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The Principal’s Newsletter

A focus on Hanova’s Primary English Language team

By Mr Martin Hughes

Dear Parents and

Primary English Language Team. Any new language is best learned in context and our teaching staff, most with extensive experience, are very familiar with differentiating the learning for children with very little English right up to ones who show great fluency for their age.  This English programme is at the core of what we teach at Hanova.  Much of effective learning is down to good teaching and good planning to ensure each student is getting a programme suited to their needs.

Since the start of the academic year our team of support for English learning, besides the class teacher, has been led by our PYP coordinator, Ms Abhi Jain who assists with planning and some teaching.  She is supported by our primary Deputy, Ms Natalie O’Connor.  The classes are supported by our team of Teaching Assistants.  This team has grown by 3 since the start of the year to ensure there is enough support to enable your children to make as much progress as possible. We now have full time TA support in Nursery to Y3 classes, with at least 50% support targeted where it is most useful in Y4 to Y6. We are currently expanding our team of English Language support in the Primary.  We are very pleased to tell you that two new teachers have arrived in the past week that allow us to significantly increase the support for the differentiation required in classes where there is wide variation in English language skills.  This is both to support those new to English acquisition and those with high levels.

All teachers in the Primary are used to teaching across a wide range of abilities.  They use such techniques as differentiated questioning and language development during class discussions, paired and group work, tasks at variously graded levels depending on a child’s skills, and focused skills work.  It is important that as humans are social learners that the students feel part of one class.  This helps both to motivate and support learners, something that individualised programmes struggle to achieve.  The learning is made more meaningful by being seen as being within the context of a particular line of enquiry.  Not all learning can be encompassed in such a unit, so students also study some skills and knowledge in parallel with the unit.

The first of our new teachers is Ms Ronna Fraser who joined us last week. She hails from USA, where she gained her Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood and later her Masters in Educational Administration from the University of Phoenix. She has 18 years of teaching experience as a class teacher, and Art teacher.  She has international experience as Head of Faculty in UAE and has been school director for a Korean Enrichment Centre.  Ronna will support students in their acquisition of English in the Primary.

The second teacher is Mr Brandon Givens who arrived this week with his wife and daughter.  He is taking over the programme in Y6 freeing Ms Judy Lai to concentrate on the role for which she was appointed, Head of English Language Acquisition Support in the Primary.

Brandon Givens gained his BA in Psychology and later his MEd in Special Education, both in his native USA.  He also has qualifications in teaching English to speakers of other languages.  Brandon has been teaching for 9 years and this is his and his family’s first experience in International Schools although they have travelled extensively.

We welcome them to the Hanova family.

Chinese Teaching Assistants. We were very pleased this week to welcome the Director of the International School of Chinese Studies, Mr Zhang Jian Cheng and his deputy Ms Liu Kun to our school.  They came to sign an agreement between Shaanxi Normal University and ourselves to place selected intern students in Hanova.  These students are carefully selected as some of the stronger students and are training as teachers.  They will support some of our Chinese teachers in their delivery of our Chinese programme.  In return they will gain experience of international students in an international school setting.  We hope this will be the start of a long and fruitful partnership of mutual benefit.

Diploma and University Preparation Meetings. As mentioned in last week’s newsletter, all parents in Years 10 to 12 are invited to a Diploma information session next Thursday at 4.00pm. In the meantime, we have scheduled meetings with individual students in Years 11 and 10. Sharon Zhu, our University and Careers Counsellor, and myself will be meeting students on a daily basis, starting with our new students in Year 11 on Monday.

Secondary School Attendance Policy. As you may be aware, we are required by the IB to ensure that our students have sufficient time to complete their MYP and Diploma subject courses. In the case of MYP students, all eight subject areas must cover 50 hours in each subject. It is also expected that Year 11 students spend at least 25 hours working on their Personal Project. This makes a total of school 425 hours in an academic year. The requirements for IGCSE are more rigorous. Students in Years 12 and 13 are expected to spend a total of 1230 hours to cover the curriculum content of their six subjects. In addition to this, they are expected to spend 100 hours in TOK workshops and 40 hours on their Extended Essays. This means that each student in Years 12 and 13 has to spend 1370 hours in school-based study over two years. These figures for MYP and Diploma do not include the hours required for MYP C&S and Diploma CAS. Neither do they reflect homework set in each subject per week. Parents and students need to be aware that these are the minimum time requirements set by IB regulations. In order to meet these requirements successfully, consistent student attendance is essential. From next week, attendance will be recorded each morning on Managebac in addition to the class registers. Student attendance will be monitored each Friday by the CAS Advisers. When an individual student misses FOUR school days accumulatively, the CAS Adviser will notify the parents that their son or daughter is getting close to the cut-off point where they are not meeting the IB attendance requirements.

In the case of Diploma students, should a student miss FOUR days of school accumulatively, parents will be asked to come into school for a meeting with the IB Diploma Coordinator.  They would get a final warning after missing SEVEN days.  Should attendance not improve after this meeting, parents are advised that the student may not be eligible for the award of a Diploma. This may mean that the student may have to re-take that Diploma year again.

Xi’an City Wall Run. A brief reminder that the deadline for entering this through school is coming up.  To register to enter you will need to pay 30rmb per entrant, state the race each one is taking part in, and send us your passport number and visa number by September 26th at the latest so we can register you via Xianese for this event on Saturday, November 1st. Students will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult as it will not be possible to keep a group of runners together all the time as there are many entrants.

Staff training. Ms Natalie O’Connor will be on training until 27th September.  If you have any issues that need raising re the Primary as usual contact through our liaison team ( Our PYP coordinator Ms Abhi Jain will cover the Deputy’s role in Natalie’s absence.

Best regards,

Martin Hughes


Forthcoming events                

Thursday, 25th                            IB Diploma information meeting for Year 10, 11 and 12 parents 4pm

Friday, 26th                                  School closes for National Day Holiday

Monday October, 6th and        School opens for Primary students (N-Y6)

Tuesday, 7th                                Staff training for MY and DP teachers

Wednesday, 8th                          School opens for Secondary students (Y7-13)

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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