Meet the Department


James Bryant Curriculum Leader
Helen Johnson 2nd in Department

Subject Overview

Music plays a large part in the lives of many of the students at Bishop Challoner Catholic Secondary School.  Every student in Years 7 – 9 has at least one class music lesson a week and over 160 students have regular instrumental lessons covering a wide range of instruments.  We have impressive results at GCSE and a strong tradition of students going on to study Music at 6th form college and university.  However, the ethos of the department is to give students the best possible classroom and extra-curricular experience, rooted in practical music making where students work and learn together.

Curriculum Map

Our curriculum is based around the key areas of Performing, Composing and Listening and Appraising.  The vast majority of lessons in Years 7 – 9 are practical with supporting listening and theoretical work.  We want students to develop good instrumental skills and an understanding of the key elements of music and how they are used in practice.  We also want students to have an appreciation of the work of musicians in society and the ability of music to express, inspire and resonate across cultures and times.

Learning Journey Music click here

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Key Stage 3


Music work uses a variety of assessment procedures.  We use our specially developed Learning Ladders for formal assessments which usually take place termly and include formal written feedback from both student and teacher. We also have some short tests during units of work and a written exam towards the end of the school year. However, a great deal of music assessment is more informal and involves direct dialogue with students when we discuss what they have done and what they could do next.  This also involves plenty of teacher demonstration which models ideas, performing and creativity.

Year 7 Curriculum includes:
  • Revision of key concepts of beat and rhythm
  • Singing a variety of songs from different eras, purposes and cultures
  • Working together in groups to perform vocal pieces with melody and backing
  • Developing initial skills using keyboard instruments
  • Melody writing and improvisation using the pentatonic scale and Aeolian mode
  • Use of chords and understanding bass lines
  • Chords and understanding bass lines
  • Notation and recognition of rhythm patterns
  • Opportunities to perform in groups using a variety of percussion instruments, voices and instruments
  • All learning is supported by relevant listening
  • Developing initial skills using ukuleles
Year 8 Curriculum includes:
  • Further development of keyboard skills including addition of accompaniment patterns using left hand
  • Blues music – understanding the cultural context, main melodic and rhythmic features and influence on world of popular music such as rock ‘n’ roll
  • Chords and more complex bass lines
  • Understanding Rondo structure through performing and composing
  • Further development of improvisation
  • Notation of pitches using the treble clef
  • Continued opportunities to perform in groups using a variety of classroom instruments
  • All learning supported by relevant listening
  • Further development of ukulele performance skills and applying their use in specific stylistic contexts
Year 9 Curriculum includes:
    • Theme and variations – developing melodies from a given starting point involving greater independence and creativity
    • Exploring the Classical and Romantic music eras and their main musical features and the role of composers in society at these times
    • Cool jazz through the work of Miles Davis; developing understanding of more sophisticated improvisation, extended chords and more complex rhythms
    • Reggae – cultural context, key features and artists; chord patterns, bass lines, melodies and song structures
    • Revision of rhythmic and melodic notation
    • Frequent opportunities for development of individual work to help preparation for GCSE
    • Minimalism – investigating and experiencing music ‘outside of the box’

Key Stage 4


Assessment at GCSE level takes place both formally and informally. There are plenty of opportunities in class work to assess performing and composing skills and these are fed back to students directly.  Performing skills are also monitored closely through liaison with instrumental teachers, and with students and parents if the lessons take place outside school.  At coursework time in Year 11, students receive detailed, individual written feedback about their compositions and there are plenty of opportunities for students to attend extra support sessions at lunchtimes and after school.


We are currently following the Eduqas GCSE Music course. As in Years 7 – 9, this is based around the three areas of Performing (30%), Composing (30%) and Listening and Appraising (40%).  Both Performing and Composing are practical elements and are assessed internally and externally moderated.  Listening and Appraising is an exam and tests knowledge of 2 pieces of music that we study in detail across the 2 year course as well as testing students’ application of skills on pieces of music that they haven’t heard before.


Further information is available via the Eduqas website:

Exam Board



As performance is a large part of the GCSE course, students need to be able to play an instrument or sing to succeed with this element of the qualification.


The Department runs a range of lunchtime activities throughout the year. Typically these include Choir, Chamber Choir, Junior and Advanced Woodwind ensembles, String Orchestra and Grade 5 Theory.  We encourage all these groups to participate in our regular concerts and also outside school at events such as the Basingstoke Music Festival or concerts at the Anvil.  There are also regular liturgies and Masses at school in which students can perform.

We also work with the Hampshire Music Service to provide tuition for students in a range of instruments.  This includes piano, keyboard, woodwind, violin/viola, cello/bass, guitar, singing, guitar and drum kit/percussions.  Lessons cost about £75 a term and take place during the school day.  We are very proud of our strong instrumental tradition and the numbers of students who take either Associated Board or Trinity Guildhall grade exams every year.

Students can also participate in the Trinity Guildhall Arts Award programme as part of their extra curricular work.  The Bronze Award encourages students to participate in an Arts activity, visit an Arts event, research an inspirational artist and share their skills with others.  Students can also do the Silver Award; this involves looking at potential career pathways in arts, attending workshops and organising an Arts event of their own.  We are very proud of the numbers of students involved in this voluntary programme in our school.

We also have a tradition of highly successful school productions in the Summer term, working closely alongside the Drama department.  Recent sold-out performances include Grease, Back to the 80s and We Will Rock You.

HMS information for pupils

Helpful Links


For further information on the curriculum please email

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