Japan Council of International Schools Heads of Schools Meeting – April 10, 2015

Schools in the Kanto region by law need to have hard hats for students in case of earthquake.

The JCIS spring meeting for the 2014-2015 school year is being hosted by the Seisen International School. Seisen is a Catholic girls’ school in a suburb of Tokyo. The Handmaids of the Sacred Heart is the order of nuns that manages the school. I would like to thank Sister Margaret Scott, the head of SIS and the rest of the team for their hospitality.

Below are my takeaways from the meeting:

Child Protection – All international schools in Japan are struggling with trying to get police clearances for their employees. In Japan this is confidential information and authorities will not search and release records. Due to several publicized incidents recently of international school schools dealing with child abuse by faculty and staff,  accreditation agencies are requiring schools to do background checks on employees. International school teachers in Japan are also worried about getting a background check which many schools are requiring. JCIS will document our schools’ effort in seeking these checks which may help with accreditation visits. Two schools had some success using a firm and that will be shared with the heads.

Organization Business: Our mission, membership criteria and professional development funding were discussed. Currently there are 30 schools in JCIS. JCIS funds many PD opportunities. This is a good for international schools as most have small enrollments and with travel, PD costs can be high.

In the announcement / quick questions session, heads of schools brought concerns to the group. I asked about waiting lists/applicant pools, taxable educational benefits for expatriate employees and the possibility of combining our higher education data of the JCIS schools to better see trends with international school students in Japan. Most of my notes from this portion of the meeting are private.

I also learned about an excellent open source course through Ed X called Visualizing Japan: Three Online Mini Courses by Harvard, MIT, and U of Tokyo. The courses are now over but the archive can be accessed and most of the material can be read.

View of the sports grounds of Seisen IS – land is at a premium in Tokyo

I am looking forward to the next JCIS meeting of the heads of schools which will take place in September 2015 in Kobe at the Marist Brothers International School.

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