FRIDAY FLYER-Issue 97 - Epsom College in Malaysia

SOPs for Covid-19

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FRIDAY FLYER-Issue 97

Headmaster’s Review

Dear Parents,

It is extremely heartening for the school to emerge through the first Exeat weekend of the academic year, with a strong body of learning & teaching already accomplished. I am hugely encouraged by the welcome buzz of academic endeavour that pervades the corridors and this is accompanied by our online efforts too. Given the recent Covid-19 history, and the disruptions to global education, I will never take the joys of pupils’ learning for granted again! Indeed,  I too am enjoying being back in the classroom environment, steering the ship of some A-level history and politics lessons. It is refreshing to be back at the ‘coalface’ again and I sincerely hope that I’m a worthy addition to our teaching fraternity!

All good schools should rightly strive to develop their professional environment, and foster a culture of both respect and reflection for all educational practices.  This remains true for both pupils and staff of course, and it is therefore excellent to commend the initiatives of Mrs Hill and her vision for staff ‘Professional Portfolios’. This will be a rich source of professional development and, as I outline above, as one of those practitioners I am massively invested in the new CPD approach at the school. Through interweaving Round Square IDEALS into our professional development, we are also meshing CCA and CPD objectives, and our pupils will unquestionably benefit from this connection. These are important facets of our total curriculum at Epsom and I look forward to witnessing the speed at which their input develops the school more broadly.

Education, of course, is also about building great relationships across peer groups and ages. Therefore, it is insightful to gain glimpses into House life in this publication, with the boys’ Houses offering a full range of first-class pursuits. I especially applaud the exceptional expectations and aspirations that are on view here, from public speaking engagements to philanthropic opportunities. Furthermore, the independence and overt talent of our pupils was also on display last week in the superb ‘Sunset Serenade’ event and also the participation of so many individuals in our College Committee structure. Epsom pupils are determined to take the lead in enhancing the school’s provision and that is exactly how it should be in the current environment. Our pupils are full of brilliant and innovative ideas – it is my role, and that of others, to ensure that these concepts are acted upon.

On a personal note, the Chairman of Governors announced a change of Headship at ECiM for February 2021. The school will, without doubt, benefit from the experienced and committed leadership of Mr Brown at that juncture. Whilst  I will be remarkably sad to leave, I promise to give my full support and effort to all Epsom matters in the next few months. I remain determined to facilitate the best environment for your children, to allow them to flourish in all remits of their education. That remains a steadfast and pivotal objective.

 

With thanks and best wishes,

Dr Murray Tod
Headmaster


Carr House

I am pleased to see that the Carr House boys are continuing to get academic, house and CCA merits in great numbers. These rewards from their teachers are meant to inspire more and greater achievements , a positive outlook and healthy competition between each other and across year groups. Helpfulness, independance, hard work, winning, excellence, 100% effort, are just some of the vocabulary items found in the reasons for some of the boys’ achievements. Well done to them.

Screen Free Day [SFD] last week was a great success. The boys were playing pool, table tennis and air hockey, there was much more chatting and reading quietly. They were also playing tag and hide and seek which was great to see. Buoyed with this success, we will continue with it on a Wednesday to break up the week. I have also subscribed to The Week Junior which is a weekly news magazine for young people 9-14 years old and a monthly publication called Science and Nature which is also directed at younger readers. I suspect these might be popular reading material especially on SFDs.

Over the last couple of weeks we have been appointing a team of boys to oversee themselves and others in the house. Congratulations to Imran who is house captain and Jayden who is his deputy. Finley is sports captain whilst Zakri is captain of the Year 9 boys, Shan Wei for Year 8 and Jun Hong for Year 7. We will be meeting regularly to update ourselves on how the House is operating from all our perspectives and how we can help all the boys thrive and take on more responsibility. I have just asked the year group captains to check in with our online boys a couple of times a week to make sure they are well and happy. It is important to remind them that they are part of Carr too and to make sure they are not getting lonely without the buzz of being physically in the house.

 

 

It’s quite easy to get into a routine of not thinking that there are other less fortunate people occupying this world. I’m introducing a scheme this week to the boys where we all can think quite regularly of how to help the poorer people in society. The boys, their parents and guardians, their academic tutors and the resident staff can all take part. There will be a big container in the house into which we can all put the soaps, shampoos, toothbrushes, combs, shoe cleaning kits, pens, note pads and any other free item we find in hotel rooms when we stay there. At the end of the year after some research by the boys, there will be a presentation and the items can be distributed to a suitable charity to give to needy people.

