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We make the Music curriculum engaging, challenging and relevant to each learner at the Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School.  Students can access high-quality resources and an environment which nurtures learning. Our department allows each of our students to develop as a young musician, with high quality learning and teaching centred around the concept of building a centre of excellence in which every child is a musician.

In Music, we work to break stereotypes of musicians and music.  We believe that students of all abilities and backgrounds can grow to foster a love of music, whilst developing their own understanding of the contexts and backgrounds from which different music has come, gaining the skills and knowledge to compose and perform with improving skill.

We actively encourage students to ask questions to connect their own knowledge and understanding with an activity or task to push their own learning further.  We encourage students to consider our own place within the music, developing as performers and practitioners, and considering the words of Psalm 150 “Praise the Lord… with the sounding of the trumpet…, with the harp and lyre…, with the timberel and dancing…, with the strings and pipe.  Praise him with resounding cymbals.”

A balance of practical and academic study is the key to unlocking our curriculum, which focusses on engaging with and developing the whole musician.  We use high-quality ICT resources to enhance learning, but also balance this against more traditional resources and learning opportunities.

To enhance the provision of music, we organise multiple extracurricular activities within the department, and in collaboration with others.  We build links with music and performing arts organisations within the local and wider community to enhance both the experiences and outcomes of our learners at all stages of their musical journey.

Curriculum Summary

Key Stage 3

Programme of Study

Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. A high quality music education should engage and inspire students to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. As pupils progress, they should develop a critical engagement with music, allowing them to compose, and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon.

During KS3, students receive a grounding in music. This should lead on from KS1 and KS2 musical experiences at primary school, following the National Curriculum for England.

Over the two years, the students will study the following:

  • Rudiments of Music Theory
  • Vocal music (supported by mandatory Year 7 Junior Choir)
  • Basic keyboard (piano) skills
  • The Elements of Music
  • Instruments of the Orchestra
  • Melody-writing
  • Music technology (including MIDI sequencing)
  • Structure and Form
  • Popular Music (including Blues, Jazz and Rock 'n' Roll)
  • Music for Musical Theatre
  • World Music/Ethnomusicology (music from other cultures)

Learning/Teaching Approach

Students will develop the following skills:

  • Performing – ability to perform as a soloist, as well as in groups of different sizes (up-to and including our mandatory Year 7 Junior Choir).
  • Composing – creating new music, based on given stimuli and from their own experiences and interests in music.
  • Listening & Appraising – through the development of a good subject-specific vocabulary, students will be able to talk coherently and succinctly about music they have heard, giving opinions with sound musical reasoning.
  • Musical Literacy – an understanding of the rudiments of music theory, i.e. the ability to read and write music using a five-line stave, as well as understanding how chords are formed and appropriate vocabulary relating to dynamics, tempi and articulation.


Assessment at KS3 is now organised in line with the Eduqas 9-1 GCSE in Music since the demise of National Curriculum levels of attainment. This will allow students to become accustomed to the language and grading criteria used at higher key stages.

Students will be assessed in a range of skills:

  • Strand 1 – Performing*
    • Technical Control & Technique
    • Expression & Interpretation
    • Accuracy & Fluency
  • Strand 2 - Composing
    • Developing Music Ideas
    • Demonstrating Technical Control
    • Musical Coherence
  • Strand 3 – Listening, Appraising & Music Theory
    • Making Judgements
    • Rudiments of Music Theory

*Performing marks are scaled according to the difficulty of the piece performed.


Key Stage 4

Qualification: GCSE

Awarding Body and Paper: WJEC Eduqas 601/8131/X

Programme of Study

Music is something encountered by everybody during their day-to-day life, whether it is through music broadcast on the radio, television or internet, accompanying a film or performed in rehearsals and concerts by individuals. GCSE Music aims to develop students' musical skills which have emerged through KS3 and enable them to build upon these through performing, composing, listening and appraising.

During the course, students will undertake four different Areas of Study, with two prescribed 'set works.' Additional wider listening is highly recommended in all areas.

Area of Study 1: Musical Forms and Devices (including set work 'Badinerie' by J. S. Bach)

Area of Study 2: Music for Ensemble

Area of Study 3: Film Music

Area of Study 4: Popular Music (including set work 'Africa' by Toto)


Learning/Teaching Approach

The three areas of performing, composing, listening & appraising are integrated and the flexibility of approach allows pupils to capitalise on their special interests. The course is designed for a wide range of musical abilities and follows on from KS3 work.


GCSE Music is assessed in three units or components, with the first two being operated as 'controlled assessment,' which are internally assessed and externally moderated.

