Curriculum models in school practices

Understanding the impact of whole school curriculum models on music subject leader practices.

Music curriculum primary


Research background

Schools have autonomy to design and implement whole institution curriculum models.  In recent years, a two year Key Stage 3 for 11 – 14 year-olds has replaced a three year structure in many settings. 

The impact of this change, particularly on arts subjects, is not well understood. There is a lack of research investigating its effect on the educational experiences on offer to young people. 

Research aims

This research project will investigate the impact of whole school curriculum models on music subject leader practices in their curriculum design and explore connections with the intellectual basis of teacher education. 

It will particularly seek to uncover the impact of whole school curriculum perspectives on the manner in which music teachers legitimise the topics they chose to teach and realise their own programmes of study at Key Stage 3 (KS3).

How has the research been carried out?

Proposed methods for this project will include a national on-line survey, documentary analysis of curriculum programmes in Key Stage 3 Music and semi-structured interviews with music teacher participants.

Use of diagrams and images created by music teachers to represent ideas (graphical elicitation) and commentaries by teacher participants to explain their thinking in planning activities (think aloud protocols) are also in the planning stage.

Outcomes and impact

The research will help to understand some of the impacts of reducing the length of the Key Stage 3 curriculum in Music for young people. 

It will offer potential to trace some of the impacts of secondary motivators, such as senior leader conceptualisations of Ofsted requirements, as represented and understood through music teacher planning and pedagogies.

Publications about this research

Read about what our music curriculum research told us about the impact of Covid on classroom music in schools.