This course aims to explore a range of strategies and techniques for improving and increasing the level of achievement of mid-ability students, with particular focus on the crucial GCSE Grades 4 and 5, for Edexcel GCSE Music.

Delegates will consider how to utilise feedback from the 2018 examination series to design successful teaching and learning strategies that ensure student engagement, motivation and ultimate success.

All three components will be addressed, with an emphasis on the underlying skills required for good outcomes in the examination and the Non-Examined Assessment (NEA) components.


  • Explore the characteristics of mid-range candidates’ performances across performance, composition and listening & appraising
  • Understand how these learners stereotypically develop musically and how we, as teachers, can develop comprehension to accelerate learning.
  • Develop strategies for developing candidates’ understanding of and ability to successfully approach examination questions
  • Gain an increased understanding of NEA requirements and approaches that enable students at Grades 4 and 5 to succeed in their performances and compositions
COURSE DATE In-school only
  • Senior leaders line-managing departments delivering Edexcel’s GCSE in Music
  • Heads of Departments responsible for delivering Music
  • Teachers of GCSE Music
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues


10.00 – 10.45am
Overview of the 2018 examinations

  • Feedback on the 2018 examinations and what this tells us about mid-range student performance
  • Teaching and formative assessment ideas
  • Developing strategies for mid-level students to meet the Assessment Objective requirements: why these are crucial and how they affect your teaching
  • Moving candidates from Level 1-2 to Level 3-4 responses

10.45 – 11.15am
Establishing student levels and setting appropriate targets

  • A review of recent Edexcel exam questions to understand how best to place students and to confirm the standard to which they need to be working
  • Examiner advice on setting appropriate targets/assessing for progress
  • Realistic target setting – how can targets be helpful to students and teachers, and not a hindrance
  • Helping students understand what their target means and how they can achieve it

11.15 – 11.35am
Discussion: coffee break

11.35 – 12.45pm
Unit 3: Listening and Appraising – Improving Outcomes of students at Grades 4 and 5

  • Incorporating musical skills and knowledge requirements at Levels 1 and 2 by comparison to those required at levels 3 and 4. How to move up through the levels
  • A close examination of the specification and assessment requirements for Unit 3, to identify how to address weaknesses and ensure student progress
  • Strategies for students to improve understanding of examination questions and how to use the knowledge that they have gained during the GCSE – utilising formative assessment techniques that work with the Edexcel content

12.45 – 1.45pm
Lunch and informal discussion

1.45 – 2.45pm
Composition – Key issues and challenges for Grades 4 and 5 students

Expert advice and guidance on how to make sure students succeed on the challenging areas of the following topics:

  • How to facilitate originality in composition at grades 4 and 5, and look to creating work beyond students’ target grades
  • Producing a convincing musical composition – how to ensure Grade 4 / 5 students understand what is needed to be able to move up their marks in composition
  • The weaker composition – examples and examination of where mid-range students struggle
  • Teaching the challenge of developing and progressing in composition to ensure student progress
  • Strategies for candidates to improve their composition technique, based on feedback from the 2018 exams

2.45 – 2.50pm
Discussion: afternoon tea

2.50 – 3.40pm

  • How to make sure that Grade 4 and 5 students retain understanding of key musical and performance concepts
  • The characteristics of a GCSE grade 1-3, 4-6 and 7-9 performance… moving your students beyond their target
  • Developing student understanding of the mark scheme and how this enhances pupils’ performances
  • Skills requirements: teaching ideas and methods that allow mid-range students to achieve beyond their potential
  • Ongoing assessment and teaching methods to maintain and boost student progress at Grades 4 and 5
  • Utilising instrumental staff in your department

Plenary and Depart

Michael Lamb

Michael is an experienced Head of Music currently teaching in the thriving music department at Framwellgate School in Durham. His varied portfolio has seen his work as Director of Music in a Newcastle secondary, and as an active musician across the UK specialising in jazz performance and musical directs of both theatrical and orchestral projects. Michael is also the producer of several high profile music education projects, workshops and seminars in the North of England.

View all courses led by Michael Lamb >