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Principal's Blog

PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 2ND APRIL 2021 - SONGKRAN

We are here! We have reached the end of Term 2 and the Songkran holidays begin!

...I say this with a tinge of sadness and anxiety as Thailand enters another period of rising COVID cases. We all await news and information of the restrictions and safety measures that will be put in place over the holiday period.

Songkran is an important event in Thailand’s Buddhist calendar; it is a festival of water and marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. The name Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘passing’ or ‘approaching’.

This year, the streets won’t be filled with crowds of people throwing buckets of water, neither will we see water pistols being used and the familiar trepidation of being absolutely soaked (and the thrill of soaking absolutely everyone one in the vicinity!) will be replaced with something quieter and more reflective to start the new year.

What remains the same however is family.

Appreciation of family is an important aspect of the festival, with many Thai people making their way to their home towns to spend time with relatives. Buddhists also visit temples throughout Songkran, where water is poured on Buddha images and on the hands of Buddhist monks as a mark of respect. It is a time to refresh, to revitalise and to reset the balance.

I wish you a positive and refreshing period of revitalisation and reset over the coming weeks: whether you are in Thailand and celebrating the festival or – for that matter - wherever you may be in the world. 

What will this year bring we wonder? We have had so many challenges already. Nevertheless, I take solace in the knowledge we have all travelled through them together, we have built resilience together and we have learnt how to manage scenarios we never thought possible. We have seen the world from a totally different perspective…and sometimes, perhaps, that’s necessary. We will remain strong and hopeful.

I wish you a beautiful and graceful start to the year.

Happy Songkran Everyone!
 
สวัสดีวันสงกรานต์
 
        sà-wàt-dee wan Songkran
 
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PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 2ND APRIL 2021 - RESPONSIBILITY

This week, our new ‘Value of the Month’ is launched for  April - ‘Responsibility’. 

I talk a lot about coming together as a community; with this I also mention the importance of a sense of personal responsibility too. 

What I mean by that is taking responsibility for yourself; for your actions and words and for your decisions and choices. 

We all make both good and bad choices; no matter what age we are. It is only through taking responsibility for our choices, both the good and the bad, that we can reflect, take full ownership of our actions and allow ourselves to learn from them and most importantly to grow, mature and change. 

The past twelve months - for myself and for us all - have seen unprecedented change to our daily lives. Many things outside of our control have dictated the ways in which we interact with others, how we travel and how we live. But in taking responsibility for our own reactions and emotions; for how flexible we allow ourselves to be and how willing we are to see the silver linings (however small!) I believe we take back a sense of control. 

This is the message that I will be taking to all of our children over the next month. I believe a sense of responsibility over personal actions and decisions dovetails so naturally with a wider sense of responsibility for your friends, your family and your community. 

As our children grow and as many of them will, I believe, take up positions in life with great influence - I hope that this message of responsibility is remembered...and that ultimately, it starts with yourself. 


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PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 26TH MARCH 2021 - COMMUNITY

This week I’ve been thinking about community. Specifically, I was thinking about a sense of community which many of us strive for and which, for a few, they’re incredibly lucky to already be a part of. 

I feel incredibly lucky. It goes without saying that I very much feel a huge sense of community when I’m here at City Campus and I speak a lot about this; about our families and our staff, via social media and other digital channels...

...last weekend however, I got the chance to thank our community in person for the first time since lockdown. 
On Saturday 20 March we hosted an Easter Family Fun Day here on campus; a celebration of colour, fun and (yes, that’s right…) COMMUNITY!

There was so much happening! We had Easter crafts and games, a swimming competition, live music and singing….we had extremely cute animals from our friends at Farm de Lek, which the children loved to feed and experience up close, we had a fairground train ride, photo booth and even some colourful clowns walking around making balloon animals...and I haven't even mentioned the many many market stalls selling delicious food, drink and craft products. 

That’s when I started thinking about community - the seed that has been in my mind all week. It dawned on me how much I had missed that physical interaction - the smiles, the spontaneous conversations and laughter - that only comes from real and interactive engagement. 

I was so happy to be able to be part of an event which thanked our community and which reminded me again about how much we all share. I believe the sense of belonging to something - the interdependence which comes from this - is such a positive thing. It's certainly true that we teach our children about independence and personal responsibility - but this goes hand-in-hand, I believe, with an acknowledgement of belonging; membership to a shared feeling of connectedness. 

This weekend, I hope you are able to find your sense of community in whatever guise that might be. The wonderful thing about a sense of community is exactly that - it’s a sense. A feeling. There is no set structure or organisational right or wrong. It’s a sense of belonging to something - and wanting to belong to something - which I believe we all share.  

Please take a moment to think about all that you’re part of; the people and the shared experiences that bring you together with others - and take a moment to be thankful for your community, wherever they may be.   


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PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 19TH MARCH 2021 - A DAY OF HAPPINESS

Tomorrow, 20th March, is International Day of Happiness

It’s been a dedicated day to be happy since 2013. In fact, it was the United Nations (UN) which first celebrated International Day of Happiness as a way to recognise the importance of this vital emotion in the lives of people all around the world. 

