14 May, 2021

Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 14/05/2021

Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 14/05/2021 - mr-sean-oneill-weekly-update-14-05-2021
Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 14/05/2021 We have all become familiar with adapting to unfamiliar and complex challenges over this last year. Just when we think we have become adept, new challenges emerge - new challenges which test our character.

Dear Parents, 


We have all become familiar with adapting to unfamiliar and complex challenges over this last year. Just when we think we have become adept, new challenges emerge - new challenges which test our character.


This week we have seen the BIS spirit once again come to the fore as we come together to tackle another new situation.


And so, it is with great pride that I look back at this week. A week in which we have successfully run Virtual School for our Year 7-9 students and continued with the preparation and organisation of our IGCSE and  Diploma Programmes for our examination year groups, adhering to the measures outlined by the Vietnamese Authorities to keep us all safe.


I am often asked what makes BIS special. In my view, it is that whatever we do- we do well, and with care.


Being able to ensure this quality amid complexity is difficult - it requires great people with skills and commitment, working together to overcome obstacles. 


We can all be proud of our support staff who have worked tirelessly to create the conditions for education to take place on campus, of our teachers who have skillfully adapted to ensure great learning continues, and our students who are so committed to their own learning and that of others. My thanks to each of them for responding so positively to the demands of the week. 


My thanks also to you, our parent body for showing such support for all of the measures in place. 


This community cooperation is critical in keeping us all safe and allowing our students to sit the examinations for which they have worked so hard. 


It is my pleasure in this week’s update to give a reminder of our approach to Virtual School and give a flavour of the rich learning that has taken place this week across the curriculum. I also include an overview of the Covid measures in place to keep us all safe. 


I hope to be able to welcome all our students back to school as soon as we are able and will keep you updated as we work together. 


My best wishes for a safe and peaceful weekend,

Sean O’Neill


Virtual Learning Overview



Digital Tips for Virtual School

As ever, our student values underpin everything we do, whether we are learning in school or at home in virtual school:



More specifically to virtual school, please remember:


  • Links to resources, Google Meet etc. are for you only and should not be shared.

  • Your teachers are keen to connect with you, please switch your camera on when requested. You can use the ‘blur’ background feature on Google Meet if you wish.

  • To maximise your learning by engaging with your peers and teachers throughout the whole lesson.

  • As always try your best and ask for help if needed

  • Make sure you eat well, sleep well and get plenty of exercise.


Lee Falconer - Assistant Headteacher (Teaching and Learning)

What do we expect from our parents?

A look into our week of Virtual Learning 

Year 8 Virtual Scientists in Action 


During our BIS Year 8 Science Fair, students work in groups to prepare their own investigations from scratch with minimal assistance from their teacher. This year we have a variety of projects from growing bacteria to launching projectiles. After working so hard on their projects you might expect students to lose enthusiasm when having to switch to virtual learning partway through, however our Year 8s have shown great character and resilience as they continued with their projects from home, with the same effort and energy as before. 

Students worked efficiently the moment we switched to e-learning to ensure that they had a full set of data, and those who were growing plants or bacteria made sure their projects were set up ready for their teacher to monitor. This meant most students could continue with their data processing at home and most importantly focus on adjusting their presentations to be suitable for a virtual fair. Those who have ongoing projects such as growing plants or bacteria have managed to collect data from home by being sent a series of photos of their projects by their teachers. A big well done to all of the Year 8s for rising to the challenge so that the (virtual!) Science Fair can still go ahead this year. 

Lois Topping - Science Teacher




7ma3C have been calculating the size of missing angles using online interactive whiteboards, which are shared in real-time with the class teacher. The students then received live, individual feedback on their work.

Kevin McCann - Mathematics Teacher




Chinese students enjoy interactive online lessons.

We use various learning technologies such as Peardeck, Blooket, Quizlet,Google Meet.

Miaulin Chou - Chinese Teacher




In year 8 French, we went on a virtual visit to the “Château de Versailles”. Students had previously learned about houses and bedrooms.

In this virtual lesson, they applied their knowledge and vocabulary of the topic to do some authentic research and also compare their own home with France’s most famous castle.

One student even bought some cakes and croissants to get into the spirit of the Château. Unfortunately, her little brother ate the croissants when she was completing the French tasks.

An Gulinck - Head of French Department



In Geography this week, 8I students studied examples of different types of borders and whether they were man-made or natural. After analysing a range of examples and learning how they were created, students posted their final opinion at the end of the lesson on a Google Jamboard. As you can see, the majority of the class leaned towards 'man made'.

Peter Cowen - Geography Teacher, Learning Technology Integrator



Today in a Year 9 Physics lesson, students were making model Solar Systems to try and appreciate just how large astronomical distances are and how much variation there is in the sizes of celestial objects. It was a fun way to show how hard it is to grasp the enormity of space and practice calculating relative sizes and distances.

