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Message from Head of Secondary

07 October 2016

  • paul

In my last article I talked about “beginning with the end in mind” (roughly, having a goal and making plans to achieve it), and about being “proactive”, by making the efforts necessary to be successful. I was of course talking about the activities of the students acting to achieve their personal goals. But what else do they need?

I have said for many years, that to be successful in the IB Diploma, students need to be organised (so they can manage their workload and maintain a healthy work-life balance), and they need to be prepared to work hard. I still firmly believe this. The IB Diploma is not an elite programme and it is accessible to anyone willing to put in the time and effort necessary to achieve success. This is also true of the IGCSE, and to a smaller extent our Key Stage 3 programme too.

When I talk to students about this, I try to give them the analogy of the circus act, where the entertainer spins a china dinner plate on the top of a long wooden stick. As the act progresses, the entertainer adds a second plate on a second wooden stick, and keeps them both spinning. Another plate is added, and another and another. Eventually the entertainer has many plates spinning, all on their own individual stick. The entertainer moves around the sticks, adding some energy to one, while correcting an imbalance in another, keeping all of the plates spinning simultaneously. The entertainer is continually moving, maintaining a balance between each of the plates. Any distraction that causes the entertainer’s attention to wander from the plate, will end in disaster as it falls to the floor.

If you imagine one dinner plate as one academic subject, then the collection of plates the entertainer has to keep spinning, is analogous to a secondary school student trying to balance all of the demands of many different subjects. They too need to continually monitor each subject, like the entertainer does with the plates, trying to keep the demands of one discipline evenly balanced against the demands of another. Add extra plates for sports, family and social life, and the challenge is quite immense. There are days when it can seem extremely difficult, or even impossible. On those days, a plate will fall, or a subject will be neglected. The neglect of a subject can come in many disguises – school is closed unexpectedly, students get sick and are out of school, a task is more demanding than usual, and so on. Guarding against distractions is a 24/7 activity.

I will return to this thread in the next newsletter, outlining some of the ways that we support the students at BISB, and what parents can do to provide support at home.

Student attendance

I would like to remind parents about the need to inform the school in advance of known absences, in order for us to count them as authorized absences. Our procedures for authorizing absence are described in the Parent Handbook (page 16). If you are in any doubt about what to do, please drop me an email with your questions.


Settling-in reports are given to students in Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 on Friday of this week. Only students who are new to the school or who are new to the programmes at these age ranges. All Year 7 and all Year 10 students will receive a settling-in report because they have started new programmes at the start of this school year. Only new students to the school in Year 8, Year 9 and Year 11 will receive a settling-in report. Other students in Year 7, 8 and 11 will not receive a settling-in report. Students in Year 12 and 13 will also not receive a settling-in report.

All students in Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 will receive a Progress report before the end of term. Year 9 and Year 11 students will receive Progress reports in November (9th and 15th respectively), while Year 7, 8 and 10 students will receive Progress reports on 2nd December. Term 1 Grade cards will be sent home to IB Diploma students in Year 12 and Year 13 on 21st October, and a Grade card also on 2nd December.

A full assessment and reporting calendar for the year is in the Parent Handbook, on page 29.


We are well into term now, and I would like to say how smart the students look in their school uniform. While there have been a few instances of students not following the current uniform and dress code, on the whole the standard of dress has been excellent. This is in great part down to the support of parents, and for which I wish to express my thanks. In international schools, uniform and dress code can often be emotive issues given the wide range of cultural backgrounds that exist in the community. I am pleased to say that the level of support for our uniform and dress code is very high, and I would like to thank everyone for their continued support.

As the cooler weather has now arrived after nice a warm summer, I would like to remind students and parents that the uniform and dress code still apply. It is often tempting to supplement clothing with warm items that are not a part of the uniform and dress code. Take, for example, fleece jackets. I know these are popular, but they are designed for outdoor use and not indoor. If students wish to wear an additional layer of clothing on top of the shirt inside the school buildings, then a school sweater should be worn. Similarly, for girls especially, if they wish to continue to continue to wear a skirt, then warm winter tights should be worn. Leggings are not a suitable replacement for tights, and are not generally as warm.

Sweaters and tights, plus other items of school uniform, can be purchased from the school uniform shop, which is located just a few minutes’ walk from the school at Žatevná Street 12.

Parent feedback

Thank you to those parents who sent me feedback and suggestions about the organisation of the first parent drop-in last week on 29th September. This was my first parent drop-in and it was a good learning experience. Some of the feedback gelled well with my own observations and I will be discussing these within the Secondary Leadership Team at our next meeting, with a view to improving our service to parents at these events in future.

Have a great weekend.

Paul Harrison
Head of Secondary