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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 30/10/2020

Sean O’Neill
Sean O’Neill (14 posts) Head Teacher, Secondary Campus View Profile

Dear Parents,

In her essay, “The Pandemic is a Portal”, Indian novelist, Arundhati Roy, invites us to see the current moment as a turning point in history, as a moment of change, she writes:


“Coronavirus has brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to normality,

Refusing to acknowledge the rupture, but the rupture exists, and in the midst of this terrible despair, it gives us a chance to rethink.

Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. 

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with their past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal. A gateway between one world and the next.”


In our student assemblies this week, Ms Binnington inspired our students through Roy’s words to take on the ‘Reimagine Challenge’.  Find out more about this collaboration with UNICEF and our Global Campus which is this months’ Wellbeing Challenge for all Secondary students from Ms Binnington below.  I also encourage you to click on the links and use these as a basis for discussion at home - we know that social connection and optimistic thinking are two ways to build skills of resilience, skills that enable us to bounce back from the many obstacles we face and will enable our students to flourish wherever their future paths take them. 


Also in this week’s update, I am delighted to share with you just some examples of the varied learning across the Campus within and beyond the formal curriculum, and how our wonderful students and teachers have taken on the challenge to be involved.  My congratulations to all the students for their learning and achievements, be they in sharing their love of books, at the easel, in community action, conducting Geography fieldwork or on the sports field - my thanks to all the teachers who provided the many opportunities for our students to shine. 


Finally, I am pleased to share with you the dates of a range of parent engagement events for the weeks ahead. There are many ways for you as parents to connect with life here in school - from our Parent Webinars, PTSCs and Parent Workshops & Coffee Mornings, to our Music Concerts and Drama Productions which our students are busy working hard to prepare. In addition, our fantastic PTG are planning a “new for 2020” BIS Community Christmas event. More details will follow soon but do add the dates to your diaries. 

We are adapting what we do, whilst always retaining the wonderful BIS spirit.  We hope you can be involved. 


My best wishes to you all for a restful weekend, 


Sean O’Neill


Overview of the week’s activities

Be Connected with Global Campus 


In assemblies this week our Secondary students were given a brief tour of Global Campus, the online platform that connects our 66,000+ students from NAE schools around the world. Our students are a part of a global community, and through Global Campus they are able to connect, learn, and interact with their peers and cooperate on a range of projects linked to our world-leading collaborations. 


To find out more about Global Campus, parents are invited to attend a webinar introducing you to the platform and sharing how it can be used at home as well as in school. There really is a fantastic range of activities and resources available! Please join us on Monday 9th November at 4.15pm, full information is below. 


Event Details

Parent Webinar: Using our Global Campus to Enrich Learning

Date: Monday 9th November

Time: 4.15pm

Online Registration: here


Reimagine Challenge in collaboration with UNICEF


To end the assembly and introduce this month’s wellbeing challenge, students considered the impact of COVID-19 on our lives and some of the issues we faced globally before the pandemic, from poverty, to climate change, to inequality and discrimination. They were challenged to see the opportunity in taking a pause: when we talk about life ‘going back to normal’ we could also consider whether ‘normal’ was good enough.


UNICEF is asking young people to reimagine a post-COVID world and a new sustainable normal. Read more in the full article HERE.


Lauren Binnington

Deputy Head Teacher Enrichment

Regional NAE-UNICEF Lead for South East Asia and the Middle East



Year 11 Geography Fieldwork - Local Expedition

The Geography Department firmly believe that learning outside of the classroom plays a fundamental role in our students building a deeper understanding and stronger connection with the world around them, along with the challenges and possibilities which may impact their lives and communities in the future.

This year the department had to innovate the geography fieldwork activity for our IGCSE students and Geography Teacher Stuart Elliot shares more with us about the outing for Year 11 Geography Fieldwork.



Many congratulations to our Book Review House Competition Winners!


As part of our initiative to encourage students to try to read a new book this term, students were set the challenge of writing a book review to inspire the reading of others.  House points are awarded to all entries!

The Library Team is delighted to share this year’s individual winners of the Book Review House Competition with you today.

Congratulations to Harry Zhang (7B), our overall winner, and to our runners up, Tu Tu Nguyen (10N), JeongHa Lee (10N) and Kathy Nguyen (7N) for such thoughtfully created, enthusiastic and engaging book reviews - well done to all! You can enjoy the reviews by clicking on the links below:




My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Reviewed by Harry Zhang - Winner

Watch Harry's inspirational review here


Animal Farm by George Orwell

Reviewed by Tu Tu Nguyen - Second

Read the review here.


The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne

Reviewed by JeongHa Lee - Third.

Read the review here.


The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Reviewed by Kathy Nguyen - Fourth

Read the review here.  


All of the reviewed books are available in the Curve, so come along next week to check out!


