Halcyon Wins LIMUN HS Best Delegation Award

Last weekend, four Halcyon G11 students attended London International Model United Nations High School (LIMUN HS) Conference at King's College. Their excellent preparation did not go unrecognised as Eric, Kieran, Nate and Nathan won 'Best Delegation' for their outstanding debating performances. 

Eric and Nate received the ‘Outstanding Delegate’ award as UK in ECOSOC (Economic and Social Committee) and the USA in the Security Council respectively. Kieran and Nathan won the ‘Best Delegate’ award representing the UK in DISEC (Disarmament and International Security Council) and UNEP (UN Environmental Programme), earning them free places at LIMUN, the largest University level conference in the UK.

"Given a simple premise, in my case the role of multinational corporations in sustainable development, students successfully debated a number of relevant points. Additionally, seeing how people’s personal beliefs interplayed with how they imagined their nation would react to an issue was very enlightening." - Nate G11, in ECOSOC as UK.

Receiving the award for ‘Best Delegation’ from Secretary General of the conference Tahmid Chowdhury. L-R: Eric, Nate, Nathan and Kieran.

Receiving the award for ‘Best Delegation’ from Secretary General of the conference Tahmid Chowdhury. L-R: Eric, Nate, Nathan and Kieran.

Fantastic First: Halcyon’s Student-led GIN* Forum

“...thank you for hosting us so well during the GIN Forum...the organisation of the event was splendid!” - CAS and GIN Coordinator, International School of Luxembourg

Five of Halcyon’s G12 students planned, organised and led a fantastic three day GIN Forum. This was our first GIN Forum and a tremendous achievement for the Diploma students. The students managed logistics, communications and budgeting. 

The theme of the Forum was “EnGINeering the Future: Aid”, referring to “aid” in its broadest sense. The students successfully demonstrated that both the words ‘aid’ and ‘engineering’ can mean so many different things; support, care, service and that WE can do so many things to improve the future. The theme was addressed through student-led presentations, workshops, and talks conducted by guest speakers.

The Forum formed part of the student’s CAS project. The goal was to introduce students from around the world to one another and share their projects and discussions on aid. Attendees were educating one another on different approaches to aid and also heard from an amazing selection of guest speakers from small and large non-governmental organisations, namely:

  • Doctors without Borders
  • Hand in Hand International
  • Oxfam
  • Terra Signing Academy
  • WaterAid UK
  • Walkabout Foundation

In addition to the guest speakers, the students organised two activities to encourage attendee collaboration. One activity was a sign language class whereby everyone was taught about international sign language and what skills can be developed to support delivering aid. The second activity was story book creation. Each school developed a children’s story book with aid as the theme. The books will be scanned and distributed by two charities - Mary’s Meals and Water Aid. 

“It was such an honour to be able to meet aspiring young students from all over Europe to discuss what we can do as the next generation to bring about a better and brighter future for all!” - Anne-Maria, G12

*Global Issues Network

Forum Organisers, from left to right: Charlie, Alex, Anne-Marie, Gwen and Isla

Forum Organisers, from left to right: Charlie, Alex, Anne-Marie, Gwen and Isla

Masters of Math!

For the past two weeks some Grade 10 and 11 students have taken part in the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) senior individual challenge and competed in the team challenge. 

Competing in the team challenge, Eric, Maga, Nate and Scott did exceptionally with the crossnumber round (a mathematical crossword puzzle which uses numbers instead of letters) earning full marks. They came 9th out of 28 teams in the challenge. 

Halcyon students also did very well in the individual challenges. Following their fantastic results, Eric was invited to take part in the British Mathematical Olympiad follow-on round and Nate was invited to take part in the Kangaroo follow-on round. We wish them luck!

Furthermore, Eric and Nate receive Gold certificates for their performance, Scott received a Silver Award, and Anne-Marie, Nathan and Thomas received Bronze. Congratulations to everyone for their tremendous efforts!

G12 Extended Essay Topic Catches The Attention of The Mayor of London!

