Orient Magazine Issue 88 - August 2022 | Page 34

31 IN FOCUS INTERVIEW: MATTHEW BROWN, HEADMASTER, EPSOM COLLEGE, MALAYSIA In Focus Interview: Matthew Brown, Headmaster, Epsom College Malaysia In our latest In Focus interview, Editor Lucy Haydon spoke with Matthew on inspiring the next generation of business leaders, the importance of creating a nurturing environment in a boarding school, and preparing students for future career success by aiming high and being prepared. So, let's start with the students. How do you inspire the next generation of leaders? We work hard to be positive influences in our students’ lives, nurturing relationships that become the cornerstone of a student’s happiness and fulfillment. At Epsom, everything that we do is focused on our three core priorities to Nurture, Educate and Inspire. As a boarding school, we are a close-knit community - teachers and pastoral staff live on campus and eat with our students on a daily basis, fostering these strong ties very early on. Part and parcel of our jobs as educators is to ensure that every child who walks through our doors feels seen, noticed and heard and is not just another cog in a well-oiled machine. At our teachers’ meetings at the start of the school year, I always emphasize the importance of positivity and authenticity and encourage our teachers to share their personal experiences with students. Why do they love teaching their respective subjects? Why did they choose to teach Physics, Biology, Geography or whatever it may be? Our students are naturally inquisitive, curious and intelligent and this exchange helps to foster closer ties that ultimately inspire our students to want to learn more. When a safe and supportive environment is created, brilliant things can happen. For example, at the end of 2021, a school Prefect asked if they could organise a ‘Spirit Week’, to help bring some cheer to the community after a challenging COVID-stricken year. They provided a variety of ideas including a fancy dress Career Day and a Backpack Free day where students had to devise novel ways of carrying their books around. We worked together to bring this plan to life and in the process made a lot of people smile during the week. This is just one example of our students’ self-driven initiatives that I am very proud of. We also encourage our students to create and develop academic societies, which they run themselves with our support. Most recently, our students have set up the Comfort Society where they meet and talk about the stresses of being international students, living away from home, exam pressures or any issues they may be currently facing. It is an excellent forum for the students and teachers to come together to share ideas and strategies in an informal, safe and nurturing setting. You can't force students to learn, and you cannot fake passion. Our role as teachers is to do all we can to create the environment, the values and the ethos that enables them to flourish and grow into independent and creative thinkers, making the right decisions along the way. As Headmaster, I ensure that we have the best, qualified teachers who are genuinely passionate about their subjects and have the innate desire to help students to reach their full potential. How does the Epsom College student experience in Malaysia integrate with that in the UK? Epsom College in Malaysia was founded by a former Epsom College UK alumnus - AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes. His boarding school experience made a profound impact on his life and he wanted to provide the same opportunity to students in Asia. It was important to him that a student’s boarding school experience at Epsom College in Malaysia closely mirrored that of a student at our sister school, whilst influenced by our Asian context. Our curriculum is based on close to 170 years of academic excellence as at Epsom College in the UK, which was founded in 1855 with Royal patronage granted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria and today has Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as IN FOCUS INTERVIEW