Lesson of 2019

Lesson of 2019

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of our returning students and their families, as well as to the significant number of new students who enrolled over the summer months and have joined AIS for 2020-2021.

As I mentioned in my AIS Yearbook article in June, 2019-2020 will certainly go down as the most remarkable year in my 35-year career as an educator. Who would have ever predicted that schools would close for over three months and, for the first time ever, the international IB and Cambridge examinations would be cancelled? This created some real uncertainty and anxiety for our Year 11 and 13 students regarding how qualifications would be awarded. The release of results – in July for IB, and in August for IGCSE – sparked a great deal of controversy worldwide and many students, teachers and schools protested that the processes used to award grades were unfair. To their credit, both the IB organisation and Cambridge International acknowledged the problems and decided to issue new results.

In the end, our Year 11 and 13 students achieved very commendable results, despite the significant disruption to their learning caused by the COVID pandemic. Special congratulation must go to 2019 Dux, Quoc Anh Andrew Tran, who achieved the highest diploma total with 43 points. The IGCSE cohort also performed well. They too achieved one of the best sets of results in the history of the school.

One of the ten IB Learner Profile qualities that we encourage in our students is to be reflective. So, as we start a new academic year, in a time of continuing uncertainty, the AIS teaching staff have reflected on the lessons that can be taken from the experiences of the 2019-2020 academic year.

The first of these is that we should not take things for granted. Situations can change overnight. The recent COVID outbreak in Da Nang was a powerful reminder of this. Therefore, it is important that as a school community we are both resilient and adaptable; ready to face any new challenges that may emerge over the coming year.

Educators have always known that one of the most important factors contributing to academic progress is the level of student engagement. And so it proved during the period of sustained online learning. Those students who consistently attended their online lessons, gave them their full attention and interest, and completed and submitted the required work made good academic progress during Semester 2.

Another lesson learned was that those students who worked consistently and aimed to perform to their potential throughout the whole year, did the best, and got the results they deserved, when exams were cancelled. By contrast, those students who did not work and achieve to their potential throughout the year, thinking that they could just work hard at the end of the year prior to exams, received results that did not necessarily reflect their true abilities.

There is no doubt that the COVID pandemic continues to impact on life at AIS. The school has started where it left of in June, observing a range of preventatives health and safety protocols, and for the time being large gatherings and public events are suspended. Hopefully that situation will change and school life will return to normal soon. In the meantime, I would encourage all members of the AIS community – students, parents and teachers – to take a positive and optimistic approach and make the 2020-2021 academic year the best that it can be.