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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 04/06/2021

Sean O’Neill
Sean O’Neill (43 posts) Head Teacher, Secondary Campus View Profile

Dear Parents, 

It has certainly been another extraordinary week in the life of the BIS HCMC Secondary Campus - a week when we can all feel proud to be part of a special team that in just a few days can achieve so much.


Whether sitting our adapted IGCSE Exams or  End of Year Assessments, or being engaged and motivated in Virtual lessons - the fact that BIS learning is still being achieved with the same care and quality,  at this stage of the year, and in these circumstances, is a real testament to everyone. 


My thanks to teachers, students, parents and support staff who continue to maintain our basic BIS principle: that whatever we do, we do it well. 


As we near the end of term, we reach moments of welcome and moments of departure. These moments are perhaps those in which we cherish most being face to face, together,  in a shared experience. 


Though we miss being able to mark these milestones where we begin or end a journey in person, I am delighted that we are able to come together virtually. 


I am looking forward next week to sharing the first steps of the BIS Secondary journey with our new Year 7 families for 2021-22 at our Year 6 Parents’ Transition Webinar, and on Friday 11th June welcoming Year 13 families to our Virtual Graduation Ceremony, where we will recognise and acknowledge the achievement of our departing students. 


For all our BIS families who are leaving BIS HCMC this year, we will be hosting our Moving on Webinar on Tuesday 8th June, where our Counselling & Support, and Leadership Teams, will offer support and guidance at this significant time of change.  I hope you can join us. 


My thanks to you all for your continued support and positivity during this challenging period. 

Sean O'Neill

Deliveries for our IBDP & IGCSE Artists

Teaching and Learning online can bring particular challenges for our Art students! In order for our Year 10 and 12 artists to complete their end of year assessments and crucial exhibition pieces at home.  This week the department organised emergency covid safe deliveries of paints, canvases and folios across the city. A huge team effort to support our students, my thanks to all involved.

 Janet Williams, Head of Art

Year 8 Music Composition Pieces

Year 8 have been spending time composing for their string instruments in Music e-learning using the notation writing program ‘Noteflight’. This week, students were adding the final touches to their pieces with an accompanying piano part and dynamics to their 24 bars of composition. 

Gia Phu in 8V went above and beyond what he was asked to do by writing parts for a whole string quartet as well as piano and the results were fantastic!

Emma Husband, Music Teacher

BIS Secondary Virtual Film Festival 2021

Thanks to Mr Dyer, our whole school STEAM coordinator, we are bringing the first ever BIS Virtual Film Festival Secondary Edition! Students across all year groups have been challenged to produce a short film on a theme of their choice, no more than 2 minutes in length. There are lots of tutorials within the festival Google Site for students to watch to get inspiration and they need to submit their films by 8.15am on Thursday 17th June. We’re hoping to host these online so we can all sit down on Friday with a bowl of popcorn to watch their creations!


Keeping in touch and staying connected during Virtual Learning.


Over the last week, many Year 7, 8 and 9 students will have taken part in a short conference call with a member of the Secondary School Leadership team or the Welfare & Guidance Team and a small number of students from different year groups. The objective of these calls is simple...to keep in touch and stay connected. A huge part of what makes BIS HCMC such a wonderful school is the sense of togetherness and the positive relationships between staff and students. Without adding too much screen time to our day, we wanted to provide another opportunity for students to connect with their peers and have a chance to provide feedback to us on what is going well and what challenges they are facing. 

The feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive and it is clear just how much we have all learned over the course of the last year and a half. Some really positive comments include:

  • “I really like the video calls with my teachers and classmates as it allows me to interact with them.”

  • “Feedback from teachers is much better than last year.”

  • “I’m enjoying the range of group work we do as I feel less lonely when working with others.”

  • “I can work at my own pace”

  • “It is good that we are getting a variety of activities to do with and without screen time.”

Of course, no feedback is ever going to be 100% positive but the main criticism appears to be slow wifi and this is something over which we have limited control! At least one student did say to Mr Whiteley, Head of Year 9, “Going to school is way better!!” which shows just how strongly students feel about their connection with fellow students and staff at BIS. As ever, we do take on board any feedback from students to help us improve our practices and everyone at BIS HCMC continues to strive to ensure the students' Virtual School learning remains a hugely positive experience. 

