Because "we all come together to learn", there is a strong universal element to our curriculum: we give all learners, particularly the most disadvantaged, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.
Music pervades our lives. An understanding of music will therefore deepen any individual's experience of life on a daily basis.
Music is a vital medium of human creativity. Appreciating it (and its history) is thus an essential element of any human being's cultural capital.
Music pacifies, invigorates, excites, soothes, heals – and it is a profoundly social activity too. We know that expressing oneself through music, or becoming absorbed by another individual's creative expression of themselves, brings real benefits for mental and emotional health.
We therefore intend for all students to gain a lifelong love and understanding of music through its theory and practice. We intend that each student will learn to be deeply musical – to understand fully the elements of music and apply them to singing, composing, listening, improvising, and engaging with the wider opportunities we offer. Most of all, we intend for each student to want to improve their own ability to express themselves musically, which can be achieved by developing within them a passion for multiple musical genres and disciplines.
Pre-14, we teach through topics, each centred on elements of music. At the start of each year we revisit Rhythm and Pitch to check the basic elements of music are deeply understood. Pedagogically we teach through singing, playing instruments, groupwork, critical engagement, etc.
Our choice of topics reflects our intent to equip students with the cultural capital they need for a lifelong appreciation of human creativity in this field. The Blues, Holst's Planets, the Orchestra, Chinese music and Music Technology (eg Cubase) all feature in our Schemes of Learning. The topics are sequenced to maximise progression from previous topics/years/Key Stages – eg composing starts with small 8-bar tasks. Year 9 is a transition year; our choice of topics overlaps with typical GCSE areas of study, whilst at the same time building on work from Year 8.
Resources are chosen to reflect the availability of musical instruments. Regular investment (eg, this year, in ICT) ensures variety and quality.
Extra-curricular music is foundational to our work. Events throughout the year (eg the school's Cathedral Carol Service) enable us to introduce hundreds of students to the rich experience of public performance. Regular visits to school by professional musicians are equally important.
Our developing pedagogy is enabling us better to assess the impact of our work and to modify accordingly (using, eg, Responsive Feedback).
However, just as important to us is the number of students opting for Music post-14, and the number participating in extra-curricular activities.