Curriculum Statement

The Performing Arts curriculum at Upper Wharfedale School has been specifically designed with our students at the heart of it. Our main focus within the department is to encourage and develop confident performers who have resilience and want to challenge themselves and produce high quality work, not only in performing arts but in all the paths their lives may lead to, establishing lifelong learners. We want to give learners a wider understanding and appreciation of performing arts and develop creative and critical enquiry and interdisciplinary learning through the spirit of teamwork.

The overall aim of the department is to set students up to be confident, lifelong learners with the skill and passion to explore and develop their interests further. We aim to inspire and give our students the best opportunities we can to be creative, resilient and independent.


Within the time in KS3, music and drama work together to extend the knowledge of our students. In music the three core areas of music are explored and developed; performing, composing and listening. At the beginning of KS3 students are introduced to the world of performing arts and a safe, creative environment is set up. This is essential to us as we want the students to feel confident on stage and then develop that into real world applications.

In music KS3 begins with a development of the fundamental elements of music. Dynamics, structure, texture and tempo, to name a few, are introduced and explored through listening, performance and composition. When the students have a firm grasp on what makes up music, these skills are then applied to World music. Using this knowledge students develop and explore performance pieces or their own compositions in the style of the chosen genre. A few examples of these genres are Samba, Reggae and Blues. Alongside these key skills students participate in learning how to access stave notation, tab notation and graphic notation. Starting with a firm understanding of how to read these types of notation, students explore and perform on a variety of instruments. Students  then go onto explore and compose their own music, using notation to scribe it down. From there, KS3 students work on independent, group projects to firmly embed the learning so far and deepen their understanding on evaluation and how to use this to progress. They are given opportunities to explore genres they are passionate about. This starts to focus skills like time management, ready for the KS4 course.

Drama at KS3 follows a similar strand to music, intertwining where possible to concrete the understanding of the three areas of performing arts, drama, dance and music. KS3 starts with the development of basic skills used to make a scene more interesting, conventions. Examples of these are blocking, thought tracks, body language and facial expression. These skills are then applied to different scenarios created by the students in independent groups. Once ready, students then focus on broadening their emotional range, taking on more hard-hitting storylines, for example peer pressure and Greek Theatre. To firmly sequence these skills KS3 then have the opportunity to create a theatrical experience, using the stage, lights, costumes and the three elements of performing arts; dance, drama and music. From there we start to focus on linking all three together more solidly, create musical theatre pieces that are performed to the whole year group. This links in heavily to KS4 and gives them an idea of the work that is asked of them. Throughout KS3 drama students are encouraged to give feedback to themselves and others. This feedback is developed through written work as homework, gradually developing into critical analysis that can be found in the KS4 course.

Introduction to conventions

This topic focuses on techniques used in drama to highlight the desired dramatic effect wanted in a performance.

Fairy tales

This topic explores a common point of reference where students work together to recreate and develop their own versions of events and perspectives.


This topic runs over a full term.  This topic looks at the issue of bullying from all perspectives.

Problem page as a stimulus

This unit examines problems that occur, how to solve them and the consequences using new conventions to explore a stimulus.

Tinsel Truths

This unit looks at films, how they portray characters and situations and how films compare with real life.

Elements of Music

This topic focuses on engaging students in active music making while exploring how the Elements of Music are used in a range of music from different times and places.

Rhythm and Pulse

This unit develops student’s awareness of the importance of pulse as a fundamental on which music is built and performed.


This unit looks at scales. Students learn and explore through activities such as listening, performing, composing and improvising.

Form and Structure

Throughout the unit, student’s listen to examples of music based on each of the musical structures they are exploring and compose and perform within these forms.  


Students learn about vocal harmonies and textures developing an understanding of the voice, how it works, breath control and vocal registers.

Band Project

This unit focuses on band instruments and students learn how to bring their part to contribute to the overall success of the band. The song focus is ‘Chasing Cars’.

The Journey

This unit focuses on the different types of journey we can take in our life. Students start to incorporate dance into their performance pieces.

Peer Pressure

This unit looks at the influence of peer groups and the possible consequences of peer group pressure.

Myths and Storytelling

This unit looks at how to highlight tension and create an atmosphere. Students explore different ways of telling a story.

Devising a theatrical experience

This unit takes all learning so far and puts it together, along with creative movement, to create a full class performance piece. This unit lasts one full term.

African Drumming

This unit explores the main rhythmic musical features and devices used in African music, particularly the African drumming tradition of West Africa.


This unit begins by looking at how “junk” and “recyclable” objects can be used as percussion instruments and explores the different timbres available from these non-conventional sound sources. 


This unit introduces the polyrhythmic style of Latin-American Samba. Through performing Samba, students will learn the sounds and understand the roles of each instrument used in Samba, learn about rhythmic loops, polyrhythms, call and response and improvisation.


This unit explores reggae music and the culture it comes from. Students explore the strong and weak beats of the bar, syncopation and the effect that this has on reggae music.

Movie Music

This unit aims to give students the experience of being “film soundtrack composers” and explores the challenges and musical devices used in film soundtrack composition. 


