FRIDAY FLYER-Issue 88 - Epsom College in Malaysia

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FRIDAY FLYER-Issue 88

Headmaster’s Review

Dear Parents,

Welcome to Term 2 and I wish everyone a most prosperous, in every regard, 2020! As I write this, towards the end of Week 2, it seems remarkable that we will be ushering in the Chinese New Year celebrations in only just over a week’s time. However, our forthcoming (early) half-term break has provided a real sense of purpose and direction from the start of Term, and our pupils have collectively risen to the challenge.

The opening two weeks of Term have certainly been busy, illustrating all manner of academic and co-curricular achievements. Indeed, the College Assembly on Tuesday 7th January allowed us to welcome our new pupils to the school, and also to present swimming awards to many members of the Prep School. This was a fitting start to 2020 at Epsom, highlighting to all the community our whole school approach, from the very youngest upwards. The closeness, and competitiveness, of our pupil body was further illustrated on the first sporting weekend of Term 2, with the House (Touch) Rugby event on Saturday 11th January. This epitomised all that is great here: earnest endeavour by boys and girls, fine sporting skills on show and a real desire to do the very best for both one’s House and peers. It was a magnificent spectacle.

Term 2, of course, ushers in an even firmer focus on academic studies and examination preparation, and this is always our core priority at this stage of the year. Our iGCSE and A-level pupils have been remarkably industrious in their Trial Examination process, and some Year 13 pupils have also been sitting external examination modules in Biology / Chemistry and Physics. It has been a most productive opening fortnight of Term and the Trial Examination results will yield insights, and hopefully clear incentives, regarding future academic progression.

I look forward to meeting many of you at the forthcoming Coffee mornings, and reporting on the excellent learning and development of your children. It only remains to be said, of course, that all at Epsom College wish you a very Happy Chinese New Year.

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè  Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái!

Best regards,

Dr Tod
Headmaster


 Student Exchange Programme

Epsom College in Malaysia, as befits a leading international institution, is the only Malaysian school involved in the Round Square Organisation. Round Square is a worldwide association of more than 200 member schools that share unique and ambitious goals. The common goal of Round Square schools is to develop every student into a whole person through academic, physical, cultural and spiritual experiences. The Round Square programme helps institutionally and culturally different schools work together through service projects, annual conferences and student exchanges.

As Round Square schools are situated worldwide, students have the opportunity to experience exchanges. ECiM will be welcoming three exchange students from Peru and the USA this school year. At the moment, we have two students from Markham College in Peru. They joined Year 12 and are in Propert House. This experience is not only an academic one; it is a unique opportunity to immerse in a different cultural setting – a once in a lifetime opportunity afforded to very few people!

Marcelo and Vicente are day students in Peru so they do not know anything about boarding school life, but both students have settled well into College life. You can see this as they wear their Markham uniform but with the Propert House tie. They have developed a good rapport with their peers and teachers, saying every day “chevere” which means “really good”.  As both students are Spanish speakers, our pupils are also gaining considerably from this exchange; Marcelo is helping with the Spanish CCA and both boys are helping the students inside Propert House. Vicente participated in the Park Run, and came second after Finley Squires, and also played Touch Rugby – it was his very first time!

Even though it is important to experience school life, it is also important to explore Malaysia while they are here with us. Last Sunday they visited the famous Batu Caves, the Petronas Twin Towers, The Central Market, Little India and China Town. They had the opportunity to eat some street food in KL as well. They had a really good time and were surprised by how different cultures (Malay, Indian and Chinese) live in harmony. Also they loved the decorations that are around the whole city in conjunction with Chinese New Year.

During the Public Holiday, they went to Melaka and walked around the city centre, visited the Palace Museum and enjoyed the local Baba Nyonya and Portuguese food. I must say that Vicente likes trying all types of food; he is the only one who tried Durian not only as a fruit, but also in the form of an ice cream or in a chocolate  – and he liked it! Marcelo didn’t want to try but he really enjoyed Nasi Lemak.

The exchange programme is not only about receiving, we also have the opportunity to send students to any of the member schools. So Cyn Thea will experience this as she will go to Felsted School in New York at the end of this month. We wish her the best and hope she will embrace all the culture and knowledge that this programme can offer her. In March we will welcome another student from Felsted School in return.

