Dear Parents and Friends
As we embark on the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival season, it is a perfect time to reflect on just how privileged we are to be in China and celebrate the wonderful culture of our host country. Thanks goodness that, ever since the calendar New Year in January, we have also been celebrating for most of the time the wonderful (if slightly cold!) air in this country.
I have said on many occasions that I have no interest in being the Principal of an expat school that happens to be in China, but that my passion is to be the Principal of a truly international school that is also truly part of China. That is what we aspire to be and I really believe we are getting there. Our 60+ nationalities in the school all bring huge diversity and a range of different cultures to the school, and we enjoy and celebrate each and every one of them, but we also feel that China is very much our second home, and for that we are truly grateful to all of those who work with us, and to our Chinese families who bring this richness into the school. It truly is a very special time in a very special place.
We have traditionally held a special day of celebration the day before the school holiday for Spring Festival, but a number of parents have quite rightly said that many families need to travel at this time, in order to be home in time for the New Year. We are therefore holding our celebration day, which will take the form of a Temple Fair in school, on Friday 19 February, just a few days before the Lantern Festival. I am really grateful to the Chinese department and also our many Chinese families who have worked together to make this day something to remember.
On a different note, may I please bring to your attention, and warmly invite you to our IB Information Events, Wednesday 17 February at 8.45am and 6.30pm and for Korean parents on Wednesday 24 February at 6.30pm. These are really important events to find out all about the IB Diploma programme at BSB. We are now entering our third year of the programmes, and our current students are achieving some quite exceptional results. We will tell you all about these, and about our staff experience and training, and facilities, as well as giving details of the programme itself and how to apply. We really do believe that we have an IB programme on offer that is second to none in Beijing, and we hope that every Year 11 parent will be able to attend. We also open the invitation to parents in any other year group who want to find out more about what is on offer in Year 12 and 13.
We recently held a very productive meeting with a group of Korean parents, to discuss how we can invite even more Korean universities to visit BSB in the coming year. We now have a great programme of visits from universities from across the world, including the world’s absolute top institutions, but we always welcome more – if you have any particular universities you would like to see represented, please don’t hesitate to let me know. As part of this meeting, we were very pleased to hear just how much the IGCSE qualification that we offer in Year 10/11 is highly rated in Korea, in assisting students to gain entry into some prestigious high schools. We are very proud to offer the IGCSE, as we believe that it gives students a genuine, internationally recognised (including in the USA) series of qualifications at age 16, something that almost no other world curriculum can do. But we hadn’t realised how much currency this now has in Korea and it was very pleasing to hear.
Speaking of universities, parents in Years 6 and 7 will have this week received an email inviting them to consider participating in a very exciting trip to the Cambridge Science Fair in Massachusetts, offered in partnership with Harvard and MIT universities. Nord Anglia Education, our parent organisation, is now working in partnership with the world’s very top universities to offer opportunities to our students and teachers, in terms of professional development, that are truly unique. Much more detail will be published in the coming few months!
At the end of this letter, please do read of the exciting news of an upcoming visit from the UK National Space Academy.
Returning to my theme, however, the main purpose of this letter is to wish every single member of our BSB family a very happy New Year of the Monkey, safe and enjoyable holidays wherever you may be, and the warmth and spirit of being with family and friends at this very special time. As ever, I can’t wait to see you all again when we return to school on Monday 15 February.
With my very best wishes
DATE FOR YOUR DIARY – VISIT FROM THE NATIONAL SPACE ACADEMY
We have been working with the Director of the UK’s National Space Academy programme, and I am absolutely delighted to tell you that members of their team will be coming to BSB in March, bringing a programme that is unique in Beijing, and will also be held at our Nord Anglia School in Shanghai Pudong. The National Space Academy is the education arm of the UK space programme (for example has devised some of the experiments being conducted by Commander Tim Peake – the first British astronaut on the International Space Station – right now) and they are holding a set of demonstration student masterclasses and teacher masterclasses here at BSB on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th March. During these sessions our team will be showcasing the ways in which we use inspirational contexts from space science to boost student engagement and attainment, and teacher effectiveness, in teaching curriculum science at school level.
This is part of the international collaboration in space science education between the UK and China being led by the NSA, Beijing University PT, the British Embassy and the British Council. On the Tuesday, the masterclasses will to be our own BSB students in Years 10 and 12/13 along with students from prestigious Chinese schools. On the Wednesday, there will be masterclasses for teachers from all these schools.
On Tuesday 15 March at 5pm, there will be a lecture for parents given by the Director of the UK National Space Academy and all parents are warmly invited to attend. The title of the lecture is:
“Space – so what?”
Since the birth of the Space Age in 1957 with the launch of the world's first artificial satellite, the discoveries made through the applications of space science and engineering have changed humanity's perspective of our position in the Universe. But what difference has space science and technology made to our everyday lives? Has it really been worth all of the money spent? Could space science save us from the mass extinction of life on Earth? And what science is British astronaut Tim Peake doing on the International Space Station (ISS) during his six month mission in space?
Further details will follow after the Chinese New Year Holiday but please put the date in your diary.
We feel truly honoured to have been chosen for this exciting initiative and hope it will be the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership.