Headteacher's Blog

Challenging the potential of each child, Sakhalin International School is a community where a learner's reflective thinking - through personal qualities, academic rigour and international perspectives - supports their future as an accountable global citizen.

And what a way to start the term!

posted 15 Sep 2017, 20:44 by Andy Freeman   [ updated 15 Sep 2017, 20:45 ]

We ended last term and year with a celebration of the work that Mike Uma Okoro does with young children back in Nigeria, his home country, and the support that you all gave for this work through helping produce and buy an SIS Cookbook.

And to share in how you supported these children, below are pictures from Mike who visited Nigeria this summer to continue to support the Foundation he started and supports. A message from Mike:

Uma-Okoro Foundation Will like to say a big thank you to Sakhalin International School for supporting our mission to help children who are unable to access learning resources. Attached are some photos from our mission trip this summer. Thank you for working with us to inspire a future filled with hope.


Yours sincerely

Uma-Okoro Michael 

And this is not the end. I hear that some parents in Sakhalin are looking for other ways to support also... perhaps we can all join in and continue this support long term. I'll keep you posted.

For now, thank you.

And well done, Mike. Respect!

What a way to end the term...

posted 6 Jul 2017, 19:52 by Andy Freeman

It was a fantastic way to end our year, donating 51,000 rubles to support learning for children who are not always able to access learning or access resources for learning.

Thanks to Litska for the idea and getting our cookbook made and sold; and to Mike for his great support for friends in Nigeria who will benefit further from the work his foundation supports.

And an International Friday...respect!

posted 12 Jun 2017, 14:53 by Andy Freeman

I meant what I said on Friday (for those who were there). I 'really love the fact that our school represents so many different backgrounds' and what I like even more, is that 'we share and celebrate the similarities and differences' together. We are lucky to be amongst so many friends from different backgrounds.

Whilst there is a culture of respect in our school, we have to accept that sometimes children forget themselves. It is for this reason that we as parents, teachers and learners ourselves need to coach and share learning within our community to regularly celebrate our similarities and differences and develop that interest, knowledge and understanding of and beyond our own cultures (International Mindedness). In doing so, we develop respect.

On Friday at school, all in the space of several hours we developed that respect more.

In the morning in a whole school assembly we learnt more about Sikhism from one of our families. The learning was fantastic and as our learners asked questions, we could feel the respect in the room that our learners have for other cultures and gained an insight into how internationally minded our learners are.

Later on Friday, our Middle Years students visited the Japanese Consulate to find out more about Japanese art and culture.


And to end an international day of learning about the similarities and differences in our cultures, we learnt more about traditions in Russia in preparation for Monday's holiday of Russia Day.

We are privileged to be able to share in such a diverse community. Our experiences help us all develop more as accountable global citizens. If you can help add to our, and our learners' experiences, please let me know: andy.freeman@sakhalinschool.net

An International Week!

posted 25 May 2017, 20:28 by Andy Freeman

One great thing (of many) in our school, community and host island, Sakhalin, is the way we celebrate our diversity, the way we embrace new people we meet and how, as the British Ambassador put it this week, we are all diplomats for each of our countries. We are making links, sharing our cultural similarities and differences, respecting our different traditions and beginning to solve similar problems together.

On Tuesday we welcomed the Minister Counsellor for the British Embassy and found out about the role of an Embassy and his job.

On Friday we hosted our International Children's Day.

For both events we welcomed Gymnasium 3 who supported the events by leading a cultural song and dance and by leading craft activities. Gymnasium 3 showed our shared belief that guides our collaboration; one thought of and designed by a child from one of the Gymnasiums and selected by the President of Exxon Mobil.

International Children's Day was also supported by many volunteer parents. Without your help we could not have put on such a great event. Thanks for being all together with us.


What is an accountable global citizen?

posted 13 May 2017, 21:40 by Andy Freeman

After almost a year with a new shared vision, we are revisiting what we think an accountable global citizen is.

I found these on a website, reflecting how these related to us and you children in the future. Does someone who actively engages in these goals for sustainable development an accountable global citizen?

What's your view? Let me know: andy.freeman@sakhalinenergy.ru

Happy Holi!

posted 14 Mar 2017, 03:23 by Andy Freeman

Last week we were lucky enough to develop our knowledge and understanding of a culture beyond our own nationality thanks to our friends who shared the celebration of Holi with us at our school.

As part of our shared learning we found out about the story behind the celebration and some of the traditions associated with it.

To celebrate the 'throwing of paint' that usually happens at Holi, our friends kindly prepared 4 large tubs of shredded colour paper for us to throw.

As you can see, our children really enjoyed the celebration, developing their international mindedness and reflecting on their futures as accountable global citizens.

Thanks to Manesh, Shweta, Tanush and our friends from the Indian community for sharing this with us.

We look forward to more of our families helping us reflect on the international in future celebrations. Email me at andy.freeman@sakhalinenergy.ru if you would like to support our learners in this way.

