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IB Spotlight: Mathematics

A student’s experience studying IB Mathematics is this week’s IB Spotlight focus. IB Mathematics is designed to not only develop mathematical knowledge, concepts and principles, but also foster logical, critical and creative thinking. It also aims to give students an appreciation of the international dimensions surrounding the subject and the multiplicity of its cultural and historical perspectives.

Sharing his thoughts this week is AIS Year 13 student, Bao Khanh. He reveals the ups and downs of studying IB Mathematics at higher level, his reasoning for choosing the subject, and what interests him most about it.

One…Two…Three…Four…. That was how mathematics all began for me. Growing up, it was a vital subject and the foundation for almost all other subjects. Maths relates to everything that we do in life. At least that was what I was told…

Mathematics is a compulsory subject in the IB Diploma. When talking about Maths, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is how much they dislike finding ‘x’. Personally, I have mixed feelings on the subject, sometimes it is intriguing, other times dreadful.

Studying IB Mathematics as a higher-level subject, I have found that some of the topics from the course were quite similar to the IGCSE Additional Maths course. The IB curriculum in Mathematics Analysis and Approaches wants students to explore and dive deeper into the world of Mathematics, refining their skills and their mathematical techniques. It is related more to pure Mathematics.

For me, one of the most interesting things about Maths is that there is always a right answer. Unlike English or Business, there is a definite solution. The subject itself is straightforward, yet difficult in a way that makes students cry the night before their exams. Maths is fun, but only when it makes sense. If you ask me, one of the most interesting things about Maths is the disagreements between my classmates and I when our solutions are different. We would try really hard to prove each other wrong, only to find out in the end that we were all wrong. Mathematics enhances my ability to approach problems in different ways; at times, even though there is one solution, there are many paths to that solution. It gives me a different outlook in life, where people might take different paths to get to the same destination.

One thing that I want to pursue in the future is Computer Science. I think Mathematics will help me a lot in this course as it covers a lot of methodology and calculation aspects of each program that is created. Computer-related courses and jobs often contain algorithms and mathematics, and therefore by doing the course at a higher level, this will help me practise those techniques and hopefully I will be able to apply them in my future career.

I think that mathematics is relevant for everyone. It has its own unique ‘language’ that we all agree to and understand. My tip for younger students doing Maths is about practising it regularly. I think Maths is more about doing the work than rather just understanding it. The more a student can practise, the more likely they will understand the topics.

Bao Khanh

Year 13 Student at AIS

To find out more about studying IB Mathematics at AIS, or about the IB Diploma in general, check out AIS’s complete comprehensive curriculum guide, which includes IB Programme FAQs, 10 reasons why you should study IB, and an IB Diploma Handbook:


One Day of Ms Julie, Our Kindergarten Teacher

My name is Julie Ann Estacion, I am from The Philippines, and I work as a kindergarten teacher at Australian International School (AIS) in HCMC.

I have been in Vietnam for 24 years, which is also the amount of time I have worked as a kindergarten teacher. I live close to my school, and my home is always full of sunshine and greenery.

I feel so happy to live in Vietnam. Whenever I have the opportunity to visit The Philippines, I always miss Vietnam as it has become my second home. Life in The Philippines is not so different from living in Vietnam, but when I do leave I really miss Vietnamese food.

My son was born in Vietnam and is now 17 years old. For him, Vietnam is his home with his family being based here. During the Covid 19 quarantine period, I spent a lot more time with my family and children, whilst still teaching online.

My husband works part time so he can drive me to school daily. It is just a few hundred meters from my home to the school, but I always prefer to come in 30 minutes before school starts so that I can prepare well for class and ensure everything is ready to welcome the students.

During my first days being in Vietnam, my colleagues and I were surprised because there was a day of celebration here dedicated to honoring teachers. On this day, the 20th of November, even though they are very busy themselves, parents take time to come to class, and pass their thanks and best wishes to the teachers.