Students were also asked how they were looking after their personal wellbeing at this time. Some great pieces of advice included:

  • “When you have free time get away from the screen”

  • “Get up and move around”

  • “Try to do something productive in your break and lunch”

  • “Talk to people – get social interaction”

But the final piece of brie-lliant feedback and gouda advice must go to the student who said to Mrs Bee Smith; 

“When I am between lessons, I eat cheese. That helps.”

I don’t think I could have said it feta! 

The members of the Senior Leadership Team and Welfare & Guidance Team will continue to connect with students across the Year Groups throughout Virtual School. The weekly Wellbeing Menu will continue to be posted every weekend on the students Google Classroom pages. This contains a number of non screen related activities focusing on positive wellbeing.  

FOBISIA Voices 2021 - There Will Always be Music


Last term some of our Junior and Secondary choir students took part in the ‘FOBISIA Voices’ event. They learned a specially commissioned song called ‘There will Always Be Music’, composed by Alexander L'estrange. 

A total of 24 FOBISIA Schools across Asia recorded their students singing the song to form a huge ‘virtual choir’. The final combined performance was released this week and can now be shared with family and friends.

NAE UNICEF Visual Art Exhibition


Be involved

‘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 current students a 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.

Moving On Webinar - Tuesday 8th June


We look forward to welcoming families that are leaving BIS this year, to join us for our Moving on Workshop. This is aimed at helping to support our BIS families through both school administrative tasks as well as wider questions and concerns associated with the transition to a new country and school.  With input from our Leadership Team, Admissions Department and Counsellors, the webinar aims to support all of our school community in their transition from BIS.  

It will take place on Tuesday 8th June from 9am to 10am.  An invite will be sent to all departing families from the Admissions Team. 

The CUG Department are delighted to announce the following upcoming visits from some of the world’s most prestigious universities:

University of Pennsylvania and Brown University Virtual Visit
Tuesday June 8th  8pm – 9pm (Vietnam time). 

To register for this webinar please follow this link

This will be a joint webinar hosted by representatives from UPenn and Brown, two of the prestigious ‘Ivy League’ group of universities. Elisabeth O’Connell (Senior Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Pennsylvania) will talk about what it means to be a UPenn student and the type of skills UPenn are looking for in their students. Following this, Penetha Ott (Director of Admissions, International Recruitment, Brown University) will give a similar perspective on what it takes to make a successful application to Brown and what the experience of studying there is like. 

The webinar will also include a contribution from our BIS Alumnus Cedric Chua, who was one of our Head Students in the class of 2020 and is now coming to the end of his 'freshman' year studying at UPenn. There will be a chance to put questions to both Elisabeth and Penetha during the event but if you have any questions prior to the event feel free to add them here.

Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) Virtual Visit

Thursday June 10th  3pm – 4pm (Vietnam time). 

To register for this webinar please follow this link

NTU is one of the highest ranked universities in the world with the latest QS World ranking placing it 13th globally, ahead of many more well known institutions. At BIS we have successful applicants to NTU every year and we are delighted to be joined by Vijay Chandren, a senior admissions manager from NTU. Vijay will also be joined by Jane Phua who graduated from BIS in 2020 and is currently a first year student at NTU. Jane will talk about her experiences of the application process and of studying in Singapore. We have noticed a large increase in BIS applications to Singapore in the 2021 cycle and we hope that (following on from the visit this week from Yale-NUS) this visit will give another great insight into study options in Singapore. If you have any questions prior to the event feel free to add them here.

University of Oxford: A comprehensive introduction for students from Vietnam

Official 'Eventbrite' Webinar - Thursday June 17th  3pm - 4.15pm (Vietnam time). 

To register for this webinar follow this eventbrite link.

Following on from the visit by the University of Cambridge back in March (which can still be viewed here) the University of Oxford will lead a webinar, hosted by BIS and specifically aimed at International School students in Vietnam. This is a very exciting opportunity to hear directly from one of the world’s leading universities. James Brown (International Student Recruitment Manager, University of Oxford) will lead the session aimed at students with an initial interest in studying at Oxford. The webinar will cover many aspects of what makes Oxford such a special place to study, and will provide all the information students need to get started with their applications. This is an official ‘Eventbrite’ Webinar. If you would like to send any questions to James in advance of the meeting please put them here.

I am sure we don’t need to point out the prestigious nature of the universities involved in these three events, and I hope many of you will take up this opportunity to take part and learn a little more about them.




Dates for your Diary

News & Events

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

Thursday 10th June Annual Prize Giving Ceremonies

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

Friday 11th June  Virtual Graduation Ceremony Class of 2021

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

Have a wonderful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill

Head Teacher

Secondary Campus