ISPP Director Gareth Jones
For February – April 2021
Whilst there have been, and continue to be, challenges along the way, it is important for us to recognise the creativity, flexibility and resilience demonstrated by our students, families, support staff and faculty.

Reflecting on my thirty years working in international education, I do not think that I have experienced such a surreal context as the one that Covid-19 Pandemic has brought us all.

This statement was made in my Letter from the Director published in The Pulse at this time last year. At that time, it probably would not have entered my mind that I would be reflecting on a similar global context a year later. We have all been facing a situation of an in-between state, somewhere between the “old” normal, so to speak, but not yet at the “new” normal. We have fluctuated back and forth between on-campus and online school and are all aware of the challenges that this brings. Some schools across the world have been more fortunate than us in that they have had greater time on campus, but I am also mindful that many of our colleagues across the globe have not had a single day on campus since March 2019. Whilst there have been, and continue to be, challenges along the way, I believe that it is important for us to recognise the creativity, flexibility and resilience demonstrated by our students, families, support staff and faculty. We are all learning and growing skills and developing character traits that will prepare us for taking advantage of the new normal when it arrives. If we reflect on world history, the last global pandemic (what was termed the Spanish Flu) started in 1918, just as the First World War was coming to an end. As we live through our own piece of history, it is encouraging to reflect that the end of challenging times often brings a new paradigm, one of change and optimism for the future. So whilst we are still in this in-between state, I am sure that we will soon be able to look forward to great opportunities.

As a school, one of our core values is learning, and we have sought to learn and grow in our delivery of online learning, reflecting on feedback surveys from students, parents and teachers, and making adjustments to the delivery of the educational programme in order to continue and enhance the efficacy of ISPP online school.

In February, we also received feedback from our whole school Council of International Schools (CIS) community survey. Reflecting on feedback in a similar way that our students do with their teachers’ input is crucial to us as we continually develop and improve. I have attached a summary of the CIS feedback surveys here in continuing to aspire transparency in sharing information with our community members. The 2020-21 CIS survey results are categorised using percentages from a range of agreement statements (strongly agree and agree) through disagreement statements (strongly disagree and disagree) to identify and reflect on celebrations and challenges. We see “celebrations” as a total of 90% of combined agree and strongly agree responses and “challenges” when the total is 75% or less (corresponding to 25% or more that disagree and strongly disagree). We were indeed pleased to see 125 individual areas of feedback highlighted for celebration and are rightly proud of this. It is always essential for us to reflect and work towards mitigating our challenges, seeking to turn them into opportunities and eventually celebrations. You will see six areas noted in this survey summary.

In this update, I need to recognise that our community members have also experienced loss during this time. I am sure that I echo everyone’s sentiments in expressing condolences to those affected. The global pandemic will have touched many families. Others have experienced loss in different circumstances. Of course, as a community, we mourn the passing of Mr Murray Polglase, our Secondary School Principal. I was fortunate enough to get to know Murray in both a personal and professional capacity, and I have become a better person for that. Murray was a character with much character – an authentic and humble person and educator. Murray had the ability to make an almost immediate connection with people from all walks of life. Making people feel at ease with the ability to lower rather than raise tension through his empathy in any given situation. I believe this is what came to the fore when working with students, families and colleagues. Murray made an incredible impression on those who knew him as a person, educator, and someone who made a difference. Some of the thoughts from Murray’s friends, colleagues, students and community are shared later in this issue. If you would like to leave a message or simply read what others remember about him, please visit our special web page Remembering Murray.

As we move to the academic year’s final stretch, I would like to remind you that we will be holding our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday 5 May. The meeting will be held virtually again this year (and on-campus also if the context allows).

As we come towards the last quarter of the academic year for our Grade 12 students who had their last formal day of school on Friday 9 April and I would also like to congratulate the class of 2021 on completing their school-based education. We recognise that the last two years have brought plenty of challenges and uncertainty for you, even in recent weeks where you transitioned to completing your mock examinations online and then moving to the non-examination route for the IB Diploma. I need to note both individually and collectively that you have been robust in your response and handle the emotional difficulties and anxiety of uncertainty. I know that this will stand you in good stead as you transition to the next stage of your education and lives. We wish you well in your future endeavours.

As we progress through the last quarter of this academic year, I would also like to wish the members of our community who are planning a move to a different school and a different country at the end of this academic year all the very best with your moves and transitions and as that you keep in contact with us here at ISPP. Whether your stay was a long or a short one, you have enriched our school community, and your touch will have an impact on this school forever. If at all possible, please come back and visit us sometime in the future. ISPP as a school seems to have a permanent hold on all those who spend time here, and you will always be welcome back for a visit!

With kind regards,

Gareth

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