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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 28/05/2021

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

Dear Parents, 

Earlier this year, as we welcomed in the Lunar New Year.- the Year of the Buffalo,  I wrote that

The year ahead will have its many challenges, but we know that we will meet those challenges. We are a school full of enthusiastic teachers and great students. There will be times when we may need to find some inner reserves of strength but we will do so and like the buffalo, we will do it with hard work and determination.”

I am sure you will agree that the times of “finding those inner reserves of strength” are here right now. 

As we conclude our 3rd week of Virtual Learning , I want to  pay  tribute to our younger Secondary students, in Years 7-9, who have diligently and positively applied themselves to Virtual Learning.  We all know how much students miss school and all it brings- the connections, the energy and the collective endeavour of a school day. They have been superb over the last three weeks and it remains all our jobs- students, teachers and parents working together - to keep this momentum going. It is my pleasure to once again share a small flavour of some activities in Virtual Learning throughout this week in the update below.

We have learnt throughout the last year the things that help to retain motivation. I would like to reiterate the importance of students maintaining connections with peers and family, of taking exercise and maintaining healthy routines.  This combination of routine, relationships and rest is important to keep a balance when the normal variety of activities and interactions of a school day are absent.  Form tutors, Heads of Year and the Senior Leadership Team are holding one-to-one and small group conversations with students in year 7-9 to check in, see how they are going, and gain some feedback on how we can keep improving things. We have all been so impressed by the independence and maturity with which our students have reflected on their Virtual Learning. We will continue to use this to shape the learning to come.

As you are aware, due to the community transmissions, we have from today moved all year groups to Virtual learning, with our Year 11 IGCSE students completing the remaining public examinations under strict safety guidelines in school. 

Our Year 10 and year 12 students will complete their end of year assessments online.  Though of course this will not be the same experience as under examination conditions, it is important they will still have an opportunity to receive feedback on their progress and to use their diligent preparation of recent weeks.  I have communicated detailed instructions to year 10 and year 12 students via email today. 

Throughout the whole Covid period we have been guided by the principle that as far as possible we try to maintain plans that are in place - adapting to meet the situation.

These ongoing changes require a huge team effort,  can I offer my thanks and appreciation once again to all the staff,  students and parents for the spirit that has once again been demonstrated.

My best wishes for a restful and safe weekend, 

Sean O’Neill


An Insight into Virtual Learning

Year 8 Music - Songwriting


Year 8 Choral students have been looking at the use of chords when composing a song within a group. This is a challenging project, particularly during this period of recent online learning. Isabella Dam, Tue Anh Nguyen, Chau Nguyen, Dieu Ngoc Kieu and Jessica Nguyen from 8SV/ Mu3 have written the song ‘Fairytale’ about the darker side of falling in love. The musicians also managed to perform and record their song, creating their own video of their work. Well done ladies.

Frances Amos - Music Teacher

How the BIS PE Department has adjusted for Virtual Learning


The PE department is now in its third week of online learning and fully in the swing of enjoying delivering lessons and watching students engage in our innovative and structured forms of skill development and physical activity. 

Mr Phil Husband, Head of Secondary PE, shares more about the skills and strategies used during these online lessons and the skills we aim to see students develop.  Read more about how our PE lessons have been adjusted for virtual learning.

7N PEAT Paragraphs


In English, 7N have been spending one lesson a week on structuring analytical PEAT paragraphs based on a variety of literature texts. The preparatory work is done through a reading of the texts and a discussion on Google Hangouts and then the students create their analytical paragraphs on a shared Google Doc. This allows them to see each other’s work and to provide ‘What Went Well’ and ‘Even Better If’ comments for their peers. The students colour code their own paragraphs so that they can clearly see which part is the Point, Evidence, Analysis and Technique (PEAT).

Owen McDevitt - Head of Year 10 and English Teacher

Varying the Learning Approach in French 

This week one of our French teachers, Ms Gulinck, has shared a snapshot of some of our Year 9 French students doing a “movement break” during their virtual lesson.

The students danced along to a French language “Just Dance” video, during some of their guided grammar revision lesson activities on Pear Deck (and Google meet).

French virtual lessons include a variety of activities, lots of synchronous learning and online contact with a blend between whole class and personalised feedback.

Students also get the opportunity to practise their speaking skills through individual sessions with the French language assistant.

