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Marlborough College Malaysia interview -- what to expect?

(25 Posts)
littlefishexpat Tue 22-Jul-14 12:57:15

We are in the process of relocating to Singapore and have applied for a year 5 place for our son. If all goes as smoothly as possible (of course it won't) we'll arrive just as school is starting. We wanted to secure a school place before we leave so the school have offered to do their interview via Skype.

My son goes to a sweet little independent school in Berkshire so he's never really had to compete for a school space. How can I prepare him to put his best foot forward during the interview? What types of questions will be asked? What answers are they looking for? We really have no idea what to expect!

* I know the school is in Malaysia and my husband's job is in Singapore. We love the look of the school and really want to keep our son in a British curriculum. It also can't hurt to have ties to Marlborough when we return to the UK. We'll try to live somewhere in between and boarding is an option in the future.

GinAndToast Tue 22-Jul-14 18:59:23

Honestly, international "named" schools don't have awfully close links with the UK. They SHOULD but mostly don't. Perhaps this one is different, but I would be seeing it as an interview you- are conducting as much, if not more so, than they are. You are the fee paying parents; ask everything!

We are also relocating (to Dubai) a day or two before school for my DCs start so you have my utter empathy!!!

littlefishexpat Wed 23-Jul-14 19:54:11

Thank you. That's a really good point. I'm paying! I will try to remember that.

GrowlLikeMargeSimpson Wed 23-Jul-14 19:59:37

Does that mean you will be doing the school run everyday over the causeway? As far as I know it can get very busy so I would double-check the longest possible time you will need to allow. Or would you live in Malaysia and your DH would commute to Singapore?

butterfliesinmytummy Wed 23-Jul-14 20:06:39

Most kids take the bus across the causeway, have friends who started when the school opened, bus took ages but I understand they've sorted it now and it runs efficiently.

littlefishexpat Thu 24-Jul-14 18:32:54

Yes, he'll be riding the bus. He spends most car rides reading so hopefully he won't notice how long it takes!

butterflies -- you have friends with children at the school? Are they generally happy? Anything else you can share? We've researched as much as we could online but don't know anyone that actually has children there. Quite a bit a leap of faith!

fatowl Thu 24-Jul-14 21:34:21

I have a friend with two DC at Marlborough.

Her dh works in SG and the kids were commuting on the bus while they lived in a shoebox apartment in SG. Awful (and very expensive it is several S$K each per term so make sure that is in your budget) - the bus also only drops at certain points in SG, it is not a door to door service.
They have since moved to JB and it is much better from the kids' POV-bigger house and short commute for them. But her dh has to leave at 6am to be at his desk at 8.30. All the expats in JB are slightly obsessed with the commute! They discuss routes/tactics/timings to distraction.

fatowl Thu 24-Jul-14 21:38:56

My friend is happy with the school though

butterfliesinmytummy Thu 24-Jul-14 22:09:54

It was friends in the same cluster houses as us, they've since left and so have we. The bus dropped and picked up at the entrance to our condo, no problem. The dd was often back late as she did all her after school activities there but she loved it.

I also have friends living in jb, dh works in sgp, kids at Marlborough. They used to live in sgp and although they have lots of space in jb and life is cheaper, they miss the good restaurants, shops, cinemas, attractions etc. I think it's 6 and half a dozen .... As long as you have a decent package for singapore.

littlefishexpat Thu 24-Jul-14 23:29:06

Oh gosh, I guess I'm showing my ignorance and lack of planning -- what does JB stand for?

MN216 Thu 24-Jul-14 23:41:06

JB stands for Johor Bahru, it's the city in Malaysia over the causeway from Singapore. We used to live in Singapore and all loved it (2 DCs, now teenagers, still have very happy memories of it) but I do think you need some more planning and knowledge before you make a decision on schools, because this will impact on where you live and how long either your DS or your DH spend travelling twice a day. You will probably need to pay a sizeable deposit and a term's fees in advance to secure your school place, so please make sure it's the right school taking everything into account. Budget is also a huge issue in terms of housing, cars, school fees etc etc. and all of those things relate to one another. Is there no way you can have a look-see visit there before making the school decision?

Pooka Thu 24-Jul-14 23:41:09

Johor Bahru?

No idea - just nosying on google maps. blush

littlefishexpat Fri 25-Jul-14 10:40:43

Ah, thank you.

Yes, I probably come across as very uniformed. My husband has been doing most of the research thus far. We've known for a while that we would move just not WHERE we would move. I refused to research every major city just in case we ended up there! He's a little more anxious than I am so he has been looking into the more likely candidates. As Singapore has become more and more definite I'm trying to catch up.

A look see visit would be lovely and the company has offered it but my husband is worried it will slow down the process and would rather just go! I know that sounds crazy but we're a make do sort of family. Bloom where we're planted so to speak!

littlefishexpat Fri 25-Jul-14 10:50:35

Fatowl "slightly obsessed with commute." This made me laugh, they must be British! It seems like any gathering here must begin with an overly long discussion of which route was taken to get there, which route would have been better or more direct if not for traffic, construction etc.

