With the August opening of Malvern College Hong Kong drawing nearer, we speak with founding headmaster Dr Robin Lister to find out what sets a Malvern education apart. Dr Lister, an alumnus of Hull, Harvard and St Andrew’s University, has worked at Malvern in the UK for nearly 30 years. He was involved in the establishment of two Malvern campuses on the mainland, which led to him accepting the role as headmaster of this new Hong Kong international school.
“When a decision was made to open a school in Hong Kong, the opportunity seemed too good to miss,” he says. “It’s a challenge and a great privilege to be part of setting up our new school in such a vibrant and inherently international community.”
The Hong Kong branch of this 153-year-old British school will offer classes from Year 1 to 13, with the same international curriculum as the UK school. Dr Lister says Malvern lived up to its motto of always looking ahead, adapting and changing.
“Malvern was the first school to emphasise teaching science by putting pupils into laboratories where they learned from experiments and ‘doing science’,” he says. “It was also one of the first top schools to introduce the International Baccalaureate (IB). Malvern instigated the Diploma of Achievement, recognising the need to equip pupils beyond the confines of their academic studies and it was one of the very first schools to establish branches in China and elsewhere.”
Dr Lister identifies eight key areas in a Malvern education:
#1 Personalised learning
“A low teacher-pupil ratio of 1:10 and dedicated tutor time are key to our approach. It’s intended that, where appropriate, pupils will have the opportunity to attend enrichment classes. Every child will have a tutor to support them; however the role of the tutor is to look after the child both academically and pastorally. They aim to support the child emotionally, mentally and socially. A pupil in Malvern College explained that tutors are ‘keeping you in check … [are there to] guide you if you encounter any questions and is someone you could go to for help not only academically but in your school social life’.”
#2 A focus on science and mathematics
“Inheriting Malvern College’s strong track record in the Sciences, Malvern College Hong Kong will seek opportunities for collaboration with the Science Park and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Our Science Centre will also provide an exhibition space for science-related projects. Courses on coding and chess will be available.”
#3 Forest School curriculum
“Access to an outdoor environment is as important to children’s wellbeing and developmental growth as education in a classroom setting. Junior pupils at Malvern College Hong Kong will have regular access to the Forest School in order to extend their education beyond the confines of classroom walls.”
#4 Collaboration with Beijing Normal University for Chinese language learning
“We will fully embrace the Chinese language and culture in our curriculum and will provide mandatory daily Chinese classes in Mandarin and simplified Chinese for all pupils. The pupils will be grouped according to their language ability and where appropriate will have associated enrichment classes.”
#5 Pastoral care
“Our strong pastoral care will seek to embed the ethos of a boarding school into a day-school setting where we will strive to develop a tight-knit community of pupils and teachers. The pastoral life of the school will focus around a house system where Housemasters, Housemistress and House Tutors will have pastoral oversight of all pupils and meet with them on a very regular basis. We’ll also have school counsellors and, for older pupils, career and university guidance. We will follow the tradition of Malvern College UK by introducing house dining, occasional extended days and weekend field trips.”
#6 Global perspectives
“Through inheriting the finest traditions from the UK and absorbing the latest educational thinking from around the world, we will ensure we are truly global in our educational approach. The Malvern College family of schools will seek to give pupils opportunities to nurture global perspectives through participation in residential programmes at Malvern College in the UK and at our sister schools in China.”
#7 Alternative study pathway
“Malvern College Hong Kong pupils may have the opportunity to study at The Downs Malvern from Year 7 or at Malvern College UK from Year 9 (subject to fulfilling relevant entry requirements).”
#8 Beyond academics
“Our aim is to educate the whole child. Part of this means trying to ensure that we find at least one area where a child feels really successful (it could be in a particular academic subject, on the sports field, on stage, playing a musical instrument or leading class debates). Once we identify this area, we then see such success and confidence moving into other realms of school life – in and outside the formal curriculum. We believe a good school is one that provides a child with an excellent academic education and instils a genuine love of learning while at the same time giving a child every opportunity to flourish outside the formal curriculum. For a school like Malvern, it’s not just pure academics; the aim is for each pupil to be the best individual they can be. The nurturing approach to education can be seen at the HK campus.”
Dr Lister says he is well aware of the responsibility to ensure that Malvern Hong Kong lives up to the Malvern motto.
“My role is to ensure we establish ourselves as a school that educates the whole child, offering an excellent academic education and ample opportunities for everyone to develop personally,” he says. “It’s also essential to set the tone from day one, a tone that values each and every child as an individual – to give them the opportunity to excel and find where their skills and passion lie, and to encourage mutual respect at the heart of all that the school does.”
Read more about education in Hong Kong in our Schools section: