Dear Parents and Friends of BSB
We come to the end of another incredible, and incredibly busy school year here at BSB. And what a year it has been! I am so proud to be able to serve the wonderful students here and the entire BSB community – you have heard me say so many times that I have the best job in the world and, on a daily basis, this is reinforced to me. Thank you for all you do to make coming to work such a pleasure for all of us who are privileged to work here.
Academically, this has been a stellar year. We obviously still await the results of our external examinations. In the Secondary school, the part of the school that needed so much work two years ago, we are sure that they will be record results. We believe that they will be stunning, beyond what we could have imagined two years ago. Likewise, in Primary, we don’t yet have the full figures for the Key Stage 2 tests at the end of Year 6. What we do know is that our Mathematics students at Level 6 (the top level) have achieved more than twice our previous best (which was already good). Our commitment to be the highest achieving school in Beijing academically is close to fruition – and we are obviously speaking as a school that is proud to be non-selective in our admissions. We simply do not believe in writing children off in this way, by saying that some are good enough at an early age and some are not, and seeing the progress of everyone – be that our exceptional achievers who will doubtless go to top universities or those who simply achieve beyond their wildest dreams – is the best part of the best job!
I do not intend to repeat the details of everything I have written in my previous letters to you, about the many facets of life in our BSB family. Suffice it to say that it is always busy, and our children are always inspiring. Over the past week or so, we have seen this once again in so many ways. The Prizegiving and Graduation ceremonies, as ever, provided a very fitting end to the year, as we celebrated the academic achievement of so many students, but also saw the huge support that parents give to the school. The Year 1 and 2 Sports Days this week have been an absolute joy to behold – the enthusiasm of the children, some fantastic Year 11 helpers (who make natural teachers and leaders) and the commitment of the PE and class teachers were all mesmerising. Last week in Secondary School we had our annual House Shakespeare by Heart competition, played out to the entire school and warm applause. The standard was incredibly high, with individual performances and some outstanding group work, particularly Year 7 performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and there was even a guest appearance by our very own bard, Mr Steve Lewis. Hopefully in the last newsletter you also read details about our sport during the year. Although I knew the figures, when you see them on paper it still never ceases to amaze – there are now two and a half times as many students participating in regular competitive sport as there were three years ago; this is a huge credit to the students and our committed team of coaches.
Please also keep an eye on our website for up-to-date news on:
- The outstanding achievements of our World Scholars’ Cup teams in Kuala Lumpur;
- The progress of our selected élite musicians performing with the Nord Anglia Education Global Orchestra and Juilliard Music School in New York;
- The stunning results of the recent GungHo Pizza design competition, where BSB took the vast majority of awards against stiff competition from the other international schools;
- How to order photographs from the graduation and prizegiving ceremonies.
Full reports on the events will be published in the first newsletter next term.
One of my final acts of the term was to present the cheque to the really amazing charity ‘Couleurs de Chine’, who were the recipients, along with the Nepal Earthquake Appeal, of the funds raised at our Summer Fayre. ‘Couleurs de Chine’ are dedicated to providing schooling for ethnic minority girls in southern China. The sum of 42,000 RMB was handed to them, and it was so moving to hear that this sum will provide education for over 50 Primary age children for a whole year! Thank you so much for your generosity in supporting the event – there is no doubt that it will make a difference.
I do need to mention the results of the recent parental survey which we sent out, as your support has been heart-warming beyond belief. You will not be surprised to hear that we believe we can do better yet – we are never complacent and every child deserves the best that we can possibly give. We will not rest until we believe that this is consistently the case, and we know there are also still areas we need to improve, such as the dining facilities, and our ongoing work on effective communication about our expectations of children’s learning. These both achieved around a 75% satisfaction (agree/strongly agree that the school does it effectively) rating – approximately 10 % improvement on last year – but, given the strength of our other areas, we believe we can continue to improve. We also know that the significant strengths we now have academically need to continue to grow week on week, month on month and year on year and we must not relax our efforts in this aspect.
