Boarding schools are a successful and popular education experience in the UK, with some of the country’s most successful schools providing the option—if not making it a requirement—to board. One of the most famous British boarding schools, Harrow School in London, is a prime example of educational excellence provided through full boarding.
Nine “Harrow”-branded school have been successfully founded across the Asia-Pacific region, and the newest one, set to open in August of this year, is Harrow International School Appi. Located in the beautiful Appi Kogen Ski Resort in Iwate Prefecture, the school is the first full boarding school of its kind in Japan. BCCJ ACUMEN spoke with Mick Farley, the founding Head Master of the school, about the benefits of boarding, the impressive facilities, and how the experienced founding faculty will provide a stellar British boarding education for its students.
Best of boarding
The concept of a boarding school, to those not familiar with the approach, may be a little daunting. However, the benefits of a live-in educational experience are significant, especially given the quality and setting of Harrow Appi.
The campus is brand new, state of the art and digitally enabled. The school was built from the ground up, and the Harrow Appi team took a leading role in the design process. Construction of the academic facilities has recently been completed, slightly ahead of schedule.
“The dining hall, medical centre and library are right at the heart of the school. One side of the campus is home to science, technology, engineering, creative arts and maths (the STEAM subjects), grouped around our Innovation Hub. The hub provides for a multidisciplinary approach to learning, utilising an engineering workshop, graphic- and computer-aided design facilities and breakout rooms for independent and project-based learning”, Mr Farley explained.
“The other side of the campus boasts more classrooms, as well as the on-campus sports facilities, such as the indoor swimming pool, the double rugby and football pitches, and tennis and basketball courts”.
These impressive facilities, as well as the comfortable boarding houses, are contained on a single, self-contained campus. This will provide the students of Harrow Appi with a safe live-in experience. Parents won’t need to be concerned about their children walking through public areas for meals, as the boarding houses are just a few minutes’ walk from the canteen. Prep (supported homework) will be provided in the boarding house or the library, supported by the school’s specialist teachers, and a vast range of co-curricular activities will be available either on the campus or within the Appi resort.
Live-in boarding staff are available to provide the children with 24/7 pastoral care. The traditional British house system will be implemented in Harrow Appi, meaning that House Masters or Mistresses will be living with the students, assisting not only with each child’s well-being but with the organisation of co-curricular activities and prep.
The highly trained and experienced boarding staff, as well as the broader school faculty, will be available throughout weekends, assisting students with sports and creative arts activities, further study, community service and other trips off-campus. The beautiful surroundings of Appi Kogen have allowed Harrow Appi to include skiing, snowboarding, golf, mountain biking and tennis (all Academy Programmes), plus camp craft, orienteering and many other outdoor pursuits on their list of co-curricular activities.
Whilst the facilities on offer are important for the educational and boarding experience, the assurance of the quality of the education comes from the qualifications, experience and sparkle of the teachers. Mr Farley explained the selection process that the newly selected faculty of Harrow Appi went through.
“It’s very important to see teacher candidates interact with students … virtually, we see them teach as well as interview them. The interview has two stages: a screening, and then a final interview. The interviews cover a clear structure that investigates each candidate’s career to date, and the appeal of Harrow Appi, as well as specialist subject knowledge, pedagogical approaches, assessment methods and other technical areas”, said Mr Farley.
“And then, very importantly, there’s the ‘getting to know you’ section of the interview to ensure that we’re finding the right blend of experience and personalities within departments and houses. This is incredibly important for an intense, seven-day-a-week boarding community.
“We make sure that we get to know candidates a little bit—what motivates them, what their interests are, who their role models are—so that we can build the right team”.
Mr Farley also explained how the recruitment process ensured due diligence on each candidate and was focused on the safety of the students. “We are a safe recruiter. We go through a very, very careful process, which we advertise from the beginning. We insist on references from current and previous
employers, and then call the referees to check that they wrote the reference. We also require a minimum of three to five years’ teaching experience in excellent schools”.
Only the best
There will be 50 academic members of staff, making the ratio of student to teacher one to four, and once support staff are added this ratio becomes one adult to every two and a half students. On average, each teacher has 15 years of teaching experience, which is impressive for a new international school in Japan. Of the teachers that have been recruited so far, 43 percent of them have a further degree—master’s level or doctoral.
“The teachers that have been recruited so far have an impressive professional track record, with many of them having studied at prestigious British institutes including the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Durham University, the University of Nottingham and the University of Edinburgh”, said Mr Farley.
Two shining examples of the quality of the recruited faculty are as follows:
The Second Master (Deputy Head Academic), Fraser Newham, read modern history at the University of Oxford, before completing his PGCE at Durham University. He’s currently Deputy of a premier Scottish boarding school, Merchiston College, and has also taught in Beijing, so his international experience is well ingrained in his teaching approach.
Head of Science, Amy Liversidge, studied marine biology and acquired her PGCE in science at the University of Portsmouth. She then took a postgraduate certificate in chemistry at the University of Sussex and started her teaching career in the UK. She was head of science at La Rosey, a mountain school in Switzerland, and has experience working as head of science at international schools in Malaysia. She’s currently at United World Colleges in Singapore. “Amy Liversidge is a fantastic appointment. She is a positive female role model in science and STEAM”, said Mr Farley.
Harrow Appi believes in every student having the opportunity to receive a stellar education. For some, there may be financial limits prohibiting families from accessing this education; therefore, Harrow Appi has established a scholarship programme, mirroring the good practice of traditional boarding schools in the UK, for children that excel in various areas. For Harrow Appi there will be six types of scholarships available:
- English, Drama and Literature
- Sport (skiing and snowboarding, golf, tennis, cycling and / or swimming)
- Diplomatic (for children of the Diplomatic Community)
- For those in Iwate Prefecture affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami
- More information about these scholarships can be viewed on the school’s website.
See for yourself
For interested students and parents, there will be an event hosted on 26–27 February that will allow families to spend a day at Harrow Appi. Students will be able to spend time at the campus, enjoying a ‘Harrow Educational Experience’, exploring the facilities and interacting with their potential future classmates. Parents will be able to learn more about the school’s programmes, whilst also enjoying the natural surroundings of Appi Kogen.
If you are interested in attending this event, please visit: harrowappi.jp/upcoming-events