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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 04/09/2020

Sean O’Neill
Sean O’Neill (20 posts) Head Teacher, Secondary Campus View Profile


A great education is about exposure to difference. We prepare our young people for the rich variety of life by exposing them to different people, different ideas, different environments and different activities. From this they learn that success comes in many forms,  they learn to embrace challenge, and learn to adapt. A BIS education embraces this philosophy and as we begin September, I am delighted that this week’s update demonstrates how we are creating the conditions for our students to embrace difference by highlighting the Launch of our Co-curricular Programme for 2020-21, and our “Read a New Book Month” for September.


Our co-curricular programme is a key pillar of learning at BIS- its range, depth and quality never ceases to amaze me. The way our teachers tap into their interests, passions and skills  to provide a rich menu of opportunities for our students is incredible. It is also good for our students to see their teachers in a different light as they too step outside of their own comfort zones to try something different.


At the start of the year we said to our students that a key focus for this academic year  is to be involved in all aspects of school life and it gives me great pleasure to report that the 120+ activities available to our secondary students have been met with unbelievable enthusiasm  in the sign-up process. Thank you, our parents, for encouraging your sons and daughters to participate and try something new.


Another way we  encourage  our students to try something new and embrace difference is through encouraging the joy of reading. By exposing our young people to books we not only fire their intellectual curiosity with new ideas, but also share the benefits to their wellbeing of reading for pleasure. We adhere to the Platonic view that:

“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything”.

(Plato- 427-347 BCE)


September is “Read a New Book Month 2020” here at BIS. Find our more from our Teacher Librarian, Anita Curley:

September: Read a New Book Month


‘Reading books that we know we’ll like is a wonderful way to escape the stresses of daily life. But sometimes a new type of book allows us to see the world in a different way.’ (World, 2020)  

September is ‘Read a New Book Month’ and at BIS Secondary we are encouraging all of our students to try to read a book they wouldn’t normally read -  to challenge and expand their reading habits to gain new insights into a life, time, place, or idea different from their own.

Our Library Team has put together events and reading initiatives throughout this month to encourage our students to find out about and enjoy as many new books as they can, beginning with our Year 7 Bookmark competition launched next week - all Year 7s will have the opportunity to enter this House Event by designing a bookmark to promote and share their favourite books with others.  Our Book Review Competition 2020 will also be coming up soon for all students to take part in, and ‘Pass on the Power’ of books and reading. Look out for BIS Secondary teacher reading recommendations too - one for each day of the month, beginning with some of our past favourites. 

Ms Anita Curley

BIS Secondary Teacher Librarian



Co-Curricular Programme         



We’ve spoken recently about the richness of life at BIS and one area that is incredibly rich is our Co-curricular Activities (CCA) programme. Designed to enhance and compliment the learning that takes place in our classrooms, CCAs really are part of the fabric of a BIS education.

Through CCAs, students engage with their peers, their teachers, and the wider community in different ways, forging strong bonds and engaging in important self-reflection. The co-curricular programme as a whole is designed to broaden students’ interests and perspectives of the world as they develop a range of skills including social, emotional, leadership, independence, collaboration, moral reasoning, decision making, problem solving, and critical thinking. CCAs enable these skills to develop through regular commitment to a weekly activity that develops students’ creativity, keeps them active, and encourages service within the community. We focus on quality experiences and provide a range of activities each term.

Alongside the teacher-led CCAs, we have a number of student-led CCAs where students organise the weekly activities for and with their peers. These CCAs vary from community focused, to skills development, and allow our students to develop their leadership skills in an area of their interest. All students are encouraged to submit ideas for CCAs, and it is through this that we have such a wide range on offer.

We’re incredibly excited to be bringing back our co-curricular programme starting with CCAs beginning on 14th September, and you can take a look at what we have on offer in our Virtual CCA Fair Google Site. A huge thank you to our Whole School Co-curricular Coordinator, Mrs Tracey Brownrigg, for putting together such a fantastic programme! We’re looking forward to seeing everything our students achieve this year both in and out of the classroom.

Follow this link for more on co-curricular learning from NAE.


Overview of the week’s activities

Global Social Leaders’ Global Goals Competition


For the last two years BIS has linked with the Global Social Leaders (GSL) organisation and taken part in their Global Goals Competition.  Despite the challenge of COVID-19 which reduced the impact our teams were able to have, our Precious Plastics group made it through to the semi-final, from 249 entries.


Congratulations to the Precious Plastics Team and we look forward to your continued efforts this year.  Ms Lauren Binnington, Secondary Deputy Head Teacher, shares more about the Global Goals Competition


Plastic Diet Challenge with ReThink Plastic Vietnam

Following the success of last November’s Plastic Diet Challenge and Clean Up event, we are once again teaming up with ReThink Plastic Vietnam to take part in Plastic Awareness Month.

The Plastic Diet Challenge began this week and you can still join in.  Start with this Plastic Diet Survey and then see what small changes you can make this month.


BIS Sporting Ethos

At the British International School, Ho Chi Minh City, we are extremely proud of our sporting success. Success in sport can be categorised in many different ways. For some it may be results based and characterised by trophies. For others it may be participation based and qualified by the number of people taking part in a given sport. For BIS, our measure of success, which informs our coaching ethos, is performance based. We firmly believe that due to this way of coaching,  long term participation and results will continue to be outstanding for the sportsmen and sportswomen of the school. 

This approach, of putting the learning of the player at the heart of all that we do, goes hand in hand with the ethos of the school and its Aide Memoire.

Mr Phil Husband, Director of Sport, would like everyone, especially those with students taking part in sporting activities to read more about our sporting ethos here.  


Be involved

Parent Webinar Series


Recent months have required us all to innovate in changing conditions. One of  the many innovations have been our Parent Webinars. This month sees  the continuation of our Parent Information Webinar Series, co-ordinated by Deputy Headteacher, Amy Murphy.

Parent Webinar Series: Hear from our Deputy Headteacher, Ms Amy Murphy (Curriculum & Learning) 



One of the most important aspects of life at BIS is how we work in partnership as teachers and parents, to support our students in the most effective way possible. To ensure that we continue to do this during this term, and due to the stricter Health and Safety Protocols put in place by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, we have adapted the format of some of our key events to webinars. This will allow us to pass on important information around both academic and wellbeing matters, and allow parents and students to have their questions answered by staff. The events that will be run in this way are as follows:

4:15-5:00pm 9th September All Parents: Reporting @ BIS Webinar

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.


International Day 2020


This year we have set as one of our priorities to re-establish the fabric of BIS life and there is no bigger celebration of our wonderful BIS community than International Day. It gives me great pleasure and excitement to announce that International Day 2020 is just 5 weeks away! We will of course need to make adaptations to our normal programme but we are committed to bringing the joy, colour and fun of a BIS International Day to 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. Invitation will be sent to the country representative in due course.



Health & Safety; Is everyone’s responsibility


To ensure the Health & Safety of our community please be reminded:


  • Secondary students must use the bridge to cross the road at Gate A

  • The crossing between the Junior and Secondary Campus is closed at drop and pick up times



Covid-19 Reminders



Dates for your Diary

News & Events

Wednesday 2nd to 16th September Plastic diet challenge, community event

Tuesday 15th September Secondary PTG Meeting, Secondary Reception

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

Saturday 19th September World CleanUp Day, Thao Dien


Have a wonderful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill


Head Teacher

Secondary Campus