We find out all about boarding from the team at Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM); the school is located in Johor, just across from Singapore – and only an hour or so by road from Changi Airport.
While MCM celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2022, it also has close links (a “shared DNA”) with Marlborough College UK, whose own history stretches back almost 180 years. That’s why boarding is deeply valued at MCM. The school says, “Our model is prefaced on the conviction that boarding at its best is an intrinsic and vital part of children’s education, enhancing every other part of it: socially, physically, spiritually and intellectually.”
MCM Boarding Fact File
- Currently there are 150 boarders and approximately 600 day pupils, from age three to 18 years. MCM has around 20 different nationalities within the boarding community, from all over the world.
- Boarders are accommodated in four large boarding buildings; boarding girls belong to either Iskandar, Honan or Steel House and are accommodated in Gaia or Artemis; boys belong to either Taylor, Wills or Munawir Hill and are accommodated in Atlas or Apollo.
- Each house is staffed by a Housemistress or master, Deputy Housemistress or master, Resident House Tutor and a Dame. Staff live in accommodation attached to the boarding houses.
- MCM won the Boarding Innovation Award 2021 from the Boarding School Association for its outstanding example of innovation to deliver better boarding, and was designated “a centre of global best practice” by COBIS when it was awarded Beacon school status, also in 2021
What’s a typical day like for a boarder at MCM?
Much like at home, the boarding school day begins with breakfast together before lessons begin. Each boarder takes responsibility for tidying themselves, their own room and setting out laundry. A little guidance is on hand if needed, to ensure that good habits are formed for life. At the end of the day, instead of bus journeys home, the boarders relax together over refreshments in-house.
Time out of formal lessons is a careful blend of the structured and unstructured, with times specifically dedicated to non-device leisure when children learn the old fashioned, but refreshing joys of reading books or playing chess, pool or simply having conversations with each other and their Housemaster or Housemistress.
Structured times offer an enormous range of activities from all of the extensive resources of the MCM campus, which includes every possible sports resource, a climbing wall, a golf driving range and a boating and fishing lake, to off-site activities such as ATV driving or horse riding. Children also engage in philanthropic ventures that focus on either local environmental conservation or a regular contribution to local communities such as a nearby orphanage, forming meaningful relationships and learning the lesson that they have the ability to make life better for others.
A typical weekday boarding routine at the school
- 7.15am: Wake-up and breakfast
- 8am: Check-in
- 8.30am: Start of morning school
- 12.50pm: Lunch
- 1.50pm: Start of afternoon school
- 4.15pm: End of school day
- 5pm: Studies
- 6pm: Supper
- 7pm: Prep
- 7.45pm Onwards: evening activities
- 8.30pm: Start of bedtimes
Senior teachers are at the heart of the boarding community, so when it comes to Studies and Prep, academic advice and support is constantly available. MCM also have two visiting tutors who supervise prep times in each boarding house each evening. They’re on hand to offer additional support and academic advice.
Examples of weekend activities
MCM offers a wide range of activities that are designed to develop important skills in leadership, communication, creativity and cooperation. The aim is to widen each boarders’ horizons and enable them to find their niche, grow in confidence and achieve excellence in all that they do. Weekend activities and trips include:
- Kayaking on the school lake or in Kota Tinggi and Desaru
- Mangrove environmental studies
- Outdoor Adventure weekends
- Art master-classes
- Day trips to Singapore, Malacca and elsewhere
- House Bake-off
- Theatre trips and museum visits
- Visiting speakers
- Sports afternoons and House competitions
- Archery, golf, rock climbing and horse riding
- Fishing trips
- House barbecues
Everyone’s favourite question: What’s the food like?
The College’s Catering Manager, Head Chef and Nutritionist design and cook a varied menu that rotates every three weeks and includes at every sitting a range of European, Asian and vegetarian meals. Weekends and special holidays often include themed evenings, and a Boarders’ Food Committee provides regular feedback and guidance to the Catering Manager, helping to shape the menu. The Nutritionist ensures that all dietary requirements are catered for.
What assistance do you offer to boarders who are considering their university options?
MCM prides itself on being one of the leading schools in Asia in terms of preuniversity support and advice. We run a comprehensive programme to help pupils apply to university, including an MCM University Fair, and an interactive Careers Fair, where visiting speakers provide a vast array of expertise and experience. The College is very fortunate to have regular visits from international university representatives, who deliver highly informative lunchtime talks.
We offer access to our user-friendly online portal, Unifrog, for pupils to undertake psychometric testing. This provides a Myers-Briggs type profile and can point them towards careers and subject libraries to assist in their post-IGCSE/IB decision-making process. We also use Springpod, a platform that allows pupils the opportunity for virtual work experience, including live discussions with employers, an experience of workplace activities, and insights into new skills and what it’s like to work in particular industries.
The University Guidance Department at MCM takes its international context very seriously. Every effort is made to prepare pupils for various international university application platforms, supported by the latest global university software. We run UCAS Personal Statement workshops, Mock Interview Mornings, and PSAT testing in preparation for the US admissions test, the SAT.
We also run trips to visit our sister school in the UK and tour many UK universities and join in UCAS Conventions. Trips are also arranged to the USA to visit some of the most famous and prestigious colleges in the world, and to appreciate the huge diversity of options available there.
Popular universities for MCM graduates to attend include Imperial College London, King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London and Edinburgh University. All the leading Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, currently have alumni from MCM. Many Ivy League universities in the US also do.
Marlborough College Malaysia is at Jalan Marlborough, Puteri Harbour, Johor, Malaysia
This article first appeared in the Winter 2022/23 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.