“Thank you for your email...which I read with great interest.” - Sadiq Kahn, Mayor of London

Following the completion of her IB Extended Essay on London’s Santander Cycle Scheme, Rachel in G12 decided to email the Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn with her ideas and findings.

Rachel was delighted to discover that Kahn had taken the time to read her suggestions and write back, complimenting her on how interesting he found them. Kahn also mentioned in his reply that he had forwarded the email to Duncan Robertson, Service Development Manager for Santander Cycles at Transport for London for review and consideration. 

Rachel’s Extended Essay Supervisor was thrilled by the news that Kahn took an interest in Rachel’s ideas:

“I am really pleased that Rachel's work has caught the attention of the Mayor of London. Rachel worked very hard on her essay. It is exciting to think that her research may have a real impact on our local community.” - Claire Rose, Extended Essay Advisor

IBDP gains highest marks again as best university preparatory curriculum from UK/US institutions.

IBSCA*: The University Admissions Officers Report 2016

“As a diploma student, I have been able to explore and flourish in my selected areas of interest through both the core elements of the Extended Essay, CAS and Theory of Knowledge, but also in my subjects. I strongly believe that without my experiences of the IB Diploma, I would not be the independent enquirer I am today.” - Halcyon Student Rachel, Grade 12

In both the United Kingdom and the United States there is widespread agreement from universities that the IBDP is overall the best qualification to prepare students to excel at university. IBSCA proposed the following question to a broad sampling of university admissions officers:

Overall what score out of five would you give these different qualifications, for how well each prepares the student to thrive at university? A score of one is low, does not prepare well and five is high, prepares extremely well overall. 

The results speak for themselves

Taken from Page 10 of the IBSCA 2016 Report.

Taken from Page 10 of the IBSCA 2016 Report.

Research shows that choosing one curriculum over another can greatly impact the chance of success at university. The following data outlines the key skills that are identified as being critical for thriving at university:

Taken from Page 12 of the IBSCA 2016 Report.

Taken from Page 12 of the IBSCA 2016 Report.

Taken from Page 13 of the IBSCA 2016 Report.

Taken from Page 13 of the IBSCA 2016 Report.

One can interpret from the findings that the IBDP is considered the best preparation for university success. Overall it is deemed exemplary at developing independent inquiry, in-depth subject expertise, communication skills,; all of which support success for life at university. 

To view the full report please see here.

*IB Schools and Colleges Association.

Education on Air: #ItTakesATeacher

We are delighted to announce that on Saturday 03 December Halcyon’s Digital Learning Leader, Jon Neale, will be presenting on ‘Becoming a G Suite Ninja’ for the ‘Education on Air’ conference from Google. Watch the video below to learn more about the conference. 

From forms to docs and YouTube to sheets, in his session Jon will be sharing lots of awesome tips and tricks to make the most of G Suite in and out of the classroom. 

We are particularly proud that Jon has this opportunity to further demonstrate how we digitally leverage our levels of creativity, organisation, collaboration, analysis and more through the various platforms and apps. 

Education on Air is a free, global online conference where educators can share with and learn from other educators. Find out more here.

Halloween at Halcyon!

Today Halcyon students hosted a Halloween Charity Catwalk at lunchtime. Students and staff turned up in spooktacular costumes in aid of the CRIS Cancer foundation.

The lunchtime event included:

  • sweet treats at a bake sale
  • games
  • a spooky catwalk

Becket (Grade 11), Dada (Grade 10) and Mr Mansfield (Director) acted as a panel to judge the catwalk participant’s costumes. The ghostbusters won this year's first prize.

Student Council Elections

We present Halcyon's 2016/17 Student Council

We present Halcyon's 2016/17 Student Council

“One of the best things about being at Halcyon is being part of the community.” Ellery, Running for President.

On Tuesday of last week, Halcyon ran its Student Council elections. The Council provides a platform for students to explore their voice, freedom of speech and opportunity to discover and support new views from the community. Exploring and understanding leadership roles also provides powerful learning.

