Headmaster’s Review

Dear Parents,

The past fortnight has heralded a number of outstanding pupil achievements, individual and collective, at the College: sporting success, academic attainment and musical accomplishment all feature highly. However, the highlight of recent weeks must surely be the outstanding House Drama Competition on Thursday 27th February, which showcased supreme talent across all the Houses, who performed sketches based upon the ‘Horrible Histories’ series. Rosebery were worthy winners overall, with a mesmerising ensemble performance, but it was also heartening to see so much enthusiasm presented by all Houses and to have such an excellent parental turn-out on the night. All in attendance were fully rewarded with an extremely fun evening, expertly introduced and compered by Mr Moore (Head of Drama) and deliciously adjudicated by our guest judge from Garden International. Bravo all, and roll on next year!

Today, of course, is World Book Day and all educators have a duty to encourage pupils to read as widely and deeply as possible. Epsom is no exception to this and I commend all who participated in the reading events across the College today. My humble contribution involved reading Julia Donaldson’s ‘Room on the Broom‘ to the Chit-Chats Prep School class – while my efforts were paltry in comparison to others, it was an uplifting experience and a timely reminder of how refreshing and enriching it is to spend time in the company of young minds. The class in front of me, eyeing me suspiciously as I wore my gown and a witch’s hat, may of course have felt otherwise!

My final comment is reserved, as seems perpetually to be the case, for an update on COVID-19. Thank you to all parents for your continued support with the College’s stance on this matter; we remain deeply appreciative. This week I reported on the enhanced travel restrictions regarding South Korea and the Malaysian Ministry of Health have also now advised all Malaysians to temporarily postpone travel to the following cities or regions: Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna in Italy; Hokkaido in Japan; and Tehran, Qom and Gilan in Iran. In addition, non-Malaysian visitors to the above named locations will be temporarily restricted from entering Malaysia  (if they have been in one of these areas within the past 14 days). Given this guidance by the Malaysian authorities, and to ensure consistency with other international schools in Malaysia, Epsom now needs to extend its quarantine procedures to also include Japan (in addition to Mainland China and South Korea). Therefore, anyone who has recently visited Japan, pupils/parents/guardians/College staff, or have been in contact with someone who has recently visited Japan, should not visit (return to) the school until a 14 day quarantine time period has ended.

Of course, as per my previous parental letters, with school currently in session (and our boarders at the College), this should not necessarily be overly concerning to our boarding community. However, it is guidance that will be very important for the forthcoming Term break (27th March to 20th April) and I would strongly advise all parents and guardians to closely observe the travel guidance offered by the Malaysian Ministries and individual countries. It remains an ever-evolving situation, which the College is monitoring perpetually, and governmental advice on travel restrictions and quarantine measures can change in a very short space of time. I would like to reassure all parents, however, that Epsom continues to offer a measured and balanced approach to this matter, whilst utterly prioritising the safety and welfare of your children.

With very best wishes,

Dr Murray Tod

Biology Trip

Having survived the niggling heat and traversed the dense rainforest of  Sungei Menyala, the Year 11s had discovered that the “Bio Trip” was more than just “counting seeds, saplings and trees.” 

As part of the IGCSE Biology course, we are encouraged to investigate the biodiversity of ecosystems. Malaysia, containing an abundance of tropical rainforests, is home to over 200 mammalian species, 600 bird species and 15,000 plant species. On the trip, not only did we learn about the importance of rainforests on a biological plane – we also learned about their importance in regards to indigenous people and many skills that will change our outlook on conservation.

The helpful guides had prepared invigorating and intellectually stimulating activities for us in order to explain biological concepts and indigeneous history more effectively. We investigated a plethora of “boring”, yet very significant, features of the rainforest such as canopy cover, tree height, the evenness and richness of biodiversity and light intensity. It opened our eyes to what small details can affect the characteristics of an entire landscape!

Overall, the trip was definitely worthwhile. Learning outside the classroom is the way to go!

Mikael Hashim
Year 11 Student


Kitchen Chemistry with Dr Stephen Ashworth

Early life and Education

Last Wednesday, on the 26th of February, Dr Stephen Ashworth visited our school to deliver highly engaging presentations on the practical uses of chemistry. This included a variety of different demonstrations that left many of the KS4 and KS5 students in awe.

Dr Ashworth attained both his BA and his DPhil in Chemistry from Merton College at Oxford University. For his doctorate, he completed research on the orientation of linear molecules as well as the free jet expansion of molecules. For both research tasks, he experimented with Nickel Dichloride.

