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Secondary School Updates (24 September 2021)

Chris Newman
Chris Newman (3 posts) Head of Secondary View Profile
Weekly update from Head of Secondary


Dear Parents,

A growing body of research has linked parent engagement with the success of student learning in online environments (AITSL, 2020). The role of teachers in communicating to parents about students’ progress is clearly more crucial than ever. Therefore, you will see this week that our Parent Workshop Series continued in earnest. Mr James Trett, Assistant Head of School (Wellbeing) along with Mr Matt Greenwood, Social and Emotional Counsellor, presented workshops about our pastoral system and how parents can support students at home during online learning.

Our Parents Evenings also start next week, Tuesday 28th September, where Year 8 parents and students have the chance to meet with their teachers to discuss progress. We are grateful to have an enormously supportive parent body at BIS Hanoi. It is one of the cornerstones of our continuing success and growth. We know that parents who are engaged with students in learning at home can lift a child’s academic achievement, as well as support their development and wellbeing (AITSL, 2020).

To that end, a reminder that our lines of communication are more open than ever, and we encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns. The graphic below directs you towards who to speak with. All email addresses are in the Parent Handbook.

Secondary Parent Handbook

Take care.  

Yours sincerely, 

Chris Newman 

Head of Secondary 


Key Dates
  • Secondary VSE parent workshop BIS Hanoi
  • Week beginning 27 September: ECA Program Begins.  

  • Tuesday 28 September: Year 8 Parent’s Evening 

A short guide on how to add appointments can be accessed here. Each appointment has a set time of 6 minutes. Please book your appointments as soon as possible

2:10pm: Live address from Head of Year 8 

2:30 - 6:30pm: Parent-teacher Conferences 

  • Thursday 30 September: Online Parent Workshops (Click here for more details)
  • Week beginning 4 October: Year 11 & Year 13 Internal Exam Week 

  • Tuesday 5 October: Year 11 Parent’s Evening 

  • Wednesday 13 October to Friday 15 October: International Festival

Pastoral Update

Year 9 have made a superb start to not only their VSE, but their academic year too. It has been such a pleasure to see strong levels of engagement and enthusiasm from them all, during their lessons and in form time.

During their well-being lessons, Year 9 have been looking at organising their workspaces, how to manage their time and how to ensure they get a good rest and sleep before another day at school, and they have been sharing these on the Year 9 teams page to give advice and recommendations to their peers, which is really lovely to see.

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There have also been chances over the last couple of weeks to sign up to be part of the student council and very soon they will find out if they have been selected, including for the role of Head of Key Stage 3 representative which is a huge responsibility. They have also all signed up now for their ECA which is starting next week, and I know there has been lots of positivity around their choices. Despite a new start to the year that we all are used to, I am really proud that my Year 9 students have shown great levels of adaptability, resilience and composure, whilst at the same time producing great pieces of work and engaging well. Year 9 have received the most praise points over the last five weeks, putting us comfortably at the top of the year group leader-board and we are excited to continue this journey together. Well done my Year 9’s!

Liam Wright
Head of Year 9

University Update

Our students have just finished choosing their extracurricular activities (ECAs) and will be starting their clubs and activities next week. ECAs are exciting as they bring a different side to the academic school day, adding fun, exercise and hopefully a new set of skills. 

For most students, ECAs are meaningful because they are a way to explore new avenues of interests, while also making new friends and like-minded acquaintances. However, from the perspective of university applications, the role of ECAs is to bring credibility to an application, either as supporting evidence of a claimed passion or showing the applicant’s engagement beyond the academic programme. 

Common pitfalls, however, are to superficially engage in an overly wide range of ECAs or to participate in an event or organisation merely to collect titles and extend the activities list. While exploration and recognition of achievement are both valuable, students do need to reflect on their involvement and filter out those that lack depth of engagement and genuine interest.

As the University Guidance Counsellor, I urge students to approach their chosen ECAs with a view of learning and creating, whilst of course still focusing on the fun part. For our IB students, this is also a fantastic chance to start a (not yet existent) club or ECAs in order to add quality to their future plans and support their university applications. 

But for now, I wish all our students a lot of fun engaging in their chosen ECAs!