An Gulinck Head of French Department - TOK teacher



In the 3rd week of Computing online learning, we moved our Scratch retro game making to Frogger. Most of the Year 7s said ‘it’s a copy of Crossy Road!’, and I had to tell them Crossy Road was created in 2014, whilst Frogger was in 1981. We designed the background first, then added characters, objects and then coded them to move and interact. 

Year 8’s started a graphics project using Google Sketchup. We looked at the basic tools, practised making 3D shapes and adding material. They were then set a brief to design a chair for a restaurant, thinking about size, materials and style.

BIS Secondary’s Virtual Library Options 

Though not physically in school your children can still access our eBook collection on Destiny Discover.  

Take a look at our latest ‘8 Must Reads for 2021’ recommendations that includes award winning eBooks for all ages. 

Also, browse our Virtual Library for lots of ideas on what to read next. Please email Ms Curley, Secondary Teacher Librarian, if you need any help locating or accessing books.

‘Ask a university student’ – An open Q&A session with BIS Alumni studying around the world.  Saturday June 5th at 2pm VN Time 


The event is aimed at current BIS students who can register via this link. We hope that this event should give a good flavour of what it is like to be studying (both before and during the pandemic) at various prestigious universities around the world. The universities represented will be Georgetown University (US), the University of Melbourne (Aus),  the University of British Columbia (Can), EHL (Switzerland), LSE (UK), and UPenn (Ivy League – US). Please note that the alumni are not representing each university in any official capacity but will instead give a very ‘student focussed’ view on their experiences. They will also be giving their tips and advice to current BIS students regarding the application process. The session will be informal and students are encouraged to put forward questions both before and during the session. The session will also be recorded for those who cannot make this date.

Paul Rispin - University Guidance

Ongoing Virtual University Visits

Also this coming week, we will continue with our program of Virtual University Visits with a visit from YaleNUS College. YaleNUS was founded in Singapore in 2011 and is a collaboration between the National University of Singapore (QS World ranking 11) and Ivy League Yale (QS world ranking 17) and was Asia’s first Liberal Arts college. Rebeca Vallejo who is in the admissions team at YaleNUS, will explain exactly what a ‘Liberal Arts’ education means and give examples of the majors on offer. Later this month we will also be welcoming Nanyang Technological University. NTU (QS world rank 13) is another specialist STEM institution and will provide another perspective on studying in Singapore.

We are also delighted to also announce that University of Pennsylvania and Brown University, more of the famous ‘Ivy League’ institutions will be hosting a joint Virtual University Visit (see date below). In recent years we have had tremendous success with students who have applied to UPenn in particular, and the session will include input from our former Head Student Cedric Chua. Cedric will give an insight -from a student perspective- as to what every-day life is like as an Ivy League student.

Finally, but by no means least, we will be welcoming the University of Oxford. To get Oxford and Cambridge to both present webinars to BISHCMC within the space of a few weeks speaks volumes about how highly regarded BIS is by the “Oxbridge” universities. Students in Year 12 considering an Oxbridge application are already being expertly guided by BIS within our Oxbridge Support Program, but to hear directly from Oxford is an opportunity not to be missed. Amongst other things the session will cover the Collegiate System and why it makes studying at Oxford a very different experience to other UK universities, but will also touch on what sets Oxford apart from Cambridge (for example the Physics with Philosophy Program).

The full list of the remaining CUG Virtual events is below.

If you would like to send us a question (which we will forward to the university representative in advance of the visit) then please use this form to do so.

Dates for your Diary

News & Events

Wednesday 2nd June Year 6 Student Assembly, Secondary Campus, 1.30pm - Webinar

Thursday 3rd June Virtual University Visit - Yale-NUS, 3pm

Friday 4th June            Graduation Ceremony Class of 2021

Saturday 5th June  Webinar - Ask a university student’ – An open Q&A session   with BIS Alumni studying around the world

Tuesday 8th June         Virtual University Visit – UPenn and Brown, 8pm

Wednesday 9th June Year 6 to Year 7 Transition - Parent Webinar, 4pm

Wednesday 9th June Night of the Arts, Secondary Campus 

Thursday 10th June Virtual University Visit – NTU (Singapore)

Thursday 17th June Virtual University Visit – The University of Oxford 



5K measures for examination groups



Have a wonderful weekend

Kind regards,

Sean O’Neill
Head Teacher, Secondary Campus