21 May, 2021

Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 21/05/2021

Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 21/05/2021 - mr-sean-oneill-weekly-update-21-05-2021
Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 21/05/2021 I know you will join me in congratulating our Year 13 students who finished the May 2021 IB Diploma Programme Examinations yesterday. In any year it is a huge achievement to complete such a broad and rigorous academic curriculum, but given the challenges of the last 16 months, our Class of 2021 have really shown incredible spirit, determination and togetherness in the way they have completed the journey of the IB Diploma Programme.

Dear Parents, 

I know you will join me in congratulating our Year 13 students who finished the May 2021 IB Diploma Programme Examinations yesterday. In any year it is a huge achievement to complete such a broad and rigorous academic curriculum, but given the challenges of the last 16 months, our Class of 2021 have really shown incredible spirit,  determination and togetherness in the way they have completed the journey of the IB Diploma Programme.

The word "curriculum" began as a Latin word which means "a race" or "the course of a race" , which in turn derives from the verb currere meaning "to run" (OED, 2021). The course, or race, that  our students have run has been long - with many climbs and descents, and unexpected obstacles -  but it is one where they have collected knowledge, skills, and aptitudes along the way  to equip them to meet the final challenge at the end of the race - in the form of their examinations. 

Our students in the younger years throughout the Secondary Campus are each at different parts of this course, this journey with  a multitude of challenges to face,  but with each challenge they acquire the personal qualities, knowledge and skills for the next phase.  The challenges our students face right now in Virtual Learning will contribute to moulding them for the future,  equipping them so when they face future  challenges- be it IB examinations,  University programmes or their careers beyond, they have the skills to succeed. In this week’s look back at Virtual Learning , we feature the creativity and innovation of our Year 9 Art, Music, Computing and PE students- great examples of how we are adapting learning to meet the current conditions, as well as guidance on good habits for your children to to maintain wellbeing during virtual learning. 

At BIS HCMC, we often talk about growth being about getting the right balance of support and challenge. Where the challenge is high, so the support is too- support from teachers, parents and peers. As we continue with our Virtual Learning  this week and look into next- it is with these principles of balance and partnership that we are guided. We have incredibly committed and dedicated teachers and highly motivated students.  If we work together in maintaining  high expectations of our students but then guiding them to meet these expectations,  we will continue to provide a fantastic education irrespective of the conditions the race throws at us. 

I know we all hope we will be able to be  back together connecting in person soon.  In the meantime, there are activities for parents  to be involved in whether through attending our prestigious university Q&As including Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and Ivy League US colleges , contributing to our community partnerships  by participating in the Christina Noble Fundraiser,  or by simply accessing the BIS HCMC Virtual Library with your children.  Find our details of how you can connect with each below.

As I write today, it is in the knowledge that today we should be at the Park Hyatt for our Annual Graduation Ceremony. I know that it is a disappointment to all of us, that current conditions mean we have had to revise our  plans.  As with all aspects of school life affected during the period of the pandemic, we will adapt in order to mark and celebrate our Class of 2021’s  achievement together-  guided by the measures in place to keep us all safe.  

Can I close by thanking you for your support in adhering to the measures in place, it is through this community cooperation that we can continue with important milestones in our students’ education and  keep safe. 


My best wishes

Sean O’Neill



Stunning Year 8 Artwork bring Campus walls to life



Our Year 8 artists have produced some stunning work that we are very proud to display in our new “Gallery” outside our Auditorium. Head of Art Mrs Janet Williams, explains the year 8 exhibition:

With this collection our Year 8 students explored expressive application of colour and blending techniques using only oil pastels.

Prior to these works they had developed a solid understanding of facial proportions and also how to convey depth and form through tonal values.

They were inspired by  the photography of Réhanh and in particular the portraiture in his ‘Precious Heritage’ project, where he celebrates the marks of age and encourages us all to challenge concepts of beauty




As a school, we have an ongoing commitment to supporting and nurturing student wellbeing.  You will have seen throughout the year that we send our Well Being focused ‘Dinner Table Discussions’, these are a great way to connect as a family and even more important during the current situation.  If you haven’t already seen this resource then I recommend that you check it out and give it a try.

As you will be aware, our students typically have one designated Wellbeing Focused lesson per week.  This is complemented by tutor time activities and assemblies.  During this period of Virtual Schooling, our students in Key Stage 3 (Year 7 to 9) have their weekly Wellbeing lesson switched to the students following activities from a ‘Wellbeing Menu’ this is to allow a break from screen time and also allow for ownership of their own personal wellbeing.  This weekly menu is always being updated with new activities to help our students maintain their emotional and physical wellbeing.  It is also complemented by our PE Departments Virtual PE Lessons.