After 8 years with Oxford University, he completed post-doctoral work in Boulder, Colorado where he researched and experimented with high-resolution spectrography at the JILA and later at NIST. In the US, he mainly worked with Selenium Hydride (SeH) radicals, researching their properties under different conditions.

Upon publication, his work was recognised by the Royal Society which allowed him to spend the next 2 years of his life working with the Max-Born Institute in Berlin to study femtosecond dynamics under the Royal Society European Exchange Fellowship. This included studying wavelengths so small that they were measured using in units using the prefix ‘femto’ (10-15).

Towards the end of his RSEE fellowship, Dr Ashworth was granted yet another fellowship, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSC) advanced fellowship. Under this fellowship which lasted for 5 years, Dr Ashworth undertook the challenge of building an optical parametric amplifier. This complex piece of technology amplifies light from a UV-producing source of one wavelength to produce two separate beams of lights of different wavelengths when shone through crystals.

University of East Anglia

Dr Stephen Ashworth has been working at the University of East Anglia (UEA) for the past 20 years. He applied for the role in UEA as a chemistry lecturer in the late 90s, a time when chemistry was a declining department across the UK. One of his incentives for applying was to be closer to family and home, hence, bringing along and completing the final two years of his EPSC fellowship in East Anglia. He arrived in UEA starting research on atmospheric chemistry but has since turned his attention towards science communications. Currently, he devotes most of his time promoting his passion, travelling all around the world presenting the practical uses of chemistry thus sparking the interest of chemistry in many students worldwide. Dr Ashworth is also the Head of Physics and Senior Advisor overlooking the pastoral care for the students at the university.

The Birth of Kitchen Chemistry

In 1999, he received a grant from the EPSC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) to talk about his research in public. As he grew up in the UK, he was greatly inspired by the Royal Institution Christmas lectures. For those who didn’t get the luxury of watching those growing up, the RI Christmas lectures are nationally televised every year where they present scientific material in an entertaining manner. This led to Dr Stephen Ashworth creating his lectures with the idea that it is simply “the matter of making it dramatic”. 

He was invited to the Chemistry Festival in South Africa to promote chemistry and the exciting elements of it. Clearly, for a man who has dedicated his life to chemistry, showing the exciting elements of it wasn’t too challenging. The areas in South Africa that he was exposed to had limited chemistry apparatus and chemicals and this was what inspired him to do ‘Kitchen Chemistry’. He wanted to be able to demonstrate chemistry in the real world using materials that the teachers there could easily obtain in any market (or in the kitchen) – materials such as natural dye from red cabbage, grape juice indicator, and getting carbon dioxide from baking powder. 

His Biggest Joy and Deepest Regret

Dr Stephen Ashworth currently enjoys what he is doing with inspiring young children, but overall, his favourite moment was his PhD work, stating that it was a “blast” as he had nothing else to worry about. He could spend forever in the lab, tinkering and taking his time on his research. After all, what more could you want?

Therefore, his biggest regret is moving away from the lab. As you move up the corporate ladder, you move further and further away from the lab and instead employ others to do the research for you. However, he does enjoy his current position as he can travel and lecture many students all over the world. The repetitive shows certainly don’t hold him back from enjoying it… and trust us, he does it often – coming to Epsom after already doing 11 lectures the previous week, with 12 planned for this week.  

Drexel, Daniel & Tia

Japanese Entrepreneur

On Thursday 27th February Mr Takei, a high profile Japanese entrepreneur, visited ECiM. Among other things  he created the ZIP file and owns the patent to it. These are some of the key messages that pupils took away from Mr Takei’s presentation:

  • To inspire others, we must feel inspired
  • To be able to inform others, we must ourselves be well informed
  • If you think you can, or, if you think you cannot, you are probably right

Mr Takei discussed his educational journey with our pupils and his philosophy as a father and an employer. Many of our pupils want to establish a career path early on and are deeply concerned if they are unsure what career path they wish to take. Mr Takei’s advice was not to worry but rather to embrace every opportunity, to discover what you love and explore it. He stated that by virtue of finding pleasure in what you do, in experiencing awe and wonder at the world around you, that you will find something that inspires you and that you will then be able to inspire others.

When asked about his approach to hiring employees, Mr Takei felt that a high IQ was à very desirable quality but that this must be coupled with a desire to learn and a positive and ‘can do’ approach.

Overall the presentation was a huge success and gave both pupils and their parents much food for thought. Pupils returned to their lessons enthused, invigorated and, hopefully, inspired!

