Every learner with a dream is welcomed at Marlborough College Malaysia. In fact, it has weathered the Covid-19 storm to keep its doors open to them since 2012. It may be young, but it is anything but inexperienced. This school is an extension of Marlborough College in the UK — one of the world’s finest co-educational independent schools both that are listed in the top 100 schools globally — by the Spear’s Index 2021.
Marlborough College Malaysia is set on a safe and spacious 90-acre estate in Iskandar Puteri, Malaysia that could almost be mistaken for its sister school.
“Guided by our principles of compassion, companionship and conversation, Marlborough College Malaysia gives its boys and girls the space, inspiration and courage to explore their own potential, the wonders of our world and their responsibilities to it and to each other,” says The Master, Alan Stevens.
Most will enthuse about a newfound love for academics. Some will speak about the confidence they have developed to explore new challenges. Regardless, the theme of transformation persists. Here’s how it happens:
Born and raised in Singapore, Heather Richardson was mostly accustomed to local school life before her parents decided she was ready for more. In 2014, Marlborough College Malaysia was quickly racking up a stellar reputation. To them, crossing the border was no trouble at all if it meant their 10-year-old daughter would receive an excellent British education.
The shift would lead to an academic experience that was less rigid and more multicultural with an equal emphasis on classroom-based learning and extracurricular excellence. Furthermore, Heather would be among 39 different nationalities (she’s half Filipino and half British) currently at MCM.
There was a lot to love about her new home, but Heather can summarise her first week in just three words: “Welcoming, comforting and fulfilling.” She was immediately paired with two “buddies” — fellow international students who taught her the ropes. Fast forward seven years, the 17-year old is now a well-established boarding pupil.
On Sundays, Heather makes the most of her surroundings by scheduling in time in the gym or time outside playing sports. Of course, she’ll enjoy a couple of extra hours of well-deserved rest first. When she’s ready to begin her day, she heads to the dining hall for brunch. Then, she heads to the gym or breezes through some homework.
Marlborough College Malaysia gives its boarders the option to spend their weekends off-campus if they’d like — a perk Heather has enjoyed several times. However, lately, she’s been opting to stay put. Soon, she’ll be heading off to the UK for university and while there’s a lot to look forward to, there’s also too much to miss.
“I’m very attached to this place,” she says. “Now that I’m in my final year, I’m cherishing as much as I can. I will always love Marlborough College Malaysia and consider it home.”
Weekends begin with a hearty breakfast and four hours of academic lessons. While Heather loves every minute of SEHS or Business and Management classes, Saturday activities are always highly anticipated.
“It can range from going to the mall or making a grocery run,” Heather explains. “If some of us want to stay on campus, teachers will conduct arts and craft lessons or coaches will teach lesson in the sports hall, a stand-up paddleboard session on the watersports lake. It’s a pretty relaxed day. Then in the evenings, I’ll probably watch a movie with my friends in the common room or Sixth Form Movie Room, which is always a good time.”
Heather’s week ends even stronger than it started with a 6:50 a.m. senior girls workout session at the school gym, followed by five or six classes. From 2:40 p.m. onwards, the school hosts a range of activities to further enhance the interests of its learners — Heather’s favourites include Outreach (Community
Service work) and the opportunity to spend time at Barton Farm (the onsite organic farm) the arts, and of course, anything related to sports.
Once the school day is over, Heather and her friends will either grab a meal at the dining hall or order a cuisine they’ve been craving. Regardless, Bubble Tea is “a Friday must-have” in the Year 13 Brew Room.
As Heather’s week approaches a close, it’s usually time for a switch-up. Some Thursdays mean adrenaline-pumping athletic sessions in the morning instead. Of course, lessons never take a backseat.
Once Heather and her team have spruced up and had their lunch, they make their way to class. For Heather, Thursdays cover the Theory of Knowledge, French, English Literature and Math.
Beginning the day with sports often leaves her wanting more. If she doesn’t hit the gym, she’ll book the tennis court — located just outside her boarding house — for a couple of aces before homework and bed.
Heather’s mid-week sessions include Theory of Knowledge, English Literature, Mathematics, as well as Tutoring and Assembly. Right after, she jets off to the field to master the art of teamwork through touch rugby or football.
After a couple of hours of heart-pumping activity, she refuels with a hearty dinner before heading back to her boarding house to unwind. She’ll either opt to get some homework out of the way or knock on her best friend’s door to go for a walk on around the “Marlborough Mile” (the mile stretch of road that circles the 90 acre campus) to recap their day.
Once she gets back, she makes herself a cup of tea and cosies up in bed to meet the bedtime she sets for herself.
On Tuesdays, Heather’s day comprises two lessons in English Literature, one in Business Management, another in Biology, and a couple in Sports Exercise and Health Science — her personal favourite. Her time at Marlborough College Malaysia helped her realise her passion for sports science and her aspiration to pursue it at university.
The once-introverted student certainly isn’t shy to admit that prior to arriving in Malaysia, sports just wasn’t her thing. Today, she can’t live without it.
“Ultimately, it’s like most things in life — you want a winning outcome,” she says. “Sports has taught me to take the skills I learn on the pitch off the pitch. It’s helped me develop as a person to become more confident and open.” Little wonder why athletic participation is a requirement at Marlborough College Malaysia.
As an athlete, Heather’s Mondays kick off strong at around 7:10 a.m. to get into uniform and head to breakfast by 7:30 a.m. Right after, she attends the 8 a.m. daily check-in. Then, she makes her way to class.
For her, Mondays often comprise a 45-minute French lesson followed by another in the Applications and Interpretations of Math. After lunch, lessons continue. Next on the list? Biology; Sports Exercise and Health Science (SEHS); as well as Business and Management — all of which are International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) subjects she chose for herself.
Marlborough College Malaysia encourages Senior School students to pursue their interests by giving them the freedom to customise their curriculum. Whenever Heather is sceptical of her choices, her teachers are ever-willing to serve as guiding lights.
“Marlborough College Malaysia has taught me to think critically, independently, and to go off the beaten track. I’m proud to say I’ve been brought up in an environment that has inspired me to better myself by bettering the world.”
Today, Hafiz is 18 years old and the connections he made when he first started, seven years ago, are still strong. His passions he has realised have grown even stronger. He’s a prized contributor to “The College Chronicle,” a comfortable leader who has assumed the role of Prefect, an avid musician who has mastered every instrument imaginable, and a shining example of academic excellence with great IGCSE results.
When it came time to take on the IBDP, Hafiz opted to take the humanities route with a focus on history and politics.
“Being able to focus on the subjects that have really piqued my interest, this way is more conducive and helpful to my development,” he says. “I definitely see myself exploring these subjects further in University.”
College prep (homework) is his main focus at the moment. The school has provided him with ample support — from essay writing tips and technicalities to mental preparation. Hafiz has his sights set on universities in both the US and UK. Apart from his dream to share his music with the world, he hopes to one day work for the United Nations. With the confidence he’s gained in his abilities, he’s sure he will be able to accomplish both.
“Within the first couple weeks, I had already established a core group.”
Hafiz Ahmad Nazhri, grew up in Saudi Arabia and spent a year in India before returning to Malaysia in 2014. His parents understood the importance of cultural perspectives and an international education, which is why little deliberation was needed to decide on Marlborough College Malaysia.
While a British education wasn’t something Hafiz — who was 11 at the time — was used to, it quickly became something he enjoyed.
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