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Principal's Message

Principal's Message - Term 2A Week 6
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

"Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations." - Anonymous 

This half term, I have been reminded on countless occasions that culture is a crucial factor in a school's success and that the elements that create a positive school culture are many and far-reaching. Indeed, what constitutes school culture is not abstract or a mass of intangibles, but something that can be identified and developed - values, behaviours, attitudes, expectations, routines, teaching approaches, traditions and more.

That said, for me, the bedrock of all successful school cultures is positive and mutually supportive relationships. Indeed, successful schools have at their heart overlapping interactions among all the members of the school community. BST is no different to this. What makes our school such a positive environment is the role played by each individual in the success of the whole, working in common purpose to ensure that every student can grow, learn and thrive as part of a happy and proud school community.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to a successful half term. BST staff members have been outstanding in every respect with their extensive and varied commitment to the cause. Also, parents in all sections of the school have made invaluable contributions in many different ways. In particular, I wanted to thank the Spring Fair Committee members for their brilliant work over many months. The Fair promises to be one of the highlights of the year and I am sincerely grateful to everyone involved for their collective effort.

Of course, it is our students that have continued to demonstrate this half term why it is a joy and privilege to be part of the school community. Whether in learning in class, participating in sport, representing the school overseas, performing on stage or in daily interactions around the school BST students shine at every turn and are worthy of the highest praise. With this in mind, I wanted to finish this week's newsletter by congratulating Year 4 student Runa  for her success in the American Protégé International Piano & Strings Competition 2020. Runa was second in the competition and as a result, will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City later this year. Well done Runa! 

Congratulations also to Year 3 School Council members Lucia-Grace, Ami, Lucas and Rio who, under the guidance of Ms Hawkes and Mrs Weeks, delivered the ¥232,000 that BST raised at the Funky Sock Day to WWF Japan. WWF Japan will be pooling this amazing donation along with other donations to the Australia Bushfire emergency campaign, and send it to WWF Australia. Mrs Weeks and Ms Hawkes were suitably impressed by the students as they acted as excellent ambassadors for the school.

Best wishes for the half-term holiday. Given the current global health concerns, please be vigilant, wise and stay safe if you are travelling here in Japan or overseas. 

Paul Tough

Principal 

Principal's Message - Term 2A Week 5
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

This week at BST has been one of action and debate. Students and staff have experienced the vibrancy of an international school such as ours, and parents have seized the opportunity to share their thoughts on BST's purpose and direction.

Reports from Hakuba, Miyazaki and Cambodia suggest that everyone has enjoyed a brilliant week of diverse learning in different contexts. Experiences such as these are hugely beneficial for our students and I am grateful to all the BST staff who have contributed to the success of the trips, in particular the trip leaders and Dr Reilly, for their sterling leadership.

I wanted also to praise our Senior Students for their studiousness and commitment to their mock examinations this week. Indeed, there has been a sense of quiet yet nervous determination within the Secondary School since Monday. The pressure and expectations associated with examinations are tough to handle, yet within our educational context, a fundamental challenge to master. I trust, therefore, that this week’s experience will stand our students in good stead for the future.

This week’s parent forums on the ‘Why of BST’ were great with lots of discussion around the school's guiding statements. Thank you to all the parents who attended and shared their thoughts. The next step of the process will involve BST staff, students and trustees evaluating our statements too. The process aims to provide renewed clarity about what BST proudly stands for and seeks to achieve as we begin the next stage in the school's evolution.

Finally, a reminder that Clive Leach will be working with students and staff next week at BST. He is also hosting an introductory session for parents on positive education and its benefits for students and the broader school community. If you are interested in joining the session, we would be delighted to see you. Please sign up here.

As ever, if you have any questions about the above or any other issue, please do contact me. In the meantime, best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal 

 

Principal's Message - Term 2A Week 4
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

Research shows that healthier and happier children do better in school and that a good education is an essential determinant of future health. However, as we know at BST, education is not just about formal lessons within the four walls of a classroom. Learning that takes place outside classrooms and beyond the boundaries of the school's campuses is of significant benefit to students of all ages. Without a doubt, the outdoor environment encourages skills such as problem-solving and negotiating risk, which are important for all students.

With modern environments, continuous encroachment on open green spaces, and the increase in students' sedentary time due in part to various technologies it is incumbent upon schools such as us to ensure students have access to natural environments. Indeed, in spite of our urban setting, one of the many strengths of our school is the outdoor provision both in Secondary and in Primary. I'm pleased, therefore, that Secondary students will have the opportunity to challenge themselves whether here in Japan or further afield in Cambodia, and I look forward to hearing about their exploits on their return.

Year 4 children are currently studying the journey of Ernest Shackleton and it was a pleasure to visit 4B's classroom today to listen to their brilliant poems describing his last voyage. Congratulations to all the students for creating and performing poems of an exceptional standard with such confidence.

This week the Board of Trustees met at the Showa Campus to discuss a range of topics including education, facilities and finance. We also had the opportunity to talk through the school's critical incident procedures and our response to the coronavirus situation. With this in mind, please be assured that the school will continue to monitor the situation closely and we are in regular contact with Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the British Embassy and the Japanese Council of International Schools.

