Friday, 15 January 2016

17: Friday 15th January 2016

From the Director

The start of a New Year is always a time of hope and great expectation. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year on behalf of all of us here at the ABC. We are right to be optimistic and to look forward especially when we work and live alongside young people. I think one of the best things about being a teacher as well as a parent is the opportunity to work and be with young people who generally have a positive attitude, want the best for each other and their world and expect the future to be even better than today. I hope we can all embrace that positive spirit both in school and at home and look forward to a great 2016.

This afternoon the Class of 2017 have been entertaining young children from school and from a local orphanage as part of the Circus. Next week they have two shows and we are looking forward to being entertained by their interpretation of Inceptia. They have worked hard as a team with the support of their parents and the school and I am sure the show will be a great success. Do come along and support them if you can.

As you were notified during the week we have responded to the national concerns about mosquito transmitted diseases by allowing girls and PE kit wearers to wear long trousers. We will continue this policy while the yellow alert continues. We have fumigated the site recently and we are monitoring our pond to ensure it is not a source of mosquitoes.

Can I please remind parents that it is unacceptable for students to be transported from the school in an unsafe manner. Cars must not be overloaded with students and students should not be sitting unsecured in the back of a pick up. While this may not lead to an accident in 99% of occasions if it did the consequences would be horrific. It is essential we give good examples to our children and our community.

I would like to remind parents in Upper Primary that some of them still owe voluntary contributions to the Madres Enlace which are used to fund some of their community activities. If you are one of these parents please can you arrange to pay as soon as possible. Many thanks!

Our Team Sports programme is in full flow after the Christmas break. We want to encourage attendance at sporting events as well as keep the ABC community informed about its Team Sports in general. Therefore, I would like to ask that the Team Sports programme has a Facebook page which you can like where you can read news about matches, results and any other relevant announcements ( In addition, the school's website also has a Team Sports blog ( if you do not have a Facebook account.

Primary News

Dear Parents and Carers,

Christmas is already far behind us but I wanted to let you know that your generous gifts were gratefully received by children in local communities and in hospital on Christmas Eve. Please see some of our pictures here.

The communities had been asking in advance if the shoe boxes were coming again this year which I think shows how important they are to them.

Our Team Sports activities will be continuing this term as usual but we are a little concerned that you do not always know about fixtures and how our teams are getting on. Please look at the team sports blog? ( It lets you know about everything that has happened recently. Another vital source of information is the Team Sports Facebook page. ( Have you spent a little time there and have you ‘liked’ it? Show your support for our school Team Sports organisation by visiting the page and liking it now!

It is the start of a new calendar year, a time when we all make New Year’s resolutions (and break them!) but I would really like the whole primary school to make an extra effort with punctuality and attendance. Just to make sure you are all clear - Prepa to Grade 5 children should be in their classroom by 7:15 am. You need to allow walking and queuing in traffic time to get there so I advise all parents of students in these grades to aim for 7.00 am. Pre-Kinder and Kinder students have the luxury of arriving up until 7:30. No other grades have this privilege. I have asked my deputies and class teachers to inform me when students are consistently late, so if you are one of the culprits do not be surprised to hear from me.

Please note that students should not be absent from school in term time. Students should only be absent from school when unwell or when there are extraordinary circumstances (in which case the school should be notified in advance whenever possible). We have noticed a worrying number of parents who are taking their children out of school in term time for holidays/family events. This is not acceptable and has a detrimental effect on their school life, both academic and social. 

There are often significant educational events in school such as exit or entry points, knowledge harvests, formal assessments or assessment projects and tasks as well as informal assessments. If a student misses the introduction to a particular subject such as a mathematical concept it can mess up their whole understanding for months. We try to be accommodating with regards to catching up after absence due to illness, but we cannot repeat the curriculum for a child who has missed something, at the expense of the rest of the class’s progress. This also leaves teachers with missing information regarding a student’s progress and understanding (and the student themselves is left uncertain of their progress). Equally important is that students are missing learning experiences when absent from school. 

