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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 22/01/2021

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

As the world witnessed this week’s inauguration in Washington, it was not the traditional ceremony and address that captured the imagination of millions around the world but rather Youth Poet Laureate, twenty three year old, Amanda Gorman. As I watched Gorman deliver her uplifting poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’, I was once again reminded of the optimism I feel every day working with young people with ideas, eloquence and leadership qualities-  like our students at BIS.  It’s our job as teachers and parents to give our young people a voice and opportunities to lead and make an impact on their community even if in a small way. 

At BIS, our students are presented with opportunities to lead across all areas of school life - from Student-Led Co-Curricular Activities, to Wellbeing and Academic Mentors and Student Council Representatives to name but a few.  While there are many roles, the leaders of our whole student body are our School Prefects from which our Head Students are taken. The role of School Prefect is a prestigious one, and this year saw over 80 applicants from Year 12 which of course meant so many fantastic student leaders just missing out. This week, we held our Prefect Training Day where our new prefects developed their skills together.  Find out more about the day below from the Sixth Form Leadership Team. I would like to offer my congratulations to our new Prefects and I look forward to seeing their impact on the BIS community in the year ahead.

Educational research informs us that partnership between home and school is one of the key pillars for student learning, and so it was wonderful to welcome so many of you on campus for the first Headteacher’s Coffee Morning & Parent Workshop of this academic year. It has been almost a year since we were able to host a Parent Workshop and I would like to say a huge thank you to all who attended.  The aim for our Parent Workshops is to enable us to work together to support your sons’ and daughters’ learning, and we began with a fantastic interactive session in which parents not only learned evidence informed strategies for effective study, but also went home understanding some IB Particle Physics! The atmosphere was warm and engaging as we all  learnt together. Please find further details below, including a recap of the strategies discussed from our Assistant Headteacher, Mr Lambert and look out for the next in our series of workshops after the Tet holiday. I hope to see you there.

Last week I shared a flavour of our Week Without Walls with you. It is my pleasure that this week we can hear from the architect of the programme, Deputy Headtreacher, Ms Binnington, and the students themselves, about their experience: what they valued and what they will take from the week, where they took a step out of their normal lessons to learn in different settings - yes, there was laughter and fun but our students also considered how they to tackle big challenges such as inequality, the global pandemic and the climate emergency, bringing optimism and ingenuity in their confidence that their generation will overcome issues that ours created.

As Amanda Gorman, says in her poem, The Hill We Climb:

“We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So while once we asked, ‘How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?’ now we assert, ‘How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

I’m sure you will agree when reading the update from our MIT Challenge winners, our students have the ideas and skills to bring positive change for which we can all be optimistic.


My best wishes

Sean O’Neill


Head Teacher Coffee Morning: Supporting your Child to study more effectively


We were delighted to host the first in a series of workshops looking at evidence-informed methods for studying, particularly how you as parents can help your child to structure their home learning to help them remember and apply the ideas they learn in school.

Studying effectively first requires us to change our perceptions about what effective revision looks like: commonly-used methods such as summarising or re-reading may feel more effective, but studies in cognitive science have shown the feeling of reassurance these approaches offer is misleading. We remember far more by making our brains think about the material; by quizzing ourselves and making meaningful links between ideas.

We put these strategies to the test by learning some key ideas from everybody's favourite subject: IB Higher Level Particle Physics. Using research-informed methods such as brain dumps, self-testing and flashcards, we answered questions on quarks, leptons, hadrons and more. Without reading, highlighting or copying any notes, those present could easily tell us the baryon number of a proton and how many quarks a meson has.

You can use these methods to support your child's study at home by encouraging them to space their practice, get plenty of sleep (did you know that having 4 hours or less of sleep before a test can limit thinking to that of a person who is legally intoxicated?) and use self-quizzing rather than reading through notes. Here are some questions you could ask to support that:


  • How are you dividing your time between quizzing and reading?

  • Do you need any help self-quizzing?

  • Give me a keyword from [topic] how does it link to [other topic]?

  • What strategies could be most effective for this topic?


The next session will look at dual coding and spaced practice. More details will follow.

Week Without Walls Blog

In what should have been our Residential Expeditions week, our Year 7, 8 and 9 students instead ALL still experienced a week developing their learning skills outside of the traditional walls of the curriculum and classroom.  From the 11th to 15th January the youngest members of our secondary campus took part in a range of different activities designed by their teachers to challenge them as leaders and learners. The activities ranged in theme from STEAM MIT projects, to Juilliard collaborations, to a focus on Sustainable Development, to Wellbeing, with a lot of fun being had across the week. 

Lauren Binnington, Deputy Head Teacher Enrichment, shares more about our biggest Week Without Walls to date.


MIT Challenge

Please see below the innovative winners of our MIT Challenge:

9H - Eco Switch



When ever talking about STEAM we need to remember that it is much more than the 5 subject areas that make up its name. Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics are extremely important in any STEAM project, but the soft skills that are developed throughout the process are the true champion of the experience. Student agency, collaboration, time management, creativity and challenge are just a part of a long list of skills that are built upon when students have the opportunity to partake in a challenge like they experienced last week in the MIT Challenge for Week Without Walls.

