Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 09/09/2022 - mr-sean-oneill-weekly-update-09-09-2022
Mr Sean O Neill
Secondary Campus Headteacher
09 September, 2022

Mr Sean O'Neill - Weekly Update 9th September 2022

Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 09/09/2022 - mr-sean-oneill-weekly-update-09-09-2022
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The outcome of a gift is uncertain at the time of giving, but the fact that it has been given charges it with great potential to act upon the recipient for good.
Robert MacFarlane
Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 09/09/2022 Dear Parents and Students, I believe every school should have a vibrant culture of the arts at its core. Education in Drama, Music, Art and Literature brings benefits to each individual, each community, each culture. The arts not only develop our students’ empathic, aesthetic and analytical, problem solving skills within each discipline - they equip learners with the platform to excel in all aspects of their learning across the curriculum.

Message from the Principal on the passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II

It has been very sad to hear the overnight news that Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland has passed away at the age of 96. Over the next week or so we will look at ways in which BIS HCMC can pay our respects to, and celebrate the life of, someone who has been a wonderful servant to the United Kingdom. The Queen has ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history whilst becoming a much loved and respected figure across the globe. Our condolences go to her family who were, thankfully, gathered around her at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland.

On her 21st birthday, in a speech broadcast on the radio from Cape Town in South Africa, the Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth when she stated,  “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service” and she certainly did that with an immense amount of dignity and great energy.

Rest in Peace Your Majesty.

Anthony Rowlands Principal, BIS HCMC

The Queen


Headteacher’s Introduction to the Weekly Update


Dear Parents and Students,

I believe every school should have a vibrant culture of the arts at its core. Education in Drama, Music, Art and Literature brings benefits to each individual, each community, each culture.  The Arts develop our students’ empathic, aesthetic and analytical skills within each discipline which then aid learning across the curriculum.

There is much written and debated about the skills that young people need for the futures they will inhabit - but there is almost universal consensus that we need to equip learners with creativity – “we need to bring together the processes of creating, of making, of bringing into being, and formulating, and looking for outcomes that are innovative, fresh, original… this is all about imagination, inquisitiveness, collaboration, self-discipline.’  Andreas Schlecher (OECD Director of Education & Skills)

I am delighted that in this week’s update I am able to share examples of how our students are using the Arts as a vehicle to connect, explore and celebrate the local and global community. I know you will enjoy our Year 8 artists’ stunning exhibition portraying our School Guards and Cleaners, and how our Year 10 Artists have been able to use a Photowalk of the local area of Thao Dien as inspiration for their IGCSE Programme.   I also would like to extend our good luck and congratulations to over 50 BIS student musicians who are performing in the SAIMUSE concert tomorrow, organised and led by BIS Year 12 Student, Andrew, in aid of Children’s Charities in Saigon. Well done everyone and good luck for tomorrow!

This week has also seen the launch of the ‘BIS Read A New Book Month’ - where we as a community celebrate and share our love of reading - you can listen to our teachers’ personal book recommendations in each week’s update throughout September. I hope you are inspired to pick up a new book!

We also continued our theme of parental partnership this week. My thanks to all families who attended our Year 11 IB Options Evening, our Year 8 Open Morning and the International Day Country Rep meeting.  It was great to see such rich conversations taking place between teachers and families, and between parents, that help to guide our students through each stage of their educational journey and underpin BIS school life.

There are many more opportunities to be involved in school life in the weeks ahead beginning with next week’s Year 9 IGCSE Options Evening, the first of our Parent Partnership Workshops and our Community Clean Up.  I hope to see you there.

My best wishes to you all for a restful weekend.

Sean O’Neill

Head of Secondary

Year 8 Stunning Artwork celebrates the BIS Community

Y8 art work  BIS community 11

Year 8 students (currently Year 9), teachers and support staff came together this week to celebrate the opening of the Year 8 portrait exhibition.

The students chose to create portraits of our amazing support team of guards and cleaning staff to celebrate the inclusivity of our school community here at BIS and acknowledge their significance in our school.

