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Principal's Update - 5th August, 2020

Richard Thornhill
Richard Thornhill (29 posts) Principal, The British School of Beijing (BSB) Shunyi View Profile

Click to read in Chinese and  Korean

Dear Parents,

I hope this message finds you and your families well.

I am writing to keep everyone informed as to developments thus far and most importantly arrangements for the beginning of the new academic year which is approaching fast.

Over the summer, both the EYFS and Years 1 – 3 STEAM summer schools ran as planned. These had to be virtual due to the unexpected closure of the school toward the end of last term. However both ran successfully and were very well supported. Our students enjoyed the many and varied activities and I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all, staff, parents and students for engaging so enthusiastically in both programmes.

We have been busy over the summer working on the arrangements for the new academic year. Our school year is scheduled to start on the 17th of August and there is no change to this. Both the primary and secondary schools will be contacting you with the detail of this so please look out for emails from Nonie Adams and Rob Khan in the coming few days. We are still awaiting confirmation from the Beijing education authorities as to when normal face to face teaching, on campus, can commence so the commencement of the term, on the 17th of August will be on line and this will transition into face to face teaching as the education authorities give clearance for students to return. Some schools have elected to delay their start to the new academic year but we feel that we do not wish to lose this valuable time at the beginning of the year and we want to get all our students reengaged with school and commencing their studies as soon as possible.

This approach benefits all and also takes account of those students who are still overseas and can access their teaching and learning until such time that they are able to return to Beijing and return to school. This arrangement will continue for as long as is necessary so every student irrespective of where they are in the world, Beijing or elsewhere will be able to start their studies and continue with them from the 17th of August. As I say, the detail of this will be provided by both the secondary and primary school so please do check your emails to ensure your child is ready to start.

The school has been very busy working with the Foreign Affairs Committee in Beijing to arrange the return of our teaching staff to China. We are pleased to say that, with the help and support of the British Embassy, we have made significant progress in this regard. The authorities have been issuing letters of invitation to our staff who are now able to secure visas for their return. This is being done in a phased manner and the first group who have completed this process are now back in China and serving their quarantine period. The second group have all received their letters of invitation and will be following on in the next few days. This is indeed very good news and the school will return to full staffing as this process continues. Unlike some other schools, Nord Anglia Education has invested heavily in keeping our staff intact so that we reopen for the new academic year with largely the same staff as when we closed. This continuity will be of great benefit to our students as they will, in the most part, return to known and familiar faces.

As with every new academic year, we will be welcoming new staff to our school and their induction programme has already started and will be completed prior to the 17th of August so they will be fully up to speed and familiar with the schools systems and processes and be well prepared for the commencement of teaching and learning. We of course hope that we get the go ahead for face to face teaching as soon as possible and with teachers now in or in the process of returning to China, we are ready to open the moment we get authorisation to do so. As the days pass and news on this becomes available, we will let you know straight away. It is worth repeating that for those students who are still unable to return, the virtual teaching will be available to them for as long as is necessary. We will endeavour to match time zones but there maybe times when lessons will be recorded to fit individual students needs due to their whereabouts.

The key information for the start of the academic year will be sent you by the leadership teams of both schools. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to resolve any issue that may arise.

I will be writing again soon and look forward to the start of the new academic year and let us hope it is a more settled one for all our school community. The past months have been difficult for all concerned so a period of calm and routine will be most welcome.

Best regards

Richard Thornhill