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IB Diploma Programme News

15 October 2015

Welcome to the first of weekly IB Diploma Programme news updates to the website.

  • IB students at the British International School Shanghai, Puxi present their Group 4 Science Projects

Each week, we shall be giving you news about what our Year 12 and 13 students are doing as well as information about upcoming events. We shall also be giving you updates about the CAS programme and, each week, explaining one particular aspect of the Diploma Programme. 

The first Year 12 Student Parent Teacher Conference is coming up on Wednesday November 4th. This will be an opportunity for formal meetings about learning involving the parents, the student and the teacher. We strongly recommend that students join their parents as these meetings tend to be more impactful when they are fully involved. As well as meeting the six subject teachers, parents are also invited to meet myself as Head of IB, Thomas Housham (DP Coordinator), Ling Coong (CAS) and Mark Weston (Higher Education).

Year 13 Diploma students are now in the final stages of writing their Extended Essays which will be submitted on the 9 November. We shall be marking this submission with a special assembly and a ‘costume day’ in which students come in to school wearing a costume which somehow represents the subject of their essay.

On the 23 November, mock examinations begin for Year 13 and will continue throughout that week. This will be a valuable opportunity to do real IB papers in exam conditions and have them assessed using IB mark schemes and will give students valuable feedback about what they need to do between then and the final examinations in May.

On the 29 October, there will be a presentation for Year 12 and 13 students by Andrea Lee, a teaching artist and cellist from The Juilliard School. One of the goals for our joint Performing Arts Programme is to offer opportunities to students throughout the entire school, and not just those studying music or playing instruments. Andrea will be discussing living and working in the performing arts world, her experiences of studying in America, being self-employed and the application process to Juilliard. We strongly encourage all Year 12 students to attend and also invite Year 13 students who are interested to come along.

Creativity, Activity, Service

CAS or Creativity, Activity, Service is at the heart of the IB Diploma programme and also of the IB Academy here at BISS Puxi.  It is what makes the IB Diploma unique and different from other qualifications, as it aims to develop young adults not just academically but also as a whole by experiential learning.  By taking part in a balance of meaningful experiences that are creative, contributes to a healthy lifestyle and provides service to others throughout the two years of IB, setting goals, challenging themselves and most importantly reflecting on those experiences we hope that our IB students will develop the skills and attributes to be successful. 

What CAS is not, an hour counting activity or something to do to tick a box.  A good CAS experience should be both challenging and enjoyable, a personal journey of self-discovery. Each individual student has a different starting point and therefore different goals and needs. However, all should include experiences that are profound and life-changing. 

The first CAS project that all our Year 12 students undertook was RAG (Raising Awareness for Giving) week.  This involved students working collaboratively in groups to plan and initiate fun and creative activities to engage both Primary and Secondary students in learning about charities/organisations that we support as a school.  There are many things that students can do for their CAS and we hope to share some of these experiences in future newsletters.

Higher Education

Following a visit from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology before the half term break,  IB students at BISS Puxi this week attended presentations delivered by representatives from two more prestigious universities; the University of British Columbia, Canada (on Tuesday), and Hong Kong University (on Wednesday). Attendees were given an excellent overview of what it might be like to study at these institutions, and up-to-date information on how to apply.  Next week, on October 22, we will be welcoming Liam McHale from Imperial College London, who will be giving a presentation to students interested in pursuing their undergraduate studies in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Students interested in continuing their studies in the USA are welcome to attend a US University Fair which is taking place on Saturday October 17 at the Hua Ting Hotel between 2pm and 5pm, and can pre-register here

A number of Year 13 students have now completed university applications, with many others well on the way to achieving this goal. I am pleased to say that two students have already been invited to interview by the University of Cambridge. All potential Year 13 University applicants should now have researched their university choices thoroughly, completed at least a first draft of their personal statement or college essay, and should be aware of the various deadlines they need to meet, most of which take place this term, and which have been advertised to all students via Managebac.

Coursework and examinations

With this being a busy time for Year 13 students, we have created a calendar of deadlines so they can plan their work. This calendar has been given to students in a paper copy and is also available on their Managebac user account which they use primarily for their CAS portfolio. The deadlines for this week past and the week upcoming are below.




Theatre Research presentation performed. All handouts including bibliography and powerpoint must be submitted



Exploration Draft ready for peer marking



IS Film final draft deadline



Business draft to be submitted


Business and Management

German A IOC mock


German A

German A final IOC practice


German A

German A final IOC


German A

Korean A final IOC practice


Korean A

Chinese A IA feedback


Chinese A

Economics IA2 first draft deadline



“Deadlines give us the sense that we are really on our way and that we will achieve the goal – soon!”

Explaining the Diploma Programme

Each week, we shall be focusing on one small aspect of the Diploma Programme. This week I shall write about School Supported Self Taught Languages. Group 1 of the programme requires students to choose a ‘Language A’ which should be a language that they are able to function in fluently within an academic context, often the student’s first language.

BISS Puxi offers a very wide selection of Group 1 language choices including two different courses in English, Korean, Chinese, Dutch, German and Spanish. However, we also have a very diverse student population which includes students who have other native languages and who wish to study those languages, often with a view to doing university study in their home country.

The School Supported Self Taught Languages allow students to take their own first language as a Literature SL course, supported by an external tutor. Students at BISS Puxi have done this in a variety of languages including Japanese, Czech, Swedish, Portuguese and Polish. Students also attend lessons within the school to help them understand the structure of the course and to equip them with the skills required.

This option requires a great deal of self-discipline and independent study from the students who take it, though over the years the results from School Supported Self Taught Languages have been very good.

I hope you have enjoyed the first edition of IB corner.

Andy Joy, Head of IB Academy 


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