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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 19/11/2021

Sean O’Neill
Sean O’Neill (57 posts) Head Teacher, Secondary Campus View Profile

Dear Parents,


Today is World Children’s Day, where around the globe, we advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating dialogue into actions that will build a better world for children.  It is a day where we affirm our belief at BIS in the empowerment of young people to make a positive impact. We are so proud of our Global Goals Student Team who have led superb assemblies and activities on the theme of ‘Activism Amongst Uncertainty’ throughout the week.  See an update directly from the team below in this week’s update.

I would also like to offer huge congratulations to a group of our Year 12 students who, as part of the  FOBISIA Race4good Project, are currently working on a project to uplift a family in Nepal. The BIS HCMC student team has been selected from schools across Asia, by community partners in Nepal, as the group with the best idea to make a difference.. The BIS students’ plan involved expanding the family’s existing maize farming, purchasing piglets to raise and breed, and, in the long term, providing repairs for the family home. The next phase will see the team come up with a solution for the whole village community.  Congratulations to the team on this significant achievement. I look forward to sharing further details in weeks to come.

Closer to home, my thanks to all parents who attended yesterday’s webinar on Assessment & Feedback.  It was fantastic that the event was so well attended and we could continue the conversation between teachers and parents to best support our students. If you missed the webinar, we have included a recording in this week’s update.

Over the next two weeks, we will be conducting important processes to be ready to return to learning on Campus. Please see important information on the next stage of the student vaccination process below, as well as a reminder of some of the practical steps we need to take at school to get us all ready to return when we receive notification .

Thank you for your continued support, and my best wishes for a relaxing weekend.

Sean O’Neill

Vaccinations Update

The Department of Education have indicated that the next round of vaccinations for students in Ho Chi Minh City aged between 12 and 18 years will commence from next Monday 22nd November.

The number of children called each day will be determined by the number of vaccines made available by the Ministry of Health to each location.

The notification of which students are called to attend a vaccination centre the next day will be sent to school by DOET.

Parents will receive an SMS from school informing them if their child is to attend the vaccination the next day. We will follow this up with an ISAMS email with location and other details.

Children must be accompanied by a parent to the vaccination centre.

Please monitor your SMS and email communications from school next week to ensure you receive these important communications.

Thank you for your support as we complete this significant process.

World Childrens’ Day 2021


World Children’s Day was originally created as a day to celebrate children’s rights and promote children’s voice towards advocating for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, unlike previous years, it was hosted under exceptional circumstances through an online screen. 

As a school and local community, we’ve witnessed the devastating impact of Covid-19 outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City over the past few months, yet hopeful that society’s returning back to normal. It is this new uncertainty that we want to highlight, hence this year’s theme of Activism Amongst Uncertainty, which combines the regional advocacy objective of Immunisation, alongside with Sustainability. 

We believe that children have the capabilities to act towards what matters to us the most, a potential to make a difference. Therefore we want to highlight children’s rights to have a voice and be recognised, as well as raising awareness about challenges we face currently. Here are just some of the thoughts from our members who have organised the event:

‘Although I am young, through this experience, I was able to learn more about children’s rights. I hope to be involved in more interactive events in real life.’

‘I feel pride in knowing that I participated in a service project for the first time. Organising the escape room was fun, working in our little groups was fun and crafting the little story around the escape room got me especially giddy.’

‘I’m proud of myself as I have never presented to a wide audience before.’


We hosted three activities towards promoting ‘Activism Amongst Uncertainty’ for this year's World Children’s Day. Firstly, we had an online ‘Escape Room’ game with four different rounds, each focusing on a different aspect of immunisation. Secondly, we made a Kahoot quiz focusing around immunisation and sustainability. Finally, on Padlet we had a ‘Mural of Activism’, where students can write down their thoughts in response to prompt questions:

What does activism mean to you?

What do you envision for a sustainable world?

We hope that although this year World Children’s Day was hosted online, it has brought enjoyable experiences and that, as a school and local community, we could act towards the SDGs together for a better and more sustainable future.

The Global Goals Events Committee.


