Our Curriculum - More info - BJAB - British Junior Academy of Brussels

Our Curriculum - More info

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. In all stages, pupils are encouraged and challenged to reach high academic standards. Our curriculum aims to develop the child to his or her maximum potential, in a dynamic and caring environment.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum concentrates on seven areas split between prime and specific areas of learning.

The prime areas of learning are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development

The specific areas of learning are:

  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design

Teaching is often delivered through play with children learning about subjects and other people through games. At the end of the EYFS an assessment profile of each child, based on teacher observation, is passed to the teacher of the next curriculum phase.

Key Stage 1

In Key Stage 1 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.

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.


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) and Spoken Language.


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 Key Stage 1, pupils are taught to experience and observe the natural and human-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. Most of the learning about science in Key Stage 1 is done through the use of first-hand practical experiences, supported by appropriate books and technology. Pupils are encouraged to present their findings and communicate their ideas to a range of audiences, especially parents, using simple scientific vocabulary and language.

Art and design

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. They learn about techniques for using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space and study the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers.

Design and technology

Problem solving, risk taking and resourcefulness are the qualities we encourage in our children through a variety of creative and practical activities. Learning takes place in and out of the classroom to ensure relevance to the wider world. The learning process children are taught to follow is Design, Make and Evaluate.


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. Children explore inside and outside the classroom, taking full advantage of our location.


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

In Key Stage 2 the National Curriculum for England requires that 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.

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.


With a solid foundation of phonic knowledge from Key Stage 1, children in Key Stage 2 start to develop their understanding and enjoyment of stories, poetry and plays and begin to read silently. They are introduced to reading non-fiction about a wide range of subjects. We continue to 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. Our teachers make sure that pupils build on what they have learnt, particularly in terms of the range of their writing and the more varied grammar, vocabulary and narrative structures from which they can draw to express their ideas. We teach the cursive style of handwriting.


The aim of the curriculum is to ensure our pupils become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, learn to reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry and to solve problems. 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. In upper Key Stage 2 pupils extend their understanding of the number system and place value to include larger integers. They develop their ability to solve a wider range of problems, including increasingly complex properties of numbers and arithmetic, and problems demanding efficient written and mental methods of calculation. With this foundation in arithmetic, pupils are introduced to the language of algebra as a means of solving a variety of problems.


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. We encourage children to ask their own questions about what they observe and make some decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are likely to be the best ways of answering them. 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. In upper Key Stage 2 more emphasis is given to working scientifically. During years 5 and 6, pupils are taught to use practical scientific methods, processes and skills including planning different types of scientific enquiries to answer questions, take measurements using a range of scientific equipment, record data and results of increasing complexity using scientific diagrams and labels and use test results to make predictions. Our children are always encouraged to share their findings from enquiries in oral and written displays and presentations.

Art and design

In Key Stage 2 pupils are taught to develop their control and use of materials with creativity, experimentation 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 utilise the resources of Brussels to inform and inspire our children about the great artists, architects and designers of the city.

Design and technology

Through a variety of creative and practical activities, pupils continue to observe the core process of design, make and evaluate. They begin to explore work in a range of relevant contexts: home, school, leisure, culture, enterprise, industry and the wider environment. In Key Stage 2 pupils’ technical knowledge is expanded to include how to strengthen, stiffen and reinforce more complex structures, understand and use mechanical systems such as gears, pulleys, cams, levers and linkages and basic electrical systems.


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. In human geography pupils study types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water. We take our children on fieldwork to observe, measure, record and present the human and physical features in the local area using a range of methods, including sketch maps, plans and graphs, and digital technologies.


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.

Key Stage 3

BJAB Prep is for pupils in year 7 and 8. Form tutors are supported by a range of specialist teachers for French, classical civilisation, philosophy, music, drama and computing. In support of BJAB’s pursuit of high academic standards The National Curriculum is enhanced with the ISEB curriculum, so that pupils who are planning to apply to UK independent schools will be familiar with the curriculum. BJAB Prep maintains the ethos of pastoral care and support for which the BJAB family is renowned.

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.


Pupils build on their strong foundations in reading, writing, speaking and listening by following a rigorous programme of studying language and literature in Key Stage Three. After securing their knowledge of genre through comprehension and creative writing, pupils study canonical texts and literary genres in depth. Pupils also study Shakespeare and study how language is used in issues of gender and technology.


Pupils study an ambitious curriculum designed to create confident and creative mathematicians. After embedding key ideas about the structure of number and calculation, pupils apply their skills in a wide range of contexts such as measurement, algebra, statistics, probability, ratio and proportion. Pupils receive regular time to consolidate and extend their understanding of these areas.

Science and Computing

Pupils are introduced to the discrete fields of Biology, Chemistry and Physics and therefore look at a variety of topics. They acquire knowledge of key concepts of scientific thinking, as well as studying the scientists and applications of the theory studied. Alongside this, pupils are encouraged to think scientifically, carry out experiments and form conclusions based on data. In Computing, pupils develop an awareness of the fundamentals of computational thinking and programming, as well as how technology can be used to revolutionise our lives.


