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Mr Mark Sayer Weekly Update 8/1/2016

It is always a pleasure to be welcoming parents and students back to school for the beginning of the new term.  There is a change in the buzz , tempo – and noise levels, for sure – around the school building as the ‘family’ returns after the holiday break.  We welcome you all.

  • BVIS update 20160108
  • Staff training 20160108
  • Bounce by Matthew Syed

The first two days before the children arrived have been busy.  All of the Secondary staff were fully engaged in a two day training course on Middle Leadership, on developing mindsets and their practice in the growth areas of accountability and responsibility.  The course was run by Mark Evans of Penta International, who previously had delivered the Schools Inspection training for British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspections.  This means that all former BIS Group senior leaders, working for the group prior to 2015, are ready for Level 3 Inspections.  Accordingly, we knew the quality that Mark Evans would deliver, and sure enough, there was a palpable sense of purpose, achievement and fun as they examined together the issue of what good leadership looks like and how it can best be implemented for the benefit of the whole school community.

Primary staff too were equally busy with a programme of their own delivered in house, bringing alignment in key practices across all of the staff within that section.  The topic areas they explored were quality marking with emphasis on immediate and effective feedback.  There is great value in students also assessing their own performance.  As one renowned sports coach has said: “If you don’t know what is going wrong, how can you know what is going right?” Staff therefore have been exploring and embedding how students can check, assess and learn from what they observe in their own work before it is then marked by teachers.  Further work on Mission, Vision and Values as encapsulated in the Aide Memoire for implementation throughout the curriculum also formed part of the days.  Following up with staff after the event, it was clear that all staff members had had two extremely profitable days.  It has helped to invigorate, challenge and focus afresh all staff members for the benefit of the children who have now returned for the new term.

Returning to email after the school break, there has been a flurry of emails from Nord Anglia Education staff around the world.  They are sharing recommendations of some of the books that they have been reading.  Not novels but books on education, management, leadership, psychology – all focussed on developing key aspects of school life, wherever they are.  My own reading this holiday was ‘Bounce’ by Matthew Syed.  It is a fascinating insight into the myths of talent over sheer hard work, that those whom we may perceive to be really talented – Mozart, Beckham, the Polgar sisters – actually display no greater talent than anyone else and that what got them to the top was an unrelenting commitment to hard work, internalising motivation to help achieve their goals.  It is an extremely interesting book, often challenging our (mis)conceptions and it certainly made me think more about my own targets and passions for the coming new year.  Nothing will change unless I put the hard work in to make it happen, whether it is in the area of professional ambitions or personal goals, like fitness levels or learning a musical instrument (both goals for this new year).  I look forward to sharing more of this book and its insights with parents and interested parties in due course.

Also of note is that we have now received the report from the Council of International Schools (CIS) following their Pre-Accreditation visit.  It was an extremely positive report as well as a solid guidance statement on the areas of inquiry for our Self Study for the Accreditation status.  I will be writing to all parents with the key points in due course.  Suffice to say, with great enthusiasm they have given us the green light to press forward on to Accreditation and this process will begin this term with the issuing of surveys and collating the results.  For this, we will need the assistance of all parents to help us in this process of continuous improvement.  I look forward to working with you on it.

Welcome back, to all our community.  A very happy weekend to you all.

Mr Mark Sayer - Principal of BVIS Hanoi

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