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IB Diploma News

13 October 2016

I hope you all had a pleasant Golden Week vacation. 

Earlier today, the Year 12 students had an assembly on Academic Honesty. One of the skills that we teach our students is how to properly cite sources using appropriate referencing conventions (as a school, we use Harvard Referencing). 

  • Higher Education

The assembly focused on how important it is to acknowledge when ideas and content are not their own and some of the pitfalls of academic ‘misconduct’. The consequences of not abiding by the IBO rules on academic honesty is potentially very serious since submitting plagiarised work can result in no grade being awarded in that particular subject (which for a full Diploma student would result in not getting their Diploma). However, we do everything possible within school to educate our students about what is acceptable and use plagiarism-detection software so that issues can be identified and resolved internally on the very rare cases that they occur.

The first Year 12 Student Parent Teacher Conference is coming up on Monday November 7th. 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), Angela Sharrock (Key Stage 5 Coordinator) 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 7th 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 28th  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. It will give students valuable feedback about what they need to do between then and the final examinations in May.

Andrew Joy, Head of IB


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. 

CAS is not an hour counting activity or something to do to tick a box.  A good CAS experience should be both challenging, enjoyable and 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.  As a Core part of the IB Diploma programme we encourage students to find links with CAS from the rest of the Core, TOK and the Extended Essay as well as within all their subjects.  Through their CAS programme, students are required to demonstrate that they have achieved the following learning outcomes of CAS:

  • Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth
  • Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process
  • Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience
  • Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences
  • Demonstrate the skills and recognize the benefits of working collaboratively
  • Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
  • Recognize and consider the ethics of choices and actions

There are many things that students can do for their CAS and we hope to share some of these experiences in future newsletters.

Ling Coong, CAS Coordinator


Higher Education

University Applications

A number of Year 13 students have now completed university applications, with many others well on the way to achieving this goal. A couple of students have already received offers of places, and I am pleased to report that three applicants have 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. Detailed information can be found in the ‘Getting Started’ part of the Higher Education section on Moodle.

University Visits to BISS Puxi

Last week, we welcomed a representative from the HULT Business School, which offers students an US-style Business education at a choice of 3 Campuses around the world (San Francisco, Boston and London). The Business School focuses on real-life business experience, and students can choose from majors in Management, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Accounting or Finance. More information can be found on Moodle in the ‘Applying to the USA’ section, under ‘Presentations’.

Due to traffic problems and the early school closure on Friday 30th, UCLA were not able to make it to school in time to present to students. However, several copies of the UCLA International Guide are in the Higher Education Office for interested students to have a look at.

October is a busy month for University Visits - the week beginning 10th October sees a visit from the University of British Columbia, one of Canada’s top 3 universities, with visits from George Washington University and Imperial College London taking place the following week. The full schedule of October University visits can be found below:

University Visits to BISS Puxi in  October 2016

  • Thursday 13th October - University of British Columbia (UBC) - 1pm in Room 350
  • Wednesday 19th October - George Washington University -  1pm in Room 350
  • Friday 21st October - Imperial College London - 1pm in Room 350
  • Monday 24th October - City University, Royal Holloway, Goldsmith’s College, University of London - 1pm in Drama Studio, followed by Q&A in the Library
  • Wednesday 26th October - Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) - 1pm in Room 350
  • Monday 31st October - Hochschule Rhein-Waal (Germany) - 1pm in Room 350


Coursework and examinations

IB Diploma Programme Exams

Welcome back to all after the national day holiday. We hope that students spent their time wisely either completing assignments set by teachers or being proactive in order to get on top of their work. For year 13 students this would mean reviewing topics in preparation for the mock exam week. For year 12 students this would mean looking at ‘marginal gains’ they can make by using resources they have found themselves or provided by the school but not set as homework by teachers. Year 12 students all made a list of ways they could improve in each subject during the IB preparation week.

IB Diploma Programme Deadlines

All deadlines for year 13 students are accessible through their Managebac account and by looking at the calendar. We encourage parents to ask students in year 13 to show them this calendar so they can help their children to plan their work.

The Year 13 deadlines for this week and the week following the October holiday are below:

Date Due


Work Due



Independent Study final draft deadline


Chinese A

Formative Oral Assessment



IA2 final deadline


Chinese A

Internal Assessment 2nd draft


Mathematics HL and SL

Final draft of Exploration


Business Management

1st draft to be submitted

IB Learner Profile

With mock exams next month and tracker grades just being received, now is a perfect time to reflect on how the first few months of this academic year have been. The IB encourages students to inform their planning and their actions by first reflecting and then having a follow up reflection on these plans. We encourage all students to be proactive throughout the Diploma Programme course in order to always stay on top of work. Furthermore if we have a plan for our studies this will remove any anxiety we have.

Pastoral News

At the beginning of the year students made SMART targets for each of their subjects. SMART targets are targets that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. 
During this week in registration time students were discussing and reflecting on their targets within their peer mentoring groups. This is a very important activity for students as the process of reflection will help them look further into the areas they need to review the most as well as discuss with others what is working and what needs to be changed in order to meet their targets.  Furthermore, there is an important link here between their CAS work and their academic work as they can utilise their skills of reflection to gain a better understanding of their academic progress.  Over the year subject teachers and form tutors will aim to support students and their targets through meaningful conversations and feedback. 

Angela Sharrock, Key Stage 5 Coordinator


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 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 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.

Andrew Joy, Head of IB