Principles and Purpose of Music Curriculum

Our curriculum aim is to inspire engagement and creativity in every one of our students, regardless of their musical background and prior experience. We aspire to provide a relevant, high-quality music education that engages and inspires our students to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and a sense of achievement. We aim to equip our students with the core musical skills of performance, composition, improvisation and appraisal as well as the terminology to respond to music verbally and in written work and be able to make judgements and comparisons across a range of musical styles. In addition an aim is to develop effective team players who learn the importance of listening and leading through joint musical ventures.

A core part of our aim is to provide a diverse and inclusive curriculum that allows students from a range of musical backgrounds to thrive and to identify as being a musician. We never regard someone as not a musician.


Powerful knowledge in music is about not just ‘knowing that’ but also ‘knowing how’ 

Powerful knowledge as a performer is knowing how to technically master one's instrument or voice, to perform with and complete understanding of fluency. It is to know how to communicate music with excitement and expression to the audience. It is also knowing how to interpret and imitate musical ideas within a range of contexts. 

As a composer it is to have sophisticated knowledge on how the elements of music can be harnessed and developed to then create music that provides emotive flow and coherence. It is the ability to use appropriate compositional devices and techniques to refine and develop original ideas with a clear sense of style,

In appraisal it is having a sophisticated vocabulary to talk persuasively about music. It is the ability to recognise and locate musical devices across a range of musical styles and be able to explain how this has been done. It is about being able to ask questions and make connections between different musical styles. 


Without negotiation every student is entitled to experience the following:

  • Expert, specialist music teachers
  • Exposure to a wider range of musical styles and experiences
  • Expert teacher feedback enabling progress at every level
  • The opportunity to learn to play an instrument
  • The opportunity to participate in a musical ensemble
  • Accessible opportunities to go on a trip to experience live music
  • The experience of performing in a wider school community event
  • The opportunity to be in an audience
  • Access to specialist resources including music technology
  • Access to safe and practical spaces in which to rehearse their music
  • Access to advice on how to prepare for a career in music
  • To be able to access a relevant curriculum at key stage 4 and 5

Why this, why now?

This document outlines the overview of what we study, when and why. In music we have moved on from a ‘topic’ based approach and we teach one ‘theme’ each academic term. These encompass a range of musical concepts and styles of music along with practical work, singing, music theory and aural. These themes cover a range of styles of music through listening and practical music making. Further thoughts on this can be found on the blog link further down the page.


Each topic is carefully designed to build on the last, allowing each concept to be fully explored in both practical and appraisal work.


Music KS3 Curriculum Map
The following links outline our GCSE and A Level curriculum.
Music GCSE Curriculum Map
Music A Level Curriculum Map

Teaching the Music Curriculum

Passionate and inspiring classroom and instrumental teachers are key in inspiring our students. All teachers promote their own musicianship through modelling work, singing, playing instruments and engagement in music of all styles.


We offer high quality teaching with well planned lessons and tracking of student progress to inspire their love of the subject. Our curriculum covers a range of musical styles and uses contemporary music and events to explore musical concepts that can be especially powerful. The use of google classroom playlists along with highly active Twitter and Instagram accounts encourage high levels of engagement and access to music beyond the classroom. As well as engaging and tracking those who do not enter the school thinking of themselves as ‘musical’ the schemes and co-curricular also aim to enrich and stretch those students who come in with exceptionally high levels of practical or aural musicianship. We also aim to inspire our students with a rich, quality co-curricular programme that reflects a breadth of inclusive activities plus a range of deep, high quality ensembles playing professional pieces of music.

Assessing the Music Curriculum

Key stage 3 

Projects are based around musical skills and the strands of each skill are threaded through the curriculum from year 7- 10. We recognise that progress in music is not clearly linear, and feedback and marking reflect this. Students receive verbal feedback every lesson, through questioning methods, live-marking and one-to-one conversations. Excellent performances are used to model marking in front of the class – consolidating success criteria and bringing to light common issues. This is done when a new skill and theme is taught. Students also receive written feedback on each project at a mid-way point and the end of the project. This feedback is individual and provided through google classroom and students are expected to RAR (Read and Respond) with target setting at this point. 


Key Stage 4

Key Stage 4 students are assessed via the 3 main components of the course: appraising, composing and performance. All students receive separate feedback on these three as separate components using GCSE criteria and model examples. Opportunities for AFL (Assessment for Learning) and live marking are provided to every student and modelled to the whole class in the first term so students are confident with the criteria early on. Tracking sheets and assessment sheets are used for these assessments and shared with composition mentors/peripatetic staff to support progression of coursework pieces.


Key Stage 5

Key Stage 5 students are assessed via the 3 main components of the course: appraising, composing and performance.  All students receive separate feedback on these three as separate components. All are marked to the  A-Level criteria and AFL and live marking is used regularly so students are confident with the criteria early on. Essay work is always marked against the exam criteria; students are expected to submit essays, at least one for each set work. Peer assessment is an essential part of the process and is used regularly in lessons and documented in students' portfolios.

Progression in the Music Curriculum

Our aim for KS3 is to equip students with the skills they need to access the KS4 curriculum without the need for external instrumental lessons or investment. Years 7 to 9 aim to provide our learners with the chance to develop their skills in singing and instrumental playing to be able to perform a whole piece by the end of the key stage. They should also be able to use Soundtrap or the keyboard to be able to conceive musical ideas in composition and be able to refine and improve them in conjunction with their teacher. The curriculum at all levels has strands of theoretical learning to scaffold the knowledge of basic music theory and dictation. This is to build up the core ability of reading and dictating simple passages of music, as well as the development of listening and analysing skills. Through regular listening exercises students improve their understanding of the context of a range of key genres and styles of music.