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British Education in Japan - A Year in Review



Symposium hosted by the CEA Group for over 80 guests at the Tokyo Edition Studios

On Saturday 26 November, the CEA Group was pleased to host a special event "British Education in Japan - A Year in Review", featuring Heads of British schools in Tokyo run by the Group.

Indeed, it has been a big year for international education in Japan. Famed British schools such as Harrow, Rugby School and Malvern College are in various stages of entering the market, with more than 3,000 new student slots to be opening up over the next few years - the biggest expansion in international education in the country since 2018. Japanese media has dubbed this development the "British Invasion" - the most significant cultural phenomenon to move across the pond since The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in the 1960s.

The November 26th event took the story from the media headlines and into grass-roots territory, hearing views directly from professional British educators.

In opening remarks, Lori Henderson MBE noted that the current trend in Japan is not an isolated phenomenon on the world stage. "British education as an export is worth almost 10 billion pounds per year. Currently one quarter of all world leaders and heads of state have been educated in the British system (used to be one in ten, in 2014). And closer to home, the Japanese Imperial family choose the UK in which to live and study".

The Heads

During panel discussion led by Ziver Olmez, MD at the CEA Group, the Heads addressed a variety of topics and shared views on developments in their school communities over the past 12 months. On stage were:

  • Hannah Goddard, Head of School, Clarence International School

  • Claire Fletcher, Founding Head of School, Phoenix House International School

  • Tony Darby, Founding Principal, Rugby School Japan

The Arts

Hannah Goddard, who moved to Japan to join the CEA Group in July, has a wealth of experience in Asia - including an educational leadership role in South Korea. She spoke compelling on what makes British early years education so impactful and successful in preparing children for international primary school education.

Ms Goddard went on to discuss the benefits of heuristic play, currently being implemented at Clarence International school, and how this can build creativity, resilience and problem solving skills in young children. Finally, she spoke about the synergy between the arts and early years education and how this is central to the ethos at CIS.


Continuing the educational journey, Phoenix House is now positioned as the only British Prep School in Tokyo - focusing solely on the British curriculum. Founding Head of School Claire Fletcher explained the benefits of the prep school system and described some of the distinctive features of a British prep school. She covered what parents and pupils should expect to experience at PH, which having opened only in August 2021 now has a pupil roll of over 200.

Earlier this year, PH was named as the key feeder school for Rugby School Japan. Ms Fletcher described what being a ‘feeder school’ means, and how that impacts the PH pupil experience. One of the greatest differentiators of British primary education is its emphasis on oracy and learning how to use language effectively. Ms Fletcher described how Phoenix House cultivates this culture, summed up in the school's tagline "Confidence to Communicate, Language to Lead".


One of the most exciting developments in Japan’s education landscape is the establishment of Rugby School Japan - the first British boarding school of its kind in the Greater Tokyo area. RSJ Founding Principal Tony Darby touched upon the pupils and families whom could most benefit from the education on offer at RSJ, driven by the School's ethos, "Whole Person, Whole Point". Whilst people often imagine British secondary education to be quite traditional and very academics-focused, Mr Darby explained how a rich co-curricular and pastoral offering would manifest vividly alongside solid academic results at RSJ.

The Harry Potter effect is very real across Asia and globally, and Mr Darby has over 26 years of experience in the boarding school sector. He helped the audience understand why and how the British boarding school experience is so rich and valuable, in order to prepare children and young adults for the world beyond school. He also warmly addressed on the minds of many parents in the room - particularly those new to the concept of boarding - how does boarding affect parent-child relationships?

University Admissions

In his closing remarks, Mr Olmez posited that attending a world-class school like Rugby School Japan means that you’re more likely to attend British universities and also open doors globally. Mr Darby responded with details on how RSJ's multifaceted education would certainly better prepare students for top universities, and mentioned RSJ's close working relationship with Rugby UK's University Counselling team, and the development of links with Chiba University and Tokyo University.

More to come

In a lively Q&A, the panel covered topics ranging from how to deal with bullying at their schools, to the curriculum trips held at CEA's North Peak enrichment campus in Hokkaido.

The event wrapped up with an exciting British tradition - a raffle - with four lucky guests winning exclusive Rugby School gifts (brought all the way from Rugby UK by Mr Darby)!

This is expected to be an inaugural event in a series on British Education in Japan. Details of the next session will appear on the CEA and Rugby School Japan websites, in due course. Thank you to all who participated.


The Schools

Clarence International School

Clarence International School (CIS) is an arts-based international preschool delivering high-quality British education in the heart of Tokyo. Established in Omotesando in 2016, the school offers a unique opportunity for discerning families to access a culturally-rich curriculum. Working closely with the prestigious British royal founding charity — Children & The Arts (CATA) in the United Kingdom, founded by HRH the Prince of Wales in 2006 — the school aims to play its part in exposing children to the arts in Japan. The CIS curriculum is carefully crafted using the gold standard of the leading Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) pedagogy from the UK.

Phoenix House International School Phoenix House International School is an independent British prep school which opened its doors in August 2021 in the Sanbancho area of Hanzomon Tokyo. The school seeks to offer a creative and innovative independent British education within the rich cultural context of Japan. The Phoenix House curriculum and house system prepares pupils with fundamental skills and self confidence needed to successfully navigate life and contribute to society. Phoenix House has been named in 2022 the official feeder school for Rugby School Japan.


Rugby School Japan Rugby School Japan is set to be the first ever British boarding school in the greater Tokyo area. Located in Kashiwanoha Smart City in Chiba prefecture, RSJ will offer families a range of day and boarding options for pupils living in Japan, regionally and globally. RSJ will follow a British international school calendar. Alongside a rigorous academic curriculum will sit a vast and exciting range of co-curricular activities designed to enrich character development and teamwork, driven by Rugby UK's ethos "Whole Person, Whole Point".

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