Curriculum Leader: Josephine Langenhoven

Arbour Vale has a thriving music community offering many opportunities for all students.

Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. Through music education we aim to engage and inspire our pupils to develop a love of music and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement.

Pupils follow the National Curriculum which is adapted to meet their needs.  In the music room students have access to a wide range of tuned and untuned percussion instruments, keyboards, guitars and IPads to explore performance and composition skills.  Some students have lessons in the sensory theatre, where they experience a multi-sensory musical journey.  All music is taught through a thematic approach, for example: Fairy Tales, “Famous People”, “Rainforest” and “Olympics”.  All classes perform at the end of the year in our annual Arts Festival. Singing is part of all school assemblies.

Music Aims

Music aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • 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 interrelated dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations


In the Foundation Stage children explore music through the Expressive Art and Design and Communication and Language curriculum areas. Children are able to explore music and sing songs related to current topics.  Music is used significantly as a communication method for many of our young people, as part of our Baby BEATS programme, Soundabout, Tac Pac sessions as well as through sensory stories.  Music is also used to support Physio, OT programmes and hydrotherapy.  Pupils are given the opportunity to listen to a range of music and explore instruments.

Key Stage 1 and 2

Pupils are taught to use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes; play tuned and untuned instruments musically; listen with concentration and understanding to a range of high-quality live and recorded music; as well as experiment with, create, select and combine sounds using the inter-related dimensions of music.

Key Stage 3

In Key Stage 3, pupils follow the National Curriculum which is adapted to meet their needs. Pupils play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and play musical instruments with the aim of increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression.  They have the opportunity to compose music for a range of purposes using the inter-related dimensions of music as well as improvise when appropriate.  They experience a range of different musical genres and learn to listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory. They learn to appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions from great composers and musicians.  They also start to develop an understanding of the history of music.

Key Stage 4

Music at Key Stage 4 is taught via the option programme.  Pupils can choose the Music option in which a range of topics are covered and are accredited via the AQA Units Award programme.

Post 16

The Post 16 students have the opportunity to take part in music activities through their Friday options, whole school choir and work experience (support people in a local senior citizens home with their singing).


Instrumental Lessons – Arbour Vale works closely with a team of peripatetic teachers from Slough Music Services.  Ukulele lessons are taught to all Primary students. Students often have the opportunity to try new instruments and those that show an interest and skill are put forward for lessons.

Clubs in the Music Department – Clubs are an important part of Arbour Vale as we aim to give a broad, musical experience that reflects students’ interests and talents.  Lunchtime clubs include school choir, drumming and music production.

Extra Special Activities

Arbour Vale often takes part in many music events.  We have taken many groups to perform at different venues. We try to ensure that students of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to experience music in different settings, either as a participant or as an audience member.

These events include:

  • The junior choir taking part in the annual Slough Singing Festival  which is an integration project involving performing  with local primary schools
  • The senior choir taking part in the Special Superstar – a singing concert involving schools in the local area
  • Senior choir performing annually at the Library in Slough
  • Both Junior and Senior choirs taking part in “Singing from Scratch”, an annual event involving performing with other local primary and secondary schools
  • Slough Young Musicians Festival- an integration instrumental project involving performing with local primary schools
  • Festive carol singing in the local church, St Mary’s during the Christmas period
  • Voice in a Million at the SSE Arena, Wembley. Being joined on stage by featured guest artists, singing alongside our mass choir of 5,000 children from primary, junior and secondary schools throughout the UK.
  • Arts Festival  – workshops in school to explore music from around the world
  • Bi- annual productions where both choirs perform and every student at Arbour Vale taking part.
  • Arbour Vale’s Got Talent. This annual event takes place towards the end of the Spring Term. It is a celebration and showcase of the musical talents of young people in the school.

Previous projects included:

  • EFDSS Project: This entailed a series of workshops, which introduced traditional English folk music to the children, using traditional instruments from the English Folk Dance and Song Society museum collections, led by a music and Makaton specialist
  • Organworks Eton project: This was a cross-curricular education project in partnership with Eton College. The students had the opportunity to work with professional musicians to compose pieces of music. They also worked with a stained glass artist, a scientist, a poet and two historians. The project culminated in the performance of pupils’ music pieces in the College Chapel and an exhibition of artwork and poetry.