Dear Parents and Guardians,
As we approach the end of May, it is time to celebrate the successes of the month. It’s hard to believe that we only have one month left of this academic year, yet it feels like yesterday when we welcomed our students back after the summer break. Time truly flies when you are having fun, and this year has been no exception.
I am delighted to share that our Year 13 students have completed their International Baccalaureate (IB) exams and have officially graduated! Tonight, they will come together to celebrate their achievements at the much-anticipated dinner dance. It is a time of immense pride for the students and our school community. We have watched them grow and develop into exceptional individuals, ready to embark on their future journeys. I am sure they are anxious to receive their grades in July, but today is a time to celebrate with their peers, which is greatly deserved.
Meanwhile, our Year 11 students are still in the midst of their exams. Some have had exams scheduled as late as 9:30 pm, but despite the challenges, they have shown remarkable focus and resilience. Their dedication and hard work are commendable, and we are confident they will perform to the best of their abilities.
One aspect that sets our school apart is our values in action curriculum. Our Head of Global Learning, Ben Edwards, along with Amishi Varanasi (7S2) and Matthew Pang (8N2) from his photography club, volunteered their time and utilised their skills in a real-life setting. They captured precious memories during the graduation ceremony, which was greatly appreciated. This practical application of learning enhances their skills and reinforces our school’s ethos of making a positive difference in the world.
Additionally, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our Learning Support department. Led by Gavin Guest, our students embarked on a camping trip, where they honed their life skills, became more independent, and strengthened their social and leadership abilities through collaborative tasks and play. The atmosphere during the trip was fantastic, very supportive and fun!
Lastly, I would like to share a personal milestone. This month, my own daughter graduated from South Island School. Having worked with ESF for many years, I have had the privilege of getting to know many families and students since Year 1. It has been an incredible journey filled with joy, challenges, and unforgettable moments. Celebrating the successes of our students as they graduate and embark on new adventures is a truly rewarding experience. I am confident they will continue to make a positive difference in our world, and I am grateful to have been a part of their educational journey.
As we conclude this month, I want to express my deepest gratitude to you, the parents, for your unwavering support and trust in our school. It is your partnership that makes our community strong and vibrant. I also want to commend our dedicated teachers and staff for their tireless efforts in shaping the lives of our students.
Upcoming Events & Information
(1) YEAR 6 TRANSITION EVENTS
On Wednesday 31 May, welcome Year 6 parents to our information evening about the Year 7 transition at South Island School. These events are great opportunities for parents to learn more about the school and meet some teachers and staff. These sessions support the transition to secondary school, building confidence and excitement about the next stage in the learning journey.
We are also excited to welcome the Year 6 students to a Transition Day in preparation for their start in Year 7. This day is designed to help students become familiar with our school and to ease the transition from primary to secondary school. This is an exciting day for the whole community as we welcome the new students to the South Island School family!
(2) YEAR 9 RSE DAY
On Wednesday 31st May, students in Year 9 will have a morning focused on Relationships and Sexuality Education. As this is a crucial time in the development of adolescents, we want to ensure that our students are equipped with knowledge and understanding of this important subject area. We are delighted to welcome back guest speaker Dr Helen Duckworth-Smith, a Family Health Physician and member of the Royal College of Physicians, to share her expertise with the students. Dr Helen’s talk will focus on the questions the Y9 students submitted to her. The other sessions during the morning will focus on relationship boundaries, pornography and body image.
(3) YEAR 11 FINE ART EXHIBITION
The GCSE Fine Art Exhibition will take place in the Space on June 6th from 4 pm to 6 pm. These art pieces are the culmination of 2 years of work for the GCSE Fine Art students and are available for viewing.
Making A Difference
(1) ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
The speed at which Artificial Intelligence has developed since the release of Open AI: ChatGPT 3 in November 2022 has been astonishing and described as a double exponential rate! Many of you will have seen this firsthand with the improvement from ChatGPT 3 to ChatGPT 4. We should also recognise that AI is not only synonymous with ChatGPT but rather there are already many generative AI tools across all disciplines, as seen by the snapshot below.
At SIS, we have adopted a balanced perspective on adopting these new tools. This involves acknowledging and then teaching students some of the ethical concerns about what constitutes cheating, using AI tools alongside some of the obvious benefits they bring. More specifically, staff have been encouraged to introduce AI in subject disciplines via the use of the graphic below from Matt Miller.
On Friday the 12th of May, Larisa Curran, Nicholas Marshall-Brown and I provided a staff training session, which touched upon the wider context of AI use in society as a whole. Please watch this helpful video, ‘The A.I. Dilemma,’ created by the Center for Humane Technology (CHT) (CHT) and led by technology experts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin. As many of you will know, I have been an advocate of Humane Technological use for some time. In 2022, I undertook the free CHT course, Foundations of Humane Technology, which is online, via eight highly informative modules. You can find it here. It is relevant to everyone, regardless of the industry that you work in.