Mrs Kate Carden-Brown
Head of Higher Education

House Drama Competition

Thursday 27th February saw the Boarding Houses come together to do battle in this year’s House Drama competition. The six teams were given the theme of Horrible Histories and were tasked with creating a 10-15 minute piece of drama that told us a story or gave us an insight into any area of history, but using the irreverent, light-hearted approach seen in the BBC programme. The judge for the evening was Mr Robin Lawrence, Head of Drama at The Garden School in Kuala Lumpur who thoroughly enjoyed the evening and was highly complimentary about the level of skill and application of our students.

As in previous years, all Houses really pulled something special ‘out of the bag’. The evening started off with Granville, who gave us a comical take on male witches of the Jacobean era – with Kai and Derek creating a great double act as Malay warriors. Next, Rosebery took us to 1518 France and a shocking story of how a random young woman instigated a plague of uncontrollable dancing upon a town that cost many lives. Propert House stunned the audience with some daring costume choices and You cong’s cocktail piano accompaniment was singled out for praise by Mr Lawrence. Holman showed a real team spirit with all boys performing an X-Factor style talent show to find out who was history’s most villainous villain with a wicked twist from Eugene at the end. Crawfurd’s senior girls mixed Tudor history and modern reality TV as Henry VIII had to decide between his many (many!) girlfriends with Rie playing a starring role as the bachelor himself. Finally, Carr House took us on a time machine into three different eras to examine the changing phases and methods of education. YoungMok was praised for how he held the performance together in the main role.

After much deliberation, Mr Lawrence awarded Carr House Best Script and Yasmine Hameez (Rosebery) and Hitesh Manoharan (Holman) as Outstanding Performers. The overall winners were Holman in 3rd place, Carr in 2nd and Rosebery walked away with the trophy and a bucket load of chocolate for 1st place.

I would like to thank all parents, friends and staff who came along to support the students; the boarding House teams for their support and enthusiasm with the performance and rehearsals; Mrs Hill for her many endeavours and experience throughout the process as well as Mr Shashi for running the technical side of things on the night. It really was a great night of dramatic entertainment and huge congratulations must go to all performers as well as those who picked up the prizes. See you next year!

Mr Ted Moore
Head of Drama

Meet the New Prep Teacher – Mr James Armstrong

Why did you choose to work at ECiM?

My wife, who is Malaysian, and myself decided to settle in Malaysia. I wanted to teach at a private boarding school and Epsom College in Malaysia was the ideal setting to grow as an educator.

What is your opinion of ECIM so far?

I thoroughly enjoy teaching in the Prep School and supporting students in the boarding House at Epsom. I am very fortunate to teach alongside such dedicated, supportive and highly skilled educators both in the Prep School and when I am in the boarding House. My Year 6 class have a wonderful thirst for academic learning and seeing their progress and passion for learning this year has been a joy.

Why did you decide to become a primary teacher?

I was inspired to teach as my Mother was a primary teacher and my Father worked in education. My main inspiration was from a teacher called Mr Lloyd who taught me when I was in Year 5. Having the opportunity to inspire, get the best out of pupils and instill the foundations of lifelong learning is a massive privilege. 

What are the main challenges faced by primary school teachers?

One of the main challenges but also something that I find essential, is having to personalise the learning for my class of children, each of whom have a range of interests and diverse skills.  

What is the best part of the job?

The best thing about being a teacher is watching students learn, seeing them ‘get it’ or as I like to call it ‘the lightbulb moment’; when a student makes a connection with something they did not know before. Watching them ‘get it’ is a beautiful sight! That is what teaching is about and that is why I teach!

What made you laugh out loud recently?

My class makes me laugh on a daily basis. They are continually commenting on the fact that I appear to have more and more grey hairs and that I should go and dye my hair! 

Mr James Armstrong
Year 6 Class Teacher

Holman House Heroics

Since starting back at College a couple of weeks ago now, Holman has been a very busy place.  A couple of weeks ago the boys joined all of the other houses in a hike up the imposing slopes of Broga Hill.  The activity presented a physical challenge to many but to their credit most of our boys managed to climb their way to the top of the third peak.  I must confess that I found the second peak to be my limit but everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable morning out and it was so nice to see the boys working together and supporting one another when things got difficult and not a mobile device in sight!  

Bikes – safety first!  

On a related topic of exercise, it has been great in recent weeks to see so many pupils getting out and about on their bikes.  The College campus provides a relatively safe and enclosed area for bike rides and I am keen to support the boys getting out and about instead of remaining indoors on their devices.  However, it must be stressed that all riders MUST have a cycle helmet. This provides the boys with some protection should they fall and therefore minimises the risk of serious injury.  