Sean Stockley - Physics Teacher

PE Lessons via Virtual Learning 



All KS3 students have been brilliant during online PE, where they have participated in live skill challenges involving everyday items from their homes (toilet rolls, socks, chairs). It has been a lot of fun to watch them attempt a number of different things.

These challenges have been followed by 30 minute live workouts, giving the students (and teachers) a break from their laptop, the chance to get out of their chairs and get their heart rate up.

Alastair Thom - Assistant Head of PE

KS3 Computing



In KS3 Computing (Years 7 to 9), we have been using a range of programming languages to develop programs, to solve problems and create games. We have been focussing on online development areas and using skills in preparation for the next stage of the Computing Curriculum.


BIS Secondary’s Virtual Library Options 



Though not physically in school your children can still access our eBook collection on Destiny Discover.  

Take a look at our latest ‘8 Must Reads for 2021’ recommendations that includes award winning eBooks for all ages. 

Also, browse our Virtual Library for lots of ideas on what to read next. Please email Ms Curley, Secondary Teacher Librarian, if you need any help locating or accessing books.


Wellbeing Menu

During virtual school I will continue to provide a ‘Wellbeing Menu’ of activities which students can access during the course of the week. These will be posted on the student Wellbeing Google Classroom sites. The menu will have a number of activities built around the UN Sustainable Development Goals and provide something to do, to read and to create. This week the activities have focused on SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production. Next week we will look at SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities.  Tutors will encourage students to access the Wellbeing Menu during their form time discussions.  

I would also encourage students to continue to participate in any other activities, hobbies and interests which help support positive wellbeing. 

‘Dinner Table Discussions’

Thank you for all the fantastic feedback on the weekly Dinner Table Discussions. It is wonderful to hear how they are proving to be a catalyst for some wonderful conversations over the evening meal, even if sometimes they take our students out of their comfort zones. 

I hope you are having an opportunity to discuss the Wellbeing curriculum with your son or daughter and gain a greater understanding of the work they are doing during lessons and in Tutor Time. Should you have any feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me at robert.alexander@bisvietnam.com

Robert Alexander - Head of Middle Secondary (Pastoral & Wellbeing)



IB Diploma Group 4 Science Action Project



Thursday 29th April saw the Year 12 students embark on their Group 4 Project day. This is a compulsory IBDP requirement where the students work in cross disciplinary groups to explore an idea of interest to them based on a selected theme. The theme for 2021 was “The Future of Sports”. The students were required to work in groups that were made up of the group 4 disciplines; Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Systems & Societies, Sports, Exercise & Health Science, Design Technology and Computer Science. This was an opportunity for the students to utilise their skills from the IBDP Learner Profile during a project. 

Due to the nature of the project students were required to be knowledgeable in their discipline, effective communicators to share their ideas, open-minded to ensure that each discipline was represented and valued, risk-takers to try things that would push them out of their comfort zone. 

Projects that were undertaken during the day ranged from, “trying to identify the best ingredients for the most effective energy bar”, “What is the optimum shape of a dry ice board to achieve maximum speed down a crater on mars? (snowboarding on mars but the board is dry ice)”, “How do solar and wind power compare when it comes to efficiently and sustainably powering the lights of a sport stadium?”. There was a great buzz around the classrooms and the students really engaged in the task.


Once the task was completed, rather than presenting a Science Project style presentation, the students were asked to focus their digital presentation on reflection. They were asked to reflect back on the day and answer these questions:

  • What difficulties did you face as a group? What mistakes did you make as a group?

  • What difficulties did you face as an individual?

  • What strategies did you use to overcome these? How do these strategies show evidence of resilience?

  • Did you learn anything new from your failures? Either about yourself or the scientific process?

The students were then asked to watch/listen/read other groups’ presentations and to provide feedback.

It was a great day and a great experience for the Year 12 students to experience for themselves the importance of team-work, collaboration and reflection. Well done Year 12!

Lyn Stanley, Head of Science


ISHCMC Friendly 2021 - Virtual SEASAC Event



The 2020/2021 Academic Year has seen the Barracudas access competitive swimming via a range of different approaches. Most recently we were fortunate to take a small group of 8 students to compete in a Friendly Swim Meet with ISHCMC, to add an extra element of competition for the ISHCMC students as part of their Virtual SEASAC Swim Meet.

Our participating students; Matheo, Harry, Ryan, Richard, Ben, Yunji, Sao Mai and Kim Ly produced outstanding results with many new Personal Best times. In every event we participated in, we finished with a podium result, an outstanding achievement!

Kim Ly, Sao Mai and Richard also achieved New School Records. Kim Ly achieved the 11 – 12 Girls 100m Butterfly and 200m Individual Medley. Sao Mai achieved the 9 – 10 Girls 200m Backstroke and 100m Butterfly and Richard achieved the 11 – 12 Boys 100m Butterfly. A fantastic effort!