I am always very touched on this day and I really cherish it. Since coming to Vietnam, I’ve had an extra day to look forward to every year.

Every morning, I love to welcome students to school. They mark their attendance by sticking their names on the board. This is a very effective start of the classes and it energizes them to begin a new school day. I am a homeroom teacher, and have the support from two Vietnamese support teachers.

Today, we have group photo activities for our Year Book of AIS, and teachers are requested to arrive early. Younger children are very active at this age and it can take a long time for them to settle for a group photo. A student who is sick is being cared for by a support teacher.

My teaching approach is to never be strict with the children in front of the class and their friends. Whenever they do something wrong or misbehave, I just remind and talk to them in private.

We often think that children don’t know anything, but in fact this is not true, they are really sensitive and care about their personal feelings and always pay attention to the people around them.

The students I teach are between 3-5 years old. At lunch, they can bring their own food for their lunches or eat from the school menu. Today’s menu includes pasta, fried chicken, boiled vegetables, and watermelon. As its self-service, students can take as much food as they want. After eating, students will bring their own trays, spoons and plates to the designated areas. I love Vietnamese food so I usually cook it for my lunch at school.

Following lunch, students have two options, they can either take a nap or play. Due to their young age, the children are very active so tend to choose to play instead of taking a nap.  Students in the classroom come from many different countries so language and communication can be an obstacle which I often encounter when working with them. Not all students can speak English when they start school and I have to get to know the children slowly in their mother language.

I have to ask parents to give me the translations of common sentences in their mother language so that I can communicate with them. After the first few weeks, the students are familiar with the classroom and are able to speak English to me. However, they are still always excited if I can speak their language.

During class time, students can comfortably sit on the floor and freely express their feelings.

At AIS, students in the age group 3-5 are offered the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), they then finish high school with the IB Diploma programme. In kindergarten, students study while they play. Therefore, I must organize many activities during the day for them. In addition to language classes, children can also take physical education, music and painting classes with their own teachers.

Classes finish at 2:40pm, and then it’s time for our teachers’ meeting. Following that, I work as a tutor till 8:00pm. By the time I get home, my husband has prepared dinner. Before I go to bed, I make sure to take the time to respond to any messages from parents.

I update all students’ activities on an online system used at AIS which can be access by teachers and parents. We take photos and record all activities of the students so that the parents can keep track of their progress. I try to be as up to date as possible so that parents are aware of the daily activities in the classroom.

For me, teaching is not just a job, but my joy and motivation in life. Working as a kindergarten teacher not only helps me to have a stable life but also brings me lots of great memories and opportunities.


IB Spotlight: Physics

AIS shines its IB Spotlight on Physics this week to help uncover what life is truly like for students to study the IB Diploma. Focused on exploring and explaining the universe itself, from the very smallest subatomic particles to the vast distances between galaxies, Physics provide students the chance to develop their practical techniques, interpersonal and digital communication skills, and abilities in the use of mathematics.

This week we spoke to Le Anh Huy, a Year 12 student who has been at AIS for almost three years, who revealed his approach to the course, shared how he felt the subject changed when studying at IB Diploma level, and challenged the common stereotypes surrounding Physics.

Some of you who are reading this right now, if not most of you, may think that Physics is hard or boring, and I can understand. Those were once my thoughts on this subject too, but after some tips on habits given to me by a physicist, from a certain teacher here at AIS, I started to understand Physics better, and instead of that dry and boring exterior that I saw during Year 10, it became much more interesting and fun. It’s just as the saying goes: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Physics doesn’t change much from IGCSE to IB, if you studied well and got a good grip on the content of the subject in IGCSE, you will continue to study well. The things that helped me study Physics better are the habits of a physicist: regular revision, just 10 or 15 minutes every day, and doing practice questions and all the assigned work. People say practice makes perfect, and it certainly is true in Physics, as the more work you put in, the easier it is for you to familiarize and get a good grip on new knowledge. One way that works well is thinking of Physics as a jigsaw puzzle. Almost everything you learn will be connected and it will support each other and, as you learn more, you will find the right piece to fill in the gaps and missing parts. At multiple points, you will step back to see the big picture and have a “Eureka!” moment as everything ‘clicks’ together. At this moment you will be able to establish a strong connection between the topics, thus solidifying your knowledge.

