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 the 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 aims of the department are 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 established. 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. Once they have a firm understanding of how to read and perform from these notations, students explore and compose their own music, using notation. From there KS3 students work on independent, group projects to firmly concrete 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, acting, 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 tracking, 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 pantomime. 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. 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.

Students focus on ...​

Term 1- Elements of music: This unit 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. 

Term 2 – Rhythm and Pulse: This unit develops student’s awareness of the importance of pulse as a fundamental on which music is built and performed. 

Term 3 – Scales: This unit looks at scales. Students learn and explore through activities such as listening, performing, composing and improvising. 

Term 4 – 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. 

Term 5 – Voice: Students learn about vocal harmonies and textures developing an understanding of the voice, how it works, breath control and vocal registers. 

Term 6 – Band Project: This unit focuses on band instruments and students learn all parts then choose one to contribute to the overall success of the band. The song focus is ‘Chasing Cars’. 

Term 1- Introduction to Conventions: This topic focuses on techniques used in drama to highlight the desired dramatic effect wanted in a performance. 

Term 2 – 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. 

Term 3 – Bullying: This topic looks at the issue of bullying from all perspectives. In groups students explore through improvisation a student who is bullied at school. 

Term 4 – Storytelling: This unit looks at how to tell a story in a variety of different ways. It also looks at storytelling in another drama tradition. The focus is on using a narrator and sound effects. 

Term 5 – 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. 

Term 6 – Tinsel Truths: This unit looks at films, how they portray characters and situations and how films compare with real life. 

Term 1 – African drumming: This unit explores the main rhythmic musical features and devices used in African music, particularly the African drumming tradition of West Africa. 

Term 2 – Recycled Rhythms: 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. 

Term 3 – Reggae: 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. 

Term 4 – Blues: 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. They also explore the history behind the development of this genre. 

Term 5 – Samba: 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. 

Term 6 – 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. 

Term 1 – 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 and explore abstract drama for the first time. 

Term 2 – Peer Pressure: This unit looks at the influence of peer groups and the possible consequences of peer group pressure. 

Term 3 – Myths and Storytelling – This unit looks at how to highlight tension and create an atmosphere. Students explore different ways of telling a story. 

Term 4 – Pantomime – This unit explores the world of pantomime. At the end of the unit, students perform some scenes from Cinderella from a script with costume, lights and staging. 

Term 5 and 6 – 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. 











At Upper Wharfedale School we have decided to follow the Edexcel BTEC Performing Arts Tech Award. We believe this course is the best suited to our students as it allows such a brilliant practical exploration and development. This course allows all students to participate by examining the work of performing arts professionals and the processes used to create performance. Students will develop their performing arts skills and techniques through the reproduction of acting, dance and/or musical theatre repertoire as performers or designers. 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. With the exploration and analysis of professional work we link to trips throughout the two years see shows and attend workshops, these trips give students a fantastic opportunity to see professional performers live on a full working stage. From these trips we spend time practically exploring scenes from the musicals and research the interrelationships in the performing arts world. Once we have a firm understanding and 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.

Outside the classroom we offer a variety of extra-curricular activities. Our school musical is open to all year groups and all abilities. 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. As a school we take part in two of the local festivals, putting on performances for large audiences. Alongside the KS4 trips 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.

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. 


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

UNIT 1: The Music Industry 

Students develop their understanding of different types of organisations that make up the music industry and the job roles inside the music industry. 



UNIT 2: Managing a Music Product 

Students plan, develop and deliver a music product, a Showcase. They learn how to promote the product and review the management overall. 


UNIT 5: Introducing Music Performance 

Students develop their own music performance skills and review their practice. They use their music performance skills within rehearsal and performance. 



UNIT 6: Introducing Music Recording 

Students learn about how to record music. They plan a recording session and use equipment safely to produce a multi-track recording. 




KS3: All students are formally assessed at the end of each topic in both drama and music. These are filmed and then peer and self-assessed. In drama this is recorded in Drama Diaries and in music is all verbal. 

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. 



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 one, at least, for drama. 

DRAMA: Homework is set out in a drama diary where students log each lesson and the progress they make as an individual actor per week. This is also where assessment feedback is kept. 

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 presentation on an African instrument and get the opportunity to create a second poster on their favourite band/ artist. Year 9 focus online learning and the production side of a musical performance. 

KS4: Homework is set around the BTEC, focusing on practice and completion of coursework elements. This is not regular, and only set when needed. 

Support at Home

Students who have access to the internet can use YouTube tutorials to develop their skills on a chosen instrument. Listening to a wide variety of music at home can also be useful, especially if a discussion is then had about the chosen piece. If possible practicing at home on a chosen instrument and getting involved with local amateur dramatics can all be helpful to progressing in performing arts. 

Additional Support in school and/or resources

The music room practice rooms are available each break and lunchtime to be used for practice. These can be booked out each week. Students have full access to most of the instruments during this time. 

We also offer an extensive variety of peripatetic teaching. We have guitar, strings, woodwind, drums, keyboard and singing teachers available during school hours. 


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. It 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.