16th November 2018
A tribute to our teachers
Last week, I wrote about my classroom visits. It is a real privilege to spend time watching learning take place, and the back of a classroom is a wonderful vantage point from which to reflect on the complexities of learning and teaching. Well-established research shows that the average classroom teacher makes over 1500 significant educational decisions each day. Being in a classroom brings this to life, with something changing which needs an experienced and skilled response four times a minute. Teaching is undoubtedly hard work, but it’s also “heart work”, highly dependent on relationships and driven by deep care. As we approach the final four weeks of the longest term, when assessments and reports, themed weeks, educational, visits, parent evenings, Parents in Partnership events, plays, assemblies, concerts and so on add to those 1500 decisions taking place in each day of hard, heart work, we should acknowledge the incredible job our teachers are doing. I, for one, am in awe.
Next week I will say more about what “deep learning” actually looks like in the classroom. It’s not that hard, and parents can help with this.
We are now two weeks from our Christmas Fair and I would like to take this opportunity to repeat my appeal from last week. This is a wonderful annual community event, part of the very heartbeat of our school. If you can spare some time to help with the planning, the preparation or on the day, do contact your PTA committee. Thank you to those who have stepped up already – there is always room for more elves.
9th November 2018
This week we have been enjoying our latest themed week in the Secondary school with Mathematics Week. Morning puzzles and conundrums, lunchtime quizzes, smoke rings and mathematical relay races have enlivened our school and created a buzz around “the poetry of logical ideas” and “the music of reason.” I congratulate the many parents who attended the two special mathematics lessons this week. I am confident that they gained an insight into the ways in which their children experience mathematics in school as well as learning some new mathematics themselves. I am indebted to the team of mathematics teachers for their energy and creativity in putting the programme together. I very much look forward to the Primary Mathematics Week coming later this term.
This week, I started on the epic journey of spending time watching lessons in every single classroom. As I start this journey, I am reflecting on the phrase “deep learning” which appears in the opening paragraph of our Mission Statement. Some of you may be wondering what it means or what it looks like. “Deep learning” is an easy phrase to drop into a mission statement, but a devilishly difficult thing to achieve. Nevertheless, it’s not all that complicated to say what it is. Deep learning comes about when we have sufficient mastery in an area of learning that we are able to take what we know, what we understand and can do, and we can apply it to create new solutions, new ideas, new questions or new problems. This doesn’t mean new in the sense of previously undiscovered knowledge for humankind, for example, although I am confident that many of our students will do this in the future. It simply means new for that learner at that time. When knowledge moves from surface to deep, it can be used to deepen understanding and to seek new meaning. Ultimately, it enables us to “figure things out.” Isn’t that at the core of what we want for our children? I hope so. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of my journey into the classrooms!
We are three weeks from our Christmas Fair. This is a wonderful annual community event, bringing together children, extended families and school staff. If you can spare some time to help with the planning, the preparation or on the day, do contact your PTA committee. The success of the day depends on the people who step forward: many elves make light work, as the saying goes.
There are plenty of cultural lessons this week, surrounding the origins of Hallowe’en and how All Saints’ Day is marked in Hungary. Parents, coordinated by the PTA, have been generous with their time in distributing oranges and sweets at the end of Wednesday. I look forward to seeing their creative costumes! This is a tradition that goes back around 600 years with the distribution of soul cakes, as we learned from Mr Russell’s assembly this week.
It is a short but intense and productive week. Breaking up the routine of school is always a challenge and we all appreciate the support of parents in sending children into school well rested and ready for learning. With only six full weeks to go before the next break, we all need to ensure we have full focus and health in order to make the most of our time. With Global Handwashing Day 2018 taking place during our International Week, we missed the opportunity to remind everyone of the importance and effectiveness of good hygiene, especially as we enter the autumn cold and flu season. It is over 150 years since the great Hungarian scientist and medic Ignac Semmelweis, proposed his theory of germs and introduced handwashing in hospitals to prevent the spread of infection. We can play our part in keeping BISB clean and our community healthy, just by washing hands frequently with simple soap and water.
19 October 2018
Today we come to the end of a wonderful week where we celebrated our diversity as an international and multicultural community. Parents, students and staff have come together in a marvellous collaborative effort to create memorable educational experiences for children (and adults), proving that “together, we can do more than we can alone.” Alongside the celebrations we saw some powerful lessons in responsibility.
Our international days are a huge step up from the simple “flags, food, festivals and fashion shows” that I remember from my early experiences in international education. This week we focussed on the UN Sustainable Development Goals in order to cultivate responsibility for the future of our shared home on Earth. Our Primary children investigated Goal 4: Quality Education, and experienced simulations of life in less privileged classrooms. Our Year 6 students even trekked on foot from Heroes’ Square to school to experience the type of school journey many less fortunate children make every day.
