Lower School - BJAB - British Junior Academy of Brussels

The Lower School

Years 1 to 4

The curriculum

BJAB follows the National Curriculum for England with adaptations for an international school. The curriculum is taught in English and specialist teaching is given to children for whom English is not their first language.

Children with experience of other school systems will adapt well to BJAB’s approach. Likewise, children are expertly prepared to progress to all other international curricula, such as IB, Cambridge, and the Belgian and French systems. Our standardised assessments are internationally recognised and respected. 

In Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2 (Years 3 and 4), the National Curriculum for England requires children are taught three core subjects: English, mathematics and science; and seven Foundation subjects: art and design, computing, design and technology, geography, history, music and physical education. Children at BJAB are also taught French unless they require extra English language support. Teachers produce schemes of work each term detailing the areas of the curriculum to be covered and what topics will be used to devise interesting and inspiring activities and lessons.

Choose a subject below to learn more.


All pupils are encouraged and challenged to reach high standards of language and literacy. We equip children with a strong command of the spoken and written word and develop their love of books and literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. Pupils learn to apply a knowledge of phonics to understand that the letters on the page represent the sounds of spoken words, as the basis of all reading and spelling. The programme of study includes:

  • Reading (word reading and comprehension)
  • Writing (composition, spelling, handwriting, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation)
  • Spoken Language.

With a solid foundation of phonic knowledge from Key Stage 1, children in Key Stage 2 start to develop their understanding and enjoyment of storiespoetry and plays and begin to read silently. They are introduced to reading non-fiction about a wide range of subjects.


In Key Stage 1, pupils are taught to experience and observe the natural and humanly-constructed world around them. We encourage curiosity and a desire to use different types of scientific enquiry to answer children’s own questions. The programme of study includes observing changes over a period of time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying objects, carrying out simple comparative tests, and finding things out using secondary sources of information. 

The principal focus of the science curriculum in Key Stage 2 is to broaden pupils’ scientific view of the world by exploring, talking about, testing and developing ideas about everyday phenomena and the relationships between living things and familiar environments. The programme of study covers plants, animals (including humans), habitats, evolution and inheritance, earth and space, rocks, forces and magnets, states of matter, sound, light and electricity.


The principal focus of mathematics in Key Stage 1 is to ensure that pupils develop confidence and mental fluency with whole numbers, counting and place value. This involves working with numerals, words and the four operations often with the support of practical resources such as measuring tools, and weights. Children learn to recognise, describe, draw, compare and sort different shapes and use the related vocabulary. Concepts of different quantities such as length, mass, capacity/volume, time and money are explored.

In lower Key Stage 2 we ensure that pupils become increasingly fluent with whole numbers and the four operations, including number facts and the concept of place value. Children start working with simple fractions and decimal place value. By the end of Year 4, pupils should have memorised multiplication tables, up to and including, the 12th multiplication table.

Art, Design and Technology

Creative children abound in our school with art and design providing opportunities for expression and critical thinking. Pupils are taught to draw, paint and sculpt using a range of materials to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination. In Design and Technology, problem solving, risk taking and resourcefulness are the qualities we encourage in our children through a variety of creative practical activities. 

In Key Stage 1, children are introduced to basic techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space and study the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers. In Key Stage 2, pupils are taught to develop their control and use of materials with creativityexperimentation and an increasing awareness of different kinds of art, craft and design. Each child has a sketch book to record their observations and to improve their art and design techniques. We continue to use the resources of Brussels to inform and inspire our children about the great artists, architects and designers of the city.

In Key Stage 1 we teach our children to develop an awareness of the past and the passage of time. They study similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. We encourage pupils to ask and answer questions and how to use stories and other sources to show that they know and understand the features of key historical events and people, particularly those in our locality.

Key Stage 2 pupils continue to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of European and world history, establishing clear narratives within and across the periods they study. They study connections, contrasts and trends over time and develop the appropriate use of historical terms. They are taught to understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources. Pupils will undertake a local history study and learn about the achievements of the earliest civilisations.


