Assistant Director of Music

  • Job title: Assistant Director of Music
  • Job Type: Full-time, permanent
  • Salary: £37,343 - £62,975
  • Department: Music Department
  • Reporting to: Director of Music
  • Location: Highgate, North London
  • Start: September 2024
  • Closing Date: 25 January 2024 at 8:00 am
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An enthusiastic, experienced and dynamic Assistant Director of Music is required by this academically selective North London day school to start in September 2024. This position would suit experienced, well-qualified Music teachers who have ambitions to lead their own faculty.

As Assistant Director, as well as promoting music at all levels within the school, the post holder will be involved in the strategic planning, organisation and execution of Highgate’s exciting and comprehensive programme of performances that take place throughout the school year. The Assistant Director will also have the chance to direct ensembles and to initiate other ensembles or groups as appropriate. Keyboard skills are highly desirable and the ability to accompany high-stakes solo performances such as A Level and GCSE recitals and solo platform concerts would be an advantage.

The successful applicant will be an excellent classroom practitioner and their timetable will involve a full teaching allocation across the age and ability range, including up to A Level and Oxbridge preparation. Applicants should demonstrate a deep love of music, an enthusiasm for communicating this to pupils across the school and high expectations of pupils’ approach to music, performance and learning. Working closely with the Head of Academic Music the successful candidate may have the opportunity to take strategic ownership of an agreed part of the curriculum, though this is not a core requirement of the role.

The Department

In the Senior School, the Music Department consists of the Director of Music, Head of Academic Music and Choral Music, four full-time academic teachers, one Musician in Residence (Organ) a Music Department Manager and a Graduate Music Administrator. There are over fifty regular Visiting Music Teachers and six permanent Heads of School. The Music department is proud of its commitment to partnership activities; it currently seconds two of its teachers, part-time, to the London Academic of Excellent in Tottenham, where these colleagues run the school’s A Level and co-curricular Music programme. As this partnership grows, there will be plenty of opportunity for the Assistant Director of Music to contribute to joint events.

In the Senior School, the Music Department teaches all pupils from Year 7 to 13; there are over 50 pupils studying for GCSE Music and 13 studying for A Level. Results are excellent and pupils regularly make successful applications to Oxbridge and Music colleges. Class sizes are small, with a maximum of 24 in Years 7 and 8 and an average of 12 in Year 9, which is setted. Academic Music lessons take place in four bespoke classrooms, one of which features a 13-Mac Music Technology Suite.

Each week, over 35 musical ensemble rehearsals and over 500 individual music lessons take place in 12 practice rooms, our auditorium, recital room, Chapel and other rehearsal spaces. Most senior ensembles are duplicated at intermediate level, providing transition from the Junior School into the Senior School. Every ensemble will have an opportunity to perform each term and concerts take place in school and in central London venues, most recently Southwark Cathedral.

Person Specification

Highgate School seeks to appoint teachers who will have, in addition to the professional qualities outlined below, the following proven personal qualities, or the potential to develop them. At interview, candidates will have the opportunity to demonstrate or give an account of these attributes.