However, in the key areas concerning learning, we are so grateful to receive the following approval ratings (again, the percentage of those who strongly agreed or agreed, with the 2014 scores in brackets):
The school has high academic standards and expectations - 87% (2014 – 82%)
My child is supported to develop his/her talents - 87% (82%)
My child is making good progress at school - 89% (83%)
There is a good learning environment - 97% (85%)
My child is happy at school - 94% (89%)
My child feels safe at school - 94% (89%)
There is a wide range of extra-curricular activities for my child - 89% (77%)
There is a wide range of trips and visits - 86% (73%)
My child is taught by high quality teachers - 85% (77%)
My child has a good relationship with his/her teachers - 94% (87%)
My child is developing as a global citizen - 94% (91%)
My child is developing his/her social skills - 93% (90%)
And, to be completely honest, the one which has most moved and humbled me:
I would recommend the school to others - 95% (86%)
And ‘humbled’ is the word that most springs to mind as I read these words. Naturally, as the survey is carried out at the same time in all of Nord Anglia Education’s 35 schools, we can benchmark the results against other schools, and I can tell you that your support places at or above those other schools. We could not achieve what we do without your support, we definitely get it wrong sometimes and we are committed to just working away relentlessly at those areas where improvement is needed. Thank you!
Next year, we will also be introducing something that parents and students have been asking for for some time, in the form of an enhanced ID card system. We will need your help to implement this effectively. We will give more details in the new term, but the basic information is as follows:
Student card – all students in the Secondary school will be issued with a ‘smart’ ID card. In the immediate term, the main use will be for them/you to top it up with money so that they can use the new snack bar on the third floor (from the end of September) if they wish. They will also be using it on a card reader if they leave or enter school during the day. It can also be used as a Student ID card to gain discounts from shops, cinemas etc. where available. During 2015/16, we will roll out further uses of it – these will include borrowing library books, printing on the school’s printers and, eventually, new security gates. To ensure a smooth start, these cards will be launched towards the end of September (once we have all the new photographs taken). Once the system is working effectively in Secondary, we will consider how we might use a similar system in Primary.
Parent card – in line with feedback from parents, we are going to change the system for parent ID cards. These will also be ‘smart’ cards and will be able to be used to register with security, thus avoiding the painful process of signing in and out. More importantly, in line with parents’ requests and to make our children even safer in school, we will be putting the parent (rather than the child) name on the card and changing the cards annually. This will mean that we have to ask you each year the details you would like on any cards you have, but I hope you will agree that this is a much more secure and reliable system.
And so the 2014/15 academic year comes to an end. As ever, it is the nature of international schools that we will be saying goodbye to a number of staff and students, and this is always a very sad moment for us. There are fewer teachers leaving this year than previously, a fact about which I am delighted, but those that are have made a massive contribution to the school and we will really miss them. As I meet with every single one of them over this week, I can reflect on how much they ‘go the extra mile’, how much energy and commitment they give to our children, and how they have each individually been a part of the BSB story. I will write again at the end of the holiday and introduce you to all the new teachers who are joining us – I am delighted to say that we have recruited a truly excellent crop of very experienced colleagues who I believe will play an equally crucial part as we move on to the next stage. Incidentally, I am also very pleased to report that our student recruitment has been strong for this summer and, unlike the trend in Beijing international schools, we look like we will begin the new year with more students than we currently have; this means that we can continue to provide the huge range of opportunities, inside and outside the curriculum, for all our students.
And it is, as I have said in my speeches at all of our prizegiving and graduate events, those students who make the school. It is they who make our dreams a reality and, whatever we ask a BSB student to do, they always seem to do more, and their commitment and pride in what they do that leads them to excel and gives us the assurance that they will be the true leaders of tomorrow. To those who are leaving us to go to pastures new, we wish them everything they could hope for – they have left their mark on BSB and the school is a better place because they were here. For those who are with us next year, I hope they have a superb summer holiday and I look forward so much to seeing them all again at the end of August.
So, as I come to the end of a longer letter than I originally intended to write, I extend my grateful thanks to the entire BSB community for the way you continue to support us, our teachers and our students. I also wish you all an excellent summer, wherever you may be, and I look forward to many more years ahead.
With very best wishes
Please click on the link below to see past issues of our newsletter BSB.Connect.