Active learning is at the heart of BST’s programme
Offering a first-class education to more than 700 young people from the age of three to 18, the British School in Tokyo (BST) is approaching its 25th anniversary at an exciting time in its development.
Having recently introduced its two-year post-16 A-level courses and announced the launch of its special F1 programme, the school is attracting unprecedented levels of interest from a diverse group of international students.
Numbers of students from the UK and other English-speaking countries have consistently been strong, but the past three years have seen significant growth in applications from students from strong emerging economies such as India and Brazil, and from other European countries, notably the Scandinavian region.
The school’s principal, Brian Christian, is convinced that the heightened demand is directly linked to the strength of the British educational brand, and the global recognition that A-levels command.
“Although we only introduced our A-level courses in 2010, we already have students who are either studying at some of the UK’s top universities, or who hold offers to start at the end of the academic year, including from Cambridge University, The London School of Economics and Political Science, Imperial College London, as well as the world-renowned Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design.
“A track record like this certainly starts to generate interest, particularly now that students are beginning to understand that A-levels can give them an edge in their applications to universities around the world”.
However, Christian is clear that A-levels and university success are not the only factors in BST’s international appeal. He is heartened by the positive response from prospective parents and their children to the understanding of what is meant by a British education.
He has identified three key elements in the education system: a particular style of pedagogy, clear structured progression and an emphasis on the development of character.
“Active learning is at the heart of all that we do [at BST]—our students achieve so much more by doing than they ever could by simply watching and listening. Our teachers are guides and facilitators, not lecturers.
“The English National Curriculum offers a continuum from [age] three through to 18, and a framework that enables us to map each individual’s progress using clearly defined criteria and externally validated standards. Above all, a BST education is values-driven and extends well beyond the four walls of the classroom”.
The last point is something about which Christian and his senior staff feel very strongly. Teachers are encouraged to have high expectations of their students—and not just in academic terms.
Even the youngest children are taught that consideration of others is important; confident communication, teamwork and leadership are all skills that can be acquired; and music, sport and drama are every bit as important as maths and physics.
One clear illustration of the school’s commitment to character development is that the entire secondary school decamps to Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture for summer and winter field trips.
These adventurous weeks are designed to offer every student exciting challenges and opportunities for new experiences, and encourage them to believe that they are capable of achieving more than they can imagine.
Whether a beginner skiing down a nursery slope for the first time, or a 15-year-old city-dweller completing a 50km mountain hike as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, the focus is on achievement, ambition and fun.
In 2014, the British School in Tokyo will be 25 years old. The school was founded to educate the children of expatriates from the UK, who would, for the most part, move on to boarding schools aged 13.
While British students represent 41% of the school population, the BST of today is a very different institution. With one campus centrally located in Shibuya and the other on the Showa Women’s University campus, the school accommodates children of more than 50 nationalities and educates them from nursery level to university entrance.
In recognition of the growing demand from international students, BST will launch a special one-year course in September. The F1 programme has been designed to prepare students to embark on A-level courses in 2014.
At the same time, our 14–16 programme will change from GCSE to IGCSE, the highly regarded international version of the familiar British qualification now being followed by many of the UK’s leading independent schools.
For more information, or to arrange a visit: www.bst.ac.jp
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