Year 11 Endeavour and Discovery led their service-learning project this week. An advocacy project about the unhoused, raising awareness for the Budapest Bike Maffia – one of our community partners. Over the course of the week, through a series of quizzes, students learned about the complexities of the issue and how BBM is working to support those affected. The week culminated in a ‘Black and Red’ non-uniform day. This project was especially challenging as those organising and leading the events are currently in Virtual School. Their resolve and commitment to execute their plans despite this are admirable.
This week we have also seen our Student Council focus on Anti-bullying Week. Art competitions, positive wish boards, odd socks and ‘say no to bullying’ videos are some ways they have promoted this issue.
Finally, staff have continued their support of Movember, an organisation working in support of men’s health. Staff have been displaying their support through sporting some very fetching moustache face masks or growing their own. Should you wish to contribute to this fundraising you can find a link below.
Support BISB Movember Team
As our normal parents’ evenings and report cycles continue, in addition to the regular COVID-19 updates please do monitor your email closely to stay informed regarding your children and general school news.
Head of Secondary
Today is World Kindness Day. The objective is to “make kindness the norm”. This a noble aim and the connection between a safe, supportive, caring environment and academic success and good mental health are well established.
Two aspects of the learning in our school connect directly to this theme. Firstly, service learning where students are guided to develop an understanding of their place in the world, responsibility to others and the positive impact that they can have. Secondly, when relationships are damaged by poor choices, we adopt a restorative approach. This helps young people develop the skills to establish and nurture healthy relationships. Kindness to those within and beyond our community.
Next week we will see two consequences of this way of thinking. Our Year 11s are focusing on the issue of the ‘Unhoused’ helping their peers understand the complexities of this issue and how they can demonstrate kindness in their actions to those beyond our community including how they can support our community partner – the Budapest Bike Maffia. Additionally, next week is Anti-bullying Week and our student council led by Swayam Arora have planned a number of activities to reinforce our stance on this issue and the need to stand united in the face of such unkindness when it presents itself within our community.
On World Kindness Day I am delighted to see kindness as the norm in our weekly activities and the words and actions of our students.
Head of Secondary
This week we have seen the world’s largest democracy decide on its leader. There has been a record number of Americans exercising their right to vote and their responsibility to direct their country’s future. At the time of writing, it is unclear who has been elected.
Good schools work hard to help young people develop a sense of responsibility. Over the last few months during COVID-19 this has become especially important and given the events of this week it seems apt and appropriate to draw upon the words of a previous American president.
“what is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves our nation and the world” Barack Obama
The notion of responsibility implies a sense of accountability for individual actions, a burden of responsibility for others, and an obligation.
Over recent weeks as the COVID-19 situation evolves all members of our community have found increasing levels of responsibility placed upon us. Our individual actions have a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of all our community; , we assume a burden for the safety of others and are obliged, whether we like it or not, to shoulder this.
Standing firm under such a burden requires strength and fortitude. For our students their actions take a new level of significance, one that they would not normally be ready for, but must assume. They will need our help to do this. We will need to be role models and demonstrate our expectations through our words and action and help them in their decision making.
Making the necessary sacrifices to keep our community safe is not easy. Avoiding the pleasure of social engagements, identifying oneself as a ‘close-contact’ and going into isolation, perhaps missing school requires fortitude and integrity. Admirable qualities that lie at the core of our school values.
The stakes on this are high: whilst virtual learning is effective to a point, the impact of long-term absence from school is significant. However, this face-to-face learning cannot be at expense of the safety of our community. We must adapt our behaviours to protect our students’ education and the health and wellbeing of our families and teachers.
Head of Secondary
I hope you enjoyed a relaxing half term break. We have a busy few weeks coming up!
Maths week commences on Monday with events and activities during breaks and lunchtimes. Teachers will share their favourite problems and students will be challenged, engaging with ideas and problems within and beyond our normal mathematics curriculum.
Later in the month week will see our Year 11 students highlight the issue of the unhoused here in Budapest and how we can support Budapest Bike Maffia, one of our community partners, as they work to tackle this issue.
Next week marks the start of Movember with number of members of staff growing their facial hair throughout November to raise funds and awareness around men's health.
Finally, of course, I wish all of our 5 kilometre NAE Global Challenge runners the best of luck tomorrow as they try to replicate their success in the 2 kilometre challenge!
Have a wonderful weekend.
We are delighted to have completed this first half term of learning without major disruption. Whilst the protocols we have put in place have a necessary impact on full school functionality and community involvement, we have been able to engage in face-to-face learning, utilising our specialist facilities and, where appropriate, a reduced Co-Curricular learning programme.
This last two months has passed largely without incident due to the exceptional cooperation of our students and the community more broadly. We are extremely grateful for all the parent support we have received in reiterating the importance of accepting personal and shared responsibility for protecting the school. In particular, using masks, maintaining social distance as well as frequent cleaning of surfaces and hands.
We arrive at our half term break having celebrated our International Day, albeit in a slightly reduced fashion and with many weeks of stimulating and productive learning behind us.
I wish all of our families a well-earned rest and we look forward to welcoming all students back in full winter uniform on the 26th October.
Have a lovely weekend,
Lunchtimes have seen the Astroturf pitch come alive with our first house competition of the year. Houses have been vying for victory in the House Football Tournament. Games have been closely fought in the spirit of fierce competition and fair play. What has been especially wonderful to watch has been the level of support from those on the side-lines, with our stands full of cheering fans. Well done to the House Captains led by the House Chair as well as our teacher House Leaders. An excellent start to the year’s competition. See next week’s newsletter for results and pictures!
With a clear focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 13, 14 and 15 next week, students will develop their understanding of these goals and what impact they can personally have on addressing them. To empower our students to act the day will focus firmly on building public speaking and debating skills.
Environmental degradation and climate change took center stage amongst young people last year with many of our students demonstrating their passion for this. As a school we firmly believe that it is in school that they will develop the skills to have an impact on these issues and we are committed to helping our students do so. This continues to be a strong focus across many aspects of school life including our work on International Day.
As is an annual tradition, students may celebrate their diversity by wearing their national dress, national sports kit or national colours on Thursday. No club sports kit please. Alternatively, students may wear the school uniform.
Have a lovely weekend
Firstly, I would like to direct your attention to our recent success in the Nord Anglia Education global 2 kilometre challenge. You will find details of how our students performed in this newsletter as well as social media. Our students secured several podium places across a range of age groups and we even 'podiumed’ in the teacher category!
A reminder that following the October break we move to our winter uniform. After half term students should always wear long sleeved white shirts and their school blazers. Should the weather require it they may also wear a warm jacket over the top. Students may also wear school jumpers or cardigans. No other jumpers or ‘hoodies’ are acceptable; this extends to school branded sports team hoodies.
The final week of half term traditionally brings International Day. This year will be no different. This year we will focus activities on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals directed towards addressing climate change. Specifically, 13 - Climate Action, 14- Life below water and 15 – Life on land. (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/ ). We know that many of our students and staff are passionate about addressing climate change and we look forward to a productive day!
Have a lovely weekend
World Languages Week
This week has seen a focus on our world languages through tutor time, break times and lunchtimes. Activities included a ‘label the map’ challenge where students and staff were required to identify where various languages are spoken to a ‘Graffiti wall’ in the BIStro along with a rich range of activities around the Chinese language. As an international school with over 70 nationalities, the breadth of languages spoken by our community is immense and well worth celebrating.
NAE Global 2K run
Students and staff have also been involved in a global Nord Anglia Education event where children studying in our family of schools around the world have been pitting themselves against the clock to run 2 kilometres. The large sports field has hosted this during lunchtime Wednesday, Thursday and Friday along with some students participating during lessons.
Year 13 Lab Days
The study of science and its application in a practical context is a compulsory component of the IB Diploma Programme. The absence of face-to-face school last term meant that our Year 13 students engaged in their rescheduled ‘lab days’ this week. Over recent weeks they have been carrying out preparatory work ready to apply their theoretical knowledge to an experimental context and draw meaningful conclusions. Such an authentic engagement with the scientific method and nature of science ensures that all students whether they be budding lawyers, business people, medics, engineers, scientists, artists or otherwise will leave school with a solid understanding of how scientific knowledge is formed. Such an appreciation of science is hugely beneficial in the modern world and allows them to engage with global issues, form reasoned opinions and challenge claims.
Have a lovely weekend.
We hosted the last of our Parent Information Evenings (PIEs) this week. I hope these events provided you with the information necessary to feel informed about your child’s learning and school life. Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact their Form Tutor.
These PIEs were hosted using video conferencing software. Although a poor substitute for face-to-face interaction, this allowed us to present our school and respond to questions. This represents just one way that through innovation we have continued to maintain our school offer, but it is not the only way.
Over the course of this week our Year 13 students have been completing oral elements of their IB English, Chinese and Hungarian courses. We have utilised Microsoft Teams to place teacher and student in different physical spaces within the school, negating the need for masks and subsequently maintaining clarity of speech for both teacher and student. This adaptation allows our students to best demonstrate their learning and secure the best possible outcomes.
Next week sees the first of our themed weeks with World Languages taking centre stage. Our Year 12 World Languages prefects have organised a range of activities in collaboration with the subject teachers. These will take place throughout the week. Your children can tell you more about this as the week unfolds. In contrast to the normal lively shared experiences within common physical spaces, all activities have been carefully adapted to preserve social distancing and limit interaction.
Whilst rigid seating plans, social distancing and mask wearing in classrooms present obstacles to our normal approaches to teaching and learning, the lessons we learned from Virtual School and the continued creativity of our teachers have led to innovations ensuring that the quality of learning is maintained as much as possible. We continue to look at how we might implement all the protocols necessary to secure a safe environment whilst nurturing a stimulating and exciting learning experience.
I would like to thank our parent community for your support, resilience and flexibility over recent weeks. This has allowed us to focus our attention on adapting our provision and offering the best possible education to our students, your children.
Have a wonderful weekend.
At this stage of the term we expect that students are beginning to settle into the routines of school. They should be getting to know their new teachers, adjusting to new subjects and courses and, if new to the school, finally knowing their way around.
As the world around us remains uncertain I can reassure you that what I am seeing in our corridors are students going calmly about their daily school life. They have remembered how to greet one another and their teachers (albeit a little muffled through a mask) and connect and enjoy the company of their friends. Lessons may be a little different as the usual dynamic and active components of group work and movement are minimised, but the activities remain engaging and effective.
I have been immensely impressed and reassured by the adaptability of our students as they take all this in their stride. They have maturely accepted their role in protecting our community and behaving appropriately. In many ways we are seeing the best of our students as they illustrate through their actions that they are up to the challenge of navigating through a global pandemic.
We are committed to guiding them through this with the highest quality educational experience that has become the mark of our school and we very much appreciate your support. Through adjusting our own behaviours inside and out of school we stand the best chance of insulating these children from the impact of this crisis and protecting their education.
3rd September 2020
With our first, full week completed students are well and truly into the routines of school life. Our returning students have very quickly adapted back to life on campus and new students and our Year 7 have learned their way around seamlessly.
From next week we commence our CCA programme. The full programme and selection is open until today and the activities start on Monday. Younger students can expect to receive homework in their lessons from next week. You can find details of tasks that have been set on Firefly.
Thank you to all those Year 7, 8, and 9 parents who were able to attend their parent information evenings this week. I hope you found them informative. Should you have any remaining questions please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s form tutor in the first instance.
If you have not already done so can I direct you to read Mr Dyer’s communication regarding our Covid19 measures. You will find amendments to our approach in response to the evolving situation.
Have a lovely weekend
28th August 2020
Welcome to the new school year.
What a wonderful week. To open the school and see our returning students re-enter our campus along with those new to our school was an overwhelmingly positive event. Students, teachers and parents alike were elated to return to face-to-face school.
As we start the new year, we should publicly congratulate our Year 12 for their IGCSE results and our latest graduates, the class of 2020 on their IB Diploma scores. Whilst their results were secured in unusual circumstances, these outcomes represent two years of focused work and diligence and we are proud of our students’ achievements. We are delighted that we were able to gain entry to first choice universities for almost all our graduating Year 13 students. We wish them all the best in their bright futures.
Opening and staying open
Back to school! Now the campus is open we turn our attention to remaining open. I thank you for your adherence to our safety protocols. When I addressed the students in our start of school assembly (albeit beamed into classrooms on a screen) I highlighted to them the importance of each of our individual parts in keeping each other safe and the school open.
Protecting Students from the Long-Term Impact of Virtual School
As teachers, we are now focused on the next steps to protect our students from the long-term impact of school campus closure. We are working hard to identify areas of weakness within students’ understanding and supporting them to attend to these. For the exam year groups, Years 11 and 13, we will be looking to respond to changes to assessment in their exam sessions for May 2021. This reduction in the scope of the number of exams is good news. For our final year IB Diploma students this will mean that we can maintain a sharp focus on helping them secure the best possible IB Diploma results and subsequently access to their universities of choice.
Aside from the academic challenges of Virtual School we are also keen to attend to the lost personal and social learning. We hope that for our students, returning to school will be an overwhelmingly positive and exciting experience. The first two days of this term have been restructured to allow for fun activities across sports, STEAM, Performing Arts, learning to learn and team building. These activities are designed to help students rebuild social bonds and adjust back to the school environment prior to returning to classroom lessons.
It is normal that some children may experience anxiety around returning to school and the busy dynamic environment it represents. This may prove challenging for some. We will be monitoring this closely and looking to support students through these first few weeks with care and kindness. Should you have any concerns about your child’s wellbeing over the coming days and weeks please contact your child’s tutor or care and guidance leader.
Parent information evenings and online meetings
Lastly, if you have not already received an invitation to our Parent Information Evenings you will receive one in the coming days. These evenings cover aspects of Curriculum and Assessment, Care and Guidance, Co-Curricular Learning and the specific features of the year. As part of safety protocols these will be hosted virtually. Each presentation will run from 5:00-5:30pm.
Year 7: September 2nd
Year 8/9: September 3rd
Year 10/11: September 9th
Year 12/13: September 10th
Have a wonderful weekend.
As we drew the year to close today I reflected with the students in our final virtual assemblies. I have included below a slightly edited version of my message to our students.
This academic year has been one of two halves. Both have led to significant growth and learning but of fundamentally different kinds.
The first half of our year was one characterised by our usual mix of classroom learning, service projects, co-curricular learning across the arts, sports, debating and much more. Interspersed in this period we invited external visitors to evaluate our school. The calibre of the students’ achievements and personal development was recognised as excellent by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. That seems a long time ago.
Almost halfway through the year we received notification that the school campus would have to close and learning would become virtual. We were all thrust into circumstances beyond our control, the future was unclear, precedents were absent, and our community was pushed well outside its comfort zones. Everyone within our community was forced upwards on a steep learning curve, reacting daily to changes in our way of living inside and outside of school.
As I have said many times in our school assemblies, growth happens when we take risks, safe in the knowledge we are supportive of one another and working together. The strength of our school community predates any of our involvement and membership. It is part of what makes us what we are.
In the first week or so of virtual school I wrote a newsletter piece where I reflected on the potential for loneliness during this period. I expressed my confidence that as a school we did the best we could to transition our relationships from the physical to the virtual. No substitute, but the best that was possible. We did this tremendously well. Lessons started virtually one school day after closure was announced. Assignments were submitted, tests taken, meetings held, projects progressed. As teachers and students, we learned as we went along. Teachers have not experienced this and have not been trained for this. This way of learning was unknown to students. We learned together.
In time, we got better, as learners and teachers. Students’ diligence and motivation shone through, teachers’ creativity and passion for their profession persisted and we made it work. This is an exceptional achievement.
Personally, I am sure students have found this period hard. Motivation and purpose will have been difficult to maintain. Interest in their learning and positivity around day-to-day life is difficult to sustain. In the absence of the presence of friends, peers and teachers many students would have become profoundly aware of how important the connections and relationships students have established and maintained are to their wellbeing. This in turn meant that the demands on parents to maintain high spirits increased.
What has impressed me most during this latter part of the year has been students’ overwhelming resilience and perseverance; the stoic acceptance that there are many aspects of the situation that are out of your control; their acceptance of these external circumstances and the commitment to work with what they can change - their own response and approach. They did this admirably.
As we begin to navigate our way out of the global health crisis that we have endured we do so stronger and better equipped to thrive. We have weathered several months of being well outside our comfort zones leading to intense personal growth and a galvanised inner strength. We are tougher and better equipped to manage our normal day-to-day lives and learning.
However, we must be cautious; there is much to regret and rue about what has been lost over the last few months. There is a temptation to allow bitterness to fester when reflecting on what has been missed or lost. A desire to look somewhere to blame. We must guard against this as it is both unhealthy and unproductive. When we return in August, we return as a community intact and complete. In many ways this is due to our unity and mutual supportiveness. When we return in August we do so together.
A return to normal school will not be easy; we will have forgotten this way of operating. In some ways normal school will have to change as we implement protocols and systems to protect each other and our school from further closures. We should expect this and be ready to adapt. We will not allow blame, bitterness or unkindness to reside in our school. It is not welcome and will not be tolerated.
I am looking forward to inviting the school back together when we return and I look forward to adjusting back to aspiring to the very highest standards within a culture built on foundations of respect, kindness and care for ourselves and each other.
Have a restful and healthy summer break.
Virtual Enrichment Days
This week drew to a close with some fantastic activities taking place as part of our Virtual Enrichment Days. If you missed this, please do check out some of the highlights on our social media channels! After all of the hard work, relentless diligence and focussed learning of the last few months, students enjoyed the opportunity to try something a little different. Ranging from photography in Modern Shakespeare, the outdoors with Virtual Camping, Online board games, public speaking in TED-Ed, graphic expression in comic strip creation, competition in the Virtual Sports Days, house chants in Team Holla and sustainable entrepreneurialism in the Zero Waste Eco Shop, there was something for everyone.
Final Week Arrangements
This week you received confirmation of the opportunity for students to return to school before the end of term. If you have not done so yet please do confirm attendance at the predetermined time and submit the personal health declaration via the online form. We will not be able to admit students onto the school site without this declaration.
Additionally, on Friday we will run virtual final assemblies for each year group to recognise the achievements of the year and bid farewell to those students who are leaving the school.
Have a lovely weekend.
