have rung warning bells surely?

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby sheffield_dancer » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:49 am

Just a few truths from someone who was involved indirectly in the BDAF saga:

First of all, Ben Anderson is the sole reason for the failure of the so-called BDAF. The concept of the BDAF as a new up-to-date exam board was fantastic, appealing and had many experienced and knowledgeable dance teachers convinced it would be a success. Despite his young age, Ben did seem to have the drive and determination to make it happen, he is well connected in the theatre industry and had a lot of resources at his disposal. None of us had any inkling of what was on the horizon. Then of course, when people started asking questions, Ben disappeared owing many people a great deal of money, It has taken many months to build a case against him and in the mean time, he has been using his ill-gotten gains to set him self up (legitimately so I'm told) as a pantomime producer. All I can say is, I hope his cast members get paid the wages they work hard for and deserve!!!

As for the legitimacy of the exams, I would never want anyone to feel disappointed or swindled by taking a BDAF exam. No, it was not an accredited exam board, but the children did the work, they studied hard for the exams and they still deserve to feel proud of their achievement. Irrespective of the standards of the individual teachers, (every dance exam board has its fair share of bad teachers), the BDAF did have a team of very knowledgeable and experienced people. In fact, towards the end, the creative team were actually in the process of writing new programmes of study and new teaching exams, to meet a higher standard. As far as we all were aware, the end goal of the BDAF, was to eventually be accredited as an exam board and many people put a lot of time and effort into working towards that goal. Most of the team were already well established and successful dance teachers before joing the BDAF. Quite a few did in fact have Fellowships and were examiners with the RAD, ISTD, IDTA and others. We were all working honestly to try and grow the so-called BDAF into a successful new exam board.

It's such a shame that the actions of one low-life individual has affected the reputations of some fantastic dance teachers. I know of some former BDAF members who have had to close down their dance schools because of the irreparable damage this has done. In the final weeks of the BDAF, children who had paid for exams never ended up receiving their certificates or trophies and medals. People took part in competitions to win scholarships and bursaries, but never received their money, then to top it all, there was a members conference organised that took place, but then Ben just disappeared and the hotel came knocking on the door with an unpaid bill for £1000s. None of this was the fault of the many decent people who believed in the BDAF and worked hard to try and make it a success. There is only one person to blame, Ben Anderson, a liar, cheat, swindler and crook of the worst possible kind!

The art of being a great con-man, is that your victims don't know it's a con until it's too late!

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby Hecouldshine » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:57 am

What a sobering read. Thanks for posting sheffield_dancer.
He could go and he could shine, not just stay here counting time,
Son, we've got the chance to let him live

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby sheffield_dancer » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:48 pm

paulears wrote:Ben Anderson does not appear to be, or ever have been a company director, and the British Dance Arts Federation is not a Limited Company - so he is NOT a Company Director, although if he is self-employed, he could almost call him self that, as arts groups frequently have job titles called director - as in the Director of a play or show, so he could argue that one. He certainly cannot be Manageting Director, because the company does not exist, based on my search of Companies House and another source. As a self-employed person (like me) does he have any status other than reputation? No. Seriously, I'd not realised the sums people were paying. It looks like he has the same status as any decent dance school, who can use a word template and print of a certificate that looks pretty.

He also looks like a teenager. I find it odd that older people believed him - he's little more than a kid! I note a Facebook presence - which could be handy for questions? (but is unattended and abandoned)
https://www.facebook.com/BDAFdance
The website address on the Facebook page http://www.bdaf.co.uk does not appear to be registered as a UK web site any longer. There is a single new message on the Facebook page, but it's not been updated for ages. Their address, Artlen House, Eric Road, SS13 2HY Essex is a private street? Arlen House is unknown to Google? All this should have rung warning bells surely?


You're quite right, the BDAF was never set up as a Limited Company, it was simply a trading name of Ben Anderson as a self-employed person. This we only discovered later on... Ben didn't even tell the tax man about BDAF, HMRC were very interested to hear about it! He is now the sole director of a pantomime company called Strictly Productions Ltd/Strictly Pantomimes, so we'll see if he can manage to keep on the straight and narrow this time... but I doubt it. In terms of reputation, he did appear to have excellent credentials. He trained at a very reputable dance college, he had impressive industry contacts, he was getting professional work as a choreographer and also teaching extensively and lecturing for some very reputable organisations and so on. There was NOTHING to indicate that he wasn't legitimate. The dance business is a young person persons game these days and it's not unusual to find someone in their early 20s like Ben, in a a position of power/respect. That's why nobody doubted him, he could talk the talk AND walk the walk; much easier to con people if you know the industry inside out.

On the subject of the address, yes Artlen House is a residential address, of the lady who ran the BDAF admin from home. As it happens she was the one who ultimately blew the whistle on Ben. She worked quite closely with him, so was the first one to smell a rat. Having said that, residential addresses are not unusual in the world of smaller dance exam boards. There are a good handful that only have a small membership body, so don't need an actual head office. It's quite normal for a small exam board to use the company secretary's home address as the registered address, and as everyone knew BDAF was new, it didn't cause anyone to doubt.

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby woody » Fri Oct 16, 2015 10:28 am

There is another set-up on the horizon which is giving me similar qualms. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to say who, but the whole thing looks to me like an elaborate system of smoke-and-mirrors and eminently plausible-looking to the unwary, and I'm just waiting for that one to blow up too.

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Re: Not sure exams are legitimate?

Postby islandofsodor » Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:07 pm

Phoenix?
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