Appreciation of BBA award
“And the winner is … ” It was certainly a surprise to all of us here at the British School in Tokyo (BST) when we were announced as Company of the Year at the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan 2014 British Business Awards.
While we do not aim to make a profit, have no product to sell, and have parents and pupils rather than customers, we do have a place at the very heart of Tokyo’s international business community.
Partnered with Shibuya Kyoiku Gakuen and Showa Women’s University, BST marked a significant milestone in 2014: its 25th anniversary.
To celebrate this achievement, the school was the focal point of an event hosted by the British Embassy Tokyo in March. The occasion celebrated the innovation and partnership between Japan and the UK, and highlighted the school’s integral role in that partnership.
Before the event, the then-UK Foreign Secretary William Hague MP, wrote to the principal offering his congratulations.
“The school’s success and enduring popularity bear testimony to the high regard in which British education is held around the world”, Hague wrote. “It is also recognition of the dedication of the school’s talented teachers, and of the creativity and innovation in education that they embrace”.
Later in 2014, former UK Prime Minister Sir John Major KG CH expressed similar sentiments in a correspondence, writing, “having built a well-deserved reputation for delivering a first-class education to students representing more than 60 different nationalities, the school stands at the very hub of Tokyo’s international community”.
At the start of the 2013–14 academic year, BST opened with 771 students—a record number, and up from 685 a year earlier. Today, there are 875 students representing 66 nationalities, and there are waiting lists in many year groups.
This level of growth is unmatched in any other international school in Japan.
What is more, the range of nationalities demonstrates our appeal to a very broad market. This year’s annual survey of our parents told us that their main reasons for choosing the school were the high standards of teaching and pastoral care.
Strong academic results—exceeding British independent school averages—clearly indicate that this growth has not been achieved at the cost of quality.
Our A Level leavers have won places at a number of top higher education institutions. These include University College London, Imperial College London and The London School of Economics and Political Science in the UK, as well as Waseda University and Keio University in Tokyo.
Recently, we learned that two talented students due to graduate this year have already secured places at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College London.
Despite our focus on academic excellence, BST aims to be as inclusive as possible in its admissions policy. We willingly accept students regardless of gender, nationality, faith or academic ability.
A small but significant number of our children have special educational needs. They are supported by a dedicated team led by our primary school inclusion manager who, this year, was promoted to assistant head.
Although our curriculum is delivered in English, the fact that this academic year 66 nationalities are represented at the school underlines our broader appeal and our commitment to those working in their second language.
In considering the role of BST, Tetsuo Tamura, chair of our host school Shibuya Kyoiku Gakuen said, “In 2014, the British School in Tokyo educated more children from a wider range of nationalities than at any time in its 25-year history. It is no longer a bridge that connects Japan and Great Britain, it serves as a bridge of friendship connecting the entire world”.
Our award may have come as a surprise, but it was a very welcome one. The school is honoured and privileged to be asked to be a standard bearer for the British business community in Japan over the coming year.