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Curriculum Road Map: Music
Curriculum Statement: Music


Music is highly respected and is an integral part of a pupil’s journey at Quest.

At Quest our intention is that pupils are given the highest standard of music education, and the optimal musical opportunities that will engage and inspire them to develop a love of music and unlock their full potential as musicians, thereby increasing their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement.

Our curriculum challenges students to think, act and speak like those working in the field. We develop a firm understanding of what music is through listening, singing, performing, analysing, and composing across a wide variety of historical periods, styles, traditions, and musical genres using both traditional and virtual instruments.

Our curriculum not only covers the NC but is based around the model music curriculum to give our students the very best platform and foundations to enhance their music learning. As a digital school we place a strong emphasis on music technology and the use of digital audio workstations to compose, sequence and arrange music. The life skills that are developed, and are at times explicitly taught, are an integral part of the development of the subject specific skills as well as creating well-rounded individuals. The core principles that are developed would include: Problem solving, perseverance, diligence, team work, time management, organisation, responsibility, cultural history, listening skills, confidence, social skills, discipline, self-evaluation, interpersonal skills, sense of achievement.

Opportunities are embedded for students to be able to hone and develop the practical aspects of performance and composition, but equally important is the ability to understand how the development of life skills, such as confidence, self-awareness, perseverance and discipline give them a holistic experience that they can take beyond their musical studies.


We are committed to ensuring children understand the value and importance of music in the wider community, and are able to use their musical skills, knowledge, and experiences to involve themselves in music, in a variety of different contexts to enhance the lives of others in the wider community.

Despite Music at the UCS being a new and growing department, we have ambition for our learners and expect them by the end of KS3 to be fluent performers, active listeners and creative individuals that speak the language of the industry coherently and fluently.


Music is a practical subject. Musical learning is about thinking and acting as a musician. Music lessons should be about learning in and through music, not solely about music. Within Music the curriculum is designed to develop and understanding of the interrelated dimensions of music which consists of pulse, rhythm, pitch, tempo, dynamics, timbre, texture, structure and notation. Each of these components are broken down into manageable chucks which are developed and revisited year on year.


Every lesson starts with an activity that promotes students recall, memory and retrieval skills on prior knowledge and understanding. Curriculum planning also factors in ample opportunities for students to consolidate their learning and low stakes assessment to provide formative assessment to inform future lesson planning.  


Our spiral curriculum is built so that students revisit topics and build upon them year on year. The idea of a spiral curriculum is well established both generally, and in music education in particular. We are presenting the six strands of musical learning at KS3 in the form of a spiral. This is important, as the notion of progression using a spiral means that pupils can go back and forth, up and down, in three dimensions, and over time. Often as learners encounter a new situation their apparent attainment can be perceived as dipping, but by invoking the notion of a spiral this does not mean that their actual attainment has worsened, merely that in the specific instance in question the pupils have shifted location on the spiral.


Our KS3 music curriculum aims to get students making music from their very first lesson. We start Year 7 with a musical performance unit which encompasses the basics of rhythm reading, musical notation and performing to allow our students to start a journey to become experts in the field. By the end of Y7 through of carful sequencing of musical skills students will be able to confidently know how to read and apply the reading of music to perform and compose on a variety of instruments. The department believes in a skills based curriculum rather than teaching topics.

With the foundations of musical playing, performing and music tech established in Y7, this allows use to continue our journey in Y8 and Y9 to revist and build upon what has already been established. It is important to remember that the development of musical skill is not linear. Our sequencing is taught in such a way where basic skills are revisited in greater depth and at greater levels of complexity as our students develop. Our road map which is shared on the school website clearly shows that each year we revisit skills in music technology, musical performance, composing and listening.

With the end goal of preparing our students to study and achieve at KS4.



Our curriculum is guided by the Model Music Curriculum which ensures our students receive a world class musical education throughout their journey at the UCS.

Substantive knowledge in music is based on the developing knowledge of the nine interrelated dimensions of music. All musical learning is built around the interrelated dimensions of music.

Interrelated Dimensions of Music:










Substantive knowledge focuses on developing children’s skills and knowledge required for them to develop as musicians. This is achieved through deliberate practice and allows children to develop and demonstrate fluency of knowledge. It involves learning about music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians.

Disciplinary knowledge in music is the interpretation on the interrelated dimensions of music and how this knowledge is used when singing, playing instruments, improvising and composing, to develop creative and original pieces and performances. Children work independently and collaboratively to interpret and combine the dimensions of music to create a specific and desired effect.

The Knowledge is regularly checked through Do Now tasks which utilises digital software such as to assess students understanding on a weekly basis. We also use constant summative assessment during tasks to track their learning. The department places a strong emphasis on students taking ownership of their learning and as a digital school, students regularly record themselves in lessons to evidence their own learning which they upload to Showbie to allow a record to be produced and for feedback to be given.

As a department we set challenging but realistic expectation for all of our learners, we set high aspirations for all learners and expects all students to produce high quality work in relation to their ability and circumstances. Even though the music department is run by one member of staff, we hold trust moderation meetings as a full music team to ensure there is consistency of standards from EYFS to KS3.


Cognitive science tells us that working memory is limited and that cognitive load is too high if students are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long-term memory. Cognitive science also tells us that in order for students to become creative thinkers, or have greater depth of understanding, they must first master the basics, which takes time.


Our curriculum has been designed based on evidence from cognitive science and the three main principals:

1) Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.

2) Interleaving subjects helps the children to discriminate between topics and aids their long-term retention of key knowledge and skills.

3) Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength. Progress is not in a straight line, going back to key points and reinforcing the basics.


Retrieval practice is planned for the beginning of each lesson, over a unit of musical learning. Whereby, the children ‘speak like an expert’ and are expected to retrieve knowledge that has been previously taught as a strategy to support them to move learning from the short term to the long-term memory to rapidly increase their progress.


As we encourage all students to take ownership of their learning, all students record their retrieval practice scores which allows the department to easily track and identify gaps or misconceptions which are then addressed in the following lessons Do Now task or through their homework.

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We make a conscious effort to plan opportunities for our students away from the classroom to bring the curriculum to life and enrich the lives of our students.


Our music teacher is also a working professional and employer within the music industry and this provides students with the experience of standards and expectations in the industry which promotes high aspirations for future careers. It also provides students with first hand, direct contact with potential employers to ask questions.



We use data to inform our lesson planning and resources, tasks and questioning we provide for all students. Music is naturally differentiated and we work in a number of ways. Although we tend not to differentiate by task, students can set their own expectations in performance based on their previous knowledge. In grouping, we use both mixed groups and those of a similar working level to stretch and share understanding. Music is in many cases differentiated by outcome and we aim to make all tasks accessible to all learners wherever they are on their musical journey. As music is primarily practical, the differentiated dialogue and support we offer in lessons is key to progress while taking great care in not overloading the working memory of our students and realise that this could be detrimental to the progress of the students.

We constantly review our curriculum and lesson planning to ensure the consistency is there in all lessons and it is fit for purpose. Even though the department is singularly entity at the UCS, it is part of a wider music department across the trust who has a consistent approach to the T and L and approaches with students. Challenge in our lessons is number one priority- if students are challenged then behaviour problems and low-level disruption does not occur and students make progress in a challenging but calm classroom. This is the standard and expectation within all classrooms and students also know that they will be challenged at every stage of a lesson. 

The department is quality assured through learning walks and collaboratively in Peer/Triad groups. This allows us to provide effective practice to improve our strengths and to work on our area for improvement.


We are constantly assessing all students formatively, starting with informal assessments as part of the Do Now activity. Students upload their scores to Showbie to track their own progress and to inform them of their next target for the subsequent lesson.

We continue to formatively assess our students at all stages of lesson until they leave the classroom at the end with the department constantly giving live verbal feedback to every student.

Summative assessment is planned out to fit alongside the whole school assessment data cycle and through our range of feedback techniques, we do identify gaps in knowledge and highlight that to the student and provide challenges for all to reflect on their learning and to make progress.

Staff design lessons to support all learners and to stretch the most able in the tasks they provide and the questions they ask. We work closely with the SENCo to make sure we are always meeting the needs of our key sub groups. Our data collection is in line with the whole school assessment policy 2021 and is fit for purpose within our department. 


Our curriculum is based on topics that have a real life comparison and context, which allows our students to have a connection and understanding with the topic which in turn allows for increased engagement and progress from all of our students.


The department is lead by a teacher who is also a working professional in the music industry. These professional standards are fed through to the students from the beginning of KS3 to allow our students to act and speak like an expert.


The department extra curricular actives gives an opportunity for students to mix across year groups which allows the older students to take the lead to inspire and motive the younger students to create the next generation of musical talent.


If students display low effort in their work or homework then the department follows the school’s behaviour policy and uses positive reinforcement to bring the best out of our students so that they are able to achieve and unlock their full potential.


The music department are constantly reviewing the subject and curriculum to meet the needs of each learner. At the end of each unit, we reflect on what worked well and what could be changed and these are then implemented for the next year. Communication is very good across the central Quest Music Team and each member of team are in constant communication to discuss key focus for the department area.


All staff complete the whole school induction process at the start of the year and this is continued into subject based CPD. We are a very outward facing and forward-thinking department when it comes to Teaching and Learning and the Trust’s Digital Strategy. The Covid 19 has affected how outward facing the department has been with regards to performances since its inception. The department is currently building a reputation out with the wider community and inside the school community via the use of virtual performances which have been showcased during the Autumn Period.


Music is taught as a weekly lesson at KS3, where student receive 50 minutes and currently there is no KS4 provision. The department sets independent learning on a weekly basis to all classes through the Showbie Platform, the nature of the homework will enable the learning the ABRSM grade 1 theory. This is monitored using Showbie and tracked on Idoceo. On the whole behaviour is very good in the department with high levels of student engagement with any low level disruption quickly dealt with.


The Music department has embraced the trusts digital strategy and has embedded it throughout all the topics. This is evident in the use of the Ipad as a teaching tool to personalise students learning through the use of E-books but also as a device in which students are able to record and track their own progress each lesson.

Our curriculum is rely heavily on the use of digital technology throughout the year from Digital Audio Workstations to session mixers so that students are using technology that is current and used in the field.

Each of the Do Now tasks uses a digital resource to aid in memory recall which in turn is also used as an informal rolling weekly assessment to track and monitors pupils progress using a digital tracker called Idoceo.


Educational evidence shows teachers that the feedback that has the highest impact on students’ progress is feedback that is received as quickly as possible after students have completed a piece of work. The Music department will use several methods to try to provide ‘immediate feedback’ to our students ‘live’ in the classroom. This will complement the marking that takes place on Showbie.

Teachers will: quiz students regularly on key information that they have to memorise; use model answers to allow students to replicate high quality work by comparing their work with the model answers; regularly circulate the classroom offering verbal feedback which students can act upon immediately to improve their work; design and use Personal Learning Checklists to allow students to self-asses work effectively and act on areas that need improvement; and, teachers will use ‘Visualisers’ to display examples of students’ work on the whiteboard to highlight areas of success and indicate what can be done to improve work further.

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