Today you have received details of our online enrichment opportunities open to all students in Years 7 to 10 next Thursday and Friday. There is a range of activities that offer children the chance to develop their skills in virtual camping, culinary prowess or creativity with comic book creation. Parents can register their children online and students access these activities through Teams.
We will be confirming specific details regarding the logistics for the final week of term on Monday. Virtual school will continue throughout, however, and students from each year group will be invited on site at designated times to say farewell to their peers and their tutor as well as collect any belongings from their lockers. During these times, lessons for these students will be suspended. Additionally, we will be hosting our normal suite of end of year assemblies to recognise the successes of the year, including those enjoyed during Virtual School, as well as looking forward to next year.
As well as putting the final touches to the closing weeks of this atypical term we have been carrying out our usual planning for next academic year. We are planning for a full reopening in August. However, as you might expect, there will be a range of additional safety protocols to protect our community. These will be outlined in detail in due course. Throughout the last few months, we have maintained the very highest levels of protection and we intend to continue this through the summer and into the new year. To do this effectively we will require the support of families outside of school and teachers and students within school as we return to a school environment and routines that may be slightly different to what we left some months ago.
Have a wonderful weekend.
With three weeks left to go of the school year we are looking to draw together the learning that has taken place and ask students to reflect on what we have gained and where they still have more progress to make.
The current circumstances do not change the role of the end of term as a key punctuation point. A full stop, representing a chance to take a breath and think about goals for next year. Reports and parents evenings over recent weeks will help with this reflection process within school, but there is much to take stock of this year.
A time to pause and reflect
Given the challenges we have faced in recent months it is especially important to consider what positives we can draw from how we have responded to the difficulties we have faced. What new behaviours and approaches have we established that we want to integrate into ‘normal life’? What were we doing before that we no longer do and do not miss? The convergence of the end of the school year and the glimmers of hope that we are emerging on the other side of the current crisis provides the perfect opportunity for this kind of reflection.
In our work planning for next year this has been an important strand we have been considering and will form a key element of our evaluation of the last three months of Virtual School.
‘Enrichment Week’ and the final week of term
Following the cancellation of Enrichment Week residentials we have been considering how we might recognise the end of the year with some enriching Virtual School activities for part of the penultimate week of term. More details on this to follow.
Additionally, we are looking at how we can mark the end of the school year during the final week of term. Over the course of that week we will be asking students to return into school to see some of their teachers, clear lockers, return textbooks and perhaps most importantly say farewell to some of their friends. This will have to be carefully managed with small groups and appropriate safety precautions. Information regarding this will be shared in due course.
Have a wonderful weekend.
This week is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK. The current situation has brought themes around mental health to the foreground. The importance of being mindful of the challenges the pandemic presents and in particular how isolation and virtual schooling impacts mental health is well recognised. Additionally, maintaining positive mental health is central to wellbeing.
Earlier in the week we shared the second instalment of recommendations written by our school counsellor, Ms Anka Mate related to the ongoing pandemic.
In addition to this I have linked below a collection of articles compiled by Innerdrive. Innerdrive is an organisation that aims to use “psychological research to help people achieve their potential in education, business and sport”. Their work is something we draw upon widely in our practice in the classroom. This particular collection, titled Mental Health Awareness for Parents, is a compilation of articles providing practical advice drawn from empirical studies. I hope you find this useful.
Mental Health Awareness for Parents
Have a wonderful long weekend.
In the coming weeks we will be publishing reports across a range of year groups. Additionally, we will be hosting parents’ evenings for some year groups. Whilst these reports reflect learning over the course of the entire year, the most recent assessments that will feed into them will draw upon learning which has been largely conducted through Virtual School.
Many of my conversations with parents have been related to concerns around their child’s engagement, how we are monitoring learning and whether they should be worried. Reassuringly these are concerns that we receive during normal school life. However, these extraordinary circumstances naturally magnify this.
First, some practicalities, in line with our goal to maintain our systems and processes to support learning as much as possible, I would like to confirm that all parents’ evening will run as planned. The application we use to organise the booking of appointments during normal school has recently added a virtual element to their suite of options. Parents will take a tour around their child’s teachers in the same way they might do face-to-face. These meetings will allow parents to discuss any concerns they may have and discuss how we can work together to support learning.
Assessing Learning in a Virtual School
All parents of students in year groups except 11 and 13 will receive a report this term. Many parents have asked how we are assessing learning when students are not in school? How do we know they are engaged and making progress? These are valid questions and indeed, I have previously mentioned these and other challenges we face, as teachers, in adapting our assessment to a Virtual Learning environment.
I want to share the range of approaches adopted by teachers to carry out more formal evaluation of learning on top of the daily dose of questioning, mini quizzes, hinge questions, Kahoots or other short term assessments that feed directly back into lessons.
For some subjects little has changed. In these subjects assessed pieces of work take the form of essays, portfolios, compositions or other creative, open-ended submissions. For these, the assessment rubrics remain the same and the support offered to complete them is delivered through virtual lessons as they would in class.
For other subjects there has been a need to adapt more. Timed essays completed during class, diagnostic tests through online applications, open book assessments and multiple-choice tests have all been employed to allow for an accurate picture of student understanding of knowledge and skills to be measured.
Our curriculum, learning objectives and success criteria remain the same. Our approaches to building students’ understanding of these have been the subject of adaptation as we adjust to Virtual School.
Our assessment of learning has been subject to the same adjustments. However, the learning process remains the same. The students are carefully guided through the new skills and knowledge, with a clear awareness of what these are and what it will look like when they understand it. Finally, we, as teachers evaluate this learning to diagnose the level of understanding and potential next steps.
In other words, whilst the means may differ and present a range of challenges to students, teachers and parents alike, the underlying process and outcome remains the same. How successful we are in our efforts under these circumstances is determined by the commitment, dedication and creativity of the teachers, the diligence and resilience of the students and the support of the parents. As we continue to navigate these difficult and uncertain times, I am grateful to all three corners of this triangle for their ongoing efforts.
As we integrate more and more of our school experience into Virtual School we have been focused on our new students leadership teams this week. Student Leadership at BISB is focused on two guiding principles. Firstly, an intention to “Improve the students experience” and secondly, “Build School spirit”. With these in mind Prefects have been working within their subject areas and alongside the Heads of Department on planning events and initiatives to bring their subjects to life. Alongside this, the student council have been continuing in their planning of their own events and projects as well as representing their peers through collecting and sharing the student perspective. This perspective is particularly valuable as we continue to evaluate and improve our Virtual School provision.
Additionally, I had the pleasure of leading our newest student leaders, the Peer Mentors, through some initial leadership training. Focusing on the qualities and characteristics most valuable in leadership, I was impressed by their insight and wisdom. I am confident that these young leaders will make a positive impact on our school community in their new roles.
In terms of activities and competitions, next week sees the continuation of the codebreaking competition. We also have an Everest climb challenge that each year group (and a staff team) will be competing in.
Have a lovely weekend.
Over the last five days, we have been enjoying a suite of Science themed activities to mark our annual Science week. Students in Years 7 to 9 have been involved in a “Science Fair” project, all students have had the chance to compete in the well-established Science themed baking competition and our talented team of Science teachers have been presenting an experiment each day in a series of videos. These will still be available over the weekend so please do take a look and give them a try!
VCCAs have been in full swing with students competing in sandwich and pizza making competitions with Mr Moruzzi, perplexing logic conundrums with Mr Dyer, big questions with Mr Swaine, coding with Ms Arora and more. Please remind your children that they can join these at any time, easily, through the Firefly VCCA page. There is no formal sign up, just join the Team with the code and away you go.
With students missing their social connections inside and outside of their classes the VCCA programme provides a chance to meet new people and connect with friends. As well as this, we continue to look for ways to provide students with the opportunity to connect with each other in class. In particular, teachers are looking at how to further embed group tasks into their virtual lessons (preferably without video or a screen!).
The students’ ongoing commitment to their learning continues to impress us and we are grateful for all your support in motivating your children on a daily basis.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Whilst the challenges of virtual schooling remain, our teachers and students are doing a fantastic job of making this mode of learning work. As a school with a firm focus on consistent and ongoing improvement, we have been actively evaluating our provision and comparing it against what has been learned internationally in the recent weeks.
Our recently conducted student survey indicates our students are really missing the personal connections with peers and their teachers. They are missing working with one another for their learning in addition to the obvious social strand that is so important. Furthermore, students have expressed concerns about the amount of screen time this mode of learning involves. However, many have implemented the strategies we have recommended to manage this.
For teachers and students ‘Zoom fatigue’ has also been taking its toll. There has been much written over recent weeks about the additional strain that working through video-conferencing places on us. Specifically, in terms of reading the non-verbal cues that we are so reliant on in our day-to-day interactions. These non-verbal cues are especially important to teachers in their ongoing assessment of students’ understanding in classrooms and hence, teachers find this mode of delivery particularly challenging. We have been integrating solutions to this in the way we have been structuring lessons in recent weeks.
The importance of evaluating and revising provisions and processes around virtual schooling has also been recognised as an important feature of ensuring ongoing success. A recent McKinsey paper specifically highlights that remote learning “… requires constant monitoring for improvement.”
As a secondary school we will continue to evaluate our provision against what has been learned internationally and from our internal evaluation mechanisms. We will use this to look at how we might or might not amend the way we structure lessons and students learning based on the evidence available. This level of reflection is integral to the normal, ongoing improvement in teaching and learning but is essential in our current circumstances and ‘new normal’.
You will also notice that we have launched our Virtual CCAs this week in line with our plan to launch our onsite CCAs should we have been open. These are designed to provide a chance for students to connect with one another and engage in activities away from their devices. Please encourage your children to get involved.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Have a wonderful long weekend.
With a return to our Virtual Schooling this week the students I have spoken to have stated how they are getting used to this new way of learning. Whilst we are still working on how best to support those most affected by the closure in Years 11 and 13, our lessons and learning with other year groups are now well established. Following a schoolwide student survey, we will be looking at how we can make amendments to our lessons based on student feedback. We will revise what is necessary to ensure effective learning whilst maintaining a key focus on student wellbeing.
However, school is about a lot more than lessons. As a school, we pride ourselves on our co-curricular learning and the activities that take place in addition to academic learning. School should also be fun and allow students to explore their interests and passions outside of their day-to-day lessons. We are keen to reignite this dimension of school life.
The Mathematics department will be running a codebreaking competition starting early next week. This will be open to students, staff and parents alike. Mr Beadle has promised that this will not be quite as tough (at least in the early stages) as last year’s! You will have also received an invitation to solve Moruzzi’s Mind-Bending Muddles today via Firefly.
From the 4th – 9th May we will be running our themed Science week so look out for further details of this in next week’s newsletter.
Finally, next week would have seen the launch of our CCA provision. We are excited to launch next week a range of co-curricular learning activities and enrichment in the spirit of ensuring that our Virtual School is about more than just lessons! You can expect activities from across our CCA strands on top of a range of activities and challenges from the NAE Global Campus. More details on this to follow, watch this space!
Have a wonderful weekend
This afternoon we attempted a secondary school assembly via Teams. We celebrated the events that have happened this term and shared some exceptional student work completed during these difficult virtual learning times!
During the assembly, I took the opportunity to commend our students for their part in transitioning to Virtual Learning. As students and teachers, we have all been learning how to make the most of Virtual Learning. Students have played their part by giving the activities their best attempt. In order to ensure that we continue to develop our provision, we have surveyed the students on their views on our Virtual Learning provision. We will be integrating this into our provision after the break.
The Easter Break
With restrictions on movement and activity the next two weeks will be very different for students, teachers and parent alike. To help provide activity and intellectual challenge, we will be running two house competitions. The first is to try to maintain activity through recording the number of steps. We hope to record enough to span the distance from Budapest to London, this competition starts tomorrow. The second challenge is to learn a new skill (LANS). This could be to solve a Rubik’s cube, learn a new game, learn to cook a new meal and treat your family, learn new phrases in a language, learn a new instrument or perhaps a new workout routine!
In addition, our school counsellor has compiled a Tips for Parents document aimed at helping to manage life during the current restrictions to movement we are subject to. You will have received this by email today.
Have a relaxing and healthy Easter break. We look forward to greeting our students back to school on the 20th April.
Week 2 of virtual learning complete! We continue to experience extremely high levels of attendance and engagement. Thank you for your ongoing support. Our teachers have been working hard to ensure that their lessons are as fun and engaging as possible.
Our focusses this week have been to ensure we provide students with some social time, through tutor times in the morning and as much collaborative work in lessons as possible. In addition, we have shortened lessons by 5 minutes to allow students time to tidy up their workspaces, collect a glass of water or simply stretch their legs. These simple amendments are designed to manage the levels of stimulation and increase the social interactions that are lacking during these times of isolation.
As we continue to adjust to this new normal please do get in touch with your observations of our Virtual School Experience and how your child is coping.
Resilience in the face of adversity: Exam Cancellations
Year 11 and 13 have been reeling from the news that all three of our examination boards have cancelled their summer examinations and at the time of writing have not provided clarity around how grades will be awarded. This uncertainty compounded with what they experience around them has been challenging. The conversations I have had with individuals and teachers suggest that they are coping admirably, demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity and a renewed focus on the future, making the most of the situation.
For both exam groups we will be working tirelessly to ensure that we support them to focus on the future beyond these cancellations. Our students have bright futures ahead of them, whether that be at the world’s top universities, within our sixth form or at other schools. They will be successful, of that I am confident, and we will support them to be so.
I compose this newsletter from a quiet office in an empty school. Our community is dispersed across the city and beyond, in their homes, distant from one another. We are experiencing unprecedented circumstances which are testing all of us.
In contrast to the happy, busy, positive and thriving environment our school represents, the physical campus feels cold, sterile and eerie. In many ways what I paint here is a bleak picture. However, I feel far from depressed. I am buoyed by what I know is taking place elsewhere. I am confident that our students, your children, are active, engaged and learning; they’re just somewhere else. Within our virtual school experience, the students and teachers have transferred the supportive and positive climate present in our physical environment to cyberspace.
I cannot see, hear or experience this directly as I might normally be able to, but I am confident it is there. Our students, teachers and parents have risen to this challenge admirably, demonstrating a strength of character and resolve to make this work. Our response to the challenges we face makes me proud to be a part of this community. I hope you feel the same way.
This has not been easy and what we face currently is history defining and without precedent. We will continue to experience difficulties as we navigate our way through this crisis over the coming weeks. However, as a community, we do so with patience, tolerance, empathy and openness. We support one another, not through our usual face-to-face interactions but through our exchanges on social media, Firefly or Teams. We do so virtually.
I wish you a restful, healthy and to a large extent screen free weekend.
As this week draws to a close we find ourselves in a rapidly changing situation. As the COVID19 outbreak worsens across Europe it continues to present all of us with challenges.
The importance of basing decisions and opinions on reliable information or the appraisals of experts is something we have been reiterating with our students. We have also outlined the importance of treating the spread of the virus seriously and with respect, taking precautions to protect ourselves and each other. Finally, we have reinforced the importance of responding to these challenges as a community, locally, and globally. These are of the utmost importance.
Our obligation to provide the best education possible to the students within our care continues. This week saw our annual IBDP Visual Arts and Music evening, an assessed element of our Year 13 students' International Baccalaureate qualification. Today we had a series of activities provided by our Year 8 Hungarian class to inform and engage students around the 15th March National Holiday. This all takes place against the backdrop of ongoing learning for all students, including those preparing for external examinations at the end of Years 10, 11 and 13.
We are grateful for your ongoing support as we prepare and plan for all eventualities over the coming weeks.
Have a restful weekend.
Firstly, thank you for your ongoing support with the evolving COVID19 situation. If you have not already read it we have posted a FAQ document on Firefly to answer some of the concerns you may have regarding this situation.
Within school we have enjoyed a fantastic week of activities lead by our English department. Our social media has been alive with images of Spelling Bees, Dioramas, the annual Boscars and of course we have been celebrating World Book Day by dressing up as our favourite literary characters. Additionally, Year 10 and 12 students were involved in workshops on public speaking and communication led by our visiting facilitator, Mary Murphy.
Have a restful and healthy weekend.
I am delighted to announce the appointment of our new Head Students. Collectively, Shreya Seshan, Mahmoud Hamdan, Swayam Arora and Zahra Zulqarnain bring over 3 decades of BISB education and a wealth of leadership experience across our house system, Model United Nations and the Student Council. We look forward to the work they will do to build school spirit and improve the student experience. Next week we will be interviewing for our prefect roles, I look forward to sharing the successful candidates in due course.
In the final week of last half term, a group of our Sixth Form students organised and executed two days of activities across Primary and Secondary to raise awareness and funds for the WaterAid cause. Aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation, WaterAid are committed to providing access to “clean water, reliable toilets and good hygiene to everyone, everywhere within a generation”. The event was extremely successful with informative presentations across the Primary and Secondary school and over 200000HUFs raised.
Year 10 Service Learning
This term’s Service-learning projects are being led by Year 10. They have been learning about issues around homelessness and how they may have an impact on this issue. Look out over coming weeks for the product of their hard work.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Yesterday we concluded the interviews for Head Students. This year we have a number of exceptional candidates, many with a long history with our school. They already have highly developed leadership skills honed through their previous posts. All of those who applied embody our school values and it has been a pleasure to discuss their applications with them.
We are also concluding interviews with Peer Mentors and House Captains. Following the half-term break, we will be carrying out interviews for Prefects across our subjects. We look forward to announcing our newly appointed student leaders after the break.
The school has been buzzing with talk of the price of gold, dramatic drops in the value of crude oil and the unpredictable nature of cotton as all Tutors Groups have been competing in the trade game. This has formed part of a wide range of activities for Humanities week encompassing speeches identifying the world’s worst problem, mass participation games of higher or lower and many other activities. You will see more on this in this newsletter and on social media but do ask your children about this.
A group of Year 12 students led a series of activities and presentations across the school this week raising awareness of issues around water across the world. As Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 6 identifies the importance of “Clean Water and Sanitation” this focus chimes with our efforts to focus on these UN Goals.
Failure – The importance of making mistakes and its place in education, learning and, more broadly, life has been something of a focus this week. It was referenced and discussed by Anka Mate in the PTA MOM on Wednesday and highlighted by a candidate for Head Student as essential to their personal development.
