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Mr Carl Mincher: Weekly Update 06/10/2017

06 October 2017

Dear Parents,

We have this week welcomed students and teachers back from overseas leadership and STEAM activities enriched with new ideas for the future. The future has certainly been a key theme for many students here too as families of Year 11 students joined us for an evening of planning IB pathways and families of Years 11-13 students joined us for a weekend event exploring university opportunities.

I begin this weeks update with an insight into the activities we have been sharing with students as we mark Dyslexia Awareness Week.

Weekly Wellbeing - Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017


This week was Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017. The aims of our events have been to raise awareness and to better understanding the experience of people with Dyslexia as not only being one of challenge but of success as well.

Students were challenged to see in ways that those who are Dyslexic do so and so recognise the challenges faced. Many were surprised to learn being Dyslexic has also been shown to enhance the ability to problem solve and think outside the box; real world skills that have led to the success of many well-known individuals with Dyslexia. In essence, the challenges of Dyslexia has led many to succeed. My thanks to the Learning Support team for their creative thinking in bringing this to our students.


Welcome back FOBISIA Student Leadership Conference


The Head Student team of 2017 travelled to Bangkok to attend the annual FOBISIA Leadership Conference in Harrow International School. This was a prestigious opportunity for student leaders from international schools within South East Asia, to come together to discuss and enhance different leadership skills. The theme of this years conference was “Motivational Leadership”and how different people have different motivators that guide them in their lives.

Our Head Student team returned sharing some fascinating highlights of their conference including an inspiring speech delivered by a US Navy Admiral. They left the conference with optimism and innovative ideas that they now hope to be able to use in the future to further develop student leadership throughout all our school campuses.


Welcome back Team Photon!

Team Photon set off for their much anticipated trip to Malaysia last week and competed in the F1 in Schools World Finals 2017.

We have been thrilled to hear of their racing experience and the opportunities they had to develop their engineering, problem solving and communications skills on this world stage.

Catch up with Team Photon and their Team manager Mr Diver about their experience at this prestigious international STEAM event and hear about the lessons learned along the way.

Congratulations to the team, we are so proud of your commitment and perseverance in reaching such a high level of performance.


Smarter Design and Technology

Our Design and Technology (DT) Team are thrilled to be teaching their classes in newly created DT Labs this year. DT teacher James Chandler shares his thinking about the place of Design Technology and other STEAM subjects in our students’ learning...

Expectations of schools, teachers, and students have never been higher. These expectations demand that our students are being prepared for an ever changing world, where many of the jobs that they will be undertaking may not even exist yet. So how do we at BIS prepare students for the unknown…. well by recognising the importance of fostering our students BIS Learning Skills and creating environments that allow them to apply their skills of communication, collaboration and critical thinking in a variety of situations. Nowhere better can this be seen than in the new Design Technology suites that have been developed and installed over the summer break.


The new, open plan workshops are designed to allow students far more independence and influence over their own learning by creating spaces that facilitate the transition between investigating, designing and experimental learning.

The DT labs are equipped with high quality learning technologies including 3D printers and laser cutters to support students’ manufacturing of their designs. They are also now complemented by a CAD/CAM suite, a Makerspace area which will be used by a variety of STEAM subjects as well as a new pc suite.

As a whole the Design suite now offers students a wealth of creative opportunities for designing and creating exciting and innovative products.


Year 11 Options Evening

The next step… to IB, and beyond!

Students and parents were welcomed to BIS on Monday evening to learn more about the International Baccalaureate (IB) and begin the process of  IB Options selection.

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The IB is a two-year, broad and demanding programme of international education, with students taking six subjects - three at Standard Level and three at Higher Level – alongside the IB Core subjects: Theory of Knowledge; Creativity, Activity, Service; and the 4,000 word Extended Essay.  Successful completion of all aspects of the programme leads to a qualification that is recognized and valued by the world’s leading universities.

At this time of decision making what adds to the challenge is that students need to be thinking about not only their options for the next two years, but how this will shape their choices beyond that – if they want to go to a particular university in a particular country, or study a specific course, they need to know how their decision will enable them to do that.   Fortunately, our Heads of Department and student Subject Ambassadors were on hand to give advice on each subject available at IB; this was complemented by the support of the College and University Guidance team, who outlined some of the requirements for university courses such as Medicine, Architecture and Engineering.  

It was wonderful to hear so many enthusiastic and focused conversations between staff and students throughout the evening; many students left with a very clear idea of which subjects they wanted to take and at what level.  However, this is not about making a snap decision; rather, it needs to be an informed process at the end of which students and parents are confident that the options that are being selected are the right ones, for the right reasons.  As is always the case, the BIS community is here to support and guide our students as they make these decisions that will help them in their journey to IB, and beyond!


Year 12 Parents trips information evening

Last week we also invited parents to learn about the exciting trips on offer to all Year 12 students this year.  In contrast to our younger groups, we invite our Year 12 students to choose from the selection of trips available.  For 2017-2018 these include; Chiang Rai in Thailand, International Award, Kon Tum in Viet Nam, Diving in Puerta Galera, Philippines and Tu Lan Caves, Viet Nam with a particular focus on links to dimensions of the International Baccalaureate including community and service learning and to developing a greater understanding of the complex interrelationships between global issues from a range of perspectives and academic backgrounds.

My thanks to those parents who joined us for the evening, the student sign up for these trips is well underway and the scene is set for another round of excellent experiences in January.



It’s International University Season in HCMC…

Right now in HCMC there are a number of international universities visiting schools and fairs to offer their advice.  It is definitely a good time to be out and about investigating possibilities and options for the future. BIS students are certainly making the most of this.

As a well recognised educational institution with international standing, we receive regular visits to the campus throughout the academic year from university admissions teams who wish to speak to your children.

With two full time University Guidance counsellors employed by the school our students are fortunate to have access to focussed support as they plan for their next step at any time of the year. As our students come from all corners of the Globe this is particularly important to them as they apply to universities worldwide with application cycles at different times of the year.

Some of the events that make up our comprehensive programme took place this week…

Saigon Schools International University Fair


Last weekend a group of BIS students and parents attended the International Schools University Fair. The fair was co-organised by a number of international schools in HCMC, including BIS and hosted a large number of universities from the USA, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia. The event provided the opportunity for our students and parents to attend a wide range of talks and sessions delivered by the visiting university admissions representatives.


Thank you to all the BIS staff who were involved in arranging the event.


Brown and Penn Universities Combined Visit

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On Monday BIS hosted a visit from Brown University and University of Pennsylvania, two prestigious US Ivy League universities. BIS students and parents attended the event which provided a valuable opportunity to explore study opportunities and discuss the application process.

This week BIS has also hosted visits from MacEwan University, Canada and Yale-NUS College, Singapore.

Next Monday 9th October, BIS will be hosting 21 universities from the UK as part of the British Council Vietnam Study UK Roadshow. This event will run from 14.15 until 16.00 in the Auditorium. On the 12th October, The University of Manchester (Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health) will be returning to BIS too.

These events are well advertised around campus each week and as you would expect are such a valuable opportunity for students considering their future study plans.

reminder of upcoming university visits...


Spotlight on Learning

Year 9, die Deutsche Autobahn and a lollipop stick…the power of 'Think-Pair-Share', as demonstrated by Mr Goundry.

It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Ho Chi Minh City. Students had been fed and watered and the last lesson of the day was well underway. Mr Goundry was enthusiastically leading his Year 9 charges through German economic policy in the 1930s…..


Autumn Holiday Sports Camps

Autumn Holiday Camp Banner 1.7x1.8m[6].jpg

Wasn’t it only a few weeks ago that we started the year?  With so much happening you may not have realised that we have nearly reached the halfway point of Term 1.  If you have not made any travel plans during our half term break (Mon 23 – Fri 27 October), be assured there is still plenty for your children to do.

This year is action packed with football, volleyball, basketball, mini tennis, multi skills/skills factory, t-ball/softball, swimming and junior master-chef on offer from providers such as Rising Stars Football Academy, FOX, SSA, Richard Soriano, Vinh Nguyen and Junior Chef Saigon.


SSIS Relays Swim Meet

Last Saturday it was fantastic to see over 78 swimmers from BIS participating in SSIS Relays Swim Meet at Saigon South International School.

There were 6 international schools across Ho Chi Minh City competing.

During the meet, all BIS swimmers contributed to a successful performance. Final results are not in yet, but we are confident there were many records and PB's from the amazing swimming on display. We eagerly wait placings and will announce them once received from the host school.

