The View From My Study – 19 April 2024

The last time I visited Japan, in 2002, the iPhone had only just become available and it was before the invention of Facebook (2004), Youtube (2005), Twitter (2006), Spotify (2006) and Instagram (2010). The world was very different then yet the Japan I have encountered over the last week or so has been reassuringly familiar, kind and welcoming.

Japan is a country which is proud of its heritage but which looks to the future too. In our 150th anniversary year, BG is doing exactly that and there are more parallels between Japan and the UK that enable individuals from both countries to thrive in each other’s company. Although our culture, cuisine and language are so different, there is something buried deep in our psyche that is so similar and I think it comes from both being island nations, both having a long history of royalty and its associated traditions, both, generally speaking, being polite and courteous upon first meeting, but both, underneath the reserve, having a great desire for fun and frivolity.

My trip to Tokyo, and indeed Hong Kong which is another vibrant place, has been fruitful for many reasons. Firstly, I met an OB and OR, Rob Galbraith, who now lives in Tokyo. He left BG in 1997 and when I met him his opening words were: “Bilton Grange was the best time of my life and I have such fond memories.” He couldn’t have been more effusive about his experience at BG and how much it set him up for life.

Secondly I met several current parents who live in this part of Asia and all have been very happy with their decision to place their trust in BG. One parent explained to me that their family’s anxiety last September quickly dissipated at drop-off when they saw the smiles on the faces of every adult at BG on that first day. The welcoming attitude of my colleagues reassured her that everything would be ok. What a compliment.

Finally, I have seen several schools while here including Jinseki International School near Hiroshima, Keio Yochisha Elementary School in Tokyo, Phoenix House prep school in Tokyo, and the school to which it feeds its pupils, Rugby School Japan. At the last of these, leaders from the different schools in the group had valuable discussions around learning and pedagogy, EAL and multilingualism, professional development, online learning, the use of AI, regulations around the technology children use (which varies in different parts of the world), curriculum developments, the sharing of ideas and the use of assessment in the different schools.

Making connections with people from other parts of the world is so important and, from all of these discussions and visits, it is apparent that, whatever the language, we’re all in education for the same reasons: to inspire young people, make them feel valued and get them to be the best that they can be.

I have missed seeing the Biltonians in action this week but I am looking forward to the FAB Colour Run on Sunday. I am also looking forward to a tremendous term ahead with so much to look forward to and achieve.

Just a reminder – there is no HM Breakfast tomorrow but the AGM and committee meeting for FAB does take place tomorrow, starting at 9.00am.


Gareth Jones, Head

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