Our Secondary students took on Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, with a full day’s focus on Friday. If our priority for our students is for them to go on to lead happy and fulfilled lives, then we can see the learning of school subject content as a means to that end. Such learning provides opportunities for success through higher education which then leads to the privileges of choice and autonomy. From that standpoint, being empowered to engage in responsible action to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for the world is a key element in personal fulfilment and wellbeing. Our work on the Sustainable Development Goals serves that end and will continue in various forms throughout this year. To learn more, download the SDGs in Action app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/
I wish you all a peaceful half term break and look forward to welcoming students back on Monday 29th October for a short week as Hungary celebrates All Saints’ Day on Thursday 1st November and a follow- on holiday on Friday 2nd November.
12th October 2018
At this time of year, as we approach the end of the first half term, our programme of communication to parents about their child’s progress and achievement really starts to get moving. Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences (aka Parent Evenings) are a great way to find out the detail behind the grades and scores and to work together to connect the person and the performance. Progress is never linear, achievement is never one-dimensional and the complexities of learning should never be underestimated. Learning is a risky business for children, as they continuously leap into the unknown, the uncertain and the new. It is useful to reflect on how much of our day as adults is spent dealing with novelty and assimilating new knowledge and new skills. I’m willing to guess that for many adults, it’s not that much. Our children do this all day, every day. It’s what they do.
Underpinning learning is confidence. Confidence to try something new, to take risks, to embrace failure and celebrate success with humility. As Clive Leach, Organisational Coach and friend of BISB says, “Confidence is about understanding our qualities, character and strengths and being comfortable with who we are, which can be a challenge for educators and parents, let alone young people!” Building confidence is something all parents can help with. Brian Cooklin, Principal of our NAE school in Hong Kong, provides some sound and practical advice for parents, which I’d encourage you to read and bear in mind when those reports are published and the parent evening looms: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education/article/2166133/confidence-key-great-achievement
Congratulations to our Secondary languages teachers for a very successful week of languages. There is great strength in our diversity of cultures and languages and we certainly embraced that diversity this week. Well done to all the students who took part.
This is a short piece from me this week as I am just about to head off to Collège Alpin Beau Soleil for our annual Nord Anglia Education Principals’ conference. This year we will spend time on our global technology strategy for our schools with the support of experts from Cupertino and we will be finding out more about our new service learning opportunities. I look forward to reporting back on what this means for our own school when I return.
This has been a very active week at school as we make the very best of what remains of the glorious summer weather. Many of our Secondary House Week challenges have been physical, with limbo challenges, juggling, football, egg and spoon races and basketball. Our Year 6 students tried Dragon Boat racing on the Danube, football matches were played in Primary and Secondary and our senior boys took on ICSB at volleyball. This afternoon, our under-19s head off to Prague for the European Nord Anglia Sport Association U19 Football Tournament. It is gratifying to know that all this activity is not only good for the body, it “can increase the size of children’s brains and improve academic performance.” So says a new study just presented at the World Economic Forum:
“The study by a team from the University of Granada in Spain found that children who are physically fit have a greater volume of grey matter in the brain’s frontal and temporal regions and the calcarine cortex, all of which are important for executive function (the mental skills that help us get things done), as well as learning, motor skills and visual processing.
“The researchers aimed to determine whether the brains of physically fit children were different from those of their less fit peers and if this affected their academic performance.
"The answer is short and forceful: yes, physical fitness in children is linked in a direct way to important brain structure differences, and such differences are reflected in the children's academic performance," said lead researcher Francisco B Ortega, of the University of Granada’s Sport and Health Institute.
You can read more here. I suggest you read this standing up, preferably jogging on the spot.
14th September 2018
Making Community a Reality
These past seven days we really saw our community flourish. Last Friday evening parents and teachers came together for a very sociable evening hosted by our new PTA Committee. As Mohsen has pointed out in his PTA Facebook posts, we made new connections through shared interests, we had fun and we learned a few things about laughter, about each other and about wine.
Our school community extends well beyond our gates and the work of our staff sometimes comes to the attention of some very important people. Lyndsey Marcu’s charity work, including “Building Bridges, Changing Hearts,” impressed the British Embassy so much that she was invited to a reception with HRH The Duke of York on Monday at the Ambassador’s Residence. Well done Lyndsey!
Another community building opportunity is the Community Choir which started this week. I believe we are the only school in the country which has a choir comprising staff and teachers. If you love singing, contact Sarah James, our Director of Performing Arts.
Finally, our own internal mini-communities made up of our school houses are a distinctive feature of British schools, made famous in the Harry Potter books. Our own Secondary school houses, Endeavour, Kontiki, Calypso and Discovery are set for a week of friendly competition next week with the first of the year’s challenges. Students will be earning points for simple participation in everything from sudoku to football juggling. Well done to all the form groups for their organisation and creativity and good luck to all the houses.
7th September 2018
Last week I highlighted the efforts that we are making to ensure that all our students come to school keen to learn and equipped with the skills, dispositions and attitudes to make the most of the opportunities offered at BISB. Next week we start our Co-Curricular Learning Programme which provides an increasingly diverse and extensive range of opportunities outside the classroom. This is a distinctive feature of great British international education and I do hope that you have helped your child make some good choices.
