Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the school?
- The school is situated on the island of Penang, just off the north-west coast of peninsular Malaysia, and connected to the mainland by ferry and bridge. The school is part of a growing township development called Botanica.CT, close to the town of Balik Pulau on the western side of the island.
Why is this a good place for a school?
- Balik Pulau is one of the truly unspoilt regions of Penang, and is a quiet and rural area, far removed from the noise, distractions and pollution of the major towns and cities. This means that our students and teachers benefit from a healthier and less stressful environment, and are able to focus on the business of education much more effectively.
What makes Penang special?
- Penang, sometimes called the Pearl of the Orient, probably represents one of the most culturally diverse and yet harmonious communities in the world. With a wonderful range of peoples, food, religions and festivals, Penang is a vibrant and welcoming destination for visitors from all over the world. In addition Malaysia scores very highly on international measures of safety (rated the second most safe country in Asia – after Japan) It also has the 9th highest level of proficiency in English in the world (and is top in Asia) for a country whose mother tongue is not English.
Why should I consider a British International School for my child’s education?
- The advantages of a British International education are many and varied, but fall largely into three categories. Firstly with decades of experience and refinement, the British educational system is recognised as one of the best in the world. Secondly an International education leading to British A level qualifications opens doors to all the best universities in the world. Thirdly, such an education not only encourages your child to mix with a diverse group of students, and immerses them in a world where English is the main medium of communication, but also prepares students for an international life.
What is special about the Prince of Wales Island International School?
- In addition to its wonderful location, the major factor that makes the Prince of Wales Island International School special will be the quality of education it offers. Its facilities are world class; its teachers and leaders have decades of experience in British education, and it will offer not only a complete boarding experience, but the best boarding experience in Malaysia. Day pupils too will benefit from the emphasis on the complete education on offer.
How many students will the school accommodate?
- 800 boys and girls aged 11 to 18, of which 370 will be boarders.
Where will the students come from?
- Some will live in Penang, others will come from further afield in Malaysia. There will be expatriate children who are resident in Penang and in the region, and students from other countries in South East Asia and the rest of the world.
What are the fees?
- Fees for tuition range from USD 12,000 to USD 14,000 per year. Boarding fees will be an additional USD 12.000 per year. For a full description of the fees structure see www.powiis.edu.my/Admissions/SchoolFees.aspx.
What is not included in the fees?
- Textbooks and uniform. For individual lessons which are not part of the main curriculum there will be extra charges. For day pupils there will be a charge for lunch. For a full description of the fee structure see www.powiis.edu.my/Admissions/SchoolFees.aspx.
What age groups do you teach?
- The Prince of Wales Island International School is a Secondary School. We will be teaching pupils who are aged approximately 11 to 18.
Is the school selective?
- Yes. Applicants will be asked to take two assessment tests, one which tests abilities in English, and one which looks at Mathematical reasoning. For a more complete description please see www.powiis.edu.my/Admissions/AdmissionsProcessYear7_8_9And10.aspx.
Are there scholarships available?
- Yes. The Prince of Wales Island International School is keen to attract students of the highest calibre. A range of scholarships will be available which recognise academic excellence, including specific awards for those who have performed at a high level in their SPM examinations. We will also award scholarships to students who have demonstrated a high level of achievement in other areas, such as art, music and sports. See www.powiis.edu.my/Admissions/Scholarships.aspx for further details.
Where will the teachers come from?
- Most of the teachers have been recruited directly from the UK. See www.powiis.edu.my/AboutUs/TeachingStaff.aspx for a description of the teachers who have been appointed in 2011.
What curriculum will you be teaching?
- We will be teaching a British curriculum, leading to Cambridge International (CIE) IGCSE and A level examinations.
Why is this a good curriculum for my child?
- The British system has a very long tradition of excellence, and the qualifications students attain are recognised world-wide. It focuses on breadth of choice and places emphasis on independence of thought and development of critical thinking and questioning. As well as being the standard qualification for entry to British universities, A levels are recognised by universities in the USA and Canada; Australia and New Zealand and in many other countries in Europe and beyond.
Can you explain the British system to me?
- A British secondary education takes seven years, called Year 7 to Year 13 (approximately 11 to 18 years old). The school year starts in September and ends in June, and at the Prince of Wales Island International School there will be three terms (see www.powiis.edu.my/Menu/Calendar.aspx for the term dates for 2015-2016).There are two major exam seasons. The first is in May/June at the end of Year 11 (approximately 16 years of age) students will take their IGCSE examinations, the preparation for which takes two years (Years 10 and 11). Most students take between 9 and 10 subjects at IGCSE.The second is at the end of Year 13 (age 18), when students will take their A level examinations. Preparation for these also takes two years (Years 12 and 13). This is usually called the Sixth Form.
What subjects will you teach?
- We will teach a broad range of subjects at all levels. For a complete list of subjects please see www.powiis.edu.my/Academic/Curriculum_789.aspx. As pupils join Year 10 they will be asked to select the subjects they wish to study for their IGCSE examinations (usually 9 or 10 subjects). When they move on to A levels, they will once again be asked to select a much smaller group of subjects (usually four) to study.
Will some subjects be compulsory?
- Yes. Up to IGCSE all students will be required to study English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics. Malaysian nationals will be required to study Bahasa Malaysia. There will also be non-examined courses in Personal, Health and Social Education (PHSE) and Physical Education (PE) which will be compulsory for all. At A level there will be no compulsory subjects.
My child’s English is not very good. Does this matter?
- It is important that all students are able to participate in the education offered by the Prince of Wales Island International School. If your child’s English is not very confident we can help by offering special support lessons. Alternatively for children whose English is quite weak we would suggest that they join the School’s English Language Preparation Course (see www.powiis.edu.my/Academic/elpc.aspx) for one or two terms until their English is of a sufficient standard.
How will I know that my child is progressing well?
- As well as reporting regularly on your child’s progress through written reports and parent-teacher meetings, every pupil will be assigned a member of the teaching staff who will be their mentor, advisor and counsellor. We call this teacher the pupil’s tutor. They will be the best informed person about your child’s education and progress, whether academic, social or personal. We will encourage parents to make direct contact with their child’s tutor if they have any concerns or questions, and your child’s tutor will make at least termly contact directly with you.
Will we need to pay for extra tuition?
- No. It will be a fundamental ambition of the Prince of Wales Island International School that any extra tuition that may be required to support academic progress will be provided within the normal school day.
Which Universities can my child go to after your school?
- It is our hope that all students at the Prince of Wales Island International School can apply to any university in the world, including the top institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and MIT.
Do you help them with University applications and advice?
- Yes. Our staff are experienced in offering advice and directing students to help them make their applications to the universities of their choice. Throughout a student’s time at the School we will help with subject choices and career advice, and ensure that all the necessary steps are taken to complete a successful application.
Looking after your child
How will you make sure my child is safe?
- The School will have a sophisticated security system and 24-hour security patrols. Entrance to all buildings will require a coded access card. In addition, students will be monitored regularly throughout the day and there will be strict routines to keep boarding pupils safe at night.
What is the boarding accommodation like?
- Most pupils will share a twin-bedded room with another student in the same year group. The rooms are spacious, air-conditioned, and furnished with a bed, desk and wardrobe. Soft furnishings such as mattress, bedding and curtains are also provided.
Who looks after my child when they are boarding?
- Each Hall of Residence will have a Head of Hall whose main responsibility will be the care and supervision of the students in his or her Hall. In addition there will be a matron who will help to look after the pupils, attend to minor illnesses and manage the domestic arrangements of the Hall. Other members of the teaching staff will be allocated to each Hall to provide additional support and supervision.
What sort of food will be provided?
- The School has its own cafeteria and catering provision. All meals for boarders will be provided, and lunch for day pupils. The menus will be varied and include Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western dishes.
What is included in the boarding fees?
- In addition to the services provided for day pupils, boarding fees include all accommodation, meals, laundry and domestic support.
What happens if my child becomes ill?
- In the first instance your child will be seen by the matron who will decide what treatment is best. Usually (as at home) this may involve staying in bed for a day or two while being looked after. For more serious illnesses your child will be taken to a doctor or if need be, a hospital.
Can they have a mobile telephone?
- Yes. They may not be used during any School activity.
Can they access the internet?
- Yes. The School will restrict the websites and webpages they may view.
How can I contact my child if he or she is a boarder?
- By all the usual methods. We would ask that you do not try to make contact during lesson time or late in the evenings when your child should be asleep.
May I visit my boarding child at school?
- Yes. It will be necessary to check with the Head of Hall in advance, and in most cases we would expect your son or daughter to fulfill any School commitments before leaving the campus.
How does my child get to and from the school for holidays?
- Students may be collected by car or the usual School buses will deliver them to destinations elsewhere on the island. Transport will be provided to and from the airport for pupils who wish to fly home. Penang is very well served by many airlines which cover a wide range of destinations. See www.powiis.edu.my/Facilities_Services/Flights.aspx for more information.
Can my child leave the school campus at any time?
- No. No pupil will be permitted to leave unless they have permission from their Head of Hall or the Deputy Principal. In most cases we will also expect them to be accompanied by an adult when they are not on the campus.
Can they stay at the school during holidays?
- We expect all pupils to return home during the main school holidays at the end of each term, and during half-term in Term 1. For holidays of four days or less pupils can opt to stay in School, and a special activity programme or expedition will be arranged to cater for them.
What facilities will you have?
- The School is very well equipped with sports facilities, including a 6-lane 25 metre swimming pool, football pitch, tennis and netball courts, and a multi-purpose hall equipped for indoor sports including badminton and basketball. There are also extensive facilities for music practice and performance, dance, drama, art, and design; as well as opportunities for many other clubs and activities.
What sort of sports will be on offer?
- Football, tennis, badminton, basketball, netball, swimming, water polo, table tennis, shooting, golf, martial arts, dancing and fencing will be available. We hope to extend this list as the School expands and the expertise of our staff increases.
What type of activities will you arrange?
- We will arrange a very broad range of activities for all pupils during the usual school day and for boarders at weekends. The range of activities we plan to provide can be found at www.powiis.edu.my/Extra_Curricular/Activities.aspx, but is limited only by the expertise of our teaching staff and the enthusiasm of our pupils.
My child is already an expert in . . . . How will you maintain his or her expertise?
- In discussion with you, we will do our best to maintain and encourage their skills by appointing specialist trainers or coaches as necessary. In the case of one-to-one coaching in a specialised discipline there will be a separate charge for these lessons. In the event that the Prince of Wales Island International School is unable to secure the services of an appropriate coach or teacher, we would inform you directly.
Please contact us for any further information on any of these questions, or with additional questions you may like to ask. Do take time to browse through this website which will also provide the answers to many more questions.