Studying Physics at IB requires multiple different skills, ranging from something as simple as unit conversion to data processing, but, for me, one of the most important skills that I think you need is being able to see the world and explain its phenomena with the knowledge you have learned in Physics. When you are proficient in this skill, you will be able to create a strong connection between real life and the theories you learn, because with Physics, along with other science subjects, we don’t just learn inside the textbook, but we use the world around us to learn and understand.

If you are able to put in the work, if you want to learn about the rules of the universe, if you would like to change your entire view of the world and quite possibly even question existence itself, then Physics is for you.

Le Anh Huy
Year 12 Student at AIS


To find out more about studying IB Physics at AIS, or about the IB Diploma in general, check out AIS’s complete comprehensive curriculum guide, which includes IB Programme FAQs, 10 reasons why you should study IB, and an IB Diploma Handbook:


IB Spotlight: English A – Language And Literature

To continue to uncover student’s perspectives on what studying the IB Diploma is really like, this week AIS’s IB Spotlight focuses on English A: Language and Literature. This course critically studies and interprets both written and spoken texts from a wide range of different sources, and aims to develop students’ textual analysis, communications skills and understanding of how meaning is created through language.

Michelle Nong, a Year 12 student who has been at AIS for over 10 years, reveals what life is like and how she feels about studying the subject, and also provides useful advice for future IB students:

The transition from being a Year 11 student into a Year 12 student came with its own struggles, a major one being subject selections. I had to balance between subjects that I was good at and passionate about, but also the subjects that would be required of me for university applications into my desired career path. Nonetheless, I had no doubts about deciding to take English A Higher Level for Group 1 (Studies in Language and Literature). So far, I really have been enjoying this subject. A typical day is when we analyse different literary works, whether it’s through class discussions, groupwork or individual research. It sounds incredibly mundane and ordinary, but in reality, looking at different texts through a plethora of lenses is what makes the subject so thrilling for me. Being able to discuss works with my peers and seeing things from different points of view, everybody brings new things to the table every day. There isn’t a single day where I leave class with the same outlook that I walked in with. There is no distinct answer as to who’s right and who’s wrong, only how you accurately provide evidence in order to support your arguments.

In class, I am currently studying the poems of Carol Ann Duffy; the way she tackles global issues and brings awareness to them so creatively through her poetry has really allowed me to see the world differently, from a modern feminist’s point of view. She is unlike a typical, ‘traditional’ poet, and I highly recommend checking out her poems. What’s so great about the English A IB curriculum is that there are fewer constraints and limitations on what you are allowed to study. In IGCSE English Language and Literature, we were given a list of selected works from Cambridge that we had to study: these many poems, these many short stories, these many plays… And sure, they were interesting, but with IB English you are given more freedom in the works that you want to learn. Not just only analysing poems and plays, but even lyrics or tweets.

Words of advice for aspiring future English A students? Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and challenge standard, ordinary perspectives. Don’t be afraid to see things differently from others. Just because everybody else sees something in a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to. Explore a diverse range of texts, do extra reading on the things you are passionate about. Through reading, you learn something new every single day. No matter what career path you decide to take in the future, at some point you will be required to clearly express your ideas and support them in writing. This is a crucial skill to have, and being able to do it well will only serve as advantageous for you. I cannot wait to see what else the IB English A course has in store for me, and I hope my words will inspire some young minds. Good luck!