The portraits are created using expressive and complementary colour schemes reflecting the style of the American contemporary quilt artist Bisa Butler. The patterned backgrounds allow the students to make more personal choices with the use of traditional and contemporary Vietnamese pattern motifs and also reflect the cultural heritage of our support team.

Each portrait was drawn freehand by the students and worked on top with individual oil pastel blending techniques.

Janet Williams, Head of Art

Year 10 IGCSE Art Walk

Year 10 IGCSE Art Walk 2

Last week saw the welcome return of the Year 10 Photo Walk; not since 2019 had the inhabitants of Thao Dien witnessed the trail of eager-eyed Year 10 art students kick-starting their IGCSE coursework.  Just over 40 students took to the streets with cameras ready to observe and record the daily life of their local environment; these photographic studies will then be used as a starting point for their ‘Life in Vietnam’ project. Patterns, textures, people, animals, bikes and produce were all on the checklist of things to look out for. 

We were also fortunate to visit the studio of artist Jerome Peschard, whose work blends Western and Asian traditions in a contemporary style; students listened intently as he talked about his practice and asked some very astute questions.

The Art team were very impressed with how enthusiastic the students were despite the heat and are looking forward to seeing how they develop their drawing, painting and printing skills using their photographs.

Sally Neville - Art teacher

Y11 IB Options Evening

Y11 IB Options Evening 12

It was a pleasure to be joined by so many Year 11 students and their parents on Tuesday evening. Students and parents learned more about the next exciting chapter in their educational journey as they prepare for life in the Sixth Form, at university and beyond. As well as an information session in the theatre, everybody benefitted from the opportunity to learn more about the wide range of subjects on offer throughout the IB Diploma Programme from both Heads of Department and student ambassadors. From Sixth Form biologists dissecting a cow’s heart to artists working on their Visual Arts portfolios, there was something for every student to get excited about as they build their IB Diploma pathway over the coming weeks. We can now look forward to a similar event this coming Wednesday at 18:00 for our Year 9 students as they build their IGCSE pathways. We are looking forward to seeing Year 9 and their parents there!

Lee Falconer- Deputy Headteacher

Y8 Parent Open Day

Y8 Open morning 1

It was wonderful to welcome Year 8 Parents onto campus for our Year 8 Parents morning this Thursday. After an introduction from Mr O’Neill we discussed the challenges of being a student and being a parent in Year 8. Parents enjoyed touring the campus and dropping into Year 8 lessons to observe learning in action. We rounded off the session with the launch of the Year 8 Dalat expedition (an email will be going out this weekend to all Year 8 parents with details of this) and some time for questions and answers. It was good to see so many parents in attendance. A special well done goes out to Jade, Donovan, Oakley, Ananya, Krnav and Khanh Linh for their extra special contributions to the event.

Dominic Cheng, Head of Year 8

International Day Country Rep Meeting

International day parent meeting 1

On Tuesday we were delighted to welcome parents onto the secondary campus to begin our International day preparations. Always a highlight of our school calendar, International Day is a time when the whole school community comes together with parents, students and staff to celebrate the range of cultures at BIS. Parents have the opportunity to be involved in the International Food Festival or run cultural workshops with our students. With so many cultures represented, the meeting was abuzz with conversation as teams connected together and planning is already well underway! If you would like to join an International Day parent team or become a Country Representative please contact Katie Walsh. We are looking forward to once again enjoying a day full of vibrancy, fashion, food, and creativity!

Lauren Binnington, Deputy Head Teacher Enrichment, Regional NAE-UNICEF Lead for South East Asia and the Middle East

Read a New Book Month1 Read a new book month poster

September is ‘Read a New Book Month’ at BIS Secondary

All of our students are encouraged to try to read a book they wouldn’t normally read -  to expand their minds and reading habits.

