Music - St Mary's and St John's CE School



Our Music curriculum is fully inclusive, developing students’ skills in performance, composition, listening and appraising across a varied selection of musical styles, genres and disciplines. We aim to give students a detailed and explorative musical experience to ensure that students develop as well-rounded and capable musicians. The three strands of Music are taught and developed together with the aim to build personal skills that students can draw upon to succeed, not only in music lessons but also beyond school life and in future employment. Through Music, students develop a variety of learning disciplines which can support learning in other curriculum areas, such as listening; discipline; independent study; increasing concentration levels; perseverance; self-confidence; creativity; respect and sensitivity towards others. Our focus on oracy and high-quality responses develops higher order thinking to promote our students’ ability to articulate themselves not only within the subject specialism but to prepare them to be articulate citizens.

Through the study of Music at SMSJ, our students are academically educated to a high standard and we also pride ourselves in the way in which our students engage with the content in an effort to complete their creations to the best of their ability. Through their learning, our students are shaped in a way which enables them to deal with the world and those around them with empathy, sympathy and respect.


As well as topic/theme-based learning throughout the year, students will also have lessons based on the three key strands of GCSE in order to enable all students to feel confident in taking GCSE Music. 

This will take the form of:

  • Music theory introduction and embedding of key music theory concepts – treble and bass clefs, keys, scales, intervals and other foundational concepts
  • Composition – teacher led tasks as well as student led interests
  • Performance – teacher led whole group and individual tasks as well as student led
  • Listening and Appraising – students learning how to discuss music musically alongside student led research listening tasks

Year 7 and 8 students will be taught in mixed ability, mixed gender PAM groups, receiving one 50-minute lesson a week. Once in Year 9 students will be taught in option groups with double the curriculum time of Year 7 and 8.


At Key Stage 4, pupils will be assessed against GCSE criteria with the following objectives:

  • Perform with technical control, expression and interpretation
  • Compose and develop musical ideas with technical control and coherence
  • Demonstrate and apply musical knowledge
  • Use appraising skills to make evaluative and critical judgements about music

These objectives assess the three main skill area of performance, composition and listening & appraisal. 

Students will leave with a confident and comprehensive knowledge of a broad range of different musical styles, genres and cultures. They will have developed strong skills and attitudes that will lead to success in other curriculum areas, and in their future employment.

The super-curricular music programme enables and supports musicianship in students of varying abilities, giving opportunities for students to experience a wide variety of genres and musical ensembles. Inclusive mixed ability ensembles, such as Year 7 and 8 Choirs, enable students to experience the enjoyment of performing with others and developing their musical skills. Higher level ensembles, such as Senior Choir, and Orchestra, allow students to challenge themselves and prepare them for further studies in the subject.

The school production – Bugsy Malone in November 2023 – is another opportunity to stretch and challenge the students; by auditioning to be a member of the cast, or in the future, performing in the production band (preferably Grade 5+ on their instrument) or by auditioning to be a member of the cast, where the expectation is that all cast members and musicians develop performance talent and professionalism. These clubs/events encourage enjoyment in the arts and allow students to learn about professional expectations and performance discipline.

These opportunities will be further enhanced by the ability to attend a range of trips throughout the year. In 2022/2023, students were able to see the London Philharmonic Orchestra perform Messiaen and other more challenging music. In 2023/2024, students will have the opportunity to see a range of popular American music performed by the Philharmonia in the Autumn term which will offer more students a gateway into watching elite level musicianship in the local area.

Students also audition in Year 6 to become a Music Scholar, taking on a leadership role within the department and developing their own musical skills as well as supporting younger students with their music making.

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