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Message from our Principal

  • Richard Dyer

6th December


As we approach the end of a long and successful term, I would like to say thank you to all parents who have offered support for our community. This support may simply be the vital job of ensuring that your children come to school each day well nourished, well rested and well-loved and ready to learn and grow. This support may be helping in Primary or Secondary parent groups, with each providing a vital forum for communication and feedback. Or it may be offering help at one of the events that enrich our community, such as the Christmas Fair (TOMORROW!), International Days, Halloween and so on. Or it could be a role on our PTA, on the Committee or the wide group of active supporters. Whatever your contribution, I am very grateful. Without you, we would not be the school we are. 


This week has been as active as ever, with an incredible Winter Concert full of joy and surprise, a chilly Roman Day, and a successful culmination of the Year 6 entrepreneur project (YES).  
Here are some reminders of what lies ahead. First, the Parent Satisfaction Survey is live for you to complete and we need everyone to spend 10 minutes giving your views and feedback. Last year we had a phenomenal response which enabled us to go ahead with plans for refurbishing our playground, for example. 


Second, tickets for The Crucible next week are going fast, so if you plan to attend, get a ticket from Reception. 


Third, we have a film crew in school early next week making a series of short videos about our school to use on our website and emails. Parents of students involved will be contacted about this. 


Fourth, our ISI inspection report will be with us at the very latest 20th December. As soon as it arrives, I will send it to all parents, so do lookout for an email from the school. If you are leaving us at the end of this term, you can still access the report through our website, so do take a look in January. 


Finally, I would like to remind all parents that school finishes at noon next Friday, so please make sure you are aware of the bus and pickup arrangements and ensure your child is collected. 

Richard Dyer

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29th November

Yesterday you will have received a message about our annual Parent Satisfaction Survey. This is a really important survey and we use the results each year to adjust our school’s provision. Last year, for example, you referred to our rather tired playground equipment and we are now blessed with not only new equipment but also a completely refurbished basketball court and terracing. We are now examining designs for outdoor recreation and social areas next to our Tube, which we hope to be in place for the spring weather. 

The survey will be open until the end of January. By that time, you will have the report from our recent BSO & ISI Inspection, and you may wish to wait until you have read that before completing the survey. Rest assured, I will be pushing hard in January to beat our 85% response rate from 2019! 

I look forward to seeing many of you next week at our Winter Concert. 

Did You Know This … about breakfast? 
Each week this year I will highlight some research that might be useful in helping your child learn. This week, my piece is connected to Energy Drink Awareness Day which took place this Thursday in school.  

Many students worldwide report that they skip breakfast. We all know that eating a good breakfast is important, but how important is it? Wesnes et al (2003) ran a study that compared students who ate breakfast with those who had a glucose drink instead and those who had nothing. The effects on concentration, memory and alertness were significant. 

All students had a dip in concentration levels as the morning progressed, but for those who had eaten breakfast, this decline was reduced by 50-65%. For those who had a glucose drink instead, their concentration drop was worse than those who had no breakfast.  

In a memory test four hours after a revision session, those who had no breakfast had a 12% decline in recall. Those who only had a glucose drink had a 27% decline, whereas those who ate breakfast actually improved by 3-5%. 

Measures of alertness, not surprisingly, showed that this who ate breakfast felt most alert throughout the morning. Those who had an energy drink had an initial boost that declined to the same levels as those who skipped breakfast. 

So, make sure your children get a proper breakfast and avoid those energy drinks. 

Reference 
Wesnes KA, Pincock C, Richardson D, Helm G, Hails S. (2003). Breakfast reduces declines in attention and memory over the morning in schoolchildren. Appetite, 2003 Vol 41 No.3 pp329-31. 

Richard Dyer

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22nd November

As we head into the season of concerts, plays and winter celebrations, learning continues apace. Our Year 13 students are engaged in rounds of language oral examinations, internal assessments, Extended Essay viva voce, ToK essay drafts, laboratory assessments, assessed music recitals and university applications. Our Year 6 students are busy with the mid stages of their entrepreneur “YES” projects. Final rehearsals are taking place for our eagerly anticipated Winter Concert and our ambitious production of The Crucible in December. Against that background, we eagerly anticipate next week’s Juilliard alumnus visit, when the actor Forrest Malloy comes to spend two days in our school to work with our students. 

Our annual Parent Satisfaction Survey will be launched to parents soon and I anticipate being able to provide more details next week. We hope you will take this opportunity to tell us what you think about our school and opportunities for improvement. Your feedback is vital to helping us create the best education for your child.  

The results from the survey will inform our strategy for continuous improvement. Therefore, the more responses we get, the more confident we can be that our action plans respond to your views. 

Did You Know This … about visualisation? 

Each week this year I will highlight some research that might be useful in helping your child learn. Visualisation is a key part of training for top athletes in all sports. In this, people run through routines, techniques and tactics in their minds before enacting them. This applies to learning also. In a study by Pham and Taylor (1999), students were asked to spend just a few minutes visualising themselves studying. Another group were told to visualise themselves doing well on a test.  Those who visualised themselves studying reported that they had a clearer plan of what they needed to do, felt less nervous about an upcoming test, were going to spend more time studying and expected to do better in the exam. Significantly, they also did 40% more revision than the other group, and had 8% higher marks in their exam and outperformed the class average. Members of the group who visualised success on the test actually did worse. 

So, a few minutes picturing the study process before starting reaps significant rewards. 

Richard Dyer

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15th November

This week we have been treated to a plethora of mathematical games, conundrums, activities and even lessons for parents. Our annual Mathematics Week has been a true delight for all who love a good puzzle or an intriguing challenge. This has been a great example of enrichment provided beyond the classroom and which forms part of the wider curriculum of our school. Thank you to all our mathematics teachers for the time and work they put into preparing and running these activities for students. 
This has also been our ISI inspection week, the most thorough, rigorous and challenging external quality assurance exercise undertaken by our school. The inspection team have been highly professional and supportive and I’d like to thank them for all the time and energy they brought to the process.  Our students, your children, have certainly stepped up and demonstrated the strengths they have in abundance. Kurt Hahn’s famous phrase “Plus est en vous” has sprung to mind over and over again. I would like to thank all parents for their support this week and acknowledge the teachers, who I’m sure feel a bit like they have been sitting their degree finals all over again. Our support staff have certainly stepped up to the plate also, ensuring that the school has run smoothly all week. The full written report will be sent to all parents as soon as it is received, and I am not at liberty to divulge the outcomes before then. This will be within five weeks and so it may arrive in school during the first week of the Christmas break. I will, however, endeavour to send this to parents as soon as it is received. In the meantime, I can say that we are delighted with the result, which will be a huge boost to the community and an endorsement of all that is great about BISB. 

Richard Dyer

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8th November

Hallowe’en is behind us, and what an amazing evening the children were treated to last week. Do look at the PTA Facebook page (BISB PTA) and the school Facebook page (@britishinternationalschoolbudapest) for some spooky photos. Many hands made light work in the set up and clean up, with willing volunteers ably led by Szilvia, who deserves our thanks and congratulations. 

This week we have been busy making final preparations for our ISI inspection, which starts the second and final part on Tuesday 12th November. The ISI website (isi.net) contains information for parents about inspections of schools in England and internationally. Do take a look to see what standards we are asking to be judged against.  

Some parents have asked what they can do to help. If you have filled out the ISI questionnaire, you will have already helped the inspectors get an understanding of our school. Next week, simply send your children to school on time, in neat and tidy uniform, with all of the right equipment, and make sure they are collected promptly at the end of the day, and you will reduce one small set of stress points for the teachers.  If you allow your children to use the outdoor play equipment, please make sure you actively supervise them. Do take note of the guidelines and expectations that Chris Russell has been communicating. If you are in school for drop off or pick up, and you see a new face with a “Visitor” badge, it’s probably an inspector. Say hello and join us in welcoming our team of six independent inspectors. 

Did You Know This … about the music and learning? 

Each week this year I will highlight some research that might be useful in helping your child learn. This week I defer to Ben Turner and his article on the effects that listening to music have on study, learning, concentration and productivity. You can find his article in the Head of Secondary section. 

Richard Dyer

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31st October 

This half-term got off to a great start this week with a wonderful celebration of the end of Diwali from members of our Indian Community.  This was a great interlude of cultural celebration between our fantastic International Days before the break and our upcoming Hallowe’en celebrations later today. The purpose of the PTA is to provide enriching experiences for BISB students, above and beyond what could be achieved alone. This mission is certainly being fulfilled in abundance at the moment, and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed in some way to these events. 

Did You Know This … about the beneficial effects of nature on learning? 

Each week this year I will highlight some research that might be useful in helping your child learn. This week, I discuss something that is often highlighted in the popular press these days: interacting with nature. We believe that being outside in a natural environment is good for us, because it makes sense, but there is some real science behind it. One set of studies by the University of Michigan confirms the benefit of a walk in the park for learning, but also confirms a rather surprising shortcut to this. 