Given all this talk of failing, I wanted to share some thinking on this topic. Below is an abridged version of a graduation speech I gave two years ago on the topic.
Failure and more importantly, your response to it.
Throughout your education, if we as a school have done our job correctly you will have been provided with lots of opportunities to fail in small and manageable ways. Today, your graduation is the product of these managed small failures.
You are here now as expert learners, you are good at this, but the better you are the more successful you will be. David Beckham was famed for the number of times he would attempt and fail at taking free kicks in football. James Dyson - the successful inventor, failed in his attempt to produce a cyclone vacuum cleaner many more times than his competitors, but ultimately prevailed.
Failure is an uncomfortable and undesirable outcome. People don’t like making mistakes and when they do, they don’t like admitting them. Success is built on learning from errors, not feeling threatened by them. The better you can get at this the more likely you will be to succeed. Some very successful people have written and said a great deal about failure, so, drawing upon some of these, here we go, my guide to unlocking failure’s potential.
1. Have courage, be unafraid, take risks: Development and growth start with stepping outside your comfort zone. Trying something new or different.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” J.K. Rowling
2. Confront mistakes and failures, admit them and then take responsibility for them. You can’t learn from them if you don’t acknowledge them.
“Only those who fail greatly can achieve greatly” Robert F Kennedy
3. Reframe the way you think about failure: Mistakes and errors lead to new learning and growth of understanding.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games, 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot… and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan
4. View failure as feedback: Interrogate the errors, find out what didn’t work, try something else.
“I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.” Thomas Edison
I have a favourite reminder of this, one more quote. I think Rudyard Kipling perhaps sums up best how we should view success and failure in his poem ‘If’.
These words are displayed over the tunnel that takes players from Wimbledon’s Centre Court back to their changing room. A place of great success and great failure. They have served me well for many years and I hope they will you too.
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same”
Have a nice weekend.
Echoes of an aquatic soundtrack resounded through the Atrium today as the BISB sponsored row took place. At the time of writing, Mr Moruzzi and Mr Rosie kicked the event off going head to head for the first 20 minutes. As the day unfolds, parents, students from Primary through to Secondary and teachers from across the school will row for anything from 5 to 30 minutes (very brave Mr Egglestone!). We will update you next week on how far we managed to get by the end of the day and how much money we raised.
A reminder that as you will have seen in Mr Dyer’s communication yesterday we remain on an elevated level of hygiene and vigilance in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. If you have not read Mr Dyer’s letter please do check your email. Should you have any questions or concerns on this matter please do not hesitate to contact us.
Sporting Excellence: Basketball
As you will see in the newsletter and on our social media, sport is well and truly underway this term. Our U14 girls managed a victory 28-10 against ICSB on Thursday. We are also hosting an U14 basketball festival here at BISB tomorrow. With 16 teams in total competing, the festival promises to be a celebration of the sport and chance for all those involved to hone their skills
before the tournament on the weekend of 7th March.
Friday: Row day
A reminder that if you have a little time on Friday we will be supporting Katherine Walker’s sister in her bid to row across the Atlantic with a row in the atrium on Friday. There are still slots available. Alternatively you could come along and support those rowing.
Hand Washing and Hygiene
Finally, as we try to rebuild positive habits at the beginning of the calendar year we will be reminding our students to maintain high standards of hygiene and wash their hands frequently. This is particularly important during the winter months when various strands of flu virus become more prevalent. Your support in reminding your children of this is very much appreciated.
As many of our older students complete their mock exams they will start to receive an accurate assessment of their levels of understanding and skill across their subjects. Not all evaluations will be positive and these potential setbacks will demand a great deal of their ability to be resilient in the face of challenge. A recent study (Holdsworth et al, 2017, Studies in Higher Education) explored the attributes behind resilience in education. They discovered three key areas.
A Sense of Perspective: including managing one’s emotions, concentrating on what is within their control and setting short term and long-term goals. Engaging in self-reflection also allowed students to manage new or uncomfortable situations.
Staying Healthy: Physical activity, team sports and the social interactions involved as well as the positive self-talk present in physical activity all contribute to positive wellbeing.
Social Support: Maintaining good relationships with friends, family and teachers prevents isolation and potential brooding over bad decisions, setbacks and outcomes. These relationships will allow students to feel better about setbacks and may provide suggestions on how to overcome them.
The study also outlined what schools can do to help develop resilience. Suggestions included the opportunity to experience failure in a safe environment, providing high quality feedback that focuses on next steps and a range of co-curricular activities.
These findings align closely with how we structure learning and support students. Specifically, it suggests that for those students who have just completed their mocks the best course of action is to embrace and engage with the specific feedback they will receive. Following this and in conjunction with their teacher students should consider carefully what their next steps will be for the final term before their final exams.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Welcome back. I hope that you enjoyed a relaxing winter break.
As a school, we received a late Christmas present with our final ISI inspection report formally published. We are delighted that our school has met the necessary standards to be accredited as a British School Overseas. Additionally, the inspection of educational quality found us to be excellent across all categories. The full report has been emailed to you and will be available on our website.
As a school, we should feel immensely proud of this achievement and the external recognition that it provides. The inspection highlights many positive aspects of our school.
It is important to celebrate student successes and we can do so easily across a range of areas of school life. Within academics we have examination results, sporting excellence can be identified through competition and artistic skill through performances. We see references to these within the words written by the ISI team.
Recognising the positive characteristics and personal development of our students is much harder to do. However, the inspection report includes many references to this aspect of schooling. I would like to highlight two.
They (pupils) make an excellent contribution to the lives of others within the school, local community and wider society as leaders and as part of a team.
Older pupils show unprompted concern and support for those younger or new to the school, stating strongly during discussions that they take seriously their responsibility to be positive role models.
These are impressive statements and our students should be very proud of themselves.
The term has closed!
A busy week in Secondary right to the end. Our Co-Curricular Learning continues with students engaged in two very different activities outside school on Tuesday evening. In our Theatre, we had the second performance of The Crucible, for those lucky enough to see this it was a terrifying and confronting production with superb acting from those students involved and directing from Mr Kerans, Mr Allen and Ms Leach. It was hard to believe that our perfectly mannered and respectful students could morph into such menacing, disturbing characters.
Elsewhere up in the Mathematics department, 10 IBDP students took on the final few stages of the Integral-Ritangle Mathematics competition pitting their wits against other Sixth Form students in the UK and beyond. Working into the night by 9.00pm they had the correct solution for the first 25 questions and the final challenge was revealed to decide the victorious school. Our students solved this challenge and attempted the subsequent tiebreaker. We will find out next week whether they won. As they completed the challenge their efforts will be recognised on the website as a finishing school.
With such a busy and rewarding term behind us, we all look forward to a well-earned break. We look forward to welcoming parents and students back to school on 8th January 2020.
Have a wonderful winter holiday.
The supportive community that makes up our school has been on show this week during and beyond the school day!
Our annual Winter Concert saw record numbers of students (parents and teachers) overcome their nerves and take to the stage to perform. I am sure there were some proud moments for many parents as they watched their children demonstrate the skills they have been building. I was immensely proud of both the performers and the students who were supporting the event.
This week ACSA (Association of Computer Science Advocates) ran their first session. ACSA is made up of a group of willing and skilled Year 12 Computer Science students supporting their younger counterparts to hone their skills. Additionally, as Year 11 conclude their service-learning projects they met with their Year 10 peers to share their experiences, lessons and some advice before Year 10 embark on their project next term.
Finally, this weekend we host the annual PTA Christmas Fair. A colossal effort undertaken by our wonderful PTA. I look forward to seeing many of you at the event.
I think we can safely conclude that our students will have received chocolate rather than sticks in their shoes this morning!
As we edge towards the conclusion of the term we have a big week of co-curricular events coming up. On Friday the Under 19 Boys and Girls Volleyball teams are travelling to Warsaw to compete in the annual NAESA competition. We wish them the best of luck.
Next Tuesday and Wednesday we will host our Winter Concert. This event showcases the hard work of students from all years (as well as some teachers and parents) within the Performing Arts. The concert represents the culmination of hours of rehearsal and practice. I hope you can attend and support the students involved.
In school, this week, we have enjoyed our first visit by Forrest Malloy, our Juilliard Drama Curriculum Specialist who has been working with students and teachers on Wednesday and Thursday. Additionally, Year 9 Calypso have concluded their service-learning project by organising EDAD (Energy Drink Awareness Day). During the day they have held a range of activities outlining the unhealthy nature of caffeinated soft drinks as well as providing some healthy alternatives.
Finally, a thank you to all those parents who have supported the PTA Tombola this Friday by helping their child ‘Accessorise their Uniform’ within the theme of Christmas and contributing a gift.
The importance of care
As a school, we are in the business of helping and nurturing students to grow and develop to become the best of themselves. The Roman philosopher Epictetus states that 'seeking the very best of ourselves means actively caring for the welfare of other human beings'. This desire to develop caring young people is present within the mission of the International Baccalaureate where they state their desire to 'develop... caring young people'. Our school mission also highlights that we are a 'caring' community.
Care at our school
Within school, we have explicit examples of our commitment to developing caring young people through the Random Acts of Kindness CCA, our service-learning programme and our approach to managing student conduct in a restorative way. However, being caring should also be part of our everyday behaviours and interactions. Being respectful of each other and demonstrating good manners is a strong part of what we should expect of one another. This is something we try to model as adults and instil within our students.
A simple way to build a more caring environment
Last week I received the latest ‘Pinkcast’ email, a short 100 second video where Dan Pink was discussing the positive impacts of a kinder more respectful environment with Christine Porath (Professor of Management at Georgetown University). Professor Porath shared how her research has shown that a more civil, kinder and respectful environment increases focus and productivity. She outlines a simple way of increasing this through using a 10-5 strategy. This states if you pass within 10 feet of someone you should acknowledge the other person, make eye contact and smile, and within 5 feet you should say hello or greet them.
Creating a more productive and focused learning environment through continuing to develop more caring young people is part of our curriculum and the fabric of our school. Building this can be as simple as smiling and greeting one another as we go about our daily life within and around school.
Christine Porath also has a TED talk where she discusses these ideas in more detail.
A busy week beyond the classroom this week. Mathematics Week has been taking hold and evolving through the week with students cracking codes, competing in relays, parents being ‘taught’ by our wonderful teachers and a range of fun break time and lunchtime activities.
This weekend we also host the DVAC Under 19 Boys Volleyball tournament in our newly finished Sports Hall 2. Please do come and support the Wolves as they compete against several schools from within the region. This isn't the first fixture in our newly upgraded facility though, as both our boys and girls played ICSB on Monday. As always, they competed ferociously whilst maintaining the very highest standards of fair play and sporting integrity.
A reminder that next week is school photographs week.
Service Learning is one of our key ongoing focusses this year as we implement projects across all year groups. During the Year 10 and 11 assembly on Thursday, Year 11 tutor groups shared the projects they are leading and the involvement they are looking for from their peers. All of the projects in Year 11 are connected to the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child. Additionally, representatives of Year 9 Calypso addressed their older peers. They are organising EDAD (Energy Drink Awareness Day) on the 28th November. Having surveyed the students within our school, they have identified that despite an awareness that energy drinks are unhealthy, many students still imbibe them! Their aim is to raise awareness of how unhealthy these drinks are and provide the opportunity to taste some healthy alternatives. Recipes will also be available.
Peer Mentor Training
This week Dasha Rozhkova, Sara Romai, Lily Beck, Zsofia Karpati, Bence Varai and Dantel Krihli received certificates for completing their Peer Mentor Training. These students applied to be part of this team and support younger students in Term 3 last academic year. They have recently completed their training, encompassing focusses on: what makes a good mentor; how to help with confidence building and raising motivation; dealing with sensitive issues and safeguarding; and leadership qualities. Congratulations to the students involved and we look forward to the positive impact they will make within our school community.
Next week sees us turn our attention to Mathematics. Students will be engaged in a range of activities from relays to treasure hunts and codebreaking. Parents can also get involved by helping their children crack the codes that are revealed daily or by attending one of our ‘Parent lessons’ which you have received an email about earlier this week. Please take the time to ask your children about what they have been involved in; it promises to be a fun week!
Does Listening to Music really help learning?
Children claiming that listening to music whilst completing individual tasks will improve their performance is common. They will also frequently claim to be able to multitask and involve themselves in many things at once. Multitasking as an effective approach to complete multiple tasks has been resoundingly disproved. However, listening to music is a little harder to unpick. The evidence as to whether listening to music will aid task performance is a more complex picture.
The influence listening to music has on task performance depends on three factors: the type of music, nature of task and the individual involved.
Type of Music: research suggests that listening to calm and relaxing music will aid performance on arithmetic and memory tasks. When completing the same tasks, aggressive or unpleasant music had a negative impact on performance. Music which the listener did not like had a negative impact on tasks with a high cognitive demand were especially impacted upon by music which the listener did not like.
Type of Task: Listening to music when completing a complex task hinders performance. Tasks of this nature would include revision or learning new information. When completing simple routine tasks, listening to loud or complex music aided performance.
Type of Student: Whether students identify as extroverted or introverted influences the impact of listening to music. Evidence suggests that extroverts’ test scores improved when listening to complex music, whereas this same music impaired more introverted students.
With all these subtle factors at play, deciding whether to introduce music as an aid to learning can be difficult. In most situations calming, simple music can help performance. However, music with lyrics can significantly decrease performance. This will be especially true for challenging complex tasks, such as those involved in learning.
If in doubt, the advice is to remember that ‘silence is golden’!
Have a good weekend
Enrichment Week 2020
I hope that you were able to attend the information meetings regarding our Enrichment Week trips for Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 in June 2020. We hope that through the meetings you will see how these trips are designed to provide our students with rich learning opportunities. These trips represent invaluable ways of our students developing academically, personally and socially. We hope they will feel challenged and return more confident. Obviously the trips will also provide them with an enjoyable and memorable experience shared with their peers.
You will have received further information via email regarding how to sign your children up to the trip.
Thank you for your support in ensuring that your children are arriving to school in the Winter Uniform. A reminder that this means the compulsory wearing of the school blazer in and around school as well as long sleeved white shirts. You can find further details of this on our website or on Firefly.
Last weekend we hosted the Nord Anglia European Schools association (NAESA) Under 19 Football tournament. The tournament was a resounding success. It was well organised by our PE department and our students were exemplary. They were fiercely competitive whilst maintaining excellent levels of sportsmanship, fair play and conduct throughout. We are immensely proud of them for their sporting performances and how they represented our school.
Thank you to all those parents who supported the school through the week with culinary delights from around the world. The food court is always a highlight of this term for staff and students alike. It provides and enjoyable way to engage with the rich and varied cultures and nationalities that make up our community.
Further to this, our students have been delving into the history and purpose of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Our older students have been sharpening their debating skills, competing to crown a victorious tutor group. Although many will have previous experience through MUN, debating clubs and their outside of school interests we hope to inspire others to the benefits of such activities in developing the skills they will need to thrive beyond school.
From the first week back after the break we will be moving to our winter uniform. Following the simplification, this amounts to the compulsory wearing of the school blazer in and round school as well as long sleeved white shirts. You can find further details of this on our website or on Firefly
Sporting Fixtures and Student Leadership
The last couple of weeks has seen a huge amount of sporting fixtures taking place both at home and away afterschool and at the weekends. I was fortunate enough to catch some of the Under 14 football games here at our school last weekend.
Our students were exemplary in all aspects. Their respect for the referee, rules of the game, opponents and each other was of the very highest level. However, there is also another aspect that I would like to share with you as it resonates with our ongoing focus on developing our students’ levels of responsibility and leadership skills.
Last weekend’s tournament involved both an A and B BISB Wolves team taking part. Due to the nature of the competition there were times when there was cause for them to play at the same time. This was known in advance and our squad were prepared!
As their coach Mr Gibson was unavailable (he was coaching the other team), one of our students assumed the role of coach for our B team. The student in question had his arm in a sling, so I presumed was unable to play. Stepping into this role as a way of involving an injured player is not the unusual or exceptional. However, what was impressive is the ease with which this young budding Jose Mourinho/ Alex Ferguson stepped into role and the way in which his peers (team) responded.
Our student coach strode up and down the touchline observing and evaluating the way our team was performing against the opposition. He analysed the next tactical step, considering what substitutions may make the difference. This behaviour was especially impressive given the confidence with which it was conducted. The way the substitutes responded to his request for them to warm up and the avid manner in which the team hung on his every word during the half time briefing further reflected the climate of respect and comradery present within this team.
Such demonstrations of leadership are what we aspire to with our students. We try to provide opportunities to take on positions of leadership alongside a culture of trust and respect amongst our students so that they can step into such roles when the opportunity arises.
As a teacher, watching students setting such an excellent example in terms of their play, discipline, respect and conduct is extremely rewarding. Our students represented our school with pride and assumed their role as representatives of BISB Wolves impeccably and we are very proud of them.
A huge thank you to all those parents involved in supporting the International Food Court next week. This has become a real highlight of the term with staff and students alike looking forward to this event.
On Wednesday we will spend part of the school day exploring the United Nations Convention for the rights of the Child UNCRC. Older students will be debating issues around this topic with younger students focusing on how we can ensure the UNCRC is well understood and adults and children alike know about it.
Please do ask your children about this following Wednesday's activities.
Having been out of school last week I have been catching up on what has taken place. I wanted to share two areas where our students have been particularly busy and how one of these connects to our focus for our International day on 16th October.
Last weekend our Under 19 volleyball teams competed against other schools within the DVAC group. BISB Boys team played against AISB, ICSB and VIS. They were able to remain undefeated. The Girls competed against BIS Bratislava A and B and VIS and secured two wins out of their three matches. Both teams represented the school flawlessly in terms of their commitment and spirit of fair play. A great set of results and the first secured in our new Wolves Volleyball kits!
This weekend it turns to Football with teams across Under 14 and 19 Boys and Girls playing. The Under 14 Boys will be competing here at BISB. Please do come along and support them.
Convention for the Rights of the Child
Our first two service projects have been getting underway with Year 9 and Year 11. Year 11 presented the progress they have made in last week’s assembly. They have been focusing on the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Adopted on 20th November 1989, the UNCRC celebrates its 30th Anniversary soon. The convention is widely accepted and has been ratified by all but one country.