This unit develops students understanding of bass lines and chords as a harmonic foundation upon which a melody can be constructed upon and as a foundation for improvisation. 


Beth Mansfield

This unit explores a controversial issue whilst developing conventions at a higher level. Through the use of role play, stimulus analysis and own opinion students develop their own views on a made up police case.


In this unit students choose a scene from a musical which includes dance, singing and drama to recreate. It takes a full term and the final performance if done to an audience with costume, sound and lights.

Script writing

In this unit students use all the learning from over the three years to write and perform their own scripts. The stories can be entirely original or an adaptation of a story that already exists.


In this unit, students explore the genre of popular song, learning how different artists and groups have created different musical arrangements of the same song. Students then take the song ‘Crazy’ and perform it as a band.

Musical Futures

In this unit students choose their groups, instruments and then together recreate any song of their choice to perform as a band to the class.


This unit links to work in drama and take a full term. It  explores songs and music from the stage

Musical Futures

Students have a second opportunity to choose a band and song of their choice to recreate. Using feedback from the last time they attempted this unit we focus on clear progression.

Clubs Dance Music

This unit focuses on electronic music and, with the use of an online software, students use loops and samples to compose their own dance music tracks.


At Upper Wharfedale School we have decided to follow the Edexcel BTEC performing arts tech award and the BTEC music Level 2 award. We believe these courses are the best suited to our students as it allows such a brilliant practical exploration and development. We have found that this approach is better for our students and gets the best results from them. It also sets them up well to continue in performing arts, especially on a professional level as the courses give them a good insight into the industry as it is today. This course allows all students to participate and does not hinder them if they have not learnt an instrument to a certain level, for example. We are also able to offer the music GCSE if we feel students are better suited to that course. As a small department we do everything we can to make sure each student has the right to follow the path that is best for them. The BTEC starts with the exploration and analysis of professional work. We link that to a trip to the West End in London where we see three shows, that we later look at in further detail. This trip gives students a fantastic opportunity to see our Capital, but also see professional performers live on a full working stage. On this trip we spend time with a professional learning choreography, we attend a backstage tour of a working theatre and explore other aspects and job roles within the performing arts world. From this trip we then spend time practically exploring scenes from the musicals and research the interrelationships in the performing arts world. Once we have a firm understanding and have gained knowledge of what it takes to create a musical, students start to develop their own performing skills further. Choosing a chosen branch of performing arts each student critical analyses their progression with the chosen skill and applies it to a performance. The final unit is then given by the exam board and students work together independently to create a piece from a stimulus, ending with a final performance to an audience. The music BTEC follows alongside well to the tech award. Students are first set the task of creating their own showcase. They are in charge of every element and must work together to make the performance a success. From there they join the performing arts group in analysing and developing a skill of their choice, applying it to a piece and practising until it is ready for a final performance. The music group then prepare for an exam on the music industry. This focuses them on what it takes to be a part of that world, and all the different opportunities there are within it. This is a very vital unit to understand how the modern music society works and is brilliant knowledge for furthering themselves in this area.

Course Information

The course is run over two years and is broken down into three units:

UNIT 1: Exploring the Performing Arts

Students develop their understanding of the performing arts by examining practitioners’ work and the processes used to create performance.


UNIT 2: Developing Skills and Techniques in the Performing Arts

Students develop their performing arts skills and techniques through the reproduction of acting, dance and/or musical theatre repertoire.


UNIT 3: Performing to a Brief

Students are given the opportunity to work as part of a group to create a workshop performance in response to a given brief and stimulus.


Year 10: Unit 1 is completed in this time, during which pupils organise and perform in the Summer Showcase.

Year 11: Unit 2 is completed between September and December, comprising in a Winter Showcase.

Unit 1 is externally set by the exam board In January of this year and will be completed by the beginning of GCSE exams.


KS3: All students are formerly assessed at the end of each topic in both drama and music. These are filmed and then peer and self-assessed.

KS4: All students complete a mock for each unit before starting the Unit. Each unit is marked to the exam board criteria, either internally or externally, unit depending.


KS3: Homework is set on a carousel throughout the three years. It is then split between music and drama, meaning each year group will have one term of homework at least for music and drama.

DRAMA: Homework is set out in a homework diary where students log each lesson and the progress they make as an individual actor per week.

MUSIC: Homework is set as a term project. Year 7 students prepare a song to sing to the class and create a poster on their favourite band/ artist. Year 8 create a recycled instrument and get the opportunity to create a second poster on their favourite band/ artist. Year 9 focus on logbooks that link into work produced in KS4.

KS4: Homework is set around the BTEC, focusing on practice and completion of coursework elements.


Outside the classroom we offer a variety of in school and community based activities. Our school musical is open to all year groups and all abilities, and has grown from strength to strength each year. A large percentage of the school take part, whether on stage or off and learn vital skills that can be applied throughout all subject areas and later life. We have a choir that sings within the community, bringing joy to the community all year round. As a school we take part in two of the local festivals, putting on performances for large audiences. We also put on showcases at the school itself, inviting the community into attend. Alongside the London trip we also offer trips to local theatres to see shows as much as possible. All these activities give students knowledge and awareness of others and promote active citizens within the community.

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