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IB Diploma News

26 October 2016

At BISS Puxi, we are fortunate to have very highly trained and experienced teachers delivering lessons in the Diploma programme. However, in order to keep in touch with current developments in subjects and to further sharpen our practice, we regularly book our teachers on workshops with other IB teachers from around the world.

  • IB Diploma News

Already, 18 of our teachers have taken part in these workshops this school year and more will do so throughout the year. This is a clear sign of the school’s commitment to ensure teachers are as well-prepared as possible to support our Year 12 and 13 students in doing the best that they can do.

Many of you will be aware that for students who plan to head to the United States for higher education, it is usually a good idea to take SAT tests in addition to the IB Diploma Programme. The school is a centre for these and our SAT supervisor, Sena Piao, is able to help with registration and practice materials. One thing to bear in mind with these is that US universities are very good at considering a wide range of evidence when considering student applications. SAT test scores are one factor in this, but a larger factor is the student’s academic performance in the IB Diploma Programme. This is important to consider when thinking about doing one of the many SAT preparation courses that exist since some of these involve a time commitment which is detrimental to the student’s IB programme and therefore is actually counter-productive in helping that student reach their target university.

Finally, a reminder of two upcoming events that have been mentioned in previous newsletters. On the 7th November we have the Year 12 Student, Parent, Teacher Conference. You should have already received a letter about the arrangements for this, though please contact me if that has not reached you. November 7th is also the day for final Extended Essay submission which we are marking with a ‘costume day’ on which our Year 13 students will wear a costume that somehow represents their essay.

Andrew Joy, Head of IB Academy


Creativity, Activity, Service

There are still a number of months yet until the Year 12 CAS trip to Cambodia, there will be more information regarding this trip closer to the time.  The dates for this year’s trip will be Saturday 17th June till Monday 26th June, with Geography students returning a day later on Tuesday 27th June.  As the Christmas holidays are coming up and many of our families will be going home for the festive break, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight things that students and parents need to be aware of in terms of passports and vaccinations, which might be more easily attainable back in home countries. 

For passport requirements – travellers are required to have at least 6 months validity from the time of entry to Cambodia in June.  Students may also require a visa to enter Cambodia, Cambodian visas can be obtained online through the following link:  However, the application for a Cambodian visa does not need to be made until the end of March as it has 3 months’ validity from the date of issue.  

Vaccinations - International SOS, a company we regularly consult on such matters (, recommends vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid, and also suggests malaria prevention. The areas in which we are travelling have a low risk of malaria, but care is needed to avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing long sleeved shirts/trousers after dusk. There is also the option of taking anti-malarial tablets. If you wish to explore this further, please consult your doctor for up-to-date medical advice for travel to Cambodia.

I hope that this helps with your planning.  More details regarding the trip will be sent home closer to the time but please let me know if you have any other questions or queries in the meantime.  Our Year 12 students have been going to Cambodia for numerous years and it has always been a very memorable and rewarding trip, as students are able to demonstrate the learning outcomes of CAS and many of the IB learner profile attributes. 

This week, Natalie Buhrer in Year 13 answers some questions about her CAS project:

What CAS Project are you currently working on?

Right now I’m working on a CAS Project that involves designing hoodies for the graduating class of 2017. We thought that it would be a nice memory for our year—a keepsake with the British International School logo on it. As part of our ‘Service,’ the profits we make from selling the hoodies will go to a charity. We’re not sure which one we will be choosing, but possibly something that is close to home and means something to us.

How did you come up with the idea?

At first we just thought it would be a nice idea to commemorate our final year at BISS. But then we decided we could use it as a CAS project as it involves strands of both creativity and service. Yuka and I decided to run this idea by Ms. Coong and she was very supportive, so we started planning!

How do you plan to organize it?

We’ve already done some research on where to get the hoodies made, how much it will cost and such technicalities. We plan to draw several designs for the hoodie and eventually make a survey so the students can help us decide which they prefer, or any suggestions they may have. We obviously want to be as cost-efficient as possible, so that the hoodies are willingly bought by students. Hopefully we can get exactly what we want for a reasonable price.

What challenges do you think you might face? How will you overcome them?

I think a challenge we might face is that if a lot of people will want different things on their hoodies – for example, colors and sizes. It might be more difficult to organize that, but I think we will find a way to adequately meet the needs of the students while being aware of the price. Another challenge is that people might not want to buy it since it’s not an official school hoodie, thus we might not make enough profits for our charity. Fortunately, we conducted a survey to see who was interested, and a large portion of our grade seems very enthusiastic about the idea.

What is your ultimate goal in carrying out this CAS Project? What outcome(s) are you envisioning?

Our ultimate goal is to produce nice hoodies that students will want to wear. We want everyone to fondly remember their time at BISS, our year group, and the memories we made together. The outcome we are hoping for is that everyone buys a hoodie so we can generate enough money to provide a meaningful donation to the cause we choose to support.


Pastoral News

Before the October break we had introduced the IB Diploma students to the Future learn website: and the free online wellbeing course that was running.  Some students got involved in this and should be finishing this six week course at the end of this week.  There are a whole variety of other courses that are offered through this website and I encourage students to explore this, especially those related to keeping a healthy and balanced lifestyle.  Two courses that they may be interested in are Nutrition and Wellbeing and Reading for Wellbeing.  Many of the courses only run for 4-6 weeks and can be completed at their own pace for a couple of hours a week.  Students may find it useful to learn a variety of techniques or strategies to help  look after themselves, in particular during stressful times.

Angela Sharrock, Key Stage 5 Coordinator


Higher Education

University offers

A number of Year 13 students have this week completed Early Applications to the USA, and students who have submitted applications to the UK have already seen offers coming in, including offers from Russell Group Institutions such as the University of Bath, Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham. With many more applications yet to be submitted, we look forward to keeping you updated on students’ progress.

University Visits

It’s been a busy few weeks for University visits, with students welcoming representatives from George Washington University, Imperial College London, Royal Holloway (University of London) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Mark Weston, Head of Higher Education Guidance


Coursework and examinations

IB Diploma Programme Exams

Now students have mock exam timetables they will want to be thinking about revision. We know that students have other deadlines to meet which is why we recommend starting now to take revision sessions of around 30-45 minutes each evening to practice questions from a particular chapter of a subject they have struggled with. This time is optimal for information to go into the brain; any longer and what they study will become less and less ingrained.

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


Mathematical Studies SL

Final hand in of project


Chinese B HL



German A

Written task 3 1st draft

IB Learner Profile

I want to stay with reflectiveness this week and keep talking about the targets students have set. Often we set ourselves targets but then forget about them and don’t follow up on them. I want to encourage parents to talk about the reflective targets with their children and become a coach and challenge them to meet these targets. This will help to keep the targets in the forefront of student’s minds meaning they are acting on them every week.

Thomas Housham, DP Coordinator


Explaining the Diploma Programme

Each week, we shall be focusing on one particular aspect of the Diploma Programme. This week I shall write about assessment in the Diploma Programme.

Essentially, there are three forms of assessment – Internal Assessment, Externally assessed examination and Externally assessed non-examination components.

All subjects have some form of Internal Assessment which is typically around 20% of the final grade, but can be more in Group 6 subjects. Work is assessed (using common assessment criteria) by the class teacher and internally moderated within the subject department (meaning the teachers of that subject meet to assess work together and to agree on marking standards). Once the marking is completed, a sample of work is sent to the IBO for external moderation which can result in an adjustment of the grades.

Externally assessed non-examinations include components such as Extended Essay , TOK Essay and Language A Written Tasks. These are either uploaded or sent to an IBO examiner who then assesses the work. Each examiner has a sample of their own work moderated by a senior examiner.

The final examination papers are, of course, sent to the IBO who then scan those papers for e-marking by examiners. There are quite rigorous checks on the accuracy of each examiner’s marking including qualification papers that they must assess before being allowed to do live marking and random seeds placed among their marking allocations which give an ongoing assessment of their accuracy.

Andrew Joy, Head of IB Academy