During International Day on 16th October, we will be marking the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child by focusing students’ attention on what is included, what progress has been made as well as the challenges ahead in ensuring it is widely adhered to. This will feed into further work on this throughout the year.
We hope that through understanding the convention and its history our students will strengthen their appreciation of the rights that young people have and further to this, their responsibility to exercise these rights and make a positive impact on the communities they belong to.
Have a wonderful weekend.
It has been a delight to watch our students taking control this week across a range of aspects of school life. Our houses, Kontiki, Endeavour, Discovery and Calypso, have been at the forefront with ‘House Week’ taking centre stage. Each day, one year group has taken responsibility to raise school spirit through running an activity for their peers. Students effectively took charge and did a wonderful job of managing successful, fun and enjoyable games. With house points up for grabs, competition reigned as students took part in paper aeroplane throwing, skipping and ‘beat the goalie’ amongst other things.
In the background, we have enjoyed record numbers of students seeking the responsibility of serving their peers as members of the student council. Our Head students are currently in the process of leading this recruitment process. We look forward to welcoming our latest student leaders into role next week when this process has concluded. Good luck to those who have submitted applications.
We are proud of the opportunities we provide for students to explore leadership, take responsibility and make a positive contribution to their community. This week saw many examples of students in BISB demonstrating they are more than capable and motivated to be active members of our community, working to improve the student experience, raise school spirit and contribute to the day to day life of our school.
This week saw the start of our Co-Curricular Learning programme. We have been working hard in the background to ensure a consistent, varied and high-quality range of learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
Duke of Edinburgh's International Award
In particular, I was delighted by the number of students who attended the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award (IA) activity. The IA is an excellent way for young people to push themselves to their limits across voluntary service, skills, physical recreation and an adventurous journey. I have personally been involved with the IA my entire educational career and have seen the impact it has had on the young people I have worked with. To see so many of our students embarking on this journey was very pleasing indeed.
This programme represents only a small part of our overall provision and although the student subscription to CCAs has now been finalised and we have definitive lists of those involved in each activity there will be many more opportunities for your children to get involved in Term 2.
Next week will see a week of student led activities to promote our House system. Each lunchtime students will run competitions and activities with house points up for grabs. Please do ask your children about these and what they have been involved in.
Have a wonderful weekend.
With the last of our Parent Information Evenings taking place this week I wanted to respond to a question I have been asked a number of times by parents.
“What can I do to best support my child?"
Unsurprisingly, such a commonly asked question has been thoroughly investigated. A meta-analysis of 37 studies across 80 000 students and their families conducted by Maria Castro and others in 2015, offers this guidance.
- Have high expectations: This has the greatest impact! This includes valuing the importance of school and education as well as a positive attitude towards teachers.
- Regular communication: Open communication with children about their school life.
- Good reading habits: Reading frequently and regularly with your child. For older children this could be reading the same book and discussing it afterwards.
- Homework rules: Set clear rules around homework and leisure time. Discussing why these are in place will help your child develop their ability to make good decisions in terms of independent study later in their school career.
In addition, perhaps counter to what we may believe, the same meta-analysis concluded that supervising homework and parents attending school activities was shown to have little significant impact on students’ achievement.
We very much look forward to supporting parents as they work in partnership with us to ensure our students make the best possible progress through this year.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Thank you to all who attended the Parents' Information Evenings for Year 7 and Years 10/11. I hope you found them useful in understanding some of the key elements of our provision and how to locate important information.
Last week I outlined our excellent set of academic results and how proud we are of the students who achieved these. However, this is only part of what we aim to achieve.
As we commence the new year, I would like to make a plea: do encourage your child to get involved with the Co-Curricular Learning (CCL) programme. You will receive details of what is on offer next week and it will commence the following week. These activities provide a rich and varied addition to what is on offer in lessons and allow your children to develop important skills that will serve them well both within and beyond school.
We offer a balanced provision across a range of areas including the Performing Arts, Sports, Physical Recreation, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), Languages and CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service).
Additionally, as we enter the second year of our focus on service learning your child will be involved in a service learning project. The timings and details of these will be shared during the Parent Information Evenings. We are excited about the next step we are taking in this area and look forward to seeing what our students can learn and achieve.
Our academic results are important to us as they provide the best possible opportunities to our students. However, our CCL and Service programmes are part of how we ensure that our students are empowered and equipped with the skills and dispositions necessary to seize these opportunities with confidence.
Have a wonderful weekend.
A warm welcome back to our returning families and a welcome to those joining our community. We look forward to a productive and exciting year.
Over the summer our outgoing Year 11 and 13 students received the results of their external examinations in I/GCSE and IB Diploma respectively. We are delighted with the product of their hard work and diligence; they achieved exceptional results.
IB Diploma Results
98% of students passed the IB Diploma with two students securing scores of 44 points out of 45. We congratulate Kavya Francis and Emma Farkas and wish them well as they pursue study in Medicine (University of London) and Law (University of Cambridge) next year.
Our students have successfully gained places at a range of prestigious universities across Europe and beyond.
Our Year 13 graduates are will study a variety of courses including: Mechanical Engineering, Medicine, Mathematics, Music, Business, Politics, Film, Electronic Engineering, Economics, Biosciences, Veterinary Medicine, Architecture, Hospitality, Marketing and Digital Communication.
Our I/GCSE results were equally impressive with over 50% of grades awarded at A*/A or equivalent. 93% of our students secured at least 5 grades at A*-C or equivalent and 25% of our students secured at least 8 A*/A grades or equivalent.
We are extremely proud of their achievements and congratulate them all.
Parent Information Evenings
I would like to draw your attention to our first Parent Information Evenings taking place over the next fortnight.
The events will take place from 6-7pm and dates for each phase are included below.
During the evening you will receive information about Curriculum and Learning, Care and Guidance, Communication and the specific relevant details for your child’s year. We look forward to seeing you at this event.
Year 7: 28th August
Year 8/9: 4th September
Year 10/11: 29th August
Year 12/13: 5th September
Have a nice weekend.
After the unfortunate closure of school on Tuesday, we saw a week squeezed into 3 days. With preparations for Enrichment week and final rehearsals before Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Performing Arts showcase to fit in, it has been busy!
In such busy times, we are often prone to let things go or choose to drop things we had previously planned to do. However, this week I have observed the very best from our students. Those involved in the Performing Arts showcase stepped up, showing determination and commitment. This is what Andrea Lee Duckworth refers to as ‘grit’ in her excellent TED talk.
As teachers and parents, these are qualities we desire to instil in young people. However, they do not manifest themselves without careful nurturing. As adults we can help by expecting young people to take on difficult challenges (such as performing despite reduced rehearsal time and uncomfortable heat) and holding them accountable to the commitments they make to others and themselves.
In helping students understand what they are truly capable of, we must show them that when things become challenging, this is where you ‘stand tall’, take on the challenge, demonstrate resolve and maintain your commitment. This is not the point where you give up, make excuses or avoid difficulty. Such avoidance works against the goals of embracing challenge, developing resilience and ultimately preparing students for the world outside of school i.e. providing them with ‘grit’. Young people are capable of a great deal, but we must set ambitious goals for them and accompany these high expectations with the support to achieve them.
Through taking opportunities presented in classrooms and through co-curricular learning, young people will develop these characteristics. You can see tangible evidence of the resolve, concentration and pride in what our performers achieved in the photos in this week’s newsletter. (Thank you to Illya Ovchar, Year 12, for these.)
The weeks that follow our assessment week are amongst the most important from a learning perspective. As students receive their assessments back from their teachers, they are receiving the most up-to-date, accurate feedback of their level of understanding across their subjects. The lessons that follow such assessments have the potential to have a significant impact on their learning.
Previously tests and exams were often viewed only as a means to generate a grade and judge performance. They still serve this purpose, but contemporary views on assessment view examinations and formal assessments as an integral element of the learning process.
To maximise learning from assessments there are three phases that must be worked through:
- Reflection by the student, on what understanding was and wasn’t demonstrated on the assessments. This can be teacher, student or peer led. (In formal exams, a teacher’s marking will at least partially guide this.)
- Identification of exactly what is not understood and what steps are required to correct this understanding and drive learning.
- Action! Carry out these steps, fill in the gaps, ask questions. Depending on the level of understanding demonstrated this phase may take 10 minutes, it may take many hours.
Although led by teachers, this process is an individual one. Students will have different areas of strong understanding and gaps. It is the aim of contemporary education to equip and empower students to make full use of the assessments they sit to drive their own learning. Ultimately, when students can do this independently, they are most likely to succeed both within and beyond school.
Fortunately, with the better weather, we were able to run our annual Sports Day for Years 7, 8 and 9 today. Events such as these promote school spirit, but more than that too. Alongside our physical education programme they help to establish healthy routines in young people where physical exercise becomes part of a pattern of behaviour. Engaging in exercise on a regular and frequent basis has countless physical and mental benefits.
Connected to this theme, on Wednesday morning we hosted a workshop on what the impact of technology, in particular gaming and social media, has on teenagers’ mental and physical wellbeing. One of the key takeaways from this session was that technology is not inherently negative. Its impact is better understood as a relationship of increased risk. The higher the daily use, the greater the risk to young people’s physical and psychological wellbeing.
Technology is a key element of our lives, perhaps most pertinently for those who have grown up with it as a ubiquitous presence. However, ensuring a healthy balance of its use, alongside exercise and other aspects of a balanced lifestyle, such as face to face time with friends and family, is both desirable and critical to young people’s continued wellbeing.
As an international school we pride ourselves on a strong sense of community. We understand this to be a set of shared values consistently enacted by everyone. This outlines what defines us as a community. One way we can capitalise on this is through hosting events where members of our community can meet one another. In such instances, we make the most of connections and our shared goal, supporting students to provide the best possible education we can.
On Thursday afternoon we hosted one such event. Our Careers Fair allowed our students an insight into various careers. Through the generous donation of their time, several of our parents shared their experience and insight. With these additional perspectives, our students are better equipped to navigate their way through their education and more able to make informed choices about where they would like to commit themselves professionally and make their mark on the world.
I would like to thank all those who supported this event and in particular Sophia Verykios and Mr Simon Bird, our Careers and University Guidance Counsellor for organising the event.
On Tuesday morning our Year 7 and 8 students enjoyed a presentation from the students who recently travelled to MIT as part of our Nord Anglia Education collaboration. The students who had travelled outlined their experiences and what they had learned. A common thread of risk taking, accepting and learning from mistakes and nurturing a mindset of optimism was evident in their recounts. This approach to learning and solving problems is directly aligned to how we encourage our students to engage with their learning and it was wonderful to hear our very own students extolling its virtues to their peers.
This week the Secondary school has been buzzing with the wonders of science.
The final themed week of the year has been packed full of opportunities for students to engage with Science in a myriad of ways. Activities have included setting students the challenge of identifying which ten teachers are secretly representing a famous scientist, selecting an appropriate design or inspirational quote to adorn the Science department walls in 2019-2020 and gaining house points for it, competing in the annual Science bake off, being entertained and exhilarated by Mr Wasey’s chemistry show, pitting their science knowledge against their peers in the Science quiz and dressing up as a famous science character or concept. On top of these activities, Year 12 have been conducting their own scientific investigations as part of their group 4 project and Year 8 took a trip to the Palace of Wonders.
It has been a fantastic week! Please take the time to ask your children about what they have seen and been involved in.
Welcome back. I hope that you enjoyed a relaxing break.
As we enter examinations season, we will be talking to students in lessons and assemblies about how to ensure they perform at their best in these important assessments.
Whatever our feelings towards examinations and tests, it is undisputable that throughout life there are times where we are required to perform at our best. Knowing how to do this is a useful life skill and preparing for examinations is no different.
When we talk to students about how to ensure they are at their best there are always three consistent elements that we focus on:
Diet: ensuring students eat regularly and healthily including a good dose of fruit and vegetables.
Sleep: the importance of sleeping 8 hours or more a night in a predictable and consistent pattern with established routines is something I have written about previously and is crucial to feeling and performing at our best.
Exercise: ensuring students take 30 mins of exercise, preferably outside. They should do this daily and use it as a break from exam preparations.
We ask students to pay attention to these three aspects of their lifestyle so that they are able to perform at their very best in their examinations.
However, this begs a question. Why would we not want to perform at our best at all times? Why should this be a special focus during examinations? There is abundant evidence in research that diet, sleep and exercise are critical for all of us, but especially for young people.
So, I would agree that it is important for students to be in the best shape possible when facing important events in their lives, such as exams. But, should these not always remain a focus?
This morning, as a whole school, we wished our departing Year 13 students good luck and farewell. Today they finished their last formal school lessons and now embark on preparations for their final examinations. I took the opportunity to thank them for their contributions to our school community and remind them that they remain members of our community, even as alumni, when they depart to university. We hope they come back and visit, perhaps sharing some of their experiences with our students.
Our Year 13 Prefect team and Head students also took leave of their posts today. Their contribution was formally recognised in our final assembly and we are grateful for their part in developing student leadership and building school spirit over this last year in post.
Over the last few weeks we have been selecting their replacements. Candidates from Year 12 submitted a letter of application, were interviewed and in conjunction with their attendance, conduct, teacher recommendations and prior commitment to the school were selected. I am delighted to announce the team below.
Tommy Tang has an extensive track record within student leadership as a member of the student council. He has been instrumental in several student led events and initiatives during his tenure. Tommy has supported a number of school events, most recently our school production Little Shop of Horrors. He is also completing the International Award.
Samzok Wangdi will be a familiar face to many of you as a cast member in A Doll’s House and our musical Little Shop of Horrors. She has also been heavily involved in school service-learning projects and has formed strong relationships with students throughout the school. Samsok also represents the school in the under 19 Girls Basketball team.
Mimosa Kettunen is a new member of the school. Mimosa has taken the opportunity to involve herself in school life and specifically within our service-learning projects. Having studied in six schools before joining BISB she is sensitive to the needs of our international community and keen to work to develop the student experience.
Khushi Mohapatra will travel to New York in July as part of our delegation to the NAE UNICEF conference at the United Nations. She has a passion for improving school life for all students and is keen to support student representation within the school and build a bridge between students and teachers.
As part of their role each prefect will work on an aspect of school life.
Riya Sharma has a strong passion for supporting all students to gain confidence in Mathematics; she will work in partnership with the Mathematics department.
Francisca Nemeth-Trocado is a keen sportswoman who many will recognise from the football field as a member of the under 19 Girls Football team or as a referee volunteering her time for younger students’ games. She will work with our PE department supporting competitive sports.
Sebastian Ramirez is a keen advocate for wide involvement in sport for the enjoyment of all. He will work with the PE department on expanding student involvement in sports. Sebastian represents the school in the under 19 Boys Football Team and participates in the Model United Nations.
Nail Junuzovic is a keen advocate for reading and will work with our English department. He was also part of the Tanzania Expedition 2019.
Leo Ispanki is involved in a wide range of sports, representing the school at under 19 level in both Volleyball and Basketball. He will work alongside the PE department.
Van Ho Khanh is a passionate musician. A talented pianist, she has supported some of our ensembles and performed on several occasions. Van is also a member of the school orchestra playing the violin. Additionally, Van has supported a number of school events and looks forward to working with the Performing Arts department.
Illya Ovchar has been acting as an audio-visual technician for our school on several events, most recently the Little Shop of Horrors. Many members of our community will also recognise him as the photographer recording our many events, including last week’s Dutch university fair. Illya has worked closely with the Budapest Bike Maffia, one of our service-learning partners and participates in Model United Nations. He will work with the Digital Leadership Team.
I would like to formally congratulate all successful applicants on their appointment and I very much look forward to working with them over the next year.
Have a restful and enjoyable break.
5th April 2019
As I outlined last week, I have included below a second installment on developing children's use of English. This installment is focused on what you can do at home.
Please look out for updates on the ENASA under 14 sports tournament we are hosting this weekend on our social media. Over the weekend we also have a troop of intrepid explorers traveling in order to complete their practice International Award Expedition. Photos of this adventure next week.
Little Shop of Horrors
A reminder that we have our school musical next week on Tuesday and Wednesday. Please do come and support our students as they take to the stage!
Supporting the continued development of language at home
Put simply, language is increased through exposure. This can be through hearing words in conversations or reading them. Typically, a child needs to hear a new word between 4 and 12 times before it is integrated into their vocabulary. As parents, broadly speaking there are two ways of supporting this language development.
Integrating sophisticated vocabulary into conversations: Ensure that conversations around the dinner table, on car journeys or otherwise includes new vocabulary.
Creating a culture of reading at home: Reading is an excellent way of broadening vocabulary. 30 –60 mins of reading a day, at an appropriate level, will expose children to new words. To make the most of this, it should be accompanied with a conversation and culture of checking meaning for unknown words. This can be through asking a parent or sibling, or the use of a dictionary. Such reading will also expose the child to different structures and styles of writing as well as new words.
Role model the reading and use of language: Read with your children. This could take the form of articles on English language websites. Following this up with a discussion about their content and meaning will ensure that children are engaging with the content and having to actively read.
We have a busy weekend of co-curricular learning across the Performing Arts and Model United Nations. On Thursday we had a group of students travel to Bratislava to take part in the Nord Anglia Regional Music Festival. Our students will work with children from other schools as part of ensembles including choir, orchestra and rock band. On Saturday we will host a Model United Nations Conference involving 23 of our students and visitors from another school. Look out in next week’s newsletter and our social media for more information on the experiences our students shared.
Many parents ask me how we ensure that students continually develop their vocabulary. This curiosity also extends to how they can support their child to continue to increase their mastery of the English language. Over the last few weeks I have been visiting a number of lessons and seen how this is done by our teachers first hand.
Building Technical Vocabulary
The development of language is an unavoidable consequence of exposing students to a challenging curriculum. You cannot learn new concepts or ideas without the associated language. As students learn more about the academic subjects that make up our curriculum it becomes increasingly essential that they master the subject specific terms.
This is an essential part of learning, and although slightly more challenging for those whom English is an additional language, true for all learners. These new terms are alien to all students when they first experience them. Very few students will understand Integration in the context of mathematics prior to learning this approach in calculus.
Teachers will ensure the understanding of such technical language by explicitly referencing key terms, ensuring repeated exposure to such terms and displaying language in their classrooms. You will see whiteboards and screens littered with examples of this during lessons. Many terms will also be displayed more permanently on walls.