Michelle Nong

Year 12 Student at AIS

To find out more about studying English A: Language and Literature at AIS, or about the IB Diploma in general, check out AIS’s complete comprehensive curriculum guide, which includes IB Programme FAQs, 10 reasons why you should study IB, and an IB Diploma Handbook:


Boarding Life at AIS: What’s it Like for Students?

Operating since August this year, Boarding at AIS has received a lot of interest with many students taking advantage of the school’s new facilities. With some students now looking at AIS’s Boarding House as their home from home, we decided to catch up with them to see what life was like living at the school.

We were lucky enough to hear from two students, Amy and Tony, who are both studying in Year 12 at AIS. Our first question was to enquire into why they decided to take advantage of the boarding experience AIS has on offer. Amy shared that her reasoning was because ‘it’s very convenient for me as my house is very far away from here, it takes around one and a half hours.’ Similarly, Tony explained it was because ‘I think that AIS offers wonderful boarding, first for the facilities as well as the proximity to the school. So, there’s no need to worry about food, studying and other things. You just need to focus on your studies.’

Sharing on what a typical day staying in boarding at AIS looks like, Amy and Tony revealed that they get up at 6:30am to get ready before breakfast which starts at 7:00am. After that, with school beginning at 8am, the students simply walk down a flight of stairs to get to class. At the end of the school day, 2:40pm, the pair shared that students could either embark on some after school activities or go back up to the boarding house to relax. At 4:30pm they usually study until 6:00pm and after that it’s time for dinner. This is followed by some free time to either study, play sports or games, relax or even tutor younger students. At 10:00pm it’s time to go to their rooms to get ready for bed.

Delving a bit deeper, we asked the pair to reveal what it is like to actually stay in the facilities provided. Tony shared ‘Everything is advanced and equipped, and you have wonderful parents, well-prepared food, and lots of friends for English communication… You are living in a multicultural environment!’. Amy also added that, with both Vietnamese and Western options, she was very happy with the food provided, commenting that it was both ‘nutritious and delicious’.

It was great to hear that the students are certainly enjoying staying in Boarding at AIS. We then went onto the important question on how staying at the school affected their studies. Amy shared ‘It saves time for me, I don’t need to travel a lot and the fact we can travel to the classes within two minutes is very fast, and after school I save a lot of time. It’s very convenient.’ Similarly, Tony answered ‘I don’t have to worry about many factors such as traffic jams, rain or whether it’s too hot outside because it’s always air-conditioned. You only need to walk five minutes and it’s the school.’

Lastly, we asked Amy and Tony on whether they would recommend the experience for other students. Both students answered yes, with Tony adding as students are taken care of so well, they can really focus on their studies. Amy agreed saying that it’s best if students try as only then they will truly understand how good the experience is.

Boarding is an option provided in a range of Inspired schools across the globe as part of their holistic educational complement. As a result, AIS is proud to now offer such facilities to its students within the AIS Thu Thiem Campus, An Phu, District 2, HCMC, and we are thrilled that they are enjoying the experience so far. It’s fantastic to hear that the students are benefiting from the round-the-clock educational experiences, as well as other benefits such as developing interpersonal skills and becoming more independent.

With space for 50 students in total, the boarding experience is the first of its kind among premium international schools in Vietnam. Being available for Year 7 to Year 13, the option is open to both boys and girls and for both local and international families. The facilities boast from a homely, yet modern design, and each room is built to house two students with its own bathroom. In addition, a cafeteria, laundry service, lounge break-out areas are all part of the AIS boarding experience. Boarding at AIS offers numerous options such as five- or seven-day boarding, with students returning home for the school holidays.

If you would like to find out more and visit AIS’s premium boarding facilities, please contact us via our Hotline: 19006940 or via email:



IB Spotlight: Theory Of Knowledge (TOK)

This week, studying Theory of Knowledge (TOK) as part of the IB Diploma was placed under AIS’s IB Spotlight. For those new to the IB Diploma, TOK is one of three core required subjects that are taken alongside six chosen classroom courses, and its aim is to ask students to reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.

