1. Intent: why do we teach what we teach?

  • Music forms a fundamental part of the pupil experience and journey through KSA from EYFS to the end of Sixth Form. We are committed to providing our students with a rich variety of experiences. Our music specialism is part of that commitment. Collective participation in music builds a sense of community and develops skills in self- expression and performance as well as self-discipline and teamwork. 
  • As part of a school which provides a wealth of musical opportunities and experiences, every pupil learns an instrument and performs as part of an orchestra through the Strings Programme – the centre piece of our music curriculum. The delivery of this programme is crucial to achieving our goal of providing a rigorous, meaningful and enriching musical education for our pupils. 
  • Music teachers at KSA are part of the wider Ark Music Programme. This ensures that whilst our approach to instrumental learning is specific to our school, our development of pupils’ wider musicianship allows them to access music at GCSE level (and beyond for those who are prepared to dedicate more time to independent practice on top of provisions during school hours). 
  • The outcomes of our string orchestras, biannual concerts and GCSE results demonstrate the success of the music curriculum and strings programme. We recognise that the addition of an A level course in the future will help complete the journey in full and allow pupils to see music as a rigorous career option. Getting to this stage will require a greater emphasis on independent practice and more rigorous approach to assessment of strings performance and progress earlier on in the learning journey 
  • Core musical concepts are explored and taught from the EYFS where the pupils learn in an integrated context through music, songs (via use of resources from Sing-Up) and movement. Music supports the development of phonics where pupils engage with instruments, body percussion, rhythm and rhyme to help them discriminate between sounds. Gradually the knowledge and understanding of these concepts deepened and structured throughout years 1 to 4. By the time pupils reach Key Stage 3 they will have a clear understanding of these concepts (musical elements) and be able to apply this knowledge when studying a variety of genres and developing a range of practical and aural skills. In year 5 and 6 there are currently no core music lessons; we have chosen to prioritise strings teaching so that pupils will be ready to successfully be part of whole year group orchestras at the start of year 7. Pupils will continue to develop their strings playing and musical notation understanding skills 

2. Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?

Music allocation and timetabling at KSA

*Core curriculum music in KS3 follows the Ark Secondary Music Programme course content and consists of pupils developing their skills in three areas; Listening & Appraising, Composing and Performing

** Core curriculum at GCSE level enables pupils to access the EDEXCEL course and also uses the Ark Secondary Music Programme arterials

  • All music teachers at KSA have a degree level qualification in music or music related course and are grade 8 ABRSM string or voice instrument specialists. Teachers in the department are at varying stages of their education careers from first year in education (first year out of university) at tutor fellow role, to trainee level, NQT plus 1 and 3rd year teaching experience. An experienced senior leader currently leads the department. Staff teaching the Ark Programme receive termly content specific training and half-termly visits from the Ark Music leader. Tutor fellows on the OYS do not teach core lessons but attend all department CPD and meetings and receive weekly line management meetings. The EYFS to Y4 teacher attends tri-borough training and CPD sessions.
  • The vast majority of pupils including those with additional needs or SEND pupils study some form of music. However, adjustments are made when it is decided that pupils will benefit from more intervention in foundational core subjects/acquisition of language. When it is possible to make an adjustment that means the child can stay in orchestra, but play another instrument e.g. keyboard, then this is put in place. A handful of SEN pupils who struggle in larger, noisier musical environments (sensory overload) are not able to successfully take part in whole year group orchestras (1 pupil in year 7, 3 in year 8 and 1 in year 9). These pupils receive further intervention in foundational core subjects or other planned activities as part of their IEPs.
  • A new curriculum is being designed by the primary music specialist under the guidance of the head of department. This is monitored by having half termly planning meetings and in termly lesson reviews. A new strings curriculum is being implemented in year 4 to 9 led by the strings tutor in conjunction with the head of department. This is being reviewed throughout the year in weekly line management meetings and at the end of the year; the reset for all this year means that pupils will be able to make faster progress in future years so adjustments will have to be made
  • This is the first year we are using the full Ark Secondary Music programme in KS3 and 4. The music team are continually adjusting and adapting resources, content and deciding what to prioritise in terms of knowledge gaps (particularly for year 8 and 9) to ensure pupils can access and complete as much of this curriculum as possible. This will need to be reviewed at the end of the year (next year’s year 8 will be in a better position because they have started the curriculum at the correct start point).
  • All pupils are given or have access to, appropriate resources in order to develop their musical skill. Pupils from year 5 upwards have their own individual string instrument and are encouraged to take this home to practice independently. Pupils have access to a variety of class-shared percussion and keyboard instruments from year 7 upwards. These pupils also have access to computers to aid compositional skill development.

3. Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?

  • The primary curriculum (EYFS to Y4) sees pupils focussing on acquiring a range of practical skills. Outcomes are observed in lesson performance activities and range of performances across the year. AFL takes place each lesson in the form of ‘Do nows’ which create a picture of how much pupils have retained from the previous lesson and inform the teacher if there are any misconceptions that need addressing/any re-teaching that needs to take place. No formal assessment data is currently collected at this stage of their musical development.
  • As all curriculums in KS3 and below are new and will be reviewed and adapted at the end of the year after summative EOY assessment result analysis. This work is shared with the Ark Music Programme.
  • In KS3 and 4 Formative checkpoint assessments take place once a term in core lessons and there is a centrally provided summative assessment at the end of each term. Grade boundaries and mark schemes are centrally provided for KS3. KS4 use GCSE exam grade boundaries from the previous year. A summative strings assessment is being designed and will be in place for the end of the year
  • A Strings assessment is being designed and implemented this year for all strings learning from year 4 to 9 (yr4 to 6 and 7 to 9 have separate assessment structures). This will be modelled around the Suzuki Method of acquiring performance skills through learning and mastering specific pieces. Assessment will happen in the last cycle and will give a clear picture as to the progress of each child for each Suzuzki level e.g. initial level (gold, silver, bronze), level 1 (gold, silver, bronze) etc.