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Music at Red Oak

Music at Red Oak Primary School
Within a musical experience there are many opportunities to develop reading and writing skills including singing lyrics, writing quiet reflections of music and writing instructions for a simple composition. It is essential that the teaching, learning and assessment of reading and writing is part of the music curriculum so that there is consistency in the approaches to these areas. Developing a focus on skills within the curriculum is extremely important for music as it is a subject in which a lack of skills would limit children’s participation. The national curriculum for music requires children to develop their singing, playing, listening, appraising and composing skills. If these areas are not individually developed, children would find it increasingly difficult to access the curriculum. 


At Red Oak Primary School, the arts are a central part of our curriculum and this has been recognised through Red Oak being awarded the ArtsMark Silver accreditation. As a school we believe that every child has the right to the required knowledge and skills to be able to access music at the highest level for the end of primary school. This includes developing a deep understanding of how music has evolved and exploring the children’s musical preferences alongside learning the skills to be able to confidently take part in music making, including singing, playing percussion and at least one other instrument and finally to be able to be creative within the art form of music. These ambitious goals are planned for in a highly structured way through the long term plan for music: beginning with a Kodaly approach in EYFS, building on this throughout Key Stage 1 with the increasing introduction of rhythm work and learning to read music through tuned and untuned percussion, and extended into Key Stage 2 with the introduction of keyboard lessons and ukulele lessons. With set targets within each year group, children who require further extension with their music learning are identified and challenged to build upon their skills and likewise, those that do not achieve these expectations are supported to achieve through carefully breaking down and scaffolding the learning. Music is a wonderful platform for celebrating British culture and this is a strong theme through our curriculum and music also provides a valued space within the curriculum to explore difference through modelling and teaching an appreciation for a range of music including music from different cultures. Research in Switzerland found that increasing the amount of music in the classroom improved the children’s “social cohesion, self-reliance, social adjustment and positive attitudes.” We believe that singing and music making are powerful tools in the teaching and promotion of the children’s positive mental health and well-being and this is integral to our music curriculum at Red Oak.

The teaching of music is made up of three sections: the discrete music lessons taught by class teachers, the enhanced music opportunities taught by class teachers within their daily teaching and whole school music opportunities including assemblies and music enrichment opportunities. The content of the discrete music lessons consists of increasingly challenging Kodaly, singing and music making activities in EYFS and for Key Stage 1 and 2, a combination of units of work taken from Charanga and Inspire Works and units of work specifically planned for the needs of our school by the music coordinator, both being carefully adapted for the needs of the pupils each year. This content is mapped out on the music long term plan showing progression from year to year and this is further seen as the topics from the long term plan are broken into medium and weekly plans. When topics are revisited, previous learning is recapped and built upon to provide a clear structure for the children. The teaching of different genres of music and music history is carefully considered to allow for a natural chronological progression. There are concrete links between music and literacy through reading musical terms, reading and understanding song lyrics and researching different genres of music and these areas are taught using our whole school literacy approaches. Musical appreciation allows for discussion and therefore oracy opportunities are prevalent within the children’s music learning. Throughout the year there are training opportunities for all school staff to increase confidence to teach the enhanced music opportunities which include rhythm brain breaks, class singing and musical appreciation. We strive to provide authentic experiences for the children at Red Oak and so the music enrichment activities are delivered by professional musicians who expertly share their passion and skill to inspire the children. 

We believe that the impact of our ambitious music curriculum is seen at secondary schools and beyond. At present, we cannot control how much music is being taught at our cluster secondary schools but our belief is to educate the children at Red Oak beyond what is required of them at secondary school. For example, music is present throughout life in Modern Britain and developing an understanding and an appreciation of different types of music enhances the lives of our pupils. Alongside this, a good understanding of how to play an instrument allows our pupils to engage in a section of the creative world that is difficult to access without the initial opportunities of understanding musical notation and the ability to play a musical instrument. Within Red Oak, the children are half termly assessed in their music learning and support is put in place for those that are not achieving in line with peers and increased challenge to further extend those that are exceeding expectations. From these assessments, we continually assess how the children are progressing with the beliefs of our intent and adapt our approach to fulfil these ambitious objectives and prepare children for a life-long love and appreciation of music. 

Our Key Actions for 2018-2019

  • Ensure assessment is regular and accurate.
  • Provide a rich programme of extra-curricular music opportunities.
  • Organise music focused days and weeks.
  • Achieve and maintain ArtsMark Silver accreditation.

Our Key Actions for 2019-2020

  • Ensure that our music offer exceeds the national curriculum for music.
  • Ensure that children are offered a rich cultural capital and are given the opportunities to learn the knowledge required to be successful in music.
  • Provide clear progression of knowledge and skills throughout the school.
  • Provide high challenge for all pupils.
  • Develop clear links between music and literacy to provide another medium for word exploration and understanding, linked with the expression of emotions.
  • Provide routine music making opportunities so that all children can practise skills creating strong foundations to build upon.
  • Create opportunities for awe and wonder.

Improvements so far:

Each month at Red Oak, there is a different ‘Music of the Month’ and through this, the children have experienced, listened to and learnt about many different styles of music alongside the lives of great composers including from Beethoven to Bhangra, Scott Joplin to Stevie Wonder and the likes of Joseph Bologne and Rachel Portman. This is introduced in our weekly music assemblies, continued within each classroom and has very much become part of our school culture and routine. Music of the Month has opened the children’s eyes to firstly, success and what this entails but also to appreciate and understand different styles of music and cultures.

The children have experienced visits to live performances including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and also enjoyed visits from secondary school orchestras and jazz bands. Alongside these, we have held a Music Week in 2019, in which the children experienced many live music performances and workshops including specialist world music workshops with ethnomusicologists. The ‘awe and wonder’ of these sessions is always evident on the children’s faces but has also helped to create a school wide culture in which music is valued and appreciated.  

Our Red Oak music curriculum underwent significant review in September 2019, with the introduction of Kodaly for Early Years and Key Stage 1, and Keyboard lessons for Key Stage 2. Our aim is for each Red Oak pupil to be able to take their Grade 1 keyboard exam by the time they leave primary school. This is an ambitious and challenging target, but one that gives children an extremely solid foundation to build upon whether it be through appreciating, composing or performing music.

In September 2018, we were delighted to be awarded Silver accreditation for Artsmark and are now beginning our journey towards the Platinum Artsmark accreditation.

The following table shows the long term Music plan for each year group throughout the year:

For a larger view of the timetable please click on the PDF:


At Red Oak Primary School we use the Charanga assessment framework alongside Target Tracker and the National Curriculum materials. This tells us whether a child is below expected, at expected or above expected for their year group.

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