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St Michael's C of E VA Primary School

‘Life in all its Fullness’

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St Michael’s Music Executive Summary


Music Vision

Music plays a significant role in helping us to achieve the St Michael’s School vision of ‘Life in all its fullness’. Our focus on music contributes to the wellbeing of the whole school community. Making music together reminds us that we all have a part to play and highlights our interdependence. Our approach to music can be seen in all 4 of the curriculum drivers.


Curriculum Driver 1 People Skills – Communication and Confidence - We want our pupils to be able to express their feelings through music and to have the opportunity to use music to lead mentally healthy lives, both now in the future.  


Curriculum Driver 2 Learning Skills – Aspiration and Attitude – We want our music curriculum to help children develop transferable skills such as team-working, leadership, creative thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and presentation and performance skills. These skills are vital to children’s development as learners and have a wider application in their general lives outside and beyond school.


Curriculum Driver 3 Creativity – Culture and Heritage - We want our pupils to learn to appreciate the work of musicians and composers and understand how music reflects and contributes to the history, heritage and culture of our nation and beyond.


Curriculum Driver 4 Exploration – Adventure and Discovery – We want our music curriculum to introduce children to music from all around the world and across generations, teaching children to respect and appreciate the music of all traditions and communities.


Our vision is for all pupils to be engaged and inspired by music, to become more musical and to develop a life-long love of music with the opportunity to develop their musical interests and talents. We want children to learn to sing, to play a musical instrument, to read musical notation, to create their own music and to have the opportunity to perform to others. We teach pupils to listen with discrimination so they can express an opinion about what they hear.


The vision is achieved by:

  • A high-quality music curriculum with a clear programme of study which incrementally develops pupils’ musical knowledge and skills towards precise end points in performance, composition and listening work
  • A curriculum which uses the 3 pillars of progression to contribute to musical understanding: technical (skills of controlling sound and understanding musical notation); constructive (understanding of the musical elements that structure music); expressive (understanding the impact of musical quality and creativity)
  • A curriculum which provides sufficient time for pupils to practise their musical skills to become competent performers (procedural knowledge)
  • A curriculum which teaches musical knowledge that can be stated verbally, so pupils are confident talking about music as a discipline (declarative knowledge)


Implementation of the Music Vision

We have chosen to follow the Kapow scheme of work because it offers a clear programme of study which meets our vision and enables pupils to meet the National Curriculum end of key stage attainment targets. This scheme is closely aligned with the DfE Model Music Curriculum: Key Stages 1 to 2 non-statutory guidance. It also adheres to the expectations from the national plan for music (June 2022) and takes note of the guidance from the Ofsted research review 2021 and the music subject report of September 2023.


The St Michael’s music curriculum takes a holistic approach to music, in which the individual strands below are woven together to create engaging and enriching learning experiences:

  • Performing
  • Listening
  • Composing
  • The history of music
  • The inter-related dimensions of music.


Each five-lesson unit combines these strands within a cross-curricular topic designed to capture pupils’ imagination and encourage them to explore music enthusiastically. Over the course of the programme, children are taught how to sing fluently and expressively and play tuned and untuned instruments accurately and with control. They learn to recognize and name the interrelated dimensions of music (musical elements) – pitch, duration, tempo, timbre, structure, texture and dynamics – and use these expressively in their own improvisations and compositions.


Our chosen scheme follows the spiral curriculum model where previous skills and knowledge are returned to and built upon. Pupils make progress in terms of tackling more complex tasks and doing more simple tasks better, as well as developing understanding and knowledge of the history of music, musical notation and the interrelated dimensions of music. (See Progression of skills and knowledge document)


In each music lesson, pupils actively participate in musical activities drawn from a range of styles and traditions, developing their musical skills and their understanding of how music works. Lessons incorporate a range of teaching strategies from independent tasks, paired and group work as well as improvisation and teacher-led and modelled performances. Lessons are ‘hands-on’ and incorporate movement and dance elements, as well as making cross curricular links with other areas of learning. Knowledge organisers for each unit support pupils in building a foundation of factual knowledge (declarative knowledge) by encouraging recall of key facts and vocabulary.


Music is taught every week throughout the school year. The school recognizes that strong subject knowledge and the ability to provide good models of performance are vital in ensuring our pupils have a high-quality musical education. To that end, the school employs a specialist music teacher to teach all classes except Reception and Year 2. The Reception and Year 2 teachers are both confident in teaching music but are supported by the music subject leader and by the teacher videos that are part of the Kapow scheme.


Instrumental tuition

All pupils learn to play the recorder in Year 4 as part of their weekly music lesson.

All pupils learn to play the tenor horn in Year 5. Tenor horn lessons are taught by a specialist brass instrument teacher from the Herts Music Service. These lessons are in addition to the weekly music lesson.

Pupils are given the opportunity to play these instruments in music lessons in subsequent year groups so that skills continue to be developed.


Music in the Early Years Foundation Stage

‘Expressive arts and design’ is a specific area of learning and development in the EYFS curriculum. At St Michael’s, children’s learning in Music is outlined in ‘EYFS Music Long Term Plan’. The St Michael’s Music Curriculum helps Reception children to work towards the early learning goals, but also provides the foundations for future learning in Music. The Reception Music medium term plans and short term plans are taken from the Kapow scheme of work.


