To greater heights

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - BRIGHT KIDS - By MARTIN GE­ORGE

AT Ep­som Col­lege in Malaysia, you will find a Bri­tish ed­u­ca­tion de­liv­ered to the high­est stan­dards one would ex­pect from such an es­tab­lished and pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tion.

Ep­som Col­lege in Malaysia was opened in 2014 as a branch cam­pus of Ep­som Col­lege in Sur­rey, the United King­dom. The driv­ing in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the col­lege is Tan Sri Tony Fer­nan­des, an Old Ep­so­mian him­self.

Fer­nan­des is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of AirAsia, the win­ner of the World’s Best Low Cost Air­line for sev­eral con­sec­u­tive years. Fer­nan­des is also chair­man of Queen Park Rangers ( QPR) foot­ball club in Lon­don.

De­spite these two high- pro­file op­er­a­tions, Fer­nan­des states that his proud­est achieve­ment is set­ting up Ep­som Col­lege in Malaysia. The col­lege boasts a world- class, 50- acre ( 20.23ha) cam­pus, with out­stand­ing fa­cil­i­ties for teach­ing, sports, mu­sic, drama, the arts, sci­ence and board­ing.

Ep­som has an out­stand­ing teach­ing fac­ulty, com­prised al­most ex­clu­sively of UK- trained, ex­pe­ri­enced and tal­ented staff. It has tal­ented, am­bi­tious, hum­ble pupils who rel­ish the op­por­tu­ni­ties on of­fer, aspire to achieve aca­demic suc­cess and are de­ter­mined to give back to so­ci­ety at least as much as they have re­ceiv

This self­less­ness and sense of ser cor­ner­stones of the Ep­som ed­u­ca­tio phi­los­o­phy. The school is to re­port set of pub­lic ex­am­i­na­tion re­sults. Typ new schools do not start with the Sixth Forms.

Ep­som is far from a typ­i­cal new school. It is an in­di­ca­tion of the am­bi­tion and con­fi­dence of the board that they took on the de­ci­sion to open with a Sixth Form and these sixth for­m­ers have ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions. At the A- Lev­els this year, 59% of grades were A* or A.

By way of com­par­i­son, Ep­som Col­lege UK achieved 61% A* and A grades, which was a record. The col­lege con­fi­dently ex­pects its re­sults next year to be higher and sur­pass the record achieved by the branch cam­pus. The AS- Level re­sults this year were 66% A and B grades and GCSE ( The Gen­eral Cer­tifi­cate of Se­condary Ed­u­ca­tion) 55% of grades were A* or A.

Our first Up­per Sixth batch stu­dents have gained places at many of the UK’s most pres­ti­gious Rus­sell Group uni­ver­si­ties, y, in­clud­ing the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics and Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence ( LSE), Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don ( UCL), Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don, Uni­ver­sity of Ex­eter, Uni­ver­sity of War­wick, Uni­ver­sity of Manch­ester and Uni­ver­sity of Bris­tol.

Teach­ing at Ep­som is in­spir­ing, in­no­va­tive, rel­e­vant and fun. Teach­ers are en­cour­aged to de­velop their pro­fes­sional skills through col­lab­o­ra­tion across sub­ject ar­eas.

Ep­som is con­tin­u­ally look­ing for ways to im­prove, and within this phi­los­o­phy we ac­tively pro­mote in­de­pen­dent learn­ing among pupils.

This is es­pe­cially the case in the Sixth Form, where the tal­ented team on staff have in­tro­duced a unique pro­gramme, known as Hori­zons, which has three key strands.

The first is the uni­ver­sity style lec­tures, de­liv­ered by a mix of the school’s own staff, out­side pro­fes­sion­als and vis­it­ing uni­ver­sity lec­tur­ers.

Se­condly, there are small tu­to­rial groups where stu­dents are ex­posed to teach­ing en­vi­ron­ments in­spired by the Oxbridge tu­to­rial sys­tem.

The third is the in­tern pro­gramme, whereby the school has teamed up with some of Malaysia’s most suc­cess­ful chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cers across many dis­ci­plines to pro­vide in­tern­ship and men­tor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for all Sixth Form stu­dents.

For stu­dents aspiring to at­tend the top uni­ver­si­ties around the world, there is no bet­ter prepa­ra­tion than this cut­ting- edge Sixth Form pro­gramme. Board­ing is an es­sen­tial fea­ture of the col­lege. Around 80% of the se­nior school ( Year 7 to 13) are ei­ther weekly or full board­ers.

