Friday, 30 August 2013

SEAMC 2014 comes to HCMC

SEAMC is an annual two-day mathematics competition hosted throughout South East Asia.  For the first time in its 14-year history, SEAMC comes to Vietnam and BIS will have the honour of co-hosting this highly prestigious event early in 2014. Hundreds of the region’s top student mathematicians from over 40 international schools will take part and we also look forward to welcoming a celebrity mathematician as key-note speaker.  Students who are interested in taking part should get in training and join the problem-solving and code breaking activity this term.
For further information, go to

From The Head Teacher


School has been a buzz of activity this week.  It has been wonderful to welcome back students to AP2 and to welcome our newcomers in Year 7 and in other years.  Today I had the pleasure of becoming re-acquainted with some new families at the PTG Welcome Back Coffee Morning, and catching up with parents returning after the summer break.  I look forward to seeing more of you at the Information Evenings next week.  If you have not received a letter by email with details of these events, please contact the school Office Manager, Huong Do (


Students have been excited to see the new developments that took place over the break.  Our newly expanded library is gradually filling with books and students and the Underground canteen has a brighter and cleaner feel with new floor, walls and ceiling.  Another science laboratory has also been re-furbished and updated.

Prize Giving

In June we held our annual Prize Giving Ceremony.  Photographs were taken by Mr. Adam Astely, our official photographer.  These are available for download through the link in the email that came with this edition of BIZbuzz.

Key dates

In this BISbuzz you will find a summary of key dates for the year in a form that is easy to print out and pin up at home.  Do remember that circumstances occasionally mean that we need to change and if that happens, the correct dates will appear on the front page of BISbuzz and in BISblog (  Of particular note early this term are the Parent Information Evenings and the PTG Wine and Cheese Evening. I look forward to seeing many of you at these events.


Those of you who know me will be aware that I am very fond of promoting proper sleep for teenagers.  For many, the transition from summer holidays to the school week will involve re-adjusting to a different pattern of sleep.  For those who missed last week’s BISBuzz, I am including this link again.  Do have a look at this wonderfully stimulating and entertaining TED talk about the value of proper sleep for us all:

Richard Dyer
Head Teacher

First assembly of the year 2013-14

School assemblies provide the opportunity to gather as a school community and instill qand reinforce key values and encourage productive attitudes that go to make the experience of school as fruitful as possible.  From time to time, we share an outline of these assemblies with parents, in the hope that they may support and strengthen those values and attitudes at home.  This is an edited version of my talk given at the first assembly of the year on Monday morning.  I hope you find it useful.

Richard Dyer

I enjoy the start of term.  There’s always an undercurrent of excitement, a buzz of anticipation, and a little bit of anxiety.   I find it interesting that we get excited about things that are unfamiliar, new and unpredictable.  Excitement and anxiety are very similar feelings.  Perhaps that’s why we like doing things that scare us a little bit, like watching scary movies or riding on roller coasters.   
Many of you will be starting the school year with a sense of determination.  You are well rested, you have had the luxury of time, and you now feel ready to make a committed start.  For Year 7 students, there is the determination to do well in secondary school.  Year 8’s, you are no longer the youngest and you will want to make a serious commitment to your learning.  Year 9’s have option choices coming up where you make decisions you need to follow through with.  Year 10’s, you are starting your IGCSE courses, and I am sure you are determined to do your best. 
Year 11’s and Year 13’s, you know what lies ahead over the next 2 terms!   Our new Sixth Formers, in Year 12, start life at the top end of the school and we all look forward to the impression you will make on the community.
Let’s look back for a moment.  A lot has happened over the summer.  For some people, quite momentous events have occurred.  Four weddings have taken place among the staff!  That’s a significant number and quite unusual.  I’m sure those people getting married felt a similar sense of excitement and anxiety at their new beginnings.  So, I’m going to talk to you about weddings and about the word commitment, and I’ll connect that to you and your learning and to the journey that lies ahead for you at the very start of the school year.

