Principal's Message

Principal's Message - Fri 24th June 2022
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.

 

Summer Concert

Elgar, Parry and Blake would have been impressed by the rousing rendition of Jerusalem, which concluded a fantastic Summer Concert in Hitomi Hall last night. Such a fitting crescendo to the concert and the School year. This was the first time the Summer Concert had taken place since June 2019, and the recently renovated concert hall was a marvellous setting for its glorious return.  I challenge anyone in the audience not to have been impressed by the quality and range of performances - a parallel to the "Last Night of the Proms" at the Royal Albert Hall was manifest for all to see.

Thank you to everyone who participated and in particular to BST's fantastic Music Department (Ms Casey, Mr Drew, Mr Musson, Mr Knill, Ms Goto, and the peripatetic team) under the leadership this year of Mr Simon Beston. Congratulations, of course, to all the students who performed and contributed superbly. Each one was outstanding, and we are very proud of them.

 

Award Ceremonies

A sense of pride was also on show at BST's inaugural Primary (Year 4-6) and Secondary Award Ceremonies earlier in the week. The Awards touched on various areas of school life, including curriculum subjects, extra-curricular participation, wellbeing, school values, and attributes of the BST Learner Profile and the BST Way. The ceremonies celebrated achievement and success, recognition of targets, goals obtained, and progress made. I speak on behalf of the school community when I state that we are immensely proud of all the award winners.

We are also proud of all BST's students. Their brilliance is recognised daily, and in the coming years, there will be opportunities for all students to receive awards at the annual Award Ceremonies. Students who did not receive an award this week are equally stellar and their contributions to the School have not gone unnoticed or unvalued this year.

 

Board of Trustees and Senior School (Year 12 and Year 13) Curriculum Review 

This week The Board of Trustees met for the last time this year. The meeting included a discussion about finance, well-being data in Primary and Secondary, the School's development agenda, The Annual Fund, facilities, and the Year 12/13 curriculum review. I will be hosting several forums reviewing our A Level provision and international curricula next year. I will write to all parents about the review and discussions at the start of Term 1.

 

Public Examinations

Today marks the end of this summer's external examinations series, with A-level Computer Science the last to be sat by students. This examination session was the first to be completed in its entirety since the summer of 2019. Students in both Year 13 and Year 11 have responded incredibly well, and I hope they enjoy the upcoming holiday as they wait with anticipation for their results in August. Thank you to the School's examinations officer Ms Honda for administrating the IGCSE and A-Level examinations so professionally. Also, a huge thank you to Ms Woods for leading the School's response to the examinations this year and over several challenging years. Ms Woods, as you know, is leaving BST this summer, and we will always be grateful to her for her outstanding leadership in this area of the School's provision. I know students, parents and staff alike are incredibly thankful for her efforts. 

 

International Symposium 

Best wishes to all the students participating in this weekend's international symposium involving BST, Showa Women's University (SWU) and Temple University Japan (TUJ). This is the second year for the symposium to occur, indicating the ever-closer ties between BST and the universities. Also, an indication of the capability of BST students as tomorrow they will be debating undergraduates on the themes of sustainability and environmentalism.

 

Parent Teacher Association Chairperson 

Finally, I wanted to express the School's sincere thanks to Gabriela Mandrea, who steps down as Chair of the PTA at the end of this term. Gabriela has been outstanding in her role throughout the last three years. A passionate advocate for the school community, Gabriela has devoted her time to ensuring the PTA's success and supporting opportunities for the entire BST community. Gabriela's calm and pragmatic approach has been invaluable during the tough days of the pandemic when large social gatherings were impossible. As a result, she has ensured that the PTA has "weathered the storm" and is more robust than ever. Gabriela will remain part of The Committee and support the new Chairperson, Naomi Iwase. 

 

Best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal

 

Principal's Message - Fri 17th June 2022
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

Secondary Outdoor and Residential Week 

The long-awaited return of the outdoor week has been a great success. It's been fantastic to see many tired young people (and a few oldies to boot) returning from various adventures as part of the Secondary School's residential week. A huge thank you to all the trip leaders, accompanying staff and the week's coordinator, Dr Reilly, for a job very well done.

BST and The British Embassy 

I wanted to thank The British Embassy and Ambassador Longbottom for the invitation to this week's celebration to mark Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. The connection between The British Embassy and BST is long standing and robust. We are grateful for the Ambassador's continued support and the time invested by Deputy Head of Mission, Helen Smith, as a member of our Board of Trustees.

