Tell us a little bit about your family
We are a French family and have been living abroad for almost 21 years now across 10 different countries. Our children, the eldest, 16 years old and twins, 14 years old, are currently students at Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong, their third Nord Anglia school. We settled in Hong Kong in October 2020.
Where did your Nord Anglia journey begin?
Our first NAE school was the British International School Ho Chi Minh City (BIS HCMC). I still remember our first visit, how lovely and welcoming the staff and faculty were. Miss Emma Westman was our first contact and over the years at HCMC, she always has been someone special in the students and parents’ lives, including ours.
The second person we were in touch with at BIS HCMC was Ms. Sue Hill, the head of the TX campus. Four and half years later when my husband’s career required us to relocate, she would also be the one welcoming us to BIS Hanoi. She had left HCMC for Hanoi 18 months after we moved to Saigon. Despite some years apart, she was so welcoming when we arrived in Hanoi in January 2019. When the admission officer tells you after the campus visit that someone would like to say hello and you meet your former beloved headteacher, it’s definitely a good way to start in a new school.
Next came another change as Covid broke out and the plan we had of staying at BIS Hanoi until the children all graduated was no longer an option. My husband’s project was cancelled in April 2019 and so he began interviewing for several jobs both in and outside Vietnam. In the relocation decision-making process, the fact that NAE had a school in Hong Kong was a big factor. Even before the contract was signed, Mr. Webb, Head of Secondary at BIS Hanoi, made contact for us with Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong and helped us make the decision.
All means of communication continued to work well when we moved to Hong Kong and every single question we had was answered, even those which were not school-related. NAIS families and teachers even gave us ideas on where to live and helped us find the best areas so that it would be easier for our kids to have their school friends visit.
What was the experience of moving to a new school during a pandemic like?
As my eldest son was in Year 10, the move was going to be difficult for him. I stressed a lot as I thought he might be asked to repeat a year. He did face some challenges when he began, particularly with the pressure of his IBDP choices, but the NAIS Hong Kong were quick to implement a support plan involving us and the teachers. It’s highly appreciated to get such a response from the school, they are committed to each child's wellbeing and success.
Ahead of this, the KS4 leader in Hanoi, Ms. Stevenson, was also extremely helpful. She gathered all the information NAIS would need for him to help him transition to their school and wrote a recommendation letter. Thanks to Mr. Webb, Ms. Stevenson, and the teachers who provided us with materials to support his education through three months of distance learning due to Covid, moving to Hong Kong was stressless. We did not have to worry about the school. We knew we were in good hands.
The Academic year started with distance learning in Hong Kong on August 17, 2020. Starting in a new school with distance learning was a new thing for my children. However, in no time, they were included in chat groups with their peers. The twins were assigned a buddy, another student in charge of welcoming them and helping them. News of new students circulated quickly because, after 2 days, they were contacted by another student who had also attended BIS HCMC, not on the same campus as the twins, but they knew each other from the Phuket 7 football tournament!
What has your experience been like as a parent within the Nord Anglia family?
For four and a half years in Ho Chi Minh, I was the PTG coordinator for the Tx campus. This experience brought me a lot: true friends, skills in fundraising and organizing events, experience in writing a weekly message to be featured in the campus newsletter, writing the PTG piece for the yearbook, and getting out of my comfort zone. Among my experiences, I danced a Balinese traditional dance on stage and volunteered at Thien Phuoc orphanage for disabled children. I was also a community service rep for my campus for 2 years, liaising with the CSD and our campus. I have so many good memories from my time there. From the day I walked into the school, I was never alone.
In Hanoi, I joined Friends of BIS. I was the admin of the Facebook group and organized a few activities such as cooking class and English classes. The main project I’m proud of is the up-cycling uniform program that parents had developed in HCMC, and I brought to BIS Hanoi. The teachers were very supportive, parents jumped in to help, and it was meaningful. Due to Covid, my time in school was not long, but I made great friends and we’ll continue to be in touch.
So far at NAIS, I am involved as a class rep. Unfortunately, due to the social distancing rules, parents are not allowed in school and most events cannot take place. However, the PTG is trying its best and has organized online morning coffee and cooking classes. They were even able to have two secondhand uniforms sales in school. The number of volunteers was limited each time so I have not had a chance to take part, but I’m eager to volunteer as soon as we can resume normal activity. I don’t think any new family has been left behind.
A big thanks to Anne for sharing her story with us. We hope this has helped you if you are wondering what it could be like to move your children between NAE schools. If you are considering joining our school, please contact us here and our admissions team will be very happy to share more information with you.