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Accreditation of Prior Learning

Recognition and Accreditation of Prior Learning

The ISTD is committed to ensuring that all prospective dance teachers can access its teaching qualifications at an appropriate level.  To this end the ISTD runs two processes for assessing Prior Learning:

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

The APEL scheme is designed to allow members and new entrants to access ISTD qualifications at an appropriate level for their professional status. 

This APEL scheme takes account of professional experience and unregulated qualifications, in order to enable applicants to be granted exemption from usual entry requirements for the ISTD Level 6 Diploma in Dance Pedagogy, Licentiate and Fellowship qualifications.  The scheme is designed for mature professionals who:

  1. Do not have accredited qualifications which can be directly matched with ISTD qualifications
  2. Existing ISTD members who wish to progress through ISTD qualifications more quickly than stated in the entry requirements
  3. Have qualifications (such as Licentiate or Fellowship) with another teaching organisation and who wish to take an equivalent qualification with the ISTD.

Application Process and Guidelines 

Please complete the APEL application form and submit by 31 April 2018 on the address below -

APEL Applications
ISTD Education & Training Department
Imperial House
22/26 Paul Street
London EC2A 4QE
United Kingdom

If you have any queries, please email the Education & Training Department at: higherqualifications@istd.org   

Please note:

  1. Applications will be considered for entry into Level 6 Diploma in Dance Pedagogy, Licentiate or Fellowship qualifications only
  2. Applicants should have at least 5 years’ professional performance, competition or teaching experience
  3. Applicants must be able to evidence significant experience in the genre in which they wish to take a qualification (e.g.: high level training, professional experience or equivalent qualification)
  4. Applicants should clearly state their reason for requesting APEL rather than going through the usual ISTD qualification route
  5. Applicants should provide a recent professional referee to evidence their teaching / professional dance experience

Applications will be considered by a panel comprising the Head of Education & Training and members of the Dancesport and Theatre Faculties. Applicants will be invited to attend a short interview with the panel (either in person, by Skype or telephone) to discuss their application and future training interests.  APEL Panel recommendations will be sent to the relevant Faculty Chair for comment and then to the Qualifications, Standards and Development Committee (QSDC) for approval.  Applicants will be informed of the decision of the QSDC in writing and, if successful, this letter will serve as proof of exemption from the entry requirements to take the named examination within 3 years of the date of the letter. Unsuccessful applicants may be provided recommendations for further training. The decision of the QSDC is final. 


The application fee for APEL is £75 for members and £130 for non members.

Accreditation of Prior Learning for ISTD Level 3 Diploma in Dance Instruction (DDI) and ISTD Level 4 Diploma in Dance Education (DDE)

The ISTD operates a scheme for recognition of prior experience and learning for the DDI & DDE qualifications. There are three routes for learners depending on their learning and experience:

Matching Qualifications

It is an essential requirement that learners who have identical qualifications have identical outcomes for exemptions of the relevant units of these qualifications. The ISTD therefore has created a list of its own, and other dance awarding organisations’ qualifications, in a table of exemptions, mapped by unit to DDI and DDE.  This is available to Approved Dance Centres to discuss relevant exemptions with students before they register for these qualifications.  The ISTD automatically recognises those qualifications offered on the National Qualifications Framework, Qualifications and Credit Framework and the Regulatory Qualifications Framework which are offered by Ofqual approved awarding organisations in the same sector and level, and includes certain other established recognised higher level qualifications from those organisations.

The table of exemptions is reviewed and updated as necessary. It does not include overseas qualifications, as these may not be verified.

Certificated evidence of achievement must be sent with the registration form to the ISTD. The ISTD does not charge an extra fee for these exemptions. Once approved, the learner is registered for the qualification with exemption for the relevant unit(s).

Individually Requested Exemptions

If the learner has other learning that relates to units of the DDI/DDE, then the learner can apply for Individually Requested Exemptions, with copies of certificates, which must be signed and dated by the Approved Tutor. They should also include transcripts of modules, and any relevant evidence, depending on the unit exemption being applied for.

If the learner achieves other qualifications whilst already registered for and taking the DDI or DDE, they can apply for exemption at any time as appropriate, with evidence.

The process is free for members, or there is an administration fee of £130.00 for non members.

Exemptions can only be awarded when the learner has certificated learning which is at the same level and covers the same content of that of the DDI and DDE, and therefore all applications will be carefully checked against the relevant DDI or DDE unit’s learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

If the learner has experience which is relevant (e.g. teaching experience) they may request Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). This is a guided meeting which takes place between the learner and the Approved tutor using forms provided by the ISTD where the Approved Tutor can assess that the content of a particular unit of the DDI or DDE has been covered by the learner’s previous experience.  The decision about whether a learner is an RPL candidate lies solely with the Approved Tutor. Being an RPL candidate will not give the learner exemptions but there are certain benefits in the form of reduced assessments (e.g.: a reduced number of teaching observations). The RPL forms are held on the file by the ADC until the learner is ready to be assessed for the unit at which point the form is sent to ISTD Customer Services and Quality Assurance department as part of the submission paperwork.