Secondary School
Robert Somers:Head of Humanities
Zekeriyaköy Mah.,Kilyos Cad., No: 227/1,2, Sarıyer, İstanbul
+90 212 202 7027 Ext: 111/112
+90 212 202 7709 Ext: 111/112
+90 531 851 9747
+90 212 202 7796
[email protected]
17th September 2012
Welcome letter from the Humanities Department
Dear Parents,
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome both new and old BISI parents to the Humanities
Department, the largest department in the school. As well as introducing myself as Head of Department, I
would also like to present the Humanities Team, the members of which bring a wealth of experience and
teaching talent to a new-look department. Presently, the Humanities Department comprises Business,
Economics, Geography, History, Sociology, Psychology and Theory of Knowledge. Humanities allows us to
explore, enquire and reflect upon the past, present and future actions and experiences of people living on our
planet. For this reason we believe humanities subjects provide the context for all learning, bridging the gap
between our school experience and the world around us, revealing the key issues which govern our everyday
This is my fourth year of formal teaching and my first year as head of department. Having been raised in
London, I decided to eschew the traditional path taken by school-leavers waiting three years before
embarking on further education. Rather, I spent this formative time travelling and working in various
European countries. On return to the UK, I began and completed a BA Hons in South-East European
Languages, Literature and History at University of London, where I met my future wife, the only other
student of Bulgarian in the UK. After a year spent in India, we returned to University of London to complete
an MA in Archaeology. The next four years saw us organising archaeological digs and teaching English
language in Bulgaria, where my wife also gave birth to our son, Ashton. Seeking some accreditation, I
returned to the UK to be accepted at University of Cambridge, where I graduated as a History teacher
working in schools in Cambridge and Hertfordshire. As my wife completed her PhD in Classics, I gained
another Masters in Education from Cambridge and after two years teaching in Britain we decided to leave
for Turkey. This is my third year at BISI.
I am delighted to welcome back Michael Leaver, who joined us temporarily last year, but has decided to
return to BISI from Kiev, Ukraine to become our new Business teacher. Michael is an experienced
Secondary teacher, and having filled many leadership roles, he now takes on responsibility for our popular
IGCSE and IB Business programmes. Michael is also a committed footballer and will use his expertise to
help train BISI football teams, as well as assisting the staff team win against the students in the season ahead.
I proudly inherit a department brimming with many other experienced and talented teachers. John Bosman is
our Teacher of Economics, as well as co-ordinating Key Stage 5. John has many years of experience
delivering the IB programme and his students consistently gain high examination results at IGCSE and IB
levels. I am certain to lean on John for management tips this year, though I’ll find it difficult rising to his
lofty height. This is John’s fifth year at BISI. Trevor Cole and Jacques Marais are our Teachers of
Geography. After running a school in Tanzania, Trevor has spent the last five years at BISI. This year you’ll
find him directing the current Year 11s through their final IGSCE year, directing the IB Geography
programme, and teaching Year 8 Geography. Many of you will recognise Trevor leading from the front of
our regular cross-country running events. Trevor is also Activities Coordinator. His Geography counterpart,
Jacques, joined BISI in 2011 having taught Geography in Germany, Britain and South Africa. Since joining
BISI, Jacques has thrown himself into our new horizontal curriculum and is a passionate believer in holistic,
project-based learning. Moreover, Jacques is Key Stage 3 Coordinator and is also presently engaged in
writing his Masters dissertation. This year, Jacques leads the new Year 10 IGCSE Geography cohort, as well
as teaching Year 7 and 9 Geography classes.
Working closely with me is Amy Sőzer, who currently teaches History to Year 7 and 8 classes and is largely
responsible for IGCSE History at BISI. In two years Amy has completely reshaped Key Stage 3 History,
introducing a themed approach to the past which allows all age groups to study both modern and pre-modern
history in the same academic year. Additionally, Amy has successfully shifted the focus away from British
history, and our Key Stage 3 curriculum now includes a much broader range of world stories. Amy is Cedar
House head and is often seen cheering her team on at school events. Amy has been teaching at BISI for three
years. The final member of the Humanities team is Jim O’Hara, who teaches no less than three of our
Humanities subjects. Jim is solely responsible for delivering both IGCSE Sociology and IB Psychology
programmes and is the lead Theory of Knowledge teacher in the school. Jim holds an eclectic and impressive
academic record, gaining Bachelors and Masters qualifications in Psychology, Oceanography and
Palaeolithic Anthropology to name a few. He is also one of the friendliest teachers in the school and is often
surrounded by students seeking his advice.
The seven of us begin this year with some remarkable IGCSE examination successes from last year’s student
cohort. In IGCSE, our department scored 84% A*- C grades with 53% of the grades being awarded at A*/A.
Particularly pleasing, was the fact that the entire IGCSE History class gained A*s and A grades. At IB level,
our mean grade was 4.19 out of a maximum of 7 points in each Humanities subject. We will be looking to
improve on this score next year as IB Psychology students sit exams in May marking the first Psychology
examinations completed at BISI.
I hope this welcome letter has given you some indication of the nature of the Humanities Department. If you
have any questions or need more clarification regarding your child’s lessons, please do not hesitate to contact
me. My room (S102), is located immediately on the right as you enter the Secondary Building from the
Green Area.
Yours faithfully
Robert Somers

Secondary School - British International School