BSA’s Boarding Future Conference

Following the Boarding Schools Associations’ “Boarding Innovation Award,” being given to Marlborough College Malaysia, the Master, Mr Alan Stevens, was asked to participate in the BSA’s Boarding Future Conference, which brought together leading voices from across the boarding sector globally to look at how boarding is changing and developing.

The Master outlined the impact of the pandemic on Malaysia and specifically on boarding at MCM, with which many school leaders in other countries empathised: challenges of travel, quarantine and government-mandated periods of online learning among others.

He referenced Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, arguing that the extreme circumstances of the pandemic had inverted it for many families, leading to much greater risk awareness and even risk aversion. Whereas pre-Covid, most parents’ and pupils’ priorities typically lay with potential-fulfilment, creativity and accomplishment – ie the top layers of the traditional Hierarchy of Needs – now the focus of some has demonstrably shifted to the lower layers: fundamental care, adequate provision and safety.

He explained that at Marlborough College Malaysia, all of the response to such challenges and concerns among boarding parents has been informed by:

  • Trust: being dependable at a time when so many things are not.
  • Flexibility: being adaptable to accommodate the needs of exceptional circumstances.
  • Normality: being reassuring to boarders and parents by offering something close to normality within the secure site and the social groupings provided by boarding houses.

Ultimately, Mr Stevens concluded, running a boarding school during a pandemic is not easy and it takes a sense of vocation among its staff to succeed in providing the unconditional care and the home from home that every child deserves.

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