This year marks the 20th anniversary of The British School in Tokyo. Today, we are a two-site school for over 650 students, with a reputation for providing a British education of the highest calibre to Nursery children through to GCSE students, from ages three to 16. Much like the BCCJ, whose members were instrumental in establishing the school in 1989, the British School is regarded as an integral part of the international community in Tokyo, a distinction that we wear proudly and with a huge sense of responsibility. When it was officially opened, by the incumbent British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, it had just 63 girls and boys on the roll.
As a recent arrival to this thriving school, I have been impressed by how far we have travelled since our inception and how we are poised to continue this growth in the coming years.
Having in 2009 seen our first class of GCSE students graduate with strong academic results, there is also a clear sense that we are approaching the future development of the school with vigour but adhering to our original goal of providing a first-rate British education to the international community.
The school was established to meet the needs of parents who wished their children to receive a British-style education in Tokyo. A number of nationalities were represented in the school community, with the majority being British. In 2009, the same remains true. The majority of pupils are from the UK, but pupils from all nationalities are welcome, provided that each child, relative to age, is fluent in English. We now have over 30 nationalities represented within the School community.
During the early 1990s, the School’s success led to steady growth and by 1993 the premises had expanded and places were available from Nursery to Year 6. There were then 200 pupils on the roll and the school’s curriculum began to follow the newly introduced National Curriculum of England and Wales.
The School’s reputation was spreading, both nationally and internationally, and the existing site could no longer accommodate the growing demand for places. Following a number of changes in location to cope with an unprecedented demand, in August 2006 the BST moved part of the school to newly renovated accommodation on the campus of the Showa Women’s University.
Our original site, the BST Shibuya, now accommodates our Nursery to Year 3 students in facilities that have been entirely refurbished in order to suit the needs of this age group. BST Showa offers educational provision from Years 4 to 11 (ages 8 to 16) for 300 students in a superb structure with outstanding sports and other specialist facilities.
Our provision currently extends to Key Stage 4, which includes GCSE- and AS-level courses, as well as support for our students with academic tutoring. Our International Duke of Edinburgh Award programme offers students a wide range of experiences outside school. Both primary and secondary schools are flourishing and we have gained an international reputation for excellence. To give some notion of our academic successes, last year 97% of all students gained entry to their first choice of school after leaving the BST.
The school is a non-profit organisation overseen by a Board of Trustees representing the British and international communities in Tokyo. Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Japan is the School’s patron.
I joined the British School in Tokyo in August 2009 after over 20 years of running schools in the UK, Dubai and China. I was born in Swansea, went to Nottingham University, and then became a science teacher. I went on to play first-class rugby in England, became an Ofsted Inspector, and an Executive Headteacher of two schools.
I am passionate about effective learning in an international setting and all it has to offer young people, and look forward to leading the school through the next exciting phases of its development.