 

Mr James Carson
Carr Housemaster


Granville House

As we are now well into the term and routines are well established, the boys are working out the best ways to manage their prep time and also their down time. The options for evening and weekend activities are increasing with a wider variety of choices and sports.

We are really trying to develop the families more effectively this year to help integrate new students, but also to give good vertical connections between the older and younger boys.

We have five families in Granville all named after Greek gods and a titan. Poseidon, Ares, Hades, Apollo and Atlas are now in their second year as family names in Granville. Each family is responsible for a range of chores during their week on duty, and they then round off the week with an assembly to the House. Public speaking comes naturally to some, however, for many it can create fear and some students can become anxious about presenting to their peers.

The heads of families are leading the way, initially acting as excellent role models by fronting the presentations and for the next cycle we will be looking to the younger boys to take the initiative and challenge themselves.

Arata gave an excellent presentation for Atlas on forms of political systems, looking carefully at the strengths and weaknesses of each and giving some examples throughout recent history.

In the week before this Poseidon, headed by Timothy, looked at the idea of ‘community’ and how it had helped his own integration into Granville last year. He also looked at how it had developed positively before being impacted by the MCO. He wrapped up by explaining what he along with the other House prefects, hope to do to reignite the community spirit and better develop it.

The boys have also been getting themselves involved in the wider school community. Representatives from Year 10/11 and Year 12/13 have been attending all the College Committees, taking the opportunity to provide their voice and the views from their peers at a College wide level. Yazarn and Jordan also contributed to a Sixth Form assembly where they gave arguments for and against reducing the age of voting to 16.

It was great to see the Music Department showcase some of the College’s talent at the Sunset Serenade this week. Unfortunately, the audience size was limited, however it was an excellent event. Ashton stole the show with his first performance at the college to carry on Granville’s tradition of excellent musicians (the other performers were also awesome).

 

 

Mr John Foden
Granville Housemaster


Propert House

Psychologists use a simple test to determine whether a person tends to be an optimist or a pessimist. When presented with a glass filled to the halfway point subjects are asked to explain what they see. Optimists will usually say the glass is half-full, whereas pessimists will usually point out that it’s half-empty. Optimists tend to focus on the good: there is still water available to drink. Pessimists, on the other hand, see the negative: there is water missing from what otherwise could be a full glass.

We continue to work hard in Propert to ensure that our glass is half full and a part of this is supporting others and the community. We have a CCA in which the boys are working with Mr Pye on some service projects in the House. The first plan is to create an outdoor garden and seating space. We have liberated some plants, cleaned and decorated and when finished we will have some music and fans. It is pleasing to see the Year 13 boys so engaged, particularly as the younger years will be the ones to benefit the most in the long term. We have also volunteered to run the College assembly. A Glass Half Full will be the theme. Finally, our Head of House, Rohan, has arranged for a ‘Burgers for the Boys’ evening. Our older pupils will spend some time with the boys from Carr House to lend an ear, talk and support those pupils who may be facing some of the issues the “old men” of Propert first faced when entering ECiM as Junior pupils. This process of continually supporting others helps to remind the boys that on the whole our glass is at least “half full”.

 

Mr Ian Squires
Propert Housemaster


Professional Development at Epsom College in Malaysia

I am very excited to have taken on the role of ‘CPD Coordinator’ this year. In our staff briefing last week, I laid out a vision for staff professional development opportunities through the use of building Professional Portfolios where staff have the opportunity to record their long term goals, annual targets, and courses or programmes in which they become involved in.

Regular meetings with their line managers will then reflect upon these areas of their professional lives.

At ECiM, staff aim to regularly participate in and lead programmes to do with professional development as we try to be role-models of lifelong learning for our students. This might take the shape of an online course, attending some in-house training or shared practice sessions, or even some wider reading. All staff who work directly with students (teachers, assistants, technicians, matrons and stewards) have been completing reflections on where they feel are their strengths and weaknesses. I am now using these to develop a series of targeted programmes in response to what staff have said they want to develop. All of this behind the scenes work is motivated by our collective goal to continue to strive for improvements in our teaching. When teachers feel supported and we invest in their professional skills then our students can only benefit.

 

Ms Sophie Hill
CPD Coordinator


Sunset Serenade – 29 September 2020

The first Sunset Serenade took place on Tuesday evening with a physically distanced audience and featured some superb performances from the GCSE Music students.