Well done Barracudas!

Emily McClelland - Head of Aquatics 

A Visit from Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation



At the end of April, we were honoured to welcome Ms. Kim Chi Nguyen, Community Fundraiser for Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation (BDCF) to our school to share more about BDCF’s activities.   Accompanying her was Vinh Anh (known to all as “VA”), a former street child, who was rescued at the age of 10 years old from the streets of Hanoi by the foundation.  VA related his story of how BDCF provided him with the opportunity to not only explore his interests but to access education which allowed him and his family to break the cycle of poverty. It was amazing to hear how he was eventually awarded a scholarship to study in Australia for a year, which tremendously helped to improve his English. 

After the presentation, Ms. Kim Chi held a question and answer session that enabled students and teachers to gain a better insight into the positive impact BDCF has on the Vietnamese community as a whole. – SiHyun Park

“The emotional and inspiring story of VA and his life changing experience with Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation has made me realize how lucky I am and encouraged me to support the street kids” – Tam Nguyen

“ The story of VA was very inspirational and his life experience encouraged us and made us feel lucky about the life that we have now” – Minnie Bui

School Events Update


As always, we had a rich and varied programme of school and community events planned for Term 3. 

These are events that make up the fabric of BIS life and shape  our school calendar. Of course due to current restrictions, these events have had to be postponed. 

I wrote to the year 13 students and parents earlier this week to confirm that our Graduation Ceremony planned at the Park Hyatt on Friday 21st May has had to be postponed with  a proposed new date for the ceremony of Friday 4th June. 

There is naturally much disappointment as we are all very much looking forward to celebrating our students’ huge achievement together. However, I am sure we can all agree that this is the right decision at this time, as part of our civic responsibility to our host country.

We will communicate decisions on all other events in due course, some will continue and move to online or some, like the Parent Workshop scheduled for Tuesday 18th May,  we will postpone until we can be face-to-face on Campus in the future.

Christina Noble Children’s Walk For Hope – 23rd May 2021


“The future of our world is the future of our children, our beautiful children.  For many of them, it is a matter of giving them back their future, giving them life, giving them hope.”

Christina Noble - OBE

BIS HCMC has had the pleasure of partnering with Christina Noble Children’s Foundation for more than 5 years. As a school community, we have not only raised funds as well as awareness for the work that they do but our students have engaged with the children they support through various co-curricular activities as well as being part of the Year 12 CAS projects.

We are privileged to again be able to be a part of a global event to help protect children from exploitation and trafficking.  Every day, children around the world are exploited and trafficked…

For over 31 years, Christina Noble Children’s Foundation has been working against these practices in both Vietnam and Mongolia.

We would like to encourage you to register for the Global Virtual Walk which takes place on Sunday 23rd May 2021 to raise much needed funds to help protect and support vulnerable children.


CUG Webinar Series 2021: Virtual University Visits - New Series for Term 3 


Additional Webinars planned for Term 3 include…

Thursday 20th May Virtual University Visit - University of Bath

Thursday 27th May Virtual University Visit - Imperial College, London

Thursday 3rd June Virtual University Visit - Yale-NUS

Thursday 10th June Virtual University Visit – NTU

Further information and registration for these webinars can be found at the BIS CUG Website,  CUG Webinar Series 2.

Simon Finnigan - Senior University Guidance Counsellor

Tuesday 18th May - POSTPONED - Parent Workshop: Technology & Learning @ the SC, postponed until we can hold in-person events.

Thursday 20th May Virtual University Visit - University of Bath - Webinar Series 

Thursday 27th May Virtual University Visit - Imperial College, London, Webinar Series 

Wednesday 2nd June Year 7 & New Parent Open Day, Secondary Campus, 8.30am

Thursday 3rd June Virtual University Visit - Yale-NUS

Friday 4th June            Graduation Ceremony Class 2021

Wednesday 9th June Night of the Arts, Secondary Campus 

Thursday 10th June Virtual University Visit – NTU


5K measures for examination groups



Years 10-13 Travel Declaration Form

In order to comply with updated stipulations of the Department of Education & Training, parents of all students in examination groups (Y10-13), coming into school must complete a Travel Declaration Form for their family. This was sent via email today

As the community cases continue in various regions of Vietnam we have asked BIS staff to not travel outside of Ho Chi Minh City during this time.

We would like to ask all members of the BIS community to exercise the same caution by limiting travel out of the city.  If there are family members of students in years 10-13 who undertake essential travel outside of Ho Chi Minh City, this must be indicated on the Form. Should there be outbreaks in the visited areas, this may jeopardise a student’s ability to sit their examinations.

I appreciate that these are challenging times, and I thank you for your ongoing support in completing these measures.

This community cooperation is critical in keeping us all safe and allowing our students to sit the examinations for which they have worked so hard. 

Have a safe and relaxing weekend,


Sean O’Neill

Head Teacher

Secondary Campus