Many of the stu­dents come from across Asean and be­yond, in­clud­ing China, Ja­pan, South Korea and Hong Kong. The ma­jor­ity, how­ever, are Malaysian stu­dents.

Although Kuala Lumpur is only an hour away, most of those whose par­ents live there have cho­sen to board. We have six board­ing houses, in­clud­ing two se­nior boys houses, two se­nior girls houses and two ju­nior ( Years 7 to 9) houses.

Each house has a house­mas­ter or housemistress and an as­sis­tant house­mas­ter or as­sis­tant housemistress. All these staff mem­bers live in a self- con­tained apart­ment at­tached to the house, so that par­ents can be as­sured of the high­est stan­dards of pas­toral care 24 hours a day.

Each house also has a ma­tron or ste­ward. Per­haps uniquely for Bri­tish board­ing schools, we have fe­male ma­trons in the girls’ houses and male stew­ards in the boys’ houses.

Ad­di­tion­ally, all staff are at­tached to a house in the ca­pac­ity of a tu­tor. The over­rid­ing im­pres­sion, which one gains from vis­it­ing any of the houses is that they are fam­i­lies, held to­gether by a col­lec­tive sense of pur­pose and iden­tity, loyal to their aims and their peo­ple, striv­ing to sup­port and en­cour­age each other, work­ing out their dis­agree­ments in a loving and safe en­vi­ron­ment.

We guar­an­tee to look af­ter your chil­dren as if they were our own. Ed­u­ca­tion is not sim­ply about get­ting good grades. We would never be so ar­ro­gant or com­pla­cent to as­sume that other schools can­not also de­liver a good aca­demic ed­u­ca­tion.

What we be­lieve is unique to Ep­som is the wider ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­nity, which we pro­vide. All of our staff live on site, some­thing that no other school in Malaysia can match.

This makes our staff room a uniquely co­he­sive unit, but it also al­lows us to of­fer an un­par­al­leled co- cur­ric­u­lar pro­gramme.

At lunchtime, af­ter school and at week­ends, our staff are busy of­fer­ing an im­pres­sive range of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing sports, per­form­ing and cre­ative arts, lead­er­ship and out­door train­ing, com­mu­nity ser­vice and char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties, sci­ence and technology, de­bate, phi­los­o­phy, gar­den­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal projects, climb­ing, dance, yoga, cul­tural learn­ing, lan­guage, film and media.

What we aim to do is to open stu­dents’ eyes to the world, not nec­es­sar­ily by mak­ing them ex­perts in any one field, but by show­ing them that try­ing some­thing is, in it­self, suc­cess.

We en­cour­age stu­dents to lead these ac­tiv­i­ties, con­sis­tent with our aim to de­velop in all stu­dents a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity, ac­count­abil­ity and lead­er­ship. They also get great A- Lev­els re­sults.

The col­lege of­fers some unique pro­grammes to cater for the di­ver­sity of stu­dents who wish to at­tend the col­lege. There is an 18- month A- Lev­els pro­gramme, which starts in Jan­uary each year.

This is par­tic­u­larly for stu­dents in the Malaysian pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, which runs to Novem­ber each year. En­try stan­dards for this pro­gramme are de­mand­ing, typ­i­cally seven A* or A grades at GCSE.

The cur­ricu­lum is nar­rower than the two- year pro­gramme, of­fer­ing cour­ses in math­e­mat­ics, fur­ther math­e­mat­ics, bi­ol­ogy, chem­istry, physics, eco­nomics and pol­i­tics.

Our Aca­demic English Pro­gramme is geared to­wards younger stu­dents, usu­ally be­tween ages 10 and 13, whose lev­els of English are not yet of the stan­dard re­quired for the main­stream cur­ricu­lum.

The Mother Tongue Pro­gramme caters for over­seas stu­dents who re­quire con­tin­ued tu­ition in their own lan­guage.

The col­lege em­braces di­ver­sity. It is a won­der­ful thing to see stu­dents from so many cul­tural back­grounds mix­ing freely, learn­ing from each other and en­joy­ing the com­rade­ship without any pre­con­ceived ideas.

‘ We guar­an­tee to look af­ter your chil­dren as if they were our own,’ says Martin Ge­orge, head­mas­ter of Ep­som Col­lege in Malaysia.

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