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The Principal's Newsletter

Upcoming ‘Curriculum Information Sessions’

By Mr Martin Hughes

Dear Parents and

Curriculum information sessions. We feel it is important for both new and returning families to have a chance to hear about how this year is being planned, including some of the exciting developments underway. The Curriculum Information afternoons planned for next week are aimed at offering parents the opportunity to be informed about:

  • Procedures for running of each class or subject
  • Policies, Procedures, and expectations in school
  • Home school communication
  • How we are selecting the appropriate courses for students including the level of Chinese and the level of English support

We would also like parents to have the chance to meet the teachers that teach their children and have the opportunity to ask general questions about the curriculum.

These curriculum information sessions will take place on Tuesday, 2nd September for the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Friday, 5th September for the Middle Years Programme (MYP).  The MYP information session will take place at 16:00 in the Auditorium.  The PYP will start at 13:30.

Curriculum at Hanova. The student is at the centre of the curriculum at Hanova.  Over these first few days we have been assessing the new students and reviewing the returning students.  Assessment is a continuous feature of good teaching and learning.  The teacher is constantly assessing the student to see what concepts and skills they have grasped, and planning out the next stages of the learning.  The student is at the centre of this.

To learn and apply their developing knowledge, skills and concepts, the students need to understand the purpose of what they are learning and doing.  They construct their understanding of the new things they are learning. This is the main reason that the IB curriculum is organised cross curricularly and why there is a Central Idea (or big question) in PYP and the renamed in the latest version of MYP (the Next Chapter) Statement of Inquiry.  We want the students to be constantly thinking about and organising their learning.  This developing mental framework gives them the place to put their knowledge and skills so they can easily and meaningfully be retrieved and applied intelligently.  Students need to access a huge variety of sources to construct that meaning – that includes books in the library, the internet, a limited number of textbooks.  Understanding is key.

This organisation of the curriculum and constructing of meaning is a very different approach to a now largely outdated, in my view, organisation of the curriculum whereby knowledge is at the centre of the learning.  In this system the main, or even sole aim is to transfer knowledge into the minds of the students.  This is then checked for by testing and retesting to check retention.  It is typified by a focus on textbooks which are seen as containing the knowledge that needs to be learned by the students.

The World is changing faster now than ever before.  We don’t know what careers our students will pursue as the jobs of the future probably do not even exist yet.  We need to prepare our students for the challenging 21st century and for the adaptability they will require.  They need to be able to think for themselves and work out what they need to do.  A single textbook for each subject cannot do this as all students construct their understanding differently. Additionally knowledge is developing so quickly and technology is changing how we do and understand things.  The students, for both university and even more so in employment, need to be able to think creatively in all subjects, putting ideas together in different ways.  They need to be able to work in teams both collaboratively and in leadership.  They need to be able to communicate with others and to understand them. It is these overarching skills and above all developing the right attitudes to work, problem solving and learning that hold the key to the education. The IB curriculum is a great vehicle to work to achieve these aims.

As a school we are also pragmatic and know students will need to not only think creatively and show evidence of leadership to get to the top universities, but they also need a good level of competence to pass exams. Where learning has to focus on passing exams it is necessary to use textbooks to prepare for this. This is why textbooks are a more common feature from Y10 onwards when we are preparing students for exams.

To see more about some of these ideas do check our website to see the curriculum but especially to see our vision, aims and mission.  Also see the International Baccalaureate website (  If you have a real interest in looking at some of the ideas that underpin the curriculum look at the work of contructivists such as Vytgotsky, the depth of understanding indicated in Bloom’s taxonomy and recent ideas on education and learning from people like Sugata Mitra and Ken Robinson.

MYP Curriculum. As some of you may be aware, there have been some exciting developments in the Middle Years Programme.  For those parents new to our school, the MYP is a framework upon which a school delivers the content of its curriculum, whilst focusing on enduring concepts that should remain with students for the rest of their lives.

In its previous incarnation, the programme sought to allow teachers the freedom to determine these concepts depending on the subject discipline; however, with the changes brought about by the IB with its most recent curriculum review, the MYP is now aligned more closely with the PYP and concepts are now prescribed.  Both the PYP and MYP will now share common terminology with regards to unit structure and the connection between the statement of inquiry and the final summative assessment.  Students who are joining the MYP from PYP will see many connections and the transition between both programmes will be much smoother.  For those students who were in MYP at Hanova last year, they will notice similarities with the previous programme and, where any new developments do exist, our teachers will provide support and guidance to facilitate quick understanding.

There are, of course, many other facets to the programme that are far too lengthy to list here.  For a more comprehensive understanding of the MYP and the changes to that will be implemented at Hanova, please join us on Friday, 5th September where we will explore these in more detail.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Training. Not only do we want our students to see themselves as Life Long Learners, but we also see ourselves as staff in the same way.  We are working towards our verification visit for the IB Diploma Programme in November.   This involves a massive amount of work in preparing the staff, the school building, resources, a number of key policies and the writing of detailed curriculum documents.  To ensure the highest quality of teaching and learning, IB training is compulsory for all teachers of PYP, MYP and Diploma. Each training course costs an average of 700 USD. However, the Board of Governors has approved the training of ten teachers and administrators of our Diploma programme already this school year and we anticipate a number of MYP and PYP training candidates later this year.

