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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 21/08/2020

Sean O’Neill
Sean O’Neill (19 posts) Head Teacher, Secondary Campus View Profile


Mr Sean O'Neill - Head Teach, Secondary

Dear Parents , 

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Secondary Campus for the Academic year 2020-21 and to share with you our first update of the year. 

This week has been a week of welcome, of celebration, and of looking forward to how we will shape the year ahead together- but most importantly it has been a week of appreciation, appreciation of  being back together and able to connect with friends and colleagues  in our wonderful school. It was a joy to witness the enthusiasm, energy and  laughter that filled the Campus on Wednesday on our students’ first day back at school. 

I had the pleasure of speaking with every student this week and sharing with them some key messages for the year ahead.  We reflected on how through the challenges of recent months we have learned to notice and value what we have - sometimes it is only when we lose something or it becomes uncertain  that we truly value it.  And I believe this is true of school life.  We now know just how precious it is to be learning together face-to-face, to be able to connect and collaborate.  I challenged our students to enjoy every day in school and squeeze the most out of every opportunity available, to appreciate the teachers & staff here to support them, and most importantly - to appreciate each other.

I asked that all our students follow three simple principles in the year ahead

  • Be Kind

  • Be Involved

  • Try your best

Education can at times seem a very complex thing, but learning together is always positive and rewarding if we follow these basic steps. 




Campus Priorities


As we begin the  year I would like to share with you our Campus Priorities for the year ahead- priorities that we as a teaching team are committed to delivering for your children.  This recent period has presented challenges for us all, but I believe it has also enabled us to demonstrate our values and re-affirm the principles that  define us as a great place of learning. This year we will focus on 3 Key Principles that will guide our thinking and shape the educational experience of your sons and daughters.


  1. Balance between great academic outcomes, wellbeing and character development: We know that academic success is not enough. A truly great  education is one that provides those outcomes but also empowers our students to be responsible for their  own wellbeing and that of others, and provides opportunities that develop their character.

  2. High Quality Teaching & Learning:   As a teaching team we are committed to innovate and develop our practice to deliver the best classroom experience for our students.

  3. Re-establish the fabric of BIS Life: Through the challenges of last year, we missed certain aspects of BIS- those elements that add richness and colour  to school life. We are committed within the limitations we have to re-establish those wider cultural, performance  and community events that make this school such a vibrant place to be.

Throughout the weeks and months ahead you will be hearing from my colleagues on the Senior leadership team on how we are delivering these priorities. 


Welcome to Our New Students


We had the great pleasure of welcoming  75 New Students and their families to the BIS Secondary community this week who attended the Orientation event this week. I have explained to our new families that the community they are joining is strong and that every teacher, student and parent is part of their welcome team as they make the transition to life here at BIS and Ho Chi Minh City.  I know we will all make them feel very welcome. 

You can see more from the Orientation Day here.


Welcome to Our New teachers


I am also delighted to welcome our 12 new teachers to BIS, who are joining us from overseas  for the 2020-21 academic year. They are a hugely talented and experienced group of professionals who will add even more quality to the learning experience our students enjoy.  I look forward to sharing with you our Meet the New Teachers section in next week’s update. 

I would like to begin our new introductions by welcoming our new Deputy Headteacher, Gareth Wills who is joining us from Discovery Bay School in Hong Kong - Gareth is a highly experienced, qualified and knowledgeable pastoral leader who will lead our exceptional Welfare & Guidance Team here on the Secondary Campus to provide care, challenge, and support to every student.  

Gareth Wills, Deputy Head Teacher - Welfare & Guidance


BA (Hons) History, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

PGCE History, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK

MEd Inclusion and Special Needs, University of Birmingham, UK

MSc Psychology, University of Liverpool, UK (Current)


Gareth joined BIS HCMC in August 2020, from an international school in Hong Kong.  Prior to this, he has worked at another international school in Hong Kong, a rural comprehensive school in Shropshire and a city-based comprehensive school in Birmingham.  Gareth qualified as a teacher in 2003 and has over fifteen years of experience in the pastoral care and wellbeing aspects of education.  He is also a highly experienced and passionate History and Humanities teacher.  Over the past five years, he has been heavily involved in leading school-based wellbeing developments.  In recent years he has further enhanced his wellbeing knowledge and specialisation through studies at the University of Liverpool.  As a senior leader, he is student-centred and focused on using wellbeing knowledge to support students, nurture their development, maximise their academic performance and allow them to flourish.  Outside of school, he has a wife who is also an educator and two young children.  His daughter has also joined the BIS HCMC community.  Gareth enjoys reading, coaching rugby and writing children’s books.