In one study, students took a study break by going for a walk in a park or in a busy urban area.  Those who walked in nature improved their performance on a test of attention and memory by 16%. Students who went for a walk in the city made no improvement at all. This was found to be the case summer and winter, whatever the weather. In addition, those who walked in nature reported a significant positive boost in mood after. 

Here is some great news for those who don’t have ready access to a park, a forest of even a garden. In a second study, the university found that students who took a break and looked at photographs of nature also performed better on memory and attention tests, had improved executive functioning and felt better and more refreshed. 

So, over this three-day weekend, go for a walk with your children in the forest, whatever the weather, or play in the park or garden. For students studying hard for IB or GCSE exams, consider getting some nature pictures or some indoor plants for their study room. There is evidence to show that this will make a real difference. 

Richard Dyer

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16th October 

This week’s international days were foreshadowed by a fabulous weekend of international football, with BISB hosting U19 teams from our schools in Switzerland, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. I have rarely witnessed a more closely contested tournament, with teams engaging with determination, energy and fabulous sporting spirit. Our students played some outstanding football, and were indefatigable, gracious hosts. Do take a look at the details in this newsletter. 

 As we close the school to students for half term break, I would like to thank all members of our community for the amazing effort put into making our international days so exceptional. We experienced dances from different cultures, food from around the world and a whole myriad of activities focussed on the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This was a short but three-day week, a visible testament to our diversity, our community, our cooperation and our ambition to make the world a better place. 

Enjoy the extra time with your children next week, and I look forward to seeing you all again on Monday 28th October for another shortened week before we settle into the second half of the term. 

Richard Dyer

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11th October 

This week we congratulate three teachers who have recently been awarded their Executive Master’s in International Education by King’s College, London. Ms Lyndsey Marcu, Ms Mei Szabo and Ms Sarah Sheppard successfully completed the two-year course through our exclusive partnership with King’s College, each completing their study with a research dissertation on an aspect of international education. Each year for the past three years, BISB has supported two teachers through this programme, helping to ensure that our teachers remain at the cutting edge of education. 

Our programmes got a boost recently with Nord Anglia Education’s professional development being formally accredited by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI). We are the only school in Hungary to offer a bespoke and accredited set of professional development opportunities for our staff. 

Nord Anglia University gives our staff access to hundreds of high-quality digital courses and educational resources. Alongside core learning, pedagogical forums and leadership training, Nord Anglia University also enables colleagues to connect, collaborate and share learning experiences. 

The highly regarded LPI accreditation recognises five key aspects:  

  • Through Nord Anglia University, NAE provides its staff with the very best learning solutions and services possible. 

  • Every aspect of Nord Anglia University’s professional development offering has undergone an independent and rigorous accreditation process. 

  • The materials, processes, performance and business integrity that form Nord Anglia University’s professional development arm have been authenticated, validated and endorsed. 

  • NAE has committed to a rolling 12-month development plan for Nord Anglia University to ensure the continual improvement of the platform. 

  • NAE is confident in Nord Anglia University being measured and reviewed against best practice to prove its value. 

Through its LPI accreditation, NAE can now benchmark Nord Anglia University against other global leaders’ professional development capabilities, including Deloitte, Dyson and Volvo, and education organisations such as Cambridge Assessment. The LPI will also work with NAE to continually improve Nord Anglia University through coaching and mentoring. 

Did You Know This … about pictures and words? 

Each week this year I will highlight some research that might be useful in helping your child learn. This week, I discuss the effectiveness of using words and pictures for study. Before reading on, think about which of these four tactics leads to better learning: 1) revising with words only, for example by reading and writing; 2) revising with pictures only, by looking at and drawing pictures and diagrams; 3) using words first, then pictures; 4) using pictures and words together.  

I would expect most people would think that words and pictures, together or sequentially, lead to better memory formation and recall, and they would be correct. The differences are quite significant but also subtle. In an experiment where students were asked to revise for a problem solving test using the four techniques, those who used words and pictures together correctly answer over twice as many questions (over 100% more) as those who used just words, and 50% more than those who used just pictures. They also achieved over 50% more correct answers than those who used words first then pictures. So, words with pictures and diagrams together form by far the best revision and learning tactic. 

The subtle part is that the difference was minimal when the test involved simple verbal recall of what they had studied. All techniques work well. The key difference came when the knowledge needed to be applied to problems, situations and questions. 

So, don’t be fooled by success on an oral test of factual recall. If you really want to learn something in order to apply it or answer questions about it, use pictures and words together. 

Richard Dyer

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27th September 

This week, another reminder about our inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. This inspection will confirm compliance with standards for British Schools Overseas (BSO) and will provide a judgment on our educational quality across a range of measures.  

There is a parent questionnaire coming your way from the inspectors. It will be sent by the school but is online and confidential to the inspectors. We are looking for a high response rate to this questionnaire as the more people responding, the more representative the views. So, have your say. The final judgement about the quality of our school will be reported back to parents after the inspection. 

Key dates are: 

Parent Questionnaire: Next Monday! 30th September – 7th October. 

Information presentation: Next Wednesday! PTA open meeting – 9am, 2nd October. 

Inspection: 12th – 15th November. 

Did You Know This … about memory? 

Each week this year I will highlight some research that might be useful in helping your child learn. This week, I continue with a longer series about memory.  

In the same study referred to last week, the researchers discovered that two techniques for remembering were quite effective: 

1) Elaborative interrogation. This is about asking yourself questions such as “why is this true” or “how does this relate to something else I’ve learned?” You can help your child with this by modelling such questions yourself. 

2) Interleaving. This can work well with the distributed practice described last week. It involves mixing up types of question, types of topic, types of study technique, rather than doing extended work of the same type on the same topic. 

These two techniques certainly make the work feel more challenging. That’s exactly why they work. It’s the same as the difference between a slow 30 minute jog and four or five quick sprints with a walk in between. Put some hills in there and you have a winning formula. (And If you are not aware which works best for fitness and health, look it up! Livestrong.com is a good place to start.)

Richard Dyer

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20th September

It was great to see so many of you at the PTA Welcome Party last weekend. I do hope that you managed to meet some teachers, catch up with friends and even make some new ones. I am grateful to the PTA members who were involved in making the evening such a success. 

This week we welcomed Pat Preedy, from the Independent Schools Inspectorate, for Part 1 of our inspection. This inspection will confirm compliance with standards for British Schools Overseas (BSO) and will provide a judgment on our educational quality across a range of measures. The timeline of events connected with the inspection is below. Do come along to the PTA Monthly Open Meeting to find out more. 

Parent Questionnaire: 30th September – 7th October. 

Information presentation: PTA open meeting – 9am, 2nd October. 

Inspection: 12th – 15th November. 

Did You Know This … about memory? 

Each week this year I will highlight some research that might be useful in helping your child learn. This week, I start a longer series about memory. This comes from a meta-analysis undertaken across three universities where hundreds of studies were analysed to find the most robust and consistent findings about memory. They sought to find out what study techniques are most effective. 

They found out that two techniques are highly effective in improving long term memory: 

1) Retrieval practice. This is where students answer questions, write practice essays, do past exam papers and so on. This is far better than simply reading or writing notes. 

2) Distributed practice. This is where students do a little bit often and revisit the same material over and over again rather than cramming a lot all at once. Together with the first, it allows short term forgetting followed by remembering and recalling, improving long term memory of material. 

As parents, we can encourage children to practise questions, essays, and even puzzles and quizzes relating to the material being learnt. We can also encourage them to spread it out. “Little and often and repeated” is the best way. 

If you think that this is pretty obvious, you are right. Next week I’ll write about some other obvious techniques, often used, that are not as effective. 

Richard Dyer

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13th September

This week I highlight our upcoming school inspection for the first time. We already undertake annual internal quality assurance processes that are externally validated by Nord Anglia Education. These encompass teaching and learning, student outcomes, health and safety, finance, and safeguarding. We also need to be compliant with procedures for our examinations at I/GCSE and for the provision and assessment of the IB Diploma Programme and these are subject to external inspection. Our recruitment procedures and basic safety and safeguarding arrangements also provide us with membership of COBIS (Council of British International Schools). 

On top of this, we have asked for an optional inspection by the UK’s Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). This inspection will confirm compliance with standards for British Schools Overseas (BSO) and will provide a judgment on our educational quality across a range of measures. We have been preparing for this for some time, and next week we have a 2-day pre-inspection visit from our Reporting Inspector, Ms Patricia Preedy. The timeline of events connected with the inspection is below. Do come along to the PTA Monthly Open Meeting to find out more. 

Pre-inspection visit: 18th-19th September. 
Parent Questionnaire: 30th September – 7th October. 
Information presentation: PTA open meeting – 9am, 2nd October. 
Inspection: 12th – 15th November. 