Larisa, using the work of Jason Lodge from Queensland University as an inspiration, explored the opportunity for staff to help redesign some facets of the curriculum to leverage the new tools on offer better, changing the focus away from traditional summative tasks with more of an emphasis on the learning process itself. She encouraged staff to consider the idea of ‘cognitive offloading’ by using AI tools to perform some of the more time consuming administrative chores so that the time can be better spent working closely with students.
Using the work of Tom Gibson from the Knowledge Source Institute, Nick gave some practical tips comparing the use of various AI tools such as ChatGPT 3, Chat GPT 4 and Perplexity. More specifically, he highlighted the ability of generative tools to break down complex conceptual ideas into language understandable by students of a certain age group. In addition, he also showcased the use of image creation tools such as Stable Diffuser and their possible use across a range of subjects.
In our discussions with students, there is an equal measure of excitement and anxiety about what AI means for their future. Still, a collective, collaborative approach is the most helpful strategy to adopt. The training session delivered on the 12th of May was the start in ensuring that AI tools are an important part of the agenda at school. Notably, on the same day, the European Parliament took significant strides towards adopting a new AI Act in June, whilst earlier this week, Open AI suggested that artificial intelligence needs an international regulatory body before the next update. See here for more information.
Please feel free to contact me if you want to discuss AI in terms of pedagogy or discuss the ethical implications of this breathtakingly quick technological development.
Phase Year 7-9
Message from Head of Phase Year 7-9:
RSE morning for Year 8 students took place on 10th May, with a focus on the following;
- Session 1: Pornography
- Session 2: Being an ally
- Session 3: Consent + Boundaries
- Session 4: Key Speaker – Mrs Rebecca Bushell ( Health Professional and Midwife) – Menstruation
This was an excellent opportunity to give space for students to learn more about these topic areas and why it’s important as part of our RSE curriculum.
Year 7 – In the PLC sessions, the Year 7s have been very busy making SIS survival skills videos ready to show to the Year 6 students on ESF Transition Day on June 2nd. They are also very excited to welcome the younger students to South Island School and are looking forward to not being the youngest year group anymore! Videos to follow when the final editing is complete!
VALUES IN ACTION
Prefect School Tours
A group of experienced Year 9 prefects (Jasper Siu, Valerie Yan, Kotomi Matsuyama and Isaac Kwong) supported some potential Year 9 prefects for next year on their first school tour for some prospective parents on Friday 19th May.
Family Bauhinia Student Voice
The SIS Student Council has met twice this month to discuss priorities leading up to the end of this academic year. The Family Bauhinia students have really stepped up since the older students are preoccupied with their internal exams. They’ve worked hard planning fun activities for the younger students to ensure they finish the year in good spirits. This week they planned how to address student issues with the leadership team ready for the next school year.
Y9 – HKAYP (bronze)
In a PLC session recently, Year 9 students were very enthused by Mr Oliver’s presentation on the HKAYP that students can enrol in when they reach Year 9. Endurance skills and a positive attitude are essential skills.
The Year 8 prefects were busy supporting Family Bauhinia kindness week last week. Here is Chastain Ho posting heart for the scavenger hunt. Year 8 prefects collected the contributions for the casual dress day and were delighted with a total of ………. to pass on to ImpactHk.
Family Bauhinia celebrated May 4th by dressing up as Stormtroopers.
Over 80 Family Bauhinia students have signed up for the Netball ECA for term 3. It’s great to see their competitive spirit and love of the game.
Head of Phase (Year 7-9)
Phase Year 10-11
Message from Head of Phase Year 10-11:
For Year 10 students, the internal assessments are over, and they will receive their PCC report cards mid – June. This is a great time to discuss academic goals as a family and make plans to address any areas of weakness. While the holidays are an important time to rest and recharge, we encourage students to spend additional time on their knowledge gaps and prepare to face Year 11 productively.
Year 11 students continue to work through a busy time of examinations. We are about halfway through the process with the I/GCSE examinations complete on 20 June. We want to congratulate Year 11 for working through a particularly busy period, with exams going late into the evening and taking place on Public Holidays.
VALUES IN ACTION
We are proud of our Year 10 students who have stepped up their activity outside the timetabled curriculum and are taking on many leadership roles. A group of Year 10 students has been selected to represent the student panel in the Principal Recruitment process. It has been great to work with these students to consider the type of person who would best fit into the leadership of our school community.
We will also look for current Year 10 student volunteers to work on a peer mentoring project at the start of the next academic year. We believe that hearing students’ first-hand experiences of the IGCSE phase will help new Year 10 students feel prepared and settled for their journey ahead.
We understand this is a long eleven-week half-term leading to the summer break. It is crucial for students to keep balance during this time and ensure they plan plenty of rest and breaks from their busy academic schedules. We encourage our students to care for their physical and mental health during lessons. Seeing this in action in our Year 10 core PE class this morning was wonderful. Students were keeping some much-needed balance by enjoying a master class in Scottish Dancing!
