Independent co-educational day and boarding - ages 3-13
The Right Choice
Finding the right school for your child is a big decision with so many factors to consider. Often talking to parents with children at the school you are interested in can help. Below is an account from a mother, Sandra Hutchinson, who’s two boys collectively spent eight years at Malsis. She is an Editor of the Schools Guide, former senior teacher and worldwide Education Specialist to army families worldwide.
Former parent, Sandra Hutchinson
“Like all mums, my stomach was in knots the day we dropped Jon off on his adventure of a lifetime at Malsis.
It was a balmy September day; and with the welcoming drive, inviting child-friendly grounds, the crisp croquet lawn, the adventurous woods, the manicured golf-course, the homely boarding staff, the enthusiastic team of dedicated subject specialist teachers - what more could we ask? Jon’s Dad had boarded as a child and loved it, I hadn’t and now my first-born was about to discover if boarding really was the adventure his father made out!
Prior to Malsis, school hadn’t always been great. Jon falls into the bright dyslexic/dyspraxic category and so carries extra baggage. When we visited, Malsis promised to build his flagging self-esteem, to help him achieve, to find something he was good at – and they did. In no time at all Jon was playing county chess, became one of the youngest pupils ever to win the coveted house cup and frequently picked up prizes for maths and for effort. He stayed in the top stream academically and the small classes meant he got any individual attention needed, supplemented by occasional one-to-one sessions.
I had been run-ragged trying to fit in the handful of after-school activities Jon did at state school and was finding it near impossible to fit in anything else for his younger brother, Ed. At Malsis Jon was able to throw himself into school life and all the activities it offered: rugby, hockey, guitar, golf, shooting, house-competitions, canoeing and sailing. He was even Joseph in the French nativity, but my greatest moment was discovering that he'd opted to take calligraphy - a dyspraxic doing calligraphy! He was taught by the wonderful, but now retired, Roger Beaufoy, father of old boy and Oscar winner Simon.
Ed also chose Malsis. He’d been made to feel so welcome on visits that other schools never really stood a chance. I think he was anticipating one big sleep-over and that’s what he got! He boarded at eight, the same age as his brother but seemed younger. To both, I uttered the words, “If at any time you want to leave, ring me and I’ll come and get you, no questions asked; we just go.” - they never did.
Ed has also made the most of all that Malsis has to offer. He was the proud recipient of most improved rugby player and like his brother he’s a hockey goalie. He swims (they have a super pool), loves climbing, cooking, camp-craft, drama and abseiling and has developed a passion for judo. He was made Deputy Head of Chapel Choir and played clarinet in the school’s concert band - all things he’s determined to continue at senior school.
We live in America now and on a trip back, school arranged for Ed to play a piece with a visiting group, just so we could hear him perform. It is these little thoughtful touches that mean such a lot. Academically it’s been great because we always felt Ed was rather laid back but Malsis has developed in him not just a great work ethic, but a passion for learning. He made the scholarship set and said he loved the challenge of the work. The regular reports are great, not just for parents but for the pupils too - they certainly keep them on their toes! He’s not an all-rounder, so when his French report issued a stern ‘could do better’, instead of throwing in the towel he upped his game. Malsis would expect no less!
During our eight year relationship with the school we’ve lived in six different places - that’s service life for you! Even for us, the move to The States was quite daunting creating dilemmas such as: How would Ed get home? What about Exeats? Flights? However, at Malsis they really understand the nuances of service life and communication is excellent. I got phone calls and lovely emails saying ‘not to worry’ from Debbie and Claire in the school office and I didn’t. He spent fun-filled Exeat weekends at friends or with family and school always checked in advance that he was well-catered for and helped with arrangements. The caring ethos at Malsis even extends as far as the truly delightful CRB cleared taxi drivers who took Ed to the airport and dutifully collected him on his return from the longer holidays.
When Ed could squeeze us in to his hectic routine we got half-hour phone calls, animatedly regaling all that had happened: the tours, the matches, the theatre visits, trips to the seaside. To our delight we even got reports of exciting lessons, challenges and importantly friends. Ed has moved home 11 times in his short life and although he always meets new people it’s his Malsis friends - boys and girls - that are his true buddies.
Our one regret is not being able to be more involved – to participate in events like the lunches and balls, and to see the many matches, concerts and plays. That said, Malsis parents looked after us on our infrequent visits and Ed was never short of other mums and grannies offering words of encouragement, cheering him on from the side-lines and texting me updates. We did see the production of “Oliver” though which was truly impressive and yes, despite being hardened by 20 years’ of school plays, I was reduced to tears. No wonder that among the many scholarships won to leading senior schools there are a number of coveted drama awards. Yet what really bowls me over are the pupils themselves: chatty, friendly, polite, confident and most important of all, happy!
Of course there are difficult times, the spells in sick-bay and trips to casualty but that’s when Malsis really comes to the fore. It’s not just The Head and teaching staff that are great, sister and all the boarding staff are just superb. They may have a lot of charges but they also have the uncanny knack of making you think your child is the only one and that makes such an enormous difference. Indeed it was on one of those occasions that it struck me just how lucky we were to have had Malsis. It’s easy to be great when the going’s good but the fact that the difficult times were made so easy means, if we were to start all over again, we’d definitely start at Malsis.