Japanese International School, Hong Kong: Providing Holistic Education with Effective Learning Environment
Japanese International School
Japanese International School

An infant’s first opportunity to become socialized is at school. By that time, the infant’s only interpersonal contact is with his or her parents and other family members. Children are not only introduced to new concepts at school, but also to the same extended group of people. This leads to gregarious characteristics including empathy, companionship, participation, and encouragement, all of which are important in adulthood.

Education is responsible for society’s overall economic and social improvement, as well as political advancement. The standard of education would be the lynchpin of society’s progress. To contribute into the progress of society, Japanese International School (JIS) was established with the purpose of providing quality education to its students.

The Japanese International School strives to make sure that its students are knowledgeable, passionate, and kind. Learning is a creative process and should involve all areas of curriculum. Through differentiation, the students are stretched to achieve and broaden their horizons of experience and emotion. Planning for the curriculum is a team process allowing all staff to be involved in development and review of the priorities.

Brief About the School

Japanese International School was established in 1997 as a sister campus to two other Japanese administered schools in Hong Kong. The school has a Japanese section, utilizing a Japanese state national curriculum and an international section which utilizes the IB PYP curriculum. The international section is a small community-based school, operating in a large well-equipped campus on the edge of one of Hong Kong’s most interesting country parks.

The community of the school is very supportive and interested in the school. Its students come from very diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds to achieve a truly international environment for the school. Staff is recruited within Hong Kong and from other international schools in Asia – many have IB teaching experience and understandings of quality inquiry-based learning. The school is part of a small network of schools within Hong Kong that was established to support the needs of the international Japanese community in Hong Kong.

The school development planning is a shared process managed by the leadership team but is developed through consultation on all levels. The PYP coordinator meets regularly with all staff members for planning and has a keen overview of the school curriculum which can be further developed through professional development opportunities.

The Three Core Values: Kindness, Commitment, and Respect

The school has a strong personal identity which allows it to be clear and decisive in presenting itself to the HK community. It is a school where the three core values ‘Kindness, Commitment, and Respect’ are clearly defined and regularly referred to the students and the community.

These values were decided upon the research with students, staff, and community as the best way to define what the school strives to be in actions, words, and thoughts. The mission and vision for the school are to create informed, creative, and positive people who care about their environment and are keen to succeed in all areas of life.

The school has a strong environmental and outdoor education program, which links the curriculum and students to many aspects of the learning opportunities beyond the classroom walls. In planning, the staff use the UN Global Goals as direct link to learning opportunities and possibilities.

Dynamic Leadership

Mr Walton, the Principal of the school has been delighted to create strong ethos for the school, alongside recruiting a team of likeminded staff, who share an appreciation of creative learning, passion for the environment and planet, and a love of ensuring students access and opportunity for the best educational options available.

The ECA Program

The ECA program at JIS is managed through an affiliated external company that works within its building, creating an ideal option for development, mutual trust, and support. The students are offered a very wide range of activities, some of which they can do with students from the Japanese Section of the school and some of which they can do within the school’s own community.

The school has some excellent sporting facilities which supports the range of activity on offer and music, dance, drama spaces for other activities. The school program has a wide variety of options which are complemented by its ECAs, which students can apply to join. It is popular but not compulsory.

Outside the Classroom

Environmental and civic education forms a huge part of the school and its ethos. The curriculum is planned to carefully respect and develop a passion for the environment and the planet. There is a strong emphasis on recycling with easy access recycling centers in the school for all the school community to use. The outdoor education program allows students to regularly experience local forests, beaches, and rural environments, as well as outdoors in the school’s large campus.

In the past, the school has managed an artist in residence program linked to environmental themes and the school community has done extensive fundraising to rebuild and help maintain a school in rural Shanxi province in China. The student council regularly brings new ideas and initiatives to the school community based on news or international appeals. JIS students are very interested and passionate about their world!

Appreciation of Excellence

In 2018, the school was awarded the accolade as one of the top ten schools in Hong Kong and this year in 2021-22, in the inaugural Hong Kong Education Awards run by a local media organization, the school was voted as ‘Primary School of the Year’. The school has been very positively reviewed by many local journalists and was described as the ‘holy grail of HK international schools’ in 2016.

Facing the Pandemic

JIS was able to click into gear quite quickly when COVID-19 led to school closures and online learning. Access to hardware was supported and managed through parents and the school to allow all students to safely access an online curriculum and internet-based learning. Alongside the daily activities online, the school arranged for library books drop off and collection of packs and goodies from the school was given to the community.

The sunflower growing competition proved very popular – all students were given seeds, pots, and compost to get started. The school ‘happy bus’ was manned by the Principal and Deputy Principal as they drove to different areas of the school community to meet with students and their families. (HK was not in full lockdown during COVID-19. The schools were closed for over one year but safe distancing in the community allowed staff to be out of school and in the community)

Scaling the Future

The school has a positive future within the Hong Kong community. The parents and students who come to the school are well informed of its directions and planning and subscribe to this. The location of the school allows very varied access from many areas of Hong Kong. There is no natural core to the school community, so it is varied and dynamic, attracting a wide variety of interest from many areas.

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