Dear Parents, Staff, Students, and Friends of BST,
This week I have been struck by the importance of remembrance and commemoration to a community such as ours. Shared experience and past events lay the groundwork for strong and resilient communities. As a history teacher, I feel strongly that no place is a community until it has an awareness of its history and the events that have shaped and defined it. Indeed our connections and commitment to one another are strengthened when we share stories and experiences. Two dates in March have been present in my mind this week as they represent two significant events in the history of the school, Tokyo and Japan. The dates are March 11, 2011, and March 4, 2020.
Thursday, March 11th marks the 10th anniversary of the Great Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami. Although I was not a BST community member, I still vividly remember watching in Hong Kong the dramatic and startling images covered on live television. For those members of the school community present in Japan, I am sure that the events are unforgettable and remain stark in their memories. Who could surely forget the experience and aftermath of a magnitude 9.1 earthquake, the 4th largest ever recorded and a series of massive tsunami waves. The scale of the destruction caused by this disaster to people and infrastructure remains shocking to this day. However, the countless acts of compassion, generosity and resilience in the face of such chaos is inspiring and a testament to humanity’s spirit of hope and community resilience. I’m sure we will all take a moment on March 11 to remember those who suffered and lost their lives due to the earthquake and tsunami.
On Monday, March 4th 2020, the school moved to a remote learning environment for the first time following the request of then Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The events that followed over the next 12 months and the impact on our community we are, of course, fully aware of. In my opinion, although challenging, these events have strengthened the school community and the bonds of mutual support and understanding. The events have also significantly impacted the use of educational technology to enhance learning, aiding collaboration, and providing opportunities for the school to communicate better and engage. These are all positives to recognise and build upon as a school community.
On a practical note, with the likely extension of the State of Emergency in Tokyo for another two weeks, activities will remain on hold. However, we are hopeful to have a near to full programme as possible back in action soon. Mr Thomas and Mrs Loran refer to this in more detail in their missives today.
The March meeting of the School Advisory Committee (SAC) took place this week and included agenda items on COVID-19, tuition fee increase and the school’s new fundraising approach. Minutes from the meeting will be published in next week’s edition of the Lion.
The Head of Secondary recruitment process has moved to the final stage with shortlisted candidates presenting and being interviewed by students, staff, parents and Trustees between Monday, 8 March and Thursday, 11 March. We received fifty applications from a diverse field, with nine interviewed as part of the longlist stage. Five candidates have been confirmed as part of the shortlist. I hope to make you aware of the outcome soon after March 11.
I wanted to make you aware that last school year we formed a gender diversity working group comprised of staff and parents to evaluate the school’s current position about this important issue. The group was tasked with proposing a set of recommendations to the Leadership Team to provide a supportive, non-discriminatory environment for all students, including gender diversity and gender fluid children. We anticipate that the group will report its recommendations soon with a series of action points for consideration and implementation.
Finally, thank you to everyone who took the opportunity to dress up today and throughout the week to appreciate the importance of reading. It was wonderful to see the array of costumes on display to celebrate our favourite books and characters. It was also great to see over one hundred parents in attendance at last night's Primary Forum on reading and literacy.
If you have any questions about any of the topics in today’s newsletter or would like to arrange a one to one meeting, please let me know. In the meantime, best wishes to everyone, and I hope you enjoy the weekend.
The British School in Tokyo