I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our families a very happy Christmas break. As we head into the final week of this term – and this calendar year – there is no slowing down at BSQ. Following our wonderful Christmas Fair at the weekend we now have nativities and end of term celebrations to look forward to. In amongst that, of course, lessons and learning continue as normal.
The Christmas Fair was a great success as always and a great celebration of the creativity and imagination of our staff and students in primary. The stalls looked wonderful and the children have learned a great deal about hard work and entrepreneurship as part of the process. We also enjoyed the stalls of our visitors, some festive entertainment from staff and students and plenty of tasty treats.
This year we have been lucky enough to enjoy a wonderful student choir singing songs and carols at four different events. With thanks to Ms Cano who has spent much time preparing them for their debuts, they have performed at Buena Vista, Plaza del Rancho, BSQ AND Scala shopping this year. Well done to everyone and thank you for your time.
We have also launched our staff choir this year and a group of adults sang both with the children and on their own at BSQ and at Buena Vista. With thanks to Mr Kidd and all the singers for getting the choir up and running and we look forward to more events in the New Year. Watch this space...
With thanks to Nicole Camacho for organizing the event and to all the staff for welcoming the parents, we were proud to share our first enrichment afternoon with the community on Wednesday last week. All the wonderful activities that our students have been taking part in and enjoying since September were on display and even – in some cases – open to parent participation. What a great way to spend the afternoon.
Thank you to everyone who completed this. Now begins the work of exploring the feedback and constructing an action plan to share with you all next term.
Exciting adventures: Lago Agrio
By Gala Gómez Field - Y12 student
Last week, some students of the Lago Agrio CAS project, alongside Mrs. Parker and Mr. Kennedy, went on our first trip to Sucumbíos (Ecuadorian Amazon) in hopes of learning about the dangers of the oil pits created in the 1970s by Texaco Petroleum Co and how the Cofan community –among others– have tried to overcome them.
After a 6-hour bus ride – accompanied by a lunch in a local restaurant– we arrived to Amisacho, a reservoir located in the northeastern part of the Ecuadorian Amazon. There, we learnt about mushroom cultives, reforestation and restoration of the tropical rainforest, the effects of massive livestock, oil and agricultural exploitation in the soil, and the development of natural products and alternative medicine as an environmental source of income for the Lago Agrio communities –like the Cofán. The 4 days we spent in Amisacho were accompanied by an incredible view to the full-of-life tropical rainforest that reminded us of the importance of ecosystem conservation and how reforestation can bring back species that were long gone from their homes. Nevertheless, as we had come to the reservoir to help and learn, and not only see, we compromised to: make our own breakfast (and dinner at one point), help in the garden (as part of the reforestation project), and to listen carefully and ask questions to the talks and presentations given throughout the trip.
Sad to leave but intrigued to discover new wonders, we had to say goodbye to Amisacho to begin our new expedition to Belia’s farm. Once we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the loving couple who told us the history of the farm (how they are one of the few Ecuadorians with an Island) and their dreams to let others know about this amazing eco-touristic destination. When we had all finished our glass of guayusa –courtesy of Belia– and the introduction of the farm had ceased, we began our trail around the island’s biodiversity. We looked at big “matapalos” or higuerones, sandes and ceibos, and ate the juicy fruits of various trees but it was once I saw the 3 gallinazos’ eggs finding protection on the inside of one of the trees that something woke up in me. I have never witnessed something so pure and fragile in my life. I saw them vulnerable to me and felt guilty about not sympathising with the amazonian creatures before but it was then when I realised that it was my duty to help them.
The last 2 nights were spent with the members of the Cofán community and as we had the pleasure to learn some of their traditions and customs, we also grasped some words and phrases in their language. For example, “kasete” means good morning, “kuse kuse” is good evening and good afternoon, and “na’en” means river. The next day we took part in the Saturday morning activity they prepared, where Cofán women taught us how to produce beautiful bracelets made out of seeds and plant fiber. We later danced with them to the rhythm of their traditional music and prepared ourselves to the second and final trail of our trip. This one ended up being longer and more tiring than the first one, but to our luck, the guide knew of some fruits in the forest containing “water” that will hopefully quench our thirst. Once taking in its liquid, we recovered our strengths and finished the trail. However, the day was far from over for we had yet to swim in the river. The beautiful sunset made the landscape –and the moment– memorable as laughs were heard in the background. As the sun went down with its light, we took a quick break in our cabin to get ready for the bonfire. What a surprise it was to sing along with a Cofan singer in his language and ours. And, just as captivating were the anecdotes our guide shared with us from when he first and last drank ayahuasca.
I think I can speak on behalf of everyone involved when I say that we will definitely be carrying this project in the future and that those 6 days in Lago Agrio will always be remembered as a fun yet informational experience. We had learnt a lot from this trip and hopefully other year groups will experience the same in following years.
Education: Innovation, Diversity and Wellbeing. Stay tuned for more information..
From the Staff and Student
Continuing with our teachers and their stories about learning in the classroom this period. This week we have Mrs. Sally Madden from Secondary and Ms. Antonella Coronel from Primary.
