A Year 6 curriculum focused on skills for future success, and with no formal SAT testing, fosters curiosity for the journey ahead, says Joseph Birchall, Head of King’s Magna at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate

At Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate (QE), our mission is for all members of our community to aspire to the Hill Standard ‘To be the best that I can with the gifts that I have’. Our middle school, King’s Magna, sits within our unique four-school model and facilitates Years 6-9 in a way that harnesses individuality through an innovative curriculum to bridge the gap from junior school to senior school. 

In a difference from the traditional school model, where children stay in primary education until the end of Year 6, here at QE students join King’s Magna in Year 6 and then stay with us until Year 9. We find many students are ready for a new challenge at the end of Year 5, so we have made it our focus to develop a unique curriculum for this transitional year, with content designed in partnership between secondary school subject specialists and highly experienced primary age teachers.

Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate on bridging the Middle Years gap
At King’s Magna, the curriculum has been designed to deliver key skills and inspire young people for the journey ahead

At King’s Magna, we are focused on building character and personality – and on enabling the core values of honesty, kindness, respect, and determination – so that our students develop their strengths and grow into good people. Our curriculum is based on delivering the key skills required by students to become successful in their adult lives, and we ensure that our caring and diverse community allows each student to feel supported through their educational journey with a real sense of belonging – not just to King’s Magna but to the whole ‘Team QE’. 

The core curriculum at King’s Magna consists of English, maths, science, personal development, history and geography. All subjects are taught by experienced Year 6 class teachers. In addition, students have specialist teaching for art, music, drama, computing, design technology (DT), modern foreign languages and PE.  The whole approach is designed with the ultimate aim of fostering curiosity, placing an emphasis on those skills that are important for future success in education and career. These include critical thinking, collaboration, digital skills, communication, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate on bridging the Middle Years gap
Helping children develop vital skills, including critical thinking, is embedded in the QE approach

QE is proud of its exceptional enrichment programme of over 100 activities – offered year-round by specialist teachers and coaches. At King’s Magna, students benefit from enrichment classes twice a week within their timetabled lessons. Alongside the core academic subjects, students choose their own options from sports, creative arts, and performing arts. This provides our students with access to more of what they are passionate about and gives them more ownership over their own education – and potentially future direction.  

“At King’s Magna Middle School, we are focused on building character and personality – and on enabling the core values of honesty, kindness, respect, and determination”

At King’s Magna, the crucial decision was made to not assess Year 6 students using SATS testing but instead assess them at three points during the year using standardised and moderated ‘common evaluation tasks’ to track the progress and needs of each individual student within our small classroom set up. Not only has the school found this the best way to support students, but we also find it creates more opportunity for students to take up any of the abundant enrichment opportunities available. Ultimately, this provides both a more positive student experience and a more well-rounded education. 

Skills development is staged as they grow, and with plenty of time for enrichment and pursuing individual interests that build strengths and confidence

In Year 7, the school encourages students to become more independent and take greater responsibility for their learning. This is built upon in Year 8 as students apply for a variety of key roles within the school community – including Prefects, Buddies, Mentors, School Ambassadors and Representatives. Year 9 then focuses on fully preparing students to confidently meet the challenges of the next stage of their educational journey. 

At King’s Magna, we equip our students with the skills and knowledge they need to move seamlessly to our College or Faculty schools. We ensure every student is treated as an individual and provided with personalised support. Our innovative pastoral programme, THRIVE@QE, promotes well-being and resilience as they grow, with over 30 different sessions each week to ensure every student can mature into their teenage years with confidence and a belief in their own bright future. 

Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate

King’s Magna School, Thorpe Underwood Estate, York YO26 9SS qe.org

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