Last year all staff were trained in either or both MYP and PYP by external IB educators as well as by the staff we had in school.  This year their training will be taken onto the next level as part of their continuous professional development.  New staff, many of whom are very experienced either at leading a team to IB authorisation, in delivering programmes or in three cases being examiners for the IB, will also be taking their training on.  The school will be closed for MYP and DP students on 6th and 7th October, with classes recommencing on 8th October.  Primary students will continue to attend school on those dates.

The school will be closed for PYP students on Thursday, 6th and Friday, 7th November for Primary staff to receive IB training.  School will be open as usual for students from Y7-13.

I apologise for any inconvenience caused by these differences in training days, but these days have to fit in with when the IB is able to provide the necessary trainers (for Primary) and the date of our DP verification visit (for MYP and DP teachers).

Extra-Curricular Activities (ECAs). Hanova will continue its highly successful programme of ECAs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  You will be receiving information and a sign-up form for the first block whose activities start the week beginning 8th September.  The first round of ECAs includes a selection of teacher-led physical or learning activities that should be enjoyable for students in every age group.  We ask that parents try to match ECA choices with their child’s age and interests where possible.  Most clubs have limited space so we ask you to make choices from 1 to 3, so that if we cannot fit your child into their first choice we can hopefully fit them into their second.  Each ECA Block will last for approximately 6 weeks so that students can take part in a wide variety of activities throughout the school year. Please pay careful attention to these ECA forms because some ECA’s offered require payment. As with any other money for school activities, please send it in a clearly marked envelope to our Reception Office. Note that our school buses will leave one hour later on Tuesdays and Thursdays during ECAs. Those parents who do not wish their children to take part in ECAs will need to notify us and arrange to pick them up because our staff will be involved in providing these structured activities. We do not offer supervision for students who are not taking part in ECAs.

Saturday Sports. Our popular programme of Saturday Sports at Hanova will continue again this year starting the 2nd week of September. Parents and visitors are invited to attend (weather permitting) from 10-12 every Saturday morning to use our outside facilities for sports activities. Please contact  Sam Quan ( for further information.  All children must be supervised by an adult – usually their parent!

Playgroup. Also starting the 2nd week of September is our Playgroup. Visitors and Hanova parents and children up to 3 years old are invited to Hanova every Thursday from 15:35-16:35 to learn, play, and make friends in our Nursery classroom with Ms. Low. All children must be supervised by parents.  Please do book your places for this by contacting our Liaison Team (, or Cate Low (

Uniforms. There is a set of uniforms included with one year of tuition fees. Enrolments of less than one year will initially be charged ¥1,500 to ensure students can wear the compulsory uniform. You should have received or should receive an order form if we have received a year’s tuition fees or your children are new to the school.  Please complete these and send with payment of ¥1,500 if necessary.  If you wish to order part sets of uniform or require some additional items please ask for an order form.

Scholastic Books. As you may know it is difficult to get book in Xi’an, so the school helps to organise book orders from the publisher, Scholastic.  Scholastic is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, classroom magazines, teacher resources, and technology-based educational programs to improve reading and literacy – website You should receive a Scholastic Book Orders which is being sent on Friday, 29th August.  If you would like to order, please return your order form and money (please in a sealed envelope) to the homeroom teacher or Ms. Camellia Feng by Wednesday, 3rd  September.  The price for the books in the catalogue is in dollars, but attached to the back, you will find the RMB conversions.  Please fill in our order forms that are in RMB.  The book should arrive in about four weeks.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact Ms. Camellia (

No PYP Assembly this Friday (29 August). You may recall from last week’s newsletter that there are some changes to our assembly structure.  Primary assemblies remain on a Friday morning, though some of the time we will have an assembly on a Friday afternoon where we meet as a cross-divisional team i.e. selected classes from the whole of the Hanova School, PYP, MYP and DP.  This Friday we will not have a PYP assembly.  This week the PYP staff are working hard training our PYP students to take over from the Year 12 and 13 students.  This involves everything from how to present on stage and how to organise an assembly including all of the staging/technology issues.  We intend to have this new system running for next week.

Indoor breaktimes and lunchtimes. These occur when the outside conditions are felt not to be conducive to good break times.  This can be owing to extreme weather conditions, high levels of pollution, or, as was the case today, of a high number of wasps.  We are seeking to minimise or eradicate this problem.

Best regards,

Martin Hughes


Forthcoming events


Friday, 29th                                  No PYP assembly


Tuesday, 2nd                                PYP curriculum information.  1:30pm

Friday, 5th                                    MYP curriculum information.  4pm

Tuesday, 9th                                Extra Curricular Activities (ECAs) begin

Saturday, 14th                             Saturday Sports 10am-12

Notification of adjustment in School closures


Monday, 6th and Tuesday, 7th School closed for staff training for Y7-13 (open for Primary)


Thursday, 6th and Friday, 7th   School closed for staff training for N-Y6 (open for Secondary students

About the Author

Martin Hughes

Former School Principal

Mr Martin Hughes was the founding Principal of Hanova from 2012-15. Prior to his time at Hanova, he already had 23 years of experience as Principal in the UK and China at five different schools - including posts at Wuxi EtonHouse and EtonHouse's flagship Suzhou school. During his time as founding Principal at Hanova, he helped support the initial IB Diploma Programme authorisation (2014) and used his educational vision to help plant our then brand new school on a firm foundation. Under his leadership, Hanova's motto emerged, "Enabling children to become independent, creative and lifelong learners!"

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