Please understand wholeheartedly, that absence from school is to be avoided if at all possible and that students with poor attendance can be reported to MINED as a cause for concern. Please also note that student attendance matters and is recorded as part of the academic performance. The school calendar is published well in advance to accommodate parents making holiday arrangements and there is no excuse for absence due to holidays.

Please also note that all students with long hair in the primary school must have it tied back away from their face for education and health and safety reasons. Starting on Monday I will be cracking down on this! A slightly tough stance to the start of term but our children will benefit if we keep to these guidelines.

Today Grade 1 had their entry point to two units combined ‘Hooray, we are going on Holiday’ and ‘Earth our Home”. As always with the IPC the students were totally engaged and really enthusiastic to get on with the work They travelled to different countries, some children had great adventures visiting the Serengeti or going on a river boat through the Bayou. The children learned about what is needed to travel and about different habitats and cultures around the world. They will learn about Nepal, France and Africa. They are more than ready for a brand new learning adventure! 

2nd grade camp will be taking place this evening on the school grounds. I know there are lots of exciting events planned. Students please look after our poor teachers! Mr Keslake and I will be popping in to check on things from time to time. A big thank you to those staff and parents who will be supporting the activity and the grade 2 team for organising it.

Also on Friday afternoon there is a late addition to the school calendar where our Grade 11 students will present a show for our Lower Primary students. This has grown from the Grade 11 ‘Circus’ event and has a Disney theme. Thank you to the students and staff for giving up their time to present this.

Best wishes for the weekend.

Mrs Short
Head of Primary

Dates for your diary

Lower Primary
Tuesday 26th: Prospective Parents Night - 6:00 pm - PAC
Friday 29th: Kinder Suárez assembly - 7:45 am - PAC
Friday 5th: Kinder Quintanilla assembly - 7:45 am - PAC
Friday 19th: Kinder Carbajal assembly - 7:45 am - PAC
Saturday 20th: Spring Fair 9:00 am - 12 pm
Friday 26th: Kinder González assembly - 7:45 am - PAC
Saturday 27th: Summer Carnival 2016

Upper Primary
Friday 15th - Saturday 16th: 2nd grade Camping night at the ABC campus
Wednesday 27th: 4th Navas Spanish Assembly at 9.20 and 12.15
Wednesday 3rd: 3rd Brenes Assembly at the PAC. 9.20 and 12.15
Tuesday 9th to Thursday 11th: 5th grade Camping, at the Portezuelo park
Wednesday 10th: 2nd Aviles Assembly at the PAC. 9.20 and 12.15
Wednesday 17th: 4th grade Spanish Assembly at the PAC. 9.20 and 12.15
Wednesday 24th: 5th Caceres Assembly at the PAC. 9.20 and 12.15
Friday 26th: Extracurricular Activities Session 3 Finishes 

Secondary News

Dear Parents / Guardians,

I hope you have had a great holiday. Hopefully our students have had the opportunity to relax and recharge and are now keen to start the new year with the energy and determination to do their very best in the months ahead. 

There are a lot of events in the coming months (please see the ‘Secondary dates for your diary’ below), but one event rapidly approaching is the Class of 2017’s Circus which this year is entitled ‘Enceptia’. Please come along (Thursday 21st or Friday 22nd of January) and enjoy what looks set to be a superbly entertaining Circus. I am certainly looking forward to it.

Mock Examinations 

Between Friday 22nd January to Friday 5th February Grade 12 (IB) and Grade 10 (IGCSE) have their mock examinations. Mock examinations are happening in schools worldwide and they have considerable value. Here are five ways that mock examinations can help students make sure they are on the path to exam success:

1, Motivating students to start revision early
Many students, and indeed adults, are procrastinators. This can be problematic, particularly in relation to preparing for final examinations. For many teenagers the final examinations in May/June feel like a lifetime away, so some will only really start working hard for them after Easter. By having mock exams halfway through the academic year here at the ABC, students have the opportunity to focus their attention and effort earlier.

2, Practising effective revision strategies
Some of the most commonly used revision techniques are actually the least effective, this includes highlighting or re-reading key passages. The main reason for their ineffectiveness is that they do not force students to think deeply and critically about the topic. Mock examinations let students practise revision strategies that are proven to be more helpful and discover what works best for them. 

