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.

Click or tap here to see the Learning Journey

Key Stage 3


Music work uses a variety of assessment procedures such as summative termly written feedback from both students and the teacher, and short tests during units of work. However, a great deal of music assessment is more formative 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:

  • Learning to read and write rhythm notation
  • Keyboard skills
  • Ukulele skills
  • Composition using graphic score
  • Instruments of the orchestra

Year 8 Curriculum includes:

  • Blues music
  • Exploring major and minor tonality
  • School of Rock ensemble work
  • Rondo form
  • Film music

Year 9 Curriculum includes:

  • Theme and variations
  • Minimalism
  • Jazz music
  • Fusions
  • Band and ensemble work

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 and provision is designed to meet the needs and interests of students in addition to ‘standard’ music groups. Typically these include Choir, Wind ensemble, String Group and Worship Band, and recent student-led groups and activities include Percussion Club and instrumental teaching. We encourage all these groups to participate in regular concerts and also outside school at events such as the Basingstoke Music Festival or concerts at the Anvil. Rehearsals take place in the Spring term for the Easter Music Department international tour, and in the Summer term rehearsals take place for the annual school production, working closely with the Drama department. Recent sold-out performances include Grease, Oliver, We Will Rock You and Sister Act.

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.

Helpful Links

For further information on the curriculum please email

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