Malvern College head steps down

Set to return to his native South Africa after 11 years in the role, Antony Clark reflects on his time in Worcestershire

Antony Clark is on the move after 11 years as headmaster of Malvern College. In April, he and his wife, Brigitte – a senior law lecturer at Oxford Brookes University – will return to Clark’s native South Africa, where he will take up the headship of a boys’ boarding school, Michaelhouse, in KwaZulu-Natal.

During Clark’s time at the college, Malvern has moved steadily up the academic league tables, and opened four international schools. He has also overseen an ambitious building programme – partly funded by the income from overseas – including a new sports centre, two new boarding houses, and a thoroughly refurbished science centre and theatre.

“I’m proud of how, during my time, Malvern has enhanced its reputation as an IB [International Baccalaureate] school and boosted its national and international profile,” said Clark. “We run the IB alongside the A Level programme and, these days, half our sixth form pupils do each; there are some distinct advantages with the IB, which is academically more stretching. It is highly-prized by Russell Group universities, and gives our IB pupils very favourable offers. We’re now seen alongside the top schools in the country, and people come to us from further afield. Our students are drawn from 27 different countries, including the Cayman Islands and Australia, and numbers are rising, up by 80 this year, to the current roll of 650.”

We want Malvernians to strive for success, but be able to cope with setbacks; to be confident, but not arrogant; to see learning as a lifelong experience and be optimistic about the future – as I am

“We run well-attended language schools over the summer,” Clark continued, “and our sport is on a real high, thanks to excellent coaching and first-class facilities. Worcestershire County Cricket Club come to practise here, and we are a growing centre for girls’ cricket, too; we now offer Britain’s first dedicated cricket scholarships for girls. We have close links with Worcester Warriors rugby, and a number of pupils are in their academy set-up or playing professional rugby with them on leaving school. Our girls’ hockey is particularly strong, and our under-16s recently reached the national finals for the third time in six years. It helps that our head coach, Mark Moss, is the captain and coach of the GB over-35 team.

“Academically, our girls buck the national trend by excelling in STEM subjects. Unusually, as many girls as boys study maths, science and economics here, partly because of a number of strong female role models we have in the different disciplines. I appointed Chey Hooper-West as our first female director of sport, for example, not to make some sexist point but because she was the best person for the job.

“This has been a rewarding, challenging decade for my family and me. The toughest aspect? Having to expel people, particularly when they are lovely kids with a lot to offer, but who have done something very wrong. However painful, though, it’s important to follow the correct procedure and do right in the eyes of the school. Generally, in education and society at large, there is less respect for authority than there was 25 years ago, and we scoop up more issues; IT hacking, for example, to which the police find it more difficult to devote their time. It’s crucial that we maintain a strong sense of discipline and norms of conduct, otherwise we become a society that is less free to operate with choice.”

I’m proud of how, during my time, Malvern has enhanced its reputation as an IB school and boosted its national and international profile

Through winning a Douglas Smith scholarship, which enabled him to attend Downing College, Cambridge in his early 20s, Clark, a modern historian, knows first-hand the transformative effect of academic or sports awards on promising youngsters from cash-strapped families.

“I am really excited by my leaving present, the Clark Scholarships, being launched this spring,” he said. “They are means-tested awards for sixth form entry to Malvern College, and will provide between 60% and 100% of the fees for young people who couldn’t otherwise attend the school but are outstanding academically, and in other areas, too; perhaps sport, the arts, or leadership. The first Clark scholars – who could be from Britain, the Commonwealth countries, or elsewhere – will join the school in September 2019, and I know just how life-changing the opportunity to study here will be.

We want Malvernians to strive for success, but be able to cope with setbacks; to be confident, but not arrogant; to see learning as a lifelong experience and be optimistic about the future – as I am.”

For details on how to apply for the Clark Scholarship, email: giles.vosper-brown@malverncollege.org.uk

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