Music is an integral part of the Performing Arts at The Ilfracombe Academy. The Department aims to develop the musical potential of every student and create opportunities for those with high ambition and for those who wish to take part simply for enjoyment.

The Academy also offers individual tuition on a number of instruments: flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, saxophone, violin, viola, cello, trumpet, cornet, trombone, French horn, tuba, piano, classical/acoustic/electric/bass guitar, drums and vocals.

Every student is encouraged to join an ensemble as playing and performing with others is an essential part of any musician’s development. Concerts are held throughout the year providing opportunities for all of our students to get involved in performing.

Key Stage 3

Music is a unique form of communication that can change the way students feel, think and act. Music forms part of an individual’s identity and positive interaction with music can develop students’ competence as learners and increase their self-esteem. Music brings together intellect and feeling and enables personal expression, reflection and emotional development. As an integral part of culture, past and present, music helps students understand themselves, relate to others and develop their cultural understanding, forging important links between home, school and the wider world.

Music education encourages active involvement in different forms of music-making, both individual and communal, helping to develop a sense of group identity and togetherness. Music can influence students’ development in and out of school by fostering personal development and maturity, creating a sense of achievement and self-worth, and increasing students’ ability to work with others in a group context.

Music learning develops students’ critical skills: their ability to listen, to appreciate a wide variety of music, and to make judgements about musical quality. It also increases self-discipline, creativity, aesthetic sensitivity and fulfilment.

The curriculum is designed to provide opportunities for students to:

develop individual performance skills, both vocal and instrumental, including the use of music technology,
develop listening and aural perception skills in practical activities, including composing and performing,
develop creative and compositional skills, including song-writing, arranging and improvising,
work with a range of musicians and watch and listen to live musical performances where possible, to extend their musical learning,
work individually, in musical groups of different sizes and as a class,
build on their own interests and skills, taking on different roles and responsibilities and developing music leadership skills, and
make links between music and other subjects and areas of the curriculum.

 Key Stage 4

BTEC Music First Award (level 2) course detail

Music is intellectually demanding, emotionally demanding and as a result it is hugely personally rewarding.  Studying music keeps your mind open and therefore helps you to keep your options open.

The BTEC First in Music provides a contemporary, accessible and creative education in Music with an focussed approach to musical practice centred on performing, composing and understanding the elements that contribute to the music industry. Pupils are encouraged to be creative and to broaden their musical horizons and understanding.  The course is designed and adapted to meet the needs and specialisms of all learners so that they can be best prepared for future musical study of A level or more advanced BTEC courses.

Course Content

The course is organised into four units of work as follows:

Unit 1: The Music Industry – which provides an overview of the industry.  This particularly focusses on the shape of the modern industry and covering the emergence of the role of the self-employed producer, performer and promoter.

Unit 2: Managing a Music Product –this unit looks at the development of a music product. As well as providing a vehicle  for demonstrating skills and learning, it introduces the role of planning and promotion in the management of a music product. Learners can base their work on  a live concert, a CD or an online product.  This providing opportunities for both music performers and technologists.

Unit 4: Introducing Music Composition – which encourages learners to develop creativity in composing original music.  This unit requires pupils to address specific needs and requirements when responding to client briefs – similar to the behaviour required in the professional world of music composition.

Unit 5: Introducing Music Performance – which enables learners to develop their skills as performers for progression to the next stage of their education or training, as well as developing their technique and reflective practice.

Scheme of assessment

Unit 1 is assessed through external examination which requires analytical thinking in applying their knowledge of the music industry in a range of contexts.

The remaining units are internally assessed. Internal assessment enables learners to receive feedback on their progress throughout the course as they gather and provide evidence towards meeting the unit assessment criteria.  This evidence is gathered in written form and with a considerable amount of live audio and audio-visual recordings.

 Key Stage 5

OCR A Level Music course detail

Content Overview Assessment Overview

·         10-15 minutes and 3 contrasting pieces


Pupils will perform in a live performance in front of an audience that will be video recorded and submitted to the exam board.


·         2 original compositions with a combined duration of at least 4 minutes


Composition recordings will be accompanied by a score and submitted as part of coursework completed during the course.

Listening and appraising

·         Analysing and evaluating music

·         Unfamiliar and familiar pieces are presented

·         Questions based on aural extracts


Written exam lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes, including listening extracts.  There will be a mixture of questions testing aural recognition, contextual understanding and extended writing skills.


 There are 4 “Areas of Study” that guide preparation for the Listening and appraising examination.  They are:

  1. Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven
  2. Popular Song including Blues, Jazz, Swing and Big Band
  3. Programme Music 1820-1900
  4. Developments in Instrumental Jazz 1910 to the present day


Performing with a musical ensemble is important not only in developing musical skills but also in fostering a strong sense of community within the department. We therefore try to offer a wide range of ensembles to cater for differing abilities and skills.  Ensembles are put together to work towards events such as the Christmas Carol Concert, the whole school show, iFest and various other performances that arise throughout the year.

Recently extra-curricular opportunities have included the school show, Senior Choir, Year 7 singers, the Our House Band, guitar club, the school orchestra, Soul Band, and various guitar bands.  Students are encouraged to set up their own groups and bands.  Equipment is always available for rehearsals at lunchtimes and after school.

The department also organises music trips and community music-making.  These have included trips to the cinema and local concerts.  Carol singing at events in the local community or local residential homes and performances at our local primary school in music outreach projects have also featured recently in the extra-curricular life of the Academy’s music department.

To aid study outside of lessons pupils can be directed to the following websites:

BBC Bitesize: Covering many topics and general musical features of music studied at key stages 3 and 4.

YouTube: Documentary series such as Ken Burns on Jazz, Howard Goodall: How Music Works and Howard Goodall: The Story of Music provide clarity of insight into the world of music.  Many other documentary series can be found to inspire pupils.

The single best activity pupils can engage in outside of lessons is simply performing.  Either on their own or with others practice is the key to continued success in supporting the academic study of music.

For further information please contact the Head of Department:
Tim Baker


Content updated September 2018