Carlien Shelley was appointed as headmistress at Malvern College Switzerland in September, relocating her family for a life in the Vaud Alps. Opening in 2021, it was the first Malvern branch in Europe.
Mrs Shelley came to the school with a strong leadership background and was most recently founding head at Wycombe Abbey School, Nanjing, China from 2020 to 2022. She was also founding principal of Shrewsbury School Huangpu, Guangzhou, China from 2019 to 2020.
She also worked as deputy head of Harrow International Beijing and has held posts at Rugby School and Worth School in the UK.
Here, Mrs Shelley reflects on her first few months in post:
“Arriving at Malvern College Switzerland in September with my husband and three sons was an exciting time. But it was also somewhat daunting as we moved almost 9,000km from our home in Nanjing, China. While we were all very familiar with the area, having our second home just across the border in France for the past 15 years, living here was to be a whole new experience.
“Holiday time in France/Switzerland would be filled with swimming in Lake Geneva, hiking expeditions and skiing in the very valley that I look out onto now every day at work.
“Throughout our three-year lockdown in China, we would often talk of these Swiss expeditions, and we ended up moving to what has to be one of our favourite countries. One of the things that I like most about the area, apart from the idyllic setting, is the community which has been built, both within the school and the small village of Leysin.
“Throughout our three-year lockdown in China, we would often talk of our expeditions.”
“Malvern College Switzerland is situated at the foot of the ski slopes in Leysin, which is one train stop away from the historic town of Aigle and 40 minutes from Montreux, famous for its jazz festival. It is a popular location, being the first mountain resort from Geneva with a thriving multicultural population.
The school complements the surroundings with its warm family feeling, thanks to the superb team of teaching and pastoral staff, as well as the support from sister school Malvern College in the UK and the wider family of schools.
“Malvern College Switzerland is already providing a quality education that looks further than academics. We have world class facilities for mountain and team sports right on our doorstep, the whole year through.
“They need to have the open-mindedness and curiosity to explore and the resilience to keep going.”
“My fourteen years’ experience in independent boarding schools in the UK and further seven years in British international schools has taught me how to instil a sense of purpose and belonging within a team and each individual pupil.
“I am a huge advocate for encouraging the development of the whole person and that includes their passion for a fulfilled life. They need to have the open-mindedness and curiosity to explore and the resilience to keep going, while maintaining personal standards of kindness and integrity – all qualities of Malvern College pupils.
“Our staff and our curriculum support this, nourishing a life with health and wellbeing at its heart, and that is something that I am already very proud of.”