Oak updates

1 August 2023

Collaborating with our music expert group

Rebecca Lundberg

Subject Lead - Music

We were delighted to announce, back in March, the curriculum partners and expert groups that would be collaborating with our subject leads to provide independent feedback and advice so we best meet the needs and diversity of the country’s education sector.

Our expert groups have now met twice, firstly to hear about the curriculum partners and subject leads’ initial plans for their secondary music curricula and how they would be involved as experts. More recently, they discussed threads, curriculum explanations and curriculum sequencing, as well as music specific elements outlined below.

Curriculum explainer statement

We sought views on the quality of the curriculum explainer statement.

What is a curriculum explainer statement?

When you look at an Oak curriculum for the first time you will want to understand its intentions and how we reflect these. We have prepared curriculum explainer statements to articulate our vision to educators in a clear and concise manner.

Our expert’s thoughts on our curriculum explainer statement

The experts in our music group felt the curriculum explainer was very strong and that it was reflective of the aims in the national curriculum.


We sought views on the threads selected for each subject to ensure they are suitable and meaningful.

What is a thread?

There’s agreement across the sector that one approach to curriculum coherence is to identify groups of units across the curriculum that explicitly build a common body of knowledge. What is not agreed, is a common language to describe these groups. Concepts, big ideas, themes and threads are all used to describe these groups often in relation to a specific subject.

We have decided to use the term threads to represent these links like the visual concept of a thread weaving through the curriculum.

Our experts’ take on threads

As our subject experts saw an early overview of the curriculum sequence, the detail in the threads was not available for feedback, although they felt the concept of threads was meaningful.

The sequence did highlight the intention to have three broader strands that run throughout key stage 3 and ensure that there is an opportunity for the development of compositional skills and singing and keyboard performance, with listening integrated across all units.

The experts were interested in seeing how these strands would link together to ensure that they did not limit the breadth and depth of the curriculum. The importance of having clear connections between the units was discussed and this will be considered moving forward.

Quality of the curriculum sequence

We sought views on the quality of the sequence of units within the subject curriculum.

Feedback on the curriculum sequence from our experts

At this early stage, music subject experts were shown the unit titles and lesson titles.

There was positive feedback on the inclusion and focus on singing and on the time dedicated to composition in the sequence.

The focus on keyboard skills (over a variety of other typical classroom instruments) was discussed. There was general consensus in the meeting that the keyboard as a tool to access the curriculum did have specific advantages as well as limitations, but the potential accessibility, copyright implications for suitable repertoire and reduced considerations when planning for practical work were all understandable factors when choosing this approach.

A focus on other instruments will be considered in the optional units and the opportunity for option units in general was welcomed in allowing teachers even more flexibility.

Feedback was also received on unit lengths and repertoire choice. It was acknowledged that four lesson units at key stage 3 for some schools may be unusual, but overall, the expert group members commented positively that this would allow teachers more flexibility to adapt units as necessary and promote balanced assessment over time and across a range of units and skills.

There was an understanding that repertoire choices were subjective, but that it was important that the repertoire is relevant and diverse. Feedback received from the expert group will be an ongoing consideration to ensure that the curriculum sequence has a balanced variety of content that is also musically relevant.

The approach to sequencing and ensuring that strong musical connections were made across units was also welcomed, although the curriculum sequence wasn’t detailed enough to show this and allow for any further meaningful feedback on specific content at this point.

We sincerely value the range of opinions and impartial expertise that our expert groups are lending us during this exciting time as we build our new curricula and teaching resources. We will reflect on this vital feedback as we continue to develop our curriculum sequences and teaching resources.

If you have any feedback you wish to share on topics discussed above please do get in touch at [email protected]

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You can view our new curriculum plan now. Teaching resources for every unit and lesson in the plan will be rolled out over this school year.

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