Launching the challenge, our Secondary teachers have been busy creating book reviews to pass on the gift of reading to our students by recommending one of their favourite books. There will be one recommendation for each school day of the month. Take a look at our first week’s BIS Secondary teacher recommendations:

  • Mr Hodgson Recommends "How to Take a Penalty - The Hidden Mathematics of Sport" - Rob Eastaway and John Haigh

A fantastic book for anyone interested in sport and/or mathematics. This book explores the mathematics behind the action in sport. Discover the surprising links between boxing and figure skating; the 26.5 degrees “trick” snooker or pool shot; the pros and cons of being a consistent golfer and the formula for winning a game of tennis. Can mathematics really tell you where is the best place to shoot to score your penalty? Yes it can! Whatever your sporting interests or ability you will find plenty to absorb you in this insightful and fun book. Maybe knowing the mathematics will even improve your chance of winning... Enjoy!

  • Mr Lambert Recommends "An Instance of the Fingerpost" - Iain Pears

  • Ms Balbuena Recommends "One Hundred Years of Solitude" - Gabriel García Márquez

  • Mr Gamwell Recommends "The Consolations of Philosophy" - Alain De Botton

  • Mr Stockley Recommends "How To" - Randall Munroe

To help students find something new to read, the Library team has also been busy curating book collections; verse novels, classics, award winners and many more. Parents can browse BIS Secondary library book collections any time on Destiny Discover - just click on the library link at the bottom of our school webpage.

Read a new book  combination of poster

This month’s wonderful celebration of books and reading will culminate in our Book Review and Year 7 Bookmark competitions, giving our students the opportunity to pass on their reading recommendations as gifts to others.

Anita Curley, Secondary Teacher Librarian

Y11 Physics Retrieval Beyond the Classroom


This week in Physics, Year 11 Students have been outside revising! Here they are celebrating successfully navigating the highs and lows (peaks and troughs?) of practicing their retrieval of important features of the Electromagnetic spectrum.            

Sean Stockley - Head of Physics

IB Spanish Ab Initio - Alumni Q&A Session

Spanish Ab Initio Alumni 2

We were delighted to have our former IBDP Spanish Ab Initio students join our current Year 13 cohort to share their own experiences of the course and give valuable advice on how to best prepare for the final exams from a student's perspective.

Thanks to Nicole and Brandon, our students feel motivated to succeed and reassured that they will be ready and well prepared for this final year of the course.

On behalf of the students and the Spanish department, we thank Nicole and Brandon for their words of wisdom, positivity and excellent presenting skills.

Mrs Zahraoui, Head of Spanish

Maths Update - Olympiad Results + Maths Challenge for Parents!

The Mathematics department are very pleased to announce the recipients of certificates from the 2022 Junior Olympiad.

The Junior Olympiad is the follow on round from the Junior UKMT Challenge which was sat by Year 7 and Year 8 students from all over the world in April. The top 1,200 students from the Challenge, of which 5 were from BIS, were then invited to sit the Olympiad paper in June. The 2-hour paper consisted of 16 questions with the top 300 students being awarded a Distinction certificate and the next 480 earning a Merit certificate.

We are proud to announce that 4 of our participants were awarded a Merit certificate:

Year 7 (now Year 8)

  • Eric Zhou

Year 8 (now Year 9)

  • Seong Been Yoo
  • Dolly Nguyen
  • JeHee Shin

Special congratulations to Ling Zhang He in Year 9 who was awarded a Distinction certificate.

Well done to everyone who took part in the UKMT Challenges from last year. We look forward to announcing more incredible results over the coming academic year!

Mr Sillitoe – Assistant Head of Mathematics

Can you solve any of the 2022 questions below?

Math challenge 1

Math challenge 2

PTG Banner 2022

International Day - Friday 14th October

International Stall

International Day is back to its original time slot this year, Friday 14th October.

We invite you as parents to get involved and celebrate your home country on Secondary International Day. Consider signing up as a Secondary Country Rep using the link below.  Over 50 nationalities are represented at BIS and last year more than 20 countries were represented on International Day.

