Transition from primary to secondary – finding out about music

Rowanfield Primary ukeleles

Transition from primary to secondary school has a massive impact on students’ learning, attainment and wellbeing and inclusion.  Adding a music question to your transition data collection process will help to ensure that your school and music department can support pupils’ progression more effectively (as Ofsted have highlighted, see footnote, below).

Winchcombe School has been involved in a singing transition project led by The Songwriting Charity (we’ll be posting videos and information about their singing work soon). We’ve included below an edited version of the questions that they’ve asked of Year 6 pupils from their feeder primary schools to help other schools who would like to improve their students musical transitions.

If you’re a teacher or head and have any suggestions or comments – or would like to share how your school captures transition data, please comment below.

Transition questionnaire – music questions:

1. Have you ever had lessons to learn to play a musical instrument (including voice, music technology)?

a) Yes, as a whole class
b) Yes, on my own, or in a small group (up to 6 children)
c) No

1a. If no, Would you like to start to learn?
Yes   No

1b. If Yes, Would you like to continue?
Yes   No

2. Which instrument did you play?

3. Which instrument would you like to learn to play?

 For more resources and information about transition, visit the Musical Bridges website.


Footnote: Ofsted’s Music in schools: sound partnerships(2012) found that it was  rare for primary and secondary schools to have developed effective partnerships, that music teachers often felt isolated. It said: “In too many instances, however, partnerships between secondary schools and their feeder primary schools were underdeveloped. At best, most schools collected data about those who had taken additional instrumental lessons or been involved in extra-curricular ensembles …Clearly, the failure to consider pupils’ prior achievement and experience does not make for a good start in secondary school. It is not surprising, therefore, that in so many instances the proportion of pupils learning an instrument in primary school and then continuing to learn at secondary school is so small.” 

It also said that in the schools where music partnerships were most successful: “Provision was linked to individual pupils’ needs, interests and abilities. Careful analysis of pupils’ prior achievement and experiences – including in their feeder primary schools – secured high levels of engagement and good progress. As a result, projects complemented, augmented and supported other music work in the school.”

In Music in schools: wider still, and wider, Ofsted reported that in primary schools the overall proportion of pupils learning to play a musical instrument through additional tuition was 22%, compared with 11% in secondary schools. 


About anitanee

I'm a freelance copywriter and communications practitioner based in Monmouth, Wales, UK. I specialise in working with music and arts organisations with a social or educational purpose, as well as small charities. Find out more: Visit our music education research site: Get free advice and resources by signing up to my enews: Read the blog:

Posted on April 27, 2015, in Music Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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