The commitment of marriage
When two people get married, in nearly all cultures, they make promises to each other.  These promises vary.  In Western marriages, these promises are broadly the same.  Two people promise to stay together for life, forever, “till death do us part.”  They promise to dedicate themselves to each other alone, “forsaking all others”.  They promise to look after each other, no matter what. They promise that they will continue to love each other, whatever happens.  They say things like, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”.
In a Hindu wedding, similar promises are made:
The man will often say,: “O!, lovely lady, I seek you and only you, to love, to experience all the seasons of life.”
The lady might reply,: “Through life's seasons, I will cherish you in my heart.  I will adore you and seek to complete you.  I will remember the vows we just took and adore you forever sincerely with all my heart.”
At a wedding ceremony, then, people make a commitment.  A commitment is forever.  Think about that for a moment.  Two people make promises they intend to keep forever, for life.  To stay together.   No matter what.  On a wedding day, the bride and groom are often young, healthy, energetic and in love.  And they promise that 20, 30, 40 years later, when they are not young, when they may not be fit and healthy, they will still stay together, and still love each other.  That’s quite a commitment.
On the wedding day, that commitment is a feeling, however.  It’s easier to commit.  The bride and groom want nothing less.

Feel, do, be
As we know, over time, circumstances change.  Feelings don’t last.  Perhaps the feeling of commitment fades;  but that’s actually where commitment and love really matter.  They need to change also.  They need to change from feelings  to action.  From “I am in love”  to “I love.”  From “I feel committed”, to “I commit”.  From things you feel to things you do
I’m not going to talk about love much more – I can see some of the Year 7s starting to squirm at the front here.  The message is the same, whether it’s love or commitment.  Let me explain, and then connect the start of a marriage with you at the start of the term.
We always start the year with a sense of determination.  We feel committed to learning more French vocabulary, to practising solving those equations four times a week.  We make promises to ourselves to get fit enough to beat that 200m time, to get into the FOBISSEA Games squad.  We resolve to be kinder, to be friendlier, to join one of the community activities, to complete the Managebac reflections more regularly.  To keep our room tidy and do homework on the night it is set …
Our willpower is strong.  We feel committed. 
Terms starts well.  We keep up with the promises.  We feel good about ourselves and that gives us the will, the strength to continue.  Then we might hit a setback.
You need to learn a new concept in chemistry that you find really difficult and it takes you so much time that the other promises get broken.  You get a cold, or a tummy upset and you have a few days where you get behind on your training.  Your laptop crashes unexpectedly and you need to spend days recovering your files from your backups.
Your willpower goes, you no longer feel committed.
This is an important time.  When you no longer FEEL committed is the time when you need to BE committed.  You need to get back on track.  There’s some good news in this; there are ways of doing it.  I’ll give you some ideas for the start of the year. Remember this; perhaps this will help.
Dr. Who: The universe doesn’t care
First, recognise that the world does not have your best interests at heart.  The world is not on your side.  The world does not know about your commitments and is not there to make sure everything goes smoothly.  That’s not negative, that’s not meant to be discouraging.  The world is not against you either.  It’s just random.  Have any of you watched Dr. Who?  Dr. Who recognises this when he says, “The universe doesn’t care.” So, when things don’t go YOUR way, just shrug and say, “That’s just the universe being random!”
The second idea is that your brain is in a really good state right now!  You feel optimistic, energised and committed.  Your brain is also in a really good stage of development.   As you go through your teenage years, you will reach the stage where you no longer need to be controlled by the feelings you have.  As you go through secondary school, you will increase your ability to manage your feelings.  The feelings will sometimes still feel like they happen TO you, with something beyond your control creating them.  You have a choice in how you respond, however. You can actually create the right feelings of commitment by being committed by turning commitment into an action. Here’s how it works.

