PTA General Meeting
15 January 2010
Southbank International School—Kensington Campus
Attendees: PTA Board and Members
Others Present: Judith Kingsbury, Mark Case, Milton Toubkin, Kim Spooner, Hayley Haglund
PTA President Kim Kushner called the meeting to order at 0905.
1. Welcome Back and Welcome to New Families
Kim Kushner, PTA President
Kushner welcomed everyone back from the holidays and sent a special welcome to parents of new
students. The PTA Board members were introduced by name.
2. Guest Speaker: Milton Toubkin
Toubkin was introduced as the founding member of Southbank International School (originally named
American International School), which will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. Festivities will be
held in June. Toubkin gave an interesting account of his background and how his experiences led him
to eventually create this school as an alternative to traditional schools and teaching methods. The
Communications Department filmed his speech and excerpts will be available on various Southbank
media, including the web site (where parents can also get official background information about
Toubkin and the school), and youtube.com. Parent questions centered on whether and how he thinks
the school has stayed true to its founding principles.
3. Winter Benefit
Hilary Rifkin, Winter Benefit Committee
The Winter Benefit is a fund-raiser as well as a fun social evening. Funds from ticket sales and the
raffle will repay a loan from the Kensington PTA that was used to purchase lumber and other materials
for this year’s project at the Mwereni School in Tanzania. Materials will create new beds for the school
dormitory and desks for the pupils. In past years, funds raised have helped purchase a water pump and
solar panels to power the pump as well as electricity. The Benefit will be 6 March at Home House and
will include a casino, music and dancing, a cocktail bar and food. In addition to raffle prizes, a live
auction will be held at the Benefit and includes larger items, such as a weekend for four couples at a
private castle in Scotland. Also at the event will be a silent auction for artwork created by students,
which are flags of different countries made with paint on canvas using children’s handprints. Parents
were asked to help their children’s classes with the painting project.
4. School Updates
Judith Kingsbury, Principal
a. ISI Inspection
• The school is anticipating the ISI inspection (Independent Schools Inspectorate, a mandatory
inspection in the UK) this term. Mark Case, Deputy Principal, explained what will happen and
how parents will be requested to be part of the inspection. In particular, they will be asked to
complete an online questionnaire, which will be collated prior to the inspection one week later.
It is very important to have parent participation so the inspectors become familiar with the
school from different perspectives. The inspection will include classroom observation, teacher
interviews, and review of documents and policies. About a month later, another three-day visit
to the school will allow inspectors to again review teaching, learning and progression of
students. A report, along with advice and suggestions, will be sent to the school as well as
parents upon completion of the inspection.
• Kingsbury noted that Toubkin’s presentation confirms that the school’s strengths are still based
on the founding principles of the school. She said it is a caring school where children’s voices
are valued, and where different ideas are extended, developed and encouraged. A major goal is
to develop thinking children. The curriculum is broad, not just based on knowledge but also on
skills, characteristics of children, action and attitudes. Southbank students are exceptionally
motivated and have tremendous confidence that they can do anything. She also commended the
school’s very skillful teachers and said collaboration among teachers contributes to the school’s
b. Transition Programmes
• The school is happy to welcome eight new families this term. Part of a successful and happy
transition is the support we provide for families and their children. Kingsbury recognized that
much of that support comes from the PTA, and thanked members for their time volunteering in
the buddy programme for new families.
• Another important transition programme is helping students move from the Kensington to
Westminster campus following fifth grade. It is a big stage in a child’s life to go from primary
school to high school. The Grade 4-5 Disco will be held soon. Its purpose is to allow children
get to know Hampstead campus children so they go to Westminster knowing more kids. A
sporting event later in the year will bring these Grade 4-5 children together again. For all
parents, but especially parents of Grade 4-5 students, Terry Hedger and program coordinators
from Westminster will present the Middle Years Programme and transition between campuses
at the next PTA meeting on 8 March.
c. General School Information and Policies
• Kingsbury discussed the school’s self-evaluation and some of the aims that drive improvements.
She said she will discuss some of these at PTA meetings to help parents better understand the
school. As Toubkin envisioned, this is a school without walls, and the school continues to use
London to support units of inquiry. The benefit is apparent in classes—when students make
connections to real life, they learn so much more, ask more questions, and become enthusiastic
about learning. One of the school’s goals is always to keep a base in Kensington-Chelsea—our
community. The school also wants to ensure that all learning lines up from EC to Grade 12, each
year building on the one before. As noted in previous meetings, the school continues to develop
its documents and update policies. The August mailing to parents will continue but will be
paperless. Policies and documents are posted on the intranet as updated.
• Parents were also reminded to wear their badges at all times when on the campus, and to let the
school know if there are any changes in home arrangements or after school for safety and
5. Curriculum Updates
Mark Case, Deputy Principal and PYP Coordinator
• The Social Studies curriculum is being refined, with professional development to support it. A
science expert recently worked with teachers on different ways to use inquiry in science, including
ideas about new experiments. Another session will occur in the next few months with an expert on
learning support for students who need specialised help; dyslexia is example of learning difficulties.
There will also be a follow-up to the antibullying information presented last term; this will include
circle time and personal and social education (PSE) on different ways children can communicate
with each other and solve problems.
