Principal's Message

Principal's Message - Term 1B Week 6
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

As the adage goes, “time flies when you are having fun," and this term has positively flown by.

As we head into the last week of term, there has been no time for slowing down with a cavalcade of brilliant events taking place across the school. During the week, sporting competition has maintained its strong profile with BST students competing in various hockey, basketball, volleyball and football competitions. The creative and expressive arts have also been a significant feature of school life with an outstanding Primary Winter Show and a superb Nine Lessons and Carol Service taking place. Thank you to all the students, staff and parents for their contribution to the array of activities and events which have taken place over the last week and the entire action-packed term.

I also wanted to acknowledge the generosity and kindness of all the students and adults contributing to the Second Harvest and United World Schools projects. As I have written before, our school has a strong community at its core and modeling compassion, care and responsibility through our individual and collective actions is so important.

A big thank you to all the parents and staff involved in this week’s traditional Christmas events at the Shibuya and Showa campuses. I know the Winter Wonderland and school discos will have been a great success. Much gratitude in particular to our outstanding PTA Committee members for their continued commitment to all things BST. Having such a supportive group of parents is fantastic. However, I know the Committee would appreciate even more volunteers. Please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the PTA Committee if you are in a position to help.

This week the Board of Trustees met at Showa, where a variety of areas including staffing, finance, facilities and education were discussed. The new School Advisory Committee (SAC) also met last night for the first time and I’m grateful to all the staff and parents in attendance for contributing to the lively discussion. Please do let me or another member of the SAC know if you have any proposals or questions for discussion at our monthly meetings next term.

We are now looking forward to next week’s annual Whole School Christmas Concert. The concert has become a real highlight of the school calendar as it provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the joy of Christmas through music and song with the broader BST community.

Best wishes for the weekend ahead.

Paul Tough

Principal

Principal's Message - Term 1B Week 5
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

The school’s three Cs - confidence, conviction and consideration were writ large this week.

Today’s Primary Winter Show at Showa’s Hitomi Hall was a tremendous example of BST’s three Cs in action. The children performed brilliantly and it was a joy to see how happy, enthusiastic, and confident they were. All of us in attendance were treated to a wonderful afternoon of music and song. Thank you to all the parents who attended the concert. Thank you also to all the staff involved in providing the children with an opportunity to excel. In particular, a big thank you to Ms Casey and Ms Pressdee-Rudd for their impeccable leadership and hard work.

This week BST students have continued to impress me with examples of their learning in different contexts. I was particularly pleased to join the Shibuya Student Council meeting, where the children showed conviction and commitment to their important roles as primary school leaders. While the beaming smiles of Year 4 children Akari, Erika, Grace and Lila acted as a real tonic when they dropped into my office for lunch on Thursday. The girls confidently talked about their pride in the school and what they enjoy learning about the most. Additionally, the day I spent following a class in Year 9 was brilliant too. The students’ creative talents and confidence was on show during some impressive learning in many lessons including Visual Art and Music. I was also very impressed by the Poppies and Bluebells of Nursery, who asked lots of original questions during this week's storytime sessions.

On a wider note, last Friday night, the school community’s ability to show care, kindness and consideration for others was evident at the 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Ball. It was a great night with a significant amount raised in support of United World Schools (UWS) and our project in the Batase area of Nepal. The event was a great success with nearly 300 parents, staff and friends of the school in attendance. Most pleasing for me was the conviction demonstrated by the BST students involved in the UWS project as they spoke to the guests with passion about the importance of service to others. Thank you again to everyone involved in making the evening so successful and in particular, Lowly Norgate and Carmen Monksmith for their outstanding event management.

We are now looking forward to this weekend’s first-ever Model United Nations (MUN) conference held at BST. The conference has been organised by Year 13 students and Mr Grant Fraser and will involve 60 delegates from five international schools. Next week also promises to be another exciting week. Highlights include the school’s annual Christmas Carol Service, the first meeting of the new School Advisory Committee and the final Board of Trustees’ meeting of 2019.

Best wishes for the weekend ahead.

Paul Tough

Principal

Principal's Message - Term 1B Week 4
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

World Philosophy Day took place on Thursday of this week and I was reminded of the Greek Philosopher Heraclitus’ dictum that the “only constant in life is change.” I was also reminded that change might be ever-present, but tradition and heritage are essential aspects of life too. With this in mind, today’s Anniversary Ball is eagerly anticipated, as it allows us as a community to celebrate the school’s incredible journey over the last thirty years and a chance to raise funds for our project with United World Schools in Nepal. I know the evening will be a great success, and in advance, I wanted to acknowledge and thank all the families who have donated prizes. Also, a huge thank you to BST parent Carmen Monksmith and the BST Communications Team directed by the incredible Lowly Norgate for their outstanding work.

This week has been one of the most enjoyable for me in my brief time at the school. Spending a day each following a Year 7 and a Year 9 class has allowed me to see the school first hand from the students’ perspective. As a result, I’ve been impressed by the learning taking place in a host of areas including English, Mathematics, Languages and the Humanities. High levels of engagement, critical thinking and appropriate challenge were key features in many of the lessons I observed. I also concluded that our curriculum in Years 7-9 (Key Stage 3) has a strong foundation on which the teaching and learning of transferable skills can be further encouraged, particularly those associated with High-Performance Learning. Exciting times as we have the opportunity at BST to develop highly relevant and bespoke learning experiences not only in Years 7-9 but in Primary too. 