Did You Know This … about smart reputations? 

Each week this year I will highlight some research that might be useful in helping your child learn. This week, researchers across China, the USA and Canada collaborated on a project related to the much-misunderstood concept of mindset. 

The researchers worked with a large number of children and told half of them that they had a reputation for being smart. When faced with a series of tests and games, the children who had been told they had a ‘smart reputation’ cheated more often than the others. This applied even to children as young as 3. 

This fits with related studies which found that students who were praised for their natural ability or intelligence were more likely to give up on difficult tasks, enjoyed challenging tasks less, performed less well on tasks that are challenging and lie more often about how well they do.  They also report lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of stress. 

So, to counter this, try to cultivate a focus on encouraging children to improve rather than prove themselves, praise processes and approaches, and help children to embrace the inevitable mistakes that come from real learning. 

Sports fixtures 

Last year we introduced a Ft10.000 charge to parents for one day (not overnight) away sports fixtures.  

Although this went some way towards covering the costs for these events, we have decided to withdraw that charge. From this term, there will be no additional charge for such trips. 

Richard Dyer

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7th September

It was wonderful to see so many parents at the PTA Monthly Open Meeting (MOM) this week. This was, I hope, a sign of good things to come for the year, with many volunteers for PTA events for your children and for the community social activities. At the meeting I highlighted the many exciting developments that we have seen over the summer, with enhanced facilities and exceptional student successes in examinations and university applications. Do visit school when you can and have a look at the wonderful upgrades this year. If you are at the PTA Welcome next week on Friday, I would be happy to show you round. For more information on student success, take a look at our website here:  Academic Profile 2019 

At our next MOM I will hold an open forum where I will outline our plans for an external school inspection from the Independent Schools Inspectorate https://www.isi.net/. This is the first such inspection in our school’s 27-year history, so do come along and join in at 9am on Wednesday 2nd October. 

Did You Know This … about mobile phones? 

Each week this year I will highlight some research that might be useful in helping your child learn. This week, the distracting presence of mobile phones. Robust research has shown that the presence of a mobile phone near to a student while they study leads to an average 20% reduction in attention, concentration and performance on task that were demanding and complex. This applies regardless of whether the student can see their own phone or someone else’s nearby, and regardless of age, gender, attachment to the phone or typical phone use. 

So what? Given that learning is demanding and complex, it is reasonable to conclude that students should not be studying in sight of their phones. We make sure that phones are out of sight in lessons. For effective learning, that should happen at home also. Put that phone away, ideally in a different room, when doing homework! 

Richard Dyer

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30th August

Expectations for a flourishing community

I hope you and your children have enjoyed your first full week of the new year. There have certainly been some happy faces arriving in the morning and the students generally look very smart in new uniforms, ready to learn. This week I write a little about what it means to be part of our school community, and I will refer to the benefits and the responsibilities involved. Being part of a community is enormously beneficial and our statement on community on our website sets out the consequences of a strong community for the students of BISB.

Communities are successful to the extent that individuals adhere to the same values and norms and exercise their responsibilities to the community. This form of social contract exists in all successful groups. I appeal to parents, therefore, to play your part and support our expectations and embody our values. These range from the trivial and easily complied with to the more challenging aspects of our mission imperatives. Immediate expectations are simple to comply with and we have placed new signs at our entrances to remind everyone of some of these: no chewing gum on site; wear your identity card visibly at all times; drive slowly in the car park.  Another expectation is to support us by ensuring your child comes to school correctly dressed in the morning. This is not the place to debate the values of school uniform; it’s simply better not to have teachers engaging in frequent uniform-related conversations with students. Our uniform policy is on our website and outlines the rationale for uniform. Finally, for this week, I would like to remind parents that their children should not be in school unaccompanied after lessons in the afternoon. We have great playground facilities that children are welcome to use until 4.30pm, but the children must be directly supervised by an adult.

Longer term expectations that reflect our values are harder to work on. That doesn’t mean we should shirk our responsibilities, just because they are a little difficult. Sustainability is a new feature of our vision for the future of BISB, and one key responsibility is to set an example to the young people of BISB. This week we provided each student and staff member with their own reusable water bottle in an attempt to reduce the number of single use plastic bottles by everyone. Do try to talk to your children about why we have done this and, please, set an example yourself.

Website Updates: New Teachers, Exam Results & University Destinations, Policies

Firefly is the place to go for day to day information about school events related to learning, but our website remains the place where we celebrate successes and make statements to the world about who we are and what we stand for. 

If you visit our site, you will find information about our new teachers with a short biography of each https://www.nordangliaeducation.com/our-schools/budapest/teachers-and-staff

You will also find our latest Academic Profile with details of our recent examination successes and the destinations of our graduates

https://www.nordangliaeducation.com/our-schools/budapest/our-school/school-academic-profile?ts=637027710998643291

Finally, our major family related policies are available for all to see. This includes our Statement on Community, which connects to my messages in the first part of my article this week.

https://www.nordangliaeducation.com/our-schools/budapest/our-school/policies

Richard Dyer

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23rd August  

Welcome to our first newsletter of 2019-20 and a very warm welcome to our new school year.  

We have seen many changes over the summer and I described some of these in last week’s information letter. We are still working on some of the building developments, but while we wait for our newly covered Sports Hall and the launch of “The Tube”, we can be assured that the learning at the start of the year will be as extraordinary as ever. 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. In particular, do make a note of the date of our fabulous, sociable PTA Welcome which takes place in school at 6pm on Friday 13th September. 

Our PTA itself has 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 heart 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 nurture and develop the supportive community of our school and create the environment for our children to thrive, grow and learn. As our mission statement reminds us, together we can do more than we can alone. Many hands make light work, 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 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 group.  

Next week, I will outline some of the important events coming up that will set this year apart as the most exceptional yet in our 27 year history. I will also be able to provide details of the outstanding examination results achieved by our Year 11 and Year 13 students from the Class of 2019, and the confirmed university destinations of our graduates. Initial results are set out in Ben Turner’s article in this newsletter. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you in school over the coming days. 

Richard Dyer

 

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14th June

his has been an interesting week. The long weekend was extended for many due to a burst pipe in school. We had to shut off water, leaving us without toilets or kitchen facilities on a public holiday when it proved impossible to get repairs done. Our cleaning, maintenance and IT staff worked tirelessly to get the school back to full operation from Wednesday. 

Nevertheless, in the run-up to Secondary Enrichment Week we have managed a phenomenal amount in 3 days. Our Performing Arts Showcase on Wednesday and Thursday was a joyous celebration of the arts, with huge participation from across the school. Families braved the challenges of the heatwave to enjoy evenings of song, dance, gymnastics, physical theatre, mime, choral works, rock, jazz and classical. Today, Friday, we continue with our rich arts provision with a whole day set of workshops from the renowned Patterson / Sutton Duo: http://celloandguitar.com/ 

Richard Dyer

6th June

This week we have had a thrilling Primary performance poetry competition, been represented at the Queen’s Birthday Party garden party at the British Ambassador’s residence, held parent meetings for our Secondary Enrichment Week trips and activities, started our Year 2 Residential, held a Chinese Coming of Age Ceremony (following Tang Dynasty rules from 1060), completed our internal assessments, continued with our OLEVI Outstanding Teacher Programme and held a fabulous Year 13 Graduation Celebration at the Intercontinental Hotel. Oh, and there were amazing, challenging, energetic, engaging lessons all week. Next week we host two members of our Nord Anglia Education Team for a three-day visit to validate our self-evaluation processes, have a visit from an acclaimed Juilliard alumni duo and hold a two night Performing Arts Showcase. If parents ask about “winding down” for summer, I’m not sure what I’ll answer! Business as usual ... 

Richard Dyer

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31st May

Our thoughts this week are with the victims of the tragedy on the Danube on Wednesday evening. Our prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims and our hopes go out for those still sadly missing. As an international community, our heartfelt sympathy is extended to our Korean friends who have made Budapest their home.

Richard Dyer

24th May 2019

This morning, parents who visited school will have noticed work commencing on the piece of land next to our sports centre. Our much anticipated “UFO” building is now underway, bringing welcome additional classrooms to the sports complex area of our campus. These new and very modern facilities will start to appear over the coming months and I will update our community as works progress. Rest assured there will be no disruption at all, due to the nature of the very efficient construction process, which involves much of the building itself being constructed off-site. 

I would like to thank Sophia Verykios and Simon Bird for all their work on the excellent Careers Fair that took place this week for Secondary students. This was a great opportunity for students to meet people from various careers, drawn from our community of parents and friends. We are grateful also to parents who gave up their time to contribute. With an ever-expanding myriad of career paths open to young people today, it is important to provide every opportunity for our students to think ahead and start to make considered choices about their future. This Careers Fair was one such opportunity.