  • The energy, dynamism and stamina to contribute fully to the life of a busy co-educational independent day school.
  • Willingness to contribute to the extensive range of activities provided for pupils and to support them in their co-curricular pursuits.
  • Capacity for industry and initiative in both independent work and as part of teams of colleagues in academic work, pastoral care, sports and co-curricular activities.
  • Profound and continuing interest in the academic subject / s to be taught.
  • The depth of knowledge and agility of mind to allow flexibility in lessons, adapting delivery as appropriate in the light of pupils’ responses.
  • Empathy with pupils across the age and ability spectrum at Highgate and the ability to implement a range of teaching strategies to cater for each individual pupil.
  • Awareness and understanding of matters relating to the personal, social, health and emotional development of Highgate’s pupils.
  • General knowledge of Child Protection issues and good practice, particularly relating to professional obligations on safeguarding the welfare of each child and avoiding guarantees of confidentiality in any disclosure.
  • Capacity to deal sensitively with problems raised by pupils, in line with Highgate’s pastoral policies and sanctions system, working in partnership with Highgate’s designated staff i/c pastoral care.
  • Ability to create effective rapport and a sound relationship with pupils, earning their respect and trust but maintaining proper professional boundaries by not deliberately courting popularity or friendship.
  • Willingness and ability to liaise effectively and professionally between pupils, staff and parents when required, making accurate records of these exchanges.
  • Patience and thoughtfulness to see any issues that may arise with pupils, parents or colleagues from a variety of perspectives.
  • The ability to de-fuse difficult situations using different strategies such as careful listening, sensitive use of humour, praise and recognition where due, utilising the School’s reward system.
  • Retention of a sense of perspective and, on occasion, the invaluable ability to laugh at oneself.
Essential Professional Criteria
  • Criteria
  • How will these be tested or verified?
  • A good honours degree in Music in a related subject
    • Original degree certificate(s).
    • Questions about subject specialisation (and course content for more recent graduates).
    • Opportunities at interview to discuss techniques for teaching set topics.
  • Experience of teaching academic lessons, either as an employed teacher or during a teaching placement, and an understanding of effective assessment
    • A 50-minute lesson to be taught to a Key Stage 3 or 4 class.
    • Opportunity to comment on and grade pupils’ written work.
  • Outstanding keyboard skills
    • A 30-minute accompaniment session with an advanced instrumentalist.
  • Excellent communication skills
    • Two panel interviews; lesson and accompaniment session (as above)
  • The ability to use ICT fully in the teaching of Music, or a willingness to learn the skills
    • Observed in the lesson.
    • Opportunities to recount experience and expertise at interview.
  • The ability to establish good relations with colleagues and pupils
    • Opportunities at interview to recount experiences where these skills have been demonstrated.
    • Questions that referees will be asked as part of the confidential reference request.
  • Sympathy with and knowledge of fundamental British values
    • Question at interview to test this.
  • Awareness and understanding of safeguarding and welfare of children
    • Questions at interview to test attitudes towards, and knowledge of, children’s safeguarding and welfare.
    • Questions that referees will be asked as part of the confidential reference request.
Desirable Professional Criteria
  • Criteria
  • How will these be tested or verified?
  • A teaching qualification (e.g. PGCE, GTP)
    • Original certificate.
  • Experience of teaching successfully in an academically selective school
    • Original certificate.
  • Knowledge of, and experience of, teaching Music at GCSE and at A Level
    • Opportunities at interview to recount experience of teaching and of successful strategies used in teaching these topics.
  • A willingness to prepare pupils for music auditions
    • Questions at interview relating to the requirements of the tests and possible methods of preparation.
  • A willingness to be involved in the wider life of the department (e.g. music tours and visits)
    • Opportunities at interview to recount experience of running or participating in such activities or to give ideas for these.


Support | A welcoming, comfortable and exceptionally well-resourced environment with significant assistance from a range of support staff.

Pension | The School pays the employer’s contribution to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Professional development | Comprehensive induction. Focus on continued learning and development for all employees.

Holidays | Terms are shorter than in the maintained sector.

Location | Highgate Village, adjacent to Hampstead Heath, with quaint shops and easy connections across London.

Facilities | Free access, at stipulated times, to our sports facilities, including a fitness suite and new swimming pool. Staff can borrow from 1,700 books held in the Sir Martin Gilbert Library.

Lunch | Free tea and coffee A complimentary lunch including hot meals, sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit and dessert.

Sustainable travel | Access to the Cycle to Work Scheme and a Season Ticket Loan scheme for public transport.

Flexible working | Flexibility for parents, enhanced maternity pay and paid dependant leave.

Working at Highgate

A culture of community, kindness and belonging

Highgate is a caring, open-minded community, where we promote kindness, empathy and friendship. Everyone who works and studies with us deserves to feel they are part of a welcoming environment that enables them to be themselves and to thrive as individuals.