The candidates presented themselves clearly and enthusiastically to their peers. Evy, Grade 10, running for Secretary, stated:

“I’ve watched the school grow and change and sat back with my thoughts and opinions, but I want to take the initiative now to actively participate.”

On Friday, the results were in! Halcyon's 2016/17 Student Council is:

  • Treasurer: Kieran, Grade 11
  • Secretary: Evy, Grade 10
  • Vice President: Beckett, Grade 10
  • President: Ellery, Grade 10

Well done to everyone who ran for a position and to those who won the election! Looking forward to a productive year of student governance.

New Staff Announcement, Deirdre Williams

We are delighted to introduce you to Deirdre Williams, “Dee”, the new Cook, who will be joining Halcyon's catering team. Dee brings a great deal of experience and passion to her work and she is looking forward to collaborating with students, parents and staff to further integrate and develop the food culture at Halcyon including our commitment to our international community, delicious and nutritious cuisine and sustainability. 

Dee believes that the enjoyment of food starts with our eyes and enjoys making dishes that are attractive as well as wonderful on the palate.

Dee feels that there is a wonderful opportunity to grow at Halcyon, and as someone who enjoys learning and making progress, there is already room for improvement and she looking forward to joining a team with those same values.

Director's Message, Half-Term Break

Dear Students, Staff and Parents,

I hope that everyone has enjoyed the first half-term of the school year. I say ‘enjoyed’ very deliberately because we know we all learn better when we are enthused and engaged; I know there has been fabulous learning taking place - from our week-long residential trips, through field trips around London during our Community Days, to great IB learning across our classes, and teacher professional learning days. We have all been engaged, given our best and made progress as individuals and as a learning community. We aim for learning to give us a sense of success and help us feel fulfilled.

This year we have established Exploration classes and started a one-to-one mentoring programme for all students. We have also sought to expand the time available for personal and service learning, through our vertical mentor groups. These programmes aim to provide students with an opportunity to shape (some of) their learning. It also allows more time to reflect on their experiences and be supported in making positive changes. By having a greater sense of ownership of their learning, students should find learning more enjoyable and satisfying.

I trust our parents have enjoyed their learning too, coming to our workshops and orientation evenings. I hope that we have communicated our enjoyment of being a part of the Halcyon experience, and presented our school as a place that prizes inquiry, discovery and innovation. I know that our parents are always there to support both the school and their own learning - thank you! 

Finally, and not by any means last, our staff have supported the changes we have made this year and been wonderful ambassadors for innovation. They, too, have taken on new ideas and different ways of learning, and I believe this is one of the many reasons why Halcyon is such a great place to be; as staff members we all enjoy learning together and then sharing that with the students and parents.

Wherever you may be over the coming vacation - enjoy!

Best wishes,


What Our Capital Classroom Has To Offer

Learning at Halcyon London International School has no boundaries.

Being part of an international school community we appreciate the opportunity to learn about local complexities and nuances. To this end, Halcyon arranges many wonderful opportunities for our students to learn more about London, its diverse cultures and for reflections of fundamental British values. 

Halcyon students recently participated in a community day to a variety of institutions to learn about their valuable contributions. 

Grade 6 students visited the Education Centre at Hyde Park and the Natural History Museum. Students were investigating urban ecosystems and the student's role in their responsibility to protect their local environment. Grade 6 trip leader, Kerry Jenkins, emphasised that visiting the Education Centre at Hyde Park and the Natural History Museum gave students the "freedom to explore London’s natural landscape and learn from the institutions that inhabit London".

Grade 7 participated in a cultural exchange day with a Spanish secondary school based in London, Vicente Cañada Blanch. Halcyon’s students discussed art, customs and history of Spanish speaking countries and even shared a tapas lunch with their Spanish peers. Students got a sense of the cultural melting pot that London offers. Trip Leader Fatima Gonzalez said that the experience gave students the chance to "respect and learn from other cultures by sharing different experiences with the Spanish students".