Dorm Competition Winners

The House has been running a dorm tidy competition throughout the month of February.  Matron (Mrs Iman) has been busy scoring the boys’ rooms for tidiness, and ensuring that energy wastage is minimised through the turning off of aircon units and lights.  The winners of the competition on Floor 1 were Tokutaro and Rafiq and Floor 2’s winners were Aidan and Tomohiro. Both dorms enjoyed the rewards of their hard work in the form of pizza.  Who will win in March?

Villinous Villains!

 These past couple of weeks have been especially frenetic as the boys have been busy rehearsing and learning their lines for the forthcoming House Drama event.  The competition took place in the Duke of York Theatre last Thursday 27th February and those of you who were able to make the event hopefully enjoyed a night of theatre and laughs with the theme of Horrible Histories.  Holman House went with the theme of Villainous Villains and our fantastic 3rd place overall, saw starring roles for the emerging talents of Joseph as Genghis Khan, Hitesh as Vlad the Impaler, Shan Wei as Napoleon, and was held together brilliantly by the host Luca.  A lot of hard work went into the production of this event and so it is only right and proper to acknowledge the fantastic support of Mr Moore, and the technical input of Finley, Tomohiro and Daichi.  

All going swimmingly well

Finally, the boys of Holman have once again achieved sporting excellence but this time in the pool.  They were victorious in the recent House Swimming competition, beating off a spirited challenge from Carr House.  Special mention must go to Sky, Aidan, Finley and Eugene who took part in several events and helped us achieve a close fought victory.  Well done, boys!

Mr Darren Nichols

Rosebery Winning Streak

I am in disbelief that we have entered into March already. It seems like only yesterday that we were talking about Christmas; this academic year is certainly going quickly. Since our last Friday flyer, Rosebery has been on a winning streak in House events. I shall start with the review of House swimming. This event involved KS3 and combined KS4 and KS5 participants for each race to compete with Crawford House. This is most certainly a specialised House competition and not all the girls felt able to compete due to their level of swimming. After bringing the girls together to outline that this was not the aquatic Olympics and that it is more about the taking part than winning, they soon started to sign up to the races and put in some practice before the event. Needless to say, the girls rose to the challenge and managed to win the majority of the races whilst also achieving some new personal bests. What an unexpected win, but a very well deserved one.

The second review is the much anticipated, highly competitive, nail-biting House Drama Competition 2020. I naively thought that House Choral was the main competition, I was quickly corrected on this and was told not to worry all was in hand. The very day the theme (Horrible Histories) was announced, Tia, Venesse, Yasmine, Cyn Thea and Jordan raced to the second floor common area and within an evening had written a full script and chose the songs that would accompany the production. From start to finish this was a purely student-led production. 

The chosen Horrible History was ‘The Dancing Plague’. The girls worked hard to perfect their performance over the weeks, tweaking things here and there to make it flow better. Miina and her team took control of props and costumes, Joie and her team organised the tech and all of a sudden we had what looked like a West end production. I have to remind you that House Drama is one of the competitions that does not require all students within the House to participate. Yet Rosebery somehow managed to get the majority of the girls to take part, even those who were not acting/playing an instrument/backstage/tech/dancing on stage part took part from the audience. On the night of the competition, the girls were calm, collected and ready to showcase all their hard work. The performance was flawless from start to finish and it flowed perfectly. All the house performances in the evening were excellent and it was a very tough decision for the judge to make. The results were in, Yasmine started off the celebrations by getting Best Performer of the evening which was amazing and then came the announcement of first place…. Rosebery!!!!! Everyone took to their feet and, well, here started the celebrations. We returned back to the House for ice cream as we always do and as I looked around the room at tired, excited, ice cream covered faces. I was reminded of how lucky I am to be a Housemistress. These girls never fail to make me proud and never fail to push themselves outside their comfort zone. Well done, girls.

Granville House very kindly hosted Rosebery House for their social. The theme was love and to show this Granville and Rosebery did a chocolate exchange. Each bar of chocolate had a positive message on it and the girls were thrilled to read what was written on their bar. During the evening both Rosebery and Granville students entertained us with their party pieces which ranged from Hula-hooping to singing, everyone had a fantastic time and we can’t wait for the next one.  

Finally, February was all about big decisions for Year 9 and Year 11 girls.  Options have dominated much of their thoughts for the course of this year as they think about their future and start to map out the path they will start to follow to get to where they want to go. The girls have had informal talks with me, the current Rosebery senior students and they also attended the Options Fayre which they all found very informative and interesting. The time has come to put pen to paper and choose those subjects. 

