Andy Puttock
12 December, 2014

Holiday Wishes from our Principal

Dear Parents and Friends of BSB

As we come to the end of another highly successful term, I wanted to write personally to thank you for all your support. I think this has been the busiest term any of us can remember, but one in which the spirit of the BSB family continues to grow. A year ago, when I was relatively new, I was writing to say how much I love being in Beijing, and how I believe I have the best job in the world. Well, I feel both of these emotions even more strongly now – I believe that our school continues to develop as we always know we can do better for our wonderful young people, and we will never rest in that quest for self-improvement. It is my absolute honour and privilege to continue to serve the very Best Students in Beijing.

Sadly, at the end of term, it is always a time when we say farewell to a number of our students, some of whom have been with us for many years. This is the nature of international schools as parents return to their home country or to other international postings, and, of course, we are welcoming a large number of new students on our return in January. To those leaving, I wish you safe journeys and a really happy future; in every single case, we will miss you and miss what you have brought to our family. If you ever have time, please do let us know how you are doing and, if there is anything we can do to help you in the future, please just ask!

We also say a sad goodbye to a truly excellent colleague, as Miss Nancy Coxon-Smith leaves us to transfer to the Nord Anglia Education school in Dubai, which is the part of the world in which she would like to continue her career. She has been a real influence for good in her time with us and we will miss her very much. Miss Laidler (a very experienced Early Years teacher) will take over Miss Coxon-Smith’s Reception class, and I am sure parents and children will love her teaching over the coming years. We also say goodbye to Mrs Naomi Taylor, our Secondary School Counsellor, who has given great support to many students over her time with us, and leaves to continue her private counselling work. In her place, we welcome Mr Dion MacIver to the team and look forward to maintaining the excellent level of pastoral support which we always aim to provide for every student in the school.

As I thought about what to write in this final letter of the term, I looked back in my diary over the few weeks since I last wrote a newsletter, and I simply cannot believe (even though I was there!) what we have achieved in these two short weeks. Our aim at BSB is to do things better every time, and to engage our students and community in this continued growth, but these two weeks have surpassed even my dreams for them.

Firstly, on 22 November, we had our Christmas Fayre and German Market. As you read in last week’s newsletter, we had approximately 2,700 visitors and, overall, raised nearly 100,000 RMB for Charity. It was my immense pleasure, on Tuesday, to present a cheque for 53,500 RMB to Blue Sky Healing Home, our main charity this year (and an amazing home that has brought new hope and life to 159 severely ill children in their ten years in existence). We are incredibly grateful to our BSB team, our Parents’ Association, and of course our fantastic German community, for making this event such a success. This year, we had more student involvement than ever, as our CAS (IB Diploma Creativity, Action, Service) students created a magical Santa’s Grotto and our Business Studies students ran their own games room, to raise even more money for their chosen charities. As ever, we also couldn’t do it without the assistance of our many supporters and sponsors, to whom we extend the thanks of the entire community. This was a truly great event and we are looking towards 2015 already, excited about the prospect of getting the visitor number to over 3,000!

The following week saw the performance of our school musical, GREASE, and this was perhaps the moment when we realised more than ever that our students, supported by our team of dedicated staff and parents, can truly achieve things that go beyond even our greatest expectations. They were quite simply awesome, putting on three performances of the highest quality but, even more noticeably, with the passion and pride that we love to see in every single one of them. The standing ovation they received on the last night is not something I will forget in a very very long time. It was quite an emotional moment for us – we have been working very hard to continue to raise the profile of the Performing Arts and, as I said in my words at the end, our students know that they have not only put on a truly professional show, they have actually started a tradition! My congratulations go to every single person involved, and my sincere thanks go to the parents who supported throughout (including our wonderful Chatterbox parents and prefects who helped), and every member of the sell-out audiences who clapped, cheered, and roared their support – I know how proud you all must be of the young people who gave us such fantastic entertainment.

I hope you have also been able to follow the regular updates in the newsletters from our Sports Team. Sport has continued to go from strength to strength this term, with well over 500 students signed up for sports, and many of them achieving outstanding success, from the swimming meets with many, many personal best times, to the excellent volleyball tournament which packed the school last Saturday, and which saw our Year 6 boys come out as overall winner. I have also had the pleasure of seeing some really competitive and spirited house competitions. We have recently presented our awards for this term, covering ‘Most Valuable Player’, ‘Most Improved Player’, and ‘Coach’s/Players’ Choice’ for all the various squads. Once again, it has been a genuinely humbling experience to hear of the commitment, pride, great sportsmanship and great care for the development of others that our young people exhibit day in and day out. As some of you know, I had the great honour to help coach the Boys’ under 19 Volleyball Squad this term, and experienced this passion for sport first hand.

And, of course, these past two weeks have been the season for our productions by our youngest children. The Early Years Christmas songs, sung outside due to the lovely blue skies we have been experiencing for these recent weeks, were beautiful, and sung with great gusto. And we have this week seen the awesome Year 1 production of ‘Penguin Pete’, which played to a nearly full theatre who were thoroughly entertained by the talents of the children as they told us the story of the brave young penguin. Then, on Wednesday, it was the turn of Year 2 and Klasse 1 with their brilliant rendition of favourite Christmas songs, which was a fantastic way to end the term, and thoroughly deserved the huge cheer as they finished with ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’.

All of this takes place alongside what might be called the bread and butter of school existence. As we always say, we will never be an exams factory at BSB – we believe our young people deserve so much more than this as they develop into the leaders that they will become – but examinations are of course the measure of the outstanding academic success which you rightly expect from the school, and therefore do form a very central part of our daily lives. I have been very impressed indeed, as ever, by the great atmosphere of learning that I see as I visit lessons every day, by the commitment for self-improvement, and the desire to learn more and do better still. For our examination students in Year 11 and Year 13, this is one of the most important times of the year, as they have their ‘mock’ (trial) examinations immediately after the holiday. Please do encourage them to spend some decent time revising during the break, to come back refreshed and well organised for the examinations ahead – experience has told us time and again that the students who take mock examinations really seriously are without doubt the ones who achieve the best in the real exams in the summer.

So, finally, we come to the end of this busy term. For those who celebrate the Christian religion, the upcoming holiday is always known as the Christmas holiday. Quite rightly, as a school, we do not favour any particular religion more than any other but one thing that they all have in common is the desire to strive for peace and goodwill, which is at the root of the Christmas celebration, and which mirrors exactly one of our goals as a school as we seek to build a brighter future for every young person. Whatever your beliefs and wherever you may be, may I wish you a very happy, safe and peaceful holiday; I hope you thoroughly enjoy your time with your families and I look forward to welcoming you all back in the New Year, as we aim to make 2015 our best year yet!

With very best wishes

Andy Puttock