Houses full of character

Education | Katie Hung 29 May 2018

Malvern college hong kong, which opens its doors at the end of August, will offer the traditional house system of its mother school, Malvern College UK.

The Hong Kong campus of the prestigious British school, which was founded in 1865, is located next to the Hong Kong Science Park in Pak Shek Kok.

Students will be allocated to a house with a tutor who will not only monitor their academic progress but also help them grow socially and emotionally, giving them a sense of security as well as an identity, says Malvern College Hong Kong headmaster Robin A Lister.

The relationship that students build with their tutors is critical to their development, he adds.

Students will meet their tutors at least twice a day - in the morning and during lunchtime. "Teachers will sit with pupils at lunchtime, getting to know them, while teaching them good table manners and how to make light conversation, which is very important," says Lister.

Tutors will also keep an eye on the way the pupils dress.

Students will be placed in houses after taking into account their gender, age and interests, in order to achieve a good balance among the houses.

"I don't want one house dominated by sports and another by arts. I want every house to have a good balance. I try to avoid houses becoming too specialized because I don't think that's healthy," explains Lister, who worked in Malvern College UK for 30 years.

The school will also encourage pupils to embrace nature by offering a forest school - a well established tradition in Europe and the United States - to first and second graders.

Regular forest school trips will be held under the supervision of trained teachers and children will be taught to do their own risk assessment, such as keeping a safe distance when using tools to cut wood.

Lister, who served as senior deputy head at Malvern College UK, is an advocate of this relatively new teaching concept in Hong Kong as he has seen his five-year-old grandson Oscar, who goes to a forest school in the UK, blossom in communication skills, teamwork and self-confidence as a result of these trips.

He plans to incorporate different aspects such as science and mathematics into the forest trips and adds that the school is also developing a relationship with the science park. While students will be going there for robotics lessons, the school will host joint science exhibitions, and the park has plans to invite the college to trial some of the educational devices it has developed, in order to get feedback on them.

The school will also focus on language skills - a major concern for parents - and will offer Chinese lessons at least once a day in Putonghua and simplified Chinese for every student.

For these classes, children will be grouped not necessarily by their age but by how well they speak Chinese, says Lister.

Subsequent to the first year, the school plans to include more languages such as Spanish, German and French, but Lister hopes to go a step further:

"I would like to copy what Malvern UK does - essentially, teach any language requested by the child or their parents."

The school will offer grades one to nine for the 2018-2019 academic year and add higher grades within a few years.

When asked about admission tips, he says parents should not overly prepare a child for an interview, as the school conducts interviews in an informal way, to get to know both parents and children.

"Just let the children be themselves," he says.

Preferential treatment will be given to parents who want their children to study in Malvern College UK after studying in Hong Kong, with a certain number of seats made available in the UK school.

However, applicants will still be required to meet the admission criteria of Malvern College UK.

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