Sally Madden – Humanities Secondary Teacher
Enthusiasm is something I love about the BSQ community! The enthusiasm I see from students getting involved in lessons and completing a task and working with their peers. The enthusiasm of the staff who keep developing new strategies to improve the teaching and learning at BSQ. The enthusiasm of our fantastic Parent Association who run amazing community events at BSQ and the enthusiasm of our parents who support the school and their children. The enthusiasm of the newly formed Secondary Climate Change Committee who are busy organising a Climate Emergency Day on Saturday 18th January 2020 (details coming soon). Everyone who knows me will also know my enthusiasm for Christmas and our family Christmas tree went up in November. The enthusiasm for Christmas at BSQ has meant that many of the active members of our community have taken this as an opportunity to think about people who are less fortunate than we are and organise donations to many worthy charities.
With enthusiasm, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas!
Antonella Coronel- Nursery B Teacher
Over the past few weeks the reception children were busy getting ready for the enrichment assembly that took place on Wednesday. Each enrichment group had a short presentation showcasing what the children enjoyed doing most during their chosen club. Each presentation brilliantly presented the amazing job done by each teacher and the extraordinary learning experiences of the children. There was a great performance from the Irish dancing club. The creative builders made boats and cars from recycled materials. The Mandala and Experiments through arts club had a lot of painting and coloring fun. Thank you to the parents that were able to join us, the children had a blast spending time coloring, building, experimenting and dancing with you. The enrichment clubs allow students to shine through their talents and interests in a creative learning experience. We look forward to the new term and the new enrichment clubs that will be available for the students.
Dates for your Diary
December 17th – Nativity performance. 1:30pm
December 18th – Nativity performance. 9am
December 19th - Nursery Sing Along
December 19th - End of term at 12pm
January 6th – First day back to school
Being BSQ – Primary Update
As we approach the last few days of this term and look forward to our Christmas break, it is worth reflecting on the progress each and every one of our students has made since the start of this academic year. The words progress and attainment are often used interchangeably, though here at BSQ we measure each one separately and value each one as a separate part of what makes our students successful.
Without overcomplicating these two concepts, attainment is a measure of a student’s skills, understanding and knowledge in a particular subject (such as English or Maths) or concept (such as spelling, handwriting or timetables) compared to a standardised level or grade, often related to their age or year group. Meanwhile, progress is a measure of the improvement of a particular student’s skills, understanding or knowledge in a particular subject (such as English or Maths) or concept (such as spelling, handwriting or timetables). This relies on us knowing their prior attainment and then calculating how much this has changed in a certain time frame. All very complicated, I am sure you will agree! This is complicated more because here at BSQ we not only value progress and attainment in the core subjects we teach the students, but also in their personal, social and emotional skills, alongside more complex concepts such as inter-culturalism and global mindfulness. The one thing we as parents can take away from this is that our children are unique and we should value and praise both their strengths and their progress in any areas of their development, whilst recognising that other areas need our support and patience as they overcome difficulties.
On Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, Reception and Years 1 and 2 will perform their Nativity performance of ‘Hay Presto’ before Nursery invite their parents to join their festive Sing-a-long and Activity Day on Thursday. This week many of our students will also be celebrating the festive season with their classmates in class and beyond, before finishing at 12pm on Thursday for the Christmas break. On this final day the students from Primary can wear Christmas/Festive clothes for the day, if they wish. We return to school on Monday 6th January and all the staff here at BSQ wish you and your family a relaxing, healthy and joyful break.
Star of the Week
Head of Primary
Being BSQ – Secondary Update
The Importance of Parental Engagement
It was great to see so many parents in school on Saturday, either meeting with teachers or attending our exam stress workshops. While sitting in the school library, in between our meetings with the students and parents of Year 13, IBDP Coordinator Mr Karakashian and I engaged in a bit of data analysis.
We looked at the variations between the students´ achievements in their December mock examinations and how they eventually fared in the real IB exams in May.
The results were interesting. While the average overall score doesn't vary much for the class as a whole, or for most students in that class, there are always students whose attainment improves, and there are always students whose scores fall. And while there can of course be very many factors at play, it was clear that those who continued to improve were also those whose parents played a very active role in their education.
Exams and Holidays
During the second week back after the Christmas break, all students (apart from Year 13) will sit their Quimestre exams. And while preparing for these exams, and doing one's best, is of course important, I believe that it is much more important to have a restful and relaxing holiday.
With that in mind, it's worth revisiting how the school calculates the end of year matriculation grade for each student in each subject. Remember, each of the six partial grades is worth just over 13% of the final grade, while the end of Quimestre exams are each worth 10%. The end of Quimestre exams serve as an excellent way of testing each student's ability to learn and retain knowledge and skills over the longer term, and we strongly encourage study and revision to re-learn and embed previous learning. They are, however, only one small part of the overall course to success.
There is a fine line between motivating students and applying too much pressure, and it is the job of both teachers and parents to ensure that we stay on the right side of that line. Stress is not an entirely negative thing, but too much stress is, and if we continuously focus on exams, grades, and consequences, we run the risk of fostering anxiety that has a deleterious effect on both motivation and the ability to learn effectively. Instead, we should focus on what learning is for: gaining knowledge, skills, values and habits that equip us for a successful and happy life.
So please, enjoy the break, take it easy, spend time with family, and come back fresh and ready in January.
Head of Secondary
From the BSQ Counselling Team
This week our school counsellor, Andrea Carrera, talks about alcohol and teenagers.