To gain a greater insight into what it is really like to study TOK, we sat down and spoke to Nguyen Khanh Linh, a Year 12 student at AIS, who shared her thoughts, recent examples and advice for students on studying the subject:

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) felt daunting as a subject to study in IB. For the first time throughout my 9 years of education at AIS, the content was completely new and unorthodox. I wasn’t just studying to pass my assessments throughout the year anymore, TOK was giving me a sense about our society and teaching me to reflect on my actions and thoughts as I’m about to enter the real world after the Diploma Programme. It felt exciting and scary at the same time to study something that will directly impact me as an individual. Exciting because the course has given me an opportunity to contemplate my ways of thinking and scary because I had no idea what to expect. However, I had to move past my apprehensions and tackle TOK head on.

TOK is one of the components of the DP core and is mandatory for all students. The TOK requirement is central to the educational philosophy of the DP.

Most recently in class, we focused on a core theme within the course, Knowledge and the Knower. It made the distinction between opinion, belief and knowledge, being in a community of knowers and how we can be conscious of different aspects in our lives that can affect our perspective on issues in the world. What’s interesting about TOK to me is the fact that there are no right answers. Our culture and our lives help shape the way we see the world, meaning that there could be a million different interpretations about a dilemma and what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ can be subjective to each individual. The most important thing throughout our TOK lessons isn’t about getting one answer to a question, it’s seeing things through many lenses, and ways that we can justify our answers to others.

Words of advice for future aspiring TOK students? Enjoy TOK for what it is. It’s not like every other subject, where you just memorize the content and write whatever you can on paper during exams. TOK can aid you in becoming critical thinkers in any given situation in the future. The main focus of any TOK lesson should be about how you can apply it in the real world. At the end of the day, don’t let it be your biggest source of stress. Good luck!

Nguyen Khanh Linh

Year 12 Student at AIS


To find out more about studying TOK at AIS, or about the IB Diploma in general, check out AIS’s complete comprehensive curriculum guide, which includes IB Programme FAQs, 10 reasons why you should study IB, and an IB Diploma Handbook:



The Australian International School (AIS) invites all families to come and see all that an accredited IB World School has to offer on Saturday 28 November 2020, 9am – 11am. AIS has three campuses across District 2 in the Thao Dien and Thu Thiem Wards of Ho Chi Minh City, offering outstanding education in Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary school. Registration to Open Day is essential via the AIS website: Here

Don’t hesitate to contact us 19006940 or if you have any questions.





“Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement, and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent.” Bob Keeshan,

I would very much like to take the opportunity afforded by this month’s newsletter to express my deep appreciation of the AIS parent community. I would like to acknowledge that this has been a difficult time, post-covid and with probably the least amount of contact within the school, for all our school community. Many of you will not have had the chance to see your child’s classroom or meet their teachers face-to face. You have often had to be patient while our teaching colleagues have started the new school year. Celebrations and social events that are such an enjoyable part of the school year have all been on hold. Of course, many of the same systems and practices have affected the wider community, in our social and work lives it does seem a particularly long time since our world was normal.

In some ways, HCMC and Vietnam are in an enviable position. Schools have opened and stayed open due to the safety guidelines in place. Students and staff feel safe and supported, ready to be successful this year and, although it is by no means a normal school year, we do have our friends, colleagues and a sense of community to help us move ahead. Parents have, inevitably, been somewhat on the outside of this so, as AIS begins to welcome them back into school, I want to say how very welcome it is to have you back.

I am confident, as we go forward, that your parent-teacher meetings will help you and help us to support your child. All too often parents’ impact on school culture can be overlooked. Good, positive parent involvement supports better school attendance, attitude and behaviour. When a student feels there is a connection between home and school life it is possible to see them, not as two distinct places, but as a home from home. A good relationship between parents and school can result in greater understanding of the school curriculum and school life.