Component 1: Performing (30%)

Solo Performance - A performance of at least one minute duration, which may be accompanied or unaccompanied. For solo performance, students must perform an undoubled part.

Ensemble Performance - A performance of at least one minute duration, in which the student must be performing an undoubled part, with at least one other musician.

Students are marked for each performance out of 36, where marks are distributed between technical control, expression & interpretation and accuracy & fluency.

Overall performance time must be a minimum of four minutes or a penalty will be incurred.

Component 2: Composing (30%)

Students in this section will compose two different compositions, with a combined duration of at least three minutes.

The brief for one composition will be set annually by Eduqas, with the remaining being 'free choice' set by students and supported by their GCSE Music teacher.

Component 3: Appraising (40%)

This section refers to the 'terminal examination' completed at the end of the final year of the GCSE Music course, and considers each student's understanding of the elements of music, focussing on the four Areas of Study. The examination will include both prescribed set works ('Badinerie' and 'Africa') as well as some unfamiliar listening.  Learners will be expected to respond with both short and long answers as well as complete basic musical dictation.

What it can lead to

GCSE Music can lead on to many different career choices. From performing as a professional musician to conducting, teaching (instrumental or classroom) or composing, to arts administration or working in a recording studio, GCSE Music can help to take you there. GCSE Music helps lead onwards to GCE Advanced Level qualification in Music (Music Technology as well as BTEC Level 3 Music qualifications) and towards degrees in Music and Music Technology. Employers view music as a favourable subject as it necessitates the use and development of both creative and academic skills.

Additional Points

Music is a highly enjoyable subject to study and the GCSE 9-1 will help to develop an understanding and general awareness of music. With a wide range of music under the Areas of Study, we believe students' interest will be maintained and developed throughout the course.

To further develop knowledge of their own performance skills, it is an expectation that students seeking to follow GCSE Music will actively participate in music - practicing regularly and participating in one or more of the many musical ensembles that operate here at BUCHS.

Tier of Entry: Single Tier

Key Stage 5

Qualification: A Level 

Awarding Body and Paper: Pearson Edexcel 9MU0 

Programme of Study 

A Level Music is both an academic and practical subject which helps nurture, develop and build the skills of performance and composition with the ability to actively and critically appraise music. 

During the course, students will study six different Areas of Study, with prescribed ‘set works.’  Additional, wider listening is strongly recommended in all areas to support students’ learning. 

Area of Study 1: Vocal Music 

Area of Study 2: Instrumental Music 

Area of Study 3: Music for Film 

Area of Study 4: Popular Music and Jazz 

Area of Study 5: Fusions 

Area of Study 6: New Directions 

Learning/Teaching Approach 

The three areas of performing, composing, listening and appraising, are integrated and the flexibility of approach allows pupils to capitalise on their special interests.  The course is designed for a wide range of musical abilities and follows on from KS4 work. 


A Level Music is assessed in three units or components, with the first two being operated as non-examined assessment.  All complements are marked externally. 

Component 1: Performing (30%) 

Students will give a recital of at least six minutes to a live audience.  The performance will be recorded in one take, with an unedited copy being sent electronically, alongside a printed score, to the appointed external examiner for marking. 

Component 2: Composing (30%) 

In this area, students will complete one composition, either to a brief prescribed by the examination board or a 'free' composition to a brief of their own formulation, worth 20%.  In addition, 10% of the composition mark will be awarded from a 'techniques of composition' task, which see students focus upon the harmonisation of a chorale prelude in the style of J. S. Bach.  Both the task and composition will then be sent to the appointed external examiner for marking. 

Component 3: Appraising (40%) 

This section refers to the 'terminal examination' completed at the end of the final year of the A Level Music course, and considers each student's understanding of the elements of music, focussing on the six Areas of Study.  The examination will consist of a number of short response questions, musical dictation and two extended response questions.  The accompanying recordings are controlled autonomously and students need to use their own time management to ensure that enough time is given to each question. 

What it can lead to

A Level Music can lead on to many career choices.  Students have gone on to read music at university, or gained music scholarships for entry to universities and colleges.  A Level Music can be the foundation for work as a composer, performer, conductor or teacher as well as other careers in arts administration, the recording industry or the media at large. 

Additional Points 

It is an expectation that all students following an Advanced Level qualification in Music undertake regular instrumental tuition.  To this end, all students on the course can benefit from a subsidy to cover 15 minutes of instrumental tuition per week at BUCHS.

Tier of Entry 

Single Tier.