Transforming pupils into confident, compassionate modern leaders

Malvern College strives to build levels of resilience, collaboration and integrity into pupils's skill sets so they can take them out into their professional lives. SoGlos finds out more about how its cutting edge co-curriculum helps to do just that.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
Pupils at Malvern College thrive on a challenge. Picture by Norman Mays Photography.

Stephen Holroyd is deputy head of curriculum at Malvern College and leader of its co-curriculum.

SoGlos caught up with him to discover why two epic school challenges; Hunted and Lost, prove so popular and rewarding for pupils keen to push themselves to take calculated risks under extreme conditions.

Your co-curriculum is designed to encourage a balance between creativity, action and service. Why are these qualities so important and what has the development of them led to in some pupils’s futures?

At Malvern College we deliver three holistic curriculums that overlap and enrich each other. There’s our core academic curriculum; a super-curriculum that’s entirely pupil-led and our co-curriculum. The principles underlying the co-curriculum are to encourage a balance between creativity, action and service; to encourage pupils to engage in new experiences and develop new skill sets; to promote health and well-being and crucially to develop lifelong skills.

We believe that a Malvern College education should always be a transformational experience. Pupils join us as curious, young learners and leave as confident, compassionate modern leaders.

The co-curriculum deliberately contributes to a pupil’s transformation: allowing them to intentionally focus on developing a range of core transferable skills. The co-curriculum has a vast offering from those activities already familiar to pupils, such as sport, music and art but also encourages them to experience activities which are new to them.

Deputy head of curriculum Stephen Holroyd.

These include joining societies and taking part in expeditions that will challenge pupils and allow them to develop skills that they not only use at school but throughout their adult life. Every year, there’s a scramble amongst pupils to take part in two epic school challenges; Hunted and Lost. Both of these events take pupils out of their comfort zone and rely on a display of resilience and risk-taking in order to conquer the challenge.

The sheer number of activities available also guarantees our pupils experience a breadth of offer. We’re able to pinpoint where a pupil may be heavily focused on sport, but will be encouraged to also experience a more creative activity to enhance their toolkit of qualities. It’s by experiencing and taking part in a breadth of activity that builds a repertoire of personal skills, preparing them to become lifelong learners.   

Our goal is that our young people make a difference to the world. This commitment to embracing opportunities and contributing to community starts at Malvern. Through the co-curriculum, pupils lend their voice to political, environmental, and societal issues.

There’s a pupil-led Environmental Action Group; a society who work with the British Red Cross and a pupil group raising awareness of The Oscar Foundation.

You do adventurous activity to highlight teamwork, risk-taking, leadership and independence – do you see these qualities develop in pupils in real time as they do them? How beneficial can they be?

Absolutely, we see these qualities develop both individually and collectively. It’s seeing a Combined Cadet Force Officer lead a section attack. It’s Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. It’s seeing a pupil mountain bike down the Malvern Hills in the dark. It’s seeing pupils work as a team to navigate choppy waters paddle-boarding across the Channel.

Our pupils show extreme levels of self-awareness and risk-taking often under extreme conditions. And they carry on displaying these levels of resilience, collaboration and integrity into their professional lives. 

Talk us through your wide range of further sports, and physical and creative activities that are on offer to pupils. What opportunities do they bring?

We run over 200 programmes as part of our co-curriculum offer, from the astronomy society to yoga. We’re constantly looking to flex and change it to suit our pupils and the direction they want to travel in.

For example, we’ll always keep our traditional core sports, but listen to our pupils and introduce other activities that will develop and improve their own physical and mental wellbeing.

What are you most proud about Malvern College’s co-curricular activities?

The ambitious range of opportunities and that every activity has an intentional focus on the development of lifelong transferable skills.

Both the co-curriculum and our pupil-led super-curriculum exist to augment a pupil’s academic curriculum. It’s all about developing skills and qualities that arm young people to embrace the opportunities and challenges modern life brings.

What success stories can you share of pupils who have embraced and thrived via your co-curricular activities?

Malvern alumni can be found all over the world and making a difference to the world. In the sporting arena, we have professional athlete Rose Harvey and recent graduate, Olly Cox who in his first season playing professional cricket for Worcestershire CCC was recently named by Wisden Almanack ‘Schools Cricketer of the Year’.

Callum Lea and Jenny Henman have both founded charities, implementing change and making positive improvements in the fields of mental health and sustainability.

This term our pupils have been inspired by Old Malvernian, Lara Vafiadis who returned to school to share the highs and lows she experienced when she took part in the Talisker Challenge to solo row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.

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