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Meet the Heads of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate

queen ethelburgas qe campus tour

Absolutely Sits Down with the Heads of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate

queen ethelburgas qe

Queen Ethelburga’s (QE) provides a supportive school community set within 220 acres of beautiful countryside between Harrogate and York. It welcomes girls and boys from 3 months to Year 13, with boarding from Year 3. Children progress through their four schools – Chapter House (3 months to Year 5), King’s Magna (Years 6 to 9), QE College, and QE Faculty (both Years 10 to 13). We caught up with the four Heads.

Karen Kilkenny, Head of Chapter House School & Queen’s Kindergarten

karen kilkenny queen ethelburgas qe

What makes Chapter House special?

Chapter House is a welcoming, nurturing school that provides a ‘home away from home’ for children as they begin their educational journey at QE. Safely situated in the heart of the campus, our supportive environment respects, acknowledges, and adapts to each child’s individuality, promoting both mental and physical well-being. Our learning is centred around friendship, curiosity, and creativity.

What distinctive learning opportunities does Chapter House provide?

From the magic and wonder of our exceptional Early Years classrooms filled with natural materials and spaces for imaginative play to the enchanting woodland setting of our Forest School, every day is a new adventure. Our students have access to state-of-the-art sporting facilities and a 312-seat professional theatre, where they can develop and showcase their talents in sports and performing arts. Smaller class sizes ensure more one-on-one interaction, allowing our pupils to fully engage and cultivate a love of learning through a variety of enriching trips, clubs, and activities. Additionally, understanding our parents’ need for flexibility, we provide complimentary wraparound care until 6 pm.

Joe Birchall, Head of King’s Magna Middle School (KM)

joe birchall queen ethelburgas qe

What makes King’s Magna different?

In Year 6, we forgo the standard Key Stage 2 SATs and reassign that crucial learning time to preparing our students for Key Stage 3 learning and beyond, the results of which can be seen in how highly our senior schools perform in GCSEs and A-levels each year. By providing students with an extra year of tailored learning, we can emphasise ‘future success’ skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, digital literacy, communication, creativity, and entrepreneurship and create space within the curriculum for computer science and three modern languages.

How would you sum up the best of what your school has to offer?

Our school is about choice and experience, trying new things, and discovering what you enjoy and excel at. Students select from over 100 clubs and activities onsite, including Games Design, Practical Science, Home Economics, and Enterprise Club, and can compete nationally across a broad range of specialisms. They also choose two optional timetabled subjects so they can tailor their learning to include more of what they love. We build on this in Year 7 with the option to join our Performance Sports Pathway in Basketball, Cricket, Football, or Netball or our Academic of Dramatic Arts Performing Arts Pathway. The flexibility to choose additional subjects across a wide range of options ensures our students can engage with topics they are genuinely interested in, enjoy their education more, and develop that knowledge earlier in their education journey.

Steven Turner, Head of QE College

steven turner queen ethelburgas qe

In January, QE College was ranked 1st in the North for Academic Performance for a third year in a row. What initiatives do you think contribute to this?

We focus on developing the skills and mindset students will need to thrive in a rapidly changing world and inspire them to become curious, lifelong learners rather than teach them to pass the next examination. Our QE Study Toolkit initiative teaches the most effective study and revision techniques for retaining knowledge, producing quality project work, and excelling in examination settings throughout their life. We also have workshops that focus on creating effective study routines, balancing social life with study, critical thinking, problem-solving, public speaking, time management, tackling procrastination, interview techniques, and building self-belief. Our programme of professional and alumni workshops and student leadership opportunities further inspires our students to work and develop. We encourage them to believe and push themselves through learned experiences such as presenting lectures, competing in internal and national competitions, and through representing QE in matches, performances, and events. In turn, they develop confidence and life experience which contributes to better academic attainment.

Lauren Blakeley, Head of QE Faculty

lauren blakeley queen ethelburgas qe

What is it that sets QE Faculty apart?

QE Faculty is a school that strives to shape each student’s curriculum around their learning styles, interests, and aspirations. We pride ourselves on the support we offer academically and pastorally to help every one of our students towards their goals, whatever they might be. Unique support in the Faculty can be found in our academic coaching, which allows students to take responsibility for their own learning and work collaboratively with our team to achieve the very best they are capable of. We offer BTEC qualifications and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) alongside traditional GCSE and A-levels. Students can take these options in any combination to suit them. Our flexibility also allows them to pursue their interests beyond the classroom to a high level as we timetable our Performance Sports or Performing Arts pathways alongside their academic options.

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the classroom we also have an extensive range of activities and leadership opportunities for our students. I believe this level of choice has led to our fantastic academic ranking of 7th in the North for Academic Performance.

queen ethelburgas qe boarding welcome

Find out more at, email [email protected] to book a private tour or book onto the Saturday 28 September open morning.

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Mark Kebble

Mark's career in journalism started in 2001 when he landed a role on a small lifestyle magazine in Angel, North London. Soon enough, the magazine was purchased by a larger organisation and Mark found himself promoted to editor at the tender age of 23. He later became group editor, working on magazines for Angel, Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate. He was also involved in a launch in Hadley Wood and a major new group website, later becoming Group Hub Editor. In 2021, Mark joined Zest Media Group and oversaw the launch of many Absolutely titles across the UK. To date, Mark has launched in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Sussex, Essex, Yorkshire and Cheshire. When he does have some free time, Mark is also the Chairman of an amateur football club in Surrey and is also a fully qualified FA football coach.
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