Grade 8 visited the Science Museum and explored the question "What makes us human?". Whilst they investigated some of the physical reasons humans differ from animals, they discussed that another way humans differ is through religion and faith. Following the trip, students investigated this topic further by looking at the spiritual and religious aspects of humanity. They explored the question: "How do people's religious beliefs, teachings and values affect how they see themselves and their relationship to the natural environment?" As the home of human ingenuity, London's Science Museum was the perfect starting point for this discussion. Students were given a plethora of information, images and sources about religious teachings, beliefs, environmental organisations, animal rights and quotes. After being given one religion per group to focus on, they then had to sort through it and pick out what they thought was most appropriate to answering the question. Christina in Grade 8 said: "Our group looked at Sikhism and we learned that many Sikhs are vegetarian because their aim in life is to live in harmony".

Grade 9 explored East London on a street art tour, seeing how artists have expressed their social views and utilise visual communication and contemporary graphics. The day culminated in a debate entitled ‘The rule of law vs individual liberty' where students discussed how law and liberty can both complement and contradict each other. By looking at these fundamental British values students were able to discuss property law, vandalism and freedom of speech.

Grade 10 visited Tate Britain and explored how British artists from the 18 - 20th Century have expressed themselves through the use of the figure, and how this has been interpreted in both paintings and sculptures. Trip Leader Sue Dance reflected "this trip enabled students to acquire an appreciation and respect for British artists".

Grade 11 visited the Royal Courts of Justice where they learned about the workings of the court and took part in a mock trial, based on Copyright law. Students were discovering the role of being a responsible citizen, an understanding and appreciation of how the law can impact every day lives for all members of society...all while getting to work in historic courtrooms!

Grade 12 went to the Serpentine Galleries and the Saatchi Gallery to connect to curatorial practice and decision making, which is a required element of the Visual Arts IBDP curriculum. Students got to to gain inspiration for ideas relating to their own studio work and concept development. Trip Leader Anthony Gow told us "at the Serpentine Gallery students saw Helen Martin's installation work; Martin is one of the finalists for the Turner Prize, which gave students an awareness of the celebration of upcoming young artists in Britain".

Fundamental British values are further demonstrated in Halcyon's commitment to diversity and student voice through our student-led clubs and events. For example, Halcyon's Debate Club and Student Council in addition to the student-led Global Issues Network conference and Model United Nations conferences. Students discuss democracy, faith, politics and cultures to name a few. Our recent International Showcase was a whole community celebration of global cultures and faiths!

Google for Education Presenter Visits Halcyon

On Thursday 06 October James Leonard, UK Regional Manager at Google for Education, visited Halcyon London International School to deliver a presentation on 20% Time at Google.

20% Time has many similarities to Halcyon's Personal Learning Projects.

James himself has taken part in a variety of fascinating 20% projects, including Google Expeditions (Halcyon was chosen to be part of the Pioneer Programme for this new virtual reality platform. See here.)  and being a presenter on The Apps Show.  He expertly presented on the huge success of a number of projects and what this innovative freedom means to Googlers, before fielding a variety of questions from engaged Halcyon students.

"We were very lucky to welcome James along to Halcyon; his presentation and knowledge was great for developing an understanding of how freedom can inspire innovation.  It linked up extremely well with exactly what the students are undertaking themselves, as part of personal learning projects." - Jon Neale, Halcyon's Digital Learning Leader

Basi Amodu, Student Counsellor

The aim of counselling is to provide students with a confidential contained space and opportunity for them to explore their thoughts and feelings in safety in order to assist their learning, healing, understanding and growth. Basi's role is to help students through this process without judgement, or telling them what to do. Basi uses talking therapy and non-directive creative methods; however, she may on occasions give information or offer suggestions if the young person feels comfortable and with their agreement. Basi also uses an integrative approach and a model, which focuses on the importance of four elements; relationship, therapeutic creativity, self-awareness and change. She feels each student’s story is unique, and uses various counselling and therapeutic methods to support them to reach self-reliance, resilience and understanding of their own lives. Basi works in a holistic way believing in a trilateral approach of student, home and school working together.

