Musical Futures has been used at Castleford Academy for over 9 years, but since the implementation of Just Play, our focus has shifted more thoroughly to this approach in the last two years.
We have a culture at Castleford Academy that is thoroughly inclusive and promotes a love of Music in all children, regardless of their ‘musical starting point’. We also give pupils a chance very early on in their journey at Secondary school, to experience many different instruments (Just Play) and Music Technology (VIP Studios). This has had an enormous impact on not only our results but on option numbers. We have a phenomenal 170 pupils in our KS4 Music curriculum and genuinely tailor our curriculum to suit each individual, and our outcomes are excellent as well! For example, in our GCSE KS4 classes we have a pupils taking the DJ, Tech and live performance option.
Just Play is delivered to the whole of KS3 (Yr 7 & 8, approx..300 students per year group) and is extended and developed to allow students to create compositions as well as using it to develop performance skills. Just Play has completed revolutionised how we teach KS3 music. We moved away from discrete units of work and built our KS3 curriculum around this approach. We feel our students are making far quicker progress than they used to and are stronger instrumentalists at a younger age. They also have a better grasp of rhythms and are more confident musically in general. At KS4 we use the informal learning model to develop musicality and find this fits in with the GCSE and BTEC specifications very well.
We have a wide range of extra-curricular activities at Castleford Academy and give our pupils opportunities to perform in the wider community. Two of our Year 10 pupils performed as a DJ/Rap performance in amongst a variety of classical performances at the Theatre Royal in Wakfield – it was quite a spectacle.
In KS4 we use Cubase for pupils to sequence, compose and record onto. We teach our BTEC students how to produce a professional multi-track recording on Cubase using the correct microphones and hardware. Our GCSE pupils learn how to compose using Cubase – using MIDI and audio tracks. We have created an extensive list of tutorial videos for pupils to watch and learn from on Cubase.
Many Music Teachers would say, ‘There’s only me and I can’t teach Tech and Live performance in the same class’ – however our Music department can demonstrate and show people how we use these video resources to make sure everyone can be engaged in the same lesson. This year, in addition to all this, we have purchased a Pioneer DJ deck alongside Serato software to give our pupils the opportunity to perform DJ sets live. We have Sibelius on one computer for the pupils who feel most comfortable on this software. At Castleford Academy, we really do cater for all.