Principal's Message

Principal's Message - Fri 15th Oct 2021
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students, and Friends of BST,

From my perspective, the first half term of the year has disappeared in a flash. My advancing age will have contributed to this perception, but there is no doubt that the nature of school life has been fast-paced since September 1st. Above all, energy and enthusiasm pervading the campuses have been palpable and furnished us all with a sense of optimism for a great year ahead.

Much of this energy emanates from our students who have embraced school life this year with conviction. This week has been no different, with highlights including secondary sports day, farewell assemblies and this afternoon's Concerto Competition.

Staff have also tackled the term's events with aplomb. This week's events have included parent/teacher conferences, professional development training and various forums.

Trustees' Strategy Evening and Service Award 

Last night the Board of Trustees gathered in the Showa Secondary library for the annual strategy evening. The evening's focus was the future of Secondary school, with much discussion late into the night around facilities and curriculum.

The evening marked the end of James Hollow's superb tenure as a Trustee.  Throughout his time on the Board, James has exemplified the concept of service and is an outstanding role model for our students. For 10 years, James has invested his time, energy and expertise without asking for anything in return other than the school's success and the very best for our students. To mark James' exceptional commitment to BST, I am delighted to make you aware that the Board has established a Service Award for students in his honour. The Award will be presented at our first annual Award Ceremony in June and every year after that. 

BST and SWU Liaison

The strategy evening followed the first of this year's round of BST and SWU liaison group meetings, including SWU Chancellor, Mariko Bando, Chair of the BST Board, Comino Tamura, and members of the BST Leadership Team. The first meeting of the year was held in the BST building and included a tour of our facility. The meeting also focused on facilities at the SWU campus and further collaboration on a range of educational projects.

New Developments after Half Term

With an eye on the start of the next half term, several other new developments associated with the second year of our Strategic Vision and Plan will be launched. The first will be the school's recent Annual Report, which will reflect school life yearly. While the second will involve the launch of the Annual Fund designed to support our developmental agenda and ideas for different student experiences. More about both of these exciting developments after the break.

Students' Achievements

Unquestionably the school's shining stars are our students, and I wanted to finish today's edition of the Lion by celebrating the achievements of several of whom I had the pleasure to talk with recently. 

At the beginning of the week, I enjoyed listening to Year 3 students Shanaya Saxena, Nell McVeigh, and Haron Mokhtar proudly and confidently talking about their extended writing. All three were worthy of praise as they wrote in the third person with clarity, detail, and impressive vocabulary. Their reading was terrific too!

While yesterday I met with Year 11 student, Yutaka Takaku, to congratulate him on reaching the finals of the Fukui Harp Competition. Yutaka is an accomplished musician who has played the violin, piano and harp since the age of seven. He is also an impressive young man who is hardworking, humble, and thankful for his support from teachers and family. A video of Yutaka playing his competition pieces can be enjoyed HERE. I think you will agree that he is an exceptional talent.

If you have any questions about today's topics or would like a meeting, please get in touch. In the meantime, best wishes for the half-term break.

Paul Tough

Principal

 

Principal's Message - Fri 8th Oct 2021
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students, and Friends of BST,

World Teachers' Day 

Tuesday, October 5, marked UNESCO's World Teachers' Day. The annual event reminds us of the importance of teachers and the crucial role of education in our lives. Without question, teaching is one of the most fulfilling of vocations as it provides much joy and satisfaction. It is also one of the most impactful as the power of teachers to inspire and influence young minds is boundless.

I am fortunate to come from a family of teachers as both my parents taught in secondary schools in Wales. My mother, throughout her career, taught the Welsh language, and my father taught history, economics and politics. As you can imagine, they had a massive influence on my chosen career path, and I owe them both everything.

That said, I am also indebted to countless primary and secondary teachers who had the patience to teach a student who sometimes lacked focus and often needed cajoling. In particular, my secondary school History teacher, Mr Dafydd Pretty, whose encyclopedic knowledge, acerbic wit and passion for teaching (and marathon running) also inspired me to follow an academic and professional path that has been hugely rewarding and privileged. My fate would have been different and possibly "pretty tough" without such a role model, as Mr Pretty himself would often joke.

