School Director Margret Benedikz writes…

I was in London a couple of week’s ago along with Eddy Johansson (principal) as we were hosting a Friends of SSHL reception, together with the SSHL Alumni Association for alumni and parents living in the UK. The reception was held at Aquavit restaurant with the generous support of Coralie & Philip Hamilton. Many thanks to Marika Wäreborn for organising the event together with Caroline Lindahl.

Close to thirty people attended the reception, and Eddy and I had a chance to give everyone an update on the exciting things that are happening at SSHL. The school is continually developing and it’s important for us to keep our community up-to-date. Meeting up with friends of SSHL is not just a wonderful social occasion; it is also a great way of letting everyone know about the work that’s being done at SSHL. Parents and alumni play an important part in helping to spread the word about our school which in turn helps attract new students.

It was tremendous to meet so many friends and feel the strong support for the school and our community. We look forward to returning to London next year!

Germany, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and lots of interest in SSHL

Eddy Johansson was in Munich last week talking about SSHL whilst two house parents, Johanna Flink and Ola Olsson, are currently in Dubai. Many thanks to everyone who made this possible. We’re very grateful to the help and support we get from expat Swedish communities around the world. This, along with the marketing work we do, is really helping us to get the word out about education in Sweden and this in turn helps attract more potential students. We find that offering the opportunity to try boarding (”provbo”) is a great way for young people to see whether boarding at SSHL is the right option for them.

This year we’ve had to introduce an extra (4th!) weekend to accommodate the considerable interest in the school. The next group of potential students arrive March 23 and we look forward to welcoming them to the school. I am sure everyone at SSHL will make them most welcome.

Heading to Singapore & Japan

I will be speaking in Singapore and Japan before Easter about bilingualism. As I meet Swedish families around the world, it’s striking just how international both SSHL and Sweden is becoming. More and more of our students have strong ties to countries outside of Sweden, and as Sweden and the world changes, and with many of us embracing internationalism, it strengthens my belief in the work we are doing at the school. Our ethos, our status as an IB World School, as well as international school status within the Swedish education system, reflects the way in which SSHL is very much a school with an eye to what is happening globally in education. We are preparing our young people to not only prosper as they follow their chosen paths, but also go out and make a difference in the world. In the time that I have been at SSHL I have seen more and more interest in our international programmes. Clearly, no matter what is happening in the world, our young people are embracing the freedom of working within a global economy.

School Inspection

We were very pleased to welcome inspectors from the National Agency for Education in Sweden – Skolverket – to SSHL this week. They’ve been meeting with students and teachers, watching lessons and getting a real sense of what we’re doing here. The inspection is in line with the National Agency’s commitment to ensuring the quality of education at SSHL, just as other schools.

Parents Day

Saturday will see us welcoming parents to the spring term Parents Day on. It’s a wonderful chance for you as parents to meet with your children’s teachers and keep up with what is happening at the school. I hope to see as many of you as possible, whether during the day itself or at the Parents Association Dinner at Sigtuna Stiftelsen in the evening. Remember, there are two performances of this year’s drama production on in the afternoon. I hope you will make time to come and see the work the students have put in. Your support is greatly appreciated. You will find a full overview of the day’s programme here.

Very best wishes,
Margret Benedikz, Director

This post is only available in English

Welcome back!

vår-spring

Välkomna tillbaka! Jag hoppas att alla har njutit av ett härligt jullov. Även om det inte riktigt känns av utomhus ännu så har vi nu påbörjat vårterminen! Lektioner och aktiviteter går helt enligt tidsplan och du kan få en allmän översikt över vårens kalendarium här.

Den största förändringen i skolan denna termin är att Eddy Johansson under våren kliver in i rollen som tf. rektor och Thomas Persson blir internatchef. Vi önskar dem all lycka med sina nya arbetsroller denna termin.

Nu i januari förbereder vi oss på att välkomna cirka 35 provboelever till internatet. Det är alltid lika härligt att få visa upp SSHL för blivande elever och jag är säker på att vi alla kommer att få dem att känna sig välkomna!

Dessutom har vi öppet hus den 28:e januari (kl 10 till kl 14). Öppet hus är inte bara till för blivande gymnasieelever, utan också för de familjer som vill lära sig om vår grundskola. Den 28 januari får du möjlighet att se våra underbara lokaler och prata med lärare och elever.