Richard Dyer

 

17th May 2019

This week I had the good fortune to attend a presentation by Professor Tanya Byron, clinical psychologist, author, journalist and child therapist (http://www.professortanyabyron.com/). In the hour and a half or so, I heard Tanya talk about the issue of child and teenage mental health and well-being, and provide evidence for the increasing number of child mental health problems. After dismissing sub-clinical anxiety, insecurity and self-doubt issues that accompany growing up (and though problematic, are normal and expected) she turned our attention to the reasons for genuine mental disorders. Her comments reassured me that here at BISB, we have a range of positive and potentially effective approaches that help ensure that the challenges of growing up remain just that, challenges that supported children thrive on and overcome. 

Tanya’s first point related to resilience. Tanya’s view, based on extensive evidence, is that parents are increasingly protective of their children and don’t allow exploration, risk and the mishaps and failures that accompany this and that are essential in building resilience and mental and emotional toughness. Children spending less time outdoors is detrimental to their health and wellbeing. Our focus on risk-taking in learning and our range of outdoor education experiences allow children to develop resilience in managed contexts and our forest school, primary residentials, CCA programme and upcoming Secondary enrichment week are great examples. 

Second was the role of parents. Tanya’s research shows that parents are less confident than they were in the past about actually parenting and prefer to be “friends” with their children. This results in a blurring of relationship definitions and uncertainty over boundaries of acceptable behaviour. I am far from a traditionalist when it comes to parenting, but I do agree that being a parent carries with it a noble responsibility and that this responsibility often means making uncomfortable decisions, saying no and setting parameters. Later this term, parents can get support on one aspect of parenting relating to on-line gaming, with a workshop with Anka Mate and Ben Turner. With expert input, this will allow parents to draw upon their own community of experience to know what to look for and how you may respond if you suspect that recreational gaming is turning into a problem for your child. This is a powerful example of what we mean when we say that our community is made up of shared values, consistently enacted by everyone. This is not “one-size-fits all” but drawing upon the collective wisdom of the community to support parenting. I hope you can attend.

Richard Dyer

 

10th May 2019

At the end of our Secondary Science Week, I would like to congratulate our Science department on the range of exciting, engaging, challenging activities that they planned and delivered and commend the students who took an extremely active role. 

Even more professional development has been a feature for staff this week. TalkforWriting training took place in Primary, led by a TalkforWriting trainer and our Literacy Coordinators, Caroline Mawdsley and Marion Sands. Four pioneering Learning Assistants have completed the COBIS Diploma for International Teaching Assistants course in conjunction with The Teaching Assistant College, all gaining distinctions in their Diplomas. This is a six month course, comprising around 90 hours of study. Congratulations to Monika Payne, Alistair Gibson, Jane Jackson and Chris Walker. They will continue to work with our other Assistants to ensure that the learning they engaged in is widely applied. 

Our senior staff members have also been engaged in learning recently. Chris Russell, Ben Turner and I have just completed a programme called “Leading Change” with Harvard Business School and Harvard Graduate School of Education. This was part of a pilot to evaluate the applicability of this programme for aspiring and practising senior leaders across the Nord Anglia Education family of schools. I am pleased to say that all three of us will thoroughly recommend this course for providing a sound set of theoretical and practical frameworks that will help those relatively new to change management in schools. 

All this professional practice, and more, are testament to the culture of professional learning that ensures that BISB teachers are not only skilled in and up to date with the very best practices, but also that they share and model the thrill of learning themselves. As someone very wise once said, “You cannot ensure that students develop as committed life-long learners unless you have teachers with the same characteristics.”

Richard Dyer

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3rd May 2019 

Welcome back to Term 3 at BISB. This is a short 8½ week term, due to the late date of Easter. Staff have already been busy, with many spending Wednesday’s public holiday in school starting their Outstanding Teacher Programme with our own in-house “OLEVI International” trainers, Jenny Eyes and Sarah Knowlden. I am highly impressed by their commitment and professionalism and look forward to seeing the impact in the classroom and on professional learning across the school as a whole. 

Our older students have started their external examination sessions in earnest and we wish them the very best of fortune. Parents visiting school in the mornings and afternoons will see signs asking for silence near the examination locations. Please take notice of these and help to give our students the best possible chance to focus. 

The PTA AGM is next week, on Wednesday morning. Do come along and support your hard working committee and other active members, hear a round-up of the year’s activities and have your say on constitutional changes and other matters. The AGM is a transition point for the PTA, where new committee members are approved and sights are set on next year’s activities. 

More widely, we have been planning for the next school year for some time. Demand for school places at BISB is at an all-time high and your commitment to re-enrolling your children for next year is much appreciated. Do keep in touch with Katherine Walker if your circumstances change, as we have many families waiting to join our community. Due to demand, I am pleased to say that we have opened an additional class in Year 2 & 5 for August 2019, which is filling fast. 

Richard Dyer

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5th April 2019 

This week I take a break from writing about assessment to celebrate some of the events going on in school, and to give you a chance to catch up with the past four weeks of articles on the subject. 

This week we have been treated to a range of performing arts. The Primary Spring Highlights concerts provided an insight into the challenges of our ambitious music curriculum with students performing on recorder, ukulele, percussion, guitar and voice. This was well attended by supportive parents, relatives, brothers and sisters. It was astonishing to see such young students making the transition from playing accompanied by a backing track to playing with a conductor and even keeping their own time. 

At 8am on Wednesday, our Atrium was filled with instrumentalists from across the school as our orchestra performed Sibelius’ Finlandia and Brahms’ 5th Hungarian Dance.  This takes the idea of “busking” to a new level, to the delight and surprise of all fortunate enough to enjoy the performance. It was the last performance for some of our Year 13 students and a wonderful “swan song” for them. Fortunately, we saw some great musicians coming up through the school performing that morning. 

On Thursday we continued our programme of primary-secondary transition preparation for students and parents with our Transition Evening. Year 6 students and their parents enjoyed visiting secondary classrooms to get a further taste of what lessons will be like in Year 7. This is part of a programme that continues throughout Year 6, with lesson visits forming a major part of the preparation for the change. 

Today, Friday, we kicked off our U14 European Nord Anglia Sports Association (ENASA) Sports Tournament, with visiting football and basketball teams from Bratislava, Prague, Warsaw and Madrid. This continues through Saturday, all day, so do come along and support. Our teams will be wearing our impressive new team kit for the first time, generously sponsored by you, the parents, through our PTA.  

Our Parent Forum also took place this week, where we discussed what it means to experience a British international education and the role of various forms of assessment in the British curriculum and the IB Diploma Programme. At the heart of the discussion was the idea that this curriculum is the whole planned learning experience for students, not just lessons. Teaching is, naturally, a key part of that and assessment is an integral part of teaching. It is impossible to separate curriculum, assessment, teaching and learning, as they all interact. If they are coherent, learning accelerates. If not, they pull in different directions and we don’t see the best from learners. There are many strengths of our curriculum, including external standards, coherence, continuity and connectivity, transferability, and international respect. Some notable quotes appeared on Twitter @BISBudapest during the forum:  

“You can’t compromise curriculum fidelity in assessment without compromising learning.” 

“Our teachers are building approaches to thinking and learning throughout Secondary with an eye on the IB Diploma Programme.” 

“We don’t just work from books. Our students deserve more. Our students demand more.” 

Richard Dyer

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Friday 29th March 

Parent Satisfaction Survey 

Thank you to all parents for completing our 5th annual Parent Satisfaction Survey. Your response rate was phenomenal. We had 499 responses, representing 85% of our families, compared with 363 last year and only 165 in 2015. This in itself is an indication of the strength of our community and the committed engagement of families.  

All of the headline responses have shown a consistent and significant improvement over five years. This steady, positive direction is reassuring. While quick fixes in many fields of life tend to unravel just as quickly, we are building not only the quality of our day to day work in educating your children but also culture and sustainability. Probably the key headline indicator is your view of the quality of education we provide. This has risen from 77% approval in 2015-16, through in steady increments, to 93% in 2018-2019. While this is reason to celebrate (year on year improvement is always a good thing, particularly sustained over time), there is a need to focus on the small percentage who are not yet delighted in this area. Our Parent Forum may address some of this next week. 

I will send more headlines from the survey, including areas where you feel we could do better, as we complete our analysis. In the meantime, thank you again for your engagement and for feeding back your views. 

Parent Forum 

With the support of the BISB PTA, we are pleased to invite all parents to a Parent Forum on Wednesday 3rd April from 8:45 to 10:00 am. 

In response to interest expressed through the Parent Groups and through the PTA, together with Chris Russell and Ben Turner, I will present an outline of the key characteristics of British international education with particular reference to the curriculum through ages 3-18, personal and social education and assessment.  

Assessment is always an interesting topic and in this week’s newsletter I simply wish to summarise the story so far, to describe assessment as coaching, and add one or two more pieces to take us to the end of term in the coming weeks. 

Assessment – Part 4 

In my previous three newsletters, I discussed some of the basic principles of school assessment at BISB. First, the main purpose of assessment is for learning, and such assessment consists of three stages: diagnosis (find out what the students knows, understands, can do or apply); feedback (communicate this to the student); and remediation (work together to take the next steps in learning, based on the first two stages). 

The second article looked at frequency of assessment and explained that teachers engage in almost continuous assessment, around 1500 times a day. I argued that this form of personalised, in the moment, “just in time, just for me” assessment is one of the most effective forms of assessment and is an integral part of teaching. 

Last week, I discussed the myth that testing motivates students and explained that tests themselves do not motivate. Young learners are inspired and motivated by learning, especially so when subjects are brought to life by passionate, inspiring and motivational teachers whose care for student progress is apparent. 

Overall, the picture that emerges is that the role of assessment in learning school subjects is exemplified by the role of a coach in sports. Imagine a tennis coach working with a young player. Imagine that coach insisting on a 30-minute written test of the principles of a good backhand shot. At the end, the coach goes home, marks the test and the following week, tells the young player,  ”You got a B.” Such a way of assessing may have a role in certifying that a player has reached certain standards, particularly in sports such as figure-skating, gymnastics or diving. It certainly doesn’t play an effective or direct role in learning.  

Imagine now how a good coach works. Think about the acute observation of the player’s skills. Imagine the choices the coach makes in placing the player under the right amount of pressure through different selected and focussed real-game challenges, just on the edge of competence, and on the verge of new learning. Think about how the coach communicates and demonstrates. Imagine how the coach makes decisions about when to introduce new shots or new footwork or when to simply introduce drill and practice, for “grooving” or overlearning a skill to build motor memory, or for fitness. Now think about how that translates into a classroom setting and you’ll have an idea of how good assessment works in the support of learning at BISB every day. 

Richard Dyer

22nd March

Parent Forum 
With the support of the BISB PTA, we are pleased to invite all parents to a Parent Forum on Wednesday 3rd April from 8:45 to 10:00 am. 

In response to interest expressed through the Parent Groups and through the PTA, together with Chris Russell and Ben Turner, I will present an outline of the key characteristics of British international education with particular reference to the curriculum through ages 3-18, personal and social education and assessment.  

Assessment is always an interesting topic and in this week’s newsletter I simply wish to summarise the story so far, and describing assessment as coaching, before adding one or two more pieces to take us to the end of term in the coming weeks. 

Assessment – Part 4 
In my previous three newsletters, I discussed some of the basic principles of school assessment at BISB. First, the main purpose of assessment is for learning, and such assessment consists of three stages: diagnosis (find out what the student knows, understands, can do or apply); feedback (communicate this to the student); and remediation (work together to take the next steps in learning, based on the first two stages). 

The second article looked at frequency of assessment and explained that teachers engage in almost continuous assessment, around 1500 times a day. I argued that this form of personalised, in the moment, “just in time; just for me” assessment is one of the most effective forms of assessment and is an integral part of teaching. 

Last week, I discussed the myth that testing motivates students and explained that tests themselves do not motivate. Young learners are inspired and motivated by learning, especially so when subjects are brought to life by passionate, inspiring and motivational teachers whose care for student progress is apparent. 

Overall, the picture that emerges is that the role of assessment in learning school subjects is exemplified by the role of a coach in sports. Imagine a tennis coach working with a young player. Imagine that coach insisting on a 30 minute written test of principles of a good backhand shot. At the end, the coach goes home, marks the test and the following week, tells the young player, ”You got a B.” Such a way of assessing may have a role in certifying that a player has reached certain standards, particularly in sports such as figure-skating, gymnastics or diving. It certainly doesn’t play an effective or direct role in learning.  

Imagine now how a good coach works. Think about the acute observation of the player’s skills. Imagine the choices the coach makes in placing the player under the right amount of pressure through different selected and focussed real-game challenges, just on the edge of competence, and on the verge of new learning. Think about how the coach communicates and demonstrates. Imagine how the coach makes decisions about when to introduce new shots or new footwork or when to simply introduce drill and practice, for “grooving” or overlearning a skill to build motor memory, or for fitness. Now think about how that translates into a classroom setting and you’ll have an idea of how good assessment works in the support of learning at BISB every day. 

Richard Dyer


14th March 

This week I add my third piece on assessment. Last week I opened up the idea that assessment includes the spontaneous ephemeral judgements made by teachers some 1500 times a day. This form of assessment, the “just-in-time, just-for-me” check-up and feedback type, is one of the most effective forms of assessment in terms of ensuring student progress. If we put to one side the externally set and marked, high-stakes exams such as IGCSEs, assessment, at its heart, is about the three stages of diagnosis, remediation and feedback, and doing this closely connected in time and space to the learning is extremely beneficial. This week I will take a look at the more familiar and visible form of assessment, written tests, and ask “What are they for?” 

We are all familiar with written tests. These range from very short tests, set in response to pace and progress in a lesson, through to the longer, more formal written examinations, typically taken at the end of a topic or end of a year. One common form of short check-in assessment involves the use of mini white-boards. Students write a response to a question on individual mini white-boards which they display to the teacher so a judgement can be made on some aspect of knowledge or skill. This is then used to challenge misconceptions and adjust the pace and direction of the learning. These are incredibly useful as the assessment is quick, and integrated with the learning, allowing immediate feedback and remediation. 

At the more formal end of the spectrum are timed, individual written tests. These differ in several important ways. Importantly, they are disconnected from the learning, and are more appropriate for producing summative judgements about how much has been learned, or how well. The diagnosis stage is also disconnected. Marking is typically done without the student present, some time after the test.  

Feedback is also typically disconnected. At the extreme end of the spectrum, comprising different forms of feedback, a simple grade or score is provided. This is perfectly acceptable if the purpose of the test is to provide evidence of a level of accomplishment that determines access to the next stage of learning, like the IB Diploma Programme or entry to a university degree course. This is like a driving test. If you don’t pass with the required score, you don’t get to drive a car. School is different. Students who score poorly in a mathematics test, for example, are not then barred from doing more mathematics. 

Some will say that this sort of test is good as it motivates students to learn. This is a myth. All the evidence shows that this is not the case, and the evidence is robust and extensive. Students receiving feedback on tests in the form of grades or score will typically look first at their own score, then at one or two people close to them, then ignore everything else, even if more detailed feedback is also provided. There will be an impact on self-esteem and also self-image, certainly, but the influence on motivation is less clear and more complex. 

Students are not motivated by tests. I’ll say that again: students are not motivated by tests. Many students are certainly highly intrinsically motivated. They are inspired by learning and have high aspirations. They have developed a love of a subject and want to continue to learn and do well, and a successful test result provides strong evidence that they are doing well in their quest. Some may be subject to extrinsic motivators such as rewards from parents for high scores. It is not the test itself that motivates. 

For all students, a relationship with a respected teacher is the prime source of motivation. Positive feedback from such a teacher builds self-esteem (which includes feeling skilful and feeling responsible) and a positive self-image. If we flip this on its head, no form of feedback is effective when it comes from someone who is not respected. 

So, the test itself does not motivate: it’s the relationships with the learning, the student’s self-image and the teacher and parents that matter and motivate. 

Next time I’ll look in more detail at some of the additional challenges of written tests, starting with TIME. 

Richard Dyer

8th March 2019
We have had a fabulous week of literacy, literature and English right across the school. There is much to celebrate and so many people to thank for their contribution to Book Week in Primary and English Week in Secondary. You can read and see more in this newsletter and on our school Facebook page. Do take a good look. 

This week I continue my extended discussion of assessment, one of the most emotive areas of school education. Last week I outlined that most forms of assessment consist of three parts: diagnosis, feedback and remediation.

This week I will try to give an answer to the question, “How often do we test students?” 

Like all simple questions, the answer is complex. In fact, in its present form, the question is unanswerable. We actually assess students’ learning all the time. Some assessment takes the form of clearly defined formal examinations, particularly at ages 16 and 18. The most ubiquitous and effective form of assessment, however, is ephemeral: in-the-moment judgements about understanding, gleaned from a wide range of cues and clues which manifest in student behaviour and response. The judgements and decisions are underpinned by a teacher’s mastery of content, concepts and the relationship with child development, educational psychology and learning. This teacher mastery is typically so embedded through practice that it appears intuitive. (Malcolm Gladwell’s 2005 book “Blink” is an entertaining and accessible introduction to the field of intuitive decision making.)  

