Wilson's School

Music Programme

Wilsons's School is a leading boys’ state grammar school, offering a free education to nearly 1,300 pupils aged 11-18. The Wilson’s School Music Programme seeks applications into Year 7 (starting September 2023) for boys showing an aptitude for music. Wilson’s outstanding academic record is matched by its dedication to music and the arts.

For September 2024 we have up to 9 priority places to offer pupils displaying potential for music.

Music at Wilson's
The Music Department at Wilson’s is exceptional and has been described as one of the very best in the UK. Teaching in the department is outstanding and delivered by very highly-qualified teachers; there is a very rich co-curricular programme for pupils of all abilities.

You can find out more here.

Academic Music
Lessons are practical and creative at all key stages and pupils are taught in small classes. Examination results at GCSE and A level are very strong (100% A* at A level in both 2020 and 2022), and a considerable number of students have continued to study music at university beyond Wilson’s over recent years, including at Oxford and Cambridge (two places for Music in 2021 and two choral scholarships in 2022) as well as other excellent universities and music colleges.

Co-curricular Music
Pupils at Wilson’s are able to join a large range of ensembles to match their experience and enthusiasm, with senior students playing more challenging repertoire in the Senior Orchestra, String Orchestra and Chamber Wind Ensembles. Over 100 boys sing in the school choir. During a normal school year, we host well over thirty-five concerts, recitals, productions and other musical events.

The Year 7 Programme
Nearly a decade ago, the department began to offer free specialist tuition in voice or a musical instrument to every pupil in Year 7. All pupils start a new instrument as part of the programme and the instruments and equipment are provided free of charge to pupils. Many students continue to play their instruments beyond Year 7 and they prove to be enthusiastic and accomplished members of our various ensembles. Pupils who have started learning in Year 7 have obtained places at music colleges as well as Oxbridge choral scholarships.

Department Staff
The department is led by Dr Hayley Burton, a graduate of King’s College London and Harvard University. She is assisted by Dr Mark Clayden, who studied at the Universities of Surrey and Nottingham, as well as University College, Oxford, where he received his DPhil. Like Dr Clayden, our choral director, Mr Hann, joined the school in 2011. He has also recently been made an Associate of The Royal Academy of Music, where he works as an Ensemble Tutor. Karl Kramer joined the department in 2022 and specialises in pop and jazz, directing several ensembles. Tim Lissimore, Senior Deputy Head, also teaches in the department along with over 20 peripatetic staff.

Latest News
In January 2023, the Britton Centre, the new home of the Music Department was opened, and the building has been buzzing with musical activity ever since. The Britton Centre houses a recital hall, home to two grand pianos and a battery of professional percussion instruments, a recording studio, three large classrooms, each equipped with computers for composition, a piano and a drumkit, and many new practice rooms, all professionally sound-proofed.

Wilson’s provides an outstanding all-round education for free. We are a selective grammar school for academically able boys.

Parents regularly tell us that they choose Wilson’s not just for our excellent academic record but because of the broad spectrum of extra-curricular activities we offer. These include many sports clubs, a thriving Combined Cadet Force section, an established Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and a unique music programme that allows every Year 7 pupil to learn a musical instrument as part of the curriculum.

Our expectations of boys in terms of personal achievement – academic and otherwise – and behaviour are very high. We have an excellent pastoral system that communicates our core values of respect, tolerance, courtesy, cooperation, service to the community, personal achievement and most of all, hard work. Our school motto – Non Sibi Sed Omnibus (Not For Oneself, But For All) – drives all that we do. In 2015 we opened our Lower School providing a nurturing and supportive environment to help our Year 7 pupils make the challenging transition from primary to secondary school. Most of their lessons are taught in their form room which provides them with the security of their own classroom and the familiarity of surroundings they are used to at primary school.

Our outstanding all-round provision has been recognised in our being awarded the Sunday Times State Secondary School of the Year in 2019, a Sunday Times Top 10 State Secondary School in 2020 and the Sunday Times London State Secondary School of the Decade in 2021. In September 2022, Ofsted rated the school Outstanding.

Wilson’s prides itself on the fact that this is achieved whilst being a state-funded school. This means the education and wider opportunities we provide are free: no fees are payable for any pupil who gains a place at the school.

Pupils gaining a place under the Wilson’s School Music Programme scheme are expected to commit to school ensembles throughout their time at the school. Their musical progress will be carefully monitored and they will receive a special report twice per year during Key Stage 3 detailing their progress and achievements.

Please see our Year 7 admissions criteria here for full details about admissions into Wilson’s School.

Wilson’s is a selective grammar school, selecting on the basis of academic ability. Up to 9 boys, having passed the two-stage entrance test, will be eligible for priority places based upon their aptitude for music, and these boys will be our Music Scholars.

Music Scholars will be awarded their place by:

  • passing both stages of the two-stage entrance test,
  • their rank order of performance in the Music Aptitude Test

Therefore, of all applicants passing the school’s two-stage entrance test, places will be awarded in this order:

  1. Looked After Children or Previously Looked After Children.
  2. 14 places for boys eligible to receive Free School Meals.
  3. Up to 9 places for boys who have demonstrated aptitude in music and up to 9 places for boys who have demonstrated aptitude in sport.
  4. Remaining places including any unallocated places under criteria 2 and 3 will be allocated to boys according to their position in the rank order of standardised score in the entrance tests.

If your son participates in the Music Aptitude Test but is not successful in meeting the required threshold to be considered for one of these places, he can still be considered for a place at the school under the other admission criteria provided he has passed the entrance examinations. Taking part in the Music Aptitude Test in no way disadvantages your son in his chances of gaining a place in the school under other of the admission criteria.
On the day of the Music Aptitude Test boys will take part in three activities:

1. Aural Perception Test
The Aural Perception Test is a short, multiple choice listening test with questions about pitch, melody and rhythm lasting for around 20 minutes. Please note that knowledge of music theory is not required for this or any other part of the Music Aptitude Test.

2. Musical Communication
Candidates will be asked to give a short performance on their preferred instrument (or to sing). Each child is allocated a 5 minute slot for this. We can provide an accompanist or facilities to play a backing track (which should not double the performer’s part). The difficulty level of the piece(s) performed is immaterial; candidates are not required to have received formal music training or have accomplished a certain grade level.

3. Singing and Clapping
Candidates will be asked to sing or clap back some short melodies and rhythms.

Please note that no part of the Music Aptitude Test requires any familiarity with music theory or other previous musical knowledge.

For more information about the Music Aptitude Test process please see the Aptitude Places Process page of this website.

The Music Aptitude Test will take place on Saturday 7 October 2023. If you want your son to be considered for a music aptitude place all you need to do is register your son to sit the Selective Eligibility Test (SET) which you can do via the school’s website. If he passes the SET for Wilson’s School you will be given instructions on how to register your son to participate in the Music Aptitude test.

Music Programme
Music Programme
Music Programme
Music Programme