Ms Curley

Teacher Librarian


Flood Relief Update - Bake Sale - Rebecca Cowen: Community Coordinator


The past two weeks have been a very challenging time for Vietnam. Storm Molave has battered parts of Central Vietnam. This testing time has seen our BIS community come together in so many ways – exemplifying the care and consideration our students, parents and staff have for our wonderful host country. Friday saw our Flood Relief Non-Uniform day. BIS transformed into a sea of green and blue hues to support the Community Committee’s Flood Relief Fundraiser and today, BIS is carrying on supporting our Community Partner’s charitable efforts with the Flood Relief Bake Sale! Students and staff have kindly given up their time to bake or donate a cake to be sold with all proceeds going to Blue Dragon’s Children’s Foundation, who are supporting the most vulnerable effected by the flooding.


SISAC Sports Update - Season 2 Begins



It has been heart-warming to welcome back competitive sport after the half term break for our wonderfully talented and dedicated sports teams at BIS. All teams have continued to train for two practice sessions per week when not competing against other schools. This fantastic work ethic and desire to improve their technical and tactical ability has ensured that excitement has been high and performances even higher in our friendly matches in recent weeks. 


Please see a Sports Round-Up of our matches in the previous two weeks.


This is the final week of season 1 sports (U13-19 Cross Country, U19 Volleyball & Table Tennis and U13 & U15 Basketball) before moving onto season 2 sports next week (U19 Basketball & Badminton and U13 & U15 Football). Please refer to this SISAC Season 2 trials letter for further information regarding sports and trials happening next week.  


Please visit this fixtures document for all upcoming games against other schools and for more photos, videos and all of the action from each of our games. 


A sincere thank you to the season 1 teams who have been highly dedicated during this difficult start to the year and best of luck to our season 2 sports stars. 


Phil Husband

Director of Sports


Webinar Invite - Supporting Your Child’s Study At Home



Monday 16th November 4:15 pm

We would like to invite you to the first in a series of workshops focused on how you can support your child’s study at home. 


While your child may work hard, there are proven strategies to support them to work more effectively. In the first session, which will be run as a webinar, we will look at the value of effective study; how it can support your child’s wellbeing and future learning.  We will discuss memory and learning techniques from a cognitive psychology perspective, take a look at the less effective strategies that you can encourage your child to avoid, and provide a model for strategies that do work.


We will then deliver workshops on campus, where we will look in more detail at practical strategies that you can use at home to support your child to study effectively.


You can register your interest for the webinar by clicking on this link.  A subsequent recording will also be made available through the Weekly Update. Further information on the future sessions will follow.



Meet Our New Teachers 


Alex Essery



Where have you moved to BIS from?

Liverpool, UK


Why did you move to BIS?

I enjoyed working here at BIS previously and HCMC is a great place to live. 


What has been the best experience for you since arriving in Vietnam?

Enjoying life outside lockdown after 5 months in the UK, playing football and cricket, seeing old friends, and of course the delicious Vietnamese food.


Tell us one fun fact about yourself (hobbies, interests, talents, etc.)

Last year I rode a motorcycle from Alaska to Argentina.


Carole Forber



Where have you moved to BIS from?



Why did you move to BIS?

To experience teaching in an international school and to explore Vietnam


What has been the best experience for you since arriving in Vietnam?

The Saigon Food Tour!


Tell us one fun fact about yourself (hobbies, interests, talents, etc.)

I finally taught myself how to complete a Rubik's cube during lockdown


Be involved

Winter Concert & Livestream - Thursday 19th November


For our Winter Concert this year performers and a small live audience will take A Musical Journey - Into the Unknown.  Whilst we will only be able to host limited numbers in the Auditorium this year, we would love you to join the journey with us via livestream and we will share the link in next week’s update.

Dates for your Diary

With an increasing number of events on the calendar, the Secondary Campus is returning to life and we are sharing the variety of upcoming events taking place for students and parents, both on and off campus.

Monday 9th November Global Campus Webinar: Using Our Global Campus to enrich Learning, online parent event, registration welcome 

Monday 16th November Study Skills Webinar: Supporting Your Child’s Study At Home, online parent event, registration welcome

Thursday 19th November Winter Concert & Livestream: A Musical Journey Into the Unknown, Livestream event

Monday 23rd November Year 9 Parent Teacher Student Conference,  online and by appointment 

Wednesday 25th & Thursday 26th November KS3 Production: Wizard of Oz, limited numbers event

Monday 7th December Year 10 Parent Teacher Studnet Conference, online and by appointment 

Wednesday 2nd December Parent Coffee Morning/Study Skills Workshop 

Saturday 5th December PTG Christmas BISzaar: including Carols & readings,  a limited BIS Community event


Have a wonderful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill


Head Teacher