We view music as an essential element in a balanced education, allowing personal expression, personal development, creativity and real practical involvement in the arts. Students gain confidence, skills and an appreciation of each others talents.

Please explore these pages to find out more about what we offer.

Ethos & Values

Our aims are:

  • To provide students with skills, knowledge and confidence in all disciplines of the performing arts.
  • To foster students' sensitivity to, and their understanding and enjoyment of all aspects of music, including world music.
  • Work within the ethos of 'Every Child Matters' and provide musical experiences and nurture musical development of all students.
  • To encourage students to take ownership of their own creations and performances.
  • To enable students to experience live musical performances and to work with professional artists in workshops and performances, in a variety of genres.
  • To have consistently high expectations and match these with high quality resources and learning strategies.
  • To encourage students to become independent learners.

Knowledge & Skills


  • Students learn about the basic elements of music, so as to be able to compose, perform and listen to music with greater understanding.
  • Students learn how to play the keyboard and to use it for performance and as a compositional tool.
  • All students are given the opportunity to have vocal or instrumental tuition and are encouraged to use their instruments in class lessons.
  • Students are encouraged to share their work with others to build confidence.
  • Musical performances are recorded and used in self and peer evaluation.
  • All students are encouraged to participate in concerts at the Academy and in the wider community.

Performing Arts

  • Students will have the opportunity to develop their performance skills in the areas of music, dance and drama. They will also explore other areas of the performing arts industry through work related contextualised learning.
  • Students will improve oral and written skills, experiencing a wide range of learning styles from specialist teachers and develop their ability to read for different purposes - for information, research, cultural study or personal enjoyment.
  • There is scope for students' personal growth as learners, through active participation in workshops and working in groups as production companies.
  • All students are encouraged to express personal and informed opinions through discussion, role-play and improvisation.
  • The use of recorders and video equipment is encouraged in performances. This enables students to see themselves as others see them and to work on improving their performance skills or presentations.

Resources & Facilities

We have six members of staff in the department as well as visiting instrumental teachers.

The Music area comprises of four well equipped teaching rooms, an instrumental teaching room, two practice rooms and a recording studio. We are situated next to the Avro and drama halls, which allow us to do group work in performing arts.

The two main music rooms are equipped with 10 Yamaha MM6 synthesizers with USB and internet capability and 10 PC's running Sibelius 7 and other score writing packages, enabling students to record, edit and print out compositions of professional quality. The interactive whiteboards are in use during all lessons and are a fantastic resource tool, bringing the world of music into the classroom. There is also space in each room to organise small rehearsals or for small groups of dancers to work in front of mirrors.

The third classroom is also equipped with 13 Yamaha PSR 1500 keyboards. The room is also set up with percussion instruments including a set of samba and African drums. Students are able to develop different skills and learn about different cultures whilst in this room.

The fourth classroom is a specialist room for 6th form students and is situated in the sixth form college. It has nine Yamaha MM6 synthesizers linked to PC's running Sibelius 7, Pro Tools, Cubase, Guitar Pro 6 and aural packages, providing industry standard studio software. We also have new Yamaha electric pianos in the practice rooms.

The department has been well supported in recent years and is well stocked with orchestral instruments.

We regularly produce concerts in the Academy and students are invited to perform at recitals and concerts in the wider community.

In all of the classrooms wall space is positively used to create informative and stimulating displays that reflect modern practices, support the projects and create an expectation for achievement.

Courses & Qualifications

Key Stage 3

All students follow a varied programme of music which involves performing, composing and listening. Each half term students work on a different musical topic. These are updated regularly, are stimulating and involve all students being involved in music making each lesson. Topics currently include: Basic musical theory and introduction to keyboard skills and the reading of music, Film Music, The Voice, Caribbean Music, Samba, African Drumming, The Blues, Jazz Music, Popular Classics and 1960's Popular Music.

Key Stage 4


Students have the opportunity to continue their music studies at GCSE level, following the Edexcel specification. Performing and composing accounts for 60% of the final mark, with the final listening exam being the remaining 40%. During the course, students study 12 set works covering four areas of study, from 1600 to the present day. In the final exam, they are expected to be able to answer questions on eight extracts from the set works.

Performing Arts

Students can take a single award GCSE in Performing Arts (AQA exam board). This is a two year course.
Unit 1 - The Portfolio = 60%
Unit 2. - A showcase performance = 40%
These are assessed in the March of year 10.
This course is very popular as it enables students to use their talents in music, dance and drama.
In year 11, students can continue to develop their skills further and take the double GCSE Award.

Key Stage 5

Students are able to choose Music and Music Technology at A Level. To be accepted on these courses, students need to have a grade B at GCSE or be able to perform on an instrument at grade 5 standard. It would also be beneficial to have some theoretical knowledge.

Instrumental / Vocal Examinations

Students that are taking singing or instrumental lessons are encouraged to work towards grade exams with ABRSM, Trinity Guildhall or London College.

Learning Outside The Classroom

Tollbar Band

This group of musicians meet once a week to rehearse for concerts. All students who play a brass or woodwind instrument are encouraged to come along. Students develop skills in this setting that they do not get by just attending a lesson each week. It is also much more fun to perform in a larger group. Throughout the year they perform at three concerts and go on a summer tour around the junior schools.

Tollbar Chamber Strings

This group of violinists rehearse each week with their violin teacher. They also regularly perform at concerts. This year they have been once again invited to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, for the Barnardos Charity Event. They also compete in local festivals.

String Ensemble

Members of this group also meet once a week under the direction of the string teacher. They also play in a number of concerts as well as the Carol Service and Christmas Victorian Fayre at All Saints Church, Waltham.

Tollbar Vocals

This is open to anyone that enjoys singing in a group. Students from year 7 to 11 are involved. There is always opportunity for students to take on solo parts in the concerts.

Guitar Group

Students studying guitar at Tollbar enjoy meeting up on a Monday at 3:15 to learn new songs and play as a group.

Brass Group

This group meet once a week and participate in concerts. Most players also perform with the Tollbar Band. The group is open to any student playing a brass instrument.

Inter House Music Competition

This takes place during January each year. It is open to any student in year 7 – 11 that can play an instrument or sing a song. It doesn't matter if you have grade 8 or have taken no exams at all, anyone can represent their tutor group.

Visits to shows and workshops

Performing Arts students have attended dance workshops with the Northern Contemporary Dance Company, in partnership with students at Cleethorpes Academy. This year the performing arts students visited Hull New Theatre to watch a production of 'Blood Brothers' by Willy Russell.

We also invite professional musicians in to the Academy to perform to students throughout the year.

Where Does This Take Me In The Future?

  • GCSE Performing Arts provides opportunities for students who may wish to pursue a career within the Arts industry either as a performer or in a more technical role. The GCSE course allows students to progress academically by leading onto the various further education courses available.
  • The course covers CV, application letters and interview techniques preparing students for progression on to further education or auditions.
  • GCSE Music provides a good basis for studying Music at A Level.
  • A Level music is suitable for students wishing to follow a career in music and leads into the many different courses offered in university departments and music conservatoires.

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Tollbar Academy Principal

Stephen Moon

Tollbar MAT Chief Executive

David J Hampson