This week I was also so pleased and impressed with students in Year 5 and Year 3 who proudly talked to me about their learning. Year 5 students Jamie F., Olivia R. and Ollie H. spoke with such passion and persuasion about their writing to me. While Year 3 students Ami N., Joshua D., Luca T., Havana T., Isla V. and Lucas M. were equally as impressive when reading their highly descriptive diary extracts during an impromptu drop in at my Shibuya office. The students’ vocabulary and sentence structures stood out the most and are a clear indication of their commitment to reading and writing with fluency. It was a real joy to spend time with all the students, especially as they showed such pride in their learning.

I was also impressed by our Reception children this week when I had the chance to visit their learning environments to read a book with them. The children love to read, too and were eager to ask lots of interesting questions when discussing the text and pictures. The Early Years area of the school has developed significantly this term, and I am very grateful to the Nursery and Reception teams, Mrs O’Dell and Mrs Read for the transformation in the learning environments. I’m now looking forward to seeing how our provision increasingly incorporates aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach.

This week has also been busy with various PTA and Board of Trustees meetings. The Leadership Team also had the chance to work collaboratively to evaluate the recent community survey and to identify our response and main priorities moving forward. We also spent time working on the new Primary School campus project with our external partners. While additionally, the school, thanks to Dr Reilly, staff and families, hosted a very successful Homestay with students and faculty from Hakuba High School. All in all, another brilliant week at BST. I hope your week was as enjoyable as mine.

Enjoy the weekend ahead.

Paul Tough

Principal

Principal's Message - Term 1B Week 3
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

Values are essential in school and life. This week for various reasons and on many occasions, I’ve been reminded of the importance of respect as a value – self-respect and respect for others. As a result, please forgive me, but my newsletter today is slightly different from my usual style and approach.

I think we would all agree that the way we see ourselves and the way we behave towards each other matters. Equally, it is the responsibility of all of us at BST - staff, students, parents and others to model respect around the school and in the wider community. Respect is the basis of all positive and supportive relationships and is the key to thriving school culture.

Self-respect is at the core of this endeavour and something I know teachers and parents seek to develop with BST students every day. Without a doubt a healthy level of self-esteem enables us to have confidence in ourselves. It means knowing what we stand for and what our guiding principles are as individuals. Self-respect is an inner quality that we all must have but one which takes time to develop invariably as a result of the challenges posed by life both inside the school and outside.

In turn, the act of showing someone that you value his or her feelings and thoughts is crucial to a happy life and thriving school culture. Respect means that we accept somebody for who they are, even when they’re different from us or when we don’t agree with them. Showing respect in our relationships with each other builds feelings of trust, safety, and wellbeing. While showing others around us that we take their culture, heritage and traditions into consideration are how we earn respect.

The value of respect in our school cannot be understated. It is a powerful force for good and the basis for both individual and collective achievement. Ultimately respect allows us and others to do and be our best. I’m confident, therefore, that together, we can ensure BST continues to be a community where respectful and mutually supportive relationships thrive.

Enjoy the weekend ahead.

Paul Tough

Principal

Principal's Message - Term 1B Week 2
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

I’m sure many of us will be looking this weekend to fill the void created by the end of the Rugby World Cup (RWC). I know I, for one, will miss the excitement and inspiration the tournament provided over the last few months. Part of life is about creating memories and without a doubt, many were made by many epic matches since September, including, of course, last week’s incredible Final. That said, the tournament hasn’t just involved the agony and ecstasy of sporting competition. Moreover, the RWC has provided a series of life lessons, particularly the importance of integrity, humility, respect, collegiality and commitment.

Additionally, the impeccable conduct of the Japan and South Africa teams in the face of many difficulties showed the power of sport to transcend national boundaries and loyalties. I will miss the excitement and eager anticipation of the students and staff at school before a big game. However, all of us have been privileged and fortunate to be present in Japan during the tournament. As a result, I'm confident that the memories it has created will remain in our individual and collective psyche for a long time.

A meeting with the architects working on the new Primary School campus provided a different kind of inspiration this week for members of the school’s Leadership Team and me. The meeting provided us with the opportunity to share our ideas and discuss various aspects of the design. The new Primary School campus promises to be a world-class educational space that will meet the needs of our youngest learners for decades to come. As the project will quickly gather pace, we will soon start to provide the BST community with termly updates on its progress.

Appropriate educational facilities are important, of course, but what matters the most in a school such as ours are the people who make up the community – BST parents, staff, friends, and students. All of us contributing equally to a healthy school culture where respectful, positive and supportive relationships are at the heart of all that we do. Rest assured that maintaining the essence of the BST culture and building upon its strengths will be the priority as we plan for the new campus and the eventual move.

This core priority featured strongly last night as the Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees gathered for our annual strategy evening. The evening was a great success with highly creative, thought-provoking and stimulating discussions taking place. Following on from the new school campus meeting earlier in the week, it confirmed for me that BST occupies a unique and influential position within the broader educational landscape in Japan. It also underscored the school’s commitment to excellence, maintaining the highest possible aspirations and achieving the very best for the students in our care.

Finally, on a related note, I wanted to thank the thirty parents and staff who volunteered to be part of the new School Advisory Committee. I’m looking forward to working the Committee as it will have the remit of discussing the Leadership Team’s plans for the school and in particular, the school’s educational provision. With this in mind, I’m delighted to make you aware that the SAC membership for 2019-2020 is as follows: Mrs Sonia Jackson Henrich, Mrs Marisa Gelencser, Mr David Wilkinson, Mr Nathaniel Rowe, Mrs Donella Nemoto, Mrs Helen Kaiho, Mr Richard Paterson and Mr Christopher Parsons.

Please contact me if you have any questions about the above. In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal