Malvern College Pre-School Campus Hong Kong opened in September 2017 at its Southwest Kowloon campus. This is the fourth overseas campus for the 150 year old UK Malvern College and a sister to Malvern College Hong Kong.
Malvern College UK was founded in 1865 and, together with its primary school, The Downs Malvern, provides education for boys and girls aged from 3 to 18 years. The College is known as an innovator in education, having pioneered the adoption of Nuffield Science (introduction of experiments into Science education), Language Laboratories, Ingenuity tests, and the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme among other educational innovations.
In addition to its reputation for innovation, the College also performs academically. It consistently receives “Outstanding” rankings from the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED – the UK Schools’ Regulator) and the International Schools Inspectorate (ISI). It regularly outperforms other schools offering the IB Diploma programme, with graduates regularly averaging over 36 points over the last 11 years (the world average was 29.9). 26% of students on average have scored 40 points or more (40 points normally being considered to be the Oxford and Cambridge minimum entry requirement).
Alumni include two prime ministers and three Nobel Prize winners, as well as famous writer C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia. The school has a reputation for a holistic approach to education, with co-curricular activities as important a focus as the academic.
Malvern College is certainly not the first UK public school to have endeavoured to transfer its particular ethos and standards to an overseas location. Some have been rather more successful than others. Malvern College already has significant experience and success – notably in Asia – and Whichschooladvisor expects that their Hong Kong ventures will build on this.
In September 2012, Malvern College established its first overseas campus, Malvern College Qingdao, in partnership with Babylon Education, a Hong Kong based education group, and a similar school was established in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in September 2015. There is very direct and on-going involvement from the UK school’s representatives, with regular visits from the International team, together with the Headmaster and Bursar from Malvern College UK.
Irrespective of the involvement from the UK team, the day to day responsibility for the success of the Pre-School will fall to its Principal. Jacqueline McNalty has been involved in school leadership and Early Childhood education for 24 years, working in Australia, the United Kingdom, China, and Singapore. Jacqueline has undertaken different leadership roles including Acting Head, Vice Principal, and Head of Early Years, as well as Curriculum Coordinator and Workshop Leader. In 2013, Jacqueline was invited to be on the Pre-Operations team to help set up a 250 million dollar school in Singapore.
Jacqueline holds a Master’s in Education and Bachelor of Teaching, majoring in Early Childhood, and was awarded the Certificate in International School Leadership from the Principal Training Center (PTC). She has published articles in early childhood journals and has played a key role in early childhood network groups around the world. She is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy and is passionate about working in partnership with parents in educating their children.
Malvern College Pre-School Hong Kong draws on 150 years of heritage from the UK alma mater, and envisages the youngest children developing their individual strengths through employing a personalised approach of active, play-based learning. The College Ethos and Core Values are focused on developing life-long learning and encouraging each child’s curiosity, kindness, resilience, self-awareness, open-mindedness, collaboration, risk-taking, independence, integrity, and humility.
Malvern Pre-school provides a secure, organised, and innovative environment for children to participate in a “balanced and holistic programme that includes a focus on creative, academic, sports and outdoor activities”. The Hong Kong Pre-School is unique in offering the ‘Forest School’ programme, and is the first and only authorized school to offer the programme in Hong Kong.
The curriculum incorporates the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, which views the ‘environment as the third teacher’, complementing the UK Early Years Foundation Stage play-based academic and holistic curriculum. EYFS curriculum provides clear Learning Goals that prepare children for the first year of formal school and aim to inspire a love of learning.
Evidence of learning focuses on progress in the 7 key EYFS curriculum areas of (1) Personal, Social, and Emotional – making relationships, building self-confidence and self-awareness, and managing feelings and behaviour; (2) Physical – handling movement and physical tasks and learning to take care of oneself; (3) Communication and Language – listening and speaking, understanding others, and responding to questions properly; (4) Literacy – reading and writing (in English and Mandarin Chinese); (5) Mathematics – numbers, shape, space, and measure; (6) Understanding the World – people and communities, the world, and technology; and (7) Expressive Arts and Design – exploring and using media and materials, as well as being imaginative.