International Day is not only a fabulous event for the students, but a wonderful day for parents and carers to participate and share their home traditions, food and activities.

If you would like to sign up as the representative for your country, please register using the Secondary Country Representative Sign-Up

Please contact Mel Rowe (PTG Chairperson) on +84 93 802 9513 for any queries.

Melanie Rowe, Secondary PTG Chair

Parent Partnership Calendar

If you would prefer to download the Parent Partnership Calendar, please click here

College and University Guidance

We are delighted to see the return of in-person University Visits this term. Next week sees a diverse range of such visits. All senior students (Year 10 upwards) are welcome to attend. See details in the Parent and Student calendars below.

We hope to see students at one or more of these events. Students should remember to sign up via the BridgeU University Visits tab.

Digital Citizenship and Wellbeing Workshop - Thursday, 15th September

SC Digital Citizenship and Wellbeing Workshop Sept  V2

As you will all be aware, the promotion and maintenance of wellness and wellbeing are always on our minds at BIS.

One of the perennial topics of concern that are raised relates to the relationship between digital technologies, online behaviour, and wellbeing.

With the internet and smart technologies we have been given an amazing gift and opportunity, yet it is one that can be hard to navigate and manage effectively.  Used well, consciously and carefully with respected boundaries it becomes a great tool for connection, information and indeed wellbeing promotion.

Unfortunately, when used incorrectly, inappropriate use of the internet can lead to a myriad of mental wellbeing challenges and exacerbate existing child and adolescent problems such as anti-social behaviour, procrastination and low or changeable moods.

Our first parental workshop, which is a partnership between our ASC Team and our Learning Technologies Integrator, focuses on this key topic area.  The aim is to help our parents in their conversations at home around social media, screen time, gaming, digital footprint and digital citizenship.

Please use the Google Form below to sign up.

Digital Citizenship and Wellbeing Parental Workshop

Community Choir Rehearsals Begin

Community Choir Poster 20222301

We are delighted to be able to resume rehearsals with our fantastic community choir next week.  The community choir is open to all adult members of the BIS community who enjoy singing.

Rehearsals will take place on Thursday mornings 7.00am - 7.40am in the Secondary Theatre OR Friday afternoons in the Junior Campus multi-purpose room 13.15-14.15.

All are welcome, whatever your singing level.

Parents should register attendance in advance on here.

World Clean Up Day - Saturday 17th September 2022

World CleanUp Day

We are delighted to invite everyone to take part in the much-awaited World CleanUp Day which will be taking place at the BIS Early Years and Infant Campus on Saturday 17th September 2022.

The clean-up will be managed in small teams with a staged leaving time: 

  • Group A will meet by 8.45am to leave at 9.00am
  • Group B will meet at 9.15am to leave at 9.30am
  • Group C will meet at 9.45am to leave at 10.00am

Please sign up HERE to join in the fun and to help make our community a cleaner environment. Everyone who participates will also earn house points!

We look forward to seeing you all there!

COVID UPDATE: New Decree on Mask Wearing

Further to the new decree issued by the Vietnamese authorities this week, wearing a mask whilst at school is now optional and is a matter of parental choice. 

If your child/ren wearing a mask at school is your preference then please make your child/ren aware of your expectations.

The optional wearing of masks at BIS will be implemented from Monday, 12th September 2022 onwards.

As a school, we have followed the directives given by the Vietnam government throughout the pandemic period and will continue to do so in the future.

  • Monday 12th September: Term 1 Co-Curricular Activities begin
  • Wednesday 14th September: Year 9 IGCSE Options Evening, Secondary Campus, 6.00pm
  • Thursday  15th September: Digital Citizenship and Wellbeing Workshop, 8.30am to 10.00am
  • Saturday 17th September: World Clean Up Day 2022, Early Years & Infant Campus, a BIS Community event, from 8.30am to 11am.

Enjoy your weekend,

Kind regards,

Sean O’Neill