Principal's Message

Principal's Message - Friday 11th September 2020
Paul Tough

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

It has been a lovely week across both campuses, and I have been impressed with the range of learning taking place. Historical fiction has featured prominently, and I am delighted to make you aware that Zoya Subramanian (currently in Year 7) was one of the winners in the prestigious Historical Association Fictional Story Writing Competition. Zoya‘s story “The Independence Diary” (submitted when in Year 6) was selected from over 1000 entries globally. The competition judges noted that Zoya’s “very moving story about Indian Independence that gives a very personal angle to a great historical event.” I know you will want to join me in congratulating Zoya on her outstanding achievement.

https://tinyurl.com/IndependenceDiary

 

This week The PTA Committee met for the first time, and the first round of Board of Trustees subcommittee meetings started. The PTA and Trustees work tirelessly in support of the school, and I am very grateful for their commitment in time, energy and expertise. Later in the month, the first meeting of the School Advisory Committee (SAC) will take place with parent and staff representatives meeting with me monthly. I am looking forward to working with the Committee again this year as it continues to have the remit of discussing the school’s educational provision. I am delighted to make you aware that the SAC membership for 2020-2021 remains the same as last year - Mrs Sonia Jackson Henrich, Mrs Marisa Gelencser, Mr David Wilkinson, Mr Nathaniel Rowe, Mrs Donella Nemoto, Mr Richard Paterson and Mr Christopher Parsons. Proposed agenda items to be discussed or questions to be raised at the meetings can be sent to the Committee at schooladvisory@bst.ac.jp

In last week’s newsletter, I made you aware that I will be hosting, with my colleagues, a series of forums this term on the school’s new Strategic Plan (soon to be published), our new framework for Teaching and Learning and the revised Mission and Vision. Due to the restrictions placed on the school due to COVID, these sessions will be via Zoom and will take place on the dates and times below. If you would like to attend one of the sessions and receive a Zoom link, please sign up here.

https://forms.gle/SWN2hNLp1Bf9JNe56

October 12 9am-10:30am (Mission and Vision / Strategic Plan)

October 28 6pm-7:30pm (Mission and Vision / Strategic Plan)

October 29 9am-10:30am (Mission and Vision / Strategic Plan)

Additionally, the Board of Trustees will be hosting an online Open Evening on October 15 between 6:30pm and 8:30pm with the annual community survey sent to parents next week. If you would like to attend the Board of Trustees Open Evening and receive a Zoom link, please sign up here.

https://forms.gle/qJifVM9A4Paks6vk8

High expectations and the pursuit of excellence are fundamental to the school’s Strategic Plan. We are committed to ensuring that we draw upon the best of British and international education for the benefit of all our students. As such, our strategic intent is bold, ambitious and highly achievable. It is to ensure BST transitions from being one of the best international schools in Japan to being one of the best schools in the world. This will be achieved through concentrating upon four strategic priorities: learning, identity, community and infrastructure. A series of focus areas and commitments relate to each strategic priority, and I will be publishing these to the community before half term and in advance of the parent forums.

The development of high-quality teaching and learning, coupled with curriculum design, will also be of significant importance over the next three years. Indeed, schools are much more than a collection of buildings, facilities and resources. The best schools worldwide prioritise learning and encourage creativity and innovation. Our aim, therefore, is to create more opportunities for BST learners to take more ownership of their learning, to be challenged in their education, for character strengths to be developed and for the curriculum to be organised through big ideas and concepts. As part of this plan, I am delighted to make you aware that the school is in partnership with Bronwyn MacLeod formerly of the Gerric Centre of the University of New South Wales. Bronwyn will be working throughout the year with initially 16 teachers from Primary and Secondary to develop the school’s approach to challenging students at BST in their learning. I look forward to updating you on this in due course and to evaluating the impact for students of this development area. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this or any other area mentioned in today’s newsletter, please let me know.

Best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough
Principal
The British School in Tokyo

 

 

Principal's Message - Friday 4th September 2020
Paul Tough

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

At the start of the new school year, I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all.

The beginning of a new school year is always an exciting time as we look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead. This week has been extra special as we welcomed all the school back for the first time together on both campuses since March. The use of face mask, temperature checking, classroom setup and general routines are different from previous years, but the buzz of excitement and vibrancy has remained the same.  It will take a little while for all of us to adjust to the "new normal", but I am encouraged by everyone's desire to make the best of the situation and to ensure that this school year is an excellent experience for our community.

