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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 11/09/2020

Sean O’Neill
Sean O’Neill (37 posts) Head Teacher, Secondary Campus View Profile

Today’s weekly update celebrates one of our core beliefs about education - that success comes in many different forms. 


In a school community as richly diverse as ours, every week we have the pleasure of recognising wonderful individual achievements, the spirit of our collective endeavours, and the impact of our whole school community when we come together around our common goals.  

It is my great pleasure to share with you today an interview with our Dux Scholaris 2020-Alice Lee. 

The Dux Scholaris Award is presented to the student in our graduating class who achieves the highest IB Diploma Programme Score. This year’s recipient achieved the perfect score of 45 Points. To put this into context over 170,000 students worldwide completed the IBDP in 2020 - of those 170,000 only 141 students gained 45 points. A truly stunning achievement. Our team got in touch with Alice, who has begun her studies at the National University of Singapore, and recorded her thoughts on her achievement and her time at BIS.

What is striking when listening to Alice is that she truly embodies that balance between academic outcomes, wellbeing and character development that we hold so dear; whilst achieving academic excellence, she also participated fully in Co-Curricular and Community Activities as well as Student leadership opportunities - and was always a warm, kind and positive presence around the Secondary Campus. 

What perhaps is most inspirational is that Alice joined BIS in Year 12 with gaps in her English Language - despite this, her perseverance coupled with the feedback and support of her teachers, enabled Alice to achieve these incredible results - I hope you enjoy the interview below and join me in congratulating Alice.

This week’s update also contains some examples of success in other areas of school life - centred around the idea that when we come together around a collective endeavour, we achieve great things.  I am very excited that our school productions are firmly underway with the culmination of our audition process.  Our performing arts education not only develops our students’ cognitive, aesthetic and interpersonal abilities, but also hones those attributes of dedication and perseverance. It is such a sign of the spirit of our students that we have so many students audition for our school productions, and whilst of course not all can secure a role - every student who auditions contributes to the quality of our productions  by pushing and supporting each other to be the best they can be - and in doing so learn from the process.

I greatly look forward to seeing our students on the stage this year. Find out more from our Director of Performing Arts, Ms Cat Molloy, in this week’s update.

I am also delighted that we are able to share with you an update from our Community Coordinator, Tracey Brownrigg, on the impact of some of our recent work with our community partners. Despite the challenges of last year, we still managed to collectively achieve so much, learn so much and have a positive impact in the process. 

I invite you to be involved in the many opportunities for community engagement in the weeks ahead: to work together to support our students’ learning through our upcoming Parent Webinars, to impact on our local community through our World Clean Up Day, and  to celebrate our wonderful BIS HCMC community by being involved in our International Day 2020.

It is perhaps this - making a positive impact on others, on our community and the wider world - that is the true measure of success.


Overview of the week’s activities

Interview with BIS HCMC Dux Scholaris- Alice Lee


Productions Update- An exciting year ahead

BIS_Productions Update- An exciting year ahead


Over the last few weeks the performing Arts Dept. at BIS has been starting the year at full speed with auditions for Bands, choirs, productions, Musicals and Orchestras. It is always a pleasure to conduct these auditions at our school and see the amazing talent and the hard work that our students put into developing and honing their skills.

It is also inspiring to see the students taking a risk and putting themselves in the spotlight during these weeks, it takes courage and ambition that we cannot help but admire. We have had student auditions from every year group, from our new year 7s right up to our experienced year 13s, for some students this is part of the routine of the year and for others it is the first time that they have taken this path.

The students have performed for their teachers in pairs, in groups and individually, each time aiming for a position in one of our performance groups.

We always see the audition process as a way of celebrating success, and asking our wonderful students to rise to the challenge, so it is always difficult that not all of our students will be successful. We try to make it clear to those who are not selected from their audition that this is not a defeat. The quality of audition at BIS is incredibly high, just because you are not selected this time round does not mean does not mean that it's the end of your journey, it is just the beginning. It is the time to reflect, to congratulate yourself on taking a risk and to work and hone your skills so that you can step up to the challenge again next time.

We want to congratulate all of those students who will be playing in our music ensembles, singing in our choirs and performing in out musicals and productions. We know that you are going to maintain the amazing standards and ethos that the Performing Arts department at BIS HCMC values.

All of the students who audition at BIS have our respect and admiration, and you should all be proud of yourselves.


Going Beyond Community Service at BIS


Inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective – these traits, which the students at BIS HCMC strive to display, are all wonderfully evident as they participate in the many community service opportunities available to them throughout the year.

Find out more about the opportunities that are open throughout the year for our students to go beyond community service.


Parent Webinar Series 2020

BIS_Parent Webinars


Student Reporting Processes Webinar 

We were delighted to have over 150 parents sign up for our inaugural webinar for 2020-21 on the theme of reporting and PTSC. In their presentation, our Assistant Head Teachers, Mr Lee Falconer and Mr Matthew Lambert, provided parents with insight to how reporting and PTSC play an integral role in our students’ learning journey, the philosophy and research which helps to shape them, and how they support you as parents in creating the best possible conditions for your child to thrive in their learning at BIS. As an inclusive school learning community, we value your feedback as parents, and Mr Falconer and Mr Lambert answered a wide-range of questions about the reporting and PTSC process.

A recording of the webinar is available here – if you were unable to attend, we would encourage you to watch on the link provided and to contact our Assistant Head Teachers via email with any questions or feedback you may have. 

Our webinar series continues next week for our Year 12 and Year 10 parents – we look forward to seeing many of you there!

Upcoming Parent Webinars include:

4:15-5:00pm 14th September Year 12 Welcome to IBDP Information webinar inc. Expeditions information

4:15-5:00pm 15th September Year 10 Information webinar including Expeditions 

4:15-5:00pm 16th September Year 9 Options webinar for parents and students

4:15-5:00pm 24th September Year 11 Options webinar for parents and students

The options webinars will be complemented by an in-school event for students on the following day at lunchtime, where staff and students will be available to answer any questions about course content.

Please look out for the invitations to attend these webinars in your email inboxes.


Oxbridge Support Sessions - a Visit from Alumnus Nam Tran

Since May our College and University Guidance team has been working with a group of students considering an application for 2021 entry to Oxford or Cambridge, collectively known as ‘Oxbridge’. Applying to one of these two prestigious institutions takes a large amount of thorough research and preparation and should not be something which students take on lightly.


Find out more about our Oxbridge Support Sessions and this week’s visit from BIS alumnus Nam Tran.


Teachers Book Reviews - Read A New Book Month

Check out our latest teacher book reviews for you to listen in to and help guide your reading choices throughout September’s “Read a New Book Month’.  You can find the full list of readings and reviews at Soundcloud BIS HCMC - Read a New Book Month 2020.

This week’s book reviews

Factfulness by Hans Rosling read by Mr Coughlin

The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter read by Dr Finnigan


Ms Anita Curley, 

Teacher Librarian





Be involved

A Message from the PTG

Please consider signing up to be a Country Rep. It is a great way to meet people and be a part of the BIS Community - Country Rep Sign Up.

PTG are working on some events both online and outside school. We will have more coming to you soon.

Our next PTG meeting will be held on Tuesday 15th September at 1pm in the meeting room next to Secondary reception. If you would like to attend or have a question please email us at bisptgap2@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you.

Mel Rowe



Thao Dien Clean Up - Saturday 19th September


World Clean Up Day - British International School HCMC

On Saturday 19th September BIS HCMC will once again be cleaning up Thao Dien as part of World CleanUp Day! This is our third annual event and is a highlight of our calendar, where all members of the community do their bit to help keep our part of the world tidy.

And even better, you gain House Points for participation and extra for including your family members and friends!

The idea of the clean-up is simple – come along on Saturday morning, grab some gloves, tongs, and bags, and go out to collect rubbish from the local area. We try to separate the plastic that we collect to be washed and recycled by our student-led Precious Plastic Project, and other rubbish is collected by the local authorities. We hope to raise awareness of the issue of rubbish in our local area and encourage everyone to make a change to reduce their individual packaging consumption. Together we can think global and act local to make a big impact.

There are two ways that you can join our clean-up event: come along and join us on Saturday, or run your own clean-up in your local area.