It is good to hear that someone (or someone that someone knows) is happy with the school!

Is there a decent neighborhood between JB and the marina area where we could split the difference of commute? My husband thought it best to be closer to the school and school life but make his commute longer. Like I said, my son goes to a really sweet little school and our social life sort of revolves around it. Would we find that at Marlborough or Singapore in general?

queensansastark Fri 25-Jul-14 11:00:30

At year 5, they are still young and I would see the "interview" as more of an informal chat to find out what they are like, what their interests are, what are their favourite books, what/how they think etc..

Well, that's the approach I'm taking with dd who will also have to be "interviewed" for a place in a selective independent school in the UK early next year, anyway. When I speak to dd about it, I don't call it an interview but a chat....and that she doesn't need to worry about, they are interested to find out about her, so all she needs to do is to just be herself. I don't feel I can prepare her in this nor do I want to stress her in doing so.

GrowlLikeMargeSimpson Fri 25-Jul-14 11:51:16

If you are going to be living in Singapore will the company be providing a car? Unless they have changed it since I was last there, the govt limit the number of cars that can be bought every year. It's a fiendishly complicated system and very expensive.

fatowl Fri 25-Jul-14 11:55:16

My friend does miss the "shine" of SG. Apart from the couple of pockets of "naice" housing, and marlborough school, there is no getting away from the fact that JB is a bit of a dump. My friend is renting a four bed house with a pool for the price of a tiny two bed apartment in SG though.

Full of cheap car repair shops - it where all the Singaporeans come to get their cars fixed for a third of the price, and supermarkets.

Marlborough school doesn't really embrace parent involvement though, it is primarily a boarding school. This was my friend's only slight gripe. She came from our international school in KL, where like you she found her social life, and a brief spell in the UK (less than two years in a small private school).
Marlborough do promote the fact that they offer boarding at every possible opportunity, even to parents living five mins away, pushing parents (via the kids) to board, saying how fab it would be for them etc etc.

butterfliesinmytummy Fri 25-Jul-14 13:08:59

Which marina are you talking about littlefish? And have you considered dulwich? They are accepting pupils from this autumn term.

littlefishexpat Fri 25-Jul-14 17:10:20

Urgh, I'm looking like an idiot! My husband is away at the moment, I asked him in which district is his office and he just said it's at the marina, on Marina Way.

We will be in temporary housing for the first bit so we will get a chance to get our bearings and check out different neighborhoods.

No company car. My husband would like to get an older one and I'd like to try to rely on public transportation so we'll see.

We've looked a bit at Dulwich. Would you recommend it? I read a review or two that compared it to a franchise as opposed to an additional campus and that worried me a bit. Could the same be said for Marlborough though? Marlborough was already on our radar as a possible secondary school if we chose to stay in the UK so it seemed logical to look at the Malaysian campus.

butterfliesinmytummy Fri 25-Jul-14 17:23:03

Have you looked at google maps? Your dh's office is 52km from your ds' school, it will take an hour with no traffic and if they just wave you across the causeway. With traffic it's easily 2 hours. I know your dh won't be doing the school run but even if you live halfway, somewhere near jurong, it will be an hour for your ds to get to school and an hour for your dh to get to work. Why not look at tanglin, uwc, dulwich for schools etc and live more centrally? The traffic in singapore gets gridlocked easily.......

fatowl Fri 25-Jul-14 21:23:29

I'd be surprised if you could even get a sniff at a place in Tanglin or UWC.

butterfliesinmytummy Fri 25-Jul-14 22:05:09

No waiting lists at uwc, it's been a first past the post system for about 4 years, although I suspect the deadline has passed. There will be more places at tampines than Dover as usual. A property agent friend in singapore says that the market is dead with more expats leaving than arriving (she's pretty worried) and with dulwich opening this autumn, there might be more places than usual.

littlefishexpat Thu 31-Jul-14 15:13:11

Just wanted to give a little thanks to those that calmed my nerves. The interview was this morning and it really was a sweet little chat. My son was a tiny bit nervous. I wanted him to take it seriously but I might have overstepped the mark a bit. He did really well though and I'm very proud of him.

I did ask about the relationship between MCUK and MCM. The MCM headmaster spent 30 years at MCUK and the deputy head (pastoral) also comes from MCUK having spent 22 years there. I imagine that means there should be a good continuity of ethos.

shelleyswift Thu 02-Mar-17 21:58:24

Hello, my family and I will most likely be moving to Malaysia around July time and my eldest daughter will start Year 2 at MCM. I also have a one and a half year old daughter who I hope to take to nursery part-time.

Hoping that someone can help me with a few much does a car cost in Malaysia? Are there any schools around the Jahor area? Any recommendations of where to live? I was looking at Horizon Hills. Is it possible to have a part-time maid or are you only allowed to get live-ins through an agency?

Thanks for any advice you can offer!


mmgirish Wed 22-Mar-17 13:14:06

I've met quite a few students from MCM as I work at an international school too. They struck me as being very polite and well mannered kids. Over and above the usual lovely student.

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