Dear Aoba International School Community,
After leading Aoba Japan International School for nearly a decade, I am retiring from the Group Head of School. When reflecting on where we are now compared to the 2014-15 school year it is a privilege to present the Annual Report for the academic year 2022-2023. In this message, I briefly outline the contents of the report and then share my thoughts on the broader context describing how some key Aoba achievements inform and underpin a bright future for all Aoba schools.
This report highlights how we enact our 5 core values of Global Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Innovators, Effective Communicators, Wise Risktakers and Effective Problem Solvers in the school. It provides a snapshot of some achievements over the past year and is a testament to the quality of the school community and a record of the dedication, hard work, and collaboration of our students, staff, parents, and stakeholders.
Through a consistent focus on applying the Core Values AJIS’s long-term capacity to provide foundational support for the educational and financial growth of the Aoba International School Systems (AIES) group is a significant achievement. I am taking the liberty to outline some long-term achievements that show AJIS has played a foundational part in AIES’s development and growth as a respected leader in international education. There are five areas that indicate AIES is a leader in international education in Japan, Asia and worldwide.
The 12 campuses delivering the IB curriculum in Tokyo and over 1500 students, shows AIES is the largest international school group in Japan.
Our excellent graduate destinations show academic leadership.
Managing the Japanese National Government’s IB Consortium and connecting with Universities in Japan and worldwide shows partnership leadership.
Selected along with Dwight Schools (New York), Kings Interhigh (Britain) and SEK Education Group (Madrid) to pilot the delivery of the online IB Diploma Programme shows leadership in educational technology.
Responsive and flexible curriculum development from Kindergarten to Grade 12 shows leadership in curriculum innovation.
Arriving at this point was a collective and long effort of many people. I am sincerely grateful for every person’s effort no matter how small or large. Yet, this point in AIES’s history is just the beginning of what is possible for the future. With this in mind, it is my honour to welcome the new Group Head of School, Dr Jake Madden into the AIES community. I am confident he has the experience and expertise to add value and make a positive contribution to the group. He is respectful of the work and effort of others who have contributed to date. His proven focus on building on the strengths of schools will benefit the AIES group including the school where it all started, Aoba Japan International School.
Sincere thanks for your support and I look forward to watching from a distance
Dr Ken Sell
Dip.T., B.Ed., M.Ed., PhD.
Social Entrepreneurship Project – Year 2
The second year of The Social Entrepreneurship Project has wrapped up. This year, they began fundraising and holding co-active learning sessions with the two schools in Papua New Guinea they contacted at the beginning of the year. They have had multiple fundraising sessions at school events such as Spring Carnival and Winter Concert, and has also set up their crowdfunding site.
This project is student-led, therefore they develop skills of global leaders. The project itself is aimed to lead, and empower locals in less developed areas, students are exhibit leadership qualities with the goal of making the world a more equitable place. Their efforts are self driven, and display their ability to reach out to areas that are not just our local communities.
IB Higher Education Forum 2023 presentation
IBO Higher Education Forum is for information sessions about the connection between secondary education and higher education. It is held at the Temple University Japan Brunch in Sangen-Jaya. Mr. Muto represented Aoba in a session about “IB-oriented University Admission in Japan” using the data from the last 5 years of our IB consortium activities.
Remote Access at Bunkyo Campus
One of our goals at Bunkyo Campus this year was to broaden access to our curriculum through the provision of online and remote options. Firstly, coming off the lessons learned during the COVID period, Bunkyo Campus started the year with Remote Tuesdays where students could apply for permission to work from home. We had approximately twenty percent of students choosing this option, using Google Meet to participate in classes every Tuesday. We also had our first students joining our Online Global Leadership Diploma, including students joining our regular classes remotely everyday. This group included our first students from a partner school in Kumamoto where students attend the campus in Kumamoto but remotely attend classes at our Bunkyo Campus. These experiences helped us to prepare for the introduction of an online IB Diploma Program from August 2023. We are preparing the path to provide greater remote access for students to all of our innovative academic programs without physical location as a barrier. We already have the most flexible and responsive high school program available and this increase in access options further pushes these boundaries of what we consider possible in education.
Growth of the G10 Internship Program
During the current academic year, our Grade 10 students were presented with valuable internship opportunities in various companies, three of which were directly related to BBT. These internships provided students with hands-on experiences outside the school setting, allowing them to immerse themselves in a genuine business environment. As a result, they gained deeper insights into their personal aspirations and dreams.
Participating in these internships facilitated the development of important skills such as entrepreneurship and innovation. Students assumed leadership roles and familiarized themselves with the goals and objectives of running a business. Moreover, they acquired knowledge about the central role of sustainability in entrepreneurship and the significance of making a positive impact on the world, thus aligning with the principles of social entrepreneurship.
Early Years Job a-like
Our Kindergarten team hosted our first ever Early Years job a-like for schools in Japan. Early years educators from many schools came together to share practices and resources with one another.
MOU Partnership with TU & MU
Aoba has completed a Memorandum of Understanding with Melbourne University formalising a relationship with their education department to welcome researchers, observers, and teaching interns to Aoba over the coming years. Melbourne joins Tsuru University, International Christian University, Southern Cross University, the Danish University Consortium as valued partners we have had the honour to work with in furthering educational innovation and teacher training.
2022-23 personified a growing trend at Aoba-Japan International School. That with the support of their community and a growth mindset our staff are developing new and thoughtful ways to approach education and becoming experts in their spaces while doing so. Our staff have been asked by various organizations to share and teach others about these new frontiers they are leading the way in.
This years highlights include:
Aoba x Bunkyo 藍 indigo project
Was a collaborative project with Bunyko Girls High School, Fujisawa City, and G11 Visual Arts Students. Through this project, students learned about environmental issues in Sagami Bay, and created artwork to raise awareness for those issues.
They were able to gain effective communication skills, as they not only had to communicate verbally with Fujisawa City Hall Staff, Bunkyo Girls High School students, instructors, and the public during their presentations, but they also had to communicate through their art.
Sakura Medal Book Bowl Contest
Students from Grade 3-5 were thrilled to participate in the in-person Sakura Medal Book Bowl at St Mary’s. They read voraciously through a long period of time and enthusiastically represented our school while building connections with peers from the international school community.
Parent Involvement in Kinder and Grade 2 Units of Inquiry
Our parent community has been taking an active role in our students’ inquiries by participating as guest speakers. To help them dig deeper into their learning into different cultures and countries our Kindergarten parents prepared cultural experiences for the children. As part of their research, Grade 2 students invited different guest speakers to visit their classrooms or online to interview them about their roles and responsibilities.
Combined Afterschool Programs between Aoba and Bunkyo Girls High School
The Bunkyo Science Experiment After School Program brought together Aoba and Bunkyo Gakuen Girls High School students who successfully built a 12m high hot air balloon after two months of collaborative work. The test flight in the Gym and courtyard was a resounding success, generating excitement and a sense of unity among everyone involved.
Additionally, Aoba students had the privilege of attending a captivating science lecture by Dr. Francois, a renowned fossil study expert, hosted at Bunkyo Girls High School. This unique opportunity expanded the Aoba students’ scientific knowledge and fueled their academic inspiration.
Social Emotional Learning
The Social Emotional Learning program engaged all Bunkyo students, encouraging each advisory group to select a sensitive topic and craft informative presentations to share with their peers from different advisories.
During these sessions, students not only developed valuable risk-taking skills but also took charge of their own research, delving deep into their chosen topics and discovering how to create captivating lessons. Each group employed distinct methods of communication to engage the audience, with some opting for theatrical plays, thought-provoking debates, or open discussions.
Grade 5 Space Exploration (Geodome & Rocket Design)
The Grade 5 teachers and students are constantly trying to innovate and generate new ideas to engage with learning. Their space exploration unit has become more and more experimental which builds excitement and curiosity in the classroom. For example during the unit the students designed and launched rockets.
Japanese Kanji Learning Revolution
Our Japanese teachers have been researching and trying new ways of engaging students in Kanji learning. Informed by research they plan and developed an inquiry based Kanji learning process which enhanced students motivation and makes Kanji learning more meaningful for them.
In one of the Grade 6 UOI, students inquired into how our brain functions to affect our social and emotional wellbeing and behaviour. To engage with information, they dissected a pig brain to identify the different areas of the brain and how they function.
As the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic slowly dissipates, our beloved Aoba community can once again rejoice in the resumption of fully open campus events. Gone are the days of remote gatherings and limited in-person activities, as we embrace a much-awaited return to the vibrant atmosphere that defines our learning environment. The significance of this shift cannot be overstated, as campus events play a vital role in fostering a sense of community, nurturing interpersonal connections, and providing invaluable experiential learning opportunities.
Sporting Opportunities at Bunkyo Campus
Since the move to the new Bunkyo Campus, we have been expanding sporting opportunities for our Senior School using a combination of flexible scheduling and community resources.
The Health and Wellness component of the Senior School program enables students to explore their well-being from a variety of perspectives, developing an understanding of their physical, mental, and social well-being. Students develop their action plans to engage in activities relevant to their individual needs.
A Senior School Futsal team was formed during the year with training held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium with games against other international schools. The Futsal field at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium is a beautiful facility with easy access from Bunkyo Campus. We are also exploring other facility options as we plan to introduce a basketball team next in 2023/3024.
This year, we introduced Bunkyo Sports Mornings to introduce a range of sporting opportunities to our Senior School students. We take half a day and all gather at a field or gym to participate in a friendly intra-school competition. This year we focused on Futsal and Basketball.
Intuitive Reports for Families
To enhance our communication with parents and better support them in understanding their child’s progress towards grade level outcomes, we have developed new visualizations of reports. These visual representations offer valuable information to families whose children are receiving communication support, aiding their understanding of their child’s development in English language proficiency. By prioritizing visual elements over excessive text, we have made the information more accessible and user-friendly for parents.
Our Kindergarten team focused on improving their classroom environment to support student agency. Throughout the year they observed and reflected on student learning and researched ways to improve the space for our multi-aged learners.
At our campuses, we are committed to creating a dynamic and enriching learning environment for our students. To this end, we have implemented a series of incremental improvements and additions that contribute to the continual enhancement of our campus facilities. These enhancements go beyond mere aesthetics, as they directly impact the students’ educational experience. Notable updates include the installation of a climbing wall, new basketball hoops to promote physical activity and the continued growth of our sports programs, the expansion of our games club, and the acquisition of advanced theatre and musical equipment.
Revenue for the fiscal year 2022 increased significantly compared to the previous year, reaching over 1.9 billion yen, representing an approximate 17% increase from the previous year.
The primary reason for this surge in revenues is the notable increase in the number of students. The establishment of the Bunkyo Campus played a significant role in attracting a larger student population, and we have also seen a rise in prospective students. As of April 2023, AJIS recorded its highest enrollment since its inception, with a total of 729 students.
Approximately 75% of the school’s revenue is allocated towards various costs, which includes acquiring essential educational materials, personnel expenses, teacher benefits, and participation in teacher training and related expenses. We are committed to maintaining a teaching staff of around 90 educators, while continuously seeking to recruit and train highly skilled personnel. This dedication is crucial to ensuring the delivery of quality education, and we will continue to prioritize this approach in the future. Additionally, we are actively working to enhance hygiene and safety management measures throughout the school, including cleaning protocols.
About 15% of our total investment is devoted to school management and facility development. Going forward, we will persistently invest in creating improved learning environments at our Hikarigaoka, Bunkyo, and Meguro campuses, aiming for better educational experiences for all our students.