Commitment = Action
The alarm bell goes off at 5.30am and you really should be in the pool training by 6.15.  You feel awful.  You had a terrible day the day before.  You have lost that feeling of commitment you had at the start of term.  You switch the alarm off and start to go back to sleep.
Or, you don’t.  You remember Mr. Dyer’s assembly.  You recognise that the feeling of commitment has faded at that moment.  The events of yesterday were randon.  It was just the universe showing that it’s not on anybody’s side and you don’t let this get in your way. 
Get control of your feelings and don’t even think.  Get to the pool and get in and swim before you start thinking.  I guarantee that by the time you get there, you will feel good about yourself, pleased at your willpower, your determination and your commitment.
So, you get home from school and you really should learn that French vocabulary.  But your little brother really wants you to play his new X-Box game with him.  So the vocab can wait, and by the time you get round to it, it’s time to eat, and then do the rest of your homework….
Or not.  You recognise that your commitment is being tested by the random universe, in the form of your little brother.  You recognise the feelings you have, the temptation of the X-Box, and you stop those thoughts.  You go to your room, sit at your desk and spend 20 minutes on your vocabulary, even though you don’t feel like it.  By the time you finish, you WILL feel good about yourself, and pleased that you showed some commitment.

So, the message is this.  If you feel optimistic, excited, determined and committed today that is really good news.  If you have made promises to yourself about the year ahead, excellent!
But remember:
Recognise and understand that the feeling of commitment sometimes fades. 
Recognise and understand that the random universe sometimes gets in the way of your plans. 
And recognise and understand that when that happens, THAT is the time when you show your commitment, when it’s tough and when you don’t actually feel like it.  It’s in your control, you have the power.
With those thoughts, I offer all of our best wishes to our newly married teachers as they embark on a lifetime of commitment and I wish you all the best for a successful and committed year.


With traffic congestion becoming an unwelcome feature of life in Thao Dien, we should need no further encouragement to find alternaways of getting to and from school.  This article outlines the academic benefits tive of walking to school.

Want your teen to do well in class? Make them walk to school! How pupils' cognitive performance may be improved if they travel on foot.

The longer the students had to walk, the better their cognitive performance
Study published by Archives of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
Looked at teenage girls who either walked or travelled by bus or car
Females who walk for 15 minutes outperformed those who walk less

PUBLISHED: 15:40 GMT, 26 August 2013 | UPDATED: 21:04 GMT, 26 August 2013

A study has suggested that a pupil's cognitive performance may be improved if they walk to school rather than be driven in, and girls are more likely to benefit from this than boys. The new research, published in Archives of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found performance at school among teenage girls who take a walk to the classroom is better than those who travel by bus or car.

The study found that girls' cognitive performance may be improved if they walk to school

Females who took 15 minutes or longer to walk in outperformed those who live in closer proximity. The University of Granada, the Autonomous University of Madrid, the University of Zaragoza and the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid embarked on the joint project and discovered the link between physical activity and performance in class.

Researchers used a sample of 1,700 boys and girls aged between 13 and 18 in five Spanish cities through the Food and Assessment of the Nutritional Status of Spanish Adolescents study.

The authors outlined that plasticity of the brain is greatest in teenage years. They wrote that during adolescence, 'the plasticity of the brain is greater than at any other time of life, which makes it the opportune period to stimulate cognitive function.' However this is also the period of life where physical activity declines most, too, and this is greatest in girls.  Therefore researchers outlined that: 'Inactive adolescents could be missing out on a very important stimulus to improve their learning and cognitive performance.'

Dr Frank Eves, a Chartered Psychologist, suggests there are two points that urge caution about the potentially interesting result, reported the British Psychological Society (

'The study suggests not only that active travel may be related to cognitive performance in girls but also that greater effects may occur for durations of 15 minutes of more,' he said. But Dr Eves pointed out that while the improvement seemed to correlate directly with the increased activity pre-school, circumstances surrounding the lifestyles and upbringing of those girls that walked to school could also have a bearing on how well the girls performed.  That is to say, it is not certain that the increased activity is the sole factor in the improved results. 

'The data are cross-sectional and do not allow any interpretation in terms of the direction of the effect. 
'It is quite possible that parents who actively encourage their daughters to be healthy - i.e. get sufficient physical activity - also actively encourage them with their school work.

Dr Eves also noted that increased walking had been seen to improve cognitive function in elderly women too. But Dr Eves says that more experimental studies are required to truly assess the benefits of walking on mental health. 'What is required is formal test of whether increased physical activity, specifically active transport to school, produces increased cognitive performance. The logistics of such a study are non-trivial. 