One other distinctive feature of our school is our school uniform. Our teachers have allowed a certain grace period for new students in our community to buy and wear the full uniform and we ask the support of parents to ensure that students come to school properly dressed every day. Those who have been in school longer know the uniform expectations well and have certainly been reminded by class teachers, form tutors and others over the past two weeks. I call upon all parents to support this by making sure the full and correct uniform is worn at all times. This is not only a basic expectation of our school, but will also allow students to focus more on the learning. This is an extract from our policy which makes our approach clear:
"It is school policy that all children wear clean school uniform in good order when traveling to and from school, while attending school, when participating in certain school events and when representing our school.
School uniform is important because it:
1. promotes a sense of pride in the school;
2. creates a feeling of identity, community and belonging;
3. is practical and appropriate for the activities children are involved in;
4. is smart;
5. identifies our students in the wider community;
6. reduces inequalities."
31st August 2018
It has been an exciting, fun, stimulating, purposeful, celebratory week in school. This first full week has been firmly focussed on ensuring that all students, from 3 years old up to 18, are ready for learning and prepared to make the very most of each moment of the year ahead. Parents, too, have been involved, attending the first of our Parent Information Evenings, designed to highlight key features of the year and enable them to play an effective role in the education of their children. The partnership I described last week is becoming visible and concrete. Thank you to those who have attended.
This week, Early Years (EY) children have been orientating themselves to their new environment, new routines and new friends. We don’t underestimate the magnitude of this endeavour for our youngest students and our Early Years team have a very carefully prepared and individually responsive start for the year, extensively planned and rehearsed. Our Year 1 students are making the transition from the EY setting, and the close cooperation of our teachers ensures that the changes are staged and seamless. This is a huge advantage of our all-through school for parents and children. Further up, we have focussed on transition into and through Secondary, and our Parent Information Evenings have highlighted the real differences of experience form Primary to Key Stage 3, from KS3 to KS4 and from KS4 to the IB Diploma Programme in our Sixth Form.
As the details of our summer examinations are analysed, we find further cause for celebration. Our GCSE and IGCSE successes were summarised last week but behind the simple average figures lie some remarkable results. Seven of our students received a letter of congratulation from Andy Puttock, Nord Anglia Education’s Director of Education, for their achievements, which stand among the best in the world. We are very proud of:
Vanda Karpati 8 out of 8 A*
Marcel Lehoczky 7x A* + 3 x A
Chris Zi Han Ding 7 x A* + 2 x A
Lukas Berg 5 x A* + 3 x A
Leo Ispanki 4 x A* + 3 x A
Luke Dyer 9 x A*/A
Pedram Noohi 2 x A* + 5 x A
Welcome to our first newsletter of 2018-19 and a very warm welcome to our new school year.
We have seen many changes over the summer and I set out some of these in last week’s information letter. I do hope that you will attend one of the many PTA events early this term where you will have a chance to see some of these upgrades to our facilities in person. Our PTA itself has seen changes also, with a new committee, ably led by Mr Mohsen Noohi and, of course the addition of new teachers and many new parents. Our PTA goes from strength to strength and remains the lynchpin of our school community. Without our PTA Committee and without the involvement of many, many parents, we would not be able to take the steps we do to move beyond mere talk about “community”.
With the supportive action of our parents, sharing values and acting these out for the benefit of our children, we build bonds and create the physical, social and psychological safety nets for our children to thrive, grow and learn. Many hands make light work. All parents know this. And many hands are needed to help the PTA create the added value of events that bring parents and teachers together. If you only have a small amount of time, once in the year, just volunteer. You will make a difference. It will be a rewarding experience and you are also likely to have fun and meet new people. If you do nothing else this weekend, make sure you check all the PTA news and join the PTA Facebook closed group.
27th June 2018
Our most senior students, the Year 13 Class of 2018, eagerly (and anxiously) await their IB Diploma Programme results, which come out next week. I wish them all the best and I look forward to celebrating their successes and supporting them with their final university decisions. Our IBDP Coordinator, Ashley Phillipson and our University Guidance Counsellor, Simon Bird, will be on hand to help with all the important decisions.
Over the summer, I will write to all parents with news of the next facilities enhancements. In the meantime, I can whet your appetite with the following. The addition of new curriculum opportunities, such as the introduction of IB Economics, IB Film, GCSE Triple Sciences, GCSE Additional Mathematics and KS3 Drama all mean the need for new spaces.
In the recent past, we have needed to expand due to increasing numbers of students. This has, from time to time, been experienced as an uncomfortable growth spurt. We are in a fortunate position now to be able to create extra facilities so as to enhance the offer for current students rather than to enable us to take on extra students. Work is going ahead this summer on a new state-of-the-art science lab which brings our total to five. We will see the creation of a mini maker-space to house our laser cutter, large format printer and other technology and some additional classrooms. The most immediate developments affect Secondary, but we will also be refurbishing Primary classrooms and corridors to bring them up to the high standards we have enjoyed in our new building over the past two years. We will also be upgrading many of our large spaces to enable music, dance and drama more options for students to perform and rehearse. This will include sound systems in the Atrium and Sports Hall 1, among other music technology installations and equipment.
I will update all parents on these great improvements as the plans develop. For now, I wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable summer and look forward to welcoming new families on 22nd August and everyone else back for the start of term on 23rd August.
22nd June 2018
This has been a rather exceptional penultimate week of the year at BISB. Although the school has appeared to be rather quiet with many of our older students away on trips, the sense of purpose and drive has been palpable. Our Secondary students have been involved in incredible learning experiences in school and across Europe during our Enrichment Week. This includes activities relating to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), music video writing, performing and producing, a spot of Shakespeare, culture and language trips, local service learning projects, university visits and much more.
Our Year 6 students demonstrated this week that they are truly ready for the next stage of their education with a magnificent Year 6 Production of ‘Ali Baba and the Bongo Bandits’. Well done to the whole Year 6 team for arranging such a wonderful finale to the year.
Our new PTA Committee held their first Open Meeting this week. Two things are worth highlighting. First is that the quest for a new Chair will recommence in September, with an Extraordinary General Meeting. Do look out for this. Second is a call for help at the start of the year to welcome new families. If you can spare some time on the morning of 22nd August, do get in touch with the PTA. They would be happy for even an hour of your time to support in helping new families with finding their way around and getting school uniforms.
Next week, please remember that we finish for the summer on Wednesday at 12 noon so do please make arrangements for an early pick up that day.
15th June 2018
End of term
A reminder that, as is tradition at BISB, the last day of the school year will finish for students at midday (12:00pm). This year the last day is Wednesday 27th June. An email will be sent to parents with full details next week.
On that last day, as well as saying farewell to students who move on to other schools around the world, we also say goodbye to a number of staff. I would like to pay tribute to their dedication to your children and to our school. Working in schools is a noble calling and we are fortunate to have such skilled and devoted staff at BISB. I would like to thank the following and wish them all the very best of fortune in their new ventures:
Mathematics teacher, Secondary
Head of Mathematics, Secondary
Early Years teacher
Head of Art, Secondary
Deputy Head, Secondary
Year 5 teacher & Phase Leader
Head of Student Support
Languages teacher, Secondary
Early Years teacher
Primary Hungarian teacher
8th June 2018
“If you need something done, ask a busy person.” This old saying is certainly true of those involved in the performing arts at BISB. Yesterday evening we were treated to a joyous celebration of music and drama by large numbers of students, teacher and parents. Our “Sounds of Summer” concert involved the full range of members of our community joining together for a performance full of confidence, skill, imagination and fun. This is all the more impressive when one considers the range of charity drives, field trips, sporting competitions, residential trips and internal assessments and examinations that our students and teachers are involved in this month. Well done to all performers and to our small, dedicated team of performing arts teachers for their stamina and commitment.
Virgin Pulse Global Challenge
I am pleased to report that our ten school teams in the Global Challenge have started strong in their daily step targets. The parent team, the Danube Dames, have covered an impressive 1,486km between them to head the school’s leaderboard and the school’s total is an impressive 10,740km so far. With 70 school participants, that’s an impressive commitment to health and wellbeing and a powerful example to our children. The weekend beckons and the weather is perfect for walking, running, cycling and swimming to get those totals up.
1st June 2018
Last weekend we said "Au revoir" to our graduating Year 13 students with an appropriately grand ceremony at The Intercontinental. Our Head of Sixth Form, Sarah Ford, presided over events and welcomed the graduates, resplendent in caps and gowns. Our Head of Secondary spoke passionately to around 300 assembled guests about the importance of challenge and the role of failure in future endeavours. We were honoured to welcome Caitlin Jones, Deputy Ambassador at The British Embassy, for the main address to the graduates. Caitlin described how her own sense of motivation has been fuelled by a range of factors over time, not least by the drive to be part of something bigger and make a difference in her role in the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She urged our students to seek what motivated them, recognising that there is no single formula for motivation, and to work towards something that satisfies but also drives that motivation.
Do look at our school Facebook page to get a sense of the occasion through the wonderful photographs.
Our Year 5 & 6 students are also filling our Facebook pages with photographs of their particular motivations and challenges. Do take a look at all they have been doing in Austria these past few days. There is plenty of evidence to show that outdoor education of this type contributes significantly to mental well-being and academic achievement in addition to the obvious development of physical health and confidence. The students are due back in school late this afternoon. Expect tired children with big grins!
Finally this week, I have been enjoying seeing our very youngest students in the EY Centre getting directly involved in community action by making sandwiches for the Budapest Bike Maffia to distribute for the needy. Again, see our Facebook page for photos of our students in action. Starting at such a young age is essential if we are to work towards our mission of cultivating responsibility. A sense that one can and should respond to fix some of the inequities in the world comes with the ability to act and make a difference; responsibility = response + ability. Providing children with the experience of seeing something that could be better, taking personal action, and witnessing the improvement develops the capacity for our young adults later in life to become true citizens, locally and possibly globally. Citizenship is not just about belonging, it’s about taking responsible action. Well done to our 4 year olds for taking action!
PTA AGM 2018
Congratulations to the outgoing committee on an excellent year!
The committee has made a real difference in the school and contributed in countless ways.
On behalf of everyone in the BISB community, I’d like to offer my thanks and appreciation.