On behalf of all our community , a huge welcome to all our joining teachers-  we are all so happy to have you with us, ready and prepared to start the new school year.


Hello to Our Overseas Students - Old and New


As much as we celebrate being together on Campus, I would also like to recognise our students and families who are unable to return to Vietnam  for the start of the year due to travel restrictions , and so will begin this new school year learning virtually. We have BIS students around the globe from California to Australia, UK to Japan. Our aim is to enable a smooth transition into learning and the wider life of the school as soon as possible and so our teaching, pastoral and tech teams are connecting with each student to support  their learning so they are ready to return to HCMC. On behalf of us all here , thank you for your commitment to learning and the BIS HCMC community. 

Please click here for an overview of our Overseas Virtual Learning 


New Building & our Campus Map 2020


BIS_New Building


At BIS HCMC we are always seeking to add to our school environment, to create the conditions for great learning. I am delighted that for this year we have added a fantastic new building to the Campus.  We have new classrooms for our Geography & History departments, new social spaces and conference facilities.  

See below this simply amazing new school map designed by Trang, Mina and Tu Tu in 10N which shows our ever developing campus. 

BIS_New Building Map


IBDP Examination Results 


Our IGCSE & IB students achieved incredible academic outcomes with the award of this year’s examination results. Once again the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes of our students have been recognised with academic results that place them among the very best globally. Many  congratulations to our Year 11 and Y13 students of 2020. We are so proud of what you have achieved. As you may be aware there has been a revision of the Award of grades. See below the headlines of our IB results.  Revised IGCSE results will be issued today at 16:00. I look forward to updating you on more of our students' success next week. 


Health and Safety Update: Covid-19


This week has seen us re-open our campus with clear CoVID-19 Protocols in place. I am delighted at the way our students are showing  responsibility for Community Health & Wellbeing in following these guidelines so well.  Here again is an overview of the measures in place.

Please see here the Covid 19 Parent Briefing.  

Vietnamese Version

Korean Version


Weekly Wellbeing at Christmas

Dear Parent,

I am delighted to welcome you to the  weekly ‘Dinner Table Discussions’, a selection of questions chosen to facilitate and encourage conversation at home linked to the topic your son  or daughter has covered in Wellbeing this week. Our key message to students this year is balance – between excellent academic outcomes, positive wellbeing and character development. The strength of the relationship between student, school and home is fundamental in helping your son or daughter to achieve this balance. Having listened to the feedback we received from parents at various Open Mornings last year, we have developed our original ‘Dinner Table Discussions’ idea for the Wellbeing Curriculum to provide a range of questions which enable you to engage with your  children in discussion about their wellbeing. I hope you agree they provide a starting point for interesting conversation and debate.

Click here for English

I look forward to providing more ‘Dinner Table Discussion’ questions over the coming year. 


Mr Robbie Alexander

Head of Middle Secondary (Pastoral & Wellbeing)


Chào quý Phụ huynh,

Tôi rất vui mừng chào đón quý vị đến “Dinner Table Discussions” hàng tuần, một số câu hỏi liên quan đến chủ đề mà học sinh được học ở trường sẽ được chọn để tạo điều kiện cho cuộc trò chuyện ở nhà của quý phụ huynh và học sinh. Thông điệp chính của năm học này là “balance” (sự cân bằng) giữa kết quả học tập xuất sắc, sức khỏe- tinh thần tích cực và phát triển tính cách. Sự gắn kết trong mối quan hệ giữa học sinh, nhà trường và gia đình là nền tảng giúp học sinh có được sự cân bằng. Tiếp thu những phản hồi chúng tôi nhân được từ buổi Open Mornings năm trước, chúng tôi đã phát triển “Dinner Table Discussions” cho chương trình học Wellbeing nhằm gợi ý một số câu hỏi hỗ trợ phụ huynh trò chuyện với trẻ. Tôi hy vọng phụ huynh đồng ý rằng đây là điểm khởi đầu cho những cuộc trò chuyện thú vị.