Ms Claudia Pinna
Head of Physics & Round Square Coordinator


Boarding-Term 2 : Hitting the ground running!

The boarders are back, the sun is shining and we have much to do.

As always we jump straight back into a busy, full and exciting term in the boarding community.

Where to start?

We welcome new pupils; some who join us permanently, some who are participants on the Winter Camp and others from Peru who are on a Round Square exchange. This is very much the key to boarding; adding new personalities to an already vibrant mix. The boys and girls quickly make friends and their new peers are quickly finding out what strengths they may have to aid the House. For this term, athletes, rugby players, drama students and any one happy to run cross country is more than welcome!

So what do we have on in Term 2?

Firstly, we will be working on the response to the festive excess with a full set of sporting engagements. On the first Friday back, with no time to waste, we jumped straight into a ECiM Park Run. All the boys from Carr and Holman were dragged around by their Housemaster. Or, the Housemaster were dragged around by their boys? Answers on a postcard to this question please. These community events are very much a foundation of House life. We have also had Rugby – whilst it is ‘touch’, it was played with a ferocious level of commitment. This term will also see us run House Cross Country – a favourite of mine, two other pupils and the most dreaded event for the other 99% of the population. Why do it then you may ask? Essentially, life is full of speed bumps and boarding aims to teach you to overcome these hurdles and to battle through the tougher times – resilience is key. Cross country is very much this sentiment concentrated into 5 km of relative agony!

We will also have a number of social opportunities this term and engagements in the arts. On the 14 February we have a Valentine’s Day ‘Open Mic’ night – there is a rumour the staff band are back (to kill any sense of romance). We also have House Drama and the theme this year will be Horrible Histories – it should be fun and great for developing House identity. We will also have the Senior Boys Houses hosting the girls for a dinner and activities – again, and this is a rumour, there may be some salsa involved?  

Finally, there are a number of trips planned. The Rift will be visited so that the pupils can experience a world of Virtual Reality. We are playing a round of Golf Football – walk, talk and kick a ball  – it sounds amazing and a lot less frustrating that the real game. We are also trekking Broga Hill and this engagement with nature and thorough exercise will be a great way to relax and regenerate after a busy week – even if that seems a misnomer to those adverse to exercise! 

Mr Ian Squires
Assistant Head (Boarding)


Carr House

At the end of last term we were treated to our usual festive celebrations including the College Christmas Concert and Dinner. I was very proud to see the number of Carr boys involved in the many ensembles on show. The level of musical talent here at Epsom never ceases to amaze me and I really must give credit to Mr Crann, Mr Moore and everyone in the Music Department for everything they do to kindle such creativity. It has always been a tradition in the Loveday household that Christmas starts with watching the renowned animation The Snowman’ so the orchestra’s performance of Walking in the Air was particularly special for us. This was followed by a wonderful, traditional Christmas dinner (again very much appreciated by me since I would be missing out this year, spending Christmas Day on the beach!) It really was a joyous occasion and the Carr boys were in good cheer and good voice for the singing of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Then it was back to the House where the boys exchanged their ‘Secret Santa’ presents and enjoyed a showing of The Snowman. It was an excellent end to a tremendously busy term.

In Week 1 we were treated to an excellent Key Stage 3 Assembly from Mr Daly’s tutor group. The theme was “Ready to Learn” and the boys shared tips on small changes students can make to their organisation and daily routine that will reap big rewards. All of the boys did a fantastic job presenting in an informative and humorous manner. The new Key Stage 3 Coordinator, Ms Hargreaves, has organised for one tutor group to present assemblies each fortnight and I believe that these opportunities will really hone our students’ study skills to enable them to go, in Mr Daly’s concluding remarks from the assembly, “from good to awesome”!

A new initiative this term sees the creation of Carr House Service CCA. This will provide opportunities for the boys to work on projects to enhance Carr House as well as the wider community. As a Round Square school ‘service’ is a central pillar of our ethos and will help the students to develop as compassionate, global citizens. In the first session the boys baked cookies and wrote cards of appreciation which they then delivered to key support staff to show the appreciation we have for those ‘unsung heroes’ of our community. The boys have lots of ideas for projects and I am excited to work alongside them on these in the coming weeks.

