Meet the Department

Siobhan Smith Curriculum Leader
Helen Johnson 2nd in Department

Subject Overview

Music plays a large part in the lives of many of the students at Bishop Challoner Catholic Secondary School.  Every student in Years 7 – 9 has at least one class music lesson a week and over 160 students have regular instrumental lessons covering a wide range of instruments.  We have impressive results at GCSE and a strong tradition of students going on to study Music at 6th form college and university.  However, the ethos of the department is to give students the best possible classroom and extra-curricular experience, rooted in practical music making where students work and learn together.

Curriculum Map

Our curriculum is based around the key areas of Performing, Composing and Listening and Appraising.  The vast majority of lessons in Years 7 – 9 are practical with supporting listening and theoretical work.  We want students to develop good instrumental skills and an understanding of the key elements of music and how they are used in practice.  We also want students to have an appreciation of the work of musicians in society and the ability of music to express, inspire and resonate across cultures and times.


Key Stage 3

Key Stage 4


The Department runs a range of lunchtime activities throughout the year. Typically these include Choir, Chamber Choir, Junior and Advanced Woodwind ensembles, String Orchestra and Grade 5 Theory.  We encourage all these groups to participate in our regular concerts and also outside school at events such as the Basingstoke Music Festival or concerts at the Anvil.  There are also regular liturgies and Masses at school in which students can perform.

We also work with the Hampshire Music Service to provide tuition for students in a range of instruments.  This includes piano, keyboard, woodwind, violin/viola, cello/bass, guitar, singing, guitar and drum kit/percussions.  Lessons cost about £70 a term and take place during the school day.  We are very proud of our strong instrumental tradition and the numbers of students who take either Associated Board or Trinity Guildhall grade exams every year.

We have also recently taken our first group of students through the Trinity Guildhall Arts Award Bronze programme.  This qualification encourages students to participate in an Arts activity, visit an Arts event, research an inspirational artist and share their skills with others in some way.  We hope to enter more students for the Bronze award this year and are looking to develop Silver status too.

We also have a tradition of highly successful school productions in the Summer term, working closely alongside the Drama department.  Recent sold-out performances include Grease, Back to the 80s, Oliver and Hairspray.