Following these judgements, decisions are made and adjustments to the lesson take place. The number of such assessment processes is phenomenal. Jackson’s (1990) seminal study showed that a primary school teacher engages in 200-300 interpersonal exchanges with students every hour, most of which are unplanned and unpredictable and call for judgements and decisions to be made and acted upon. This type of assessment is at one end of the assessment scale and formal, high-stakes external examinations at the other end. In between lies a huge range of other activities which fall under the umbrella term “assessment.” How often do we test students? Each teacher does so at least 1500 times every day! 

Next week I’ll discuss one or two types of test and look at the familiar example of the paper test and its impact on learning, on motivation and on time. 

References 

Jackson, P., 1990, Life in Classrooms, NY: Teachers College Press 

Gladwell, M., 2005, Blink, London: Penguin. 

 

Richard Dyer
 

1st March 2019 

Happy St David’s Day to the Welsh members of our community! 

Before the break, I set three cryptic crossword clues relating to school. The answers appear at the end. These were not easy! 

Between now and the April break, I intend to focus on the topic of assessment. This is one of the most interesting aspects of education, certainly for parents, and it is one of the most complex. Interest in assessment flows naturally from interest in children. Parents and teachers want to know how well children are doing. Is my child making the right sort of progress? Are they on track for success later? Do they have the “right” sort of knowledge, understanding and skills for their age? Fundamentally, are they OK now and will they be OK in future?  

These are good questions, but complexity and nuance lie behind the apparent simplicity. None of the questions are satisfied by a simple “yes/no” answer that their closed phrasing implies. Take the first of these questions, “Is my child making the right sort of progress?”  What is the “right” sort of progress? Progress in what? Right for whom? When are we making this judgement? Children don’t progress in a steady linear fashion, and often go backwards, for good reason. Moreover, if the answer is “yes,” then to what extend does this mean that the answer might be “yes” tomorrow, or next week? So, bearing in mind that this will take some time, I will try today and in coming weeks to give an insight into the world of assessment and its various forms. 

In the background there is a common theme: “Assessment does not necessarily lead to better learning.” So, if our goal is better learning, why bother with assessment? The short answer is that there are ways of assessing that can and do lead to better learning (our goal) and ways that, frankly, are a waste of time and can hinder learning. We’ll start with a look at what we mean by assessment. 

When we visit a doctor, one of the first things that happens is we get our blood pressure checked. That’s a test. This test provides a simple set of numbers. These numbers are like the marking of a school test. Underlying the use of the blood pressure test is the assumption that the measure itself and the numbers we get bear some relation to your underlying physical condition.  

At the surface level, the test measures two aspects of blood pressure that are considered important, the systolic and diastolic pressures. For the mechanically rather than the medically minded, this is like a dipstick test of oil condition in a car. The colour and depth of the oil provide two measures that are considered to be important. Both tests, in some way, are interpreted as indicating the condition of the body (for the blood pressure) or the car engine (for the dipstick test). These underlying conditions, such as health, cardiovascular condition, piston wear and tear, gasket security, are “constructs” that the tests are trying indirectly to measure. The interpretation of the figures and the connection to the underlying construct is a form of diagnosis. This interpretation requires skill, experience and expertise. It would be a neglectful doctor who just used the blood pressure test to diagnose your overall health. Factors such as age, general fitness, gender and more need to be accounted for in interpreting the figures and in coming to a conclusion. Further tests would be needed if there were a problem. First there might be a simple re-test. I know from experience that my heart-rate is often elevated when I get my blood pressure checked. That’s because I run up the stairs to the surgery rather than take the lift. A re-test 5 minutes later shows a different resting pressure and heart-rate.  

Following the testing, “marking” and interpretation, the doctor will discuss the results with you. This is feedback and leads directly, if handled well, to the next stage: remediation. Action follows from the test and could be to lose weight, change your diet, do more exercise or, if all is well, carry on as before. 

There are parallels to school assessment. Assessment broadly involves diagnosis (the taking and marking of a test of some form), feedback (using these outcomes to communicate to the student) and remediation (acting on the feedback). Just like the blood pressure test or the dipstick test, a school test can’t assess everything. It is just a sample at one point in time. Just like the doctor or the mechanic, there is a level of interpretation which connects the test itself to the underlying thing being measured which, in school, is some aspect of learning. And just like the others, the actual test itself is of limited value unless interpreted, communicated and acted on. 

Come back next week for a look at some of the differences between assessment as a set of processes and simple tests, and why there is no simple answer to the question often asked, “How often do the students get tested?” 

Cryptic Crossword answers 

Clue: First class maths problem that does not present a jolly wheeze. 

ASTHMA  (First class: A; maths problem, an anagram of “maths”: STHMA.)  

Clue: Impressive in school, a rebel means to be heard. 

ACADEMIC (A rebel: A CAD; means to be heard: EMIC, which is a quite arcane sociological term!) 

Clue: Qualification from writing about European movement in arts. 

MASTERS (European = E; movement in arts means an anagram of “arts”. This leads to ASTER. A form of writing is a manuscript, MS for short. Put that about ASTER to get a qualification.)

Richard Dyer

15th February

Thank you to those parents who attended the enjoyable Conversation with the Chair PTA event on Wednesday. Along with Ben Turner and Chris Russell, I was quizzed by our venerable PTA Chair, Mr Mohsen Noohi, for an hour. I am not sure we revealed our souls, as intended, but we certainly provided some insight into our backgrounds, interests and the strong moral purpose that led us into education. Cryptic crosswords featured during the talk, and so I offer three school related clues to puzzle over during the half term break. For each, as explained by Ben Turner in Wednesday’s “Conversation”, the meaning of the answer is part of the clue, usually at the start or end, and the rest of the clue indicates how to construct the word. Answers next time. 

First class maths problem that does not present a jolly wheeze. (6 letter word)  

Impressive in school, a rebel means to be heard. (8 letter word) This is hard.   

Qualification from writing about European movement in arts. (7 letter word)  

Richard Dyer

 

8th February 2019 

First, I’d like to wish all members of our community a very happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Pig:  猪年大吉. Thank you in particular to our many Chinese friends who celebrated last weekend and who came to explain lunar new year traditions to our Primary children on Monday.  Special wishes for the year ahead go to all families who celebrate at this time of year, to our Korean, Vietnamese, Hong Kong, Singapore and other SE Asian communities. 

Our connections across the globe are a fitting tribute to the international nature of our community at this time. Following our double visit from The Juilliard School (New York) last week, and our MUN event which presages our imminent United Nations visit, our U19 students set off to the European Nord Anglia Sports Association basketball tournament in Bratislava at 5am this morning while another group of Secondary students are still on their way to our Shamba Kipara camp in Tanzania for a week of service learning. In Primary, students have been focussing on the borderless world of the internet with events that marked Internet Safety Day on Tuesday. At BISB, we work to prepare children to take their place in the world as fully responsible, capable, contributing adults. We cannot do this effectively and completely through classroom learning alone, and our global collaborations provide rehearsal spaces for students’ futures on the world stage. We are truly fortunate to have such opportunities so readily available

Richard Dyer

 

1st February

With the Parent Satisfaction Survey closed, I am delighted to report that we received 499 submissions, representing 81.4% of our families. I now look forward to analysing the results and sharing the headlines with you. With this level of engagement, we can be confident that any action we take as a result is based on good consensus.

As I write I am eagerly anticipating the opening of our inaugural Model United Nations later this afternoon. Our link to the UN itself is becoming stronger than ever and this event certainly provides an opportunity for students to work within the framework of one the world’s strongest institutions, learning about diplomacy and international relations while developing their leadership, communication, decision making and debating skills.

For more information on what MUN entails, see the Wikipedia description here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_United_Nations 

Student Leadership was also at the fore in school through the week, with our exciting House Dodgeball Tournament entirely initiated and run by out Student Leadership Team. This provided competition and thrills and a welcome respite from the cold weather at lunchtimes. There are some great photos on our PTA Facebook pages.

Preceding our UN event, one of our other outstanding and unique partnerships has also been highlighted this week, with TWO visits from The Juilliard School. You can read all about our visits elsewhere in this newsletter and on our school Twitter feed and Facebook pages.

 

 

25th January 2019

Many thanks to families who have completed the Parent Satisfaction Survey. This morning almost 80% of BISB families had provided valuable feedback. This level of engagement in your children’s education is very encouraging. A high response rate allows us to be confident in reinforcing aspects of school that meet your approval and in spending time and money developing those aspects that don’t live up to expectations. The survey is one of our most important ways of finding out what you think and the views feed directly into our forward planning. If you are one of the 20% who have not yet responded, there is still a short time to do so. It takes 10 minutes. Your views matter. Thank you.

