School Guide

Developing Successful Students Through Boarding at KTJ

Published by SchoolAdvisor | Jan 17, 2022

The Acting Director of Boarding at KTJ, Gary Slade, has shared boarders' experience, and everything students and parents should expect at KTJ Boarding.

Boarding is at the very heart of Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ). Established in 1991 by three siblings of the Negeri Sembilan Royal Family, the idea behind KTJ was based on their experiences of studying in top boarding schools in the UK and abroad. Today, KTJ has seven senior boarding houses, a junior boarding house for boys and girls and one day house. 

For the past four years, Gary Slade has been a Houseparent for a senior boys’ house and currently, the junior boarding house which he runs along with his wife. He has also recently taken on the role of Acting Director of Boarding. 

Gary Slade

Gary Slade, Acting Director of Boarding at KTJ.

We caught up with Gary to learn more about the benefits of boarding education, KTJ’s supportive boarding community and the recent introduction of boarding for Year 6 Primary students. 

Building a sense of togetherness between students

Hailing from South Africa, Gary lived and worked in the UK for 15 years prior to moving to Malaysia with his family. “We have really enjoyed our time in Malaysia so far, and this has been mainly due to the great people we work with at KTJ,” he explains.

With previous experience in other boarding schools, Gary believes that the boarding experience should be fully integrated into every aspect of a school, and not treated as a separate entity. “At KTJ, boarding is very much a key feature of all school policies. Students have strong affiliations to their houses, whether day or boarding students and each house has a mix of both. There are also robust systems in place that allow for excellent pastoral care, and houseparents have protected time allowing them to perform their jobs to the best of their ability.” 

KTJ Boarding Students

Boarding students at KTJ have strong affiliations and a sense of belonging amongst their House and fellow students.

Boarding at KTJ develops camaraderie and a sense of belonging amongst students. Opportunities for bonding and creating new friendships are provided through the plethora of activities and events, from house sports competitions, to arts and cultural events, and even weekend entertainment. “House Singing is a great event which includes the whole student body, bringing students together, allowing them to work, laugh, plan and celebrate an occasion that provides so much more to them than the actual singing itself”, said Gary. “Many events are also student-led allowing students to develop important skills in leadership and teamwork and to excel in things beyond the classroom.”

House singingA senior girls' house performed in House Singing 2019.

Recipes for a successful student

KTJ’s holistic approach to education combines academic excellence with over 100 extra-curricular activities including sports, clubs, societies and charity work. “We also offer a full enrichment programme for our Sixth Form students where they are treated to talks and lectures from professionals covering topics in a diverse range of subjects and sectors”, adds Gary.

INTA 2019A student enrichment evening delivered by the International Trademark Association (INTA) in 2019.

Apart from the rigorous activities aimed at students’ personal and academic development, KTJ also places strong emphasis on the importance of mental health amongst its learners. “At KTJ, we firmly believe that happiness and optimism are recipes for their success in the future. Therefore, we have a full system in place to help our students through any difficulties they are facing”, explains Gary. Some of the student support initiatives include a Peer-2-Peer support group, a Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE) curriculum that covers topics surrounding mental health, and a dedicated School Counsellor. 

As an international school, KTJ students benefit from belonging to a diverse community. Through boarding, students discover different cultures and gain independence, helping to form a strong foundation for life at university and beyond. The School holds events and assemblies to celebrate a variety of religious and cultural events throughout the year, many of which are led by KTJ students. 

Bubble picnic eventKTJ recently hosted a Bubble Picnic event which included live entertainment and delicious food. The event was organised by the Sixth Form Committee and the Weekend & Holiday Entertainment Team.

Boarding opportunities for KTJ Primary students

In 2021, KTJ welcomed students in Primary Year 6 to join Junior Boarding. “We felt it was important to offer to board students in Year 6 — and Year 5 in the near future — as this gives students the opportunity for a seamless transition into secondary school and boarding life,” Gary tells us.

KTJ Boarding lifeThe best moments of boarding life are often enjoyed during the 'unstructured' time spent with friends in dorms and around the pantry table.

KTJ’s junior boarding staff have plenty of experience working with younger students. For example, the junior girls’ houseparent and Gary’s wife, Ms Simy, is also a Year 5 teacher in KTJ Primary and has previously led preparatory school boarding houses in the UK. 

For parents who are interested in sending their children to a boarding school, Gary advises, “Boarding is fun and the best moments are often enjoyed during the ‘unstructured’ time spent with friends in dorms and around the pantry table. These are where fond memories of school are made.”

To learn more and enquire about KTJ Boarding, please visit

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