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This page includes a toolkit with a step-by-step process that anyone in the school can pick-up and use, with practical resources to accompany the delivery of the process to ensure a high-quality music education is embedded into your school.

It does not matter if the person using the toolkit is a music specialist or has never delivered a music plan, all the information is straightforward to follow and support is available from HMS.

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Step 5
Step 6
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Step 10
Useful resources

Step 1

Where to start?

Information available on page 10 of the HMS 'Building a high quality music education publication'.

Step 2

Why music?

There are many studies throughout the world about the wider benifits of music, music eduaction and learning music. Some of the benifits identified are:

  • Improves confidence and motivationthrough practice and performance
  • Practice improves learningability and memory
  • Supports healthy mentalwellbeing
  • Music lessons and examscontribute to awards,UCAS points and Duke of Edinburgh awards
  • Playing an instrument provides anoutlet for creative expression
  • Playing supports coordinationand fine motor skills
  • Group work facilitates teamworking and social skills, andhelps children make friends
  • Improves activelistening skills

Download the benifits of music posters:

Step 3

Why being clear on your vision formusic in your school is important

Information available on page 12 of the HMS 'Building a high quality music education publication'.

Step 4

What should school leaders lookfor to assess the quality of the music curriculum in their school?

Subject knowledge and skill audit

HMS has developed a skills audit that you can use to establish the range of musical skills and knowledge in your school.

Step 5

What else should be considered?

Information available on page 16 of the HMS 'Building a high quality music education publication'.

You may find this list of organisations that support music useful.

Download the benifits of music posters:

Step 6

National Plan fo Music Education (NPME)

Music is a cornerstone of the broad and balanced education that every child should receive. It touches hearts and minds, it celebrates and challenges, and it connects us and moves us.

In the same way that we teach children literacy and numeracy to prepare them for adult life, we must also give them the musical tools they need for a lifetime of music-making and enjoyment. For some, music will be the foundation of a career in one of the country’s most important and globally-recognised industries. For others, it will provide experiences and skills which develop their creativity. For many, music will simply be a source of joy, comfort and companionship throughout their lives.

The National Plan for Music Education, with a refreshed strategy, is designed to deliver an excellent music education for all, with partnership at its core sets out:

  • a vision
  • three aims
  • five strategic functions

NPME vision

“Our vision is to enable all children and young people to learn to sing, play an instrument and create music together, and have the opportunity to progress their musical interests and talents, including professionally”. - National Plan for Music Education 2022 

Three aims

Underpinning this vision, Music Hub partnerships, such as HMS, will focus on three aims:

NPME three aims

Five strategic strands

To achieve these aims, HMS as a Music Hub lead organisation, are accountable for government’s funding, we have a responsibility for five strategic functions, to be delivered through the partnership.

NPME five strategic functions

It is vital that HMS builds strong relationships with schools, academies and multi academy trusts (MATs). While it is the responsibility of all schools and academies to deliver music well, HMS should support and empower schools, academies and MATs to excel:

  • HMS communicates the hub offer to school, what we do and could do, to support pupils, school/trusts via our Services for School offer.
  • All schools, academies and MATs should have a School Music Development Plan, owned by the school. HMS is able to support school to develop them.
  • Discussions should be two-way and HMS will consider what the school/trust could offer its wider community, through and in partnership.
  • HMS will offer training, networking, and music learning opportunities for teachers in Hertfordshire, working in partnership with future Lead School for Music, national resources offered by the national Lead Hub for CPD and the University of Hertfordshire.
  • HMS can support teachers’ musicianship through instrumental or vocal lessons or ensembles for teaching staff; support understanding and teaching of composing and support musical leadership.


At school level, the plan will be realised through the school’s Music Development Plan, helping to show parents and children what they can expect from music education.


In partnership with HMS, the DfE would like every school, academy and multi-academy trust, to have a School Music Development Plan that captures the curricular and co-curricular offer, and sets out how it will be staffed and funded, in place for September 2023/2024

What does it mean for school?

