How do I lead Music in a Primary School?

January 29, 2024 by Abi Marrison - Music Mark

6 minute listen

Starting a new academic year, new job, new school, new subject leader responsibility poses the same question; where do I start? For some it will include the additional question; Is there anyone who can help me?  

I was a Primary School teacher for 10 years, and during that time worked with resources such as Sing Up, and Music Express. Since 2016 I’ve worked in the arts and cultural sector for an Arts Council England Bridge organisation and learnt about so many local, regional and national organisations supporting children and young people to access great music opportunities. Ranging from freelancers to the Royal Opera House. I met specialists at Magic Acorns using music to support the development of speech and language in Early Years and an organisation so passionate about getting children Into Opera they designed a whole school programme across the curriculum.  


I joined the Music Mark team as Schools Lead in October last year and I am still finding out about ever more organisations and resources that exist to support the delivery of music for children and young people. It is my hope that, united with #CANDOMUSIC colleagues, we can get Primary Music teachers and leaders all the support and encouragement they need so that music in their school is accessible, vibrant, diverse and joyful. 


Undertaking the leadership of a new subject can lead you towards a subject association or a quality mark. You want to establish and announce that the school cares about your subject to the community.

As part of my last role I ran training and support for the Arts Council England’s creative quality mark Artsmark. This is a whole school development tool for all arts and creative subjects, so I have witnessed great changes in how schools improve their music provision within this framework. Some starting from very low confidence and making improvements using a scheme like Kapow or Charanga’s English Model Music Curriculum Scheme. To those who were confident, and enhanced their offer by working closely with their local Music Education Hub to perform at awe inspiring venues.  

To lead music in your Primary school successfully

I would encourage you to consider these 3 things:   

1. Statutory and non-statutory guidance.  

A good place to start is by planning ‘what has to be covered?’. Look under our #CANDOMUSIC resources tab and filter by ‘guidance’. You will find digestible articles on; The national plan for music, the model music curriculum and ofsted’s subject review into music. There are many sessions to help you to understand these documents and put them into practice across your school. Check what your local music hub are offering. 

2. Passion 

Whether experienced, or lacking confidence, you should be excited and passionate about music; it becomes infectious and makes it fun.  

Use our #CANDOMUSIC ‘advocacy’ resources to show your colleagues and senior leaders why music matters.  

Look through our #CANDOMUSIC ‘CPD’ resources to upskill yourself or signpost to less confident colleagues.  

3. Make Connections 

Whether you are in a large 3 form entry setting or a small roll number with mixed age classes you can connect with other practitioners and perhaps engage in new projects. Reading our #CANDOMUSIC blogs will help you see what is possible and will inspire you in your own music leadership. New blogs are added every term.  

You will be pleased to know that supporting you is the central mission of the 3 subject associations for music coming together to create this website. We encourage you to use the #CanDoMusic hashtag on social media to highlight transformative practice and share common challenges.  

Since joining the Music Mark team in October, I have already been saturated with awareness of great professional development opportunities and equipment that exists to enable and enthuse teachers. As an aside, You will be forgiven for having the misconception that I had: Music Mark is in-fact NOT a quality mark for schools to prove that they have good music provision. It is a membership organisation and subject association. Along with many of the other organisations linked in this blog, we are here to support you.  

So many conferences happen nationally for music education; since October I have already attended Music Teacher Magazine, Music Mark annual conference and Music Education Solutions central conference. There is also the Music and Drama EXPO coming up in February.  

With a full teaching commitment and tight budgets you couldn’t possibly get to all of these, but by using the #CANDOMUSIC hashtag we can share our learning with others on a national scale. If you are time poor use the hashtag and reach out to the #CANDOMUSIC online community to find out what other people are valuing in their Primary classroom.  

One thing I know for sure, and will not take for granted, is that there are so many amazing organisations working to help you be the best Primary Music Leader. I need #CANDOMUSIC to help me find them all, do you?