Six years ago the UN launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which were set out with the aim to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our planet – three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness. 

Each year the United Nations invites everyone; of every age; every classroom, business and government to join in the celebration of this international day and I think it’s one of the very best: a whole day dedicated to feeling happy! 

In preparation for tomorrow, City Campus embraced their own happiness day today by inviting everyone to dress in clothes that made them feel happy and to style their hair differently in ‘Wacky Hair Day’. The purpose was to make us all smile and have fun - as well as raising money for our 3 chosen charities: Scholars of Sustenance, Second Chance Bangkok and UNICEF.  

The day started with happy tunes being blasted out through the school's sound system; children and staff dancing into school in their colourful creative attire!

Year 2 children were amazingly confident in their polished assembly which launched our special day. Children shared what makes them happy  - and friends and family were top of the list! They also made pledges of happiness and told us about the importance of sharing happiness with others. It reminded me that a smile is contagious and the words of the song they sang so beautifully reflected that sentiment:

When you're smilin', when you're smilin'
The whole world smiles with you
When you're laughin', when you're laughin'
The sun comes shinin' through

I invite everyone to write down the things that make you happy. I bet you’ll be surprised how long that list will be! Then, like the children, make a pledge of what you will commit to doing to ensure our world is a happy place….

3, 2, 1….go! 


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PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 12TH MARCH 2021 - A CONNECTED GLOBAL VILLAGE

My thoughts this week turn to connection and collaboration. We really are such a global village and I just love this idea. 

This week we had our Board of Governors meeting. Despite not being able to travel, we were all connected online from the Boardroom at City Campus, to the Boardroom at Shrewsbury UK School and to our CEO at his offices in China. It is just amazing how this last year has changed and realigned our thinking about what’s possible. Our meeting was just as purposeful, productive and future thinking as always - with continued support, guidance and ‘critical friend’ conversations as valuable as ever.

City Campus this week also hosted a Leadership Seminar, which was focused on Global Citizenship. This was led virtually by ‘Global Citizen’ Rob Unwin, who is currently based in the UK. He facilitated some thought provoking, stimulating discussions around perceptions, perspectives, critical literature and bringing a balanced view to our curriculum and teaching pedagogy. 

He focused our thoughts on how we can challenge assumptions and he highlighted the interdependency of our global world. All of the products and services we take for granted - they all depend on a global network of collaboration and communication; a simple concept which really hit home. In a world where we may sometimes feel isolated (especially at a time where travel isn't possible), I took comfort in the idea that everything around us is the product of such a network of partnership and of people working together.  

And finally, today, I attended the virtual FOBISIA Heads Business Meeting. FOBISIA stands for the ‘Federation of British International Schools in Asia’ and once again the idea of connection and collaboration was highlighted as I talked with schools from across Asia. I love how we work together to support each other and, ultimately, to ensure our children have fantastic opportunities. 

I believe our global village of established connections brings with it a growing network of strength and possibilities.

Right now we may be a world apart, but we are connected. Our new future?


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PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 05TH MARCH 2021 - DEVELOPING A LOVE OF LITERATURE

We have had such a fabulous first week back after the holidays; a week which was full of literature and imagination. The campus has been buzzing with excitement as children and staff fully embraced our ‘Reading around the World’ book week events and activities.

At the moment we can’t travel the world easily; but in true ‘Silver Linings’ fashion, we brought the world to us with words. Words from all over the world and from so many different perspectives and voices. 

I read a lot of books when I was a child and I remember being fascinated by faraway places (like Thailand!) as I read from my cosy corner in Morecambe; a small seaside town in the northwest of England. When I was a child I couldn’t travel much either, and I think books and stories, which come to us so freely, bring us tremendous wisdom, excitement and adventure. That’s why I’ve been so thrilled to see our children ‘Reading around the World’, with each child having a focused country to explore and a ‘Reading Passport’ challenge to encourage the reading of books and stories from every continent…

…and talking of different continents; Andy Wright, an amazing international storyteller, joined us in a series of captivating virtual sessions all the way from New Zealand. It was beautiful to see all our children totally absorbed as Andy painted pictures with words from a Mauri perspective.

The final celebration of the week was a wonderful Book Day assembly. Students dressed as characters from their favourite books and we saw such a wide variety: Harry Potter, Frida Kahlo, Frogs, Astronauts, Little Red Riding Hood, Cruella Deville and (nearly)101 Dalmatians, ‘Where’s Wally?’, Matilda, Miss Trunchbull, Fairies, Caterpillars, JellyFish, Cowboys, a full range of superheroes and so much more - please watch out for all the photographs we will share!

If you’re not already reading something - please pick up a book soon and dive in. Our children are learning to love literature and they’ve reminded me just how much I love it too!