Richard Dyer

18th January 2019

Many thanks to all families who have responded to our request for feedback and completed the annual Parent Satisfaction Survey. This morning over 60% of you had completed the 10 minute survey, so we are approaching last year’s final figure of 62%. It would be great if we could really confirm our BISB community engagement and beat last year. It is available in English, Hungarian / Magyar,  Arabic /العربية, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malay / Bahasa Melayu, Chinese simplified /简体中文, Chinese Traditional / 繁體中文, Czech / Čeština, Dutch / Nederlands, French / Français, German / Deutsch, Japanese /日本語, Korean/한국인, Khmer /ខ្មែរ, Myanmar /မြန်မာစာ, Polish / Polski, Portuguese / Português, Russian /Русский, Slovak / Slovenčina, Spanish / Español, Thai /ไทย and Vietnamese /tiếng Việt. 

In recent years, we have listened to your comments and made significant changes. The more of you responding, the better. Here are some recent highlights: 

You said that sports facilities could be better

·                     We added significant extra facilities: one large sports hall, one small sports hall, artificial turf all weather pitch, changing rooms.  

You said that Easter and summer day camps would be nice.  

·                     We now run camps Easter and summer camps.  

You said that Guidance could be improved

·                     New Care and Guidance Teams in Secondary.

·                     Guidance lessons planned and taught.

·                     Much smaller tutor groups.

·                     New leader for personal and social education in Primary. 

·                     Restorative practices established.

·                     A new Care and Guidance office.

You asked “Why don’t we teach economics?

·                     Economics introduced as part of the IB Diploma Programme in 2017.  

You asked “What about drama?”  

·                     Drama as a discrete subject in the KS3 curriculum from 2017 with a dedicated drama specialist from August 2018.  

·                     New drama studio (2016).  

·                     New Theatre (2017).

You said you’d like triple science at GCSE and early entry to maths for the top Y10 students. 

·                     This is now happening. 

·                     Extra science lab built to accommodate this. 

You said you would like more channels of communication

·                     Primary and Secondary parent groups now meet with Heads of School monthly. 

·                     Firefly has been introduced as the one stop for information to flow from school to home.  

·                     PTA have a Firefly page (in early stages of development but coming soon). 

Richard Dyer

 

11th January 2019

A very warm welcome to the new term to all of our families, new and returning. Though the weather has been challenging, the start of term has been smooth and the school is buzzing with the excitement of learning. I would like to pay tribute to our incredible maintenance team, led by Mr Pereszlényi Gábor, for the many early mornings they spend keeping our car park and campus free of ice and snow. Their hard work and dedication is indispensable. 

Parent Survey 
With one week to go before our annual Parent Survey closes once again, I would encourage those of you who haven’t completed the survey to do so. To date, over 50% of you have expressed your views. Thank you! This feedback is important to us and provides valuable guidance on what you like about the school and what you feel we could add or do better. 

Traffic 
As the cold weather sets in for the coming weeks, many more parents bring children to school by car. Clearly, with the number of families that are part of our community, this presents a bit of a challenge. We can all play our part to help the flow of traffic and get children to school on time with minimal stress. 

  • Be aware that traffic moves more slowly when there is ice or snow so please plan your journey to take that into account. 

  • If possible, please use the car park to drop off children rather than holding up traffic on Kiscelli köz. However, if the car in front of you does stop on the road, why not use the opportunity to let your own children out at the same time?  

  • Make sure your children have their bags and coats ready to hop out of the car quickly to avoid the delay to others caused having them search about in the boot/trunk for their things.

Richard Dyer



14th December 

In December, here in Budapest, the scents of hot spiced fruits fill the air, choirs are perfecting the harmonies of traditional Christmas carols and Hungarian songs, and fairy lights criss-cross the streets and entwine the trees. Our Christmas markets bring warmth and colour to the winter evenings and the sounds of steel on ice swoosh across the rinks. Here in school, we have enjoyed the challenging drama of our English department play, so successfully performed and been delighted by the traditional Christmas Door Competition, which drew upon students’ creativity and technical wizardry.  

At this time, across the world, the Chanukah lights are lit in Jewish households, and in China, Japan and Korea, people are celebrating the arrival of winter (called Dōngzhì in Mandarin) by eating traditional warming food. 
 
To everyone celebrating at this time of year, all of us here at BISB wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy Chanukah. Have a restful holiday and may the New Year bring peace and happiness. 

We thank you for all your support this term and look forward to welcoming you back on Monday 7th January 2019.

Richard Dyer

7th December 2018 

What an eventful and productive week we have all had! Congratulations are due all around. Our physical education teachers hosted an exciting European Nord Anglia Sports Association (ENASA) U19 volleyball tournament with many nail-biting close matches. All teams were victorious in their own way, but our boys walked away with the winners’ trophy, beating “local” rivals Bratislava in the final and the girls won 2nd place, losing to a phenomenal team from Madrid.  

The Christmas Fair was again one of the highlights of the school year and we are all grateful to the huge team of parent helpers that our PTA active members recruited to support. This was a wonderful community day, which featured enterprising students running their charity stalls as part of their service learning and many arts and crafts from parents and supporting organisations. 

Our Winter Concert cheered us all this week with two magnificent evenings of music and drama. Students from ages 5 to 18 entertained and astonished us with their virtuosity, and parents and staff (of various ages) created a heavenly sound in the Community Choir (“all of the music, all of the magic”). If we need any further evidence of the benefits of performing arts education and our continued collaboration with The Juilliard School, this article from last week’s Times Educational Supplement says it all: “…music has a significant positive impact ‘on a set of core neural processes that are related to focus, intelligence, reading and academics’.” 

As we enter the final school week of 2018, I encourage everyone to complete the Parent Satisfaction Survey at the earliest opportunity. If you’ve misplaced the link, contact Katherine Walker. The survey only takes 10 minutes, is phenomenally useful to us, and it is available in English, Hungarian / Magyar, Arabic /العربية, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malay / Bahasa Melayu, Chinese simplified /简体中文, Chinese Traditional / 繁體中文, Czech / Čeština, Dutch / Nederlands, French / Français, German / Deutsch, Japanese /日本語, Korean/한국인, Khmer /ខ្មែរ, Myanmar /မြန်မာစာ, Polish / Polski, Portuguese / Português, Russian /Русский, Slovak / Slovenčina, Spanish / Español, Thai /ไทย and Vietnamese /tiếng Việt 

Richard Dyer

 

30th November 2018 

With so much happening over the coming two weeks, I feel the need to resort to bullet points to fit everything in! Here goes: 

  • Many thanks to all parents who have been so active in preparing for our Christmas Fair tomorrow. I look forward to seeing many of you here with your families for this fun-filled fabulous festive family event. 
  • Well done to all teams in the European Nord Anglia Sports Association (ENASA) U19 Volleyball today. It’s been a great day of international inter-school sport. Competition continues tomorrow as the teams head towards the finals. Why not pop over to Sports Hall 2 and support BISB while you are at the Christmas Fair? Combine the Christmas cheer with some Christmas cheering. 

  • Do come along for the PTA Open Meeting next week. It’s special because it’s on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, but also because there’s a great workshop on how to talk to your children more effectively. This builds on our restorative approaches in school and it’s just in time for the winter break, where there will be plenty of opportunities to practise the techniques. 

  • The Winter Concert is coming up next week and the English Department’s annual play the week after. Make sure you have your tickets! 

  • Finally, our annual Parent Survey launches next week. This is a vital exercise for us and we rely on your feedback to ensure we are moving in the right direction. In recent years, we have listened to your comments and made significant changes. The more of you responding, the better. Here are some recent highlights: 

You said that sports facilities could be better. 

  • We added significant extra facilities: one large sports hall, one small sports hall, artificial turf all weather pitch, changing rooms.  

You said that Easter and summer day camps would be nice.  

  • We now run camps Easter and summer camps.  

You said that Guidance could be improved. 

  • New Care and Guidance Teams in Secondary  

  • Guidance lessons planned and taught  

  • Much smaller tutor groups 

  • New leader for personal and social education in Primary  

  • Restorative practices established 

  • A new Care and Guidance office  

You asked “Why don’t we teach economics? “ 

  • Economics introduced as part of the IB Diploma Programme, 2017.  

What about drama?  

  • Drama as a discrete subject in the KS3 curriculum from 2017 with a dedicated drama specialist from August 2018.  

  • New drama studio (2016).  

  • New Theatre (2017)  

You said you’d like triple science at GCSE and early entry to maths for the top Y10 students. 

  • This is now happening. 

  • Extra science lab built to accommodate this. 

You would like more channels of communication. 

  • Primary and Secondary parent groups now meet with Heads of School monthly. 

  • Firefly has been introduced as the one stop for information to flow from school to home.  

  • PTA have a Firefly page (in early stages of development but coming soon).

Richard Dyer

23rd November 2018 

Last week I promised to say a little more about what “deep learning" looks like in practice. Our school mission says we commit to “pursue deep learning in all that we do.”  Now, it’s clear that we don’t mean that literally. There are many things we all do each day that don’t require deep learning. If we genuinely pursued deep learning in all that we did every day, we’d be exhausted! We should, however, always be on the lookout for opportunities to take our learning beyond the short-term and the trivial. There are some simple ways to do this in the classroom and at home. 

