Principal's Message

Principal's Message - Fri 21st Jan 2021
Paul Tough

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

Health and Safety

The postponement of the school's winter residential and ski programme was disappointing but sadly unavoidable given the current phase of the pandemic and the response of national and prefectural authorities. We have rescheduled much of the programme for later in the term, and hopefully, the situation will improve as the weeks progress.

With the declaration of a quasi-State of Emergency in Tokyo today, Showa Women's University will likely restrict access to the campus, meaning that inter-school sports will cease. The school's activities programme will continue as normal although we will monitor the broader situation closely.

The school's health and safety measures have been redoubled this week. My colleague David James (Deputy Principal) will communicate a revision of our Health and Safety protocols in line with updates from the Ward authorities and Metropolitan Government on Monday.

Over the coming weeks, as the sixth wave of the pandemic unfolds, we intend to ensure by every means possible that learning continues in person rather than in hybrid mode. However, as I have said many times since March 2020, we must cooperate as an entire community for disruption to be kept at a minimum. Our actions matter and can impact others; therefore, our responsibility as individuals is to think carefully about our behaviour and ensure we abide by the government's requests.

Annual Fund Update

A massive thank you to everyone who has contributed thus far to the school's inaugural Annual Fund. You will remember the Annual Fund was launched in October and I am delighted to make you aware that after only two months 4.5 million yen has been raised.

As you know, the Annual Fund has been established to enhance learning experiences and provide additional opportunities for our students that could not otherwise be funded.

Before the winter holiday, BST staff proposed ten potential projects to the Allocation Committee for support from the Annual Fund. As a result, three projects have been chosen for support, with a series of student inspired projects under consideration for further support later this half term. 

The first project the Annual Fund Committee has agreed to support is a Literary Festival at BST in February of this school year. As part of the festival, a series of workshops and masterclasses are being arranged for students with leading journalists, authors, and poets in Japan and further afield. Additionally, Mariko Nagai, the renowned writer and associate Professor of Creative Writing and Japanese Literature at Temple University Japan, will be our Author in Residence, working with Primary and Secondary children.

The second project has partly been inspired by the introduction of skateboarding in last summer's Tokyo Olympic Games and involves establishing a skateboarding programme at BST for the first time.

Skateboarding as a sport provides the opportunity for both exercise and personal growth. It embodies many of the qualities aspired to in the BST Learner (creativity, confidence, determination) and, with a growing number of skaters amongst the student body, this provision would aim to develop a safe, supportive, progressive environment in which students can learn and enjoy each other's company. The programme supported by the Annual Fund seeks to support existing skateboarders within our community by providing facilities and offering an accessible entry point for those looking to start skateboarding in Primary and Secondary schools.

In addition, the second strand of the project involves students building, maintaining, and staffing the provision, providing valuable hands-on design technology opportunities for students. It is envisaged that this will be part of both the extra-curricular and electives programme of the school and will take place at the Nagasawa sports ground.

The third project involves a collaboration between BST and the renowned Japanese artist, Satoru Aoyama. Aoyama-san has agreed to partner with the school as BST's first-ever Artist in Residence. We are excited at the potential of this project, especially as we hope it will lead to an exhibition of our students’ work and an installation piece reflecting our school community's British, International, and Japanese identity.

All three of these projects promise to be hugely inspiring for our students and, hopefully, represent the first of many stellar opportunities for students of all ages that accentuate the "BST Difference".

We welcome your support, and whether large or small, your donation will make a real difference and have a direct and immediate impact on the education we can provide. Although this year's Annual Fund will continue to receive gifts through the school year, we encourage those wishing to participate to consider doing so before the end of Term 2. More information on contributing to the Annual Fund can be accessed here.  

School Advisory Committee (SAC)

This week's SAC meeting was a lively and enjoyable affair. My leadership team colleagues, Noriko Kosugi (BST Bursar) and David James (Deputy Principal) presented superbly to the Committee on two important topics. The agenda included a discussion about the implications of the pandemic on the school's operation, the school's approach to child safeguarding and protection, plus an item on budgeting and finance at BST. Minutes of the meeting can be read here, and suggestions for agenda items at future meetings can be submitted to the Committee using the following email address schooladvisory@bst.ac.jp.

 

If you have any questions relating to today's newsletter or would like to meet with me in person, please don't hesitate to get in contact.

Best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal 

 

Principal's Message - Fri 14th Jan 2021
Paul Tough

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

Start of term 

It has been a successful first week of the new term. Purposeful learning and reconnecting with friends and colleagues have characterised the experience across both campuses. Monday's professional development day for staff was successful, with various sessions, including child protection, first aid and development planning. The rest of the week saw the empty corridors and classrooms of the holiday filled with students' smiles, laughter and chatter. As I've said before, school buildings are sad and lonely places in the holidays, and it's lovely to see this transform at the start of each term.