#CultureAtShrewsbury


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PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 12TH FEBRUARY 2021 - MOVING FORWARD INTO NEW OPPORTUNITIES

 

This week we celebrated Chinese New Year, which was organised by our truly talented Mandarin team. I’m constantly amazed at the dedication, expertise and enthusiasm of our staff and this week was without exception. 
 
Children enjoyed a fascinating assembly, not only hearing about the Chinese provinces our team come from but also learning about the traditions which take place over this important event. I was wowed with the children's knowledge of CNY when they participated in a special quiz; getting 100% of the questions correct. Who knew that dumplings represent prosperity because of their resemblance to ancient Chinese ‘ingots’ (used as currency for centuries in China)?! Certainly not me! 
 
Continuing with our Chinese New Year theme - the school has been an absolute hive of activity! It’s so lovely to see a working campus again:
 
Children have been making New Year cards, creating Ox horn hats, Chinese rattle drums and participating in Chinese funfair activities: ‘the Fishing game’, ‘Fruits on head’, ‘Chopsticks vs Ping Pong ball’ and ‘the Pitch-Pot game’. All of this was set against an elegantly decorated campus, with traditional lanterns and dragons...and on Thursday all of the staff and the students dressed in their finest Chinese attire. It felt incredibly special. 
 
We’re coming out of the Year of the Rat. Last year, forecasts said that a flexible and open mind would make our life much easier - we were also told to keep a lookout for opportunities and make the most out of them. Well - we certainly had to do that last year!! Although there were big challenges, this is exactly what we did as a community.

This year, the Year of the Ox, predicts new opportunities. Let’s not allow anxiety or negative thinking to affect us as we move forward together...let’s see what opportunities come our way this year.

I wish you all happiness, joy, peace and hope... 

Happy  New Year !  新 春 快 乐 牛 年 大 吉


#WeAreShrewsbury


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PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 5TH FEBRUARY 2021 - PATIENCE PAYS

It is so wonderful to have all our children back in school; friends reunited; laughter and learning; grateful to be together once more. All of us remained incredibly patient over the last month - especially our students - and this patience has paid off. Our campus is buzzing once again and fulfilling its purpose as a place of shared knowledge and understanding. 

This week we celebrated ‘Read Aloud Day‘ with members of staff reading to children all around the playground during lunchtime. It was incredible to see children absorbed in such wonderful imaginary adventures and grow their love of literature. 

We’re also gearing up for Chinese New Year next week. The year of the Ox. The Mandarin Team at City Campus tell me that the Ox is associated with virtues of hard work and honesty; virtues that I personally value very much. While next week’s celebrations will be much more low key than originally planned, I believe that our continued patience, hard work and positive attitude will pay off and be a valuable early lesson for our children. Their experience now will mean our future innovators, leaders, movers and shakers are more patient and measured in the future world they inhabit.  

Our new focused value of the month is, in fact, patience......over the past twelve months we have all practiced this in abundance.

Let our expertise continue to shine and pay off as we navigate the next chapter together.

#WeAreShrewsbury


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PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 29TH JANUARY 2021 - WE ARE FAMILY

This week the very first ‘International Leadership Seminar’ took place over Zoom, connecting all the Principals and leaders from Shrewsbury Schools in Hong Kong, China, Bangkok and the UK.

Despite the challenges we are all facing in unique ‘country specific’ circumstances, our spirits were high and discussions were reflective and optimistic. 

These timely reflections on leadership, with a focus on lessons learned from 2020 and plans for continued close working across the Shrewsbury schools, filled me with a strong continued commitment to collaboration across our family.

The power of community, connection and communication were at the heart of our discussions.

The Primary schools will launch a project designed to encourage reflection, so that Shrewsbury students have an opportunity to share their experiences and learn from one another. Student Council members will first pilot this concept.

Exciting times ahead.

#WeAreShrewsbury


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PRINCIPAL'S BLOG - 22ND JANUARY 2021 - BALANCE

This week, I've been making sure I keep the right balance.

A balance of rest and diligence and a balance of positivity and pragmatism. 

The situation in Thailand is beginning to look more positive. The BMA announcement this morning allowed more businesses permission to re-open from today - and we have everything crossed that school will be able to open soon. But we know that official guidance means distance learning will continue for at least the rest of this month and the whole team here at City Campus is working hard in a practical way to ensure children's learning continues successfully. 

We continue to do all we can to support our children at home and it’s very much ‘business as usual’. 

I was also thinking this week about the right balance for our students; I believe it is important to get a balance of onscreen and offscreen learning and our teachers are working hard to ensure we provide the right mix of recorded, live and offline content each day.

After the delivery of our Early Years Busy Bags last week, we prepared Mindfulness Matters bags for our Year 1 - 6 children.

The bags are aimed at allowing children to get the right balance and take a break from screen time by being creative, planting and growing a sunflower, writing and drawing in a journal and finding the silver linings in these challenging times.

I’m so excited to share all of these silver linings when we’re back together again (which will be soon!) 

Have a relaxing, safe and balanced weekend…

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