I've been thinking... and so have you!

posted 9 Feb 2017, 11:01 by Andy Freeman   [ updated 9 Feb 2017, 11:07 ]

I shared in a previous post about how we were focusing in school on how we could provide more opportunities for reflective and critical thinking opportunities across the school. I was thinking last night about if we had been sharing enough examples of this with the wider community to help you understand/think (it's all linked!) what this is about, how it is going and what it means for learning in our context and how it is supporting our learners as accountable global citizens.

Well here's one example...

Yesterday our Milepost 3 welcomed a professional athlete into the classroom linked to their current learning about health and fitness. To support learning in this way they...

Used a Visible Thinking Tool (VTT) together to generate questions, ideas and thoughts to talk about

Used these for a very in-depth discussion/debate

Shared reflections on their learning/understanding together through an alternative VTT

I also visited a MP 2 class and wanted to share how children's learning is getting bigger and better as a result of this focus. In the class two learners had to represent something that was between 0.5 and 0.6m. Through some discussion, visible thinking and coaching (between each other, not with me!) they realised their books were not big enough and came up with this...

... they converted it to a 0.5-0.6cm ant! I love it!

(Now for me to go and think how to rotate an image stored on Google Drive so you can see it the right way up on the website... any visible thinking you can share anyone?)

Australia Day... just the start?

posted 26 Jan 2017, 22:28 by Andy Freeman   [ updated 27 Jan 2017, 18:44 ]

Today we celebrated Australia Day at school.

Well, in fact. some families (and a teacher from Australia, I wonder who?) helped us celebrate Australia Day at school today. It was great. We had poetry, music, quizzes, 'speak Aussie' and even vegemite sandwiches. (If you are not sure what they are, take a look on line).

Anyway, the first part of the celebration was to watch an Australian advert about lamb. But what the advert also sold was the welcoming of cultures. A celebration of diversity. A respect for each other regardless of where we come from. 

And this is why I hope that Australia Day is just the start. The start of an interest from our parent community to celebrate diversity and promote respect through our assemblies. If you can, come and celebrate a special day or event from your culture, or just share your culture. Our learners soooooo enjoyed today - it was bonza - and are keen to learn more so let us know if you can help out.

For now..... G'day!

Jobs People Do: 'Looking for Learning...'

posted 28 Nov 2016, 02:58 by Andy Freeman

Learning this term is linked to the theme of Jobs and different things people do. Whilst you all may have some idea of what I do there's one part I really like and I thought I'd share it as I think it's something we can all do. The part of my job that I really, really, really like is looking for learning. I'm lucky in that I get the opportunity to roam classes and share learning with children. Yep. That's right. With children. If learning is taking place then I'll find that out from them. 

Learning happens in the end user, the children. I have great conversations with them and, I'm pleased to say, I often find out that great learning is taking place. We have a great team of staff who aim to provide appropriate, sufficient and engaging learning and it is because of this that we see great learning happen. [That great, same team of staff are also used to me wandering in and out uninvited and I'd like to thank them for making me always feel welcome and, in some cases, putting up with my interruptions and questions!]

The last few weeks I have focused looking for learning on Big Questions. This has been a focus for us since September and something that is new and developing in our school. It links to our vision for Reflective Thinkers and, as teachers, when we trial something new, our only way of finding out if it is helping us improve our learners is by going to them directly.

We weren't exactly sure what we would find but in such a short space of time we are already hearing how Big Questions:
  • are confusing... but it makes my learning deeper
  • we use them all the time
  • they make us think more
  • you have lots of thoughts... helps us think of more questions... more answers... it is like a Big Questions cycle
  • sometimes we don't have the right information first time... it's harder... it gets us ready for secondary school
  • ...and so on
Here are some examples of learning too:

Whilst the above is a celebration of learning and the environment created by a great team of staff, I hope it gives an idea of where we can find out if something is working. If you want to know if something is having an impact or doing what you intended, don't always go to the middle man [though they will have important information to share], go to the end user... go and look for learning where it happens.

Let me know what you find out.

A Day In The Life Of...

posted 7 Nov 2016, 03:46 by Andy Freeman

Welcome back to a new half-term of learning at our school.

Today every class started new units of learning. In the Early Years children are learning about the Weather whilst in P2-P7 learning is focused on  A Day In The Life Of, Money and Trade. The Middle Years focus on the Big Idea of Risk which I am sure can be seen in everything from the weather to trade!

Also today, one of our cleaners, Valentina, left the school after 12 years supporting keeping our environment safe and healthy for us all. I talked to her today more about her life in Sakhalin. She has worked for over 40 years here; she has a letter from the Russian Government recognising this. I also learnt how she worked in a factory before coming here and about her love of dancing.

This conversation made me wonder how much we share and talk about the 'day in the life' of those people around us who work with and support us, and if we celebrate these people enough with our children;  including bus drivers, nannies and those who keep our houses working through all weather.

The people around us are important and if we want to support or children's futures as accountable global citizens in the jobs they do, the money they earn, and the trades they are involved in, we need to help them think reflectively about all those people around us who work with us, take risks and face all sorts of weather to support us.

Let's celebrate our community... all of it. These Units of learning give us a good opportunity to reflect on our being in a great location with good people and create positive memories of our time in Sakhalin and the people who shared in our lives in different ways.

Mr F 

1-10 of 14