Children are encouraged to develop and learn through both a structured and free play programme that focuses on inquiry, developmental, and hands-on learning. Emphasis is placed on active, play-based learning with a balance of child-initiated and adult-led activities, which research has proven develops skills, knowledge, concepts, and confidence in a way that is not possible in a more formal classroom setting. The design of the Pre-school takes these requirements into account.
The design of the interior spaces is centred around the theme of the natural learning environment, incorporating plants, sand, water, and sunlight into the interior, so that the school is no longer a traditional classroom-based learning space, but rather a stimulating environment which encourages children to use all their senses.
Learning spaces are open plan, aimed at fostering learning within and across classrooms. Organised around a central indoor play area, classrooms act as home bases while different learning focal points in between them provide informal learning areas. Sound absorptive materials are used in the ceiling, flooring, and other surfaces to dampen sound issues. Two flexible partitions will seal off separate spaces for noisier activities such as music classes, while maintaining the integrity of open-plan layout.
A particular and unique feature of Malvern Pre-School is the Forest School programme, with Forest School Association certified Forest School leaders. Scandinavian countries have long practised outdoor learning and the UK’s Forest School Association formalised such a programme, with growing world-wide attention and expansion.
The set-up of a Forest School programme in as densely a populated location as Hong Kong has inevitably brought its challenges. The school has therefore commissioned land specifically for the Pre-school’s use.
The Forest School programme has a philosophy of child-led learning with a focus on all the senses, providing children with opportunities to make their own decisions and explore under the supervision of Forest School Educators and school staff. Children learn to think, question, and problem-solve in mini projects, and to communicate, collaborate, and lead in small teams. Students grow in confidence and self-esteem, and increase their physical and social skills.
Forest School sessions are designed around a theme; these are sometimes subtle (such as exploring the site) or more obvious (e.g. science focused, butterflies, water, insects, or nature investigators). Teamwork skills are developed through games and activities. Individual skills and self-esteem are developed through activities such as hide and seek, shelter building, tool skills, fire-lighting by the Forest School Educators, or environmental art. Each activity is designed to develop intra and inter-personal skills, as well as practical and intellectual skills.
The programme has been shown to have positive effects on all areas of children’s life and learning. It is run in all weather conditions as long as it is safe. “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”.
Several students are learning English as an additional language, and teachers are trained to ensure children acquire good standards in the English language. Mandarin speaking teachers will also work with students, and a prominent feature of the curriculum is to expose children from diverse cultural backgrounds to the Chinese language.
Each classroom has native English speaking teachers and Mandarin speaking teachers, who guide children in practising and consolidating their first language and then acquiring the other. Mandarin Chinese language skills are delivered by native-level speakers with Chinese teaching qualifications. When children are in the company of, or working with, a teacher, her native language must be spoken.
With a total capacity of 140 children, 7 classes with a maximum of 20 children, and staff to student ratios of 3:20 in pre-Nursery and 1:10 in Nursery to KG3, children are well supported in terms of teacher attention.
All English-speaking Early Years staff are qualified with a Bachelor of Education or PGCE and extensive experience. They are supported by another full-time Mandarin teacher with a recognised certificate in Early Childhood education.
Parents are informed regularly about their child’s progress. Children are issued with a School Report towards the end of term and Parent-Teacher Conferences follow the issuing of the school report, guiding the teacher-parent PTC discussions.
The Pre-School is open for half-day and full-day programmes for Pre-Nursery (2 – 3 years) and Kindergarten 1 (3 – 4 years), and full day programme only for Kindergarten 2 (4 – 5 years) and Kindergarten 3 (5 – 6 years). It also offers an adult-accompanied 1.5-hour playgroup for children aged from 6 months to 2 years old.
With the prior experience of the Malvern College International team, the skills and experience of the Principal, and the clear evidence of commitment and substantial investment in the opening of both the Malvern College Pre-school and the College itself in 2018-19, Whichschooladvisor can see the commitments and plans of the founders turn into a reality. We think Malvern College Pre-school Hong Kong will be rather special.
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