Engaging with and Employing Sophisticated Language
In addition to this subject specific, technical vocabulary, there is also a need to broaden less technical language and ensure students leave school able to express themselves, drawing upon the rich and varied elements of the English language.
You will see this most explicitly established within subjects that make significant demands of language such as English and History. As part of such learning, students will be required to read texts laden with sophisticated language, both in terms of vocabulary and structure. I have seen this done extremely skilfully in recent lesson visits where teachers have utilised approaches to develop active reading, language analysis and reflection in order to strengthen the student’s lexicon and advance their ability to make full use of the English language.
Next week I will highlight how you can support your child at home in developing their vocabulary and use of the English language.
Have a wonderful weekend.
This week saw our first cohort of IGCSE Drama students present their first assessed performance. IGCSE Drama has been a new addition to our curriculum provision and one which represents our commitment to the Arts as an important element of a broad and balanced academic education.
The ‘Devised Group Performances’ saw 15 students, in four groups, present the product of their learning over the previous weeks and months. Speaking to those involved in the following days, they expressed the nerves and anxiety they experienced before Wednesday afternoon’s event as well as the pride once they had completed their performances. For many on stage this achievement was made more notable in that they were performing in their second or even third language, an impressive feat indeed.
The benefits of following the Arts, and in particular Drama are many, varied and widely known. However, the most apparent to me as I sat in the audience on Wednesday was the development of confidence. Confidence is increased through taking risks and doing something that, at first, seems intimidating and achieving success.
Developing confidence in young people is about providing them with a safe environment to take risks and do new things knowing that they are supported by those around them. It is through realising that they are capable of succeeding in such acts that their confidence will grow.
Learning in and outside of the classroom provides multiple opportunities to take risks and enjoy success. It is through encouraging students to take these risks and providing a safe and supportive environment to do so that we build students' confidence.
Visual Arts and Film Exhibition
On Tuesday evening we hosted the culmination of two years’ worth of work within Visual Arts and Film. Our IB students presented their final pieces as part of a key element of their IB Diploma course. It was evident that they were rightly very proud of what they have achieved and confident in the development they have made in these fields. This exhibition is replicated in all students’ subjects. We are in the process of collating, moderating and organising all the coursework elements of the various courses these students have (almost) completed. This, alongside examination revision, forms a key focus for this year group and their teachers.
Year 13: The Final Term
Alongside this very functional and logistical exercise, our Year 13 students now get their first chance to take a pause and take a breath before their final exams. This term of the school year is a poignant one for them. Those studying the International Baccalaureate in Year 13 are in the final few weeks of their formal full-time education. All will go onto further study, but the environment they leave us for is very different.
For some of these students this will end a passage of time extending beyond 10 years as members of our school community. Although it is perfectly normal for young people embarking on adulthood to be impatient for the independence tertiary study provides, this departure is bittersweet.
We hope our students will feel excited by the prospect of moving onto university and the personal, social and academic challenges this will provide. We are also optimistic that they will feel confident in their ability to thrive in such an environment. However, it is healthy that they experience some nerves, apprehension and a lack of hubris. I am hoping that our students consider their choices in the next phase of their life carefully and critically, employing the skills and character traits instilled in them by those around them. Excitement tinged with apprehension presents a bright and exciting future beyond school and a timely departure into greater independence. In many ways, leaving school is a formal marking of them leaving childhood behind.
As these young people depart school, they leave behind them a community they have been part of and contributed to. Many teachers in Secondary and Primary will have watched them grow into young adults. Throughout the next few weeks of exam focused preparation, the teachers will be relishing the last few lessons with the young people they may have known or worked with for several years.
I, for one, will miss my daily conversations, exchanges and moments where the students I teach have presented a perspective on the Mathematics we are exploring, a current global issue where they have led me to think differently, triggered a laugh or a smile or offered the reward of a penny-dropping moment where they have finally understood something and felt confident.
During this period as we remain (rightly) focused on ensuring we provide these students with the best possible opportunities through their final exam results, it is timely to remember that school and education is at its heart a ‘people business’, built on strong, respectful, supportive and caring relationships. It is through establishing and nurturing these relationships that we hope to provide a schooling experience which leads to our students being confident, equipped and able to flourish when they leave us.
English Week/ Book Week
Today marks the end of an excellent English themed week. Students have been involved in a range of literary and language focused activities including some fantastic literature character costumes, film competitions and spelling bees to name but three. For more details, photos and videos please see this week’s newsletter and our social media.
A special mention to some very creative team costumes from the PE department with the ‘Wizard of Oz’ and our Performing Arts department with ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. You will see highlights from our students in this week’s photos.
This week’s article is the last of the series. It contains some information about cost and the place of rankings in the decisions you make. There are also some useful websites to support further reading. Should you still have further questions around this topic please do not hesitate to contact Mr Bird for more information or clarification.
As a British International School our approach to education includes a broad focus on developing the academic, personal and social. This includes an emphasis on character and the skills necessary to flourish during and beyond school. This is evident in all that we do including our choice of curriculum and how we approach learning, aspects of which are both outlined in a little more detail below.
I/GCSE Options Evening
This Wednesday we hosted the (I)GCSE Options Evening for our Year 9 students and parents. As Mr Moruzzi opened the event, he drew parents’ attention to the World Economic Forum – Future of Jobs 2018 report, identifying the importance of skills ranging from complex problem solving, creativity, critical thinking and aspects of people management. The WEF highlight these skills as the essential tools for a successful professional career now and into the future.
The choices our Year 9 students are making will involve them selecting from a range of courses that all demand the development of such skills.
The I/GCSE programme represents the first two years of a four year journey to university. The academically rigorous, internationally recognised and externally validated I/GCSE qualifications will present students with their first taste of formal qualifications. They are designed to develop, in students, the skills and understanding required to be successful in the future.
Whilst providing choice, our curriculum model ensures that students continue to maintain a broad and balanced profile of subjects. Such an academic profile allows our students to select from a range of further academic study pathways.
This represents and an exciting next step for our students and we hope that as they consider these choices, they feel excited and inspired by the subjects that await them in Year 10.
Developing Complex Communication and Problem Solving
You will find an article here indicating how we develop aspects of the skills highlighted in the Future of Jobs report in our classrooms. Specifically, Ms Jenny Eyes outlines how complex communication and problem solving are developed through our teaching. Ms Eyes illustrates what teaching these skills look like in two of the subjects as well as providing you, as parents, with the tools to support this at home. We hope you enjoy this article and find it useful.
University Careers and Guidance: Location
You will also find the penultimate instalment of a series of articles on University Careers and Guidance here. This week’s focus is on location. Mr Simon Bird covers considerations for entry to the UK, USA, elsewhere in Europe and beyond.
As you will see in this week’s newsletter and on our social media, this week has seen a focus on the Humanities. Throughout Humanities Week students have been exploring Geography, History, Business Studies and Economics through fun and engaging competitions and activities.
Whether naming countries, pitching an idea to make the world a better place or playing the markets via the trade game students have been pitting their skills and knowledge against each other.
University and Careers Guidance - Part 2
As a follow up to last week’s article, this week you will find the second instalment of a series of articles written by Mr Simon Bird, our Careers and University Guidance Counsellor. This edition focusses on how to select a university course and the impact of IB choices on university course choice.
Have a good half term.
Co-Curricular Learning – A Busy Week
This week has seen a distinct focus on Co-Curricular Learning. In this week’s newsletter and subsequent editions, you will find details of a range of activities, events and trips.
· Last Friday our students exercised their public speaking skills and diplomacy in an in-house MUN conference. Some of our parents were there to support them and find out a little more.
· This week we celebrated the Lunar New Year with a range of cultural activities provided by our Chinese community during breaktime and lunchtime.
· Following an application process and interview we selected our Year 12 representatives to attend the NAE UNICEF Student Summit in New York in July.
· We also held our first parent meeting for those students attending the NAE STEAM Festival at MIT in April.
· We bid farewell to our intrepid Year 10 and 12 students who embarked on their expedition to Tanzania.
· On Friday morning our under 19 Boys and Girls basketball teams set off to Bratislava to compete in the ENASA Basketball tournament. We wish them the best of luck!
· On Thursday students from Years 9, 10 and 11 took the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) Challenge. We look forward to finding out how they got in due course.
· Finally, the student led Inter-house Dodgeball Competition concluded with Endeavour victorious in Years 7 to 9 and Calypso in Years 10-13.
Within this week’s newsletter you will also find an introduction to a series of pieces written by Simon Bird, our Careers and University Guidance Counsellor. As students in Year 9 and 11 make subject selection for future academic study, Mr Bird will outline what should be considered when making choices for study beyond school.
Effective Teaching and Learning
Finally, you can also read a little about one element of our continued professional development undertaken by our teaching staff. Specifically, Ms Scaramella outlines how questioning as a tool to support learning has been a key focus for the Teacher Learning Community she has been a part of in term 1. This is one element of our programme for teachers but offers an insight into how we maintain a focus on ensuring that our approaches to teaching and learning remain contemporary, relevant and effective.
Over the next few weeks many students will be making choices about their future courses. Our Year 9 and Year 11 students will choose the subjects they will pursue next year here in school and our Year 13 students are receiving confirmation of offers from their university courses.
As students move through their compulsory education onto university, they experience a gradual narrowing of their academic learning. Throughout Early Years and Primary education, the borderlines of subject disciplines become gradually clearer and students may begin to realise where their talents, skills and interests lie. As they join Secondary school, this becomes increasingly pronounced as subjects are taught by specialists often in specialist facilities.
'Learn something about everything and everything about something'
The goal of our secondary curriculum provision is to maintain a broad and balanced curriculum as long as possible, whilst treading a delicate enough balance to allow students to explore some subjects in more depth so as to confirm or discount subjects for further study. As Huxley puts it, throughout their time at school, we try to ensure our students learn “something about everything”.
However, as young undergraduates, our students will typically follow a course in one or at the most perhaps three academic disciplines. To ensure they are successful in this transition we need to make sure they have the necessary depth of skills and understanding.
In practical terms, our Year 9 students will make some limited choices in terms of some of their curriculum time as they embark upon an (I)GCSE programme in Year 10 and 11. In Year 11, our students will be able to select courses across six academic areas to form an International Baccalaureate courses or Diploma programme.
This curriculum structure and the choices our students make are carefully designed to ensure that students do not close future pathways too early. Additionally, our offering is constructed with an eye on the final goal of them being equipped to choose the ‘best fit’ university and course of choice in Year 13.
We aim to achieve this through providing detailed information to both students and parents in Year 9, 11 and 13. We support students and parents to make informed choices appropriate to their long-term aspirations. This process starts in the next few weeks for our Year 9 and 11 families and later in the year for our Year 12 students.
Looking towards the future should be inspiring and exciting. We hope that over the next few months as students consider and make choices, they do so with a sense of eagerness and excitement for what lies ahead.
This week I had the pleasure of observing some classroom learning in action. Although I still maintain a teaching commitment, being in the classroom represents the minority of my time and watching students as they engage with their everyday classroom learning remains a joy. I wanted to share some reflections on what I saw.
I observed students learning some of the sophisticated structures within English grammar, not in isolation but through exploring the historical context of the first world war and specifically the inventions and technological advances that originated from various countries. Additionally, I watched students engage in active discussions around the nature, causes and possible solutions to the complex problem of child labour. Learning around these complex issues resided in an English lesson primarily focused on developing students persuasive writing skills. What struck me about these lessons was that they were not focused on one aspect of prepackaged, bite sized chunks of facts and knowledge for students to consume and recount. Rather the students were exposed, and confidently engaged with complex issues. These issues demand a great deal of ability to think critically, reflect and empathise. And, they did this actively and excitedly in a climate of trust and respect. So, as we promote learning that takes place outside of lessons through co-curricular learning, service learning, residentials and student leadership, it is appropriate to remember that there is a great deal of high quality sophisticated learning going on during the lessons as well!
Last week I outlined why we value independence and what it looks like in learners. As promised, this week I want to focus on how to achieve this. Independence is intrinsically connected to responsibility, resilience and confidence. Its development is a complex and non-linear process. Below I have tried to outline a general approach that can be used in learning and other aspects of school life and beyond.
How do we develop independence?
Give children the freedom to make their own decisions and choices, encourage them to do so. The level of freedom awarded is highly dependent on the child. It should be phased based on prior behaviour, maturity and experience. Children should know that this freedom has to be earned.
Be clear that they will be held accountable for the consequences of their choices. Ensure they understand that they are responsible for the outcome.
Where the result of the freedom is not evident to you, speak to them about whether they managed it well and if they were successful. Try not to cut them out of this ‘checking’ by contacting others and confronting the child (although this may be necessary in some cases), show trust in them.
Hold the child accountable for the outcome.
If the outcome has been negative, such as forgetting sport kit, homework or a poor grade, teach them how to manage the situation. Demonstrate or outline how to cope with failure. Support your child through this by modelling what can be done to recover.
If the outcome is positive, praise their ability to cope with responsibility. Be specific about what they have done and ensure they understand that you now trust them more and they have demonstrated that they are ready for greater independence.
Each time the child demonstrates a greater capacity to cope with independence the scope of the responsibility can be increased.
Through this learning a parent can develop independence by offering your child control and responsibility to manage certain aspects of their school life. This could start with managing their homework, preparation for assessments, packing of school bag or care for belongings. However, as they move through school, and certainly by the end of Year 13 you should expect that your child can manage all aspects of their learning.
A Year 13 student should be able to provide you with a summary of their progress and attainment which is accurate and detailed. They should feel empowered and able to seek your support and guidance when they feel they have a choice or situation that they cannot manage themselves. At this point we can be confident they are ready to embark upon the next step of their education and leave us for university.
Happy new year, I hope you all enjoyed a restful break.
I would like to thank those parents who took the time to brave the adverse winter conditions to attend the PTA Open Meeting where Ms Rachel Rhodes and I presented on the role of service learning in our school and why we so passionately believe it has a place in a well-rounded education. If you were unable to attend, it is the intention to discuss this aspect of learning at a later point in the term.
The importance of developing independence
An education that is far more than academic outcomes lies at the heart of a British International Education. As a school it is our aim to ensure that when our students leave us at the end of Year 13 they do so equipped to thrive at university and beyond. A critical element of this is the ability to be successfully independent, able to shoulder responsibility, make good choices and cope when things do not go as planned.
Additionally, developing independence is one of the best ways to build confidence. When you teach children to make decisions for themselves, you send a clear signal that you believe that they are capable.
Over the next two weeks I will outline what independence looks like in school and how we can work together to achieve this.
What does independence look like in terms of learning?
The hallmarks of independent learners are many and varied. However, I have outlined below some that are mentioned in research and are frequently observed in students who possess high levels of independence in their learning. Such students will:
Be committed, determined and will persevere: they will be aware of the consequences of their actions and will understand they are responsible for success and failure;
Demonstrate resilience: they will have experienced, faced and moved beyond failure and challenge in a manageable way. This will mean they feel confident to cope with adversity;
Take risks: they will have developed ways of managing failure or coping with mistakes and this will lead to them being confident to try new things;
Take responsibility for their learning: they will understand that whether they experience success or not in their learning is connected to their actions;
Know when to ask for help: seeking guidance and support will be a strategy they will have rehearsed;
Be organised: they will be aware of the consequences of being poorly organised and understand that this is their responsibility;
Practise: they will have made connections between their conduct and approach and outcomes in learning. Hence, they will value and engage in positive learning habits including practice.
Through their schooling as students grow and mature they will establish, refine and develop these attributes. If we, in partnership with parents and students, can equip young people with these skills and dispositions they will be well set to succeed within and beyond school.
Exactly how we can go about helping young people become more independent, assume responsibility and manage aspects of their learning will be the focus of next week’s newsletter piece.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Today we drew this term to a close and celebrated all that we have achieved so far. Our final assembly today reflected on the events and activities inside and outside of our classrooms and looked forward to some of the exciting features we have coming up in Term 2.
After such a busy and active term I encouraged our students to take a well-earned rest and enjoy the time with their family and friends and return to us refreshed and full of energy in January.
I would like to thank you all for your support throughout this term and wish you a wonderful break and a happy new year.
As we promote our Term 2 Co-Curricular Activity programme and celebrate the success of the ENASA Volleyball Tournaments and Winter Concert, I wanted to outline why in particular these aspects of our CCA programme are so critical to an all-round education.
The Value of Participating in Sports Teams and Music Ensembles
As parents there are a range of dispositions and skills we wish to develop in our children. If you wish to support your child to become confident, enjoy school, take risks, shoulder personal and shared responsibility, possess excellent social skills, build strong relationships, work effectively with others (even under pressure) and recognise the value and importance of practice and determination then you would be hard pushed to beat what they will gain from becoming part of an ensemble, supporting back of stage or joining one of the school sports teams.
Confidence: Taking opportunities to perform in public, on stage and sports fields allows children to become accustomed to taking risks, experiencing success and realising that when things don’t go well it is possible to recover. All ingredients for developing confidence.
Collaboration: Participating in ensembles and sports teams require students to perform as part of a team, to work as a single unit. This requires an ability to communicate verbally and non-verbally as well as manage and maintain an appropriate mindset and mood through periods of adversity. Above all performing at a high level on a stage or a pitch requires exceptional social skills, communication, flexibility and empathy to draw the best out of all members.
Determination: An ability to work through periods of difficulty and a recognition of the value of practice is a critical element of sports training and developing competence on a musical instrument. Experiencing the impact of practice on skill level helps students to value such an approach.
Sense of belonging: Being part of a sports team or music ensemble provides a shared collective experience; a critical element of feeling part of something. In the rehearsals and training, performances and matches, periods of downtime backstage and in changing rooms and finally, the celebration following the closing of the match/tournament or performance, children share an experience. A rollercoaster of emotions, success and failure, adversity and finally a sense of collective achievement will establish and strengthen their relationships with their peers.
Commitment: Being part of something larger than yourself will demand students to make choices which may be counter to their individual wants and needs for the greater good of the collective. They will be required to give up their time, perhaps when they wish not to, in order to support their peers. It is through such behaviour that they will learn the value and importance of consideration of others and the relationship between personal and collective responsibility.
Enjoyment: At least as important as the skills development listed above is the enjoyment children will gain from being involved in sports and music. Such social activities and the sense of achievement and celebration present before, during and after committing yourself entirely to something as part of a group was abundant and obvious on the faces of all those who walked off court last weekend or as our performers left the building on Wednesday evening after their performances.
Lastly, with sports leading to improved physical and mental health and many studies suggesting that music leads to improvements in intelligence it is hard to argue against the value of students’ involvement and the importance of this aspect of schooling.
Of course, music and sport represent a small slice of the range of CCAs on offer so please take the time to look through the CCA booklets on our website here and on Firefly. CHQ Login will open at 06:00 on Tuesday 11th December 2018 and will close at 23:59 on Thursday 13th December 2018.
As we edge towards the end of a very busy first term of the year the classrooms remain busy with lots of exciting and vibrant learning. However, as I stated in our presentations to parents at the start of the year, our co-curricular learning provision is as important to us as our curricular learning. As such, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight and share some of the learning outside of the classrooms taking place over the next couple of weeks.
Enrichment: Ritangle Mathematics Competition
Some of our students have been taking part in the annual Ritangle competition run by GCHQ in the UK. Five questions have been released over the course of October and early November with 20 more released every weekday until 4th December. The final question which is released next Wednesday at 10:00 Budapest time is a race against the other team times competing.
Sport: ENASA Volleyball Tournament
We are hosting the under 19 Boys and Girls ENASA Volleyball Tournaments over the next two days. Our teams will compete against Nord Anglia Education teams from across the region culminating in the final on Saturday. I am sure they would welcome your support so please do come along and cheer them on Saturday in the Sports building.
Performance: Winter Concert
On Tuesday and Wednesday next week we have a wide range of our students performing in our Winter Concert. A range of musical ensembles, drama groups involving our students, parents and teachers will all take to the stage to share the product of their practice over the course of this term. This promises to be a fantastic event and we look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.
Performance: A Doll’s House
On Monday and Tuesday of the final week of term we have two performances of A Doll’s House written by Henrik Ibsen. Please see the posters in school and LCD screens for more details.
This Saturday is the annual BISB Christmas Fair; the product of exceptional amounts of hard work from our PTA which we are immensely grateful for. We very much look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible. Please support our Secondary students as they raise funds as part of the International Award, Tanzania Expedition and various charities including Csodalampa and Age of Hope.
As teachers it is central to our profession to do everything we can to support students to flourish academically, personally and socially. So, when I came across this quote in a book I have just finished I felt I should share it:
“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?” - Walker, Matthew PhD (2017) "Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams " .
Matt Walker is talking about sleep. In our students’ daily lives where school, family, friends and hobbies fill their days it is often sleep that is forgone. However, there is mounting evidence that sleep before learning refreshes our ability to make new memories and sleep after learning is how the new information is preserved in our minds. Furthermore, it is not practice that makes perfect alone, it is practice followed by a night of quality sleep that hones skills and understanding. Couple this with the fact that sleep deprivation works against the developmental phase of life during adolescence, a stage they are most vulnerable to psychiatric disorders, and the importance of a quality nine-hour sleep pattern for teenagers is brought into sharp focus.
During my conversations as part of the learning reviews with our Year 11 students, I have been reiterating the importance of balance during their Christmas break. Revision and time with family and friends must be carefully balanced with ensuring they are enjoying at least nine hours sleep a night.
Perhaps we could all benefit from this advice.
Have a wonderful (and well rested) weekend.
Over the last few weeks several competitive sports fixtures across a variety of sports and age groups have taken place. There will be more in the upcoming weeks. In addition, our competition to put an image to our mascot, the Wolf, concluded today and we will be announcing the winner shortly. The sports department are always looking for new team members so if your child is not involved this term please encourage them to do so next term. Being part of a sports team or recreational club is a great way of building collaboration, leadership and communication skills as well as maintain a good level of physical fitness.
Last weekend saw a range of our football teams taking to the pitch within the DVAC tournament. They enjoyed remarkable success and should be commended on their performances and conduct throughout. Well done Wolves!
This weekend sees our U19 boys and girls competing on the volleyball court. Good luck! We look forward to hearing how they get on next week.
Please do not allow other adults to use your parent card to access the school site. If you have another adult who needs to enter please inform the tutor or class teacher so that security can be informed and a pass issued upon arrival. If this is a semi-permanent arrangement, we can register the adult and allow them to have a card.
I hope that your household has been alive with Mathematical conversations following our themed enrichment week in the Secondary school. After some fascinating and engaging workshops with our visiting mathematician Zoe Griffiths, mathematical relays, competitions and codebreaking I am confident that our students have, not only had a great deal of fun, but also been provided with opportunities to engage with Mathematics in a very different way to their normal classroom lessons.
In addition to what was on offer for our students, on Wednesday evening we had two classrooms full of interested and engaged parent ‘IB Mathematics students’. Mr Beadle and Mr Moruzzi led lessons on Geometric Series, an element of both the Standard Level and Higher Level IB curriculum. I trust that the parents who took this opportunity enjoyed their learning and felt they had gained an insight into the student experience.
My gratitude to our Mathematics department for arranging such an exciting and inspiring programme.
Enrichment Week June 2019
A reminder that the information regarding our Co-Curricular Learning Enrichment Week Residentials taking place in June 2019 has been sent via email. Confirmation of attendance is required by Monday. Should you have any questions regarding these residentials please contact Mr Kevin Swaine - Co-Curricular Learning Coordinator at email@example.com
Welcome back after the break. Thank you for all your support in ensuring the students return in their full winter uniform. The standard of student uniform has been excellent with the exception of only a few students. A gentle reminder that jeans and leggings are not acceptable and that shoes should be black leather (the sole should also be black).
Organisation and Independence
As our Year 13 students will attest to this term, the value of being organised and possessing sufficient independent learning skills to manage the breadth and depth of their learning in the IB Diploma Programme cannot be overplayed. The IB specifically reference the skills of organisation in their Approaches to Learning. These skills are critical to success at school, university and beyond.
Developing the skills to manage learning across a number of subjects, multiple deadlines as well as commitments outside the classroom represents a challenge to young people. The development of these skills throughout a child’s schooling is a gradual process: from Year 7 students learning how to organise their equipment for each day and navigate around the school through to managing the array of assessed components of the IB Diploma in Years 12 and 13.
Understanding the level of support a child needs at each stage of their education is not easy to identify and it is an area where parents and teachers must work together particularly well on. As we head into a series of parents' evenings through the next weeks and months I would encourage you to pay particular attention to the development of this in your conversations with your child’s teachers. Students will certainly benefit from these often-undervalued skills as they move through their education and into more demanding learning.
We are delighted to announce that having selected a school sport team mascot of The Wolves we are now seeking a logo design. Please see further details of how you can enter in this newsletter and on Firefly.
Have a wonderful weekend.
As international week draws to a close it is worth considering the role such events play within an international school such as ours. To me such events must have at least two elements. Firstly, a celebration of our diversity, the rich and varied backgrounds, cultures and nationalities that make up our community. Secondly, such an event should provide the chance to focus on what it means to be a global citizen or demonstrate international mindedness.
In this second focus we have been considering what it means to be a global citizen, specifically, our responsibility to address the issues facing the world today. As previously mentioned, we have been exploring the Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
It is through exploring these ideas and considering our role in addressing them that we attempt to provide students with a sense of their place in the world, the freedoms they enjoy and the responsibilities that come alongside such freedoms.
Please take the time to ask your children about what they have been involved in today and what they have learned.
Finally, it would be remiss of us not to express a huge thank you to all those parents who contributed to the wonderful celebration of our diversity through the delicious food provided during lunchtimes this week.
Have a wonderful half term break and I look forward to seeing you all on 29th October.
This year we will be marking International Week by exploring one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, we will focus on Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Students will be working in small groups across a range of activities replacing the normal timetabled lessons.
The activities are designed to meet two broad outcomes:
Students develop an understanding of Goal 16 and its importance
Students understand their place in acting towards the goal in their own personal actions and the actions of their communities.
Students may continue the work carried out each day with an entry into the Nord Anglia Education Global Challenge. This is a competition held in partnership with UNICEF and culminating in the identification of our representatives who will visit the United Nations in New York and speak at the High-Level Political Forum along with other winners from across the family of schools.
Celebrities talk about United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in this video.
Students may attend International Day on Friday 19th October in national dress, national sports kit or national colours. No club sports kit, please. Alternatively students may wear school uniform.
This year we are extremely grateful to our parents for providing an enriched school lunch provision with a daily offering from around the world. Our school lunches this year will also be themed to match. We hope our students enjoy the wide range of culinary delights. Learn more about next week's menu here.
Please note that from next half term students should attend school in full uniform. For boys and girls this comprises
White long-sleeved business shirt
BISB school blazer with NAE crown logo
Black leather or leather look polished shoes
Learn more about our uniform here.
Have a wonderful weekend.
In previous weeks I have outlined the key focuses for the Secondary school. Having focused on how we are developing teaching and learning, pastoral support, the house system and co-curricular learning, our final focus is our use of technology.
Enhancing learning through the employment of technology has long been one of the school’s priorities. In conjunction with this there has remained a focus on ensuring our students are equipped to engage with technology safely and responsibly. Many parents will have seen evidence of this through the learning taking place in our guidance programme but also through our visit of Jon Taylor last year to train staff, speak to students and address parents on this topic.
In addition to maintaining these focuses this year we are going to work with our students and parents on effective use of technology to support communication. This will involve an increased use of our main tool, Firefly. Firefly serves as our portal for all members of our community. It is where you should be able to find the information you require, monitor you child’s learning through their homework tasks and also access their school reports. We will continue to develop this throughout this year. Your feedback on this is very welcome so please get in touch regarding your experience on Firefly.
Have a wonderful weekend.
This week has been another lively week in Secondary with our celebration of languages. A week of activities in form time, break time and lunchtime culminated with a fun multilingual karaoke to finish off the week. You can find photos of these events in this newsletter.
Our first school report was published on Firefly yesterday. You will have received an email on how to access these reports. Should you have any issues regarding this please do not hesitate to contact us for further clarification.
Next week we will be taking our annual school photos. Students will have tutor group and individual photos taken. The exact schedule has been sent to you by email. We thank you in advance for your support in ensuring that all students arrive in full school winter uniform: white shirt, tie and blazer.
U19 ENASA Football
Congratulations to our U19 Boys’ and Girls’ Football teams who enjoyed a successful weekend. The boys secured third place and the girls first place without conceding a goal in any of their games. Well done to all those involved and thank you to their coaches: Mr Walker and Mr Gibson alongside Ms Scaramella who accompanied the students.
Have a wonderful weekend.
This week has seen Secondary alive with competition as students compete with one another to score points for their houses in our House Week event. Through a range of students-led competitions Kontiki, Endeavour, Discovery and Calypso have been pitted against one another to see who comes out on top. Further details can be found on this in another part of the newsletter.
World Languages Week
Next week sees another lively set of events as Languages Week takes centre stage. Throughout the week during form time, breaktimes and lunchtimes students will be able to participate, demanding the most of their linguistic abilities. Further details can be found in this newsletter and you can follow events by following us on social media.
I referenced in last week's newsletter the importance of a wide and varied co-curricular learning provision. This dimension of our provision has undergone change through the last two years and will continue to do so. Offering students the chance to be involved in the Model United Nations (MUN), international award (IA), service learning, sports, performing arts, residentials, to name but a few is key to providing a complete educational experience.
Through a co-curricular activities programme, trips, residentials and service learning we hope to provide students with a range of experiences that build upon and further develop the skills and dispositions they should be nurturing within their academic learning. Specifically, aspects of communication, collaboration, citizenship, creativity, organisation, entrepreneurship, confidence, critical thinking, empathy, aspects of leadership and resilience. This vast range of benefits offered by learning outside the classroom is central to our educational philosophy.
Over the course of the year we will continue to work on the systems and processes around ensuring students are making informed and balanced choices in terms of their CCL, refining and evaluating our trips and residentials. Our most significant focus this year is ensuring students are engaged in meaningful service learning wherever possible. The last area will be an ongoing area for development over the years to come as we try to ensure that there are enough opportunities available to our students along with an approach that allows them to learn as much as possible from such experiences. We firmly believe that through a rich and varied co-curricular programme we can ensure that our academic learning is supplemented to allow our students to leave us ready and able to engage with the world beyond school.
Last week I outlined our key priorities in Secondary regarding teaching and learning. Firstly, how we will be working towards a goal of every student being appropriately challenged and supported. Secondly, how our goal is to share our passion for our subjects, nurture curiosity in our students and ensure they are engaged and interested in their learning.
As important as the quality of teaching and learning is, a British international school should be about much more. The hallmarks of a British education are the quality of pastoral care and opportunities for learning beyond the academic. These represent elements of our additional key priorities for this year.
Pastoral Care and Support
Over the last two years the school has developed a great deal in this area. We have created positions of middle leadership with our Care and Guidance leaders, we have strengthened our form tutor system through associate and co-tutors and finally we have developed a carefully sequenced Guidance programme. A strong pastoral provision is built on proactive structures to help students make good choices and reactive systems to identify and support them when they don’t.
The reality of adolescence is that young people will make poor choices and require our support to recover and redirect themselves. It is our belief that students should be as well prepared as possible for adulthood through an education that helps them make sense of how to make healthy choices which lead them to a happy and fulfilled adulthood. However, we also believe that when poor choices are made a restorative approach should be adopted to ensure that students understand where they have erred and what is necessary to address the damage done and move forward, whilst ensuring they do not make the same mistake again.
In an attempt to further develop this we have refined and refocused our monitoring processes around students’ conduct and learning. This should lead to our pastoral care teams, form tutors, Care and Guidance leaders and ultimately our senior leaders being better placed to redirect students early in their waywardness. Increased transparency of student conduct and learning will allow us to better work with parents, students and teachers to ensure the learners within our care remain on the right track.
It would be remiss not to also recognise and reward the positive contributions our students make every day. This is an additional element that we have redesigned through the awarding of "recognitions” and “house points”. Positive student contributions in the form of good work, good actions or good deeds will be rewarded with “recognitions”. These will be awarded according to our Mission, that is, Excellence, Integrity, Diversity, Responsibility and Ambition. These are celebrated in assemblies and form tutor times. They are also viewable through Firefly on your child’s page and can be used as a means to support conversations around school life at home.
The House System
An active and vibrant House system strengthens relationships between students across age groups and builds a sense of school spirit. Developing this aspect of our school was identified as a key focus by our Head Students and Prefects. In line with these goals, students can be awarded “House Points” for participation in house events and gentle competition. These feed into our house competitions culminating in a winning house at the end of the academic year. Students can expect an increased number of house events starting next week. House week will comprise of a series of events each day to secure points for their house. We also now have teachers leading each of the houses: Sarah Knowlden, Tom Green, Jenny Eyes and Joanna Scaramella. These teachers will be looking to appoint students into house captain roles later in the year.
Next week I will outline how we intend to prioritise our Co-Curricular Learning.
Firstly, thank you to all those parents who were able to attend the Parent Information Evenings for Years 8/9 and 12/13. I hope you found them useful and were able to connect with other parents and the form tutors during the event. Should you have any suggestions as to how we can improve these events please do get in touch. All slides are available on the parent resource section of Firefly.
Secondary School Priorities
Over the next sequence of newsletters I want to take the time to outline the areas that we are focusing on within the Secondary School this year. Many will remain ongoing focusses into the future.
As a school our core business is to support learning and development within our students and as such, our first key priority is to develop and improve the quality of our teaching and learning. This will remain a key focus for us, as it should for any school. We have appointed a Lead Practitioner - Teaching and Learning to help with this priority. In particular we will focus on ensuring all students are appropriately challenged and that we are engaging them and igniting their curiosities.
Ensuring that all students are appropriately challenged in their learning is not a modern concept. 2000 years ago the Roman scholar Quintilian is credited with saying, “Virtus preceptoris est ingeniorum notare discrimina”, or “the excellence of the teacher is to identify the differences in talents of pupils”. The idea of amending the level of challenge presented to students within any given learning activity remains an elusive but essential ideal for any teacher. It is our belief that all students should feel uncomfortable at least once in every lesson, but none should feel uncomfortable throughout. This year we will be working on how we ensure this is true of all our students’ experience.
Providing the challenge and support necessary to differentiate takes many forms. Firstly at its most formal it involves building a curriculum model where material is sufficiently challenging for the strongest students (consider Additional Mathematics, Triple Science).
Secondly we need to ensure that concepts, skills and knowledge are explored at an appropriate pace and depth for different students. We do this through the design of the learning activities and also the lesson material itself. These activities and materials expose students to new concepts and build skills and knowledge in a differentiated manner.
Finally as teachers design the learning in their classrooms they may make use of support staff or pedagogical approaches such as skillful questioning. It is through such aspects that we will work to ensure that all of our students are appropriately challenged and supported in their learning.
Curiosity and Engagement
Concepts such as student engagement and igniting curiosity are somewhat more nebulous. It is entirely possible to construct an exciting, engaging and fun learning experience completely devoid of any sense of awe and wonder. The gaming industry has much to teach us about how to do this. This game-based model of occupying young people, ensuring learning is short, sharp and exciting has been championed as best practice and the sole goal within education for some time. However, as desirable as this goal is, for many it remains lacking. Occupying young people and taking them on a journey of being able to succeed in examinations is not enough. As children grow into adulthood and make sense of the world, we in education occupy a position of privilege. Many of us entered this profession to share our passion for our subjects and we relish the opportunity to expose young people to the awe and wonder within the world and specifically, our areas of expertise.
It is our belief that by opening students’ eyes to the world around them, we encourage them to develop their passions and interests, alongside broadening and deepening their academic skills and understanding. Taking students on a journey by exposing them to the layers of beauty within a piece of prose, our understanding of what it means to be alive at a scientific and personal level or developing their appreciation of how the past has helped shape our present is an essential part of our professional obligation. As lofty as these goals may seem, it is our belief that we should be aiming not only to engage and develop understanding but to inspire and ignite curiosity. It is by pursuing both objectives within our teaching and learning that we fulfill our professional roles and for many of us why we became teachers in the first place.
We hope that through an explicit focus on how we challenge and support all students alongside engaging them and igniting their curiosity, we can provide the best possible learning environment for the students within our school.
Next week I will outline how we have prioritised our pastoral support and co-curricular learning.
