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Brakenhale School

Performing Arts

Head of Department: Mrs Millard

Curriculum Intent

Our Vision

The Performing Arts are central to our school’s belief that every child has the right to achieve their full potential through a broad and diverse curriculum. All students will find success and growth as part of their Performing Arts education that will support their wider school life and beyond. Students will gain subject specific knowledge and skills in Dance, Drama and Music whilst developing their transferable skills such as teamwork, confidence, communication, creativity and problem solving.

All students have an equal opportunity to engage with the Performing Arts as part of their Key Stage 3 curriculum and then progress this further through a range of courses at KS4 and KS5. As part of their wider school life they have the opportunity to go beyond the curriculum through a wide range of extra curricular clubs, trips, projects and performance opportunities.

Our overarching vision at Brakenhale is to engage all students in the Performing Arts, supporting their understanding of the Arts and Culture and develop well-rounded and creative individuals.

At Key Stage 3 our Curriculum enables students to build the basic skills and knowledge required to achieve their full potential in Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5, through this they will gain transferrable skills and a wider understanding of the world and culture. At Key Stage 4 our curriculum aims to support students in developing their skills, knowledge and experience in Dance, Drama and/our Music and through this achieve the best possible outcomes. At Key Stage 5 we aim to prepare learners for further study or employment in the Performing Arts through developing them as practitioners and exploring their individual areas of interest as part of their qualification(s).

The Journey from KS3 to KS4

Our Year 7 curriculum introduces Dance, Drama and Music from the very start, building students understanding and knowledge from the ground up. Year 8 continues this journey, building more complex understanding and skills into Year 9 which continues to expand learners’ knowledge and prepare them for further study at Key Stage 4.

Dance: Throughout Key Stage 3 students will learn how to perform, choreograph and analyse Dance. In Year 7 students will learn the four basic elements of dance; action, dynamics, space and relationship. This will give them a basic underpinning knowledge that supports the rest of the curriculum moving forwards. They will explore style and gain context into how dance has developed. In Year 8 they will build upon this knowledge and start to explore more complex skills such as the use of contact work and using a stimulus and theme to choreograph. They will have the opportunity to explore different mediums such as music videos and musical theatre performance. In Year 9 students will start to explore more project based performance and choreography tasks that mirror assessment at Key Stage 4, this will draw together and build their skills and understanding from Year 7 and 8.

Drama: Through the Key Stage 3 curriculum students build confidence in creating, performing and responding to Drama through the development of performance skills and knowledge. We explore a range of styles, practitioners and technical theatre, providing a well-rounded, creative and engaging curriculum that is accessible to all. Each lesson develops other important skills such as team work, communication, confidence, and evaluation. In addition to this, Drama is used to explore, challenge and deepen students’ understanding of wider issues, always demonstrating respect and empathy. For students that have a real passion, the drama department offers the opportunity of a whole school show, along with enriching their learning through multiple theatre trips allowing students to contextualise their studies through seeing live theatre.

Music: Throughout Key Stage 3 students will perform, compose and develop their appreciation of Music. Throughout the year they will rotate between topics that focus on performing, composing and context, this is to enable them to build their skills and knowledge and start to identify crossover elements as they progress. In Year 7 they will learn basic instrumentation knowledge, note reading and theory that will allow them to progress. They will have the opportunity to start exploring performance technique and working in a group. In Year 8 they will build on this to explore more complex ideas such as constructing chords, using compositional devices and understanding how Music has developed. They will start to develop group work into working as a band. In Year 9 they will use the knowledge and skills learnt in Year 7 and 8 by applying it to topics that require more independence and creativity such as creating covers, film music and rehearsing a set as a band.

At Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 we offer a variety of courses in Dance, Drama and Music including GCSE, BTEC and A Level qualifications. Our Key Stage 3 curriculum focuses on preparing students for these courses allowing them to pick the most suitable option for them. Our Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 curriculums are built around the qualifications, requirements and assessments. Depending on the requirements of the qualification students might be completing coursework units throughout the two years or spend the first year building skills and knowledge to enable the completion of assessment in the second year of study.

Teaching & Learning

We believe that due to the nature of our subjects the majority of the lesson should be about learners working in a practical and independent way – in Music students should spend time communicating using Music, not writing about it. Lessons follow the ‘explain, model, practise and check’ approach. Teachers should be developing the students’ understanding and skills to enable independent practice that can be developed through feedback as much as possible.

In Dance, Drama and Music we feel very strongly that verbal feedback is the most successful way to support and challenge our students to make the best possible progress. Students will receive feedback each lesson as an individual or as a class. Feedback is recorded at different points in the topic/term and uploaded to students’ individual Google Drive folders so this can be accessed and reflected upon via the school system. In Dance, Drama and Music we are not simply interested in the ‘final product’ – the process itself is just as important. Skills such as creativity and teamwork are required just as much as technical performance skills. Feedback will identify this by not just focusing on the final product but when possible the process and the progress of students.


School Shows & Performances 

2023: Matilda

6th February: The biggest week of the year for Performing Arts, finally raising the curtain on our whole school production of Matilda - JR. Our first major production in 4 years, so the first at Brakenhale for most of the staff and students involved.  With sold out shows across 3 nights, audiences were wowed by performances from students and enjoyed by all. It has been such a positive and rewarding experience and we could not be prouder of the commitment and ability shown by the students involved. A huge thank you to all the staff that have helped us to get the show on its feet, from ticketing to posters, helping out with costumes and set - it certainly does take a village and we hope you are all equally as proud as we are of what we have achieved. 


2019: Dorothy @ Lift Off Dance Festival

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2019: Schools Will Rock You

“Wow, what an amazing show!” – audience feedback

Students from across Year 7 to 13 performed together and showcased their musical and theatrical talent. They were absolutely brilliant and we honestly cannot praise them enough! Lunchtimes, after schools, weekends and half term were consumed with all things SWRY and without their dedication putting on this production would have not been possible.



2018: School of Rock

Congratulations to the cast of School of Rock for their amazing performances. The students performed to over 300 primary school children from the local area on before their two evening performances to parents, staff and students. The energy was fantastic and the commitment since September amazing.
Thank you to everyone who came to support the show and all the staff who contributed to its success.

Student of the week: Keir B – for being the most incredible lead in School of Rock and for inspiring the rest of the cast