Building on these ongoing systems of wellbeing support we would like to proudly announce that our student-led initiative for the design, development and running of a ‘Student Wellbeing Website’ has launched.  All students in BIS have access to this excellent resource, which features coverage over a range of wellbeing focused topics and also other broader areas pertinent to students.

To complement the support provided above, we would also like to share the following infographic which covers some student-focused tips and strategies for maintaining physical health and wellbeing during this period of Virtual Schooling.  We hope that it is of use and that you will communicate it with your children over the course of the week ahead.

Gareth Wills - Deputy Head Teacher 

Join Oxford & Cambridge, and Ivy League Universities as they visit BIS HCMC


Following recent successful and informative Virtual University Visits from the universities of Cambridge, KAIST, Toronto, UCL and Bath the CUG Department are delighted to announce even more global leading university virtual visitors to BISHCMC in the coming month.

Next to lead one of our Virtual Visits will be Imperial College, London. Despite Imperial receiving record numbers of applications from around the world this year, we have again had students accepted into this world-leading STEM specialist institution. Jennie Long will join us to give us an insight into what type of strengths Imperial are looking for in a prospective student. 

We are delighted to also announce that University of Pennsylvania and Brown University, two of the famous ‘Ivy League’ institutions will be hosting a joint Virtual University Visit (see date below). In recent years we have had tremendous success with students who have applied to UPenn in particular, and the session will include input from our former Head Student Cedric Chua. Cedric will give an insight -from a student perspective- as to what every-day life is like as an Ivy League student.

Also in the upcoming schedule are two of the world’s leading universities from Singapore. NTU (QS world rank 13) and Yale-NUS (QS world rank 11) will each lead a Virtual University Visit of their own where they will emphasise the benefits of studying at a prestigious world institution within Asia. Again we will be joined by BISHCMC Alumni studying in Singapore.

Finally, but by no means least, we will be welcoming the University of Oxford. To get Oxford and Cambridge to both present webinars to BISHCMC within the space of a few weeks speaks volumes about how highly regarded BIS is by the “Oxbridge” universities. Students in Year 12 considering an Oxbridge application are already being expertly guided by BIS within our Oxbridge Support Program, but to hear directly from both universities is an opportunity not to be missed. Amongst other things the session will cover the Collegiate System and why it makes studying at Oxford a very different experience to other UK universities, but will also touch on what sets Oxford apart from Cambridge (for example the Physics with Philosophy Program).

The full list of the remaining Virtual University Visits is below.

  • 27th May 3pm  Virtual Visit from Imperial College London (UK)

  • 3rd June 3pm   Virtual Visit from Yale-NUS College  (Singapore)

  • 8th June 8pm (please note the later time)   Virtual Visit from UPenn and Brown (USA)

  • 10th June 3pm Virtual Visit from Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)

  • 17th June 3pm Virtual Visit from The University of Oxford (UK)

All secondary parents and students are invited to sign up for any of the Virtual Visits. This can be done via our Virtual University Visits page.  

If you would like to send us a question (which we will forward to the university representative in advance of the visit) then please use this form to do so.

Paul Rispin - University Guidance


Paul Rispin - University Guidance

A look into our week of Virtual Learning

This week has seen rich and varied learning across our curriculum as our teachers and students innovate and adapt. Please enjoy a flavour of the great learning that has taken place. Well done to all involved.

Year 9 Art - Innovation during Virtual Learning

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.”—Jim Jarmusch (film director).


This week our Year 9 classes have been learning about the beginnings of conceptual art with the work of Duchamp in 1919, and of course Picasso’s famous quote “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal”. 

They were asked to recreate one iconic work of art and by doing so reinterpret the piece in order to convey their own  contemporary meaning or relevance. We were so impressed by the ingenuity and creativity shown by our students using just what they could find around them at home and their laptops. 


You can see the final artwork, and more examples from our students in this Year 9: Appropriation of Iconic Art works.

Year 9 Creativity in Music during Virtual Learning
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Year 9 students have been looking at how the chromatic scale is used in music. Students in Mrs Amos’ Strings classes have been performing and composing using this scale and have continued this exploration into virtual learning. We first looked at how two or more parts can interweave using this scale, creating varied and interesting compositions. Then students were invited to compose their own pieces, using this same concept.