As educators, we always want to share with parents some of the knowledge and skills we use to help our students and, to this end, we would like to run a series of parent workshops, to help break down barriers. While we are here to teach and prepare students for the world, we appreciate that the most overwhelming key to a child’s achievement is the positive involvement of parents. Parents plus teachers make successful students.

What are the expectations, then? Attend school meetings, parent-teacher conferences, school events and occasionally helping out as a volunteer. You do make a difference in the short term to your child’s self-esteem and positive attitude towards school – they do want to make you feel proud! Longer term, they see that you value a good education and are more likely to reap the benefits by becoming ready to follow a path to university and beyond.

What can we, at AIS, do better? I would like to make a commitment to reach out to the families of AIS. Together, in partnership with our Senior Leadership Team and myself and with clear and regular communication, we hope to involve parents in school activities and conversations around educational issues which impact our children. I would like to invite you to write to me and tell me what kind of parent workshops you would like us to offer in Term 3, as long as there are no further restrictions arising about group sizes and so on due to any covid related issues. We would also like to put out a parent survey in the near future. I want to make sure that, as a new Executive Principal at the school, I hear your voices and establish good routes for communication so that you can feel confident, connected and, importantly, engaged in the AIS school community. I do hope that you can help me in this and look forward to meeting and hearing from as many of our parent community as I can.

Ms Davina McCarthy – AIS Executive Principal


Emphasizing Mental Wellness at Australian International School

Promoting mental wellness requires a holistic approach.

Recent decades have seen increased consideration of, and discussions about, the importance of students’ mental wellbeing. Highly publicized tragedies serve as devastating reminders that a person’s emotional and spiritual health is as important as their physical health.

Saigoneer spoke with Saigon’s Australian International School’s (AIS) Executive Principal Davina McCarthy and Julian Carroll, Primary and Kindergarten Principal, to learn how the school approaches the important issue because, as Davina notes, there is a current “sadness epidemic” amongst students around the world that needs to be addressed.

Julian explained that parents and educators have recently expanded their focus from familiar stress factors such as exam preparation, friendships, and bullies to include self-harm and anxieties caused by the use of digital technologies. These issues can result in depression, withdrawal from friends, family and normal activities and extreme behavior. Prevention is always more effective than trying to find a cure and thus AIS takes a very proactive approach to monitoring and cultivating healthy mental states.

One way AIS looks to educate and provide coping strategies is through age-appropriate assemblies. Expert speakers are invited to address specific issues, including how to deal with emotions, the changes one experiences during puberty, transitioning from primary to secondary school and strategies for how to be a good friend. The school has a full-time counselor, and students are encouraged to talk to her about any problems they or their friends may be having. Moreover, the school has established relationships with relevant professionals in the community so if the need arises, they are prepared to connect students with the proper individuals or organizations.

Mental health is not a singular subject that can be addressed in a vacuum, however. Rather, it is integrated into all facets of school life, including the curriculum and teaching philosophy that underpins it. Engaging classrooms and the IB Program let students take leading roles in their learning process via a multitude of diverse exercises, and collaborative work keeps them inspired and motivated. Being question-seeking, active learners fosters mindfulness and curiosity, which improves one’s general attitude and outlook.

Helping students develop into well-adjusted, successful adults takes place outside of the classroom as well. “Schools are always about academics, but they are also about wellbeing and healthy all-around activities such as sports activities, drama clubs, arts and performing arts, and these after-school activities are designed around social interaction and having fun; so you always have a balance between academic progress and the ability to enjoy life and develop some of the soft skills that you need for life: always being a learner, working with other people, working with a group,” says Davina.