Reflecting over the year past, there are a few recurring themes about the work of our parents in school. In 2016, at the AGM, I spoke about the value of community events such as the Christmas Fair and International Day. I spoke about the role of the PTA in community service and called upon everyone to see the community partners as opportunities for our children to develop their sense of responsibility as caring global citizens. We are certainly on a journey with this and we are starting to put some leadership in place in Secondary in particular, which will help enormously.
In 2017, I highlighted the established community events that relied on the efforts of the PTA Committee. These events form part of the heartbeat of the school; the familiar, reliable background rhythm and also events that give the school a heart.
This year saw a challenging start for the PTA with the last minute departure of Claudia as Vice Chair. I should register my thanks to Ed for stepping up to the position and helping to continue the work of the PTA throughout the year.
So, here we are in 2018 and what can I say? The key theme that comes through loud and clear is that we are very much a school that values and is valued by its wider community.
To the new committee, thank you for volunteering and congratulations. The school has excellence, integrity, diversity, responsibility and ambition as its core challenges. I’d like to offer the new committee three such challenges:
Connect – with the membership;
Coordinate – continue to coordinate the people and the events that oil the wheels of the community;
Contribute – to our school, our community and our children.
So, to our outgoing Committee, Sophia, Ed, Elif and Rafaella, thank you for being such a driving force in our community, thank you for continuing the heartbeat of the school, and thank you for all your selfless commitment during 2017-18. I am grateful on behalf of the school and also enormously grateful personally.
If you are a user of social media, online booking systems, shopping or banking, you cannot fail to have noticed the number of notices coming through recently about updated privacy agreements. This is not a result of what has been happening with Cambridge Analytica but pre-dates those events. It is a result of some well-planned changes to the EU data protection laws and comes under the title of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be in force from next Friday. This is aimed to harmonize the various laws across the EU to ensure they are fit for the digital age. The regulations emphasise transparency, fairness, security and accountability and strengthen EU citizens' rights to privacy of their personal data.
Here at BISB we have been working towards full GDPR compliance for many months. This has involved a full data mapping exercise and the compilation of complete lists of platforms and providers and an associated risk analysis. We have updated our Terms and Conditions, which parents will have seen when completing the re-enrolment forms recently. We have updated the privacy policies for parents and for our employees and have taken part in training online and face to face. Unlike many stand-alone schools, we are fortunate to have the legal and technical support of our Nord Anglia Education team at the regional and central offices.
Learning beyond the classroom
In our Primary School we are starting the school residential visits season with Year 3 due back from two days away this afternoon. As they were about to set off on Wednesday, I asked several excited young students what they were going to do on their trip. Eat pizza, have a water fight, take part in the talent show and go to the zoo were common responses. When I asked what they expected to learn, however, the responses were gratifyingly different. They said that they would learn to look after themselves and each other, be more independent, get along with others that they usually don’t see much of, remember to brush their teeth and pack their clothes. I sincerely hope they enjoyed the pizza, had a great water fight, and learned all they expected to learn. My thanks go to our dedicated and intrepid teachers and assistants who have given up their time away from their homes and families to make this happen.
With all of our Year 11s and our top mathematics students from Year 10 now joining the Year 13s in the Sports Hall, the examination season is in full swing. Yesterday we had a spot check from the IB on our examination arrangements. This happens unannounced and a report is compiled on the manner in which we conduct the exams. We passed all aspects and the written comments from the inspector concluded: “The exam process was well-organised, efficient and thorough. … there is an impressive system for the conduct of the examinations with many extra features beyond what is required.” Our aim is to provide the highest level of arrangements for our students to perform at their best in these exams. I am indebted to Ashely Phillipson, our IB Diploma Programme Coordinator, and Lionel Basa, our Examinations Officer for their dedication and professionalism in creating and maintaining these arrangements. If you missed last week’s article on multitasking, anxiety and excitement relating to exam preparation, it does appear on our website (as do all our newsletter articles) and also here on Linkedin.
Looking ahead – your PTA
With the nominations now in for candidates for the new PTA Committee, the next stage is voting. Do look out for an email with a link for voting. This is a chance to have your say and to support your new PTA Committee.
Today is the last day for our Year 11 students before they embark on a short period of study leave for their GCSE and IGCSE examinations. For our students, this is an exciting time as they approach their first public exams. Year 13 students have already started and I am sure their experiences in Year 11 have helped them recognise the emotions connected with an approaching period of examinations. At this point, they should be well prepared and can approach the exams with confidence. In addition to sleep, exercise and nutrition, there is much they can do alongside their revision to ensure that they can perform at their peak. Here are two pieces of advice: one on the myth of multitasking; and one relating to reframing anxiety as excitement.
The myth of multitasking
Many parents of teenagers have experienced bewilderment and frustration at seeing their children attempt to engage in revision and homework while chatting online, watching YouTube videos and monitoring their Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram accounts. It is absolutely true that these attempts at multitasking are detrimental to learning, rendering study time inefficient and ineffective. Late night engagement with electronic devices also disrupts sleep patterns, further hindering retention of the day’s learning. We know this but what can we do to re-direct our children to more productive study behaviours? In short, cajole and support better behaviours rather than confront, and create a clear physical and temporal separation between study and play – different room, different time. This BBC article from last week expands on this theme and contains links to more parenting advise as our children approach exams: Can you really revise while chatting online?