Ms Jenny Mitchell

The Propert gentlemen faced a number of their fears recently.

Fear One  – Dancing

We had a social event with Crawfurd House. The ladies joined us for dinner and then some salsa dancing. We cannot publically thank Ms Pinna enough for leading the dance; it would have been a long night if we had been relying on the Propert House staff to be front and centre. The Crawfurd ladies delivered a most excellent brownie to say thank you, alongside a homemade puzzle (that may, or may not have the face of the Propert HMM on – one might debate whether he looks best made, or unmade?). There is no photographic evidence of the dancing, however some boys did rate themselves as 8 out of 10 – optimistic, I suspect. The mean number was closer to a 3.5. The important thing is that the boys now have one solid dance step to fall back on and this should cover most of the social engagements that will require some form of dance for the remainder of their lives.

Fear Two  – Trekking

Engaging with nature has great cathartic properties. In fact, recreation as a term, is based around the health benefits of active leisure and re – creating oneself in a positive manner. Of course, more than a few boys do not quite equate a 2 hour trek up Broga Hill as life affirming: ‘hard’, ‘sweaty’ and ‘big hill’ are the terms they equated to this activity before we started. Fortunately for them, sometimes the teacher knows best and our intrepid explorers found their way up to the top of Broga Hill, tasted some fresh air and a sense of achievement that comes with over 500m of climbing on a gloriously sunny day. 

Fear Three  – The Stage

With House Drama now complete I will not dwell on the result – the process is always far more important. What I will focus on is the fact that we had more than a number of boys who have ‘trodden the boards’ for the first time. A big crowd and peers watching this would have been high on the list of activities that might well create acute teenage anxiety. As always, the boys from Propert did not let the House down with a lack of experience not providing a block to effort and community involvement. 

Fear Four  – Peer Assessment.

Each Saturday a pupil leads the House assembly. Whilst the numbers may be smaller than a College assembly, the fact that peers are sat in close proximity is in many ways worse – perceived peer assessment is the wall that blocks boys on a consistent basis. Therefore, we truly appreciate the effort of those who are brave and present a topic of their choice each week. Faisal, shared his thoughts on time and it was excellent. In essence he summarised a short and long term view of time. A sense of the importance of punctuality in the short term and the need to live ‘for the now’ as the sands of time inexorably seep away.

Mr Ian Squires
Assistant Head (Boarding), Housemaster 

Sports ECiM

Aishwarrya from Year 12 Crawfurd represented Malaysia at the Indonesia Ice Skating Open 2020, the first Ice Skating Institute of Asia (ISIA) Championship Series of the year. This event was hosted by Bintaro Jaya Xchange Ice Skating Rink in Jakarta, Indonesia. The above-mentioned competition was held from the 20th to 22nd February which was attended by more than 400 young athletes from 12 rinks and 5 countries; Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia. Aishwarrya participated in the Freestyle Level 4 Girls Category. She managed to obtain 1 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medal for her country. She also received a certificate for her outstanding performance and remarkable technical skills in her solo programs. 

Last week saw Aisha and Hugo represent ECiM and the District at the MSSNS Athletics meet where they competed against other athletes from across Negeri Sembilan. Both pupils performed remarkably well and are a real credit to the College. Please see below for standings and results:

U15 1500m – 3rd place (05:47.37) / U15 800m – 2nd place (02:41.33) / U18 2000m Steeplechase – 2nd place (09:04.54)

U15 100m – 2nd place (11:91.02) / U15 200m – 1st place (23:73.00) / U15 4x 100m relay – 1st place (46:81.00) / U15 4x 400m relay – 2nd place (3:54.11) / U15 High Jump – 4th place (1.75m)

Huge congratulations to Sriraam who has been selected to represent Negeri Sembilan at the MSSM (Malaysia) U18 Hockey tournament. This is a fantastic achievement, especially considering Sriraam has only recently turned 16 years old. Sriraam is an accomplished all round sporting performer but is particularly talented in the sport of hockey. We look forward to seeing Sriraam progress and develop further in hockey and he certainly has a bright future in the sport. 

House swimming is one of the most popular House events on the sporting calendar and this year was no exception. The sense of House spirit was felt by everyone and it was brilliant to see so much peer support and cheering for those competing. It was certainly a loud event! Although there was some excellent swimming on display and some very quick times, the highlight was seeing pupils, who may not list swimming as one of their strongest sports, giving their all for their House. Every swimmer contributed points towards the overall standings and the participation was excellent. 

KS3 Winners – Rosebery & Holman 

KS4/5 Winners – Rosebery & Propert

Mr Daniel Jeffries
Director of Sport