I know Year 6 "Junior Duke" participants can’t wait to meet the Ambassador during the last week of term when she visits to present them with their well-deserved certificates. We are also looking forward with great excitement to next year when the Ambassador will be a guest of honour at the opening of our new Primary School campus. 

New Primary School Building 

The clock is ticking towards completing BST's new Primary School campus in Term Two of the upcoming School year. Much work has occurred over the last three years to ensure the smooth execution of the project, with a March 2023 handover and an eventual opening in September. My colleagues Noriko Kosugi (Bursar) and Ben Loran (Director of Operations) are successfully leading the project on behalf of BST, with many more colleagues playing a crucial role behind the scenes.  

I know much excitement and anticipation are intensifying as we edge closer to the campus opening. Opening the new Primary campus in 2023 will be a seminal moment, and BST will be in an enviable position with a state-of-the-art building at the heart of the city. The impact of the new facility will be of enormous benefit to the entire school as it will be a community resource and unlock opportunities for the Secondary School. 

This week the project team had the chance to review the construction, and we are delighted to report that all is progressing smoothly, with the timeline remaining entirely on track, as illustrated by the photos below. 

School Advisory Committee (SAC)

The final SAC meeting of the year took place earlier this week. A lively discussion ensued on various topics, including public examinations, university guidance, student support services and the uniform review. Committee members have been sterling in their efforts this year, and I am sincerely grateful to them for their input, let alone the time invested in attending meetings. 

The meeting was the last for Alison Woods, Nino Popa and William Carson as they departed from their roles, having fulfilled their responsibilities with distinction over the previous two years. Minutes of the meeting can be accessed here.

Primary and Secondary Awards 

Next week promises to be memorable with the Primary and Secondary Award Ceremonies taking place for the first time. Both occasions will be superb as parents, students, and staff gather to recognise and celebrate various achievements. Awards linked to the BST Learner Profile, the BST Way and multiple curriculum areas will be presented. I know all involved will enjoy the occasion and revel in being part of launching a new BST tradition.

In next week's edition of the Lion, we will publish the names of the children involved and various photos of the events. In the meantime, I'm sure you will want to join me in celebrating the success of Leo Kawai in Y6P for reaching Gold this week in the Primary School. 

If you have any questions about the topics in today's newsletter or want to meet with me, please get in touch. In the meantime, best wishes for the weekend. 

Paul Tough

Principal

 

Principal's Message - Fri 10th June 2022
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

Jubilee celebrations

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week's Jubilee celebrations. It was fantastic to see various events taking place across the School and within the broader BST community. In particular, thank you to the School's outstanding PTA Committee, Ms Lowly Norgate, Ms Hannah Pinkney and Mr Duncan Grey, for ensuring the School celebrated in such a joyful, exuberant, and fitting way.

Swim team success

I also wanted to express gratitude this week to BST swim coaches Mr Nicholas Watson, Ms Jane Griffiths and Mr Hideo Nohara, and the BST swim team for their hard work this term.

On Wednesday, the team under the indefatigable leadership of Coach Watson competed in the last swimming competition of the year against TAC and St Mary's, and I am reliably assured that they are two of the toughest teams in Tokyo to face. The students represented the School with distinction and secured three gold, five silver and three bronze medals. At the same time, two new School records in the boys' 100 IM were set by Leo Colombo and Kei Shun Yamamoto Wong. 

Congratulations to all the students and staff who have contributed to a fantastic season. Hours of early morning and after school practice have certainly paid dividends.

Residential programme 

A final word of gratitude this week for all the Primary staff who have contributed to this term's residential programme, including this week's Year 6 Camp under the leadership of Ms Tamsin Elsey. Seeing the return of the Primary School's residential programme has been brilliant, and I know the children will have enjoyed the experience immensely. 

Next week sees the eagerly anticipated return of the Secondary School residential week, which promises to be equally enjoyable and rewarding for all concerned. Thank you to all the staff involved and Dr Steven Reilly for his superb organisation and leadership.

Trustees Parent Survey 

This week the last round of Board of Trustees committee meetings before the end of the academic year commenced. During the Education Committee meeting, I had the opportunity to discuss some of the major themes from this year's Trustees Parent Survey. The Survey outcomes (accessible hereprovided valuable feedback and many action points. The Trustees and I will be hosting an in-person event early next term where the Survey results will feature.