Reframing anxiety as excitement
One of the limiting assumptions about the notion of emotional intelligence is that such intelligence is synonymous with empathy. The emotionally intelligent person is the one who connects, is sociable and understands others. While that is one attribute associated with emotional intelligences, there is also the intelligence that allows one to understand one’s own feelings and emotions and to actually manage these productively. Apply that to exam nerves and it is possible to work these to one’s advantage.
So, students should know that when we experience performance nerves and anxiety, the heart beats faster, the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain increases, and we are much better able to perform our best. This is a good thing, up to a limit. When that limit approaches, the nervousness can paralyse rather than energise. So, an intelligent approach to managing the emotions related to anxiety can help. In 2013, Dr Alison Wood Brooks, from the Harvard Business School, set out to explore such approaches and the impact on performance, including performance in mathematics tests. In short, people who reappraise anxiety as excitement can change their mindset from a threat mindset (invoking possible exam paralysis) to an opportunity mindset and then, crucially, perform better in tests. Additional good news is that this is achieved with simple strategies such as self-talk (saying “I am excited” out loud) or self-messaging (writing or saying “Get excited”). This is far more effective than attempting to calm down, which tries to remove the emotion and the associated physiological manifestations. These physical manifestations (an oxygenated brain, for example) are a good thing. Just exploit them in a positive manner.
Parents can join in: get excited!
Brooks, A. W. (2013) “Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety and Excitement”, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, no. 3: pp 1144-1158
The full article can be found here.
For a short 86 second video summary, the inimitable DanPink explains, click here.
Many congratulations to our PTA Committee for a fabulous 3rd annual Charity Gala last weekend at the Marriott Hotel. The event was quite probably our best ever and many thanks are due to Ed Salazar in particular for being the coordinator and driving force behind this spectacular event. The Gala couldn’t have been a success without the support of the parents and school staff who attended, the many sponsors, and our special guests. It is hard to single out any individual but the generous raffle prize of breakfast cooked in your own home, by Mr Ryan Guest and Mr Chris Russell deserves a special mention. This raised a phenomenal amount for our charity partners. Thank you to the family who successfully bid for this exceptional prize!
Last week, parents were sent a letter and a link to our re-enrolment form for the 2018-19 school year. The deadline for completion of this is one week from today, on 27th April. Thank you to the many families who have already responded. If you haven’t yet completed the form, please take 5 minutes this weekend to let us know your intentions by following the link sent last week.
As our Humanities Week in Secondary draws to a close I would like to thank our staff in Geography, History, Business, Economics and Environmental Systems and Societies for their creative and educational approach to promoting engagement in these areas. An understanding of our world and the people in it is vital for our future, as we face unprecedented challenges across our fragile planet. Our Humanities Week certainly played a part in raising students’ awareness.
This week has been busy on the more business orientated side of school life, a side that parents, rightly, rarely get to witness. As the implementation of the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) approaches on 25th May, we are getting ourselves fully GDPR-ready. From auditing privacy agreements with our many educational software vendors, to ensuring that our own practices are compliant, through to preparing to educate children on data protection and privacy, we have had a week focussing on GDPR with the support of our Group Compliance Manager, Mr Sam Manger, from Nord Anglia Education. I am pleased to report, we are in very good shape.
13th April 2018
Welcome back to a lovely, sunny start to Term 3!
I would like to highlight two things that need parents’ attention this term.
The first is the re-enrolment of students for 2018-19. This week you will have received a letter outlining the process and rationale for re-enrolment and a link to your own online re-enrolment form. Our planning for next year very much depends on having an early, accurate picture of who is returning and who is moving on. What we require from parents is completion of the re-enrolment form by 27th April and payment of fees for the new school year by 16th July. The key dates are:
13th April: Online re-enrolment form link sent by this date to all families.
27th April: Deadline for completion of the re-enrolment form.
15th June: Invoices will be issued for returning families by this date.
16th July: Deadline for payment of 2018-19 fees.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and your help.
PTA Elections for 2018-19
Elections to the key committee positions of Chair, Vice-chair, Secretary and Treasurer are due this term. You received nomination details from Sophia Verykios by email at the end of last term. If you wish to stand for election, you will need to be nominated by a PTA member (any current parent or school staff member) and send your name to the PTA Secretary by 2nd May at the latest. The key dates are:
2nd May: Nominations to be received by this date.
9th May: Candidate details circulated by this date.
16th May: First possible date for voting to start.
21st May: Last possible date for voting to close.
23rd May: AGM. Results announced.
23rd March 2018
This week has been as vibrant and full as ever. In a packed week we have had primary pop-ins, a Year 5 exhibition and the start of GCSE and IB assessments across a range of subjects. We also had the privilege of a visit from Juilliard graduate and professional dancer Laura Careless. This provided exceptional opportunities for our students to engage in dance workshops with one of the very best and to witness some outstanding new choreography and dance in a close and personal environment.
