Keynote Educational


Aspiring to Excellence: Leading an Outstanding Music Department

Course Code:


The day will cover three main areas: being an outstanding musical leader in a school, achieving excellence within your department, and growing the department throughout the school and beyond. Within the first area we shall explore the personal characterises and behaviours of outstanding and inspiring Heads of Music. In the second area we shall consider what it takes to transform a music department to achieve excellence. This will include topics such as identifying the challenges and setting goals, evaluating progress, developing a culture of success and high expectations, developing the curriculum and ensuring high teaching standards that lead to good results, managing others. Finally, in the third area we shall look at how to make your department have a whole-school impact, making your school a musical one – and recognised as such. The whole day will be presented in the context of managing your own wellbeing and that of those whom you may manage so that the changes you make are sustainable. This day is particularly aimed at Heads of Department (whether the sole classroom music teacher in the school or leading a team) who have taken on a department and seek turn it around for the benefit of the students. It also will be of interest and value to teachers who are thinking of taking on the role of Head/Director of Music in the future – even of an already successful department. Current Heads of Department who want to consider where there are at and where they want to take their department – even a successful one – may find it a great opportunity to reflect, gain new ideas and motivation, and share with other professionals. It will also be of benefit to Heads of Performing Arts who are looking to transform their music department.


  • Gain perspectives on what it means (and takes) to be an outstanding musical leader in a school
  • Have the opportunity to reflect on your values, aims and ambitions as a musical leader
  • Learn ways of achieving excellence within your department, including developing a culture of success and high expectation
  • Gain ideas for growing the department throughout your school and beyond
  • The chance to discuss your ideas, ask questions and ‘think aloud’ in a supportive environment

What does it mean to be an outstanding leader of music in a school?

10.00 – 10.10am

Attributes of outstanding music departments and their leaders

10.10 – 11.00am In this session we shall consider what outstanding music departments look like: they are not all the same, but we shall draw out what are the core features. We shall look at what makes an outstanding music leader in a school and how you can be one – whoever you are, if you are willing to project the right values and encourage them in others (including your students).
  • What are the key qualities of an outstanding Head of Music
  • Reviewing your strategies, what do you do well? Where are the gaps
  • Opportunity to contribute and discuss your own ideas, share your challenges and – hopefully – learn from the experiences of other delegates, as well as from the extensive experience of the course leader.


11.00 – 11.20am

Achieving excellence in a music department

11.20 – 12.00pm This session will build on the attributes of outstanding music departments and their leaders identified in the first session considering a range of key topics including:
  • Managing physical resources
  • Managing music during the Pandemic – ensuring your GCSE and A Level cohorts are best placed to meet the latest Ofqual announcements
  • Curriculum development to ensure progression
  • The importance of examination success l Encouraging informal practical music-making safely
  • Managing colleagues (other classroom teachers and instrumental teachers: establishing effective communication; getting the most out of people; having difficult conversations

Leading Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Evaluation in music

12.00 – 1pm
  • The importance of strong examination success and effective strategies to make this happen
  • Assessing the standard of your music teaching, your results, the recruitment of music students into GCSE and A Level
  • Strategies for establishing, maintaining and promoting high quality teaching, learning and assessment
  • Using data, monitoring, tracking, feedback is effective, not unsustainably time-consuming, but works
  • Evaluating the variations of your curriculum: is it appropriate and does it match to your student types in your school? Possible paths to take if it does not, with consideration of GCSE-v-vocational; music-v-music technology; different types of performance grades (e.g. ABRSM-v-Rockschool) – the skills you will need and the resources you will require
  • Ensuring your KS3 curriculum is fit for purpose. Strategies to motivate the full range of students, ensure progress and encourage take-up to GCSE and beyond
  • Stretching the more able; supporting the weaker students.
  • Evaluating your own standards as a teacher as reflected in your students’ GCSE/A-levels/vocational outcomes. Do they achieve their target grades? How can you profitably discuss targets and outcomes with senior leaders? Reflecting on your targets and aims: the importance of aiming high and striving to achieve outstanding teaching and learning


1.00 – 2.00pm

Departmental ‘Deep Dives’

2.00pm – 2.40pm
  • Embracing departmental review and the value of being proactive
  • Key performance indicators: what to measure and how to do it, including applying the principles behind the new EIF
  • Addressing the issues: a structured approach, including blending with whole-school improvement priorities

Having a whole-school impact – and beyond

2.40pm – 3.10pm
  • It’s not just about what goes on in the classroom or what the exam results look like in music! In this session we shall explore those features on which most people (including students and parents) often judge music departments…
  • How to create a tangible culture of creativity and challenge in your Music Department
  • Broadening whole-school participation, including the advantages of securing staff involvement
  • Developing formal and informal groups: the strengths and challenges of both and how to manage them
  • Planning and structuring performances (internal and external) to ensure that they happen but you do not get overwhelmed
  • Ways to promote your department, ensuring the support of SLT and the governing body

Discussion: Afternoon Tea

3.10 – 3.15pm

Discussion on Review and Action planning

3.15pm – 3.45pm
  • A round table discussion for teachers to share practical tips and experiences, to draw together the main themes of the day giving consideration to how a music department can become outstanding, key challenges and so on.


London | Monday 21 November 2022

Please select your preferred date

This course, tailored to suit, can be delivered in your school. Discuss this further with our CPD team on 01625 532974 or click below to make an enquiry.


Dr Chris Maxim began his career lecturing in higher education before moving into the secondary sector. As an NQT (and Head of Music), he transformed the Music Department of a large inner-London secondary school, going on to create a thriving Performing Arts faculty and teaching KS3, GCSE and A-level. Following many years in senior leadership, including as Headteacher, he spent two years transforming another inner-London Music Department. He now works as a freelance musician (he is a published composer, conductor and organist) and education consultant, specialising in school leadership and music.


  • Heads of department about to transform a department
  • Aspiring Heads of Department
  • Heads of Performing Arts


  • A Specially prepared notes, practical advice and guidance by the course leader
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance

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