Ongoing implications of the pandemic

The new term promises to be excellent, with many exciting activities and learning planned across the school. We are aware of the increasing spread of Omicron across Japan and its potential implications for the school community. We will evaluate the situation over the weekend before deciding about the ski trips organised this month. I will communicate the decision to the community on Monday.

Whole school priorities in terms one and two 

This term and next development work across the school will continue at pace. Priority areas include the following areas:

·  curriculum evolution in both primary and secondary;

·  a new approach to extracurricular activities to be launched later this year;

·  preparatory work for an updated and refreshed school webpage;

·  more parent forums and opportunities for community engagement;

·  continued work on the new Primary School Campus;

·  increased collaboration on students’ projects with our partner institutions;

·  additional facilities for Secondary Students; and 

·  enhanced ways of recognising students' achievements by introducing award ceremonies in Primary and Secondary.

The school's state is robust and will continue from strength to strength this term and next. My confidence is grounded in the knowledge that BST's success is due to the contributions of many good people who care deeply about the school and our students. 

We may be pursuing a bold and aspirational agenda, but the most critical success criteria remain to ensure that all students are known, valued and treated as individuals. In doing so, we will seek to fulfil the school's stated mission of "nurturing each student's unique potential and strive to help them create a strong sense of self, built around purpose and passion".

Principal's Award

Displaying pride in our school community is something I encourage all of us to l do at every opportunity as there is much to celebrate and appreciate. BST is an exceptional community with outstanding young people and above all, recognising the achievements and successes of our students is crucial hence the importance of the Principal's Award. 

To start the new term, I am delighted that following Dr McDarby’s (Head of Secondary Mathematics) nomination, this month’s worthy recipient is Year 9 student Yuichiro Furuse. Yuichiro achieved a Gold certificate in the FOBISIA competition in October (one of just a small number of students across the whole competition, in which thousands of students participated). Furthermore, he surpassed even this achievement with his performance in the November UKMT Senior Maths Challenge. This competition is aimed at A-level students, so for a Year 9 student to achieve a Gold certificate is exceptional, but for Yuichiro to achieve a Gold and reach the qualifying standard for the British Maths Olympiad is remarkable. Congratulations, Yuchiro! 

School Advisory Committee 

On Monday, the School Advisory Committee meets for the first time this term. The meeting's agenda includes an update of COVID implications for the school, teacher recruitment, child protection and welfare and school finances and budgeting. Minutes of the meeting will continue to be published in the Lion, and suggestions for subsequent agendas can be submitted to the committee at the following address.  schooladvisory@bst.ac.jp

As ever, if you have any questions about topics in today's newsletter or would like to meet with me in person, please do get in touch.

Best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal

 

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

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

Much of what I have witnessed this term has reinforced my view that it is a great privilege to be BST Principal and serve our fantastic school community.

A week of highlights

This week alone, so many moments have showcased why BST is an exceptional place. Amongst many highlights, inspirational educators dedicated to their profession, committed parents flying the BST flag, friends of the school rallying to the cause, and, of course, outstanding young people with boundless energy, a joy for life and a passion for learning.

The return of the Christmas Concert

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the return of the School's Christmas concert was a particular cause for celebration. It prompted some emotion and much admiration for our students and staff's superb talent and dedication. Thank you to everyone involved, particularly Mr Beston and the Music team. 

With the term nearing an end, it struck me yet again that the young people I see daily with their varied talents will, as adults, be leading professionals or activists in their chosen fields, positively contributing to society and making a difference. This gives me a great sense of hope and encouragement that humanity and our planet's future is in safe and responsible hands.

The Principal's Award

One such student is Isabel Lai in Year 10. This week, Isabel was a worthy recipient of the Principal's Award as she is seen by staff as an outstanding young woman who is a natural role model for her peers and younger students. In particular, Isabel's leadership skills, academic achievements and involvement in sports teams represent a significant contribution to the life of the school. At the same time, Isabel is seen as a kind, mature and reliable student who is always keen to help and support others. Congratulations from all of us to Isabel on her achievement.

A time for reflection

This has been a term that we will remember, both for excellent reasons and hopefully ever diminishing challenges. It has been brilliant to see school life return to pre-pandemic activity levels with energy, fun and purposeful learning in abundance. 

The upcoming break offers us a time for reflection and perspective upon many things. I hope this holiday reminds us that responsibility to each other, service to others, compassion and generosity of spirit will always trump ego, bombast and self-aggrandisement. I also trust that the power of positive intent will continue to guide our words, thoughts and deeds into the new year. 

A sense of gratitude and pride

Thank you to everyone who has contributed in various ways to the school's successes this term. Thank you to you all for your optimism, commitment and ongoing support of all things BST. Through your various efforts, the term ends with our community being more robust than ever, and I trust the pride we all have in BST has been redoubled.  

I wish everyone a very happy festive season and winter holiday. Regardless of your culture, religion or customs, I hope you will have an excellent time during the next few weeks and, if you can do so, whether in person or virtually, enjoy precious moments with your family and friends. 

I look forward to welcoming staff back for professional development on Monday 10th January 2022 and students back for the start of Term 2 on Tuesday 11th January

In anticipation of a peaceful and joyous new year. 

Paul Tough

Principal 

 

Principal's Message - Fri 10th Dec 2021
Paul Tough

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

The BST community to the fore

I, as many of you may know, am a passionate advocate for the collective and our responsibility to each other. The role community spirit plays in an international school such as ours is undeniable and enduring. 

The pandemic has accentuated the strengths of the BST community as we have needed to unite to overcome its many challenges. Indeed our school community has provided a support system and a source of comfort for us all. 

Before the pandemic, we may have taken the presence of community spirit for granted, as the idea of not gathering regularly was so unthinkable. Many of the highlights of a school involve in-person concerts, performances, ceremonies and shows and being denied the chance to celebrate our students' talents through live events has been difficult for us all to accept.

Equally, the pandemic's limits on social gatherings have been tough to tolerate. Who would have imagined in 2019 that so many marquee events in the BST social calendar, including the Spring Fair and Mr Steven’s legendary coffee mornings, would be mothballed for two years?  As we know, social gatherings enrich our lives and sustain our wellbeing, even for semi introverts like me! That said, heralded by the onset of Christmas, this term we have embarked upon a return to normalcy.

Christmas concerts and farewell to Mrs Pressdee-Rudd

It isn’t surprising that this week’s Primary Christmas Concert in The Green Hall at the Showa campus was such a success. It was brilliant to hear the children perform and for parents to attend. Congratulations to all the students who participated and the Music Department and staff for their support. We are sad to see Mrs Pressdee-Rudd leave BST next week as she returns to the UK with her family, but she does so with all our very best wishes as her impact upon Primary music has been outstanding. In addition to the return of various other community Christmas events, this week's concert has been long-awaited and much appreciated.

Annual Fund celebratory event hosted by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

Last night’s celebratory evening supporting the Annual Fund was also a triumph. The PTA Committee are fantastic, and we are so fortunate to have such a dedicated group supporting the school’s development and committed to the wellbeing of our community. It was also wonderful to see so many parents in attendance, not only in support of the inaugural Annual Fund but also enjoying each other’s company. The evening’s success was due to the efforts of many people, but the contribution of BST’s Chamber Orchestra and the cast of the drama production Breakthrough was superb. Congratulations and thank you to all the students and supporting staff.

A huge thank you to everyone who attended last night's event. It was great to talk through the Fund's essential features and place its launch within the context of BST's journey thus far. As you know, the Annual Fund has been established to enhance learning experiences and provide additional opportunities for our students that could not otherwise be funded. At last night’s event, I had a chance to highlight several exciting projects the Fund will support.

The first project involves a collaboration between BST and the renowned Japanese artist, Satoru Aoyama. Aoyama-san has agreed to partner with the school as BST’s first-ever Artist in Residence in Term 2 of this school year. We are excited at the potential of this project, especially as we hope it will lead to an exhibition of our students work and an installation piece reflecting our school community’s British, international and Japanese identity. More information on Aoyama-san can be accessed here.

The second project the Annual Fund Committee has eagerly agreed to support is a Literary Festival at BST in February of this school year. As part of the festival, a series of workshops and masterclasses are being arranged for students with leading journalists, authors and poets in Japan and further afield. Additionally, Mariko Nagai, the renowned writer and associate Professor of Creative Writing and Japanese Literature at Temple University Japan, will be our Author in Residence working with primary and secondary children. More information on Professor Nagai can be accessed here

Both these projects promise to be hugely inspiring for our students and, hopefully with support to the Fund, the first of many stellar opportunities for students of all ages that accentuate the “BST Difference". If you were unable to join the event, I encourage you to access more information on the Annual Fund and how to donate here. We welcome your support, and whether large or small, your donation will make a real difference and have a direct and immediate impact on the education we can provide.

Trustees and SAC Meetings 

Finally, this week the SAC and the Board of Trustees met at our Showa campus for their final meeting of this calendar year. Interesting discussions took place on a range of topics at both meetings.  Minutes of the SAC meeting can be accessed here, while minutes of the Board meeting will be published in due course. 

There has been much more to celebrate and report this week, but I will leave the other highlights to Mrs Loran and Mrs McCallum. As always, if you have any questions about the topics in today's newsletter please or would like to meet with me, please let me know. 

Best wishes for the weekend

Paul Tough

Principal 

 

Principal's Message - Fri 3rd Dec 2021
Paul Tough

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

A Welcomed Return of Christmas Cheer

This week, it has been a joy to see the cavalcade of winter shows and concerts start with Year 6 students’ fantastic performance.  The following two weeks promise to be a fitting crescendo to a marvellous term with lots of learning to complete and plenty of opportunities to showcase our students' various talents. Thank you in advance to all the students, staff, and parents for your continued commitment to ensuring the last two weeks are purposeful and memorable.

Start of Term Two in January

I have been asked this week to clarify the school's intentions at the start of Term Two in January. In short, nothing has changed for us as a school, and we intend to run our professional development day for staff on Monday 10th January as planned and open the school fully for in-person lessons on Tuesday 11th January 2022.

Although this week's reintroduction of stricter border controls by the Japanese authorities is a concern for those intending to travel over the winter holiday, we will not be disrupting the start of the year to accommodate an increased period of quarantine for returnees. We will, of course, be keeping a close eye on the situation over the holidays and respond if needed. We would appreciate it if each family could update the school on their intended travel plans over the Christmas break HERE.

Plans for our winter residential and ski season are in advanced mode. I know our upper Primary and Secondary students are excited at the prospect and are looking forward to the return of the school's ski programme. The school's planning is thorough, with health and safety the foremost consideration. Again, we will, of course, keep a close eye on the situation but will only postpone or cancel if another State of Emergency is imposed and COVID numbers increase exponentially. My colleagues leading the trips will be in regular contact with details and updates as the weeks progress.

Principal's Award

I have written many times that the pride I have for BST students is beyond question. We are undoubtedly fortunate as educators to be part of a school where students are enthusiastic and eager to learn.

This week I had the pleasure of congratulating three outstanding students in our Secondary school. All three were nominated by their teachers as worthy recipients of The Principal's Award.  As you will be aware from last week's newsletter, Year 9 student Aylie Guyodo has a passion for music and dance, and she is also humble, hardworking, talented and a role model to us all. 

Year 7 student Neve Knowles is a mature and confident young man involved in many extracurricular activities and excelling in various subjects. He works exceptionally hard and is seen as kind, principled and caring by his teachers and peers. Neve's sponsor for the award, Mrs Sadou, commented this week that "Neve is always very inquisitive and ambitious in his work, always going beyond expectations."

While the third worthy recipient this week was Year 9 student Aiko Goff who was nominated for her passion for Science. Since the beginning of Secondary school, Aiko has made an outstanding contribution to the Science Department. This is now her third year as a Science Ambassador, and her enthusiasm and dedication to the role are unparalleled. She is always the first with ideas for new competitions, displays and activities. This week, Aiko's Science teacher Ms Bailey commented that "Aiko is a great motivator and role model for younger students in Science and embodies all the qualities we want to see in a BST student. "

Congratulations to all three students on their brilliant contributions to the life of the school. I look forward to celebrating the achievements and efforts of more students as the year progresses. 

Review of the School Uniform

We have started to review the school uniform design in both Secondary and Primary to make adjustments as necessary. My colleague David James (Deputy Principal) coordinates the review, which involves students, staff and parents.  We would welcome feedback on the current uniform before establishing a working party including parents, students and staff in Term Two to engage with the project. I am conscious of the dangers posed by "survey fatigue", but your feedback is greatly appreciated HERE.

Board of Trustees and School Advisory Committee

Next week the Board of Trustees gathers for the last full Board meeting of the term, while the School Advisory Committee will also convene at the Showa Campus for the final time in 2021. Minutes of both sessions will be available in due course.

Federation of Overseas British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA) Heads' Annual Meeting 

Last week I had the pleasure of reconnecting with the Heads of the other sixty  FOBISIA schools in a virtual meeting. We reviewed this year's student and staff events and began planning for the 2021-2022 schedule. Pleasingly BST's involvement compares favourably with many of the larger schools and more established organisation members. Brilliant to hear the Heads of other school's comment so positively on BST's commitment to FOBISIA as both student and staff opportunities are numerous. 

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and Annual Fund 

A huge thank you to the PTA Committee for all their hard work in advance of next week's social event supporting the Annual Fund. We are fortunate as a school community to have such a dedicated and selfless group working in support of the school. Thank you to Gabriela Mandrea (Chair of the PTA) and all the organising team for the weeks of planning and preparation for what promises to be a lovely occasion. 

 

If you have any questions about items in today's newsletter or arrange a meeting with me, please get in touch.

Best wishes for the weekend.

Paul Tough

Principal