Parent Information Evenings
Thank you to all those parents who took the time to attend the Parent Information Evenings this week for Years 7 and 10/11. I hope you found them informative and were able to meet your child’s tutor and other parents from within those year groups. The slides from those presentations will be published onto Firefly for your reference.
Next week we will host Parent Information Evenings for Years 8/9 on Tuesday 4th at 6-7pm and Years 12/13 on Wednesday 5th at 6-7pm. I look forward to seeing parents of students in these year groups at these events.
Parents who were with us last year will be aware that we use Firefly within the school to support student learning and to share information with parents. We will be continuing to develop the use of Firefly this year, building up a bank of resources for parents. You will receive an email today with further details of this as well as a guide as to how to set up your account.
As new students join and returning students move into higher year groups, the start of the year can be challenging for a range of reasons. We will be monitoring students carefully over these first few weeks. However, should you have any concerns whatsoever about your child please get in touch with their form tutor in the first instance.
Have a wonderful weekend.
A warm welcome to all those returning parents as well as to the new families joining our school this year.
After more than a week of preparations prior to the students arriving it was wonderful to see so many happy, excited students arriving into school on Thursday morning. The start of a new school year is a change for all our students. For those returning, it represents a new year and a new set of challenges. For our new students it is a new environment and new friends. The first few days are critical to ensuring a successful and enjoyable year. Should you as parents have any concerns about how your child is settling in please do get in touch with us.
In our first gathering as a Secondary School I addressed the students and made two requests. Firstly, that they seize the opportunities that the school offers both inside and outside the classroom. Secondly, that they support each other as they take the required risks to seize such opportunities by celebrating each other’s successes and supporting each other when things do not go so well.
The following two weeks will see us host Parent Information Evenings from 6-7pm. The dates of these events are included below.
· Year 7 – 29th August
· Years 10/11 - 30th August
· Years 8/9 - 4th September
· Years 12/13 - 5th September
During these information evenings we will provide you with information regarding:
1. Curriculum and learning - Inside and outside of the classroom;
2. Care and guidance – Supporting personal and social development;
3. Parent communication - How we aim to keep you informed of your child’s learning;
4. The specific features of the year group your child is in.
You will also have the opportunity to meet your child’s tutor and senior members of staff. I look forward to seeing you at these events.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Today we marked the end of the year with our final assembly. A chance to reflect on the year that has passed for each of us individually and as a community. As I addressed the students for the final time I asked them to consider what they had experienced throughout the year.
The lessons, learning, essays, experiments, art pieces, musical compositions, dramatic performances, programmes and presentations they had been involved in during lessons. The trips they had taken on bikes, cars, buses, planes, canoes and by foot to compete, explore, climb, trek, perform, debate and learn. I asked them to think about how they had supported the community through acts large and small, from strange hair, bake sales, stationery sales, teaching teachers Hungarian (a tough ask!), cleaning floors, building benches, buddying Year 6 students through to simply holding a door open, greeting each other during the day and sharing a smile.
I asked students to reflect on how they had felt throughout the year, when they had felt stressed, distraught, elated, enthralled, bored, anxious, inspired, nervous, content, upset, terrified or just plain happy or sad. I asked them to think about moments of success and failure.
Mostly, I asked them to think about what they had learned from each of these aspects of their school year. How they felt different, how they had grown. Have they improved a skill? Developed their resilience? Improved their approaches to learning? Deepened their knowledge? Discovered a passion or interest? Or simply learned to be a better person.
Finally, I asked our students to enjoy the sense of pride they should feel as individuals and a group at what they have achieved this year. If they have made the most of their school year they should feel exhausted. The looming break should be an essential part of them "recharging their batteries" so that they can return to us in August refreshed and ready to make the most of what next year holds.
We also took the opportunity in our final assembly to bid farewell to those members of our community who leave us for new schools, homes and countries. For those not returning we took the chance to wish them all the best of luck in the next chapter of their lives.
To all our students, parents and teachers who are returning I wish you a well-earned break and look forward to seeing you in August!
I hope you have been able to follow the many and varied activities taking place onsite here at school and further afield on our residentials through all our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. The enjoyment and challenge these represent have been numerous. However instead of communicating this through a lengthy newsletter piece please find above a selection of media!
We look forward to sharing the final few days of school next week as we mark the end of the year together and bid farewell to those leaving our community. A reminder that Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th June will be normal school days. On the final day Wednesday 27th June school will finish at 12:00pm.
Thank you to all those who attended the Parent Information Evening: Supporting your child's learning - Assessment Data and Reports. A copy of this presentation has been sent to all parents. All parents of students in Year 7, 8 and 9 will receive a copy of the Progress Tests in the final week of term.
Next week we have residential trips for Years 7, 8, 9 and 10. These are all departing on Monday. The itineraries for the trips are packed full of rich learning and character building activities. As a teacher it is during such excursions that you often see the most significant personal growth and development in students.
For those students not taking advantage of the offsite residentials there is a week of onsite activities across a range of areas. Please note that all students attending this programme should wear school uniform to come to school but bring appropriate clothing dependent on the activity they will be involved in.
Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th June will be normal school days. It will be during these days that we mark the achievements of the year and bid farewell to departing students through assemblies. On Wednesday 27th June, our final day, school will finish at 12:00.
We have less than 3 weeks of school remaining. As we edge towards this, it is appropriate to consider the progress our students have made. This word has gained a certain notoriety within education as an overly technocratic way of interpreting learning. One where understanding of skills and knowledge is measured, teaching and learning take place and then we measure these skills and knowledge again to see what improvements have been made. Although this way of thinking has value as part of a broader picture, for me it misses the point of education in its broadest sense.
On Wednesday Mr Moore and I will give a presentation on how we use measures like the ones mentioned. We will talk how these measures are used within our school to examine how effectively we are supporting student learning of academic subjects. We will also discuss how you can use these to support your own child's learning. Undoubtedly important, this measurement of academic learning represents only part of the picture.
To my mind a preoccupation with academic results at the expense of all else misses the point. It is putting the cart before the horse. Successful learners are those who are, amongst other things, resilient, confident to take risks and tenacious. The application of these developed dispositions to academic learning is what leads to understanding.
These approaches to learning are much harder to measure, although helping young people grow and develop into confident, capable and curious young adults remains a central responsibility of schools. This can be achieved in part through academic learning. Supporting students to develop these skills can happen in the classroom. Good well-structured learning activities should encompass elements developing these approaches but solely relying on this would be an opportunity missed. I would argue that this is best achieved through an engagement with learning beyond the academic curriculum.
Yesterday evening, sitting in the audience as our students performed as part of one of the many ensembles in our Summer Concert I was struck with the 'progress' these students had made. Under the guidance of our music teachers Carl Jackson and Sarah James (Director of Performing Arts), the students have grown immensely in confidence and capability since the beginning of the year and they were enjoying it too. As I looked across the performers in the final rendition of 'Hey Jude' I saw faces brimming with pride and a sense of achievement.
These performances had not come easily, they had demanded students to demonstrate the tenacity, risk taking and resilience so valuable in other areas of learning. The harmonies present in the senior vocal groups, the delivery of the lines as part of the stage stars and the individual contributions to each musical ensemble had involved hours of careful and repetitive practice until they had 'got it right'.
The performing students had committed themselves against a backdrop of end of year exams, coursework, sporting commitments and other aspects of their busy lives. Making this commitment required drawing upon reserves of motivation and energy. Last night I hope they saw what they were capable of and perhaps even surprised themselves.
The educationalist Kurt Hahn once said, “There is more in us than we know if we could be made to see it; perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.” I hope that following last night the students involved become unwilling to settle for anything less and take a big step forward in the direction of becoming confident and capable young adults.
Year 7 to 9 Curriculum
Thank you to all those parents who attended the Parent Information Evening on Wednesday. Following a presentation regarding the 2018-19 curriculum for Years 7-9 there was a lively question and answer session around the details of the academic curriculum. We hope the evening helped to provide the rationale behind the design of our curriculum and how we secure a smooth transition through to the older years. The PowerPoint from the session will be shared with parents unable to attend. Should this prompt any questions please do get in touch, Mr Moore or myself would be more than happy to respond and clarify any areas of uncertainty.
Enrichment Week Residentials
A reminder that we have parent meetings for all residentials next Monday 4th June at 4.00pm. This will be an opportunity to share further details and respond to any questions or queries parents may have prior to departure on 18th June.
Assessment Data and Reports
On Wednesday 14th June we give a presentation on the topic of 'Supporting your Child's Learning: Assessment Data and Reports'. This presentation will be delivered by Mr Moore and myself and will be applicable to all year groups. Further details and an invitation to attend will be sent to parents next week.
As the term draws to a close a number of events are taking place across year groups and aspects of school life. I would like to draw your attention to some coming up over the next week or so below.
This Saturday sees our Year 13's formal graduation ceremony. The event is an opportunity to celebrate their successes and mark the end of their formal education. This promises to be a memorable event shared by departing students, their teachers and their families.
We are heavily involved in putting the final touches to our residential trips and in school enrichment for the week 18th -22nd June. Can I request that the parents of those students not attending residential trips please complete the online form to confirm which programme their children will follow in school? On 4th June there will be trip information meetings across all residentials.
All students will sit their end of year examinations next week. Full details of this have been sent to all parents and we look forward to a smooth week of assessments. The outcome of these assessments will feed into their future learning for the remainder of the year and into next.
Parent Information Evening: Year 7, 8, 9 Curriculum
Next Wednesday 30th May we will outline the curriculum for Years 7, 8 and 9 academic year 2018-2019. Parents of current Year 6, 7 and 8 students are invited to attend. You should have received information regarding this event via an email. Have a wonderful weekend.
As our examination season for I/GCSE students and IB students maintains momentum (or in the case of some Year 13 students - ends) and we move closer to our internal examination schedule we, as teachers, find ourselves, as you may well do as parents, wishing our students "good luck" before they enter these assessments. This custom is well embedded in our approach to embarking on any challenging event and the sentiment behind it is admirable. However, relying on chance alone will do little to help students perform in an assessment, execute a challenging musical recital or perform well on a sports field. Applying common sense to this approach leads to the conclusion that relying on luck alone is doomed to failure.
The Roman, Stoic philosopher Seneca has a different perspective on when we may find ourselves on the positive side of chance:
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." Seneca
So how does this apply to our modern educational context? When we wish students good luck, are we not better off sharing Seneca's thoughts? He suggests that luck is something that finds its way to us if we prepare thoroughly. Whether this be by learning our lines, completing hours of piano practice or careful and well-structured revision. Though this alone is insufficient, this preparation must be accompanied by opportunity. Fortunately, our school is rich in such opportunities. These are wide and varied and may include taking on roles in performances, joining an ensemble or school team or sitting examinations. Taking such opportunities together with disciplined and structured preparation, will, according to Seneca, ensure you find yourself lucky. I am inclined to agree with him.
The references to ways of increasing one's propensity to enjoy good fortune are not limited to Seneca's thoughts. According to the Latin proverb "Audaces fortuna iuvat" or "Fortune favours the brave" it is courage which attracts luck. It is not difficult to see how this might support Seneca's views. Perhaps it is through preparation coupled with the courage to seize opportunities that you will find yourself more fortunate.
Our students should, throughout their schooling be looking to secure as much luck as possible. So, as we wish our students "good luck" prior to engaging with challenge, the Romans would argue that what we may be better off directing them to prepare well, and have the courage to grasp the opportunities available to them.
It was exciting to see such opportunities being taken on Wednesday afternoon. The school was alive with students competing on the sports field, performing in an instrumental concert and a dining room alive with conversations about learning in the Year 7 and 8 Parents' evening. As we grow and develop the opportunities available to our students to challenge them academically, personally and socially we hope that through careful preparation and a supportive environment our students will have the courage to take all the opportunities available to them and remain 'lucky'.
Science week finished with a bang today with some exciting and impressive experiments hosted by our very own Mr Puskas. This was a fitting end to an entertaining and interesting week of experiments, creative costumes, quizzes and some spectacular looking cakes! More information regarding the week is included elsewhere in the newsletter.
Firefly and School reports
Yesterday the latest school reports were issued for the first time via Firefly. We will be issuing all school reports via our online portal from this point onwards. This should ensure that they are more easily accessible and retrievable for you, as parents. Students will also be provided with an online copy. We will continue to develop our use of Firefly, making use of its capacity to send short messages and reminders. I strongly encourage you to install the app to your mobile device if you wish to receive these updates. Information on how to do this was included in the email you received on Thursday.
Internal Examinations Week
As per our assessment and reporting schedule internal exams week for Years 7-10 and 12 will run from 27th May though to 2nd June. You will have received further details of this through your children and via email. These offer a valuable opportunity to assess current learning and reflect on next steps for the remainder of this year and into next.
The week 19th to 22nd June promises to be an exciting and stimulating one for all Year 7-10 and 12 students involved in the residential trips. Parents can expect on update on this shortly. A trip information evening has been scheduled for 4th June. Please mark this date in your diary. For those students remaining at school details of our onsite enrichment programme of learning will be shared next week. All the planned activities both onsite and offsite promise to provide students with a range of wonderful learning experiences sure to be memorable, enjoyable and stimulating.
Those of you who have visited the school this week will have noticed the exhibition of artwork in the Atrium. What you can see in this space is the work of our Year 11 artists and forms part of their assessed element of their GCSE. The range and quality of work on display is of a very high standard. You can see some examples of this within this week's newsletter. If you have the opportunity, please do take the time to look through the pieces on show.
Parent Information Evenings
Later this term we will be running two parent information evenings covering different aspects of our curriculum and learning provision. Both sessions will be in the evening, 18:00 - 19:00. Firstly, on Wednesday 30th May, we will outline the curriculum for Years 7, 8 and 9 academic year 2018- 2019. Parents of current Year 6, 7 and 8 students will receive an invitation to this event shortly. Secondly, on Wednesday 14th June, we will present on the topic of 'Supporting your Child's Learning: Assessment Data and Reports'. This presentation will applicable to all year groups. An invitation outlining the contents of this session will be sent in due course.
Next week sees the next in our series of themed enrichment weeks. Science takes centre stage from Monday to Friday with enrichment activities planned during breaktime, lunchtime and form time. Please take the time to ask your child about what they have seen or been involved in.
Year 12 University Guidance Presentation
Next Thursday at 18:00, Mr Simon Bird will deliver a bespoke presentation to Year 12 parents regarding how we support their children in their application to universities. This promises to be a useful and worthwhile session to help you, as parents, guide your children as they plan their next steps into university education.
Over the course of this year I have mentioned our desire to develop student leadership. We have worked to achieve this through improving the nature, extent and scope of the existing opportunities as well as offering new ones. An important part of developing student leadership requires giving students the opportunity to lead, enjoy successes and failures, reflect and refine their approach.
Students can access such an opportunity through membership of our Student Council. This is led by our Head Students and they are very keen to develop the scope, influence and involvement of this team. Your children will receive an invitation to submit their application to become a member of this team. They will be asked to respond to five questions formulated by our Head Students: What do you think is the role of a Student Council member? Why are you suitable for the role? Do you have any idea of what you would like to change? What do you think is the biggest issue in the school? How would you begin to address it? Please take the time to discuss this with them and support them as they compile their application.
U14 ENASA – Warsaw
Our students travelled to Warsaw last weekend to take part in the inaugural ENASA tournament across 3 sports: Basketball, Football and Volleyball. Our students represented the school well both in terms of their commitment, determination and sporting conduct. Further details can be found in this newsletter.
From our Head Students: Lili Jellinek, Kavya Francis and Adam Veres
Student Council: Accepting Applications
Dear Students of the Secondary School,
We are now launching the new Student Council application process!
We are looking for a new team for the upcoming academic year, one candidate from each year of the secondary school. The skills essential for the fulfilment of this position may include communication, leadership, organisational skills, active participation in the school, community, honesty and commitment. Those of you interested in developing such personal skills, and are willing to contribute to the development of the school, will find this a very useful experience. The role will require you to represent the student body, communicate their ideas to us, reflect on the issues present around the school and always be open to new ideas and constructive criticism. One of our primary objectives is to increase student leadership, therefore as Head Students we will be leading the Student Council, encouraging open, honest conversations.
To make sure we have the most suitable group of students, this year the application process will be more rigorous since we are trying to increase the prestige, importance and influence of the Student Council. Therefore the process will be the following; completion of the form below, Head Students in collaboration with the school’s leadership team assess each application, a few selected individuals called in for interview conducted by Head Students.
The closing date for your written application will be 14th May 2018. Following this, we will assess the applications received, consult with your teachers about your suitability for the role both in curricular and extra-curricular activities. The announcement of the new team will happen in the assembly following their appointment.
Good luck to all! We are waiting for your applications.
BISB Head Students
Lili Jellinek, Kavya Francis, Adam Veres
Themed Week: Humanities
The Secondary school has been alive with a range of stimulating and enlightening activities through the fields of History, Geography, Business and Economics. From guest speakers, trading, quizzes and debating students have been engaging with issues and concepts from within these subject domains in an interesting and enjoyable way. You can find more details of in this edition of the newsletter. Thank you to all those involved in the organisation and execution of a successful and fun week!
Assembly: Titans of Science and Technology
In the assemblies that took place last week, students were introduced to two titans of Science and Technology, specifically cosmology and computing. Students were led through their achievements, the circumstances around them and asked to reflect on what we can learn or take away from their lives.
Stephen Hawking was born on 8th January 1942 and died on the 14th March this year. He held a range of senior positions at the University of Cambridge within cosmology including one previously held by Sir Isaac Newton. He was the recipient of the Presidential medal of freedom, the highest American award available to civilians (he was British). He also wrote the book 'A Brief History of Time' which spent 237 weeks as a best seller (it was a book about physics!). He was widely regarded as one of the world's most brilliant minds. Such was his impact on modern consciousness that he featured in Star Trek, The Simpsons, Futurama and had a successful autobiographical film made about him "The Theory of Everything".
However, as impressive as these accomplishments are it is the circumstances under which they were achieved that make them all the more astounding. At the age of 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease and given 2 years to live. By the late 1960's he required crutches and was unable to lecture regularly and by the 1970's his speech was such that most could not understand him. In 1985 he lost speech altogether and used his hand and a computer to converse. Throughout this period he continued to make significant contributions to the field of theoretical cosmology. By the time he died, Stephen Hawking was communicating through a single muscle in his cheek. I find his achievements, resolve, drive and resilience a source of much inspiration. Many people champion the value of hard work and 'not giving up' but words and actions are rarely more authentically aligned than in the quote below.