“We all need someone to love us, someone to love and something to look forward to,” explains Julian. The extracurriculars, as well as annual trips and the school’s house system, helps students have these elements in their lives while creating a sense of belonging. And all of the daily activities are scheduled to end with plenty of time to be home for dinner with family, as keeping strong family bonds is crucial in developing healthy relationships and mindstates.

Parents play an important role in keeping their students healthy and well-adjusted, so AIS educators make considerable efforts to know and support them. The school will be hosting workshops where they will discuss subjects such as sleep, nutrition, and setting boundaries for technology use. AIS also sends regular newsletters and reaches out for in-person meetings to maintain a close relationship that fosters dialogue and a sharing of knowledge.

Educators can only provide such support if they themselves are mentally well. AIS, therefore, prides itself on the way it creates a positive atmosphere amongst staff. Welcoming events and frequent get-togethers create a community amongst teachers, many of who are coming from abroad. They often gather to socialize after work and create informal groups like a foodie club and a choir, for example.

Julian observed that when his past students returned from the difficult COVID-19 lockdowns “the joy of their chatter and laughter was something I’ll never forget.” Indeed, the effect of isolation and uncertainty was a clear indication of how susceptible students are to the stresses of daily life. The way their moods improved upon returning to normal classes underscores the powerful role schools like AIS have in promoting mental health.


The Australian International School (AIS) invites all families to come and see all that an accredited IB World School has to offer on Saturday 28 November 2020, 9am – 11am. AIS has three campuses across District 2 in the Thao Dien and Thu Thiem Wards of Ho Chi Minh City, offering outstanding education in Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary school. Registration to Open Day is essential via the AIS website:

Don’t hesitate to contact us 19006940 or if you have any questions.


Learning Management Systems and Assessment at AIS

As you may be aware, last year the secondary school moved to Microsoft Teams as the main online learning platform used for teaching and learning by teachers and their classes. This is because Teams, as part of the extensive suite of Office 365 applications, has much more powerful functionality than Managebac as an online teaching and learning platform. This was very apparent during the period of school closure last semester. Teams allowed teachers and students to communicate live. Teachers could talk to and be seen by their classes in video meetings, while students could use the Chat function to message or video call their teachers if they required individual support.

Managebac is still being used for some functions. These include the posting of daily notices, important IB administration and record-keeping (Extended Essay, TOK, CAS) and school reports. However, Teams will be the main online platform for students. They will be in a Team for every subject class. Class work, assignments and resources will all be posted there, and students will submit much of their work on their Teams.

The most important change that parents should be aware of relates to assessment and grades. In order to understand the nature of these changes it is first necessary to explain the grading system used at AIS. The two main grades that are reported in Semester 1 and Semester 2 reports are the Semester Grade and the Classwork Grade.

The Semester Grade reflects a student’s overall performance for the semester based on common assessments undertaken by every student in the year level subject or course.

  • These assessments usually take place at the end of a significant unit or period of work – a topic, a term or a semester – and commonly involve formal tests or examinations, although they can take other forms such as lab reports, essays, projects or portfolios. This assessment of learning is known as summative assessment. Ultimately, IGCSE and IB examinations are the two most important sets of summative assessments that students undertake at AIS.
  • This grade indicates a student’s level of achievement in each subject/course, relative to the whole year-level, and as such is the key indicator of academic progress. For example, for students from Year 7 to 11, a grade of B for a subject indicates “good knowledge and understanding of curriculum content; effective skills and techniques demonstrated” based on the internationally benchmarked Cambridge grading system.



The Classwork Grade is generated by a student’s performance in a range of class-based activities and formative assessments.

  • Formative assessment is assessment for learning and is done during a lesson or unit of work. Its purpose is to allow teachers to identify how well students are doing while they are learning new content and skills. It provides feedback that teachers can use to improve their teaching and students can use to improve their learning.
  • A wide variety of class-based activities can be used for formative assessment such as quizzes, short tests, homework, class presentations, debates, essays; just to name a few.
  • Students may achieve different grades for their classwork grades than for their semester grades because the activities and assessments are specific to their class, are more limited in scope and include group activities and assignment work.

