International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC)

IMYC is a future focused curriculum designed around these key questions:

  1. What kind of world will our students live and work in?
  2. What kinds of students are likely to succeed in the world?
  3. What kinds of learning will our students need and how should they learn it?
  4. What kinds of unique needs do students of this age group have?


The International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC) is specifically designed around the needs of the developing adolescent brain in order to improve the way 11-14 year olds learn. It addresses the key needs of the teenage brain based on recent and consistently proven brain research.


Much of this research tells us that the brain learns in an associative way; i.e connecting new learning to previous learning, and adapting previously learned concepts to incorporate new learning. Making connections between the learning of different subjects is just as important as making connections within subjects. Because the adolescent brain is at a stage of specialising and pruning connections in a ‘use or lose it’ fashion, it is crucial for students to make meaning of their learning to help strengthen the new connections and to ensure that the existing knowledge or skill connections are not lost or pruned.


Teenagers also don’t view risk in the same way that adults do. The adolescent’s prefontal cortex which houses the executive function, is in flux during the teenage years; specialising and maturing. As a result, teenagers need extra support with behaviours affected by the executive function such as self-organisation, decision-making and self-control. SMS teachers create opportunities for teenagers to be active, practise their decisionmaking skils and to be given the opportunity to take risks during their learning, but to do so in a safe environment.


It is these particular needs of the teenage brain that the IMYC is specifically designed to support while at the same time providing challenging, engaging, rigorous learning that middle years students find relevant, inspiring and enjoyable.

IMYC follows six-week units based around a conceptual idea, called the ‘big idea’. An example of a big idea is balance: ‘Things are more stable when different elements are in the correct or best possible proportions.’ Students link the learning in their different subjects through the big idea, considering what they are learning from personal, interpersonal and global perspectives.


This diagram shows an example of learning related to the Big Idea of Balance.


At the end of each six-week unit, students work individually or in a small groups to create and present a media project that reflects their understanding of the ways their subject learning links to the big idea. This gives students the opportunity to express their own ideas through modern creative media.

The IMYC Process of Learning creates opportunities to connect learning and develop a personal perspective, to work with peers, take risks in a safe environment, and to help students to become confident, independent and engaged learners. It also provides them with the necessary academic rigour and transferable skills to prepare them well for IGCSE and Cambridge A level exams.