BST students, in particular, have been impressive this week. The usual anxiety associated with a new school year will have been heightened, of course, because of the consequences of the pandemic. That said, it has been heartening to see students in both primary and secondary enjoying being back at school and showing such positivity and enthusiasm. I am as you can imagine relieved and pleased to see that the school community is settling into a new routine with relative ease. It will be important that we adhere to the Return to School Guidelines which we will review and update over the coming weeks as necessary based upon our experience and the wider situation in Tokyo.

I am sure that the worst days of the pandemic and campus closure tested us all, but I am incredibly optimistic about the year ahead. I am convinced that great things await the school community this year. Indeed, in addition to our new routines and procedures, we have set ourselves an ambitious development agenda which will be communicated later this term in the school's new Strategic Plan and Vision. Ensuring that we deliver on our objectives in all aspects of school life will require a collective response and a commitment by us all to ensure that every child at BST succeeds and has a sense of achievement. As I have said many times, active parent involvement, positive relationships, and a healthy home-school partnership are at the core of all successful schools, including BST. It will be a priority for me this year to return to this theme and to build upon the school's strength in this area.

The excellent start to the year has been added to by a range of exciting community news which includes another set of outstanding results achieved by Secondary students at (I)GCSE and A-Level, the arrival and settling in of all our new staff in Japan (HERE) and continued work on the school's new primary campus at Toranomon.

Results day this year was very different from the norm as many of you aware. I cannot deny that the shambolic management of the process in the UK caused unnecessary anxiety for our students, families and staff. That said, as Mr Thomas and his team will attest, we are proud of the students' achievements and wish them all the very best for the future, whether at University, overseas at other schools or the BST Senior School. I am also very grateful to Mr Thomas (Head of Secondary), Ms Trachonitis (Assistant Head), Ms Woods (Assistant Head), Ms Honda (Examinations Officer) and the Senior School team for managing the process so professionally, calmly and successfully for the school. An overview of this year's academic results for Year 11 and Year 13 can be accessed (HERE).

Finally, I wanted to make you aware of the new whole school extended Senior Leadership Team (ESLT) for this year. We have welcomed new colleagues to the team and have restructured our responsibilities to ensure we work collaboratively to deliver the priorities associated with the school's new Strategic Plan. Please access the ESLT list (HERE). Over the coming months, we will be hosting a series of community forums and workshops on the school's provision and our new Strategic Plan. In next week's newsletter, I will confirm the dates and times of these events with you. In the meantime, thank you for helping to ensure that this week has been a success. It remains an honour and a privilege to be the Principal at BST and I am looking forward to ensuring that the students in our care have every opportunity to be the best that they can be.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Tough
Principal
The British School in Tokyo

 

 

Principal's Message - August 2020
Paul Tough

Dear Parents,

Another school year is almost upon us. The summer holiday, as it always seems to do, has flown by quickly. However, I’m sure many of you will share my delight at the start of the new school year and the return to the campuses for all students and staff.
 
Without doubt we face a very different start to the new academic year – ‘back to school’ has never looked like this. On the back of the disruption faced last school year and a very different summer break, we now face the start to 2020/21 in unprecedented circumstances.
 
Having tested our health and safety protocols during June and the period of staggered campus reopening we feel ready to welcome the entire school back. We will, of course, be a need for us to remain vigilant, cautious and agile in our approach. We continue to communicate closely with our local partner schools, the JCIS network and the Japanese authorities. Weekly situation updates provided by trusted medical experts remain an invaluable reference for our decision making too.

The new school year promises to be very different from previous years.  It is brilliant though that will be reconnecting again as a school community as it is crucial for the education of the students in our care, the families we serve and for the wellbeing of us all.

For now, though, all I want to do is to welcome you to the new school year. A very special welcome, of course, goes to our new parents. We are so delighted to have you join the BST family.
 
Thank you for entrusting your children's education with us as it is a privilege and a responsibility that everyone in BST takes seriously.
 
Kind regards,
 
Paul Tough
Principal
The British School in Tokyo

 

 

Principal's Message - Friday 3rd July
Paul Tough
Dear Parents, Staff, Students, and Friends of BST,

What an extraordinary year it has been. When the school year began last August, nobody could have predicted what was to unfold. The pandemic that has enveloped the world since January has forced all of us to re-evaluate how we live our lives.

I know that the impact of the pandemic has had significant consequences for us all. Throughout all of these difficult times, the school made a series of commitments. In particular, we said that students would continue to learn and that we would keep members of our community safe. Working together as a community was at the heart of us honouring these commitments. There have been difficulties, for sure, but throughout BST has been resolute in its response to the crisis.

Indeed, as I reflect upon the school year, I am grateful for the resilience and patience shown by the school community. The BST community, which we are all part of, is built on the cooperation and commitment of our staff and parents. It is through working together that our students can thrive in the way that they do. This is personified of course by our fantastic PTA Committee who this year have continued to support the school in a myriad of ways.