Bernd Widerman

University Counsellor

International Week

We are delighted to inform you that this year BIS Hanoi will once again be celebrating our International Festival. During the International Festival students will experience lessons relating to the theme of connections. At BIS we are ‘global citizens learning together’ and making connections with others and the world is our focus. During the pandemic, the importance of human connection has become increasingly clear and so the International Festival is a fantastic opportunity for our community to celebrate our diversity as well as all the things that connect us. More specific information will be coming soon to students and parents 
One of our sessions is titled “Making connections to your future career pathway”, so we are looking for parents who would be willing to talk to students about their own career journey. Parents would be asked to record a 3 minute video covering the following points:

- What is your current role?
- Describe the journey you went through to get to where you are now
- Describe the most significant challenges you faced along the journey
- How did you overcome the challenges?
- What advice would you give to a young person who is just starting their career journey now? 

Please complete this form if you would be willing to help. Then we will send an email with more details. 

Please note that your contact details would remain confidential, and your video would not be used for any other purpose.


This week, Mrs Sands' Year 12 students used their analytical and creative skills to develop an understanding of the 'world' in 'The Handmaid's Tale'.

First, they submitted brilliant essays that analysed how the world is presented within the opening chapter of the story. These were marked, then students redrafted their work to improve it further. 

Next, students began looking at the chapters that followed to develop a broader understanding of this world. Using breakout rooms and the collaboration space on their class notebooks, students worked in groups to begin mapping 'Gilead'. Critically, creatively, and analytically thinking about how the setting and ideologies of this society bring this dystopian story to life. 

This is what they have started producing, which will be completed next lesson:

20210923 English

Amy Sands

English Teacher

Computer Science

Students in Key Stage 3 have been learning about various concepts online this week.

Year 8 have been introduced to spreadsheets using Microsoft Excel. Spreadsheets are used across a variety of industries and are a valuable transferable skill which have benefits far and wide. R2D2, C3PO and Gareth Bale even made an appearance in some spreadsheets to bring the concepts to life. Students will continue learning various skills in formatting, formulas and functions before preparing a spreadsheet to open their own theme park, showcasing the skills developed in this unit of work.

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Year 9 have been looking at the unit of Data Representation - understanding how computers function and represent different forms of data. This week students were introduced to conversions between binary, denary and hexadecimal. Following this, students will look at how sound and images can be represented using binary. To display their understanding and to encourage some friendly competition, students have been taking part in class games to consolidate their learning. Congratulations to Jeongyeon who scored 4607 in binary conversions!

John Twemlow

Head of Digital Strategies


It is hugely important in Maths that, as well as learning so many cool new things, students stop occasionally to consider all they’ve done and how they’ve done it. This exercise allows all students to make sure that they know what skills need consolidating and, more importantly, what they need to pat themselves on the back for! In the last week, students have taken the time to thoughtfully reflect on the areas they should be proud of, and to set targets to do even better going forward. 

Year 9 have achieved a huge amount in a short time, mastering the most famous of mathematical theorems, namely Pythagoras. After this activity they will surely be able to achieve even more as they continue to discover the wonderful world of Maths!

Year 8 have been working on linear graphs. This visual topic was particularly challenging remotely but by drawing their own axes and using diagrams they have been able to work with gradients of both parallel and perpendicular lines.

20210923 Math



Our Year 7 Geographers have been going back in time to explore a range of map skills. They have studied Ordnance Survey maps of 1984 Hanoi to discuss why the landscape around Long Bien district was a suitable area to build the school, focusing on how height is represented on maps. 

Elsewhere in Key Stage 3 Geography, our Year 8 students have been exploring how coastal landforms have been made. There has been some superb creativity and excellent subject knowledge shown from a number of students, ranging from catchy cartoons and 3D Play-doh models! 

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In Key Stage 4 Geography, our Year 11 students have been learning about the ways in which we can reduce risk from tectonic hazards. They have showed ingenuity and superb knowledge and understanding by creating instructional videos, passionate speeches and informative infographics to advise the government of Haiti on how risks from future earthquakes can be reduced. 

Shaun O’Callaghan

Humanities Leader 

IB History  

Our Year 12 HL students worked on individual projects this week, each tasked with looking at an area of reform from Tsar Alexander II of Russia. The areas ranged from legal, local government to financial reforms. Students needed to research and consider what these reforms entailed, who benefitted from them and to find some pieces of historiography to support their opinion on the impact of the reforms. Students were then made presenters in our lessons and presented their findings to the class; this was followed by a class debate exercise on how far Tsar Alexander II was a ‘liberator’ of the people. Great work Year 12s! 

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Year 7 History 

Students have been using the online platform ‘Nearpod’ this week to learn about a very important historical skills, understanding primary and secondary sources. Students started the lesson by considering what makes a reliable source of information – we debated how useful Wikipedia really is! And then we completed the lesson looking at examples of primary and secondary sources and when it is useful to use each one. Students enjoyed playing the ‘Time to Climb’ game on Nearpod and were competitive in reaching the top the fastest. The lesson finished by some collaboration on a board to consider primary and secondary sources: Which are better? The History department has been so impressed with Year 7's commitment to learning so far! 

The Year 7 students also impressed their teachers with their work on the Tollund Man investigation. Students were given the real-life scenario of a body found in a bog in Denmark in the 1950s. They were introduced to the context of the mysterious find, including the fact that although the body look like a recent death it was hundreds of years old. From then the students were given a file of evidence and an investigator record sheet. From this they then recorded their own video report and explained what they thought happened. They had to refer to specific evidence to support their conclusions. The videos were terrific and showed fantastic engagement and a deep understanding to eh tasks of historians.

At this strange time, we are aware that the more we talk to each other the better we feel. As we have started a new school term virtual, this is more important than ever. Therefore with our exam classes we have started beginnning lessons we a check-in, where students answer the register indictating how they are feeling. After this we open a platform to discuss, if students wish, why we feel like this.

20210923 History 2

Sophie Peters & Victoria Black  

History Teacher



Year 13 Visual Art students have been working collaboratively as they navigate their way through the start of their Exhibition unit of work. This is the final component that they have left to complete of their Visual Arts courses and represents 40% of their overall grade. 

Over the past week students have been paired up to build a virtual exhibition of their IB work to date. They were also given the opportunity to use the work from other practitioners if they felt it helped to support the narrative of their exhibition. On Monday students presented their exhibitions, which covered themes such as identity, dreams and freedom. Students shifted their focuses to becoming a curator, rather than an art practitioner and had to consider how to show coherence across a number of pieces of work. 

I am particularly impressed with the level of detail which was put into this piece. The knowledge the students have gained will serve them well as they beginning planning their own exhibitions on Wednesday. Keep up the good work Year 13!

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No Borders Virtual MUN

We were able to participate in the International Virtual Model United Nations Conference over the weekend, hosted by No Borders MUN. BIS Hanoi students from Years 10-13 participated in what was a hugely successful event. Students had the opportunity to collaborate with others from other schools and nations in addressing the topics of the day. The conference this year captured a real spirit of fun, with students not only preventing WW3 – as usual, but also taking part in Harry Potter, and Hunger Games themed crisis committees.

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This week, we are celebrating Languages Day, on the 24th September. We are marking this special day with an Assembly to highlight just how important languages are at BIS Hanoi. 

Languages are something that we should celebrate, whether it is our mother tongue or a second or third language. Did you know that many of our teachers speak another language? In our assembly, you will see the wide range of languages that our staff know and what opportunities they have had since learning that language, whether it has helped them to work at an international company or allowed them to live in another country.  

Our students have also worked very hard on this assembly, and I would like to say a big thank you to the Korean students who have prepared a piece on why it is important to nurture your home language and to our IB MFL Students who have recorded musical performances in French and Spanish for our assembly, as well as taking the time to tell us why they think learning a language is so important

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Georgina Dorr

Head of MFL



Year 8 students read a story of King Sejong the Great and understood that he made a great impact on Korean history with his introduction of hangul. This book delivered the message from a perspective of Princess Jeong-eui, who is a daughter of King Sejong. Students thought of Princess Jeong-eui’s feeling and emotion to write a poem. Students learned how to evoke the senses in a poem.

20210923 Korean

Seyoung An and Unju Song

Korean Teacher



Our Year 8 students have been learning about ca dao (folk song). They were given opportunities to explore all the key factures of this traditional type. They also apply what they have learnt to create their own songs about their hometown. Here are some significant works of our talented students.

20210923 Vietnamese

Hong Tran 

Vietnamese Teacher