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Our Principal Writes

02 June 2016

I have a couple of very different topics that I wish to write about this week. 

The first topic is the results of the Parents’ Survey 2016 that we received a couple of weeks ago. I am very grateful to those of you who took the time and trouble to support us by providing us with some feedback on our provision. The resultant feedback was once again this year overwhelmingly positive and I am proud to say that BISS Puxi has consistently maintained and most often improved its performance in this annual survey since it began in 2011.

The headlines are that:

91% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed they would happily recommend the school to other people.

94% said that their child is receiving a high quality education

95% said that their child is happy at school

90% said that their children are making good progress.

Here is one of the many positive comments that were also included in the feedback.

Quality teaching.

Teachers and school that are attentive to pupils and parents. 

Diverse range of after-school activities. 

Professionalism in musical or theatre productions, musical comedies etc. 

Welcome programme for parents and new parents in particular (PTA).

The school is more than a school, it's also a place to live, a global community.

As ever we also continue to look for areas in which we can make improvements. I was very pleased to see that the figures for both transport and catering had improved somewhat, but we still have room for improvement in these areas. The feedback also suggested that we need to look carefully at our work in raising global awareness amongst students and on giving feedback to parents on student success in non-academic activities. We will continue to work hard as a school to further develop and improve what we do.    

The second topic that must be addressed was the reaction of some people on WeChat last week when we were faced with a student security issue. WeChat and other social media are very popular at the moment and like all technology when used sensibly and with thought they are incredibly useful ways to keep in touch and to inform people. However they can equally be misused and the information posted can cause unnecessary upset and concern.

As I wrote last week we live in a very safe city here in Shanghai when compared to Europe or North America, let alone the more troubled areas of the globe. However we do not take child protection and safety for granted and we always take issues reported to us very seriously.

I am not an expert on social media, but I am a historian and what concerned me most was firstly the way in which some people accepted subjective opinion and unsubstantiated rumour as fact and secondly their readiness to indulge in speculation and the reposting of some of this unchallenged rumour, thus perpetuating and deepening the sense of crisis. The result was that the school, and in particular the local police force were inundated with calls and emails which delayed their investigations and resulted in them asking us to write to parents to ask them to stop contacting them.

When the incident was reported on Chinese language websites the authorities felt moved to comment as follows ‘police have advised the public to not spread baseless rumours’ and the residents of one of the local compounds have been similarly asked to avoid this mistake by the compound management.

I think it is important that as a community we seek to learn as much as possible from such experiences; I believe that it is all about balance and a response that is in proportion to the incident that has occurred. I think that is what we saw in Huacao from the people directly involved in last Tuesday’s incident. However the response from some on WeChat was completely out of proportion and caused much more harm than good and as one of my team asked as the rumours started to fly, ‘Will the young people in our community still be prepared to report such concerns having seen some of the inappropriate scaremongering that ensued?’ I am confident at present they will, but only if their concerns are dealt with calmly and professionally and they don’t get lost in a sea of hysteria and misinformation.

It is still true to say that we live in a safe and supportive local community and recent events confirm this, albeit serving as a reminder not to take student safety for granted. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with you and the wider community to ensure a safe and happy learning environment for your children here in Puxi.

Kevin Foyle, Principal