Pupils develop a secure sense of chronology and place through the careful and detailed study of historical periods and geographical themes. Using Belgium as a starting point, pupils learn about topics as diverse as Medieval Europe, Natural Disasters and Environmental Issues. Pupils are explicitly taught cultural capital and are actively encouraged to add to their knowledge through research.

Art and Music

Pupils are introduced to key movements, concepts and techniques in the Arts and there is an equal emphasis on the appreciation and creation of the various Art forms. This is achieved through explicit teaching, space for pupils to explore ideas and feedback that allows pupils to develop their skills in these different subject areas.

Classical Civilisation and Philosophy

Pupils have the opportunity to develop their knowledge of ‘The Greats’ and develop a real understanding of the Western cultural heritage upon which our society is based. In Classical Civilisation, pupils acquire the ability to read, understand and translate Latin. This is complemented with the study of the Roman Civilisation. In Philosophy, pupils are exposed to key ideas within Western thought and are provided an opportunity to scrutinise, debate and reflect on what the learn.


Pupils receive ample opportunity to spend time outdoors and to develop their skills in a variety of ways. Both specialist teaching and specialist facilities allow pupils to become competent and confident at swimming, net games, contact and non-contact sports, gymnastics and dance. In addition to this, pupils receive opportunities to play against other local schools on a competitive level.

EAL – English as an additional language

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.

At BJAB, there are approximately 60 nationalities and 32 different first or mother-tongue languages. But 30% of pupils regard English as their first language with more than half of these speaking an additional language fluently. Language diversity is the norm at BJAB and communicating with each other is fun and rewarding.

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. BJAB’s ethos and values create a safe and happy place where children make friends quickly, learn how to collaborate with others and seek appropriate support from teachers and other adults.

Settling-in quickly usually has the effect of removing pressure and anxiety from both children and parents alike. BJAB is a place of purposeful calm and structure: a feature often very welcome to an international family dealing with the stress of an expat and transient lifestyle.  The simple conventions of wearing the correct uniform and observing the BJAB code are clear and consistent: their purpose is to create a sense of security and immediate familiarity to the child’s surroundings.

All lessons (apart from French) are taught in English, so many children are, in fact, learning a language and learning through a language at the same time.  Simultaneously they acquire the rules of the English language and the subject specific vocabulary.  In small classes, usually a maximum of 16, the teachers are able give specific attention to each pupil. Whatever their entry level all children receive the support they need to achieve their potential. Our results are outstanding.

In some cases, children make progress with a dedicated EAL teacher and a separate lesson. Ms Lambrechts is BJAB’s specialist EAL teacher and has many years of experience in how to spot gaps in pupils’ knowledge and secure the building blocks of language they need to move forward. Her lessons are full of visual games and exercises that build on the pupil’s prior knowledge and help them to cope with bi-lingualism.


French at the British Junior Academy of Brussels is taught by highly qualified French teachers and pupils are fully immersed in the French language within the classroom. The key objective is to develop pupils who can read and write independently and speak with confidence and fluency.

There are two teaching groups: the français langue étrangère (FLE) group and the bilingual group. Pupils are allocated to one of these two groups on entry depending on their language skills. There is planned differentiation according to ability levels in every lesson. The teacher to pupil ratio is usually 1:8 / 10.

Français langue étrangère group

This group is for pupils who are non-native French speakers. In years 1 and 2 (Key Stage 1) the aim is to develop the pupils’ enthusiasm for French and the process of language learning. The focus is on developing oral communication skills, by developing the pupils’ listening and speaking in French. They learn how to formulate and answer simple questions and develop the vocabulary required to talk simply about their lives. During lessons, teachers are attentive to the pupils’ pronunciation.

In years 3 – 8 (Key Stage 2 and 3) pupils consolidate their oral communication skills. Building on vocabulary previously taught, pupils learn to express themselves in more depth and detail. A new emphasis is placed on reading and writing. Pupils are taught French phonics, grammar, conjugation and syntax to allow them to read and write with greater independence and fluency.

Bilingual group

This group is for pupils who are native French speakers. 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. The lessons are based on a French reading scheme used to teach children how to read in Belgian schools “La planète des alphas”.

In years 3 – 8 (Key Stage 2 and 3) pupils are introduced to French grammar, conjugation, spellings and specific vocabulary. With the method “Les Clés du Français,” as used in Belgian schools, children learn to read and write independently in French and develop strong speaking and listening skills. Pupils have up to one hour of French daily. Parents who are considering transferring their children to French speaking schools at the end of Year 8 will be required to support in-school provision in order that pupils achieve the appropriate bilingual level.


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

Music, 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 teachers teach 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. . In Key Stage 3 pupils are taught how to analyse music and compose their own pieces. Regular recitals and concerts provide opportunities to perform and develop confidence. We have choirs for a range of abilities 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).

In addition to a week of creativity in the summer term – MADD Week – we  mount regular productions of plays and dramas, including a Friends of BJAB  Christmas pantomime.

Sport and 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. The school uses the facilities at the local Espadon sports centre for swimming, gym and dance.

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

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