Ryders Hayes School
Louise Schwartz of Ryders Hayes School, Walsall, answers some questions about the impact that Charanga’s Musical School has had on the school’s music provision.
How would you characterise the school and what are its main challenges?
A lovely two-form entry village school with a strong music education programme. There aren’t really any challenges, other than keeping up with all of the extra-curricular musical activities that are on offer. We have curriculum music lessons by a specialist music teacher for all children from Reception to Year 6, peripatetic music lessons, whole-class instrumental tuition for Year 5, two choirs (one for KS1 and one for KS2) and a school band for all musicians in KS2. The children attend regular music workshops and concerts hosted by our local music hub which they all thoroughly enjoy.
How would you describe music in the school before Musical School was adopted?
We have always had a strong musical ethos in our school. We started using Charanga to enhance and support lessons in September 2014. The comprehensive Scheme is used in all year groups from Reception right through to Year 6. The children all seem to really enjoy the lessons and the choice of songs on which to base the units are great. The children always seem to enjoy the practical aspect of playing an instrument and I think – if you’d ask them – that would be their favourite type of lesson. We don’t always follow the Scheme that is set out on the Musical School website, as we also use many different Freestyle units and instrumental units. We have a set of ukuleles and the children always enjoy playing through the many different songs in the ukulele unit. We also use the glockenspiel and recorder units.
Since last September, we have incorporated the use of the Music World element in Charanga into our new revised peripatetic music lessons that are now offered to over 40 children in KS2. This has also been used to support the teaching of brass and woodwind instruments to the whole of Year 5. As a beginner learning to play an instrument, it can be confusing how to play the actual instrument and also how to read the music. But the layout of the pieces within the Music World area makes this so much easier to read and understand. I have recommended Charanga to many other teacher friends as I feel it is the only complete resource that can be used for curriculum, wider-opportunities-style lessons and also small group instrumental lessons. It covers all areas of music that is taught in our school.
What impact has Musical School had on the pupils?
The children all seem engaged when we use Musical School and I think that’s because the layout is so visual. They are all very familiar with the website now as we have been using it for a number of years. There are times when the format of the unit can become tedious to teach as each unit in every year group follows the same prescriptive method. However, having recently received training from Chris Quigley about ways to design a curriculum, I have realised that repetition is actually needed for children to learn. We are now able to move through the units much more quickly as the children have become well accustomed to the expectations for each unit. I prefer to use the flexible pathway option for each unit that I teach so that I can move through the different areas of learning at a pace that suits the children and myself.
What impact has Musical School had on the staff?
I work three days a week in my school and I only teach music, so Musical School has changed my life completely. I feel that the children have a well-planned and robust curriculum to follow and I know that they are covering all of the requirements of the national curriculum. Some of the other staff in our school use Musical School (mainly our EYFS staff) but as I am the only music teacher they don’t all have the need to use the website.
What are your plans for music going forward?
Due to a new job, I will be leaving my school at the end of the year. However, I have already scheduled a meeting with my successor to hand over the details of music within our school. I will be ensuring that she has the necessary details about Charanga in order to keep going with all of the musical activities that we already do in school. I feel confident that I will be able to show her the Musical School website and she will be able to continue teaching lessons in the same way that the children have always been used to and there will be very little disruption to their learning. I don’t think this would have been the case if we weren’t using Musical School.