The children are taught six Music units in line with the rest of the school. Children explore using their voices and bodies to make sounds as well as learning to listen carefully to sounds in the environment and those made by musical instruments. Children create simple actions to songs, learn how to move to a beat and how to express feelings and emotions through movement to music. Stories are used to teach children that music and instruments can convey mood or represent characters. Throughout the year, children are introduced to music from a range of cultural and religious celebrations.


In the Early Years, music making is linked with several other areas of the curriculum, for example when children listen to music and express their feelings through paint or when they are listening to poetry and stories. Children have the opportunity to explore Music during Child Initiated Learning, as well as through direct teaching.


Music in Key stage 1 and 2


In Key Stages 1 and 2, all classes cover six units of Music during the year. These units are outlined in the long term plan. These plans include the key vocabulary and linked musicains/composers that pupils will meet during each unit studied that year.


Each Music unit is informed by a medium term plan which outlines the procedural and declarative knowledge the pupils will learn, the National Curriculum coverage, prior learning, intended outcomes and end points of learning including assessment criteria.


The short term plans include:

  • Clear learning objectives
  • Success criteria
  • ‘Recap and recall’ to remind pupils of previous learning
  • ‘Attention grabber’ to engage the pupils
  • Presentation and main teaching and learning activities
  • Plenary
  • Background information to support teachers’ subject knowledge
  • Assessment information – progress and understanding
  • Key vocabulary definitions
  • Example work


Cultural Capital / Significant Musicians/Composers

Our chosen scheme of work provides pupils with an experience of a range of significant musicians’ work across their primary school journey. Each year group takes one of these musicians/composers to look at in greater depth each year as part of the annual Legacy Week in June.


Enrichment and Extra-Curricular Opportunities

Opportunities are taken to embed Music across the curriculum. All children take part in weekly singing assemblies and perform to both the school community and parent community in assemblies, church events and musical productions.


Performing arts productions include: The Nativity by Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in the autumn term; a musical play by Years 3 and 4 in the spring term; and a musical production in Years 5 and 6 in the summer term. Pupils in Year 6 end their primary school journey in a week-long workshop with professional musicians at the end of the school year based on their primary school experiences and culminating in a performance for parents.



All children in Key Stage 2 have the opportunity to join the St Michael’s School Choir. The choir performs in many community events, at the St Albans Abbey and at the Alban Arena with other local schools.


Instrumental lessons

Individual or paired/group instrumental lessons are offered with a specialist teacher to pupils in Year 4 and above (fees charged termly - parents purchase or hire the instrument where required. Disadvantaged pupils are supported by the Pupil Premium Grant to access lessons).


Pupils regularly provide instrumental performances in school assemblies.


Extra-curricular instrumental clubs

Children in Year 2 have the opportunity to attend a weekly music-makers club led by our specialist music teacher.


Children in Year 3 have the opportunity to learn the ukelele in a weekly lesson taught by a specialist teacher from the Herts Music Service


Visiting Musicians

Teachers incorporate Music where possible to provide enrichment for the topics being studied or to mark significant events e.g. the playing of the Last Post on Armistice Day, performances from visiting musicians at Dreamcatcher Assemblies, Legacy Week performances


Measuring the Impact of the Music Vision and Implementation

Expected impact

Pupils will:

  • Leave primary school equipped with a range of skills to enable them to succeed in their secondary music education and to be able to enjoy and appreciate music throughout their lives
  • Be confident performers (singers and instrumentalists), composers and listeners and be able to express themselves musically at and beyond school
  • Show an appreciation and respect for a wide range of musical styles from around the world and understand how music is influenced by the wider cultural, social, and historical contexts in which it is developed
  • Understand the ways in which music can be written down to support performing and composing activities
  • Demonstrate and articulate an enthusiasm for music and be able to articulate their own personal musical preferences and opinions using recognised musical language, including the interrelated dimensions of music (musical elements)
  • Meet the end of key stage expectations outlined in the National Curriculum for Music


Formative Assessment

The curriculum is designed in such a way that children are involved in ongoing dialogue and evaluation about the quality of their outcomes and the improvements they want to make. Pupils evaluate their own learning in each Music unit through the use of their knowledge organisers and peer and self-assessment acticities.  This self-evaluation links closely with the St Michael’s Curriculum Driver 2 ‘Learning skills’: Aspiration and attitude. Observations of pupil progress within each lesson are used to plan subsequent teaching.


Summative Assessment

Summative assessments are made twice each year (February and June) based on the progression of skills and intended outcomes for each unit.



Subject leader monitors provision in Music through:

  • observations and learning walks
  • teacher/subject leader discussions
  • pupil voice activities
  • an annual 'deep dive' in Music


Subject Leader Action Plan

Monitoring activities and an analysis of attainment and progress are used to formulate the subject leader action plan which is updated twice each year.


Continuing Professional Development

EYFS Leader receives updates on latest research on the teaching of Expressive Arts through association with Herts for Learning.


The Kapow scheme of work incorporates a wide range of teaching videos which support the non-specialist music teachers to improve their subject knowledge and therefore teach with greater confidence and impact on pupil outcomes.


Subject Leader meets termly with other Music Subject Leaders in the St Albans Consortium of Schools Subject Cluster Groups to share ideas and good practice.


The Senior Leadership team has regard to any Ofsted subject specific reports or reviews when monitoring provision in Music at St Michael’s. Key messages are shared with staff and practice is adapted to reflect the most recent research.



St Michael’s School has been awarded the Music Mark, in acknowledgement of the priority given to high quality music provision at the school.


St Michael’s is currently working towards the Arts Mark.


The Music Executive Summary is reviewed annually.

Latest revision: February 2024