This week at BST, there will have been many unforgettable and inspirational moments across both campuses. Undoubtedly, teachers and educational assistants will have successfully spurred their students' curiosity to learn more and believe in themselves.

Farewell Mr Wilcox

One such teacher is Mr Karl Wilcox. Mr Wilcox leaves his role as Deputy Head of Primary at Showa at the end of next week and returns to the UK with his family. Mr Wilcox will be dearly missed by students, staff and parents. His characteristic kindness and compassion will have made a permanent impression on all who have been fortunate to know him at BST. Many happy memories will have been made, and I know Mr Wilcox will be remembered by the students in his care for a lifetime. In the best tradition of World Teachers' Day, we all sincerely thank Mr Wilcox and wish him all the very best for the future.

Educational opportunities and partnerships 

The regular cavalcade of events continued this week with too many highlights to mention. However, the continuation of the BST secondary outdoor programme and the FOBISIA mathematics competition in both primary and secondary are worthy of a shout out.  I know Mrs Loran and Mrs McCallum will reference many more events in their updates, but I also want to highlight that BST's academic reputation was writ large this week.

Indeed, my colleagues Ms Nora Yamada, Ms Kelsey Brown and Mr Mark Grimshaw led a training day for teachers from ten different schools in Asia as part of FOBISIA's professional development programme. In doing so, they showcased our teachers' expertise, knowledge and passion. 

Also, this week, my colleague Mr Martin Kindness and six other BST teachers began teaching an undergraduate course at Showa Women's University to students focusing on British culture, society and history. 

While, with much excitement, this week, BST partnered with Temple University Japan to provide Year 12 students with the chance to enrol and access a myriad of undergraduate courses from Term 2 onwards. 

BST - what a school, I hear you say!

If you have any questions about any of the topics in today's newsletter or would like to arrange a meeting, please let me know.  In the meantime, enjoy the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal

Principal's Message - Fri 1st Oct 2021
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students, and Friends of BST,

A quick internet search would suggest that the well-worn phrase "time flies when you are having fun" originated with Albert Einstein. Whether the origin of the phrase is correct, decades of research has indicated that dopamine is crucial in perceiving the passing of time. Recent studies, however, as explained HERE, propose that "time flies when you are having more fun than you expected" is a better summary of the reasons why time can sometimes seem to pass incredibly quickly. Whichever is the case, I can confirm that this week has vanished in a flash, and dopamine has been abundant at BST.

Outdoor learning opportunities for students

Although today's wet and windy weather resulted in the rescheduling of the Year 12 trip to Canyons Outdoor Centre in Okutama, students and staff involved in earlier visits this week and earlier this term have enjoyed the experience immensely. It has been brilliant to see the impact of the trips and confirm outdoor education's importance in the life of the school. Thank you to Dr Steven Reilly for his outstanding work in organising such a programme of events. 

Planning is already underway for more experiences such as these later in the year. We have yet to decide on the school's winter residential programme, but rest assured that we are considering various options that include running a safe ski programme, albeit different to previous years and under the limits of health and safety protocols. We will evaluate the impact of the lifting of the State of Emergency over the coming weeks and make the community aware of our decision in a timely fashion regarding the winter programme. 

Lifting of the State of Emergency

This term's reintroduction of extracurricular activities has been a massive success with colossal participation by students. In a similar vein, we are reassessing our approach in other areas following the end of the latest State of Emergency in Tokyo today.

COVID mitigation strategies will continue to remain in place with no compromise on mask-wearing, temperature checking and campus access for visitors controlled. However, I am delighted that inter-school sports competitions and school performances will gradually return over the coming weeks and months. I am also incredibly pleased that BST affiliates such as Shibuya International Rugby Club will be allowed to use the SWU facilities again from this weekend onwards.

The leadership team will be meeting early next week to discuss how we gradually reintroduce social events on campus while being mindful of social distancing, size of venues and capacity recommendations from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. I will update the community on the next steps in due course.

PTA welcome picnic for new families

A massive thank you to the PTA Committee for hosting a successful picnic in Setagaya Park last Sunday for new members of the BST community. The event was very well attended and augurs well for the new Committee's schedule of social events throughout the year.