Senior School (Year 12 and Year 13) curriculum review and parent sessions 

At the Education Committee meeting, I also had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming sessions (dates accessible here) that Mrs McCallum and I will lead for parents next term to evaluate the School's current A-Level programme. 

We will be conducting five sessions in total during Term One, allowing a detailed analysis of the School's provision as it relates to our guiding statements and preparing students for university. As part of this evaluation, we will also be discussing alternative programmes and curricula. I will also convene a small focus group of parents next term to work simultaneously with Mrs McCallum on the evaluation. 

The evaluation of our Senior School curriculum is a priority area in the whole School Strategic Plan and dovetails with curriculum developments in Years 7-9 and the Primary School. More information regarding the sessions will be available at the start of the new academic year. I look forward to seeing as many parents as possible in attendance, particularly those with children in Primary, Year 7 and Year 8. A recording of last week's Strategic Plan webinar is accessible here

COVID protocols

The Leadership Team met last week to review the School's COVID protocols within the context of the city-wide situation and ongoing information from the authorities. My colleague Mr David James will brief the community on the approach shortly, and I am confident that the "beginning of the end" of several measures is in sight.

Without tempting fate, we are hopeful that the current trajectory will continue and that the School will be able to increasingly remove (in a staged and safe manner) different layers of COVID measures next term. We will continue to be guided by medical advice, prevailing conditions and government recommendations. 

School Advisory Meeting (SAC) 

The final SAC meeting of this School year takes place next week. At the meeting, we will be discussing student support services, university destinations and offers, school uniform changes and COVID protocols. Minutes of the meeting will be published in next week's edition of the Lion, while a record of the last meeting can be accessed here

If you have any questions about the topics in today's newsletter or want to meet with me, please get in touch. In the meantime, best wishes for the weekend. 

 

Paul Tough

Principal 

 

Principal's Message - Fri 3rd June 2022
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST,

I hope you enjoyed the long half term weekend and that your energy levels are high as we embark upon the last weeks of this School year. The series of events planned for the coming weeks is stunning, characterised over the last three days by Jubilee celebrations, Pride Month activities, and planning for the upcoming Awards Ceremonies.

In anticipation of the anticipated crescendo to an eventful School year, I took some time over the weekend to explore the city, read, watch sports, and listen to some podcasts. The latest editions of two of my favourite podcasts featured strongly - "The Rest is History" and "The Rest is Politics".

I also had the opportunity to finish a series of historical novels by J.G. Farrell and started reading a book on 1970’s Britain by Dominic Sandbrook called "Seasons in the Sun". Sandbrook also writes a great volume of books for children called  ”Adventures in Time", which I can highly recommend. 

The seventies were the decade of my birth, and in reading Sandbrook's book this weekend, I was reminded of many events and people from my formative years. One of the great joys of reading fiction and non-fiction is its ability to prompt the brain and evoke memories. I must admit to nostalgic feelings for the nineteen seventies despite the terrible clothes my mother made me wear - think bellbottom trousers, long pointed shirt collars and tank tops!

One of my most vivid memories of the decade is a street party on a public holiday in 1977. To this day, I can remember mounds of jelly, sandwiches and sausage rolls on trestle tables, plus bunting that festooned a long line of terraced houses where my grandparents lived in the Rhondda, a coal mining valley in South Wales.

Many people will share similar memories of that day as the party was replicated in thousands of streets across the country to mark the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Celebrating 25 years of service is an achievement, but I'm sure none of us who remember that day, let alone the Queen herself, would have foreseen a record-setting 70-year tenure as Head of State.

It is incredible to consider the broad sweep of history that has taken place since the Queen's coronation in 1953, let alone the celebrations in 1977. The Queen has been a witness to and an active participant in the past 70 years of world history. For many in Britain and worldwide, providing a feeling of stability and reassurance in otherwise tumultuous times.

Monarchist or republican, British or Non-British in citizenship, it is hard not to be impressed with the duration of the Queen's reign (14 prime ministers, including Winston Churchill) and her loyalty and dedication to her role. Indeed, it isn't hyperbole to state that today is a significant moment in the national history of Britain. A moment of significance for the entire nation, British expatriates worldwide and The British School in Tokyo community.

As such, it's been wonderful to see a series of events take place across the School in celebration of qualities such as duty, loyalty, dedication, and resilience as personified by a 96-year-old mother, grandmother and great grandmother. On this historic day, I am pleased that we have joined with others across the world to celebrate a remarkable life and congratulate Her Majesty the Queen on an outstanding achievement.

 

Paul Tough

Principal 

 

Principal's Message - Fri 27th May 2022
Paul Tough

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Friends of BST, 

School life

At this week's Online Parent Forum, I used the often-used phrase "a return to normalcy" to describe the School this term. The phrase is attributed to former US President Warren Harding and was used during his election campaign in 1920. The current US President's visit to Japan this week was coincidental, but the words certainly reflect daily life at BST over the last month or so.

The next half term promises to highlight the accuracy of the reference even further as the hurly-burly of school life moves into an even higher gear. Next week's Jubilee celebrations, secondary's residential week, Year 6’s graduation ceremony and the awards ceremonies in Primary and Secondary schools are some of the significant upcoming events.

Parent Forums and curriculum development 

Thank you to everyone who attended this week's Online Parent Forum. Next week, I will repeat the session and publish a recording afterwards to the entire community. As some of you will know, I sometimes let my passion for the School get the better of me and can, unless reminded, speak for a little longer than intended. Hopefully, though, you will get a sense of the School's major priorities this year and what has been achieved. Also, a foretaste of the important parent sessions Mrs McCallum and I will lead next term evaluating our Senior School (Year 12 and Year 13) A-Level curriculum.

Senior School experience 

The Senior School experience will feature prominently at the start of the next school year in many ways. Running parallel with the curriculum discussion will be the opening of our new Senior School Study Centre. I am delighted that we can create a purpose-designed space for Year 12 and Year 13 next year. Renovation work on the area will begin shortly, and we anticipate that the Senior School Study Centre will be ready to open for students in September. At this point, of course, we will also welcome Kelly Diaz as BST's new Assistant Head in charge of our Senior School. Renderings illustrating the new space can be accessed here.

Departing teachers 

In a previous edition of The Lion, I made you aware of the new teachers joining BST in the summer. Sadly, this does mean that several teachers are leaving BST at the end of this term. The School is very fortunate to have a team of exceptional teaching assistants and teachers who passionately care for their students. On behalf of the entire BST community, I would like to thank each departing teacher for their dedication, commitment and service to the School. A particular thank you to Alison Woods and Maja Trachonitis who have made stellar contributions to the Secondary School Leadership Team during their time at BST. Both are consummate professionals and are highly respected by students, staff and parents alike. All the departing teachers will be missed, but we wish them the best after leaving Japan and BST. 

 

School Advisory Committee (SAC)

Thank you to the parents and staff members of the SAC. This week's meeting was highly informative, although we had little time to discuss each area in detail as the presentations were so detailed. Minutes of the meeting can be accessed here, and topics for the agenda of the last meeting of the year can be submitted here.

Principal's Award 

Last but certainly not least, I wanted to acknowledge the success of Harry Loran (Year 7) and Karim Sasagawa-Okba (Year 12). Both were worthy recipients of the Principal's Award this week.

In the words of Ms Casey, who nominated Harry, "Harry is an amazing young man with an incredible entrepreneurial spirit. He has shown great determination and commitment to developing BST Share (see here). He also ran a snack stand for charity at the Nagasawa Girls’ Rugby Festival and donated all his proceeds. In lessons, his effort is endless, and his passion for learning is tangible. He is consistently a wonderful example to those around him and deserves this award."

Coach Watson nominated Karim for the Award, indicating that he is a "stellar student when using every metric". Specifically, Karim has shown great pride in representing the School and a willingness to challenge himself beyond what is expected. A perfect example of Karim's qualities will be displayed at the most significant swimming gala of the season, soon to occur at the Yokosuka Navy, where Karim has volunteered to swim the 400-meter free, 200 individual medley, and 100-meter butterfly. I am reliably informed that this is incredibly difficult for any swimmer to do within a single gala and almost unheard of. 

Congratulations to Karim and Harry for displaying the attributes of the BST Learner Profile, particularly those of being principled, determined, and confident. 

If you have any questions about the topics in today's newsletter or would like to meet with me, please get in touch. In the meantime, best wishes for the long weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal