“We all know that Service life comes with both its rewards and its challenges. I think among the latter, deciding on how and where your children will be educated is the most difficult as it comes complete with that most pervasive of emotions: love. The option of sending one’s children ‘away’ is never lightly undertaken and for both my husband and I it was personally painful initially but I have no doubt it has been absolutely the right choice – the continuity it has provided for them is priceless. We have three children, a boy and two girls and we are both serving, me in the Royal Navy and my husband a Royal Marine. We knew that our children would not adjust well to the multiple school moves that are so often the backdrop to a Service-child’s life.
Our eldest daughter, moved to Malvern St James at the age of 13 and her younger sister also began boarding at MSJ at the age of 10. After visiting many schools before selecting MSJ for our girls, it was overwhelmingly our first choice. Why? There is no doubt that the independent school sector in this country offers an outstanding education so our choice is not what the other schools we saw lacked – it was about what MSJ offered. It combines a smaller school warmth and intimacy with huge ambition for the girls that go there – whatever individual talents they possess. Every type of girl is catered for: the academic, the sporty, the artistic, the technically-minded, the girl who likes to live life on the centre stage, or the girl that prefers a quieter path. The school has a kindness about it that reflects in the demeanour of the girls, the engagement of the staff and the overwhelmingly ‘safe’ feeling about its atmosphere. It is well used to the vagaries of Service life, indeed our eldest daughter’s Housemistress had been an Army spouse so ‘got it’. Staff, both teaching and pastoral take mine and my husband’s absences, deployments and frequent lack of availability in their stride, which means that if one of the girls has a hospital or orthodontic appointment and neither my husband nor I can be present, then she will be accompanied and supported. And the contact with staff has been wonderful; as the girls began their journey through the teenage years, House staff and personal tutors were on hand to guide, advise and provide those firm boundaries within which children thrive. And for us, single-sex education has been perfect for our girls. It enables them to be truly themselves – for better, or worse! But at least they don’t have to worry that boys are judging them for either.
And the setting! I have no doubt that the beauty of the Malvern Hills is both a great inspiration and a true balm to the soul when one is feeling down. How can learning not be enhanced by that stunning backdrop? The location of the school was a true factor in our choice, plus the inestimable benefits of having a glorious Victorian train station across the road with fantastic connections to London, Birmingham, Wales and the West Country. During our multiple SFA moves since the children have been in Malvern, the train has been their friend and our salvation. They have always loved getting on at Malvern and alighting elsewhere in the country – a touch of the Harry Potters which adds a sense of magic to their school experience. How many schools can offer that?”
Forces parent with daughters in Years 13 and 10
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