Head of Phase (Year 10-11)
Phase Year 12-13
Message from Head of Phase Year 12-13:
On 19 May, our last Year 13 students finished their exam. The unlucky Psychology students who had to write exams until the end of the three-week period celebrated with the rest of their cohort as they walked out of the exam hall that afternoon. After these months of hard work preparing, our students can finally breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the freedom that comes with the end of their secondary school life. They can now take some time to relax, unwind, and reflect on all they have accomplished throughout their life here at South Island School. There were two events at the end of May which provided us as a school an opportunity to do this with them – the Commencement Ceremony on 23 May, and Dinner Dance on 25 May.
While our Year 13s celebrate, our Year 12 have begun their Internals – practice exams that form an important (but not the only) piece of evidence toward their final predicted grades. They are undoubtedly revising hard, and we wish them all the best as they complete these in May and early June.
VALUES IN ACTION
Our Year 12s have been spending some time recently focusing on CAS during their Tuesday morning PLC sessions. Along with participating in CAS experiences, students must document their experiences through appropriate planning, engagement in learning outcomes, and reflection. The sessions have been a reminder about the expectations for the summer and an opportunity to celebrate successes in CAS projects.
Our CAS Coordinator, Ms Toya Elliot, has also led the student CAS Committee to launch the first SIS@CAS website, designed “as a legacy for current and future CAS students, to help [them] better understand the requirements of CAS”. Please feel free to explore the website here.
As the Year 12s begin their Internal Assessments, we have heard from many of them about the stress they are facing. While there are strategies we can use to help alleviate the stress (e.g., eating well, getting enough sleep, planning a study schedule), there will be times when we are stressed. A part of wellbeing is understanding and realising this, but also remembering that times of stress will be followed by times of relaxation and celebration like our Year 13s are now experiencing. There is a time for everything under the sun, and we find peace by resting in each moment.
Head of Phase (Year 12-13)
May Weekly Newsletters
(1) STUDENT ACHIEVEMENTS
LS CITIZENSHIP CLASS
The LS Citizenship class have been working hard to brighten the school and improve air quality with their community project – putting some beautiful plants into classrooms! After working with Mr Edwards, Mr Melsom and the school gardener who kindly donated the plants, the students researched how to care for them, then reached out to teachers on C block 3rd and 4th floor to ask if they would like a plant in their classroom. After repotting and carefully preparing each plant, the students delivered them to their new homes!
(2) YEAR 9 CHINESE TRIP TO FLAGSTAFF HOUSE MUSEUM OF TEA WARE
Y9 Chinese AB classes visited the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware on Monday 22nd May. The students had a great opportunity to see tea ware from various dynasties and contemporary designs and to appreciate the remarkable skills and creativity of Chinese artisans from all eras. The visit helped our students better understand the current Unit 4 project related to Chinese traditions and will have particular relevance for those hosting a Chinese and Japanese tea ceremony in the Language Week on Thursday 15th June.
(3) SPORTS & PE
U16 CRICKET BOYS
SIS travelled to Gin Drinker’s Bay to take on the previously undefeated IKTMC in the semi-finals of the Schools Cricket League. A heavy downpour greeted the team, and IKTMC won the toss and chose to bat. SIS bowlers were disciplined throughout despite bowling with a wet ball that resembled a bar of soap. James Walker was the pick of the bowlers with an outstanding spell of 4-18. SIS were happy to restrict the opposition to 127. SIS made a steady start and were in a good position halfway through the innings at 50-2. SIS began to lose wickets in search of more quick runs and ended on 91-8. The team were disappointed not to make the final, but this is the furthest SIS has progressed in 10 seasons. With the youngest team in the competition and all players eligible for next year, there is plenty to build on.
Linked below are this month’s weekly newsletters:
Reminders & Upcoming Events
- Thursday, 25 – Year 13 Dinner Dance at Harbour Grand Hotel, 6:30 pm-10:30 pm
- Friday, 26 – Public Holiday: The Birthday of the Buddha
- Wednesday, 31 – Year 11 Fine Art Exhibition
- Wednesday, 31 – Year 9 RSE Morning
- Wednesday, 31 – Year 6 New Parent Evening
- Friday, 2 – Year 6 Transition Day
- Friday, 2 – Year 12 CV and Interview Workshop
- Tuesday, 6 – GCSE Exhibition Opening
- Thursday, 8 – Year 12 CORE Day
- Friday, 9 – Swim Gala
- Monday 12 – Language Week
- Wednesday, 14 – Year 9 Community Project
- Wednesday, 14 – Year 12 RSE Morning
- Thursday, 15 – SIS Film and Media Awards
- Friday 16- Term 3: Last Day of Activities
- Friday, 16 – Year 10 to Year 12 Bahay, Mason and Maison Assembly
- Friday, 16 – Year 9, Year 10 and Year 12 Careers Afternoon
- Monday, 19 – SIS Celebration Week
- Tuesday, 20 – Family Bauhinia Assembly
- Thursday, 22 – Public Holiday: Dragon Boat Festival
- Friday, 23 – Year 10 to Year 12 Casa, Namas and Shtepi Assembly
- Friday, 30 – Whole School Assembly
- Friday, 30 – Last Day of School
If your son or daughter has a particular highlight or achievement you would like to share with the community, please email a short description and photo to: email@example.com