As an international school at the crossroads of Europe, where many of our families lead transient lives, geography has a particular relevance. Pupils learn locational knowledge about continents and oceans; the physical geography of places including their similarities and differences; human and physical geography such as seasons and weather patterns. In Key Stage 1, children look closely at their immediate environments. They explore inside and outside the classroom, taking full advantage of our location in the heart of Brussels.

In Key Stage 2 our pupils extend their knowledge and understanding beyond the local area to include the United Kingdom and Europe, North and South America. This includes the location and characteristics of a range of the world’s most significant human and physical features. They learn to identify the position and significance of latitude and longitude, the Equator, Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, the Arctic and Antarctic Circles and time zones. In physical geography children learn about climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the water cycle.


French language courses at the British Junior Academy of Brussels is taught by specialist French teachers and pupils are fully immersed into the French language within the classroom. The key objective is to develop pupils who are able to read and write independently and speak with confidence and fluency. Pupils are allocated to small groups within their year depending upon their language skills. There is planned differentiation according to ability levels for advanced learners and bi-lingual pupils. 

In Years 1 and 2 (Key Stage 1) pupils will be taught all sounds, phonics and blends to allow them to read independently and begin writing by the end of Year 2. In Years 3 and 4 (Key Stage 2) pupils are introduced to French grammar, conjugation, spellings and specific vocabulary through a French language scheme used in Belgian schools. Children will learn to read and write independently in French and develop strong speaking and listening skills

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Our recent ISI inspection praised our EAL teaching as exciting and innovative. Only a small number of pupils receive intensive support: progress is so rapid the majority of pupils are learning together.

One of the reasons why children at BJAB make such rapid progress, even from a base of little or even no English language, is the close and supportive environment at the heart of the school. Our EAL lessons aim to identify gaps in pupils’ knowledge and secure the building blocks of language they need to move forward. EAL lessons are full of visual games and exercises that build on the pupil’s prior knowledge and help them to cope with bi-lingualism.

Music, Performing Arts, and Drama
The beauty of music is that it is a language which draws our multi-lingual and multi-cultural school community closer together. We provide opportunities for and encourage all our children to use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes. Our specialist music teacher teaches children to play tuned and untuned instruments musically and listen with concentration and understanding to a range of high-quality live and recorded music. As children develop, in Key Stage 2, they are taught how music is organised and manipulated into compositions and some history of music. We have choirs and peripatetic teachers for piano and guitar who enable children to play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing musical instruments.

The skills of public speaking and appreciation of literature are encouraged and developed using the framework of LAMDA (The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts). The school mounts regular productions of plays and dramas.

Physical Education

All primary children receive formal lessons of Physical Education each week. They develop the fundamental movement skills including running, jumping, throwing and catching, as well as developing balance, agility and co-ordination. As they grow older they become increasingly competent and extend their agility and coordination. Team games such as football and basketball are organised as after-school activities. 

Sports Day and the Swimarathon are annual events where the whole BJAB family celebrates in its sporting achievement.


Computing is taught as an integrated part of the curriculum, to reflect how technology is used in everyday life. All children are taught internet safety and who to approach with concerns.

In Key Stage 1 pupils are taught to understand what simple algorithms are and how they are implemented as programs on digital devices. They create and de-bug simple programs and learn how to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve information.

In Key Stage 2 pupils learn to solve problems by using sequence, selection, and repetition in programs and working with variables and various forms of input and output. They are introduced to a wider variety of software, the internet and how to use search technologies effectively.

A Day at the Lower School

The schedule below reflects a sample day for one of our Key Stage 2 classes. Timetables change each year and are provided to parents at the start of the school year. 

8:00 Arrival at school & settling in to class
8:30 French language lesson
9:30 Mathematics
10:30 Snack in class
10:45 Morning playtime (on the playground)
11:00 English
12:00 Topic
1:00 Lunch (in the Sunshine Gym)
1:30 Afternoon playtime (on the playground)
2:00 Art and design technology
3:00 Visit to the school library
3:20 Dismissal
3:30 – 6:00 Garderie service available


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