The British School in Tokyo (BST) has enjoyed an enviable reputation for the provision of high quality education since first opening its doors in Shibuya more than 25 years ago, and the past year saw its star continue to rise even higher.
An accredited member of the Council of British International Schools and one of only a small number of schools worldwide to have been independently inspected according to the UK Standards for British Schools Overseas, BST was, in 2015, once again judged to be excellent (the highest grade) in every area. We regard this as a very welcome endorsement of the high standards we set for ourselves.
Following the notable achievements of our previous A Level students and their success in winning places at some of the UK’s top universities, the Class of 2015 were keen to emulate their predecessors. The year’s talented group certainly set the bar high for those who will follow them.
Remarkably, 51% of all entries were awarded A* or A grades, and a very creditable 76% achieved grade B or better. These results are a long way above the UK national average (in British schools just under 26% of entrants were awarded the top two grades) and easily surpass our own three-year average scores.
It is especially encouraging that our students continue to win places on extremely competitive courses at top-rated institutions, including The University of Edinburgh, as well as Imperial College, King’s College and University College in London.
This year, for the first time, musicians who graduated from BST are studying at both the Royal College of Music and Trinity College, while, for the fourth year running, one of our talented A Level artists will be studying at Central Saint Martins.
Emphasising our international outlook, our students have also taken up places at universities in Canada, India, the US and, closer to home, at Doshisha in Kyoto.
Young people today see themselves as global citizens and they recognise that A Levels offer an academic passport that can take them almost anywhere. There is certainly increasing interest in the US, and a number of current students are looking to Australia and Continental Europe.
Most universities worldwide are very familiar with the UK’s public examination system, and are more than happy to accept students with A Levels or their equivalent.
In fact, the specialist nature of these courses means that students with good grades can expect to earn significant credit—sometimes up to a whole year’s worth of study—in some institutions.
At Harvard, for example, while you will need to have at least three B grades to matriculate, three A grades will merit a full year’s academic credit; Boston College will offer two courses of credit for A or B grades, while C grades will earn one semester’s credit; and Princeton clearly states on its website that A or B grades will earn advance placement credit.
It is a similar story across the rest of the world.
All examinations are important, and many parents are impressed by the rigour and structured progression of our particular brand of British education. That said, as an international school of more than 900 students aged three to 18, BST offers much more than simply A Levels.
Students here know that education is not just about passing exams. Sport, music and drama are woven into the fabric of school life, and we see both community service and adventurous activity as real strengths.
From their early years in our nursery and reception classes, children are given countless opportunities to develop the independence and resilience that will enable them to take the next step in their education—wherever it might take them—with confidence and a smile.