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Q & A with Our Head of IB

23 September 2015

Our Head of the IB Academy, Mr Joy returned to BISS Puxi in August and we thought it would be a great opportunity to sit down with him to learn more about his career to date and, amongst other topics, what motivated him to return to BISS Puxi. 

  • Andy Joy

Tell us more on your route into education? You originally started your career in Papua New Guinea?

After training as a Mathematics teacher in the UK, I decided that I would do some voluntary work for the VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) organisation in Papua New Guinea. I was there for two years, working in a very isolated spot near the border with Indonesia. This was both an exciting and a challenging experience and allowed me to take roles of responsibility that I would never had had the opportunity to do as a newly qualified teacher in the UK.

From reading your profile on the website, you have spent quite some time teaching in Africa. What did you enjoy most from your time there?

Yes, I have spent 12 years altogether in Africa – 10 in Togo and 2 in Gabon. The students in both those schools were a real pleasure to work with – eager to learn and full of life and energy.

Does heading the IB department in our school differ from the role you had in Gabon?

There is a very big contrast between my two roles. Ecole Ruban Vert (ERV) in Gabon was a start-up project and I was responsible for the Secondary school. In contrast to BISS Puxi, which is a well-established successful school, we had to start right at the beginning at ERV from a point where there were no students, no buildings and no school procedures or routines and build it up from ground level.

What has been your greatest milestone to date in your role as Head of IB?

In many ways, milestones are not the most important thing in education – what really matters is the on-going development of students throughout the course of the Diploma programme. Having said that, it is always wonderful to see students achieving high results and reaching the universities of their choice at the end of the programme.

What was the motivation behind your move back to Shanghai and BISS Puxi?

Having worked for BISS Puxi previously, I already knew what a great school it is. The Year 12 and 13 students here are well motivated, high achieving and very pleasant to teach.  I also enjoy working alongside such dedicated, energetic and professional teaching colleagues.

What do you hope to achieve from your role as Head of the IB Academy at BISS Puxi?

I hope that through studying the Diploma Programme in our IB Academy, our students are able to develop the skills and attitudes that bring them success in higher education and in their future lives and careers.

Given our status as an International school, how does the IB curriculum aid students in their interactions with fellow students from diverse and multi cultured backgrounds?

Each subject contains elements of international-mindedness which reinforce the International Baccalaureate philosophy of promoting inter-cultural understanding and respect. Within the Theory of Knowledge course, students explore real-life issues through different cultural perspectives which is made more interesting by the fact that the classes themselves contain students from diverse backgrounds. The Diploma Programme also has a big focus on the study of language and BISS Puxi has a fantastic range of different language options to choose from including English, Chinese, Korean, German, French, Dutch and Spanish.

What tips would you give current IB students to maximise their learning output over the imminent holiday periods such as October Golden Week for example?

Being organised and being self-disciplined is important – planning what you are going to do, knowing when it needs to be done by and actually going ahead and doing it. For the Golden Week holiday, the focus should be on the Extended Essay and the Internal Assessments, though I would also recommend that students spend some time reviewing their work from the first half term.

The Christmas holiday is a chance to really get on track with Internal Assessments and to review the papers from the mock examinations from November. Chinese New Year would be a time to finish Internal Assessments and to work on TOK essays.

In all those holidays, students should balance their workload with some high quality relaxation time or travel – it’s also important to recharge batteries ahead of the next term. The holiday at the end of March should be spent focusing heavily on revision for the final examinations in May – certainly no time for either relaxation or travel!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Joy for his time.

Ryan Kealey Marketing and Events Manager


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