Our community extends beyond the school, through partnerships, charity work and our commitment to equality, inclusion and sustainability. All members of our school community are encouraged to look outwards and play an active role.

In a recent ISI inspection (Dec 2021), it was noted that “Pupils show exceptional respect for, and appreciate diversity within the school and wider community, and their own and other cultures, demonstrating sensitivity and tolerance to those from different backgrounds and traditions.”

Staff wellbeing

Highgate is committed to staff wellbeing, which we promote by encouraging a strong work-life balance; trying our best to support flexible working requests; providing a nutritious complimentary lunch in the dining hall; and offering access to sporting facilities including our recently renovated swimming pool.

The Staff Wellbeing Committee, with representatives across the School, meets regularly to drive forward initiatives, and a selection of staff have been trained as Mental-Health First Aiders.

We encourage an open culture throughout our school, with regular staff surveys, action committees and opportunities to feedback. We strive for continual learning and improvement, and staff training and development is paramount. There are opportunities to participate in the wider life of our school, such as taking part in trips or societies and getting involved in partnership projects.

More details about working at Highgate can be found here:

Work with us    Aims + Ethos

Charitable work and sustainability

As an independent school, we want to use our position as a charity effectively: to make high-quality education accessible to as many children as possible – through our bursary programme at Highgate and through our work with local state schools. We have partnerships with over 60 state schools across 7 London boroughs, and we are the principal educational sponsor for London Academy of Excellence, Tottenham – an academically-selective state sixth form in a community where such opportunities are lacking.

Alongside this, our staff and pupils undertake charitable activities throughout the year. These range from staff giving up their time to neighbourhood schools and charitable organisations, focused fundraising campaigns, to pupils undertaking community work in the local area or further afield.

As a school, we have a central role to play in educating our pupils, staff and parents about the importance of environmental sustainability. We are taking positive action to adapt our operational performance to tackle the negative effects of climate change. We encourage all our staff to reflect upon their personal and professional practices, to support our environmental agenda and to make positive changes wherever possible.

Application procedure

  • Closing Date: 25th January 2024
  • Timing of interviews: To be confirmed

Contact: James Newton, Deputy Head (Academic) and Jonathan Murphy, Director of Music, are happy to answer any questions about this post.

Early Application: Applications will be considered ‘as and when’ received and we may close the vacancy if we appoint before the closing date.


We know that more diverse teams are stronger teams, and that the more inclusive we are, the more our staffand pupilswillfeel a sense of belonging and willthrive. To enable us to make reasonable adjustments, please let us know of any disabilities (including neuro-divergence) when you submit your application.  


As this role will have regular unsupervised contact with children you must, if appointed, comply with Highgate’s Safeguarding Policy and Staff Code of Conduct. If, in the course of carrying out the duties of the post, the post holder becomes aware of any actual or potential risks to the safety and welfare of our pupils, these concerns must be reported immediately in accordance with the Safeguarding Policy.  If, while in the post, Highgate becomes aware of any safeguarding concerns to staff, pupils or the community, these will need to be followed up in line with the safeguarding policy and code of conduct which is underpinned by KCSE and other legislation. These concerns may need to be shared with other agencies.  A copy of these policies will accompany all offers of employment. Training will also be provided to all staff to support Safeguarding practice 

Please read before you apply

Highgate is committed to the safeguarding and welfare of children and applicants must be willing to undergo child protection screening appropriate to this post, including checks with past employers, the Disclosure and Barring Service and overseas police check if necessary. Candidates from overseas must provide information about their past conduct, for example, by providing documents issued by overseas teaching authorities.  

Please note that this role is ‘exempt’ from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and therefore, you are required to declare any convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings that are not ‘protected’ (i.e. filtered out) as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended in 2013). Shortlisted candidates will be asked to provide details of all unspent convictions and those that would not be filtered, prior to the date of the interview.  

In accordance with the latest guidance from KCSIE, we shall be conducting online searches on any candidates who are shortlisted.