Last weekend we were given the chance to put our sporting prowess to the test in the House Touch Rugby Competition. The Year 9s were competing against the senior boys’ houses as well as the Holman Year 9s. They played with skill, passion, tenacity and it was excellent to see the leadership and communication on display. Unfortunately we lost to the two senior houses but I am happy to say we recorded a very convincing victory against the Holman Year 9s. Our Year 7s and 8s were up against the Holman boys. For many of our boys this was the first time they had played in a rugby competition and due to the short half term there had not been much chance to practice. Nevertheless, the boys did very well and I was pleased to see how much they improved as the matches progressed and their confidence grew. The Holman boys were tough opponents and thoroughly deserved their overall victory. Win or lose, the plethora of House Competitions always provide the opportunity for the boys to come together and build community. We look forward to the next competitions, including Athletics and Drama, and have already begun our preparations.

  

Mr Mark Loveday
Housemaster


Holman House

Holman House enters 2020 as a vibrant and happy place to live and work.  At the end of last term, we enjoyed extensive celebrations in recognition of Christmas starting off with a musical treat that showcased much of the talent that we have within the House. Aidan and Aviiniis both took part in the event playing the violin and percussion respectively and the overall result left the audience feeling very festive.

Following on from this event, we all went straight to our Christmas meal. This was a great opportunity for the boys to dress up smartly for the evening and they did not disappoint. The Holman boys did themselves proud and demonstrated excellent manners as they enjoyed their meals and engaged with others upon the mixed tables in a mature and dignified manner. A rousing rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas completed the formal element of the evening and this proved to be a great success despite our boys struggling at times to make themselves heard against a backdrop of louder singing voices from some of the older houses.

 

The celebrations were completed back at Holman House where the much anticipated “Secret Santa” presents were finally revealed with Mr Nichols doing the honours of handing each boy their present.  There was certainly a mixed collection of gifts ranging from stuffed toys to pencils, lego sets and electronic devices purchased from a recent trip to the night market at Mercato (all high quality of course!). 

With the House looking its festive best, it was soon time for Mr Amir (residential tutor and PE coach) to award his own prizes for sporting achievements of the term. There were many worthy contenders this year with Holman having established a growing dominance amongst the junior Houses for sporting prowess. Luca was one of the award winners and received a sports shirt in recognition of his hard work and achievements in sport since August.

This term promises to be an equally busy one. Having already welcomed several new boys in to the House, this weekend sees the boys taking part in the Park Run event, followed by the House Rugby competition, a BBQ and a chance to then decorate the House as preparations for the Chinese New Year begins. Further to this, the boys will have future trips this term to The Rift (a futuristic theme park), cinema trips to the new complex at the Messa Mall and the chance to stretch their legs and enjoy the stunning scenery during a walk to Broga Hill. On top of this, we are starting to plan and eventually rehearse our House drama piece, so a very hectic few weeks await!

Mr Darren Nichols
Housemaster


Granville House

Happy New Year for 2020 and the fast approaching Chinese New Year. A short half term, but we’ve had a busy start and it is a packed three weeks.

Since the previous Granville Flyer there has been a lot going on including the already busy first two weeks of the new term. In November we had the House Basketball competition, followed by the festive celebrations in December before the end of term; and we have started the new term with House touch rugby and mock exams for Year 11 and 13.

House Basketball was probably one of the top sporting events in the year that the boys in Granville look forward to. Basketball in South East Asia is massively on the rise and the NBA is frequently scouting for talent in this region. For many of the boys it is their favourite sport and one they enjoy participating in regularly after prep. The House competition was an excellent event with some fantastic individual skills, great teamwork and house spirit. I was really impressed with many of the boys especially Nicholas and Drexel who organised the teams. It was a close competition and one we were just squeezed out of by Propert, who again just found that last push to take the victory.

Week 15 saw lots of events to mark Christmas and the end of term. There was the annual Christmas concert followed by the dinner. Many of the boys performed in the concert and it was really great to see a group of Year 11 students from across the four houses put together an entertaining medley of tunes. Mikael, Danial and Jordan all got fully involved. The concert along with the Christmas meal saw the boys looking very sharp and really putting 100% into their outfits (110% from Yazarn). We ended the evening back in the House with a few awards and a ‘Secret Santa’ that the house prefects had organised, it was a really nice way to end the term with lots of laughter and posing for photos.

The new year has started with a bang and we have already had the House Touch Rugby competition and mock exams are in full flow for the Year 11 and 13 students.

