How to Choose the Best International School in Japan

06/06/202415 minute read
How to Choose the Best International School in Japan

In recent years, more parents in Japan have been looking at online international schools as an option for their children. This is because traditional Japanese schools often don't focus enough on cultural diversity and English language skills.

As Japan's education system remains highly rigorous and focused on rote learning, many parents, both expatriates and locals are seeking alternatives that offer a broader, more globally oriented curriculum.

Online schools provide flexibility and continuity, making them increasingly popular in Japan, especially for families who move frequently or wish to avoid the pressures of conventional schooling. This guide will help you understand your options and choose the best international school for your child in Japan.

Overview of International Schools in Japan

Japan has a variety of international schools, primarily in cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama. These schools cater to expatriate families and Japanese parents seeking a global education for their children.

There are over 200 international schools in Japan, offering curriculums such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), and A Levels. Class sizes typically range from 10 to 15 students, ensuring personalised attention and interactive learning.

Why More Families Are Choosing Private International Schools Over Public Schools

Japanese public schools are known for their strict academic standards and disciplined approach to education. They follow a national curriculum focused on memorisation and high-stakes testing. While effective, this system can limit the development of creative and critical thinking skills.

Private international schools, on the other hand, offer a more holistic approach. They emphasise critical thinking, creativity, and global citizenship, providing a flexible and inclusive curriculum that caters to individual needs. This approach is appealing to both expatriate and local families who want a well-rounded education for their children.

The Shift to Online Schooling

One key reason for choosing international schools is their global curriculum, which is recognised worldwide and allows for easy transitions between countries. This is particularly important for expatriate families who move frequently. International curriculums like IB, AP, and A Levels prepare students for higher education and future careers by developing practical skills such as critical thinking and communication.

International schools also focus on reducing academic pressure. The traditional Japanese education system often places significant stress on students through its emphasis on exams. In contrast, international schools offer a more balanced approach, allowing students to explore their interests and passions without constant pressure.

Cultural exposure is another major benefit. International schools attract students from various cultural backgrounds, creating a diverse and enriching learning environment. This exposure helps students develop a global perspective and appreciate cultural differences.

Deciding on the Right International School in Japan for Your Child

When choosing an international school, consider its academic reputation, accreditation, and the qualifications of its teaching staff. Look for schools accredited by reputable organisations like the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), the College Board for AP courses, and Cambridge Assessment for A Levels. Schools with strong university placement records and experienced teachers are usually good choices.

This year CGA has received offers from the Top 15 Universities in the 2024 World University Rankings including, Cambridge University, Cornell University, Imperial College, Oxford University, UC Berkeley.

  • Ivy League offers (Princeton, Columbia, Cornell)
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  • 5 offers to Oxbridge
  • 21 offers to the world's top 20 universities
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship, an honour awarded to less than 1% of first-year applicants, covering four full years of tuition.

You can view our university admission results here.

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International Curriculums

International schools offer curriculums that are different from national schools. The most popular curriculums in Japan include the International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), and A Levels.

The IB program is highly valued for its rigorous academic and personal development focus. It aims to develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. The Japanese government promotes the IB to improve educational quality and global mindsets.

The AP program offers college-level courses and exams to high school students. It allows students to earn college credits while still in high school. AP courses are recognized worldwide and are particularly popular among students aiming for top universities.

A Levels offer specialised subject choices and are recognised globally for their depth and academic rigour. This curriculum allows students to focus on their strengths and interests, enhancing their university applications.

Course Overview: A-Levels, IB, and APs
CurriculumTraditional Age RangeSchool YearNumber of subjectsExams
International GCSEs and A Levels14-18Year 11-Year 134-5 (minimum)External, offered 2-3 times a year
International Baccalaureate 16-18Year 12 and Year 136 subjects plus 3 papersOne cumulative external exam at the end of 2 years with some internal weightage
Advanced Placement15-18Anytime in Grades 10-12Varies in addition to high school classesExternal offered once a year

Exposure to a Global Community

International schools provide extensive global networks that enhance students' educational experiences through global projects, competitions, and cultural exchanges.

International networks also offer numerous extracurricular activities, ranging from academic competitions to cultural exchanges and sports events. Participation in these activities helps students develop leadership skills, build confidence, and learn to work collaboratively with peers from different cultural backgrounds.

Being part of a diverse community helps students appreciate cultural diversity and learn the value of different perspectives. This exposure is invaluable in developing well-rounded individuals prepared for the globalised world.

Interacting with peers from various cultural backgrounds allows students to develop a global outlook from an early age. They learn to appreciate cultural differences and understand the commonalities that bind us as human beings. This exposure creates empathy, tolerance, and a sense of global citizenship.

Teachers from Around the World

International schools employ a diverse faculty, bringing different teaching methodologies and cultural perspectives to the classroom. Small class sizes and a high teacher-to-student ratio ensure personalised attention and support for each student.

Diverse faculty members contribute to a rich and varied educational experience. They introduce students to different teaching styles and approaches to learning, helping them become more adaptable and versatile. Teachers with international experience often have a broader understanding of global educational standards and practices.

Online Learning Options for Japanese Students

For families that move frequently, the flexibility of online learning is a crucial consideration. Online programs offer continuity in education regardless of geographic location. Schools like CGA provide online learning options that cater to the needs of moving families, ensuring that students do not miss out on their education.

Online learning allows students to maintain their academic progress without the disruptions associated with changing schools and adapting to new educational systems. CGA's DaVinci program, for example, provides 1:1 instruction tailored to each student’s learning style and pace. CGA Flex allows students to study subjects not offered at their traditional school or to accelerate their learning in areas of strength.

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Finding the Best International School in Japan

Choosing an international school in Japan requires looking at several important factors, such as academic reputation, curriculum, global networks, and the quality of the teaching staff. Each family's priorities and their child's specific needs should guide their decision. The right choice will allow your child to excel academically, socially, and personally, gaining the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the global landscape.

Key Considerations to remember:

Academic Quality: Consider the school's reputation and the rigor of its curriculum.

Curriculum Options: Look for programs that match your child's learning style and future goals.

Global Connections: Choose schools with strong international ties and opportunities for global engagement.

Teaching Staff: Research the qualifications and experience of the faculty.

Individual Needs: Ensure the school can cater to your child's specific needs and interests.

Long-term Goals: Select a school that supports your child's future aspirations

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