Magdalen College School is unashamedly academic. The school is a community of bright and inquisitive pupils guided by intelligent and inspiring teachers.

Lessons are short – typically 40 minutes – and this adds to the sense of pace and purpose which pervades academic life at MCS.Our pupils and teachers love to challenge and to be challenged; lessons fizz with discussion, debate and determination. The pace and the quality of the conversations which animate intellectual development make the MCS experience distinctive.  Pupils with potential thrive on the challenge.

We are a school that values scholarship and a love of learning for its own sake. Our teachers know how to inspire bright young minds, and our pupils feed off each other’s talents and enthusiasm.

Fostering a love of learning

We value scholarship and a love of learning for its own sake. Our teachers know how to inspire bright young minds, and our pupils spark off each other’s talents and enthusiasm. We do not ‘teach to the test’– we teach far beyond it, allowing pupils and teachers the freedom to pursue their academic interests, while developing an appreciation of rigour and precision. We also achieve some perennially impressive exam results along the way.

Results and Destinations

Some core values, attributes and dispositions sit behind all that we teach. We explore a different learning disposition each half term (independence, collaboration, motivation, perseverance, and reflection.) The language of dispositions is used throughout the school: in assemblies, in tutor periods and in lessons.

All pupils at MCS are highly able, and we do not set by ability, except in Maths, and in some cases, French.

Academic Enrichment

Beyond the classroom there is a wealth of subject societies, reading groups and debates. These are often pupil-led. We also have a superb programme of visiting speakers, drawing on our connections within Oxford and beyond.

Our pupils also immerse themselves in an abundance of fantastic opportunities within sport, music, drama and service to the community. Our pupils perform as well as they do academically because of, rather than in spite of, all that they do outside the classroom.

Academic life in the Lower School

Pupils join MCS from a wide range of schools, so Second Form is a time for boys to find their niche in an engaging academic environment. There is a home for everyone here, and it is ‘cool’ to be good at something. The curriculum is broad and the focus is on fostering a love for learning and developing excellent working habits. Lessons aim to be lively and fun, and it is a joy to see the delight that pupils experience as they engage with their work, with their teachers and with their peers.

Pupils study Maths, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Geography, Theology, Art, Music, Design Technology, French, Latin, PE and Games. Pupils also have a ‘Lilium’ lesson each week, which covers PSHCE and wider life skills. All pupils also complete a Junior Waynflete Studies Project on twelve-week rotations under the guidance of a supervisor. This is an extended piece of research and writing on a topic of their choosing, and is designed to build pupils’ independence in learning, to foster rigour and creativity of thought, and to cultivate the skills necessary for ongoing success and enjoyment of study at school and beyond.

Academic life in the Middle School

In the Middle School, pupils study subjects in greater depth and begin to make choices about which subjects they wish to study at (I)GCSE.  The focus remains on keeping subjects challenging and interesting, and laying the foundations for Sixth Form study.

In the Lower Fourth, pupils study Maths, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Geography, Theology, PE and Games. Additionally, pupils choose three subjects (including at least one Modern Foreign Language) from Art, Music, Latin, Ancient Greek, French, German, Mandarin and Spanish. Pupils also have two Lilium lessons each week, covering PSHCE/life skills topics, research and public speaking, a business and enterprise programme, and an introduction to computational thinking and dealing with data.

In Upper Fourth and Fifth Form, pupils study for ten (I)GCSEs. All pupils take Maths (the top two or three sets also take Additional Maths), English Language, English Literature, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Additionally pupils choose four subjects (including at least one Modern Foreign Language) from Art, Music, Computer Science, Latin, Ancient Greek, French, German, Mandarin (from September 2020), Spanish, History, Geography, and Theology. Pupils continue to have lessons in PE, Games, and ‘Lilium.’

Academic Subjects