Nhấn vào đây để xem Tiếng Việt

Tôi hy vọng sẽ cung cấp nhiều hơn nữa những câu hỏi dành cho “Dinner Table Discussions” trong suốt năm học tới.

Mr Robbie Alexander

Head of Middle Secondary (Pastoral & Wellbeing) 



이번 주에 자녀가 웰빙 수업에서 다룬 주제와 관련하여 가정에서 대화를 촉진하고 장려하기 위해 학교에서 선택한 질문인 주간  ‘저녁 식사 대화 Dinner Table Discussions’에 오신 것을 환영합니다. 올해 학생들에게 전달되는 주요 메시지는 삶의 균형입니다. 우수한 학업 성과, 긍정적인 웰빙 및 인성 개발 간의 균형을 맞추는 것은 중요합니다. 이러한 균형을 이루기 위해서는 학생, 학교 및 가정 간의 관계가 기반이 됩니다. 작년 다양한 오픈 모닝에서 학부모님들의 피드백을 듣고, 저희는 웰빙 커리큘럼에 대한 독창적인 ‘Dinner Table Discussions’ 아이디어를 개발하여 자녀의 웰빙 토론에 참여할 수 있는 다양한 질문들을 준비하였습니다. 자녀의 흥미로운 대화와 토론의 출발점을 가정에서도 함께 제공해 주시길 바랍니다.

 한국어는 이곳을 클릭해 주세요.

앞으로 더 많은 ‘Dinner Table Discussion’의 질문을 제공할 수 있기를 기대해봅니다.


Mr Robbie Alexander

Head of Middle Secondary (Pastoral & Wellbeing) 

Be involved

Virtual Co-Curricular Activities Fair

We are very excited to be starting our co-curricular programme for the academic year with our annual BIS CCA Fair going Virtual! From Monday, students will be able to access our online fair which showcases the CCAs that are on offer. 

This is in addition to our usual CCA booklet which will also go live on our website. We encourage all students to have a look at the wide range of CCAs on offer and make a broad and balanced selection through our CHQ portal before Friday 28th August.

Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir Auditions


 If you/your child would like to be a member of either the Orchestra (previously called Chamber Orchestra) or Chamber Choir, please sign up outside room 202 for an audition time.  Auditions will be Monday 24th – Friday 28th August at lunchtime and after school in room 202.  Prepare 2 minutes of a piece for your instrument/voice to sing/play.  For further information contact one of the music teachers.


Battle of the Bands Auditions

Don’t forget to get your bands together for Battle of the Bands in October – see above poster for how to enter.

Instrumental Lessons


If you would like to take instrumental lessons at school, please see a music teacher for a form or download from this link and return to Ms Jacombs in the music office.


SISAC Sports Season 1 Trials

SISAC Sports trials for Season 1 will take place from Monday 24th to Friday 28th August. The trials will cover U13 Basketball (Y7 and Y8), U15 Basketball (Y9 and Y10) and U19 Volleyball (Y11 - Y13).  Trial dates for each sport are in the table below.


Dates for your Diary

Monday 24th August, Virtual CCA Exhibition, online 

Monday 24th to Friday 28th August, Term 1 Clubs Sign-Up, online

Monday 24th to Friday 28th August, SISAC Sports Trials Season 1, see weekly schedule for events 

Monday 24th to Friday 28th August, Music Auditions, see schedule for times



  • If your child has a temperature or is unwell, please do not send them to school, keep them at home and seek medical advice.

  • If you would like to visit the Secondary Campus or the Uniform Shop please email our Reception team - Katie or Nguyen - at to book an appointment.


Have a wonderful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill


Head Teacher

Secondary Campus