Halcyon’s Fantastic First External Exam Results

In 2016, Grade 10 students sat an innovative IB e-assessment. This was an interdisciplinary digital exam where students had to apply knowledge of both mathematics and English language and literature by analysing patterns in nature. 

We are extremely proud to say that our students performed exceptionally well (we had no doubt that they would)! 

IB scores are on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest). The average score achieved by our then 22 Grade 10 students (now Grade 11) was 5.65 against a world average of 4.93.

Furthermore, the Grade 10 student’s Personal Projects were also examined by the IB with fantastic results. Our students average was 6.19 compared to the world average of 4.23On a scale of 7 our students achieved on average 2 points above the world average.

We are extremely proud of our learning community and a big well done to the current Grade 11 students and many thanks to their teachers for their wonderful support.

Halcyon’s University Visits

Last week Halcyon was visited by five universities:

The representatives highlighted how valued the IB curriculum is at each of their universities. One student asked “Does belonging to a school that is only four years old impact admissions decision-makers?” and each replied with a firm No - the IB curriculum is so highly regarded by admissions that any student applying from an IB curriculum school is in a strong position. 

Students also learned that American university applications are holistic. Indeed, they look at the whole package from recommendations, grades, extracurricular activities to leadership and essays.

Mark Bowen fed back that: “Students came very prepared to listen. They were open-minded and asked insightful questions. I believe students left with a clearer understanding of the American university process as well as an understanding of the each individual university’s requirements.”.

Ethan in Grade 11 commented: “The speakers were knowledgeable, professional, engaging and provided us with a lot of useful information. We learned that universities take a regional view for admissions rather than a school-wide view. I feel better informed about the American university application process...Notre Dame is now top of my list!”.

Pamela Sears, Co-founder, Board Trustee & Finance Director

Pamela, who now has dual US/UK citizenship, was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. She studied theatre arts until discovering that she was no Katherine Hepburn and crossed campus to major in Economics at Colorado College and University of Washington.

Pamela’s areas of expertise are in cross-border asset financing structures and the intricacies of cross-border legal, tax and accounting issues. She has worked for an investment advising firm, an asset leasing company, and as a Vice President for Deutsche Bank (NYC) - a role she left to embark on her new careers as a serial volunteer, an expat spouse and to raise a family.

In the last 19 years, she and her family have lived in five Central and Western European cities and they moved to London 12 years ago.

Pamela’s non-corporate life has included board and committee positions in several international community organisations, a trustee position on an educational charity and committee and officer positions on several school/parent organisations.

She is passionate about removing the stigma surrounding maths for girls and making maths fun for everyone. 

Achim Beck, Co-founder and Chair to the Board of Trustees

Achim is a German/UK dual national. Educated in Germany, he studied economics at the Goethe University in Frankfurt and worked for 17 years at international banks in Paris, Frankfurt and London, building business and managing teams in Europe, Middle East and USA.

For the last five years, he has been active in the alternative energy sector - producing energy and developing alternative energy storage systems, working collaboratively with universities. He enjoys working with start ups and is involved in education, IT, recycling. 

Achim is committed to charity work and is active in the voluntary sector.

Julie Matthaeus, Co-founder & Board Trustee

Julie has lived in London for 17 years. Puerto Rican-American, born and raised in New York City, she was educated at Wellesley College,  and earned a Bachelor degree in Economics and Spanish Literature.

The bulk of Julie’s career has been spent in finance, as an investment banker at companies including Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch International and Mercury Asset Management.

Julie has also been active in the charitable sector, as Co-Executive Director for Dress for Success London, a UK registered charity that supports disadvantaged women in returning to work.

Julie is currently holding her most significant position: mother to three children aged 3, 8 and 12 years.