Indeed, the school's close connection with the British Embassy is a source of significant support and guidance. I was delighted therefore that we could further strengthen the bond earlier this week when Mr James Hollow (Chair of the Board of Trustees), Mr Greg Mulheirn (Board Member) and I attended a lunch with the British Ambassador, Mr Paul Madden. An interesting discussion ensued focused upon the school's vision, direction and BST's position within the broader educational landscape of Tokyo. 

Finally, a reminder that the school is hosting a series of forums in February for all parents. The first of these will take place next week when I will be leading workshops evaluating the school's guiding statements while later in the month positive education advocate and well-being coach, Clive Leach will run an introductory session at our Shibuya campus. If you are interested in either of the sessions, please sign up using the following links:

The 'Why?' of BST

Clive Leach - Helping BST Students to Flourish

As ever, if you have any questions about the above, please do contact me. In the meantime, best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal

Principal's Message - Term 2A Week 3
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

‘Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.’ – Socrates

This week I was reminded of the Greek philosopher, having seen Socratic questioning used to significant effect in a range of lessons in the Secondary school. The experience also confirmed for me how fortunate we are at BST to have teachers who are skilled in asking probing questions to stimulate critical and independent thinking with their students. As we are all aware, the more often a student is exposed to analytical thinking in school, the higher the probability that they will transfer their thinking skills to other areas of their lives.

In a similar vein, it has been wonderful this week to see my colleagues utilise their own powers of analysis while engaged in the latest round of the school's Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings. The PLC meetings take place after school and provide a forum for debate about the latest research on education and different approaches to teaching. The PLC format has been successful from the onset thanks to the commitment of BST staff, and I thank them for this. I'm also grateful to my colleague Mr Jonathan Travis for introducing this method of ongoing professional development to BST. 

Indeed, on the day that UNESCO celebrates the International Day of Education, we are privileged to be part of a community that is committed to the ongoing development of learning in all its forms.

Also, I'm acutely aware that supporting the health and wellbeing of BST students has a significant impact on their happiness, readiness to learn and academic achievement. I'm delighted, therefore, that BST will be working in February with Clive Leach, a positive education advocate and wellbeing coach. Through a variety of student, staff, and parent sessions, Clive will discuss the concept of positive education and start to unpack a range of strategies for living a productive and happy life. If you are interested in attending Clive’s introductory session for parents, please sign up using this form.

Finally, a reminder that I will be hosting a series of interactive workshops for parents on the ‘Why of BST’ later this half term. The purpose of these sessions will be to evaluate the school’s existing guiding statements, including BST's mission, vision and goals. If you intend to join the sessions, please sign up using this form.

Best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal

Principal's Message - Term 2A Week 2
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

"Don’t stop movin' to the funky funky beat” – S Club 7

Fragments of the same 1990s pop song have been repeating in my mind all this week rather than the usual eclectic mix of genres. Not that I have ever been a devotee of the 1990’s British pop group, but S Club 7’s popular lyrics seem to capture the school’s feel and mood over the last seven days. Indeed, there have been countless examples of dynamic, challenging and above enjoyable learning taking place every day this week. Highlights have included Year Five’s excellent Viking Assembly, Year Three’s reciprocal visit to Tokyo Jogakkan and a sneak peek of the Secondary Production, The Addams Family. It has also been a busy week of sporting competition with BST teams involved in various hockey, football and basketball games. While this weekend BST primary and secondary students are representing the school at the annual Harrow Sevens Tournament in Bangkok. Indeed the vibrancy of the school at the start of term augers well for the year ahead.  

The theme of school pride has also been prominent this week with school uniforms in the spotlight. It was pleasing to see the response of our students to the heightened focus upon school uniform expectations. As noted in my email to parents on Wednesday, we will be extenuating every opportunity to show pride in our school moving forward this year. As such, I passionately believe that wearing a smart and presentable uniform not only promotes a sense of pride but also engenders a sense of community and belonging towards the school. Additionally, as I have previously noted, the BST uniform distinguishes students in and around the city; as such, the BST uniform should be a representation of the school's high expectations and standards. Thank you, therefore, for your support in this endeavour. 

Continuing with the theme of pride I’m delighted to make you aware that the Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA) has accepted BST’s application for membership and will be sending representatives of its Executive to the school in April to ensure that we meet the necessary criteria. Following the visit, we hope to have our membership confirmed relatively quickly and as a result, the school will be able to access the countless opportunities provided by the organisation for students and staff. More information on FOBISIA and its benefits for BST is available at the following link: https://www.fobisia.org/

I think we would all agree that reading is such a strong feature of BST school life and as a result, we are aiming over the next 12 months to refresh and enhance the primary library environments at both Shibuya and Showa campuses. Starting with the Shibuya library this year, the intention is also to ensure the library space becomes more accessible and available for children to use independently, in small groups or as a class. The PTA Committee will be supporting Mr Steven and the Primary Leadership Team with this exciting development. With this in mind, I am pleased to let you know that the PTA Committee has generously agreed to focus their fundraising efforts for this year on the Shibuya library enhancement project. 

Finally, a reminder that I will be hosting a series of interactive workshops for parents on the “Why of BST” later this half term. The purpose of these sessions will be to evaluate the school’s existing guiding statements, including BST’s mission, vision and goals. If you intend to join the sessions, please sign-up using the following link. http://bit.ly/feb2020forum

Best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal