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Performing Arts

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Rationale – What is the evidence base for selected strategies and curriculum choices?

Group Work as an Incentive for Learning

Pupils attending Woodlane may come to school with a range of barriers to learning. Some of these areas of needs can be found in the following areas:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning,
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • sensory and physical

Therefore, through our Drama lessons, we aim to create an environment which is enjoyable and stimulating. We encourage the use of group work as it becomes a positive experience which results in successful learning. “Group work as an incentive for learning” allows pupils to develop the key skills in the areas of needs listed above. This allows pupils to learn something and are more motivated to achieve. Group work at Woodlane involves collaborative learning which always includes interaction, collaboration and utilization of the groups’ competences. At Woodlane, we encourage collaborative work as it promotes both academic achievement and collaborative abilities (Johnson et al. 2004).

Hammar Chiriac (2014) stated that pupils learned more different things when working in groups than they would have if working alone. Hammar Chiriac (2014) also stated the following benefits of group work as an incentive:

  • Group work increases efficiency.
  • Improves cooperation in the classroom.
  • Students learn to inquire, share ideas, clarify differences, problem-solve and construct new understandings.
  • Students help one another.


Visual Supports for Behaviour in Students with Autism

Some pupils attending Woodlane may have a primary diagnosis of Autism. We aim to support our pupils with the use of visuals. Visual supports are an important form of communication that helps individuals with autism to increase understanding of verbal language and nonverbal communications. It can also help pupils with self-regulation. “The use of visuals can provide the support necessary to greatly improve a child’s understanding and ability to communicate, helping children be more active, independent and successful participants in their lives” (Dudek, 2022). Teaching pupils how to self-regulate is an important aspect of pupils’ becoming independent and being aware of their emotions and behaviours. Therefore, in our Performing Arts lessons, we use a range of visuals to support our pupils, such as:

  • First/then visual schedule
  • Visual reminders of their classroom expectations
  • Visual choice board
  • Visual timetable
  • Lesson menu


Music as Emotional Regulation

Working with young people with a range of needs requires a wide variety of strategies to support emotional regulation. Many pupils at Woodlane, regardless of their literacy or numeracy skills, can be highly creative and interested in the arts. This interest can often create a positive route to de-escalation of anger and anxiety, and emotional regulation.

A large scale study from 2007, by Saarikallio and Erkkila (Society for Education, Music

and Psychology Research) looked at the benefits to children for music as a way to emotionally regulate. The study was called, ‘The role of music in adolescents’ mood regulation’. “Music provided the adolescents with relaxing, energizing and revitalizing experiences” and that the young people stated that they regularly used music for “relaxation in the evenings and providing energy in the mornings.” This link between mood and music is at the heart of it’s use. When asked why they used music in this way, children in the study reflected, “when there was silence their minds easily started straying. Music filled the silence, and helped the adolescents to forget about disturbing feelings and thoughts that kept going round and round in their heads.”

“Music was an effective way of releasing anger, but also sadness and depression. Music worked as a reflective surface through which sad emotions could be expressed.” However the study went further by noting that within activities such as drumming, young people found a considerable release of emotion and this discharged the emotional pressure they may have been feeling. “Music gave form to negative emotions, helped the adolescents to release them and made them feel better.”

Music is used at Woodlane firstly through structured Music lessons, with pupils able to use techniques such as body percussion to engage physically and emotionally with music. Music is listened to and examined, and pupils create songs using instruments and digital devices, which they often find an extremely positive process. Outside of music lessons, many teachers use music in the form of mindfulness and meditation at various points in a lesson. Music is used in our sensory room, with selections made based on the need and arousal state of the pupil. It is also used at the office when a pupil presents with more acute anxiety and, alongside the therapy dogs, forms a key part of the emotional regulation of the pupils.

Intent – What is Woodlane aiming to achieve through its Performing Arts curriculum?

  • To develop a love of the Music and Drama.
  • To develop the habit of listening to Music widely and for enjoyment.
  • To use Music and Drama in order to support and enhance social interaction.
  • To engage pupils through multi-sensory lessons.
  • To develop communication skills to express pupils’ emotions and thoughts through a range of creative techniques.
  • To develop literacy skills through lyric based song writing projects and engaging in drama based script writing/reading.
  • To engage with Music as a therapeutic medium, developing pupils’ skills for emotional self-regulation.

Implementation – How is the Woodlane  Performing Arts curriculum delivered?

