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A Balanced Approach

09 February 2017

Welcome back and I do hope that you have had a restful and relaxing Chinese New Year holiday. This has been another busy and exciting week at the school. We started by welcoming numerous new students and their families to the BISS community and they have spent time this week acclimatising to their new environment with the help of their buddies, tutors and the admissions team.

  • Happy New Year of the Rooster

Many of us will hold recent memories of what it feels like arriving new to Shanghai.  Knowing that our children have support, encouragement and lots of opportunities to develop new friendships at the school is both exciting and reassuring.

Our returning students have made a purposeful start and have spent time with their tutors reflecting upon their tracker reports from last term, with an eye on the next steps they need to focus upon to make further progress in their subjects.  As a school we embrace the philosophy to ‘be ambitious’ and discussions with your child about future improvement will be reflected during these conversations.

This is of particular significance for our Year 11 and 13 students who have only a short time before their final examinations for IGCSE and IB courses.  Many have spent their holiday completing elements of coursework or practising past papers in each of their subjects.  It is vital at this time that they remain focused, stay healthy and keep a balance of revision, exercise and relaxation.  Staff at the school will be challenging your children to be the best that they can be: academically this means that these students will be expected to spend more time revising topics and then applying their knowledge and understanding to exam questions.  At the school there are many revision sessions offered in each subject either before the school day, at lunchtimes or through our ECA programme.  I would encourage you to discuss these with your son or daughter and check that they are taking these opportunities. 

However, we do not want to cause our pupils undue levels of stress during this period.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, we care greatly for our students’ well-being and our team of Form Tutors and Year Leaders will always be available to intervene and support.  Your feedback to us is also very important at this time and please do not hesitate to contact our staff if you require our support.  Students have been given revision guides with lots of hints and tips on how to maintain a balanced approach when preparing for exams.  Year 13 has a Student-Parent-Teacher-Conference in two weeks’ time and this is an ideal opportunity for discussion.

There are many exciting experiences in the weeks ahead to look forward to as a school community.  On Friday, BISS is hosting FOBISIA schools in our very own BISSMUN (Model United Nations) and teams from across Asia will be arriving in Shanghai this evening.  Pupils and staff have spent many months preparing for this event and I wish them every success.  At a time when the rhetoric that we often hear from some of our global leaders is confrontational, spurious or just self-publicising, it will be refreshing to witness students working together on the challenging issues facing humanity with a collaborative and shared spirit.  Some of the issues that MUN students will be discussing include: limiting the spread of HIV and accelerating the research in prevention of the virus; protecting the rights and welfare of children in armed conflicts and child soldiers, and eliminating the ‘wage gap’ between men and women, as well as finding measures to promote women in all workplaces.  BISSMUN will be taking place throughout the weekend and you are more than welcome to watch proceedings.  I am sure that all students participating in the event will enjoy an immersive, challenging and successful experience.

The rehearsals for our senior school production ‘West-Side Story’ continue and I would like to thank the students for all of their hard work during the school week and at weekends too.  Students have effectively written their own adaptation and as well as rehearsing scenes and learning lines, they are focused on stage lighting and effects.  There are two performances in March for all of us to look forward to and I urge you to reserve a space in your diary for either Monday 20 or Tuesday 21 March.

There are many other events taking place in the coming weeks, both for students and parents – you can access our school calendar to find out more details, but I look forward to another term full of rich experiences and challenge for our children.

Andrew Lancaster, Head of Secondary