Last week the Secondary Room Parents met with me to discuss operational issues and share their thoughts on ways in which we can support the students further. I’m always part terrified, part thrilled to meet with an intelligent, insightful group of parents who, like all of us, care deeply about the quality of experience that their children receive at BISS. Each of the room parent coordinators brings to the meetings the questions that you raise about issues ranging from how to pick the correct courses for study on the IB Diploma Programme; staff recruitment; examination dates and revision session - to food choice and quality in the Dining Hall. There is always a lot of discussion surrounding extra-curricular activities and in particular the provision of sports at the school. What quickly becomes clear is that all of us want the very best for our children. Having a detailed overview of all of the activities at the school and understanding the thinking behind them puts me in a very privileged position – this meeting allows us to critically examine these as a team and look for ways of improvement. As I am so immersed in the organisation, this means that a parent perspective is invaluable. I appreciate all of the issues that are raised since these are important to you and me alike. I’d like to express my thanks and appreciation to the team of room coordinators who spend their time ensuring that there is a good level of communication amongst us all.
So teams are critical to the success of any large organisation and this is true at BISS too. Teaching and learning is core to everything that we do, day in, day out. Subject teams work together to make sure that the progress our children make ultimately leads to their academic success. Reviewing our practice helps us to improve too. IB teachers have met during the course of this school year to look at how the IB learner profile is developed through pupil learning across their subjects. Learning in lessons isn’t just about subject knowledge – we try to develop skills that are core to the IB philosophy so that our pupils are thinkers, communicators, caring, so that they are open-minded, principled and reflective. Reviewing how we encourage pupils to develop these traits is proving to be a useful exercise and one which has generated its own thinking amongst our IB teachers.
Our pastoral team is a vital part of school life and one which aims to develop support for each of our students as they progress through the school. Form tutors are your first port of call as parents if you have questions or concerns and want to seek advice or clarification. They are there to meet your son or daughter each day and help them to prepare for the day ahead. They are best placed to offer support and advice on issues in terms of who to address them with if you have questions as parents. The type of pastoral care and guidance varies throughout the year and depends too upon the age of the pupil. At the moment, our pastoral team are working closely with Year 11 and 13 students to help them to plan their revision schedules in the months ahead. Tutors are mentoring their pupils and within their form groups, students are supporting each other. Coupled with your support at home, our children will have the best possible chance of success in their upcoming final exams.
Our sporting teams have seen success over the last week and the Lions have roared! Basketball teams travelled to Xiamen to attend the ACAMIS tournament, where our girls’ team achieved second place following a very close final match. Our boys attained a very respectable third place. Importantly, there was real development amongst the players – not just in their techniques, but also leadership – for example, I am told by staff that by the last boys’ game, the coach was not required, in the sense that the captain, Lawrence Lu, took on this responsibility himself. This is how teams develop and become effective, by working together and learning from each other.
Our Music students performed this weekend during their soloist recitals and it was an absolute treat for both the audience and each other. They too are a team, discovering an appreciation for each other’s hard work and commitment in preparing and performing in front of an audience, with pupils from Year 1 through to Year 12 playing the piano, drums, violin, cello, flute, guzheng as well as singing – it was wonderful to watch and listen.
Finally, our Art team have laid on a challenge for students in the secondary school! We are currently running a Global Visual Arts Challenge across all of our Nord Anglia schools and pupils are encouraged to enter and illustrate a story that they can choose from. This week has also seen two groups of students immersing themselves in the Art department to produce their own pieces, based on the theme of ‘Under the Microscope’ and I have seen some fantastic interpretations so far. It’s been very interesting speaking with pupils during the process and listening to the different ways in which they have approached the project.
As I wrote at the start of this blog, the teams that operate within the school are many and varied, but we are all working towards a common goal for our children – this is a team that we all want to be part of.
Andrew Lancaster, Head of Secondary