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What is our curriculum and intention?

The Music curriculum is an inclusive curriculum where all students are challenged, supported and taught to the top with appropriate scaffolding to ensure all students feel supported through their musical journey. Through the implementation of the curriculum, we want students to experience music from different times, composers, places and cultures and develop a passion for music that goes beyond the school day. Our students receive a broad curriculum that provides them with an insight into other cultures, historical periods and instruments. We aim to instil a love of musicianship by promoting a highly practical experience offering students the chance to play and perform in a different range of solo and ensemble contexts. Our curriculum provides students the opportunity to become confident musicians who are not afraid to showcase their talents as songwriters, performers, lyricists or composers. Overall, we aim to prepare students for life outside of school and beyond education, equipping them with the qualities necessary for them to reach their full potential, regardless of their starting point.


What is our learning journey?

The music curriculum at DACA is in a three-year transitional phase “Learning Journey”, having come off a carousel rotation in September 2023. All students have access to a weekly one-hour lesson. For those who opt in year 9 to continue their musical studies to GCSE level, students then progress onto a two-year musical journey at Key Stage 4. At Key Stage 3, our journey focuses on the key strands of performing, listening, reviewing and evaluating music across a range of historical periods from Baroque to the present day. The journey is sequenced to ensure that, as students’ progress through KS3, they are routinely developing their performance skills on a range of instruments including music technology, to become confident musicians, being able to perform fluently, with accuracy and expression. The journey embeds knowledge of the musical elements including reading notation to provide students with a strong basis for further study at KS4 and beyond. Within each year, units of work are sequenced to further support the development of performance skills and theoretical knowledge. There are links between units of work within year groups and across the key stages to cement prior learning and prepare for future learning. Thisaides the development of schemas (generative learning) which improves and assists retention. This can also be seen through the assessments which increase in complexity, developing skills and knowledge simultaneously.

At KS4, we follow the Eduqas specification for Music. Units run parallel at GCSE, so students can work on and practice their solo and ensemble pieces and instrumental skills whilst also learning key knowledge in preparation for the listening and appraising examination which also supports learning in performance and composition lessons. Units have been sequenced to ensure students have an understanding of musical forms and devices, AoS1, before embarking on studying AoS2, AoS3, and AoS4. Students will study one of the set works, (Africa by Toto) at the end of year 10 and will study a set work in Year 11, (Badinerie by Bach) in the first term.

Each unit of work in KS3 and KS4 have key vocabulary (tier 2) and subject specific terminology (tier 3) attached to them. These are embedded in lessons and through student responses.


Music Learning Journey

Why this? Why now? Why have we sequenced our curriculum this way?

As students will have had different musical experiences at KS2, the curriculum is sequenced to ensure when students begin their DACA musical journey they are taught the fundamental musical skills and techniques to ensure they can make progress through performing, composing and listening. It provides students with opportunities to learn and explore a range of genres whilst developing their fluency in notation reading, writing, oracy and auditory skills.

At KS4, our study of music prioritises theory and performance skills at the beginning of the journey to give students the best musical skills and knowledge to support them in performing, composing and appraising and supporting our students to develop the confidence to:

  • interpret and communicate music accurately
  • develop musical ideas effectively
  • identify musical elements and devices and explain how they are used.


What will you typically see in our Music lessons?

Long-term learning: Students to be made aware of the significance of this unit of work and specific lessons in relation to prior and future learning. Students are prompted to make links between prior key knowledge and skills in this unit of work and those they have already studied.

Checking for understanding and mark making (ACMO): Listening questions; think, pair, share; cold call; questioning; class discussion; mini whiteboards with a 3, 2, 1 reveal; weekly low-stakes quizzes. All students are subject to rigorous checking of their learning and supported to close any gaps they have in knowledge and skills by teachers’ effective formative assessment of their progress.

Live modelling and guided practice: I Do (a metacognitive approach), We Do (playing together in a call and response style, use of the visualiser or on the board), You Do (independent work with scaffolding); exploration, assessment and deconstruction of effective and ineffective practices.

Explicit teaching of vocabulary: I say, you say; exploring the root and etymology of specific words; using key vocabulary within sentences; using key vocabulary in different formations and contexts; deliberate teaching of tier 2 and 3 vocabulary.

Teaching to the top: All lessons are designed to stretch and challenge students. However, staff will adapt these to ensure that the challenge in each lesson is appropriate for their class.

Retrieval practice and recall: Low-stakes quizzes; mini whiteboards with a 3, 2, 1 reveal; Do Now tasks; Link It tasks where students are prompted to recall prior knowledge and/or skill and make meaningful links to current learning.


How do we assess progress in our subject?

At Key Stage 3, formative assessment is an ongoing process and enabled through effective use of AMCO (mark making). This is predominantly seen during practical tasks in lessons. Additionally, students complete mid unit assessments that assess their understanding and retrieval of what they have been currently learning. Mid unit – and end of topic tests give staff an opportunity to reteach aspects of curriculum knowledge that are not yet secure.

Year 7

  • How is rhythm different from a beat?
  • How do you read the notes on the musical stave?
  • How is the music structured?
  • How can you identify the section of the orchestra an instrument belongs to?

Year 8 and 9

  • How do you play a syncopated rhythm?
  • How do you read tablature?
  • How do you vary an idea on a given theme?
  • Why do some things sound harmonious and others don’t?

At Key Stage 4 in Music, formative assessment is vital is supporting students to make progress within the lesson. In addition, students are assessed at the end of each unit of work following the assessment criteria for GCSE; students are then encouraged to develop their knowledge and skills, responding to teacher feedback. As the Key Stage develops, students will work towards completion of NEA work, which makes up 60% of the course.


How do we extend and enrich our curriculum?

Homework at Key Stage 3 and 4 is set through Teaching Gadget. Students at Key Stage 4 will use Seneca for some assignments, as well as listening activities and learning tier 3 vocabulary. The music curriculum is also enriched by visiting peripatetic teachers from the local music hub, Bolton Music Service, who provide lessons as part of DACA Music School on a weekly basis for 20 minutes. Instruments on offer are voice, drums, guitar, woodwind and piano/keyboard. We provide students with performance opportunities in showcases and talent shows. DACA Music School now has a regular slot at the Darwen Live Festival in May and through the music hub students have opportunities to enter Battle of the Bands.

Students in music will also access a range of live performances from a mixture of classical and contemporary ensembles and soloists.


How does our subject relate to further education and careers?

Music can lead on to further study at A-Level, in an apprenticeship and degree level in Music. There are a wealth of degrees available in music, such as Music Business, Music Technology, Popular Music, Commercial Music, Music Theatre. Due to the transferable skills, music can take you into and support a wealth of careers not just music related. However careers that are more specific to music may include:

  • professional musician
  • singer/song writer
  • musical production and direction
  • music business owner
  • lighting, sound and stage production and management
  • presenter and DJ
  • musician in the armed forces
  • music photography
  • music curator and radio presenter.


If you would like more information about the Music curriculum, please contact the Head of Department, Mrs A. Capaldi via email: