Music Curriculum

For detail about our curriculum content, please follow this link.

KSA aims to provide a broad yet rigorous music experience for pupils.

Core music provides pupils with the knowledge and skills to understand the intricacies of music in many styles, and aims to give pupils a solid grounding in musicianship, singing, composition and critical awareness.

Pupils begin to learn their string instrument right from the very start of Year 3, receiving one lesson per week in a small group setting. Throughout the whole of KS2 and KS3 composition, performance and appraisal skills are developed through each strand, and each Scheme of Learning is designed so that pupils learn about a range of musical styles and cultures.

Orchestra is a key part of the curriculum offer from KS3 onwards. Through orchestra sessions, pupils are able to develop their leadership; and their moral, social and cultural understanding, through effective teamwork.

Provision for each year group

Infant School (EYFS/KS1) Nursery – Year 2 1 lesson per week delivered by class teacher / Ark Music Programme Associate
Junior School      


Year 3 – Year 6 1 lesson per week of Core      

1 lesson per week of Instrumental

Middle School      


Year 7 – Year 9 1 lesson per week of Core      

1 lesson per week of Instrumental

2 lessons per week of Orchestra

Upper School      


Year 10 – Year 11 3 lessons per week of Core      

1 lessons per week of Instrumental

1 lesson per week of Orchestra

Types of music lesson

Orchestra rehearsal
Learning how to perform as part of an orchestra involves more than just playing the right notes. Pupils learn in the formation of an orchestra with a conductor for some of their music lessons. Pupils learn the correct posture when performing, the appropriate positions to hold, and how to follow the directions of a conductor. This formation is also useful for experimenting with ideas that pupils have, and is an important way for pupils to hear how all the parts sound together that they have been learning.  Focus in these lessons is on uniformity (bowing, posture), intonation of the whole group, accuracy of performance, and ensemble skills. There are usually 3-4 teachers amongst the pupils in addition to the conductor to provide support to any that require it, to tune instruments and offer expert advice during the lesson.

Small group instrumental lessons
Pupils are fortunate to receive small group tuition on their instrument. All teachers are experienced performers and instrumental teachers. The small group size enables all pupils to receive the attention they need when attempting to learn a new instrument. Groups are mixed ability to an extent, but pupils are given a part that is suitable to their prior attainment wherever possible. Often it is appropriate for stronger pupils to support those that are struggling with a task.  Small group lessons can focus on instrumental technique in a way that is not possible in orchestra rehearsals.

Core lessons
Each pupil sits at their own desk where there is space for written work to take place. These lessons take the formation of a more conventional classroom, where the teacher delivers content from the front of the room and pupils complete activities and contribute to discussions and conversations. Paired work can take place during these lessons, as well as individual work on keyboards and on computers.

Click here for more information about the content of the curriculum.


How does the KSA Music provision compare with the national picture?

Music education is hugely variable across the country. The government guidelines are broad, and state that music should be taught ‘unless there is good reason not to’ in maintained schools. In academies there is no obligation to teach music, and the vast majority of schools in London are academies.

In its worst form, music education might look like this:

Key Stage 1 Key Stage 2 Key Stage 3 Key Stage 4/5
No provision No provision 1 lesson every two weeks in Year 7 and 8 only No provision


Typically, across the country, music education looks like this:

Key Stage 1 Key Stage 2 Key Stage 3 Key Stage 4/5
Singing a song in assembly once a term, led by class teacher. Music lesson delivered by non-specialist a couple of times a term, often in the form of a video or online resource. 1 lesson every week with a specialist. 4% of pupils taking music GCSE.


Currently, this would be considered typical best practice:

Key Stage 1 Key Stage 2 Key Stage 3 Key Stage 4/5
Regular singing with class teacher, coupled with some music and movement lessons. Weekly music lessons with a dedicated or specialist teacher, perhaps during PPA time. One term of instrumental lessons delivered by music hub to whole class. Opportunity to continue instrumental lessons at cost of between £50 - £180 a term. Cost of instrument often met by parents. 1 lesson every week with a specialist, with opportunity to opt in to instrumental lessons at cost of between £50 - £180 a term. Cost of instrument often met by parents. Extra-curricular options include orchestra, band or choir outside of school. 4% of pupils taking music GCSE and provided with an instrumental lesson, often subsidised by the school and typically costing £50 - £100 per term.


KSA’s music programme blows this all out of the water!

Key Stage 1 Key Stage 2 Key Stage 3 Key Stage 4/5
Regular singing with class teacher, timetabled musicianship lessons with a highly-skilled music practitioner visiting every two weeks who coaches class teachers to be experts. Joined-up curriculum to prepare for Year 3. Dedicated team of curriculum and instrumental teachers employed by the school to deliver musicianship and instrumental lessons to all, delivering a high quality curriculum. Instrument loaned to all pupils from Year 4. Opportunities for choir and orchestra. Many opportunities to perform and take part in workshops. 300% more music time than seen in ‘typical best practice’. All pupils receive free instrumental tuition and are loaned an instrument. One GCSE-preparatory core lesson a week with specialist teachers, two orchestra lessons playing dedicated and tailor-made music. External performances with the orchestra, and huge extra-curricular programme. A high proportion of pupils opting to study music GCSE and joining Upper School Orchestra. Opportunity to tour with the orchestra.
Collaborations with organisations, including:  

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Academy of Music

London Musical Arts Orchestra

English National Opera

The Bach Choir

Curriculum support and consultancy from HoD:  

Ark Schools

Start-up schools

Trainee teachers

Prospective teachers