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GSIS Gazette – Issue #19

29th May 2020

Ulrich Weghoff

Clare Chiu
Managing Director

GSIS Leavers June/July 2020

From Head of German International Stream

Grit Cichon
Deputy Principal / Head of German International Stream

Kindergarten Corner

Primary Corner

Secondary Corner

From Head of English International Stream

Dear Parents & Students

How are you?

We have experienced so much change and upheaval over the past few months it is important to reflect properly on that simple question, one to which we might easily reply with a simple answer, ‘I’m fine’ or ‘OK’. With all the changes and relative restrictions in our lives recently we probably deserve to give it some deeper thought and, if necessary, take some positive action. Wellbeing and achieving a sense of balance is a social rather than individual activity and requires permission from others in order to have full effect.

Now that the school is (mostly) open, I would like to recognise the support that parents have provided for their children over the school closure. I know it has not been easy and whilst we have sought to continue our learning as a school I am conscious of the impact on life at home when parents are also working, sometimes sharing laptops, not having enough screens for everyone and the inevitable tensions this generates.

Year 10 & Year 12 Parents’ Virtual Town Hall
Ken Stevenson and I held our first Virtual Town Hall with parents of Year 10 and Year 12 students yesterday to review some concerns about our return to school and confirm the timelines for these students who will be entering examination years from August. The event seemed to be a very positive experience as it allowed us to address questions directly; we hope this will mark a new phase in strengthening our home-school partnerships.

Academic Societies
A number of Year 12 students have risen to the challenge to establish their own academic society this year. The idea is for small groups of students to set up a society for a subject area in which they are particularly interested and arrange a series of events for younger students to engage them and promote interest. This can involve visiting speakers, lunchtime seminars, activities and an Action Week, which we will launch at the start of the next academic year. Currently we have societies for Design & Architecture, Economics, Engineering, Medical and Philosophy; the Year 12s know they can come to speak with me about setting up any new ones. It is hoped that these will now continue to grow year on year so, if you as parents feel you have something to contribute here, please get in touch.

Professional Mentorship: parents and alumni network
In connection with the Academic Societies, we would also like to galvanise our extensive parent and alumni network to provide professional mentoring for our students. The aim is to identify parents or alumni in a range of professions to meet with interested students and build opportunities to discuss recommendations for future pathways that are focused on students to develop their passion and experience. The intention is to provide students with a genuine connection to the professional world by connecting with authentic voices that will raise their awareness of the field in which they are interested as well as to guide them in choices about internships or summer programmes or work placements. I have received one or two offers, for which we are very grateful, but we would like a few more; please just send me a quick email with Mentorship Programme in the subject line if you would be willing to be involved in this initiative.

Student Leadership
Whilst the school has been closed a number of key events have continued despite the lockdown. In early April the secondary student body elected their new Head Students for 2020/21:

Sienna Martin
Jonas Hahn

Jenna Hong
Mehak Sheetal

Huge thanks to the outgoing Head Students Vikram Singh and Alex Riel, who coordinated the election process, as well as for all their contributions to the school community this year. And thanks also to the secondary Trust Teachers, Ms McCarrick and Herr Summe for their support as well as to the other candidates who all ran impressive campaigns through Instagram, facebook and their promotional videos. We very much hope to see you all involved in school life over the coming months.

We have been navigating the various limitations to school closure to continue our admissions process for next academic year. Inevitably students and families decide to leave Hong Kong for a variety of reasons and we need to maintain our student numbers to ensure a vibrant learning community year on year. This year, in order to refine the admissions process, we introduced a Cognitive Ability Test, which focuses on students’ potential rather than just on content knowledge, in addition to our internal English and Mathematics tests. We are always hugely impressed by the number of candidates who apply to our school and this clearly demonstrates that we are one of the schools of choice in Hong Kong.

We have also been busy recruiting staff for a number of colleagues who are leaving us at the end of this academic year.

SMT Declan Burke
Primary Debbie Bautista
Jo Eling
Secondary Sueanne Edwards
Canice Gleeson
Max Humberstone
Monique Hyppolite
Chelsia Lau
Steve Megson
Julia Surman

We wish all our leaving colleagues well for their respective futures in various parts of the world, from Switzerland to the USA to Tanzania, and thank them for their collective and significant contribution to enriching the lives of students at GSIS.

Parents will be pleased to know that despite the challenges that Hong Kong is experiencing, superb replacements have been found for all of these staff and we also have an additional headcount in the English Kindergarten with the opening of an additional class in EKG1. We will take time to introduce our new staff in a future edition of The Gazette.

Future Strategy

Two topics that are buzzing at the moment are the school’s review of our online learning programme and our plans for opening next academic year.

The latter topic is dependent on the advice we receive from the Education Bureau but we are confident that a full return to school in August is likely, particularly if there are no further outbreaks over the summer months. The Principal is chairing a group of senior staff who will meet over the next few days to review different scenarios for opening, including a staggered return and blended learning models.

In terms of online learning, we will conduct a full review of the last four months. We have received some valuable feedback from parents through the two surveys and we are grateful to those parents who shared their comments and observations; all of these have been read and will be considered as part of the review. Ultimately, we need to be able to ‘shift gears’ if we have to close school for any reason including Black Rain storms and T8’s as well as any disruption caused by protests or return of Covid-19.

We are really pleased to see our students back in school albeit under restrictive conditions. I am optimistic that things will steadily improve in Hong Kong over time and we can return to a more familiar everyday.

Simon Misso-Veness

Kindergarten Corner

Primary Corner

Secondary Corner