The House Touch Rugby competition last weekend was probably the most competitive house sport so far. The Granville boys put in an outstanding effort showing great grit and determination. Rugby is an alien sport to many of the boys but the way they picked it up and worked as a team was great to see. There were so many great moments, I especially enjoyed telling Andy to score a try in their final game and watched in amazement as he was passed the ball from Adreez and ran a third of the pitch with the opposition in hot pursuit to score and bring the match level with Propert in the final of the Year 9/10 tournament.

The remainder of the weekend and much of the Public holiday were spent preparing for exams by the Year 11 and 13 boys. They have had a busy week and will also be completing exams next week. We have discussed revision in the house and managing time effectively. I’ve told the boys that last weekend and the coming weekend should be the busiest weekends for revision, studies show that hard work pays off and half term is also just around the corner for a well earned break. It is great to see many of them taking on board tips and guidance they have had from Elevate Education by revising actively. They have been practicing past questions, testing each others’ knowledge and some of the Year 11s have been asking Year 12s for some help and tuition.

Over the coming half term we will continue to work on ‘Character’ and being moral, civic, well mannered, healthy and socially accepting individuals as part of a wider community. Boarding life offers so many opportunities for us to develop this and the flip side is that boarding also becomes much more enjoyable and understanding when good ‘character’ is displayed. The boys will be hosting the Girls from Rosebery later in the term so will need to be demonstrating these traits and put their best foot forward.

Frangas Non Flectes

Mr John Foden
Housemaster
 


Integrated Technology in the Prep School

From Years 1 to 6, all children receive weekly Computing lessons. In KS1, the lessons are delivered by the class teacher, whereas KS2 Computing lessons are covered by specialists. These lessons focus on the objectives from the English National Curriculum. So, coding, programming and computing skills are introduced within these sessions.

Within other subjects, teachers integrate technology to facilitate the learning.

Within our Project-Based Learning (PBL) sessions, the use of technology is integral to children’s independence. During the planning and research stages, the groups may use desktops, iMACs or iPADs in order to gather the information. When creating the ‘product’, presentations, animations and videos may be produced at the end of their PBL unit.

In French and Spanish lessons, children often use Duolingo, whilst the Mandarin department are exploring on-line libraries to support the children’s fluency.

The Prep children can also access a number of virtual learning environment (VLE) platforms outside school in order to enhance the learning within lessons. Reading Eggs, Mathletics, Times Tables Rockstars and Maths Prodigy are just a number of the platforms used.

Epsom Prep School has integrated the Seesaw application within its learning. Seesaw is a fantastic on-line resource that creates a portfolio for each child. They are able to take photos, make recordings, produce videos and animations, as well as complete interactive tasks.

As I walk around the school, I often see children reading their work aloud or completing an on-line task on iPADs. One of my favourite occasions was seeing Adrianna in Year 5 complete a multiplication video. She was describing each step that she made and was able to use the correct terminology.

Parents have received the login details for their children and they are able to closely monitor the progress that they are making. They receive notifications when new work has been uploaded and the learning platform provides translation for overseas parents. The children have been proudly explaining Seesaw to their parents.  

It is amazing to think how far education has come and how much we can now integrate technology within our lessons compared to the beginning of my career, when I still used a blackboard and chalk!

Mr Stephen McElhinney
Head of Prep School
 


Sports – House Touch Rugby

Saturday 11th January saw all pupils in the senior Houses competing against one another in the annual House Touch Rugby competition. Points from all of the House sporting events go towards the overall House Sport trophy awarded at the end of the academic year.

There was some fantastic handling and attacking running on display from all age groups. In particular, Propert senior boys exuded a creative and attractive style of play with plenty of overlapping runs and dummies galore! Try of the day must go to Ravey (Year 12 Propert) who showed fantastic agility and impressive footwork to weave his way through the Granville defence and score a valuable try for his House.

As always, ECiM pupils played with an excellent attitude and displayed the correct etiquette whilst remaining competitive and aggressive throughout. The five Rugby Football Union (RFU) core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship were apparent in all matches and an enjoyable afternoon of House sport was had by all.

Special mention must go to the following Houses that won their respective age group:                                                  

Junior girls – Rosebery

                                                          

Senior girls – Rosebery

Junior boys – Holman

Intermediate boys – Propert

Senior boys – Propert

We now turn our attention to the next sporting House competition – House Swimming on the 19th and 20th February.

