Educating the Whole Child at Malvern College Tokyo

The best schools are not just satisfied with encouraging their students to pursue academic excellence—they nurture an environment where students feel supported, engaged, and involved. This is exactly what is being established at Malvern College Tokyo (MCT).

The school is the 10th global campus for Malvern College, which has a tradition that goes back to the original school’s founding in Malvern, England, in 1865. And throughout its history, the school has placed pastoral care at the heart of its experience, educating students who have gone on to leadership roles in a vast array of fields, from politics to science. 

As Ewan McCallum, Deputy Head & Head of Senior at MCT, pointed out, this approach helps students thrive at school and after they leave. “Pastoral care is at the core of what we do at Malvern. We know that children who are healthy, happy and feel safe and supported can be stretched and challenged in their learning and build greater confidence and resilience,” he said. “Our actions, policies and practices are all focused on helping ensure the children and young people in our care flourish, both now as children and in the future as adults, able to take on whatever the world throws at them.”

Houses of Excellence

One of the key components of pastoral care at MCT is its house system, which places students into one of six groups that are the basis for sporting events and other celebratory activities that engender a sense of togetherness along with a healthy sense of competition.

The six houses are:

  • Lewis, named for the celebrated British writer and MCT alumnus, C.S. Lewis
  • Tabei, named for the famed Japanese mountaineer and author, Junko Tabei
  • Ishiguro, named for the British author Sir Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Nightingale, named for the famous English social reformer Florence Nightingale
  • Elgar, named for the British composer Sir Edward Elgar
  • Ellerslie, named for Ellerslie Girls School, which was founded about 1922 and merged with Malvern College in 1992

McCallum explained, “These are six essential, well-identified parts of the school that reflect the historic nature of Malvern College yet are also respectful and celebrate our place here in Japan, which we are all of course incredibly proud of.”

Each school in the Malvern College family has its own unique names for its houses that reflect Malvern’s English origins as well as the culture and history of their host countries. McCallum said that much care was given in choosing the house names at MCT. “The names of our houses looked to those historic, established houses at Malvern College in the UK. Considering our heritage has been important to us, and there is so much of the excellence of Malvern’s DNA that we are proud to replicate here in Tokyo. Where Malvern UK has more houses than us, we selected those that would have a resonance for our pupils.” 

He added, “For example, the ability to listen to [Edward] Elgar’s music or to read the works of C.S. Lewis informed our decision-making. However, keen to reflect that we are in Japan and to celebrate this, we also looked to key Japanese figures whose actions reflect our values. For example, the dedication, bravery, and tenacity of Junko Tabei made her a natural choice for a Malvern College Tokyo house name.”

Breaking Bread

Around the world, meals are a time for people to come together and enjoy a feeling of community. This feeling is honored at MCT as well, where students gather at the school’s impressive dining hall for the lunches that the school shares each day.

As McCallum pointed out, “Meals at Malvern are designed to be a time that creates belonging and togetherness. All our pupils and academic staff eat together either in their respective year groups or their houses. It is a time to form connections and understanding outside of the more traditional classroom setting and deepen our understanding of each other.”

McCallum explains that this setting allows the teachers and staff to connect with students in a more informal context that can offer a deeper view into what students are thinking than the classroom provides. “For adults, it allows us a further insight into the realities of children’s lives as they tell us more about what they do, care about and aspire to become; this is important in enabling us to evolve our pastoral support and care of children to meet the needs they really have, beyond the assumptions that we as adults often make.”

Taking Lessons to Heart

These elements of the MCT experience, and many more, all set the stage for social-emotional learning (SEL) to flourish. This aspect of education empowers students to successfully maintain relationships with their classmates and teachers, manage their emotions, and solve problems.

Through SEL, students discover how to take on new challenges inside and outside the classroom, make good decisions and develop empathy. And the approach is one that pays dividends. Studies have shown that students with a strong background in SEL tend to do better academically and demonstrate better attitudes and behavior in their learning environments. The approach is most effective when it begins early and continues through high school, fostering in students the capacity to blossom into confident young adults.

Students’ parents are also involved in the learning process. They are encouraged to ask their children about their feelings and to be curious about the emotions of their classmates—everything from pride to disappointment. And to reinforce the importance of understanding the spectrum of emotional responses, children will be invited by their parents to think about events or activities that inspire different responses from different people.

Through a dedication to nurturing the whole child through pastoral care and SEL, as well as an inclusive and engaging environment, students at Malvern College Tokyo will not only develop the skills they need to succeed in their courses, but to become active, thoughtful, and sensitive members of the global community.

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