Slutligen – detta är en viktig termin, i synnerhet för niondeklassare och utgående gymnasieelever. Ni står inför den sista terminen på era utbildningar: jag vill påminna er om att lägga ner ordentligt med arbete på era kurser. Det är aldrig för sent att skapa förändring! Det kommer att finnas gott om tid att fira i maj! Njut av denna termin trots pressen och arbetet som krävs. Även om det ibland kan kännas som att det hela blir för mycket så vet jag att era lärare och vänner finns här för att stödja er.

Jag önskar alla en framgångsrik och härlig vårtermin!

Margret Benedikz

Skolchef, SSHL

God jul och gott nytt år

Nu när julen närmar sig har vi haft nöjet att delta i flera underbara evenemang här på skolan. Terminsavslutningen var magisk. Jag kan inte låta bli att älska traditionen med att tända ett ljus för varje elev och medarbetare över hela skolområdet. När ljusen glittrar i mörkret, lyser skolan över hela Sigtuna.

Det var inte bara terminsavslutningen som förde oss samman. Julspexet var mycket roligt, och det var härligt att fira elevernas akademiska och idrottsliga framgångar förrförra veckan.

För mig är höjdpunkten av julfirandet på SSHL, som alltid, lucia i Mariakyrkan. Det är en sannerligen fantastisk händelse som verkligen sammanför oss här på skolan omslutna av skenet från levande ljus. Detta var ett privilegium och en glädje att skåda, och att döma av kommentarerna från de föräldrar som var där, så var det hela mycket lyckat. Tre saker slog mig mest av allt: antalet elever som deltar, deras entusiasm och glädje och kanske viktigast av allt, deras vilja att uppträda inför en publik tillsammans med sina vänner. För mig är denna entusiasm, detta engagemang och denna vilja själva kärnan i vår skola; det är också ett utmärkt sätt att stärka självförtroendet hos många.

Om ni inte har besökt vår Facebook-sida ännu och därmed missat de underbara bilder som Ville och Jon tog, så rekommenderar jag er att ta en titt där.

Tack till alla inblandade för denna framgång!

En mer tråkig nyhet är att vi fick ta farväl av rektor Johan Norvell på terminsavslutningen. Johan har varit hos oss på SSHL i 13 år och har gjort enorma bidrag till SSHL, både som lärare och medlem i ledningsgruppen.

Johan håller hög standard, säger vad han menar och är extremt lojal. Allt Johan har gjort har motiverats av målsättningen att hjälpa elever och att göra SSHL till en enastående skola. Så godhjärtad, vänlig, rolig och omtänksam som Johan är kommer han att saknas av både elever och personal och vi önskar honom all framgång på Bromma Gymnasium.

Nästa termin börjar måndagen den 9 januari på vanlig tid; internatelever ska återvända på eftermiddagen dagen innan.

Jag avslutar med att tacka er alla för ert stöd till SSHL denna termin och önskar just Dig en mycket god jul.

Margret Benedikz
Skolchef, SSHL

Greetings from Amsterdam

Welcome back from höstlov – autumn break – everyone! As always I hope you had a great half-term. Now that you’re rested, it’s time to get back into the swing of things. We have a lot to look forward to here at SSHL in the coming months.

The cold and snow have officially arrived in Sigtuna. In fact, we are on track for record snowfall in the month of November. But no matter the weather, there is always plenty to do, especially as we head towards Christmas.

I know the boarding homes are already looking forward to the traditional weekend when they make gingerbread houses and there’s Lucia to look forward to. Last year’s was wonderful as the video we made showed (it got over 200,000 views and was even being watched in July!) so this year we have a lot to live up to.

Go Royals!

sshl-necis-fotboll-2016

This week, I’m at NECIS in Amsterdam to meet with colleagues from other international schools but also cheer our varsity and junior varsity teams on. If you’ve not come across NECIS before, it is comprised of eleven schools from seven countries in northwest Europe, and provides students at SSHL to compete in a variety of sports and interact with a diverse group of their peers.

sshl-volleyboll-necis-2016

Watching our students compete at NECIS is one of the highlights of the sporting year. It’s a joy just to participate, but of course winning is good too! Soccer and volleyball tournaments commenced yesterday and run through Saturday. Best of luck to our student athletes competing in these tournaments.

Looking Ahead

Yes, it’s that time of the year again! Provbo begins next week, when many students will stay at SSHL for three days to try boarding. We always look forward to these sessions and see them as an opportunity for students to learn as much as possible about life at SSHL. Students who currently board love the chance to meet and bond with potential future house and classmates.

