Dr John Kennard - Headmaster at Epsom College in Malaysia

A highly experienced international educator, Dr John Kennard has taught in prominent schools in the UK and Australia. He is now headmaster at Epsom College in Malaysia and has led schools in Hong Kong, Poland and Switzerland.

What are your thoughts on the recent influx of international schools opening in Malaysia and is the market getting too saturated?

The expansion in international school provision has been a feature of the Malaysian education scene since 2012.  The growth has been rapid and recent data indicates that this upward trend is not slowing.  However, the answer to the question of whether the market is now saturated is not clear cut.  Parents will always look to schools that offer the best opportunities for their children and there is certainly no shortage of international schools from which to select.  In response to what parents are wanting from a school, every school must be willing to listen to the parents and understand the reasons for their choice of one school over another.

An increasing number of Malaysian parents are looking at sending their children overseas for their tertiary education, particularly to the United Kingdom, the USA and Australia.  Exposing their children to an international environment at a young age will certainly be an advantage.  Indeed, the opportunities afforded from being schooled in an English-speaking context is a prime driving force behind the exponential growth in international school provision.  

What advice do you have for parents who are thinking of sending their child to board at Epsom? 

Choosing to send your child to an English-speaking international school is not the only factor parents need to think about.  Indeed, whether to entrust your son or daughter to a boarding school is probably a bigger issue for many parents than the curriculum offered, and my advice to parents is to place their trust in the school.  

The boarding provision at Epsom College is second to none.  Staffed by experienced and suitably qualified Housemasters/House mistresses, ably assisted by a team of resident tutors, academic staff and Matrons/Stewards, Epsom College genuinely delivers a home-from-home experience.  Furthermore, the six Epsom College boarding houses do not simply cater to the overseas market.  A growing number of Malaysian families are opting for fulltime or weekly boarding and taking advantage of the school’s world-class facilities. 

Students need good grades to get into the university of their choice. But, what do you think makes a well-rounded pupil besides straight As?

My years as a Headmaster have shown that confident, considerate, hard-working and well-rounded students invariably gain entry to the universities and courses of their choice., and academic achievement is not the only factor their entrance.  It has long been the case that reputable universities pay close attention to other qualities and competencies put forward by a student.  This is where Epsom College’s holistic programme comes to the fore.  Not only are academic results very strong, the opportunities for Epsom students to engage in co-curricular activities adds breadth and depth to university applications.  This is ‘the edge’ looked for by university admissions personnel and a key reason why Epsom College students have been so successful during the university application process.

However, there is no substitute for academic accomplishment, garnered over a number of years, when it comes to decisions on university pathways.  That is why terms such as critical-thinking, enquiry-based learning and problem-solving are embedded in the vocabulary of Epsom College students and the reason why so many are accepted by top-flight universities around the world.

What does Epsom offer that’s different from other British independent schools in the region?

Epsom College is not alone in Malaysia when it comes to providing English qualifications; nor is the College alone in boarding provision, although the number of international boarding schools in Malaysia is relatively small.  Where Epsom College is different to other international schools is illustrated by some special programmes. The Prep (Primary) School has implemented a Singapore Maths approach to the teaching and learning of Mathematics.  At the Secondary end of the College, membership of the internationally renowned Round Square association provides numerous opportunities for the senior students to be actively involved in student-led conferences and exchange programmes.  Singapore Maths and Round Square are just two examples of Epsom’s edge in the international school scene in Malaysia.

Why do you think the British curriculum is so popular here? 

Parents in Malaysia and across Asia are increasingly looking to international schools with English as the medium of instruction.  Furthermore, parents have long recognised that the British curriculum, leading to IGCSE and A-Level qualifications, provides a quality of education that they wish for their children.  The IGCSE and A-level qualifications are highly regarded and easily transferable across nations providing a strong pathway to high quality universities. 


Tags: Features, Profiles, ECiM
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