Case study: Woodlands School offering Trinity Rock & Pop at Key Stage 4

Case study: Woodlands School offering Trinity Rock & Pop at Key Stage 4

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BY: Guest Writer
29 June 2022

Today we hear from Jennifer Brown, Head of Creative Arts from Woodlands School who shares with us the school's exciting journey with Trinity Rock & Pop and how it has helped to transform their Music department. Read on for some inspiration and get in touch if you would like to discuss how this could work in your school too!

Woodlands School is a secondary academy in Basildon, Essex, with approximately 1500 students on roll. We have three teachers in the Music department and most years would have around 13-18 students taking music at GCSE level.

Most of the students that attend Woodlands School have never had the opportunity to take up instrumental lessons before and do not have the knowledge of music theory and performance that many of us have been lucky enough to access. Some students have been able to teach themselves instruments, or have learnt through family/friends and during church groups; however, formalised music teaching is not something that we often see from our intake.

Why we started to use Trinity Rock & Pop

When I started at Woodlands in 2015, the school had been teaching the AQA Music course at GCSE level for a few years. The new GCSE reforms meant that the course had changed so much that many of our students couldn't access the level of music theory required. As our first cohort of students were completing the course, we could tell that they were losing their love for music. We decided to find an alternative option that kept the students playing their instruments, still had meaningful outcomes and meant that we could continue to embed the important skills required to become professional musicians.

Trinity's Rock & Pop syllabuses seemed like an excellent opportunity for our students. We knew that we would be able to embed the important skills required to become a professional musician, whilst teaching music theory in a practical way through the construct of the syllabus.

Embedding Trinity Rock & Pop into the curriculum

Although the Trinity syllabuses were completely different to what we had been teaching previously, it didn't require a lot of effort to implement. We created many resources to help embed the performance pieces and teach them in an engaging way. We also created music theory lessons to be taught alongside the practical to teach our students theory in a way that they could understand, as well as ensuring the pupils had an all-round music education.

For the Session Skills element, we planned lessons around the relevant music genres and regularly set improvisation tasks. This section took the longest to plan as we had previously not had such a strong focus on improvisation. Over the last four years, we have adapted and developed the curriculum many times as we have trialled different ideas but, essentially, we teach the course using the same core teaching techniques and skills as we always have.

The changes and benefits our Music department has seen

The Music department has found that Trinity Rock & Pop has had a positive influence on our teaching. It has made us review how we teach music to all year groups and has enabled us to develop our KS3 curriculum. The biggest impact is undeniably how much our students enjoy the course. Every day, we see our students playing their instruments, learning new songs and doing what they love. Seeing our students developing and progressing as musicians gives us so much joy and it makes our lives so much easier when the students we teach are enjoying what they are learning.

After the GCSE reforms, students rarely got to play instruments as they knowledge they neeed for the written paper needed so much lesson time to teach. Now, students are looking forward to lessons and really feel like they have developed as musicians.

'It focuses more on your skills rather than just what you can remember for the exam.'

'We have been able to take our time and focus on each piece. I like that we haven't had to rush through anything and we have learnt the songs so well.'

The students have been made much more aware of music and the instruments available to them. The younger students are regularly hearing older students playing their instruments and to such a good standard. They are always saying how impressed they are with what they can see and hear, and this inspires them to try the instrument too.

We are delighted that Woodlands School has found so much success with Trinity Rock & Pop and we want to support your school to do the same. With Progress 8 points linked to Rock & Pop grades 6-8, as well as UCAS points for students, there are lots of reasons to explore our syllabuses. Get in touch for more information.


Main image by Shawn Sim on Unsplash

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