Schools should aim high with their music provision, to embed and exceed the national curriculum and to support their pupils to realise their musical potential. A high-quality school music education consists of three distinct, but interlinked areas of provision:

  1. Curriculum music
  2. Instrumental and vocal lessons, and ensemble membership
  3. Musical events and opportunities, such as singing in assembly, concerts and shows, and trips to professional concerts

NMPE interlinked areas

These three areas, which should be accessible to all pupils, build on each other, starting from a foundation set in curriculum music time, supporting progression through co-curricular learning, play…through the Music Development Plan.

Striking the right note

Striking the right note recommends:

  • students have enough curriculum time to develop their musical knowledge and skills incrementally
  • the curriculum identifies precise end points in performance, composition and listening work, and then sets out the knowledge and skills students need, step by step, to reach these end points
  • the curriculum builds, incrementally, students’ knowledge of the technical and constructive aspects of music

A high-quality music education is likely to follow a curriculum that:

  • takes into account what pupils can realistically learn in the time available
  • give pupils regular opportunities to return to and consolidate their short-term learning, while gradually introducing new ideas, methods and concepts
  • have identified end points that set out the specific curriculum content to be learned, rather than articulating principles and assuming that any content will work to realise these principles

A high-quality music education is likely to show progression that:

  • deliberately build pupils’ procedural knowledge in how to control sound
  • provide plentiful opportunities to consolidate procedural knowledge
  • be built in a way that is gradual, iterative and coherent with regard to instrument choice
  • include opportunities for pupils to develop and practise the components of compositions that are set out in the school’s curriculum
  • include tasks at a technical level that is appropriate for pupils to be able to realise their expressive intentions are set out in the school’s curriculum
  • give pupils opportunities to learn about musical culture and repertoire

Success in implementing any curriculum depends strongly on teachers’ effectiveness:

  • high levels of guidance for novices, remembering that pupils in every key stage are sometimes novices
  • a focus on the quality of musical responses, supported by ongoing feedback on task components
  • clarity about the components that will form the basis of formative assessment

Summative or formative assessment

  • Judicious use of summative assessment to check whether students are learning the curriculum as intended.
  • Use of assessment to identify students’ misconceptions or gaps in their understanding.

Less formal assessment

  • Teachers provide ongoing feedback to students that improves the quality of students’ music making both in terms of technique and expressive quality.
  • Teachers routinely demonstrate to students what high-quality musical responses sound like, and the processes for achieving those outcomes.

Step 7

Music curriculum audit toolkit

This questionnaire toolkit will support the identification of strengths and future development areas in the quality of music provision for students.

In each section there is a list of criteria that indicate some key aspects of effective provision and high-quality outcomes for students. 

Step 8

School music development plan

Before writing your school’s music development plan, we recommend completing a music provision audit - step 7.

Step 9 and 10

Review and refine - eEvaluating the impact of your Music Development Plan

It is important to evaluate the impact your School Music Development Plan has had on music in your school. 

Establish agreed points in the year you are going to make and take the time to evaluate your music development.

This could be within department meetings and / or at agreed times with your line manager or link music governor. 

Having a reflective process with regular review points timetabled will encourage

  • Active engagement with your development plan.
  • Progress towards your identified goals.

Reviewing and evaluating your school music development

  • ensure clarity regarding the differences between attainment, progress and achievement.
  • Describe impact, E.g. how has the school changed, what are students / staff doing differently, what does success look like?


  • How does your development plan contribute to the musical vision of the school?
  • What evidence do you hold to support your chosen options?
  • What other options did you consider?
  • Do staff have skillset to deliver this plan?
  • What support do you need from the local music education hub?
  • What support do you need form the governing board?

Questions your governor body may ask during a review meeting

  • What are your SMART targets?
  • What are your success criteria?
  • What are your timescales? Are they realistic?
  • What are the cost implications?
  • Which milestone have been identified?
  • How are the milestones regularly monitored?

Useful resources, publications and organisations

This list of resources is a starting point for those looking for further information or support around music education, including careers advice. It is not a definitive or exhaustive list.

Other organisations that support music education

The Awards for Young Musicians offers programmes that sustain young people’s musical progress and help teachers identify and nurture talent wherever they find it. They also produced a skeleton strategy to support all children and young people’s musical progression.

