A very warm welcome/welcome back to BSB for another exciting school year. For those of you new to the school, our promise is that you will join a genuine family where you and your child will be truly valued and treated as individuals, where your child will achieve more than they would at any other school, and where he/she will have a huge range of opportunities to develop as a well-rounded, well-mannered and confident individual. I look forward so much to meeting with you all as the term gets underway, and to continuing the developments of last year.
For those of you who have been with us some time, you will see many changes to the building, but no change to our passionate commitment for BSB to be the Best School in Beijing. Our new teachers (see below) have been selected by an extremely rigorous recruitment process to ensure they share this commitment and are able to fully contribute to it.
It is our aim to keep you informed as much as possible with everything that is going on at the school and by far the best way to do this is via our website, which includes very frequent blog updates. We also produce a regular web newsletter and post news items on Facebook on a virtually daily basis. During this year we are looking to also publish these items via WeChat. A number of parents said that they would like us to reduce the number of general emails we send out, in addition to the regular daily email about your child’s learning, so we will try to use these other methods wherever possible.
However, so much has happened over the summer that I thought it would be good to update you personally as well as welcoming you back.
We have received the results from the Cambridge International Examinations Board and they are extremely encouraging – as of now, the number of A* and A grades at IGCSE is double our previous best in this field.
We are also currently checking on the university destinations of our graduating class and almost all are entering their university of first choice, including universities in the top five in the world and top universities in students’ own countries where they choose to return home to study.
The results from the other examination boards (which include our English and Mathematics results) are not released until Thursday 21 August – we will publish all of our results and our university destinations on our website as soon as they are available.
As with every summer at BSB, there has been a huge amount of building development under way in order to provide even better facilities for your children. Please feel welcome to come and visit these facilities and see them for yourselves.
First and foremost, we have now virtually completed our air quality measures, with the construction of our Sports Dome, installation of further air curtains over external doors, and the fitting of several new porches around the school to provide better air separation around these doors.
As we reported at the end of last term, independent testing of our classrooms now shows the indoor air quality to be excellent (classrooms between 10 and 30 on the AQI scale) even on bad pollution days, and we believe these new measures will make this even better. We will of course continue to explore every avenue to ensure that the air quality is the best that it can be.
Other building works this summer have included:
Secondary Library – complete refurbishment to provide a bright, new, 21st century study facility that our Secondary students deserve.
Early Years corridor – a totally new concept has been implemented, with much more suiting of rooms, an Early Years library, excellent new Nursery facilities, and a layout that is much more in keeping with the very latest thinking in Early Years Education.
Sport and PE – refurbishment of the track and tennis court to high standards, and improvements to the swimming pool facility. There will be significant further work on the swimming pool later in the year.
Redecoration of communal areas and many classrooms, and external painting.
New uniform shop alongside Chatterbox café (which has also been refurbished) to provide a central area to support parental needs.
Office moves - our Admissions office has been moved to the brighter, more spacious area behind Main School Reception, whilst the Principal’s office has moved to the former Admissions office, making me far more ‘front of house’ and more visible to students, parents and colleagues. Our Finance Office has now all been suited together, to provide an even more coherent service to parents.
Timings of the school day
We have made some minor changes to the timings of the school day, in order to allow the Primary School and Secondary School to be better synchronised for lessons such as Music and PE – this will make for a much smoother timetable for your children. It also means that our youngest Primary children will not have the long wait on the buses at the end of the day which, we believe, will be a much better arrangement.
We have only slightly changed the basic timings at the beginning or end of the day, and we expect all students to be in class for registration at 8.25 am. This allows for buses to leave at the end of the day five minutes earlier, which we believe, with Beijing traffic, should save even more time on the journey home. We have also introduced an afternoon break for Key Stage 2 students (Years 3-6) as we believe this is important in helping them to maintain concentration throughout afternoon lessons.
We are also making some very positive changes to the structure of After School Activities (ASAs) for Primary by combining the ASA and the Sport bus. We believe this will avoid parents having to make multiple trips to the bus stop and also get students home a little earlier from Sports activities. Further details will follow at the beginning of the Sport and ASA Season 1.
As you are aware, Beijing traffic can be highly unpredictable and this meant that, on more occasions last year than was acceptable, children arrived late to school and to class and therefore missed valuable learning time. We have worked with the bus company to adjust the schedules for this year, whilst still trying to avoid buses leaving any earlier than is absolutely necessary to be in school on time, but also trying to make sure that they are not late. This does mean that some of the buses will run just a little earlier than before but I hope you understand the careful balance we have tried to achieve.