Research has found the following revision strategies very beneficial: spacing out revision sessions (so that there is enough time to forget and then re-learn); teaching the material to someone else (this forces students to think about the material in a clear and structured way); and, switching between topics every now and then (which helps students build on previous revision sessions).

3, Improving knowledge
Testing yourself is an effective way to improve your knowledge and ability to recall information. Research has shown that students who do a practice test(s) after a period of revision do better in final examinations than students who do not have mock examinations and instead spend the entire time revising. We encourage students to see their mock examinations as a useful way of improving their knowledge and memory (rather than a unpleasant experience!).

Furthermore, it is obviously much better to have a disappointing mock examination (and result), than a disappointing final grade. Underperformance in mock examinations (although of course we would ideally like students to achieve grades in line with their actual ability) can act as a ‘wake up call’ that perhaps they need in order to do more work, change revision strategies and/or to develop the skills needed to perform under pressure.

4, Practising under exam conditions
Examination pressure (including for mock examinations - if, as we expect, they are treated seriously by students) can lead to nerves, anxiety, frustration and sloppy mistakes, culminating in a poor performance. For others, pressure allows them to concentrate more, work harder and perform better. It takes time and practice to perform well under pressure. If the final examinations are the first time students experience these conditions, it is gamble as to how they react. Mock examinations are a good opportunity for students to figure out and practise what works best for them. 

5, Identifying topics that need attention
Doing mock examinations at this point in the academic year gives students time before the real examinations to target areas/topics that need improvement. The results of mock examination can help students identify how they can best spend their time in the months leading up to the final examinations.

Once these areas are identified, it is then a case of putting in the hours. Of course it is not enough to think about what you need to do better, it is the action and the doing that really makes a difference.

In summary mock exams, if properly organised and approached with seriousness, can be incredibly beneficial for students. 

I hope you have a great weekend.

All the best,

Stephen Spicer 
Head of Secondary

Secondary dates for your diary
Friday 15th January: CIRCUS Pre show for younger children
Monday 18th - Friday 22nd January: Leadership Week
Thursday 21st January: Class 2017 CIRCUS
Friday 22nd January: Class 2017 CIRCUS
Friday 22nd January - Friday 5th February: Grade 10 IGCSE Mocks exams 
Monday 25th January - Friday 5th February: Grade 12 IB Mocks exams 
Thursday 28th January: Grades 9 & 11 Parent Teacher Meetings, 5:30pm PAC
Saturday 30th January: Mathcounts competition (CA)
Monday 1st - Friday 5th February: Black History Week
Tuesday 2nd February: Grades 6 & 7 Parent Teacher Meetings
Thursday 4th February: Grade 9 IGCSE Options evening
Monday 8th - Friday 12th February: Internet Safety Week
Friday 12th February: INSET Day for teachers (school closed)
Monday 15th February: Half Term Day (school closed)
Tuesday 16th - Friday 19th February: Grade 7 & 8 exams
Tuesday 16th February: Open Parent Partnership (Dr Guttfreund and Dr Barrios "Addictions in teens"), 6pm PAC
Thursday 18th February: Secondary school closes at 11:30am 
Saturday 27th February: Summer Carnival 2016 (organised by the Asociación de Padres de Familia)
Monday 29th February: Grade 10 IB Options Meetings and Cal 2 Reports, 5:30pm PAC
Monday 1st March: Grade 12 Parent Partnership and Cal 2 Reports, 6pm PAC
Thursday 3rd - Friday 7th March: Book Week
Monday 10th - Friday 14th March: Music Week / Brain Week and British Science Week
Wednesday 16th March: Grade 6, 7 & 8 Parent Partnership and Cal 2 Reports, 6pm PAC 
Thursday 17th March: Grade 9 & 11 Parent Teacher Meetings and Cal 2 Reports, 5:30pm PAC.
Friday 18th March: Last day of Second Term
Friday 21st March - Friday 1st April: Easter holidays (school closed)
Monday 4th April: Back to school - First day of Third Term 

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