Jessie Vu, 9V, wrote her composition using Noteflight, an online music programme, and then performed both of her duet parts herself at home. I’m really impressed with how she was able to realise her own creative intentions, using herself to perform both parts. Well done Jessie.

Frances Amos - Music Teacher

Hummingbird an Exposition from Kevin Year 9


Please see a wonderful composition by Kevin Le in Year 9 recorded at home during virtual learning.  Entitled Hummingbird, this piece tells a story about a Hummingbird and it has some sense of Exposition Development Recapitulation.

Computing - Collaboration during Virtual Learning


This week in Computing our focus was to review and improve our Scratch games. We used Google Jam to brainstorm ideas on how we could improve our games and then we implemented an idea and recorded it.



PE Virtual Lessons- Ingenuity and Activity combined




The BIS community is now completing our second week of online learning and the PE teachers and students of BIS are becoming upskilled and fitter with every day that progresses. Nothing is ever as good as face to face interaction with children in fun and active PE lessons. However, teachers and students alike will always endeavour to make the most out of every situation and the buy-in to the ingenuity and variety of activities within lessons has been excellent from all involved. 

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Next week, it would be great to see even more of the BIS community become a part of PE lessons. Now that your child is undertaking PE at home, you can also enjoy the unusual situation and benefits of being taught PE and physical activity by an experienced specialist that is a BIS PE Teacher. Parents and extended families are also welcome to join in with the PE lessons in one form or another. Whether that is live in your child’s PE lesson or at another time using ideas and resources provided by the PE department in it’s dedicated PE Virtual Learning Website

You too can work towards displaying the BIS Aide Memoire personal characteristics of: 

  • Respect - have a new found respect of your child’s learning by joining them in or after their lessons to complete the activities shown.

  • Care - use this as an opportunity to care for your own body and improve your physical skills, muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. 

  • Integrity - each skills based activity and workout is differentiated into easy / medium / hard difficulty levels. Be true to yourself and pick the level of activity that will push you to your limits.  

  • Enquiry - scroll through the PE website to pick an activity that you have never tried undertaking before and give it a go.

  • Perseverance - both the skills and workouts provided by the PE teachers are difficult. It will not be attainable the first time or easily. It will require perseverance skills of trying and trying again in order to improve and master these activities.

  • Reflection - consider what you have learnt and how you can use these performance related and health related skills in everyday life.

I look forward to seeing students once more next week taking part in Physical Education and if extended families want to show examples of them performing then that will be warmly welcome. 

Keep safe and stay active!


Mr Husband - Director of Sport and Head of Secondary PE


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.


Happy International School Nurse Day 


Last week was International School Nurses Day and it was a great opportunity to say thank you to our Secondary Campus staff Nurse Paola and Senior Nurse, Nurse Love.  We appreciate the valuable support that they provide to our students on a daily basis, especially over this last year.

Summer Facilities development programme

As part of our ongoing commitment to creating the conditions for great learning, we will be undertaking significant development of our campus facilities over the summer break. Mr Rowlands will be writing to all parents with further details in the coming weeks. To allow the work to be completed, there will be no summer camp activities on campus this year.

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


A reminder that registration is open for the Global Virtual Walk which takes place this Sunday 23rd May 2021 in support of Christina Noble Children’s Foundation who are raising much needed funds to help protect and support vulnerable children.  

The cost is just VND 150,000 and you will also receive a complimentary Children’s Walk For Hope bandana in recognition of your participation.

Tracey Brownrigg
BIS Co-Curricular Coordinator and
Community Service Project Manager

Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation – Teen Girls Empowerment Sponsorship


On behalf of our community partner BDCF we would like to offer our sincere thanks to the Secondary BIS PTG who have recently donated VND 10,000,000 in support of the Teen Girls Empowerment Programme.

This sponsorship will be used to empower disadvantaged teenage girls from impoverished families by providing them with tuition, life skills classes, vocational training, career preparation workshops and psychological support.


Tracey Brownrigg
BIS Co-Curricular Coordinator and
Community Service Project Manager

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

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

Thursday 3rd June Virtual University Visit - Yale-NUS (Singapore)

Friday 4th June            Graduation Ceremony Class of 2021

Tuesday 8th June         Virtual University Visit – UPenn and Brown

Wednesday 9th June Night of the Arts, Secondary Campus 

Thursday 10th June Virtual University Visit – NTU (Singapore)

Thursday 17th June Virtual University Visit – The University of Oxford


5K measures for examination groups


Have a wonderful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill
Head Teacher, Secondary Campus