Curriculum Delivery

  • Pupils have full access to Performing Arts (Music and Drama) which is differentiated to meet pupils’ learning needs and styles.
  • The Performing Arts curriculum is designed to be challenging, appropriate to each pupil’s stage of development.
  • The Performing Arts Curriculum offers opportunities for cross-curricula learning, to ensure pupils make significant personal development, including:
    • Theme Day Workshops;
    • End of Year Talent Show;
    • After school and lunchtime Music Club;
    • Individual Instrumental lessons or targeted sessions;
    • Engagement with Tri-borough Music Hub activities and events;
    • Communication development through Drama and Music elements i.e. spoken language activities, song writing projects and assembly performances.
  • The KS3 Performing Arts curriculum is taught through:
    • Bi-weekly 50-minute Music lessons with a Music teacher for all KS3 pupils.
    • Bi-weekly 50-minute Drama lessons with the Transition Leader for those pupils in Year 8 and 9.
    • Weekly 50-minute Drama lessons with the Transition Leader, supported by the Speech and Language Therapy team, for those pupils in Year 7.
    • Pupils in the Nurture Class have an additional 50-minute music/communication sessions lesson weekly to work on key communication elements from their EHCP.
  • Where a pupil is identified as gifted and talented, further targeted support including 1:1 lessons, may be provided.
  • Where a pupil has a need that can be supported through music or drama-based provision, e.g. Music therapy, this may be explored.
  • The Performing Arts curriculum is designed to build and expand on previous skills and subject knowledge, over KS3. It also plans for opportunities for repetition to embed knowledge, increasing the chance of information recall and to integrate new knowledge into larger ideas (view our Performing Arts curriculum map in Appendix). 
  • We offer qualifications in Music, which are selected to appropriately challenge, based on each pupil’s stage of development, including:
    • Certificate based Music Unit qualification (AQA Unit Award Scheme) at Level 1, Entry Level or Pre-Entry Level.
    • Opportunities for an individual pupil to take external qualifications, (grades) with support from the Music Teacher.
  • The skill of performing is important to us, we therefore also provide pupls will opportunities to perform or contribute to school assemblies and when appropriate events such as a talent show year.
  • We provide additional extra-curricular activities including:
    • After school music club;
    • Lunchtime music club;
    • Music and Performance activities in the playground, (stage area) weekly;
    • Opportunities for pupils to ‘dress up’ as characters from books in World Book Day events, or take part in role-play activities, e.g. assume the role of an interviewer through PSCHE - Careers Learning.


Teaching and Learning

  • Our pupils are taught by a specialist musician who has experience working with SEND pupils. The school employs this teacher through the Tri-Borough Music Hub to ensure appropriate support and line management is in place.
  • Teachers delivering Drama sessions have a wide range of skills and expertise at using drama to support delivery of the curriculum learning.
  • The Performing Arts curriculum is differentiated broadly into 3 levels of challenge, ‘all’, ‘most’ and ‘some’.  Further differentiation and personalisation is implemented when required.  
  • In Performing Arts we have a 3-tiered approach to supporting a pupil’s learning, including:

Universal – this is the teaching your child will receive from the Music subject teacher and will include adaptations to match learning needs.  All classes:

    • The opportunity to learn performance-based skills on a range of musical instruments.
    • The opportunity to learn basic song writing and music production techniques.
    • Develop listening and communication skills with practical group work in both Drama and Music.
    • Are supported by a trained classroom teacher.
    • Have approximately 10 pupils per class to ensure there is a high level of support available from the teacher and TA;
    • Are multi-sensory;
    • Have opportunities to use tools and technology to support and enhance their progress and enjoyment, including Garage band music production software and video cameras to evidence work.
    • Developing skills to help pupils with social and emotional needs (such as ASD) access music as a therapeutic medium.
    • Maximise progress by using the assessment program B-squared.

Targeted­ – it may be appropriate to consider making additional short term special educational provision to remove or reduce any obstacles to your child’s learning.  This takes the form of a graduated four-part approach of a) assessing your child’s needs, b) planning the most effective and appropriate intervention, c) providing this intervention and d) reviewing the impact on your child’s progress towards individual learning outcomes. Interventions may include:

    • Certificate based qualifications through the AQA unit award scheme.
    • One to one instrumental or vocal lessons for named pupils.
    • One to one help with performance skills and encouragement to perform in public settings.

Specialist – it may be necessary to seek specialist advice and regular long-term support from a specialist professional in order to plan for the best possible learning outcomes for your child.



  • Pupils collate class books, where they showcase their best work and progress over time in Music and Drama. Evidence of these activities is also available cross-curricular where it takes place in different lessons, e.g. PSCHE – Careers Learning.
  • Pupils complete work on iPad/Computers that is stored and accessible at times of assessment or to showcase achievement with parents/key professionals.
  • Our bespoke Flight Path is used to track the progress of pupils in Performing Arts and determine expected outcomes from different starting points.
  • Performing Arts teachers use a range of formative and summative assessment procedures to assess progress and attainment, including:
    • daily marking;
    • self/peer assessment;
    • AQA unit award scheme
    • B-Squared etc.

Impact – What difference is the Performing Arts curriculum making on pupils?

  • The vast majority of pupils meet or exceed their expected progress in Music
  • Where pupils take a qualification, the vast majority meet or exceed their expected outcomes.
  • Pupils identified as gifted and talented are encouraged to continue their learning within Performing Arts past KS3. These pupils may take a qualification, such as Unit Award Scheme.
  • Pupils are well-prepared for the next stage of their education.
  • Performing Arts is embedded across the school and feeds into all subjects. Excellent progress in this subject has a significant benefit for pupils in all other subjects, such as English.
  • Pupils develop a love of performance and their confidence has been shown to increase throughout their time.
  • Functional skills and life-skills are embedded in the Performing Arts curriculum and are personalised for each pupil. This supports pupils to make the leap to post-16 provision and meets their needs when entering the world of work.