Thanks are due to our PTA for enriching our day with chocolate, courtesy of the Easter Bunny. This was a welcome boost for students and staff alike. All that remains is for me to thank all members of our school community for their involvement and support this term and to wish students a restful and productive break. I look forward to seeing you all again at the start of next term, fully recharged and, Year 11 and 13 students in particular, well prepared for the summer examination season.
9th March 2018
2018 Parent Satisfaction Survey
Thank you for your support with our survey. By 4pm Thursday, we had reached a response rate of 43%, which is exceptionally good for this stage. Last year nearly 70% of families responded, so we need to make the most of the time left. If you haven’t yet completed the survey, please do so by following the link here.
If you have completed the survey, thank you! Please encourage your friends to do so.
IB Diploma Programme Visual Arts and Music
On Wednesday evening we were treated to an exceptional evening of art and music as our IB Diploma Programme students presented their exhibition and performance. This is truly one of the highlights of the year and I’d like to pay tribute to the students and their teachers who worked long and hard to get to this point and to the support staff who assisted with creating such a memorable evening.
Music and Visual Arts are among the very few school subjects where we get an insight into the pinnacles of achievement reached by our students as they near the end of their school careers. With most other subjects, their final achievements are masked in secrecy, as they write in silence in an exam hall, accompanied by invigilators who can’t talk to them and who are not allowed to look at the writing. This is actually quite a good way to conduct an assessment, but it is also extremely frustrating for teachers who have to wait several weeks with our students to have rich and accomplished achievements summed up in a single letter or number.
With music and art, we can experience the finished product first hand, talk to the musicians and artists and share their journey and their craft. This week I was exhilarated by the experience. Not only that, I was inspired to seek out two composers I have previously had little exposure to and then set off on my own modest amateur journey into new musical realms. If you missed the evening, you missed out!
Do make sure you follow us on Twitter and join in on Facebook to get a glimpse of such evenings.
2nd March 2018
2018 Parent Satisfaction Survey
Thank you for your support with our survey. By the middle of Friday, we had reached a response rate of 30%, which is extremely good for this stage. If you haven’t yet completed the survey, please do so by following the link here.
If you have completed the survey, thank you! Please encourage your friends to do so.
Jon Taylor and staying safe online
We have had a very productive week with Jonathan Taylor, who visited us to run workshops for students, staff and parents. We have an excellent turnout on Wednesday morning from over 60 parents who benefitted from clear messages from Jon. As a result of this, we will continue the work in school and can better support families who have queries about developing safe on-line behaviour.
English and Literacy
What a fabulous array of literary themed events we have enjoyed this week. I do hope you have been following us on Twitter so that you can share in the poems and quotes, the Scrabble and Boggle, the costumes and story making. @BISBudapest
Finally, from me this week, I would like to acknowledge some true heroes of the winter weather, Mr Gabor Pereszlenyi and his team, who have kept the school clear of snow so we can continue with the learning uninterrupted. They have worked hard from dawn each day, with shovels and the snowplough, to clear the carpark and paths and ensure that the pavements are gritted to keep us safe. Thank you to Mr Gabor Pereszlenyi, Mr Levente Király, Mr Valentin Mormoe, Mr István Medve, Mr Károly Kiss, Mr László Keresztúri and Mr Viktor Olteanu.
16th February 2018
2018 Parent Satisfaction Survey
This year’s survey launched yesterday. Do get in touch if you didn’t receive your link. Your input is essential in helping to take our school forward in the right direction as well as giving us feedback on what we currently do well, and what you wish us to maintain.
Connected with communication of all kinds is the launch of our new Parent Groups for Primary and Secondary. These provide an additional channel of communication about general school matters. It will be very useful for us to have these additional ways of finding out more about your experience as parents at BISB. I look forward to these groups becoming an established and effective part of our school’s heartbeat.
Year of the Dog
恭 禧 發 財! 恭 禧 发 财 ! 새해 복 많이 받으세요 ! Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!
As we leave the Year of the Cockerel (or Rooster) behind us and look forward to the Year of the Dog, I would like to wish everyone in our school community a very happy, prosperous and healthy Lunar New Year!
Dogs are known for their loyalty and kindness in those parts of the world where the lunar calendar is followed and celebrated. I would like to thank all parents for their loyalty to our school community over the past 12 months and hope that this continues into the Year of the Dog. Having great parents as positive advocates for our school, inside and beyond the school gates is extraordinarily valuable.
Dogs are also known for being honest, cautious and prudent. We are always cautious and prudent in school and make absolutely sure that developments, improvement and any change is considered against the most robust and thoroughly researched evidence. If we all take on board these positive characteristics of dogs in the coming year, we can expect 12 more months of wellbeing and happiness for our children, which form the foundations for extraordinary progress and achievements of all kinds.
I wish you all a restful and peaceful time with your families over the half term break.
9th February 2018
We are pleased to announce that our 2018 Parent Satisfaction Survey will launch in just 5 days, on Thursday 15th February. Your feedback is vital in helping us create the best education for your child and we hope to hear from as many of you as possible. The more responses we get, the more confident we can be that we are moving in the right direction for you and your children, strengthening the positives and addressing the concerns.