With many thanks to the parents who contributed to the feedback on school uniform at the end of last year, we are implementing changes you have asked for as this year goes on. Some of the new style uniform will be available from orientation day onwards. Clearly, we cannot bring in all the changes at once as we have large amounts of stock of the current uniform, but you will have noticed that we have reduced the price of a number of ‘old stock’ items in readiness for introducing new stock as soon as it becomes available. The main items that will change in the next few months are:
- The school blazer. The new blazer will be made of higher quality material with a better wool content, and there will be a properly fitted female blazer for girls. Please remember that the blazer is optional until winter uniform commences;
- The jumper/cardigan. We are replacing this with a much higher quality wool garment, but one which has been designed to be easy wash. This will be much more comfortable for students and look better too;
- The shirts. Some students and parents felt the current shirts lacked comfort. We have therefore introduced shirts for all with a softer feel and higher cotton content, and also fitted shirts/blouses for girls which will be much smarter than the old unisex items;
- Boys’ trousers and shorts. The old model was poorly fitting below the waist, and is being replaced with a properly tailored garment, which will be both smarter and more comfortable.
- Primary school polo shirts. The colour of these is changing from white to turquoise, thus making them far easier to keep looking clean and smart in the Beijing climate (and the rigours of playtime).
In all of these changes, we have been aware of the cost of uniform and I am pleased to say that any price increases will be minimal. We have also decided, with the exception of the polo shirt, not to make any basic changes to the uniform, so the old uniform may continue to be worn until it wears out (in the case of the polo shirt, I am happy for pupils to wear either the old or the new version for at least one year).
We have also been aware that parents may well have purchased uniform in the summer so have focused on items for the winter uniform which will start in October. Up until then, the blazer remains optional. During the year, we will endeavour to make yet more increases in quality without increase in cost, and are looking at the following at present:
- Girls’ skirts
- Summer dresses
- PE uniforms
Welcoming our new teachers
We are delighted to welcome a number of new teachers to the school from this August. All of them are highly qualified and experienced graduates, with a good balance of those coming direct from UK schools and those who already have international experience. We believe this allows for the best combination of best practice in the British Curriculum alongside deep knowledge of the international dimension to our curriculum.
In the Primary School, we welcome the following colleagues:
Philip Allman - Head of Primary School
Jamie Hughes - Deputy Head Teacher
Rachel Hardwick - Key Stage 2 teacher
Bethany Hudson - Key Stage 2 teacher
Nicola Laidler - Key Stage 1 teacher
Christopher McKeesick - Key Stage 2 teacher
Maggie McKelvey - Year 1 coordinator
Nicola Murdoch - Key Stage 2 teacher
Scott Murdoch - Key Stage 2 teacher
Emily Newman - Key Stage 2 teacher
Graham Nuttall - Key Stage 1 teacher
Kathryn Owens - Early Years coordinator
Katy Phillipson - Key Stage 1 teacher
Julia Smedegaard - Key Stage 2 teacher
Daniel Smith - Key Stage 2 teacher
Victoria Williams - Key Stage 2 teacher
In Secondary we welcome the following subject specialist teachers:
Peter Carlisle - Deputy Head Teacher and Teacher of Science
David Cairns - English
Ross Harnett - Science
Martin Harrison - Art
Claire Illingworth - Science
Thomas McDonagh - SEN Coordinator
Kaye Maciver - Head of Humanities
Eurin Morgan - Geography
Michael Pinnock - Science
Mr Pinnock will be joining us in September due to visa regulations. As you are aware, we had a sudden vacancy created by the departure of Ms Leigh Holmes at the end of last term and we have worked as quickly as possible to fill this with a high quality replacement, but it has meant a slightly delayed start. Until his arrival, Mr Pinnock’s classes will be covered by our Secondary Leadership Team, Mr Lewis, Mr Carlisle and Ms Pratt, all of whom are experienced Science specialists.
The following colleagues join the Physical Education team, and will teach in both Primary and Secondary:
Joanne North - Head of Primary PE
And the following two colleagues will be joining the German Primary School:
May I also introduce you to two key people in our Administration Team:
Mrs Edel Phelan joins us as Admissions and Family Liaison Team Leader, with Mrs Erinda Stringa becoming the school’s Head of Enrolment, and Ms Brenda Leung joins our Marketing Team as PR and Community Development Manager.
We wish them all and exceptionally happy and fruitful time within the BSB family!
No Smoking Site
As parents from last year will remember, we have made the decision that BSB should be a wholly non-smoking site. Our staff are no longer allowed to smoke anywhere on, or in the vicinity of the premises, and I would kindly ask visitors to abide by this regulation also.
With many thanks for all your support and wishing you all a highly successful and happy school year 2014/15.