8I - Re:Mask 

There was an overarching theme of sustainability for the challenge and students had a mission to ‘Change people's minds, so that they will change their actions… in a fun way’ - in essence they had to gamify sustainability. Working in their form classes, students had an afternoon to brainstorm solutions then a single day to work through their solution and create a video of their sustainability issue, a fact file that outlined their process, a prototype of their solution and then a presentation to be shared with all of Key Stage 3 on the final Friday afternoon.

Students had access to a wide range of resources and then collaborated throughout the day to complete the challenge in the allotted time. They applied skills that they had learned in past lessons, made choices based upon knowledge that they all brought to the challenge and then sought out expert assistance from teachers when they wanted to integrate technology that they had not yet learned how to use.

The range of projects that students created was phenomenal and far beyond all expectations. Students accepted the challenge of trying to change the way people recycle, have access to clean water, dispose of waste, manage power consumption and all had a twist that would extrinsically motivate people to change their attitudes towards sustainability. One project that stood out to me as a way to dispose of waste in a creative and innovative way was was Plant Bud - take a box of tissues and embed seeds within the tissue paper, so everytime that you use a tissue and dispose of it you are actually planting seeds and thus fighting deforestation and trying to combat air quality issues at the same time.

Luke Dyer STEAM Co-ordinator

Reporting and PTSC dates


All parents will receive an email notification today outlining the reporting and PTSC dates for your child(ren) for Terms 2 and 3. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Mr Lee Falconer (lee.falconer@bisvietnam.com) for queries relating to Years 7, 8 or 9, or Mr Matthew Lambert (matthew.lambert@bisvietnam.com) for any queries relating to Years 10, 11, 12 and 13.


Prefect Training Day


On Wednesday, the new Prefect Team took part in team building activities, developed their knowledge on the importance of teams, learned new concepts regarding leadership, analysed their personality traits and role played difficult scenarios in order to ensure that their roles within the prefect team would prepare them for the challenges ahead.

During the event, the elite Sixth Form students not only built relationships as a team, but also worked closely within their relevant strands; Academic Prefects, Co-Curricular Prefects, and Wellbeing Prefects.

One of our prefects said, “I found the leadership workshop useful because it built on my understanding of leadership; that it's not only about making decisions and listening to others but also that there are different types of leadership.  I learned the pros and cons for each and how flexible I have to be in order to become a good leader.”

Another said, “I enjoyed the sessions called “What makes a good team” and “What is leadership” as they were very useful. I learned the fundamental role of prefects and explored the idea of my role as a prefect. The prefect scenarios were also helpful as we had a chance to apply theories that we learnt during the training to solve problems.”

We look forward to watching the new cohort of prefects develop existing projects and launch new and exciting proposals to further develop BIS.  

Mr David Pugh - Assistant Head of Sixth Form

Weekly Sports Round-Up - 22nd January 


It is great to be back into our SISAC competitions and Mr Phil Husband, Director of Sport, shares all the news from this week’s competition. 

Read the Weekly Sports Round Up for this week 18th to 22nd January, here.

Next week is action packed once again with U13&U15 Football and Table Tennis teams pulling on the honour of the BIS jersey against AIS. 

Please visit this Fixtures list for all of the upcoming Season 2 matches and follow this link for Match Highlights of our U15 and U19 home games. Also make sure to visit https://twitter.com/BISHCMC_PE for more photos, videos and all of the action from each of our games. 

Mr Husband - Director of Sport


Be involved

School photos week for Secondary Campus


We are happy to advise that we will be partnering with Picture Day, a Hanoi based photography company, this year for school photos.  To find out more about Picture Day please follow the link here.

The Picture Day team will visit each campus on the following dates.

  • Junior Campus – 11-15/01/2021

  • Early Years & Infant Campus – 18-22/01/2021

  • Secondary Campus – 25-29/01/2021

Full details have been sent to all parents this week and students will receive further information about their Form Group photos next week.

Co-Curricular Activities Term 2, 2020-21


The week beginning 25th January 2021 will see the launch of the BIS Secondary Campus’ CCA (Co-Curricular Activities) programme with all non-paid clubs starting.  These will be followed after the Tet holiday with paid clubs commencing the week Monday 22nd February 2021 – all clubs, with the exception of some sporting ones, will run for a total of 8 weeks. 

We are thrilled to be able to offer over 100 different activities each week in the areas of creativity, action, service, sustainability and study support as we continue to challenge our students in different areas of their personal development.

We look forward to following the progress of each of these clubs and to sharing the feedback and benefits of them as expressed by our students.

Tet Holiday

As we approach the tet holiday- please be reminded of the  updated School calendar for the academic year. Please see here for the term and holiday dates for the remainder of the school year.

New Term Dates 2020-2021

Dates for your Diary

Monday 25th to Friday 29th January Secondary Campus School Photos

Tuesday 26th January Secondary PTG Meeting, Secondary Campus Reception

Tuesday 2nd February IBDP and IGCSE Recitals, Secondary Theatre

Monday 8th February to Friday 19th February Tet Holiday, 


Have a wonderful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill


Head Teacher

Secondary Campus