The last day to register for the upcoming Provbo was Friday, 11th November. If you missed out, you also have the chance to register for Provbo in January or April. If you’re considering an education at SSHL, this is one the best ways to find out if boarding is right for you!

Very best wishes,
Margret
Director, SSHL

Working With & For the IB

katrin fox IB

School Director Margret Benedikz talks to Katrin Fox, Diploma Programme School Services Manager AEM at The International Baccalaureate.

Margret caught up with Katrin at the IB Conference Team 2016 AEM Regional Conference, which took place in Barcelona.

Margret asks Katrin about the IB and just what makes it special.

IB Dip Programme

Discover why the IB is great preparation for university!

Making a Real Difference

barcelona-ib-program

Last week a number of my colleagues and I attended the 2016 IB Regional Conference in Barcelona. It was, as always, a fantastic opportunity to meet with colleagues and thought-leaders from the world of international education.

One of the speakers who most resonated with me was Dame Ellen MacArthur who, in 2005, became the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe.

MacArthur spoke passionately about the finite nature the resources our linear economy relies on and the important part education will how students must be encouraged to rethink the future. Ellen encouraged us to inspire young people to change, shape and even restore the world that we are living in as resources dwindle and competition to thrive increases.

I think many delegates came away from the conference invigorated and energised not just by Ellen’s keynote, but also the other sessions and workshops we attended. There is a great spirit at the IB and I genuinely felt that as we all said our goodbyes and headed back to our respective schools around the world, we did so with a renewed sense of determination to make a real difference to our students’ lives.

I am very proud of what we’re doing with the IB at SSHL: everyone involved in the running and teaching of the programme is committed to ensuring our pupils are fully equipped with the kind of skills Sweden and the world will need in the future. That’s not to say that we aren’t equally committed to the many Swedish national programmes that we run; indeed, I believe we are a richer school because of our diversity.

Many Thanks

I would like to thank the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Barcelona for hosting a small gathering for us whilst we were in Spain. Last Thursday evening we met with a small group of educators and business people to give them an insight into what we’re doing at SSHL.

Parents Day

I would also like to say just how much we are looking forward to Parents Day tomorrow. Many will come from just down the road here in Sigtuna to meet their children’s mentors and teachers, whilst others will fly in from abroad as well as long haul destinations.

Parents Day, just like Dekaddagen in the spring, is a wonderful reminder just how big a school community we really are. SSHL is not just students in the classroom: it’s every single one of us connected to the school.

On behalf of everyone at SSHL, if you’re coming tomorrow, I look forward to welcoming you.

Margret Benedikz
Director, SSHL

Life on the IB Diploma Programme

How is the IB Diploma programme

On this week’s podcast School Director Margret Benedikz talks to Beata Ankarcrona and Sara Svensson, who are both in the first year of the IB Diploma Programme at Sigtunaskolan Humanistiska Läroverket.

Margret talks to the girls about their choice of programme, the subjects they’re taking and the exciting CAS project they’ve just started work on.

The show gives listeners an idea of what it’s like to make the transition to the IB. If you haven’t taken the IB MYP at secondary school, you’ll get an insight into the set-up of the course and the kind of work involved. Beata and Sara also share their insight into what life is like at an internationally-minded school in Sweden.

Many thanks to Beata and Sara for taking the time to talk to Margret.

Visitors from Abroad at SSHL (Director’s Blog)

UK universities at SSHL 2016

It was wonderful to see so many students interested in the visit last week by some of the top British universities. We really appreciate it when universities come to visit us. It gives students an insight into the world of opportunities out there and something to really aim for with their studies.

We’re very lucky that during the course of the academic year a range of universities visit the school both from Britain and the US.

As well as the visits from speakers, we also run a number of talks during the year to help students put together their applications for foreign universities. Unlike here in Sweden, students have to write personal statements or submit extra work when applying. At SSHL we strive to ensure that our students are as fully prepared as they can be should they wish to study abroad.

In the last couple of years our graduates have gone on to study at such universities as Brown, Yale, NYU in the last couple of years in the US and a variety of places in the UK like UCL, Kings, Imperial and Exeter University.

Although the UK voted for Brexit earlier in the year, we don’t see this having a major impact on our students applying to study in the UK. Sweden has a long tradition of sending students to Britain and our guests always speak warmly about Swedish students.

