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John Milton Academy Trust

These schools are part of the John Milton Academy Trust. Click on the school's logo to visit their website.

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Powerful Knowledge

The aim of our Key Stage 3 curriculum is to build upon and develop the varied level of knowledge and skills that students come to us with from their Primary schools, through an eclectic range of performing, composing and listening activities.

Students will develop their instrumental and vocal skills by studying a variety of different musical genres and cultures from around the world, and exploring how they have influenced and shaped a wide range of musical styles and traditions. Students will deepen their understanding by performing with accuracy and expression, improvising and composing using different structures, scales and tonalities, explore a range of notation methods, and develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of key performers and composers through listening and appraising. Students will develop confidence and resilience as well as self-discipline and teamwork.

Key skills & concepts of learning:

  • Develop knowledge and understanding
  • Perform, compose and listen to music
  • Develop instrumental and vocal skills
  • Explore cultures, musical styles and traditions
  • Play with accuracy & expression
  • Develop confidence, resilience, self-discipline and teamwork

The national curriculum for music aims to ensure that all students:

  • perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians
  • learn to sing and to use their voices, to create and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence
  • understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the inter-related dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations.

At Stowupland High School, we adopt a highly practical approach to delivering our Key Stage 3 Music curriculum. Students are involved in listening, singing and performing from day one, with theoretical knowledge and cultural background used to support the delivery of highly practical teaching and learning.
Throughout Key Stage 3, students learn how to play a variety of instruments in both solo and ensemble settings, such as keyboard, guitar, bass and drums, in addition to learning how to use their voices and body percussion correctly. Students are also privileged to explore a unique range of cultural ensembles, such as Indonesian Gamelan, African Drumming and Brazilian Samba.
Year 7 and 8 classes complete their schemes of learning on a carousel basis, depending on what other classes/activities are taking place in the department to utilise the equipment and facilities available and avoid any clashing. Year 9 currently choose 2 out of 3 Arts subjects and their curriculum is tailored specifically around the two Key Stage 4 options, Music or Music Technology.
In addition to classroom lessons, students have the opportunity to study an instrument of their choice further with our peripatetic teachers. Currently we offer lessons in singing, piano/keyboard, drums, guitar (electric, acoustic, classical and bass), brass, woodwind and strings.
Students have many in-house performance opportunities ranging from our formal Christmas and summer showcases, to classroom and cross-year group performances and assemblies. There are also opportunities to perform outside of school at local and regional venues, festivals and competitions.

Year 7
Students will learn about the elements of music and how they can be applied to performances. They will develop their performance skills on a range of instruments as a soloist and as part of an ensemble. Topics covered in year 7 include: The Elements of Music, Keyboard Skills, Ukuleles, STOMP, Indonesian Gamelan or African Drumming (depending on rotation), Samba and Indian Music, as well as an introduction to Music Technology

Year 8
Students will further develop their performance skills on a range of instruments as a soloist and as part of an ensemble. The demand of the pieces and parts will increase using a wider range of notes, more complex chords and sequences and more difficult rhythms. Topics covered in year 8 include: Minimalism, Blues, Music Technology, Indonesian Gamelan or African Drumming (depending on rotation in year 7), and a Band Project, in which students will work in bands to perform covers of their favourite current pop songs.

Year 9
In year 9, students continue to enhance their knowledge and skills in preparation for taking Music or Music Technology in Key Stage 4. Topics covered include: Music for Stage and Screen, during which students will compose their own underscores to a variety of film scenes, games, adverts and cartoons, as well as creating their own Foley sound effects project, recreating the sound effects in a scene of their choice; Remixing, Sampling and Covers, during which students will use digital technology to create their own remix of a song using, sample an existing song to use as the basis for their own, as well as using instruments to perform a cover of a song of their choice. Students will also study a variety of genres during a music appreciation unit, during which they will learn about the history and context of the genre, followed by creating their own piece inspired by that particular genre.  


Opportunities to develop literacy in KS3 Music:

  • Introducing subject specific terminology and key terms, both generic or genre specific.
  • Basic Italian/German/French terminology
  • Specific world music terms
  • Presentations
  • Reading and writing musical scores using a variety of notation systems

School Context

We are a relatively rural school and although there is a fairly active music scene locally and regionally, students are fairly limited with regards to the music that they are exposed to. Our curriculum aims to enrich their knowledge and cultural understanding of as many different genres of music as possible, including those they are familiar with. Demographically, students are not very cultured with a wider understanding of different cultures, particularly musically. Very few students travel to places abroad, and in my time here, I have only come across a very small number of students who have been to places such as Asia and the far east, America or Africa - therefore, exposing them to musical traditions from these parts of the world is, in my opinion, extremely important to their learning and personal development.


Students are formally assessed at the end of each topic, usually half-termly, as well as receiving interim feedback throughout. Assessments are usually focused on one of the following areas: Performing, Composing or Appraising.


Our KS3 Curriculum is intended to ensure students progress onto studying music in KS4 with relevant and appropriate skills. From this, students can progress to: further study of music at AS and A Level and to study of AS and A Level Music Technology; Vocational courses such as the Pearson BTEC National in Music and Music Technology; Apprenticeships or other training; Employment in a related sector.