To join us on Saturday at BIS please follow this link for sign-up and input this code: CL34NB1S

We have limited the number of attendees in each 45 minute time slot and you will be asked to select the time that you wish to attend. You can of course keep going longer if you wish. Please make sure that any primary students are accompanied by a supervising adult at all times; our staff will be joining the clean-up as participants and not as supervisors.

To carry out your own clean-up, pick a spot, grab a bag, gloves, tongs, and your friends and family and get outside! If you would like to purchase a clean-up kit from our partner in this event, ReThink Plastic Vietnam, please click this link to indicate your interest. The kit will include 1 bag, 2 pairs of gloves, and 2 ReThink Plastic face masks, and will cost 100,000VND. These can be collected from the Secondary Campus on Thursday and Friday afternoon.

Please take a photo of you cleaning up and either send to Ms Lauren Binnington (lauren.binnington@bisvietnam.com) or post on social media with the following hashtags: #BISHCMC #worldcleanupday2020 #Irethinkplastic #BISCleanUpDay2020

Please note, you will need to arrange collection of the rubbish yourself from your local authority. Cleaned plastic waste can be separated and brought into school for recycling.

Safety first!

To follow social distancing protocols and ensure the safety of everyone in our community we ask that you follow these safety guidelines:

  • Wear a mask at all times

  • Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and carry a water bottle, and stop if you feel unwell

  • Wear closed shoes or trainers

  • Only pick up rubbish with tongs and not your hands

  • Avoid collecting glass or sharp objects

  • Be careful of uneven ground, be aware of traffic in the area, and stay away from stray animals

  • Be kind to those who are curious about what you are doing

We look forward to seeing which BIS House has the most participation next weekend!


Lauren Binnington

Deputy Head Teacher

Regional UNICEF Lead for South East Asia and the Middle East


Battle of the Bands - Thursday 1st October 



Opening the musical events for the year is the much anticipated Battle of the Bands.  This year the invitation to attend will be open to all students and staff.  We will live stream the show for all parents who wish to watch.  More details to follow.

For students, tickets can be collected from the Student Centre or Reception.

Event details

Date: Thursday 1st October

Time: 7pm

Location: Secondary Auditorium 


International Day 2020


We are looking for all nations within the BIS Community to be represented. If you would like to be a “Country rep” for your home nation for 2020, please sign up here with Country Rep Sign Up.

We will be hosting an International Day Information meeting for country representatives on Wednesday 16th September in the Auditorium from 9.00am. Please register here if you will be attending the meeting.




ABRSM theory exams will take place on 7th November as planned.  The application period has been extended until Friday 18th September.  Please send applications via email and transfer fee electronically.


Instrumental Music Lessons 


Instrumental lessons start next week.  All students must check the schedules on the 2nd floor noticeboard for lesson times and make sure you have your instrument and any music you have been working on.



Dates for your Diary

News & Events

Monday 14th September Co-curricular Activities begin

Monday 14th September Year 12 Welcome to IBDP Information webinar inc. Expeditions information, virtual event, 4.15 to 5pm

Tuesday 15th September Secondary PTG Meeting, Secondary Reception

Tuesday 15th September Year 10 Information webinar including Expeditions, virtual event, 4.15 to 5pm

Wednesday 16th September International Day Parent Information Meeting, Secondary Campus from 9am

Wednesday 16th September Year 9 Options webinar for parents and students, virtual event, 4.15 to 5pm

Saturday 19th September World CleanUp Day, Thao Dien

Thursday 24th September Year 11 Options webinar for parents and students, virtual event, 4.15 to 5pm



Covid-19 Reminders


As you will all no doubt be aware, the local authorities have decided to adjust some Covid-19 related restrictions in response to the Community transmission picture. As a school we will be maintaining our current Covid-19 Protocols and Procedures for the near future. 

We are committed to ensuring high levels of health and safety across the campus and amongst our staff and student body.  We will of course be reviewing our provision and policies over the coming period and will keep you informed of any developments. If you have any queries about our Covid-19 protocols in the meantime, please contact our Secondary Campus Health & Safety Lead, Gareth Wills at gareth.wills@bisvietnam.com


Can I wish you all a wonderful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill


Head Teacher

Secondary Campus