Mr Daniel Jeffries
Director of Sport


Coping with Exam Stress

The second and third weeks of this term have involved exams for both Year 11 and Year 13 students, with some of the Year 13s having public exams, as well as their internal mock exams.

Ideally, students will feel well-prepared for these exams, having had the holidays for a combination of relaxation and revision. Students were encouraged to go into the holidays with a clear plan of revision which allowed for family events, as well as some planned time off which would help recharge them ready for this term.

This revision plan should then have continued into the first week of term. Ultimately though, many of these exams are for internal purposes. They are to help students assess where they are at right now and what they need to do between now and the final exams. Therefore, it is important for students not to get too stressed by these exams, but to see their value as a tool for learning. However, that is obviously easier said than done.

Wellbeing is an extremely important part of education and its importance is being increasingly valued within schools. The introduction of the Wellbeing Prefect was one step we have taken in demonstrating our recognition of this and Fernanda, the current Wellbeing prefect, is certainly keen on looking out for others across the College. The CCA programme also plays an integral part in helping with our students’ wellbeing.

Research published last year by Professor Peter Clough, the Head of the Department of Psychology at Huddersfield University, showed that physical activity significantly improved mental toughness and can help students cope with the pressures of exams. Sport significantly boosts the confidence, resilience and performance of young people in the classroom. David Esltone from the HMC said: “It is understandable that parents can worry about their children taking time out of exam revision. However, we advise pupils to keep a healthy balance between mind and body by continuing sport and exercise in the run up to their exams.” About his research, Professor Clough said: “Children who routinely play sport are mentally tougher and psychologically healthier than others, and according to previous research these factors may have a link to better academic performance. So, these findings strongly suggest that students revising for their GCSEs or A-levels should not abandon sport. Balance is important, and sport plays a vital role in preparing them for the pressures of the exam room. It can even help some young people thrive when in stressful situations.” Balance is indeed important and that is exactly the word that Miss Archibald uses with the students when delivering the potential options in the CCA programme to students for each term.

There are so many benefits to the range of activities that we offer. On top of opportunities to let off steam and build up their resilience through exercise, one of the other factors to help with our students’ wellbeing, is to encourage them to take a step back, relax and destress. This can occur in a variety of ways through CCAs, such as Art Therapy; Yoga; Baking Club; Reading; Embroidery; and Gardening. Earlier on in the term, Mr Ottewell led a College Assembly on “Sharpening Your Axe”. In this, he talked about the importance of taking breaks to ensure maximum performance. An article in Scientific American in 2015 brought together a number of pieces of research to highlight the importance of downtime for the brain and that “mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.” This is one of the reasons why we promote a healthy work-life balance amongst our students and why we are concerned by the increasing desire by some in other schools to fill weekends and evenings with tutoring. This can lead to a decrease in performance, a high risk of burnout and an inability for self-regulation of study once the student has gone onto university and does not have the support and guidance that school students are offered.

All of the CCA activities are taking place every week throughout the term and nothing changes during the exam period. However, over the last week or so, houses have been offering a whole host of extra activities in the evenings to assist with the destressing of our students in the evenings. This has included walks around the campus at night while looking at the stars; drinking hot chocolate and marshmallows; colouring-in; baby shark workout (although I’m still not exactly sure what this entails!); Just Dance; jigsaw puzzles and board games; as well as meditation and breathing exercises. “Terrible karaoke” could actually be heard resonating around the campus, as one house let their vocal chords run wild.

This Saturday morning, in the middle of the exam period, will also see the Year 13s having a coffee morning in between registration and Period 1. They will gather together and just chat and, of course, without their phones in sight. I am sure that many of them will be doing revision on Sunday, but again, they will need to take breaks. The trip this Sunday is to The Rift in Mid Valley Megamall: it describes itself as the largest Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality theme park in Malaysia. That should certainly offer students the opportunity to do something a little different and help ensure that they don’t get cabin fever from too much studying.

Through the mock exams, as well as giving the students the experience of sitting practice papers in their subjects, it is also imperative that they are used to help students to manage their time. In a few months, the pressure will be cranked up even more, when the final exams for both year groups arrive. It is crucial that they are able to manage their own study time and their own downtime to ensure that they are in the best possible position to reach their full potential.

Mr Jon Barker
Assistant Head (Sixth Form)