One recent example from my classroom visits comes to mind. Students in one class of seven year olds were able to find simple fractions of amounts in their heads, quickly working our “a sixth of 24” or “a third of 27” for example. They were also pretty good at working out a quarter of an amount by finding “a half of a half” of the amount. To take this beyond a valuable, tough, but routine skill to some deep learning, some of them used the idea that “a half of a half is a quarter” to explore what “a third of a fifth” might be. Could they use the fraction diagrams to help? What connections could they spot? Could those patterns and connections be used to justify what they found? Could they generalise to other fractions? Incredible things happen when curiosity is harnessed in this way. This is what I meant when I wrote in a previous newsletter that “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.” 

So, how could that be applied at home? One simple and quick technique is to ask your child to describe something they had learnt that day. Ask them then how they would teach someone else? How would you teach someone about the use of a semi-colon, or argumentative writing, or how ionic bonds work? How would you teach a younger sister or brother, or a grandparent about the value of a proper pre-exercise warm-up, or the difference between odd and even numbers? Be careful that the conversation doesn’t turn into an interrogation, however. Show interest, curiosity, and reflect how challenging it all sounds. Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, England, in his “Granny Cloud” project, had volunteers simply nod, look focussed and curious and say things like, “That’s really interesting. It sounds quite hard ...” to prompt children to speak about their learning. So, try a conversation at home this weekend, choosing your moment carefully, tuning into a time when your child wants to talk. You may even prompt some deep learning that you didn’t expect.

Richard Dyer


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. 

Christmas Fair 

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.

Richard Dyer 


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. 

Deep learning 

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! 

Christmas Fair 

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. 

Richard Dyer

31st October

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. 
 https://globalhandwashing.org/  

Richard Dyer

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.

Richard Dyer

 

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  

Richard Dyer

28th September

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.

Richard Dyer

21st September 

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. 

Richard Dyer

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. 

Richard Dyer

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


Richard Dyer 

 

24th August

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. 

Richard Dyer
 

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.

Richard Dyer

Principal

 

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.

Richard Dyer

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  

Suzanne Botelho 

Head of Mathematics, Secondary  

Jon Dancyger  

School nurse 

Nicola Edwards 

Early Years teacher 

Andrea Gavaller 

Head of Art, Secondary  

Claire Hackett  

Deputy Head, Secondary 

Scott Moore 

Year 5 teacher & Phase Leader  

Lesley Morris  

Head of Student Support  

Belinda Roy  

Languages teacher, Secondary  

Sabine Sadjian  

Early Years teacher 

Becca Thomas  

Primary Hungarian teacher 

Gyongyi Toth 

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.

Richard Dyer

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!


Richard Dyer


25th May

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.  

Richard Dyer


18th May

GDPR

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.

Parents can be assured that we take data protection seriously and that the privacy and security of their data is fully compliant with the new laws.  You can view our Privacy Policy by following the link at the bottom of the home page of our website, or directly here.
 

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.

Richard Dyer


4th May

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.

Richard Dyer


27th April

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!

Reference
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.

Richard Dyer


20th April

Charity Gala
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!

Re-enrolment
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.

Humanities 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.

Other News
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.

Richard Dyer


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. 

Re-enrolment 

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. 

Richard Dyer


 

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.

Richard Dyer


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.

Richard Dyer


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

Heroes

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.

Richard Dyer


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.

Richard Dyer


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.

Richard Dyer

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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. 

Richard Dyer

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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.  

Hobson’s Choice 

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. 

Staff changes 

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.

Richard Dyer

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8th December

 
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. 

Richard Dyer

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1st December 2017 

Kipling famously wrote in “If”,  

 

If you canfillthe unforgiving minute 

With sixtyseconds' worth of distance run, 

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it. 

 

Here at BISB we deserve not the Earth, but a whole universe, based on the amount we manage to achieve each week. In defiance of some who ask whether we are gently winding down for the holiday season, we have performances of Hobson’s Choice, Winter Concerts, the ENASA Games U19 Basketball and, of course, our Christmas Fair tomorrow. 

 

Classroom learning continues apace, of course. We have students working on Extended Essays, preparations for the mock examinations in January (and some next week), entrepreneurship in Year 6, dinosaurs in Year 3, our Stay and Play yesterday in EY. Careers talks continue, and Guidance Lessons in K4 and Sixth Form start to focus again on effective study techniques. 

 

Our student run magazine, Muse, launched this week. This is a great initiative and provides valuable experiences for those involved. Another student run media product is the ENASA Games website. After the phenomenal success of our U19 Volleyball teams last weekend (both BISB teams won every set in every game and came out champions), the students have posted a wonderful gallery of photographs here: https://bisbsport2017.weebly.com/gallery.html  

 

Do take a look and if it inspires you to come along and support the basketball on 8th and 9th December, check the site for the times of the matches. 

 

Richard Dyer

 

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24th November

Today marks the first day of the European Nord Anglia Sports Association U19 Volleyball Tournament which we are proud to host. We are delighted to welcome schools from Bratislava, Madrid, Warsaw and Pully (Switzerland) for what is already proving to be an exciting two days of volleyball. Do come along and cheer for the two Team BISB teams on Saturday. The schedule can be found here on our student-created micro-site. 

Staff announcement 

I am delighted to announce that Ms Andrea Máté-Klátyik will join our community from January 2018. Ms Máté-Klátyik will teach Business Studies, Business Management and Economics in the Secondary School. Originally a Chartered Accountant, Ms Máté-Klátyik has taught English language (and is CELTA qualified) and has been teaching Mathematics, Economics and Business to IB Diploma Programme level and GCE A Level for the past seven years.  She has held positions of responsibility as department head and as Careers and University Guidance Counsellor. Ms Máté-Klátyik holds full Qualified Teacher Status from the National College of Teaching and Leadership in the UK. I am sure you will join me in giving Ms Máté-Klátyik  a very warm welcome in January.

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17th November 2017

In collaboration with our Nord Anglia Education schools worldwide, we will take part in an exciting world first: a global video chain reaction that will circle the planet on Monday, and finish at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.  Here’s how it works.  

On Sunday 19th November, at 7pm local time, schools in our western-most time zone (Houston, Panama, Mexico, Chicago) will post a question in a one minute video on Twitter using  #naegc #naeunicef #kidstakeoverschools. This question will be written and asked by our students and will be responded to by students in China when they wake up on World Children’s Day. This will then be passed on in one minute videos to the next time-zone, with a new question. Each question will cover a different Global Goal (see http://www.globalgoals.org/ ) 

After traveling through schools in UTC +7 (Thailand, Vietnam, Jakarta), UTC +4 (Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Dubai), UTC +1 (Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Switzerland, Bratislava, Spain), the question and answer chain will reach UTC -5 (NYC, Boston, Washington, Florida) who must complete their post to Twitter by 10am local time. 

The student questions and responses will be shared by a group of our students from our Americas schools at 11am on the 20th November at the UN. 

Schools in UTC -7 can then complete the chain by commenting on the whole process and feeding back on what has happened since they posted at the beginning.  

So, take a look at the outcomes of the debates on the opinion boards in our Atrium opposite Reception.  We have been asked, “Should we allocate more money to seeking an alternative planet to live on rather than trying to protect Earth?”  

What do YOU think? 

 


 

10th November 2017

Community – the safety net for learning 

Last week I discussed the meaning of community for us as a school and concluded that we build and sustain our community through shared values, consistently enacted by everyone. The shared values are enshrined in our Mission Statement, which then directs us all to behave in particular ways: “aspire to excellence; act with integrity; embrace diversity; cultivate responsibility; nurture ambition.” 

This leaves us with a key question: So what?  Why bother? What are the benefits of having shared values consistently enacted by everyone? Can we be specific about this? 

Simply put, we cannot thrive and learn without consistency of positive response and care around us. None of us; particularly children. Consistency in how people around us act and respond, built on shared positive values, form a psychological safety net to allow risk taking. Think about what happens when babies crawl and toddlers toddle away from their parents to explore. As they get further away, and move into the unknown, they look back from time to time to check that a parent is still there. If they become confident that someone will be there when they turn, each time, every time, consistently, they continue to explore and to learn.  

Wandering off into the unknown is unsettling, it’s a risk.  Risk-taking is at the very heart of all learning. If an experience is not slightly risky, it’s not new. If it’s not new, it’s not learning. So, a community provides the conditions for successful learning. In particular, “… a caring, multicultural community where the development of the intellect is complemented by the pursuit of personal and interpersonal growth.” 

Our responsibility, then, as teachers and as parents, is to ensure that we are more than a disconnected collection of individuals. We need to ensure that we demonstrate our shared values through consistent action, so that the children in our care have the confidence and the security to learn.