Assessment & Feedback- Parent Webinar: Watch Again

BIS_Parent Webinars

Mr Lambert and Mrs Murphy, members of our Senior Leadership Team – Curriculum and Learning, shared their thoughts and approaches on what assessment is (and isn’t!); how, when and why we use assessment; feedback; and how these can support learning. Most importantly, they explored the idea that assessment is more than just a test! If you missed the discussion, you can find out more by watching Assessment & Feedback at BIS HCMC.

Ready to return: Secondary Campus Uniform Collection

As part of the First Phase of our transition back into school an email was sent to all parents this week requesting uniform sizes for your child.  We have made some changes to the process from previous years to ensure that we are able to complete the uniform collection process smoothly and safely. 

If you have not yet submitted the form, please follow this link and complete it by the extended deadline of 9am on Monday 22nd November, so that uniform packs can be prepared by our team.  

If you are not intending to collect your child’s uniform at this time please confirm this via email to sc@bisvietnam.com  

We anticipate that uniform collection days will take place between Wednesday 24th November and Monday 6th December and further information regarding collection timings, processes and protocols will be provided by email next week.

The Importance of reading for Wellbeing

This week, during Year 12 Wellbeing lessons our Teacher Librarian, Ms Curley, challenged the students to discover what type of reader they are. A book buster? A bookophile? Or a sleepy bedtime reader? Students reflected on the benefits of reading for their own wellbeing and how reading not only improves cognitive function, but is an excellent activity to destress after a hectic day.

I am sure you will agree this applies to us as adults as much as it does to our children.

Community Action: Parcels of Hope - Friends for Street Children

  • FFSC Parcels of Hope
  • FFSC Parcels of Hope
  • FFSC Parcels of Hope
  • FFSC Parcels of Hope
  • FFSC Parcels of Hope

In a letter of thanks and acknowledgement, The Friends for Street Children Association (FFSC) have asked that we extend their “deepest and sincerest gratitude to you all for your generous donations” which allowed for the purchase of 236 food parcels for the families of children at the shelters we engage with.  A total of VND 166,850,000 was raised by the PTG Virtual Quiz and the Year 12 CAS “Parcels of Hope” project team which was in excess of the amount needed.  The BIS Community Service department has VND 48,850,000 remaining, which will be used to purchase stationary, uniforms, text books and other items needed by the FFSC Binh An, Binh Tho and Binh Trieu centres.  

Thank you again to all who supported this cause.

Tracey Brownrigg
Co-Curricular Coordinator and
Community Service Project Manager 

Community Action: the Luv Project 

Luv Project 19Nov

During the final week of our fundraiser, we are pleased to provide an update on our fundraising campaign so far. The life changing impact for families and their children has been tremendous, and the generosity of our community has been overwhelming.

Since the initiation of our project, many families have contacted PE&D, thanking donors for their support in helping their families who have been affected by the pandemic. Although we cannot provide the names of these families, we would like to take this opportunity to share a few of their stories.

One beneficiary commented that the support she has received has helped relieve her financial and mental stress as she was constantly worried about how she could earn enough money to provide food for her children. Additionally, another beneficiary expressed how grateful she was for being  able to give her children healthy and nutritious meals as a result of PE&D’s food packages.

Furthermore, during an interview with the PE&D social workers, a mother of 2 children and a resident of the Tan Phu District passed on her message of gratitude to our community. In the past few months, she and her husband have struggled financially as they have both been unemployed for a considerable amount of time due to the pandemic. As such, they were both left with no other choice but to relocate to a motel and send their son to his grandmother. Thanks to your support, the family is now able to purchase and provide milk for their newborn baby, and are one step closer to bringing their son back home.

Reflecting on the reciprocal nature of this project, we are proud to have been able to promote a spirit of generosity in our community and have found ourselves reminded that Every Donation Counts, regardless of the amount. This was both a learning opportunity for us as well as an amazing opportunity to give back to our community here in Ho Chi Minh City.

To this end, we have decided to keep donations open for approximately two more weeks. To donate, please visit PE&D’s dedicated donation page. Alternatively, by visiting the Donate Now page on The Luv Project website, you will find all the relevant information on payment methods to contribute to this fundraiser effort. We would also like to remind you that donations via cash are now possible! Please feel free to drop by the BIS campus (225 Nguyen Van Huong Street), and leave your donations in the collection box which is located outside the Guard House of the Junior Campus.