#CanDoMusic is a campaign created to support school and instrumental music teachers, and signpost them to practical resources to support children and teachers to learn and make music in school.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is an independent charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement, by supporting school to improve teaching and learning through better use of evidence.

The Sound of the Next Generation offers insights into the diverse ways young people engage with and value music and music-making, bringing to light the positive and meaningful impact music has on them.

The Voices Foundation is a national music charity that believes singing is a powerful way for children to become proficient musicians, excel across the curriculum and develop self-esteem. The website hosts free advice and resources including virtual singing assemblies, but further resources and their full programme can be paid for.

Important publications

Useful resources

Herts Music Service – lead Music Hub in Hertfordshire

Ofsted and DfE

Music Mark – The National Association for Music Education

Sing Up – Vocal resources for your school (annual membership required)

Charanga – Digital music teaching resource (annual membership required, HMS funded for all first, primary and special school in Hertfordshire.

Classroom 200 – 200 Pieces of classical music for primary school with all the accompanying teaching resources.

BBC 10 Pieces – High quality resources for primary and secondary schools

Musical Futures – A wide collection of resources to help deliver music in the classroom.

Garage Band – Apple’s leading digital music-making tool

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) – Professional body for musicians and subject association for music

Musical Contexts – provides teachers with quality, "ready to use", tried and tested and professionally presented resources for use in the primary and secondary music classroom.

Out of the Ark – A collection of songbooks for school, including: musicals, assembly songbooks, nativities and leavers’ songs, class assemblies, sing-along stories and curriculum-based learning.

Music Express – An online resource for EYFS and Primary teachers.

Youtube videos

Continual Professional Development (CPD)


Register your interest to become part of the Hertfordshire SEND School Music Network. 


Register your interest to become part of the Hertfordshire Primary School Music Network.

Funded CPD available from Hertfordshire Music Service

Support for primary schools, offered by Hertfordshire Music Service, to develop the quality of their music provision, includes the following CPD which is offered fully funded to Hertfordshire schools (free at the point of access).

To sign up, please complete the survey link below for the course(s) you wish to book.

Online sessions county wide 4.00pm - 5.30pm

Evidencing and Assessing in Primary Music
Thursday 14 March 2024, 4.00pm – 5.30pm – online  
Survey Link:
Inclusion and SEND
Tuesday 2 July 2024, 4.00pm – 5.30pm – online  
Survey link:

A detailed session overview will be sent to schools ahead of each session.

These will include all necessary details to join the session.

If you have any questions please contact


Register your interest to become part of the Hertfordshire Secondary School Music Network.

Spring network session

Wednesday 6 March 2023, 4.00pm - 5.30pm

Mid Herts Centre for Music and Arts

Birchwood Avenue


AL10 0PS

'Embedding creativity in composing in the KS3 curriculum'

Sally Nicholson, Subject Lead for Music - Haileybury Turnford School

A tension exists between teaching the rules of composing and helping students to think creatively. However, research shows students can discover composing concepts naturally through playing with sound ...

Sally Nicholson is currently subject lead for music at Haileybury Turnford School in Hertfordshire, where she has taught for 10 years. She serves on the board of Hertfordshire Music Education Forum and recently completed the Listen Imagine Compose master’s degree in music education with Birmingham City University and Sound and Music.

Cross phase

Music Conference

Save the date: Wednesday 3 July 2024 - Booking open shortly

We're also working with our partners to deliver training when available. Check back for futher updates from:

  • ATSH
  • Charanga
  • SingUp

HfL Education - Music Leaders’ and Music Teachers' Development Day (with Hertfordshire Music Service)

This one-day face-to-face event is aimed at music leaders and teachers of music from across the primary and secondary age range. Bringing together colleagues who maybe newer and/or less experienced with  more experienced and specialist teachers, to create a community and shared musical experience. All levels of musical experience welcome – this day is designed to be inclusive, and aims to build confidence, develop knowledge and be an enjoyable experience for all who attend.

T-Time | Music Mark

This new session for classroom and peripatetic teachers is an opportunity to reflect on best practice in primary, secondary and SEND settings, learn from colleagues around the country and discuss the hot topics in music education.

  • Termly - 19 March 2023, 6 June 2023) 
  • 4.00pm - 5.00pm 
  • Online (Zoom) 

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