Secondly, Dr Eves questioned why there was no effect reported for boys.
'Although the authors seem to argue that girls show greater declines in physical activity during adolescence than boys, and hence are more likely to benefit, there would still be numerous boys who also could benefit,' he said.  Nonetheless, he added, a new report by Dezateux and colleagues has shown that levels of physical activity are lower in girls than boys at the age of seven. 

Those similar gender differences have also been reported in pre-schoolers in the USA by Sallis and colleagues. 

'Encouraging girls to be more physically active is a major issue,' he concluded.

Year 12 IB Induction Day

On Friday 23rd of August the new Year 12 students returned to BIS for an Induction Day. During the morning session they were asked to reflect upon their approach to learning and to consider learning as a skill that can be developed. They completed surveys on their learning attributes and on whether they possessed a growth mindset – one that views a challenge as an opportunity to develop and making mistakes as a natural part of making progress.

In the afternoon session, BIS students devised and ran a range of activities for local children including swimming, trampolining, dance, theatre, music and costume design. 

Richard Arch
IB Coordinator


This last week has been a busy week for the Community Service Projects in An Phu Secondary. For the first time, trips were organised for all teachers - new and old - to experience the work we do with our Community Partners. Time was spent in local Vietnamese Schools teaching English to the children of Huynh Van Ngoi Primary School and entering discussions with students of the An Phu Secondary School. We also organised activities with the Street Kids of Binh Tho and finally entertained the Elderly at the Dieu Phap Pagoda. The idea was simple – to give everyone the opportunity to experience and understand the value of what we do in our surrounding community, in addition to encouraging them to get involved. From the feedback received, we believe that it was a valuable afternoon off-campus and one to be repeated.

This led onto another first this year – a “Community ECA Fair” for all students and teachers. The aim was to give student s the chance to gather information, get a feeling as to what goes on in ECA’s specifically run by Community Service before having to make their overall school choices. It ran during break and lunch time on Thursday and with good numbers of students from all years flowing through the Auditorium, significant commitments have been made with sign-ups on CHQ.

Overall a busy week but a good start to a promising Term 1 with a new team on board – welcome to Daphnee Deleporte (New Community Campus Co-ordinator).

Ian Wilson
Exams & Community Service Officer

Sport News

Information to parents

A letter was emailed to all parents regarding information and procedures in Physical Education. Please feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions relating to this letter.

Sports Clubs

There are over 45 sports clubs taking place at An Phu Secondary so please encourage your child to get involved! Students should follow the CHQ instructions listed on the information email that came out to parents this week. The activities booklet can be found by following the link to the school website:

Sports Clubs & Paid Sports Clubs will begin on the week of Monday 9th September and run until the week ending Sunday 1st December. There will be no activities during the October half term.

Overseas Sports Trips

Letters will shortly be distributed for the following sports trips:

U15 FOBISSEA Games hosted by British International School, Ho Chi Minh City

Phuket 7’s football tournament (for Years 10 and above students unless invited by the PE department)

Bangkok Swimming Competition.

The U13 FOBISSEA Games will take place in March next year and further details will follow later in the term. Any Year 7’s who are interested in taking part in this event should choose the relevant sports clubs in term 1 (football, basketball, swimming & athletics).

Sports Fixtures

We have another very busy Sports Fixtures schedule with the majority of fixtures taking place after school on Thursday’s. Some Senior Competitions will also take place on Saturday mornings. The first set of fixtures begin on Thursday 12th September and fixtures will run throughout all three terms.

This year we will continue to use the online system called CHQ and you would all have received a letter explaining this system.

If your child is selected for a sports team, you will be notified by email and asked to read the details. The email will include times, dates, venues and maps. You will then be prompted to respond to the email by either clicking the green YES tab (to give permission for your son/daughter to play) or the red NO tab (permission has not been granted). This information will then be sent directly back to the PE staff and enable them to monitor their squads for the forthcoming fixture. Students will be notified of their selection by team lists being displayed in the main undercroft area at the An Phu Secondary school. If you have any concerns or feedback regarding this system please do not hesitate to let me know.

Interhouse Football

The Interhouse system will take place at the end of this term and further information will be distributed to parents and students.  Badminton will take place in term 1 during lunchtimes.