"Be curious, and however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up." Stephen Hawking
Alan Turing was born on the 23rd June 1912. He was responsible for creating the Turing Machine, one of the first models for the computer. He is considered by many as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. Much of the technology we enjoy today can be directly traced back to his early work. As if this contribution to modern society was not enough, Alan Turing is also considered by many as a war hero for his work as a member of the 'Government Code and Cypher School' in the decryption of German communications during the second world war. In the words of Gordon Brown, the then British Prime Minister.
“Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of the Second World War could have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.” Gordon Brown
It is the inhumane treatment referred to here that led to a royal pardon and a formal apology by the British Prime Minister over 50 years after Alan Turing's death. On 31st March 1952 Alan Turing was arrested for Gross Indecency. He was a homosexual and was in a relationship with another man. He made no defence or denial of his actions, he felt that he was doing nothing wrong. He was convicted. As punishment Alan Turing was injected with regular doses of hormones to suppress his behaviours. On 8th June 1954 Alan Turing was found dead, aged 41. The verdict returned by the coroner was suicide. On the 10th September 2009 the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, offered a formal apology. Nearly 60 years after his death, Queen Elizabeth II formally offered a posthumous pardon for his crimes.
I believe that reflecting on the achievements and circumstances around these two individuals present an optimistic picture; one that paints an evolution towards tolerance and a path to embracing the diversity within the communities that we live. Students were asked to reflect on how far we have come and what more there is that needs to be done.
Year 11 and 13 Examinations
Our first week back has seen many of our students and teachers hit the ground running with the continuation of our internally conducted examinations in Physical Education practicals and Language oral examinations. Our students have been putting their linguistic talents to the test demonstrating their impressive prowess in this area. Outside of this, preparations for final examinations by our Year 11 and 13 students have been taking place in classrooms with the final touches to our students' understanding of core content and approaches to assessment being examined and reiterated in their final few lessons with their teachers.
Thursday saw us host a UK Universities fair. Students from Years 9 through to 13 had the opportunity to collect information and ask questions of the universities in attendance. This information and these discussions are invaluable, offering an insight into how students can explore their passions and interests beyond school. An understanding of what universities are looking for in prospective students also ensures our students are well prepared to be successful when they are applying. Finally, having a clear notion of the academic outcomes universities require naturally leads to our students being more motivated to meet them.
As in previous years, the warmer weather means our uniform requirements change. From next Monday 16th April, students may come to school in the summer uniform (or the full uniform). Further details are available at the link HERE.
Community Links Club – Bedding Campaign
The community links club are running a campaign to collect bedding for our local homeless shelters. You will find further details of this in this week's newsletter. We very much look forward to your support in this worthwhile and valuable endeavour.
Our intrepid International Award students left for their practice expedition this morning off into the Hungarian countryside. It promises to be a challenging and exhausting few days which we look forward to hearing about upon their return.
Something to look forward to: Humanities Week
Next week sees the next instalment of our 'themed weeks' with Humanities taking centre stage. There are a wealth of activities scheduled ranging from 'The Trade Game', debates on ending world poverty and lots of quizzes. It promises to provoke curiosity, enthuse and challenge our students. Please do take the time to have a conversation with your children about what they have seen, heard and been involved in.
23rd March 2018
Today we have drawn the term to a close with a student-led end of term assembly. We recognised the many successes and causes for celebration this term and took the opportunity to thank our current Head Students for their hard work this past year: President - Alzahra Mohammed; Vice Presidents David Domokos and Jonathan Blankaert. We were then able to welcome their successors.
Our commitment to providing leadership opportunities for our students has been a key focus this year and something we are keen to develop throughout next year. Appointing our new Head Students is a key part of this. To supplement these positions we have introduced Prefect posts for our Year 12 students. This role allows our Sixth Form students to take up a position of leadership where they will act as Ambassadors for the school and take the lead on particular projects, events and key development areas for all students. Becoming a Head Student or taking on a Prefect post will demand a great deal of initiative, organisational skills and the ability to manage interpersonal relationships; all key elements of leadership.
A little over two weeks ago our Year 12 students were invited to submit applications for both the roles of Head Student and Prefect. Candidates submitted a written application indicating their suitability. Following this, Head Student candidates were interviewed by two panels of Senior School Leaders. This rigourous process explored their suitability for such positions of leadership in terms of their experience and skills as well as their school record, contribution to school life and how well they embody the values of our school.
I am delighted to introduce our new Head Students: Kavya Francis; Lili Jellinek and Adam Veres. Together they represent a collective 28 years at BISB. They are very keen to focus on strengthening the school community through connections with our Primary community, parents, the further development of student voice and the house system as well as establishing a firm focus on student wellbeing.
The Prefect team will comprise of Priyesh Pandaravalapil, Andras Fasimon, Nicole Li, Viktor Stavrikj, Zoe Strohmayer, Anesu Mhene and Marton Belovai. These students have demonstrated high levels of involvement across a range of curricular and co-curricular areas; this positions them well to have a significant impact on school life.
We very much look forward to working alongside these students over the coming year.
End of Term
I would like to remind you that Term 2 ends next Friday 23rd March at 3.35pm. You will receive the latest report for your child on that day. For Years 11 and 13 this will be a full written report. Term 3 begins on Monday 9th April.
DVAC U14 Basketball
We can be very proud of our girls and boys U14 basketball teams. They represented the school impeccably. Both teams competed hard and demonstrated high levels of sporting conduct. For more details and results please see the article in this week's newsletter.
Performing Arts Showcase
Our Performing Arts Showcase took place on Monday and Tuesday this week. With Music, Drama, Gymnastics and Cheerleading on show a great number of our students, parents and teachers demonstrated the depth of their talents and the product of hours of practice. If you were unable to attend, you can find photos and more details in this newsletter. Thank you to all those involved including all the members of staff and parents.
9th March 2018
Tuesday evening saw our annual IB Visual Arts Exhibition and Music Recital. Our Visual Artists presented the culmination of 18 months of hard work. The rationale behind their pieces of art, which included a broad range of influences, mediums and themes, was provided to the visitors prior to them enjoying the music performances. Our pianists and trumpet player then took us on a journey through Chopin, Bach Kurpinski and Satie with over an hour of high quality music. The standard of the work displayed and performed ensured that the evening lived up to its reputation as being one of the highlights of our calendar. Well done to all those involved for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Year 11 and 13 Examinations
Our Year 11 and 13 students are in the final stages of completing and submitting coursework and practical elements of their courses prior to their final preparation and examinations. Students in both year groups have received details of the full exam timetable and dates of study leave have been confirmed. Students in Year 11 will have their last day of school prior to the examinations on 27th April and for Year 13 this will be the 20th April. Further details can be found in the letters sent home, these have also been emailed to you. Please support your child in their preparations and ensure punctual attendance. The smoother their arrival to the exam with all the necessary equipment the more likely they are to be able to successfully demonstrate their abilities.
As the Year 13 students are nearing the end of their time at BISB, our Head Students will step down from their positions. This week we have been receiving applications for their successors, as well as a team of Prefects. The application and selection process will take place over the next fortnight and include interviews for those wishing to be considered for the role of Head Student. We look forward to announcing the successful Prefects and Head Students in due course.
I would also like to congratulate Zahra Zulqarnain who has been appointed to the position of Secretary General in our Model United Nations club. As we look forward to term 3 please do encourage your children to consider joining this activity in April.
Finally, we have a number of students leaving for Tanzania on Saturday night. Under the watchful guidance of Mr Allan and Ms Uhure these students have been fundraising hard leading up to this trip. We wish them an exciting and fulfilling trip and look forward to hearing all about it upon their return.
2nd March 2018
It has been an exceptionally busy week in secondary with a range of activities and events outside of our normal lessons.
Inside school our students have been engaging with the issues around online safety through workshops led by Mr Jon Taylor. Thank you to all those parents who attended our parent workshops on the same topic. This is something very important to us here at BISB and forms a key element of our efforts to ensure our students are safe and responsible citizens of the online and offline world, empowered and equipped to make good decisions. Should this have raised concerns or questions for you please do not hesitate in getting in touch.
English Themed Week
This week has also been marked with a range of English themed enrichment activities. In this newsletter and on our social media, you will find photographs and reports of the many elements of this including the Boscars – our very own students film awards ceremony, poetry workshops with our visiting poet Ms Helen Wing and a 'dress as your favourite book character' day on Thursday. My thanks to all those parents who supported their children in creating some of the fantastic and elaborate costumes.
A Note on the Weather
Despite the arctic conditions our maintenance staff have managed to keep the school safe and open. This has required long hours and hard physical work and we are grateful to them for all their efforts.
16 February 2018
We have drawn the half term to a close with events to mark the Lunar New Year. Our Atrium has been adorned with lanterns and alive with the sounds of the Flute and Erhu.
This week has seen assemblies across all groups themed on cultivating responsibility.
“Every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty” - John D Rockefeller Jr
We have been exploring the different forms of responsibility and how responsibility is connected to our individual rights and upholding the rights of others. Firstly, students have been encouraged to consider the importance of responsible behaviour on their wellbeing and health as well as that of others. In particular, we have focused on the importance of acting with courtesy, kindness and care to each other and their role in the preservation of the environment at a school, local and global level. Secondly, students have been asked to reflect on their responsibility to contribute their opinions and take an active role in their communities, to speak up about what they believe in and challenge what they believe to be wrong.
Please ask your child about these topics and continue these discussions at home.
Y9 I/GCSE Options Evening
Yesterday evening saw the second of our Options evenings. Thank you to all those who attended; the atmosphere was positive and purposeful. Should parents of Year 9 students still have questions regarding these choices please do get in touch.
Years 7- 9 Curriculum Guide
You can now find a guide outlining further details of our curriculum across all subjects in Years 7 - 9 by following the link HERE.
English Themed Week
The first week back after the break will be our third themed week of the year. There will be a range of exciting and enriching experiences taking place throughout the week. We have a visiting poet working with students, a poetry slam competition, the culmination of a film making unit with the Boscas and of course book day where students are encouraged to dress as their favourite book character! It promises to be a fun week!
From Monday 26th to Wednesday 28th February we have Jonathan Taylor from 'Be Safe Online' visiting the school to run online safety sessions with our staff and students. As part of this there will be a session for parents at 9am in the dining room on Wednesday 28th February.
9th February 2018
Helping students make responsible choices is a vital element of their growth and development. Within schools this takes many forms; our recent parent information events bring two distinct elements to mind.
Establishing and Nurturing Positive Relationships – Restorative Approaches
Schools are built on positive relationships these are highly valued at BISB. However, the skills necessary to establish and nurture such relationships do not necessarily come naturally. Starting with helping babies learn to share through to coping with and managing conflict in adolescence, growing up is fraught with opportunities to make mistakes and requirements for guidance on how to recover from such mistakes. On Wednesday morning our Assistant Head Teacher, Sarah Ford, ran a workshop for parents in the PTA open meeting on our employment of Restorative Approaches to support students in their development of these skills. At its core this approach is about recognising that people make mistakes and often require help to recognise the impact of such mistakes and how to move forward beyond them. Further details of this session can be found in this newsletter and I would encourage those interested, who were unable to attend on Wednesday to take a look at the links and resources.
Making informed academic choices – Year 9 and 11 Options Evenings
As a school it is our responsibility to ensure our students make informed choices about their academic study. Based on our professional experience we look to ensure students make the choices most likely to lead them to success and a route to life beyond school. As they progress through their education here at BISB these choices extend from a simple selection of foreign language through to how to make up their post 16 subjects to allow for an appropriate route to university.
On Tuesday this week we hosted a very well attended IB Options evening for our Year 11 students. Led by Mr Moore – Deputy Head Teacher Academic, Mr Phillipson – IB Coordinator, Mrs Ford Head of Sixth Form and Mr Bird – Careers and University Guidance Counsellor, parents and students were presented with the information necessary to start to consider the choices they will make. This presentation was followed with a lively opportunity to discuss the specifics at a subject level with our teachers.
Next Thursday, 15th February at 18:00 we will host the Year 9 I/GCSE Options Evening event to help our students as they consider which subjects they wish to pursue in years 10 and 11. We look forward to outlining these choices in more detail and responding to your questions and queries.
As helping young people make responsible and appropriate choices is a shared endeavour across teachers and parents we look forward to further discussions at subsequent parent information events about how we can work together towards this goal.
26 January 2018
Parental Engagement and Communication
As a school we continue to work on our communication channels and information for parents. Next week all Secondary parents will receive information regarding how to access our online parent portal on Firefly. As previously indicated this will provide a range of information about your child's learning. In the initial phases we will open it with attendance and homework. In due course we will issue reports electronically and share student's individual successes and concerns directly. Please look out for an email containing all this information next week.
Year 11 and 13 Parents' Evening
Thank you to all the parents of our Year 11 and 13 students who attended on Thursday. The evening had a purposeful atmosphere and I hope that the conversations that took place will lead to constructive preparations for I/GCSE and IB final examinations.
Year 11 IB Options Evening
We will be hosting our IB options evening on the 6th February at 6.00pm. This will provide all parents and students with a chance to learn about the nature of the International Baccalaureate programme, including subject choices and entry requirements. Parents of Year 11 students will receive further details in due course.
Good luck to our under 14 boys as they take part in the DVAC basketball festival this weekend, here in Budapest.
Welcome back and Happy New Year. I hope you had a restful and enjoyable Christmas break. We look forward to another busy and exciting term. As we start this new term I wanted to inform you of an exciting addition to our channels of parent communication.
Parent Communication - Firefly
In order to best support students in their learning we, as a school, need to ensure that parents feel sufficiently informed to support their children in their learning. To this end, one of the key areas we are trying to develop is our channels of communication.
You may be aware that since August we have been using the online application, Firefly, to support learning. This is a widely used and well-regarded tool to allow students and teachers to communicate, share resources, set tasks and offer feedback. Firefly is also designed to engage parents in this ongoing conversation and, as such, we will be opening up the Parent Portal at the beginning of February.
Initially, parents will be able to see their child's timetable, attendance and the tasks set through Firefly. From February, all homework tasks for students in Years 7 to 11 will be recorded on Firefly. As we evolve and develop our use of Firefly we will be able to share reports and communicate with parents in a more effective way.
Enrichment Week Residentials
We are very much looking forward to our end of year enrichment trips. Thank you to all those parents who confirmed their children's involvement. You can expect to hear more regarding this with further details and the necessary documentation over the coming weeks.
Year 8 Parents’ Evening
Next Wednesday we will host the Year 8 Parents’ Evening. Please do make appointments with your child's teachers to discuss their learning and the next steps they need to take.
At the beginning of this academic year I asked our students to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and identify where they would like to improve. I also asked them to plan how they would do this, and most importantly, ensure they act. It is this process of continual improvement that constitutes aspiring to excellence which lies at the core of our mission statement.
Now, as we reach the end of our first term, it is time to look back at what we have achieved. In our final assembly as a community we share in celebrating some of our students' achievements. These large, school community events provide an opportunity to recognise the high-profile examples of student achievements. However, it is also important that our students reflect on this term and identify the smaller incremental steps they have made as they have been working to improve themselves.
In this assembly I asked our students to consider what steps they have made in their plan and to take the time to feel proud of their achievements. Whether they are performing on stage or the sports field, learning a new instrument, taking the leap of asking or answering a question in class, finding a teacher outside class to seek help, persevering through difficulty or a challenge, making the right choice, however difficult, or most powerfully where they have learned from a mistake.
Growing and developing as a learner, and a person, requires overcoming a desire to do what is easy and not being overwhelmed by fear of failure. It necessitates courage, resilience and fortitude. Aspiring for excellence is about fearlessly seeking and addressing weaknesses, it is about making the right choices based on integrity, care and respect. The end of this term provides the perfect opportunity to take the time to look back at when we have done this and feel proud, as individuals and a community.
There is a short message regarding uniforms from Sarah Ford below. I ask that you read this and communicate its contents to your children.
I wish all students and parents a wonderful Christmas break. We look forward to welcoming students back on the 4th January.
As this term draws to a close I write to thank you Secondary school parents for your support with school uniform. Wearing our school uniform properly is part of aspiring to excellence; our high standards begin with how we dress and present ourselves to other people. This term in particular we have been focusing on shoes and trousers, checking that students are wearing proper business shoes and formal black trousers, instead of jeans which are not permitted. A Christmas shopping trip for these items is still necessary for a very small number of our students! Another element of our uniform with which we need your support is girls’ skirts – I remind you at this stage that the permitted skirt length is at or slightly above the knee, and tights must be plain black or plain skin-coloured.
Please join us in checking that your children are properly dressed for school on their return in January. Our uniform policy is available on the school website if you wish to talk it through with your children to ensure they understand the requirements. I firmly believe that expecting our students to wear the BISB uniform properly, and with pride, is the foundation for a culture of high academic and personal standards across the school and I thank you for your support in this endeavour.
Assistant Head of Secondary School
Lunchtimes this week have been alive with the sound of music. Our IB Music students have been sharing their skills with us through a series of recitals. We have been treated to wonderful performances on the trumpet and the piano. World Children's Day next Monday, 20th November, marks UNICEF's World Children's Day. More information on this can be found on our website and social media.
Last weekend saw a plethora of sporting fixtures across the region. Our students represented the school admirably; demonstrating the commitment and determination in their desire to compete whilst maintaining the very highest standards in sporting conduct. A well done to all those involved and a big thank you to all members of staff who supported the events and parents who attended the fixtures and supported our students from the sidelines. For results please see the articles in the newsletter.
The excitement is starting to build as our Christmas Fair moves ever closer. A number of students and staff have volunteered to support the event through performing music, acting as masters of ceremony or supporting the many stalls which combine to create a wonderful event. The PTA are still eager to involve a broader collection of our community so please do get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org If you are able to support us with this event. They will be selling tickets in reception from Monday and also collecting any further tombola prize donations. Please do help if you can.
Details of how to order and pay for school photos was sent home with students on Thursday this week. It is possible to order online or if you prefer, you can return the ordering envelopes with cash and hand them in at Reception.