As always, any donation, no matter the size, will be greatly appreciated and we are truly grateful for your support. Once you have made your donation, you will receive a Letter of Gratitude to acknowledge your valuable contribution and kindness during these difficult times.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us through our website or our Instagram profile (@theluvprojectvn)!

Thank you for your time and consideration.

The Luv Project.

Adit Jacob, Sidhant Dhawan, Cody Burke, York Fang, Geon Hee Kim, Henry Pham, Peter Kang

GIN Saigon Conference 2022

The theme for the student lead GIN Saigon Conference 2022 will be ‘Serene War’. The theme has various inspirations as well as meaning associated with it. The theme this year constantly seeks the answer to the question: "How can we achieve the 'serene' without the 'war'".

For more information, visit GIN Saigon 2022 Conference

Wellbeing Logo

The Power of Positive Relationships

One of the best ways to maintain positive mental health and wellbeing is through relationships.  As Vaillant (2012) illustrated by examining the results of the Harvard Developmental Life Study, relationships are a key driver, arguably the most important one in happiness.  Our relationships provide us with a sense of connection, humour, release and positive distraction.  Unfortunately, our relationships can be severely strained, depleted and eroded due to the ongoing pandemic.  Although modern technology offers a viable and functional facsimile for the real thing, it does not fully replicate the power of face to face relationships. 

With the relaxation of restrictions, we recommend that our students meet up with their friends and connect.  Of course, this should be done in small groups that abide by the 5K rules.  In these challenging times where fear of covid keeps people at a distance, we need to put value into re-establishing our relationships and reaping the benefits of their rejuvenating effects.  Relationships don't just boost mental health; they have been shown to have clear links to supporting the promotion and maintenance of good physical health as well (Umberson and Montez, 2011).  Therefore, we hope that we can all work on this aspect of our daily lives as a community.

Some excellent advice from mentalhealth.org.uk about relationship maintenance can be seen below:

Five things you can do:

  1. Give time: put more time aside to connect with friends and family.
  1. Be present: it can be tempting to check your phone, Facebook messages or even work emails when with family and friends. Try to be present in the moment and be there for your loved ones, and switch out of work mode whenever possible.
  1. Listen: actively listen to what others are saying in a non-judgemental way and concentrate on their needs in that moment.
  1. Be listened to: share how you are feeling, honestly, and allow yourself to be listened to and supported.
  1. Recognise unhealthy relationships: being around positive people can make us happier; however, our wellbeing can be negatively affected by harmful relationships, leaving us unhappy. Recognising this can help us move forward and find solutions to issues.

Guidance on Relationships - Mental Health UK

This great advice is equally applicable to our children and ourselves as parents.  We hope that you all find it useful.

Gareth Wills, Deputy Headteacher, Welfare & Guidance


Umberson, D., & Karas Montez, J. (2010). Social relationships and health: A flashpoint for health policy. Journal of health and social behavior, 51(1_suppl), S54-S66.

Vaillant, G. E. (2012). Triumphs of experience. Harvard University Press.

Wellbeing Be You

Eco-Activities continue

Be involved

Virtual University Visits  - Study in Australia & Canada

careers and university guidance

Thursday November 25th 3pm-4pm  Study in Australia – The University of Sydney and The University of Melbourne - Follow this Link to Register for this event.

Join “Study in Australia” webinar hosted by the 2 best universities in the country – University of Sydney and University of Melbourne to get to know why Australia is known for its diverse and welcoming people, with world-class education system; and what IB/A-level students should do to make good applications to Australian universities. This webinar also discusses scholarship opportunities, accommodation suggestions and career outcomes for international students studying in Australia.

Thursday December 2nd 3pm – 4.30pm - Study in Canada - Mini fair - Follow this Link to Register for this event. 

Canada is a world leading destination for Higher Education. A presentation highlighting the advantages of studying in Canada will be followed by introductions from our 4 guest universities - Queen’s University. Lakehead University, York University and The University of Northern British Columbia. This will be followed by an opportunity for students and parents to move into ‘Break-out rooms’ in order to ask questions of each of the university representatives.

Additional future visits include...

Thursday 9th December:    University of Oxford, 3pm-4pm online

Thursday 16th December: A Supercomputer on your Desk  Presented by the University of Southampton, 3pm-4pm online

Dates for your Diary


Have a wonderful weekend,

Sean O’Neill
Head Teacher, Secondary Campus