We would like to say a huge thank you to all of the hard effort of the swimmers and the kind supporting from parents.


SISAC Volleyball and Basketball competitions

Congratulations to our U14 Basketball and U19 Volleyball teams for their efforts in this week’s matches.  U14 Basketball girls win and boys draw- a very close match down to the last 4 seconds!  U19 A and B boys and girls Volleyball teams, made a clean sweep of this week with 4 wins.

Saigon International Schools Athletic Conference SISAC take place throughout the year with weekly fixtures culminating in a one day tournament for each sport.  Regular match reports and results are updated on the Match Reports page for our PE and Sports department. Enjoy keeping up with our sporting fixtures with a good read or even better why not come and join us on the sidelines to cheer BIS teams on. The fixture dates can also be found at our Match Reports.


Community Service at An Phu Secondary Campus

This week we learn a little more about another of our community partners, Binh Tho School.


Binh Tho provides education for over 150 children who are disadvantaged in Thu Duc District. Many of the children come from families who have migrated from rural areas of Vietnam to HCMC for a better life. The children at Binh Tho are unable to go to government school for a range of reasons. These may be beaureaucratic or financial for example.

Through the education and training they receive at the school, the students are better equipped to integrate with society.

Binh Tho is one of the schools that are supported by the organisation Friends for Street children (FFSC)

AP1 Community 17-9336.jpg


BIS and Binh Tho School

Binh Tho have taking part in wide range of clubs across the 5 years we have worked with them. They have enjoyed clubs such as Aerobics Club, Swimming club and Eco club at AP1. They also visit F3 students for playdates as part of their F3 year group community project.

This term, 12 students are taking part in the AP2 Growing Minds club.

Growing Minds Club aims to support Binh Tho students with their learning by providing them with fun and educational activities here at BIS.

As with all our community projects, we want our students to focus on the time and energy they spend with partners. However, thanks to the PTG and school donations, BIS are able to support them with their wish lists. Through events such as Christmas BISzaar and the Spring Fair, the PTG have paid for educational equipment for the students at Binh Tho school.

We truly value our partnership with Binh Tho and look forward to another great year!

To follow our regular Community Service updates please remember to view our Twitter page Community Projects@BIS_Community


Swimming Update

Recently I shared some news regarding Year 13 student Jeremie Luong’s swimming successes. Well he’s in the news again this week, just as he and Alois his brother in Year 11 are competing in the Vietnam National Swimming Championship extending through the weekend.

Hot off the press... competing in the 4x100m relay freestyle, Alois with and Jeremie and 2 others swimmers from their Ho Chi Minh Swimming Club won the gold medal.

Congratulations to both boys on this success and Good Luck for the weekend.

Still with individual sporting successes and another student whose outstanding achievements we have shared in the past…


Hanako Kawasaki wins Vietnam Junior Open

Year 13 BIS HCMC student Hanako Kawasaki epitomises the word ‘ambitious’. With only 5 years of golfing experience, Hanako has this year been crowned the winner of the Vietnam Junior Open, making her one of the best amateur golfers in the country. Recently she was one of only 7 golfers to represent Vietnam at the 2017 SEA Games, all whilst juggling the demands of her International Baccalaureate Diploma.

...and to cap it all mid-week Hanako was a member of our winning U19 Girls Volleyball team.

A tremendous story of dedication and commitment to their chosen sports and one that will inspire many others to do the same in their chosen interests too. Have a wonderful weekend!


save the date


Sunday 8th October: Study UK Exhibition at the Intercontinental Hotel, 1.30pm-6pm

Monday 9th October: British Council Study UK University Roadshow at BIS AP2, 2.15pm-4.00pm

Thursday 12th October: Battle of the Bands, 7pm

Friday 13th - Sunday 15th October: Year 11 Geography Mui Ne trip

Sunday 15th October: EduCanada Fair at the GEM Centre from 9am to 4pm: an opportunity to meet around 100 Canadian institutions

Tuesday 17th October: U14 Basketball vs SSIS (Away), 4pm

Tuesday 17th October: U19a Volleyball vs SSIS (Home), 4pm

Thursday 19th October: Year 7 Vietnamese Museum Visit


Carl Mincher - Head of Secondary Campus