• In addition, teachers have continued training in PYP. And the school will be closed next Friday for a
LISA conference which includes 11 workshops covering a diverse range of interests, such as thinking
skills in class, conflict resolution, and how children can take control and lead their own education.
6. Communications Update
Kim Spooner, Director of Communications
Four major developments are coming from the Communications Department.
• The school calendar is now posted on the .net; it is a dynamic entry and includes information for the
• As requested by the PTAs, the student directory will be online by end of this month (password
protected). It also will be dynamic, meaning the information will be available as soon as it is
updated. The should help PTAs prepare for the new school year earlier in the summer, so they are not
waiting for several months to get information about students and families out to the Southbank
• Southbank has continued its presence on youtube and Twitter with different video, including Milton
Toubkin, and can give good insight to campus activities. There is audio of Kensington students
speaking in their home languages.
• The big news is that the school will be rebuilding the intranet and incorporating it into the .org site.
Communications will work with parents, staff, and students to make sure it meets the needs of the
7. PTA Committee Reports
a. Transition Committee
Barbara Bernette, Transition Committee Chair
The committee purpose and activities were explained, and Bernette gave a warm welcome to new
parents. As Kingsbury noted earlier, the biggest part of the committee’s responsibility is the buddy
system to help students make a new friend quickly and to give parents a ‘go-to’ person when they
have questions about school, classroom or even London in general. Contact Barbara or Luciana
Amaral with questions about this committee. New parents were invited to attend a coffee morning
on Tuesday, 19 January, at Le Pain Quotodien on Notting Hill Gate at 9 am.
b. Safety Committee
Diana Casadevall, Safety Committee Chair
• The purpose of the committee is to help the school implement safety protocols in case of
emergency. Safety packets with safe house information went out before the holidays; it will be
amended to add new families. There will be an unannounced emergency test soon, to make sure
numbers are correct. If parent information changes, or if parents are out of town, they are asked
to notify the reception staff with changes and who contact in an emergency.
• Kingsbury also commented on several unannounced fire drills that occurred before the holidays.
The school had smoke alarm filters serviced and it is thought that the alarms being triggered is
related to the renovation work next door. Also, a fire safety expert spoke to key members of
staff about how to use fire extinguishers and making sure the school is as safe as possible.
Jacqui Lane, Suzuki Programme Liaison
• The Winter Concert is scheduled for 29 January at the school. Since facilities are limited, the
concert has been divided into two groups, and siblings are grouped together.
• Several students will participate in a music festival in Prague in March. This is a celebration of
our musicians and a wonderful opportunity for them to get together with other international
schools who also participate in Suzuki. The performances culminate in a street festival in the
• The British Suzuki Institute holds workshops for every stage of learner at the Royal College of
Music. These are fantastic opportunities to play with other kids. There is an information sheet
available for those interested.
d. International Night
Mehul Randery, International Night Committee Chair
Parent volunteers are needed from each country to help on the day and to rally their countries to
provide food, drink, give-away items, and whatever they want to show off the country. A sign-up
sheet was provided; please be sure to give name, email and country. Information will be posted on
the web site.
8. Home Language Programme
Hayley Haglund, EAL Teacher
There are more than 30 home languages spoken at Southbank. The Home Language Programme
started last year as an effort to give students time to practice their home language and to celebrate that
the school is international. This year, the programme is being incorporated into the Town Meetings on
a monthly basis. The students are grouped with others who speak their own language. A short video of
the last meeting was played so parents could understand the kinds of activities planned for students.
Parents are needed to help plan the activities and to help students speak their language. The next
meeting will be 5 February, and the theme is songs Music is needed on the day of the meeting; if
parents have lyrics to send, the teacher coordinators will print them for students. An information
packet on the programme was available at the meeting. If any languages are missing, please let the
teachers know. Teacher coordinators are Hayley Haglund and Selena Lynn and they can be contacted
by email; use the Staff Directory on the intranet site.
9. Last Announcements and Updates
• Class Reps were asked to promote social gatherings.
• PTA continues to update its pages on Southbank.net. Check weekly for important information.
• The agenda had a long list of important dates; parents were asked to check it out so they don’t miss
any events or activities. Dates will also continue to be posted in the weekly newsletter and the .net
site. Dates included:
- EC Parent-Teacher Conferences – Wednesday, 20 January – Thursday, 21 January (no EC
- No School / Teacher In-Service Day – Friday, 22 January
- Literary Workshop, grades K-1 – Wednesday, 27 January, 0900 (Library)
- Suzuki Winter Concert – Friday, 29 January
- Grade 4 & 5 Disco – Thursday, 4 February, 1800 – 2000 (Hampstead)
- Open Town Meeting – Friday, 5 February
- Parent Workshop: “What learning is important in the 21st century” – Wednesday, 10 February,
1800- 1930 (Hampstead)
- Parent Workshop: “Maths and Math Fair” – Tuesday, 2 March, 0900 (Library)
- Grades K-5 Parent-Teacher Conferences – Thursday, 11 March (no classes for grades K-5,
regular classes for EC)
- Class Photos – Tuesday, 9 March and Friday, 12 March
- Parent Workshop: “Parenting to Tweens and Teens” – Wednesday, 17 March, 0930 – 1130
The meeting adjourned at 1040.
Minutes submitted by Amy Bird, Secretary