In keeping with the visit from foreign universities, it was a pleasure to interview Lucy Parsons for the podcast last week. Lucy gave some very useful insights into applying to Oxbridge (the universities of Cambridge & Oxford) as well as sharing some of her best tips.

If you have not listened yet, I encourage you to do so.
[Read more…]

Team-building at 1,797 meters above sea level with SSHL

team-building-boarding-school
Last week our third years headed to the highlands for five days to explore what lies at the very heart of Swedish culture: nature.

The annual trip to the north of Sweden for “third ringers” is an important part of their time with us. We strongly believe young people should experience the many sides of Sweden and that includes the countryside. After all, so much of our culture and many of our traditions are tied to the land.

For some of the students this will have been their first experience of the highlands, and I am sure they will remember the time they have spent together, the challenges they have faced. And this will have been a real chance for boarders and day pupils to build even stronger friendships. There’s something special about going away together and hiking.

Studying at school, whether it’s a boarding school or a day school, isn’t just about the challenges of the classroom, of studying a range of subjects. It’s also about the challenges of working together and spending time together in the great outdoors.

Learning can and should happen outside the classroom. After all, once our students graduate and go on to university and beyond, more and more of their learning will occur in real-world scenarios.

Academic Saturday on the Horizon

Although study trips are without a doubt an important part of the SSHL experience, the academic support weekends that were introduced last year are continuing this year. We received lots of positive feedback last year for these days and I believe it really shows what a great asset it is to have the House Tutors available for boarders.

For those of you new to the school (or perhaps considering applying to board at SSHL), Academic Saturdays (or Sundays) are scheduled throughout the school year and are mandatory for boarding students.

The day starts off with brunch and a House quiz and after that House tutors offer a range of workshops for subjects such as maths, philosophy, etc. There’s also time for individual study.

I worked at university for many years and I think this kind of day really helps prepare our students – not just for academic success in their study programmes at SSHL but also university life. Once they go off to university there isn’t the same kind of academic support like there is at school so learning to work on weekends from time to time and really put that extra work in will benefit them in the long run.

Many Thanks

Finally, thank you to everyone who expressed their support and encouragement after we were recently featured in the media. The press coverage reminded all of us, especially students, that their actions are of interest to the rest of the country and affect those around them. High-spirits, mucking about, call it what you will: this incident was a reminder to students that their behaviour can have an impact on their personal and school reputations.

As a boarding school we all come under intense scrutiny: boarders, day pupils, and staff. We have introduced many measures in the last three years and continue to see how we can improve. The management team at SSHL and I welcome the scrutiny that we face; it ensures we never rest on our laurels, and strive to make SSHL an outstanding and highly-regarded school, not just in Sweden but abroad.

Very best wishes,
Margret Benedikz, Director

It’s Good to Be Back

pokemon-1571013_960_720 (1)The school year is off to such a wonderful start, not that I’m surprised. Silly as it may sound, we had been a little bit apprehensive about Pokemon Go! Over the summer, Pokemon Go just exploded and we wondered if it would blow over before school started, or if students would be relentlessly hunting for Pokestops.

Seems like the game is still going, but we haven’t caught the students trying to play during class. After class however, watch out! It’s like a big treasure hunt. We’re excited to see the students so active and walking about everywhere.

We do think fun and games are important here at SSHL, but some games are not safe. It came to our attention that some of our younger boys had been playing a game where they hit each other in the groin. We know boys like to horse around, but we know from our friends in the United States and other schools, that this kind of play can result in serious injury or even permanent damage to their bodies. One boy was taken to the hospital as a precaution and thankfully, he was given a clean bill of health.

We don’t think our boys understood how dangerous this behaviour can be, so we immediately notified parents, staff, and students of this “game.” We’ve asked for their full cooperation in making sure this does not happen again.

Spirits have also been high what with the kick-off activities the last couple of days with boarding students spending time away with their house parents, working on group cohesion and team building. I’ve heard from staff that it’s been a resounding success and look forward to hearing more. Hopefully someone has a few photos that we can share with you.

Finally…

Remember, the application deadline for third ringers wanting to apply to Oxbridge this year needs to be completed by early October. The deadline for Oxbridge applications is October 15th. Please remind your son or daughter if they are intending to apply to begin working on their personal statement, if they haven’t done so already, and arrange for their referees.

Margret Benedikz, Director SSHL