Vaccinations

Thank you to all the families and staff who participated in last week's vaccination programme facilitated by SKG. An impressive number of students and staff received their second jabs and are now fully vaccinated.

Next week, we will reissue the school's vaccination survey, which we initially conducted at the start of this term. If you have not already responded to the questionnaire, I strongly encourage you to do so, as the information you provide will help us determine vaccination coverage in our school community.

Board of Trustees

Earlier this week, the Trustees met with the school's leadership team for the year's first full Board meeting following the recent round of subcommittees. The meeting's agenda included education, finance, facilities, the soon to be launched Annual Fund and progress on the new primary campus. 

At the meeting, our new Chair of the Board, Comino Tamura, and Board Secretary, Peter Kilner, welcomed Helen Smith, James Nepaulsingh and Paul Habeshaw as new Trustees. 

The Trustees and the leadership team will be gathering again before the end of this half term at the annual strategy evening.

School Advisory Committee (SAC)

The first meeting of the new School Advisory Committee (SAC) is scheduled to take place on Monday, October 25. Minutes of the September's session can be accessed HERE, and I continue to encourage community members to submit agenda items for the new cycle of meetings using the Committee's email address - schooladvisory@bst.ac.jp

As the year unfolds, I anticipate purposeful and lively discussion and appreciate the new Committee members' expected time, insight, and commitment. 

COBIS and FOBISIA

Finally, BST's intention to maximise the benefit of our international networks and local partnerships moved into a higher gear this week. With the COBIS accreditation process progressing smoothly, we are now looking forward to students participating in a range of activities provided by the organisation, as illustrated HERE. BST students contributing to “Race4Good" promises to be one of the many highlights that will run in parallel with BST students' impressive work in Nepal through the United World Schools organisation. 

Next week, BST's profile as part of the FOBISIA network will also be heightened. My colleague Nora Yamada and other staff will host online professional training for schools across Asia on our emerging approach to challenging and stretching students in their learning. No doubt positive feedback will ensue. 

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. Best wishes and fingers crossed for a dry and sunny weekend after today's deluge.

 

Paul Tough

Principal

 

Principal's Message - Fri 24th Sept 2021
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students, and Friends of BST,

I trust you have had a positive week and enjoyed celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival or Otsukimi on Tuesday with friends and family. I, for one, marked the occasion by eating one too many rice cake dumplings while admiring the beauty of the full moon above the city's skyline.

World Peace Day – BST's Values and Mission

Tuesday, September 21, also marked the International Day of Peace. Sometimes referred to as World Peace Day, the event is organised by the United Nations and is dedicated to the absence of war and violence. 

To mark the day, the UN Peace Bell is rung at the UN building in New York, and the bell donated to the UN by the UN Association of Japan in 1954 is inscribed with the words - "long live absolute peace".

This year, the theme that accompanied World Peace Day was "recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world". Through marking the day, we were encouraged to think about how 'to transform our world into a more inclusive, equal, and sustainable place".

Reading BST's guiding statements - our values, aims and mission, we can see that World Peace Day and its themes resonate strongly, especially with our school's commitment to collective responsibility and an intention to impact the wider world positively.

After talking with various students and staff this week, it is clear that there is a strong spirit of hope despite the complex problems of our time. Indeed a determination to overcome our world's challenges, whether related to war, poverty, pandemics or the climate crisis.

With world leaders gathering soon in Glasgow at COP26, our young people for sure recognise the importance of our "human interconnectedness, the certainty of science", and the need for collective action that reaches beyond international borders.

As the British broadcaster, Andrew Marr wrote in an interesting piece HERE, many of the lessons we have learned during the pandemic can be applied to addressing the themes of World Peace Day 2021. Where there is a will, there is a way, and this year, we will be looking meaningfully at how the school responds to these issues.

Staff training - diversity, equity and inclusion

This week, staff at BST grappled with other important themes as they relate to the school's culture and community. In a thought-provoking professional training session on Monday, staff discussed the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. During the session, ideas were exchanged on ensuring individual, collective, and organisational responsibility for addressing these areas and promoting them across both campuses. 

New teaching staff

This week I have started visiting lessons to see our new teachers in action. It has been encouraging to see high standards, positive relationships and high levels of student engagement. In follow-up meetings, it has also been reassuring to hear more broadly how the new staff are settling into life at the school and in Tokyo.