 

Ann Yi opened the event by playing Film Noir which captured our hearts with the swing rhythm that she portrayed. This was followed by Yi Shan’s quick notes on her violin. A Waltz by Jeot Wing teased our audience to the edge of their seats, yearning to dance! Issa then presented the beautiful Nocturne in C# minor by Chopin which really got us into the Sunset Serenade mood. Diana played her favourite Joe Hisashi piece entitled Howl’s Moving Castle and the event closed with Ashton’s Beauty and the Beast.

Well done to the students and staff for supporting them. A recording of the event will be made available on our Facebook page in due course. We look forward to the next event later in the year.

 

Mr Ian Schoeman
Head of Performing Arts

and

Ms Catherine Chin
Music Teacher


Expanding Horizons

While the new normal is making somethings difficult, the Horizons Programme has started the term with a bang.

At Epsom, we believe that the students are part of a learning community, as are the staff. The Horizons Progamme is all about encouraging students to look beyond the curriculum, to help them develop their academic curiosity, which then has a knock-on effect on academic excellence.

The Rubber Head Lectures are a key part of the Horizons Programme, as they offer an insight into academic research and help our students to see links between subjects, as well as helping them to develop an understanding of the wider opportunities that are available to them in selecting their university degree. While we are unable to invite visiting lecturers into the College, many have been very keen to speak to our students, so these are now being conducted over Google Meet.

This year’s Rubber Head Lecture Programme was introduced by Xinying Huang, our very own Academic Prefect. She based her talk on her Extended Project Qualification. As someone who is interested in studying Materials Science at university, she has researched the different materials that would be best for ecotourism in rural China, focusing on glamping. Her talk offered an insight into the specific village of Baxoi, and then went onto the different materials, including her conclusion that concrete cloth is ultimately the most effective material for the task, despite the environmental implications.

The next talk was from Professor Will Harvey from the University of Exeter, entitled ‘Leadership for a better world – White collar crime and sustainability’. Bryan Lim (Propert, Lower Sixth) attended the event and writes: “Professor Will Harvey passionately talked about his case study with Rio Tinto in Madagascar where he admired the mining company for being environmentally conscious in mining the rare resource of Ilmenite as it was located in one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. He used this case study to show us that reputation mattered with a company as it could pivot the company to a new market, attract or retain talent in the company and more. His passionate speaking even through a screen has made me strive to be one step ahead in my leadership and possibly to present my own Rubber Head Lecture in the near future.”

Yesterday, we ended up with two talks. Mr Moulton, our new Business Studies and Economics teacher, introduced himself to many of the students, by talking about his experiences of living in China, including the challenges that he faced while there and the impressive characteristics that he witnessed of the emerging superpower.

Yesterday evening, Dr Warren MacDonald spoke to students, explaining what Bioengineering is. As an orthopaedic bioengineer at Imperial College, Dr MacDonald discussed his research and experience in clinical orthopaedics, research and industry. His particular interests are in implant and instrumentation design, fracture fixation devices and strategies and how these influence bone response. Dr MacDonald talked about his approach to problem solving, and how he delivers practical solutions to clinical problems, such as dealing with blast fractures in limbs, as well as to the brain.

Last week, the students also had the opportunity to take part in UK Universities Virtual Week, with over 30 universities taking part in over 130 sessions, including panel discussions, academic lectures and general sessions. While we are unable to host our usual 50+ university fair this year, the week offered students a wonderful opportunity to access both courses and universities to find out more.

On 7th October at 7pm, Professor A.C.Grayling, who opened the Grayling Centre in 2016, has agreed to return to the College virtually. He will be delivering his Rubber Head Lecture entitled “Why study the humanities?”. He has agreed to open it up to parents, so we are delighted to welcome parents to attend, using Google Meet. We hope that parents will find it extremely interesting, along with our students, and hope to see many of you there. After all, when we talk about a learning community for students and staff, parents are certainly part of that as well.
Mr Jon Barker
Assistant Head (Sixth Form)


Student Voice: Back in Action

With a new year underway, it was time to celebrate ‘Student Voice’ and get the Prefect Committees started. Last week, each prefect chaired a meeting made up of representatives from different houses and Key Stages.

The prefects are the ultimate ambassadors for Epsom College in Malaysia and we believe that the current team have made an excellent start to their tenure, especially under difficult circumstances.

Through Student Voice, we are able to encourage communication which is critical in the functioning of a school, as well as celebrate a number of the Round Square Ideals. Members of each Committee are encouraged to demonstrate Leadership and Democracy, while also encouraging students to tackle issues related to Internationalism, Environmentalism and Service.

Mostly based on their title, each prefect has their own Committee, which they chair. These are:

  • College Committee
  • Academic Committee
  • Boarding Committee
  • International Committee
  • Prep School Committee
  • Service Committee
  • Social Committee
  • Wellbeing Committee

Each Head of House also chairs their respective House Council.

Once the meeting is over, each prefect interacts with a member of the Senior Leadership Team or their Housemaster, who they liaise with to help them tackle their action points.

This year has added complications, but this has not stopped our prefects from embracing the challenge. It is crucial that we include our online learners as part of Student Voice and, sure enough, we have representatives who are still learning from their respective countries, who attended the meetings using Google Meet.

As Tia, Head of College, writes it is important that we hear the voices from all the different ages so that we can make sure that everyone is satisfied to the highest extent possible. This is why we have College Committees where the pupils are represented in the best possible way by people who have similar thoughts and opinions that they do. This means that everyone’s concerns can be put forward and dealt with correctly. Furthermore, I personally think that the committees are the perfect environment for pupils to have better College involvement and to build their confidence when bringing forward concerns, but more importantly ideas for improvement of the College that they may have; after all, a school is for its pupils.”

The exciting development this year is that the Social Prefect has now set-up an Instagram account for the prefects, to help them deliver news to our students, highlighting the work and action of the different committees during the course of the year.

 

Mr Jon Barker
Assistant Head (Sixth Form)


Swimming and Return to Inter House Sports

This fortnight has again seen more normalcy return to Epsom College on a sporting front, with the students’ level of fitness increasing, resulting in their enjoyment increasing. This has been evident in badminton, swimming, tennis and running especially. The return to more regular CCAs has also meant we have been able to offer squad training to sports like swimming and netball.

Our PE staff also took part in their Bronze Medallion in ILS life saving qualifications, either as a refresher course, or for the first time. It was a long weekend by the side of the pool, but well worth it in the end.

We also look to welcome our new swimming coach, Mr Wedz onto the PE staff this week. Mr Wedz brings a lot of experience having run his own swimming club and should take our swimming squad from strength to strength.

Next week will see the return of some interhouse fixtures, involving cricket, running and badminton, which will be the next step to the new normal here at Epsom.

 

Mr Bob De Wet
Head of PE


Dr. James Phillips “As a lover of my subject…”

Dr. Phillips has definitely lived the life of most travellers’ dreams; after growing up in England, he has been to Spain, Poland, India, Peru, Georgia, and Cyprus (to name a few). Dr. Phillips met his wife in Georgia and ended up extending his stay to two years, teaching English as a Foreign Language. Towards the end of the two years, he actually worked part time while having a full time job editing in a local newspaper. Hearing about Dr. Phillips’ travels to countless countries with very interesting histories and talking to him about the English Department and Model United Nations was very enjoyable and I cannot wait to see how they both progress in the years to come.

Dr. Phillips mentioned how interesting it was to live in ex-Soviet countries and being there to witness their transition to a new political approach, after previously being a communist country. After working in Georgia, Dr. Phillips moved back to England with his wife and completed teacher training, allowing him to teach A level students and others of a similar standard, such as IB. After teaching both younger children and A level students, Dr. Phillips mentioned that he does not have a preference between teaching the different year groups. As a lover of his subject, he loves the depth present in the conversations in an A level classroom but the energy from the Year 7s can be equally as exciting.

Dr. Phillips is also taking over MUN and has brought many students to conferences in the past. He believes that the whole point of MUN is to prepare for conferences where you get given a country to represent that you may not be from and find out what their attitudes are, and most importantly, argue things that you may not agree with. He beautifully said that it is all about coming across other viewpoints and trying not to reject them too quickly, instead entering into their mindset and stepping into their shoes and trying to pinpoint and understand where they are coming from.

Lastly, talking to Dr. Phillips about his aspirations for the English Department He stated that English is usually looked at as a subject that is simply there to provide pupils with skills needed to facilitate their other subjects. Instead it should be a subject that pupils should take due to their pure fascination of a very interesting subject. I completely agree with this (especially being an English Literature lover myself) and hope that this will be achieved soon. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Dr. Phillips and I have no doubt that both the English Department and MUN will thrive under his watch.

 

Tia Siddle
Head of College