This year the only grades that will be recorded on Managebac will be for summative assessments. This means that when you check your child’s progress on Managebac the grades that you see will provide a very clear indication of how they are performing relative to every other student studying that subject at that year level. At the end of each semester these grades will be aggregated to determine the overall Semester Grade.

Formative assessment results will be recorded in the gradebooks on Teams. At the end of each semester these grades will be aggregated to determine the overall Classwork Grade. Unfortunately, parents do not have access to class Teams. However, if you wish to monitor your child’s progress in any subject it is simply a matter of asking them to show you their gradebooks in their class/subject Teams. Similarly, if you wish to see any assignments and/or deadlines that they have been set you can ask them to show you their Teams Calendar.

These are excellent ways to show that you are interested and involved in your child’s academic progress. And the research is overwhelmingly clear “when parents play a positive role in their children’s education, students do better in school”.

Mark Vella – Deputy Executive and Secondary Principal


A Student’s Perspective: Why I Love Art

Long been taught, encouraged and showcased, Art at AIS is a subject deemed fundamental and one in which every student should be given the opportunity to develop in. Over the years, AIS has been lucky enough to uncover some incredible passions and talents and as a result has seen outstanding, unique and thought-provoking pieces of art.

Witnessing such motivations and skills, AIS wanted to dig a little deeper and decided to visit some students in AIS’s Art Department to find out more. Whilst there, the students showed us some of the projects they were currently working on, and we took the opportunity to ask them some questions directly. Firstly, why they loved the subject so much and secondly, why they thought Art was important to be taught in schools.


Why do you enjoy studying Art?

“I love art because of how limitless it is. Studying many artists and their styles fuels my understanding of their techniques and views of the world, which I find fascinating. That and the ability to create worlds with endless possibilities, to create characters, tell stories, to make others feel inspired, is why I love studying so much!” Mary Bindzus, Year 10

Mary Bindzus, Year 10

“I’m learning art simply because it’s my hobby. Apart from that, I’d like to try and become a freelance illustrator in the future. I enjoy posting my Art on social media and thus, art connects me to many other people online across the world.” Katie Tran, Year 9

Katie Tran, Year 9

“I like art. I like seeing art, like hearing art, making art, I really enjoy it. It enables me to have better comparison, judgment, and creativity.” JinMing Shi, Year 9 

JinMing Shi, Year 9


Why is Art an important subject to be taught in schools? 

“I think art is important because it lets people be themselves, allow their imagination to run wild, give people the ability to express their opinions and feelings to the world through different art mediums. Art helps inspire people, encourage people, entertain people. Art, I think brings people together.” Mary Bindzus, Year 10

Mary’s artwork

“To other people, art could be a hobby or a subject they must attend at school. In my point of view, Art is something I need in order to reach my goal.” Katie Tran, Year 9

Katie’s artwork

“The most important meaning of art is that it allows people to have a better ability to compare, judge, associate, and create, as well as have a stronger expression and a chance to acquire performance skills in the field of art.” JinMing Shi, Year 9

JinMing’s artwork

For AIS, the school is a firm believer of the importance of Art and knows that while the subject can reveal some outstanding talent, the school also understands how Art can greatly support all students, regardless of ability. At a young age for example, teaching Art helps children with the development of their basic motor and language skills, and for their creativity and decision making. As students grow up, Art also becomes incredibly useful in learning perspective, problem solving, and critical thinking.

For students who are very passionate about the subject, Art is a fantastic foundation and highly relevant for a broad range of careers. It can therefore be the first step in discovering the drive to be an architect, digital designer, or multimedia artist, among many others.

Check out our News and Events page to find out more information on Art at AIS and other activities throughout the school.

Thank you to Mary, Katie and JinMing for giving us their time and sharing their thoughts with AIS.