COBIS Patrons Accreditation and Compliance

This week the school began the final stage of the COBIS Patrons Accreditation and Compliance process. The final stage is staggered across terms one and two and conducted online due to travel restrictions.

The process aims to evaluate the school against set international standards and help schools such as ours in their ongoing developmental journey. We are hopeful of a positive outcome in due course before we move on to the CIS process of membership and accreditation next year. My colleague, David James (Deputy Principal), will make the school community aware of the outcome later this year.

Historical Association Fictional Writing Competition 

Finally, I wanted to end by recognising the outstanding success of Year 7 student Lola Ellis who has been named one of the winners of the internationally renowned Historical Association Fictional Writing Competition. This is the second year in succession that a BST student has achieved this award.  Lola's piece of extended writing produced in Year 6 on the French Revolution received significant praise from the judging panel and can be read HERE. I know you will want to join me in congratulating Lola for producing a piece of exceptional historical fiction. As I have mentioned before, Hilary Mantel and Robert Harris et al. watch out, as Lola has the talent to challenge your prowess. 

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.

Paul Tough

Principal

Principal's Message - Fri 17th Sept 2021
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students, and Friends of BST,

I am sure that you, like me, admire many people in life. For me, the majority of people I look up to and seek to emulate are family members, friends, teachers from my youth and colleagues both present and past. Others who have inspired, motivated and in some small way sought to emulate I have watched from afar. I am sure this is the same for all of us irrespective of our age. 

As such, this week, BST teachers will not have been alone in referencing Emma Raducanu as a fantastic example of a positive role model. If you are unaware (which I strongly doubt), Emma Raducanu is the young woman of mixed heritage who made history last weekend by becoming the first British woman to win a singles grand slam since 1977. In so doing, she will have captured the imagination of millions, both young and old, with her talent, confidence, passion and commitment. 

Emma, like the summer exploits of the English Men’s National Football Team and Team GB athletes competing in the Paralympics and Olympic Games, will have made millions proud as representatives of an inclusive Britain rich with plural identities. Something akin to our school community, I would suggest. With this theme in mind, I am looking forward to next Monday, where we as an entire staff, through professional development sessions, will be evaluating in earnest how we as a school ensure diversity, inclusion and equality of opportunity for all within the BST community. 

The excitement generated by the US Open tennis final continued into other areas of school life this week. In particular, the positive energy associated with extracurricular activities has flooded the campuses. Equally, the students and staff who visited the Canyons Outdoor Centre in Okutama returned exhausted but incredibly happy - long days but hugely rewarding for all involved. 

Participation in this week's parent forums has also been impressive. Five different parent forums have taken place since Monday, with a range of various topics discussed. The attendance has been genuinely phenomenal and represents a continuation of the significant parent engagement from last year. As this week continues to attest, technology has enabled parent participation in school life to become more accessible, purposeful and time-efficient. I am sure we will continue with this approach coupled with on-campus meetings long after the State of Emergency's restrictions have passed.

We also received good news this week on the vaccination front as our partners at Showa Women's University (SWU) have scheduled an extra round of vaccinations specifically for students, including BST students above 12. A signup sheet and schedule will be available on The Hub on Monday. I am anticipating significant participation. 

I have included a link here to a short informative video on vaccinations for children by Dr Tom Lomax. Many of you will be aware that Dr Lomax is a great friend and support to the BST community, and he is also a BST parent and has a reassuring voice on these issues. If you are the parents of children aged 12 years who are yet to be vaccinated, I strongly encourage you to watch Dr Lomax's video and take up the opportunity provided by SWU. 

Finally, the minutes of this week's School Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting can be accessed HERE. Thank you again to the parents and staff who have now stepped down from the SAC. The new Committee's first meeting is in October, and topics for discussion for the new meeting cycle can be submitted via schooladvisory@bst.ac.jp . I also wanted to thank Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) Chairperson Gabriella Mandrea and her new team for their continued support of the school at the start of the term. The new Executive Committee of the PTSA met this week and planning for a successful year is well under way. 

If you have any questions about the topics in this week's newsletter or would like a one to one meeting, please let me know.

Best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal