School Advisor Articles

Thriving in a World of Opportunity: A HELP International School Graduate’s Journey

Published by SchoolAdvisor | May 27, 2024

HELP International School (HELP) isn’t just a place of learning, it’s a springboard to becoming a well-rounded global citizen. At least, that’s the experience of Brandon Chew, a former HELP student who recently graduated from University College London (UCL).

A Nurturing Environment for Success

Brandon’s experience at HELP paints a picture of a school prioritising academic achievement and personal growth. The faculty, a vibrant mix of international and local educators, consistently impressed him with their dedication.

“It was a great experience,” he says. “The teachers were passionate about supporting students academically, and I find that many of the events the school has organised such as talks by CEOs and others, are really helpful.”

One such teacher that Brandon fondly remembers is Miss Laura, his English teacher, whose passion extended beyond the classroom. “She (and other teachers in the English Department) brought my cohort to a screenplay of Merchant of Venice in KLPAC because we were studying the play for our literature IGCSE.”

Beyond academics, the school offers a dedicated pastoral support team. Weekly classes with this team equip students with valuable soft skills, fostering their personal development. Their focus on mental well-being makes them a trusted resource readily available to bridge the gap between students and teachers.

The strong sense of community extended to the faculty as well. International teachers from the UK, Poland, and beyond fostered strong relationships, creating a cohesive learning environment. Brandon holds a special place in his memory for the ‘first batch’ of international teachers: Mr Hammonds, Miss Stacey, Ms Amy, Mr McDonough, Mr Salam and Ms Hifzah, acknowledging their lasting impact.

Brandon was the captain of many clubs at HELP including Volleyball, Swimming, Ultimate Frisbee, and others.

HELP’s supportive environment proved invaluable during his IGCSEs. Most teachers went above and beyond, creating their own learning materials and meticulously dissecting mark schemes and syllabuses. This ensured the students grasped the examiners’ expectations. Their dedication extended beyond the classroom; many offered extra help whenever the students requested.

“I remember my Chemistry teacher, Ms Elaine, holding extra classes during holidays a few months before IGCSE so we could refresh our knowledge on old topics.”

Beyond academics, Brandon actively participated in numerous co-curricular activities and societies within HELP, including volleyball, ultimate frisbee, swimming, basketball and football. Since HELP was part of the KLISS (KL International School sports) association, Brandon and his peers regularly participated in inter-school competitions that their PE teachers helped organise.

This vibrant engagement wasn’t just for his university applications (though it certainly bolstered his portfolio). More importantly, it fostered significant personal growth.

“Being captain of various sports teams in HELP and representing the school in inter-school competitions enables me to learn more about myself and my capabilities in terms of teamwork and leadership.”

Pursuing A Levels at Sunway College

Brandon, a Sunway College A-Level graduate, found the learning environment starkly contrasting to the traditional programme he experienced at HELP. Unlike HELP’s structured, traditional UK college feel, Sunway offered a taste of university life. The freedom to manage his schedule, coming and going as needed allowed Brandon to prioritise academics while still pursuing personal interests.

The faculty at Sunway College impressed Brandon with their dedication and support beyond the classroom. “I remembered reaching out to my Economics teacher at 9 PM one day to ask her about a past year’s questions, and she immediately answered me with a 3-minute voice note on WhatsApp.”

That’s not all. Brandon recalls his Physics teacher conducting extra classes (two to five-hour sessions) on the holidays just to help the students prepare for the examinations.

Considering Brandon’s subjects (Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, and Economics) were heavily knowledge-based, the teachers provided invaluable resources including past paper question sets which proved crucial for exam preparation. One Math teacher, Mr. Yong Yau, even co-authored a book designed to help students excel in the exams. While the experience might not be universal for every student, Brandon felt incredibly fortunate with the instructors he had.

The result? Brandon scored 2 A*’s and 2 A’s in his A Levels. He then pursued a BEng in Mechanical Engineering at University College London (UCL) — he graduated in 2022 with first class.

Brandon graduated from UCL with a first-class degree in Mechanical Engineering.

A Global Perspective

Brandon believes studying in an international school like HELP significantly broadened his horizons. Exposure to a diverse student body and international teachers offered him a glimpse of life beyond Malaysia. This fostered an open-mindedness and a wider perspective when approaching different situations.

Furthermore, the school’s teaching methods focused on comprehension rather than rote memorisation, a style that helped him gain a deeper understanding of subjects.

For parents considering sending their children to an international school, Brandon wholeheartedly recommends it.

“I honestly think HELP is a great school. Since I’ve been there from the start, I really do see HELP growing and slowly building a great reputation for itself by investing in its students. Whether it be a new student hub or investing in facilities such as a gym, a videography room and a workshop area for students in between classes, HELP does actually invest in its students.”

Brandon’s journey exemplifies the holistic approach to education offered by HELP. The school equips students not only with academic excellence but also with essential life skills, critical thinking and a global perspective, preparing them for success in a dynamic world.