Some examples from recent years may give an insight into what we have done. Some took time, some will take more time still and some have been quick fixes. It is always best to move at the right speed; sometimes fast, sometimes steady. It is always better to move slowly in the right direction than to dash in the wrong direction, however.
In 2016, only 75% of parents were satisfied with the admissions process. While we can’t go back in time to change that experience, we have taken steps to ensure a more personalised service at this crucial time in your families’ lives. We reached 88% satisfaction last year.
In 2015, you were unhappy about the amount of space in the school. Since then, we have expanded into our new extension building, added science labs and an art and innovation room, expanded the dining facilities and kitchen, added a café and, last summer, we opened our large international standard sports hall, expanded our car park, added an extra gymnasium and a fitness centre. This was accompanied by new and extensive changing facilities and an extra medical centre.
In 2015, 67% believed the school offered a stimulating learning environment. As a result of the work we have done in response to that, this rose to 84% in 2016 and to 90% in 2017. Moving steadily and convincingly in the right direction.
In 2015 and 2016, security and safety were concerns. With your support, our turnstiles and entry card system provide enhanced safety for all in the community. We have a 100% record of background checks on all adults working for us, even those of a temporary basis. Everyone undergoes mandatory safeguarding training on-line and face-to-face and we have a very large majority of qualified first aiders on site and on trips at all times. In 2017, your perception of your children’s sense of safety was one of our biggest improvements.
This year’s survey will launch on 15th February and will close on 18th March.
We will share the results of the survey with you during the summer term.
We look forward to hearing your views.
12th January 2018
This workshop shared strategies rather than values, and was designed to enable parents to help their children enact some of the powerful learning strategies that they may encounter in school from time to time. With school curricula becoming more rather than less crowded and with everyone leading busy lives, proven techniques to make learning efficient and effective can certainly help. More similar workshops will follow to provide further opportunities for parents to learn more about learning.
Community, uniform and service projects
One aspect of our community is the visible identity and commitment to high standards that is symbolic in our school uniform. I would like to thank parents for continuing to support us by sending your children to school looking smart in full and correct uniform. To help with this, Year 8 students from Mr Jackson’s class offered a shoe shining service this week to Secondary students on arrival. The proceeds from this noble effort will be donated to our Tanzania projects. This will enable our students to purchase the materials to build goat sheds, build and install solar lamps and refurbish rural classrooms when they visit our projects in Tanzania later this term.
15th December 2017
This week, our Christmas Door competition draws to a close, as does the “100 Press-up Challenge” which saw 20 staff members aiming to complete 100 press-ups a day, every day, for 31 days. That’s 62,000 press-ups if everyone meets their target. “Be ambitious” in action! Our sports and PE staff hosted the European Nord Anglia Sports Association U19 Basketball Tournament last weekend, where we hosted teams from across the region for a fabulous two days of competition. Many friendships were re-kindled and many teams stayed on to enjoy Budapest’s Christmas markets on Sunday.
This week we moved from two day sporting events and musical concerts to all things theatrical, with the Secondary School performance of Hobson’s Choice. The play transported the audience to 1970s Salford, in the English Midlands. This was a real challenge for our young actors. The setting was at a significant remove from their own experience, geographically, culturally and linguistically, as well as being at a time before even some of their parents were born. They rose to the challenge and created a humorous and dramatic experience that delighted all who came to watch. Well done to the English Department and to all the actors, set designers, the publicity team and make-up artists who gave us all such a treat in the last week of the term.
This term we say goodbye to Mr Gabor Kis, who has served our school as counsellor for the past two years. Gabor will return to private practice. Our counselling service will resume mid-January with the services of Mrs Anka Mate, who has had a long association with the school and many will know her from her parenting workshops. We look forward to welcoming Anka to this role.
Next term we also welcome Ms Andrea Máté-Klátyik who will teach Business Studies, Business Management and Economics in the Secondary School, and Ms Maria Podonyine who will join us from England as an EAL teacher, mainly in the Secondary School.
I am very sad to announce that my outstanding Personal Assistant, Mrs Viktoria Vari, will step down at the end of December to spend more time with her young family. Viki has been a significant force in the administration of our school as well as successfully supporting me in my many and various roles throughout the school year. Viki will be replaced by Ms Ildikó Tóth from mid-January.
We are also sad to say “goodbye” to Ms Viktoria Ferenczi from Reception. Always professional and cheerful, Viki is the epitome of BISB values and has been a reliable representative of our school for new families as well as for established members of our community.
We all wish Viki and Viki well for the future.
Our Winter Concert this week was a clear example of confidence in action. Through lessons, the discipline of practice, the rehearsals and on to the final shows, students worked through nervousness, faced self-doubt, pushed beyond what they believed possible, and performed! The performance experience itself further developed confidence and as anyone who watched both shows will have seen, the difference on the second night was apparent: students’ were thriving and confidently enjoying themselves.
Confidence, then, is certainly not something we are born with, but develops through memorable and challenging experiences. This lies at the heart of education and at the heart of what we as a school want for our students. Anyone in school today, Friday, will see this in action through the many Primary assemblies and shows, through the U19 ENASA Basketball tournament taking place over the next 2 days and onto next week with our performance of Hobson’s Choice.
1st December 2017