I know that the summer that lies ahead will be unusual. For many of us, the break is usually a time to head to catch up with family around the world and to spend time with our friends. While the majority of us will be spending the break here in Japan, I hope that you still have time to do all of these things - even if technology still has to play its part.

For those families and staff leaving BST today, I extend my very best wishes to you all. Thank you for your contributions to the school during your time with us. You will be missed, but please remember that you will always be part of the BST community wherever you are in the world.

Finally, during the summer break, we will be preparing for the school campuses to reopen fully with all students back in class at the start of the new school year following a regular schedule. This will mean that online learning and modified timetables will cease. We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation in Tokyo closely over the coming weeks and I will write to the entire community on August 17th to confirm final arrangements for September. In advance of this, I encourage all members of the school community to read the information again here as it explains the school’s response to a range of different scenarios in the future.

I hope everyone enjoys the summer holiday.

Paul Tough

Principal

 

 

Principal's Message - Friday 26th June
Paul Tough
Dear Parents, Staff, Students, and Friends of BST,

"The only constant in life is change"- Heraclitus.

I think we would all agree that change is an inevitable part of life. It happens whether we are ready for it or not. One of the secrets of living a happy and successful life is to learn how to deal with the process of change. This, of course, can be daunting for adults let alone for young people. The school's end of term transition events are designed to help students navigate the move from one year group to another and to successfully face the unknown ready for the start of the new school year. I'm thankful we have been able to run the transition days before the summer holidays as students who successfully start the new school year are likely to maintain higher levels of happiness and achievement as the year progresses.

The process of change also impacts staff at BST. Next week will be the last at BST for teachers who are returning to their home countries or embarking upon new challenges in other parts of the world. Teachers and teaching assistants at our school go to great lengths to support, mentor and care for their students. During their time at the school, this year's leavers have worked tirelessly to help their students achieve their best. I pay tribute to them all and commend their dedication and professionalism. On behalf of the school community, I wish them all the very best for the future. We will miss them all, but they will always remain part of the BST extended community wherever they are in the world.

Leaving Teachers 

Destination 

 

Teachers Joining 

Coming from

Tamsin O' dell

UK

 

Caroline McCallum

UK

Ruth Unsworth

UK

 

Eleanor Loran

Hong Kong

Gillian Pritchard

UK

 

Lyndsay McKenzie

Hong Kong

Stephen Pritchard

UK

 

Siobhan Bailey

UK

Paul Cawood

UK

 

James Dennett

UK

Richard Taylor

Netherlands

 

Zarina Glenn

Dubai

Ben Hazzard

UK

 

Anne Pushpanathan

UK

Mireia Bickley

UK

 

Matthew Wall 

UK

Magali Matsumiya

UK

 

Lois Adams

UK

Robin Fellerman

UK

 

Sadaf Kahn

UK

Chris Speller

UK

 

Amandine Morel

Hong Kong

Adam Whybro

Georgia

 

Yuki Sugimura

Thailand

David Reid

UK

 

Emily Hartshorne

Thailand

Jonathan Travis

Brazil

 

Charlotte Mitchell

Italy

Camilla Scott

Brazil

 

David Saranam 

China

Philip Liebman

Japan

 

Martin Kindness

Singapore

Adam Gouha

Doha

 

 

 

 

The new staff joining the school in August were recruited between October and March of this school year and their contribution to the life at BST is eagerly anticipated, as I'm confident they will make a positive impression. Fingers crossed that we can get them all to Japan over the summer, as I know they are all looking forward to joining the school community.

The start of the new school year will also see changes to the school's Extended Senior Leadership Team (ESLT). The ESLT operate very much as a whole school team with the concepts of "teams within teams" is a strong feature as is the principle of a one-school approach.

BST's Extended Senior Leadership Team from August is as follows:

Principal

Paul Tough

Bursar

TBC

Director of Operations

Ben Loran (new)

Head of Secondary

James Thomas

Deputy Head of Secondary (Years 10-13)

Duncan Grey

Deputy Head of Secondary (Years 7-9)

Caroline McCallum (new)

Assistant Head

Alison Woods

Assistant Head

Maja Trachonitis

Head of Primary

Fiona Read

Deputy Head of Primary (Showa)

Karl Wilcox

Deputy Head of Primary (Shibuya)

Eleanor Loran (new)

Assistant Head

Mark Pearce

 

Next year promises to be a great year as we launch the school's new Strategic Plan and introduce a revised Learner Profile and Mission and Vision. I look forward to working with my colleagues (existing and new) and the broader BST community in exploring the new guiding statements and strategic commitments in due course.

Best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough Principal