Japan Association of IB School Heads Autumn Meeting

IBAJ Heads of Schools Photograph at MBIS

On Thursday September 17 I attended the Japan Association of International Baccalaureate (IBAJ) meeting of heads of schools hosted by the Marist Brothers International School (MBIS) in Suma ward, the western side of Kobe.

My big “takeaways” are

  1. it may be worth our while to explore the CP (Career Related Programme) or at least develop an internship program for our students
  2. we should also be looking at offering online learning in the DP through Pamoja 

There were also many other smaller ideas and feedback I received from the other schools. All in all, a very valuable day for me and our school.

We discussed the following issues:

  • MYP E-assessments – No MYP schools in Japan are participating in this program. Practically, they do not offer Japanese language and for 50 students, it would cost $30,000 and it takes place the same time as the IB DP exams. The argument against also is too much testing and the certificate is not worth much.
  • Dual Language Diploma – I was confused on how many subjects must be taken in English to earn this diploma. They must take English and one other subject in English as a minimum.
  • Learning Support – Schools struggle to find experts and specialists in Japan, especially in English. Remote services (online) are gaining traction especially for speech therapy. There is one specialist in Tokyo that was highly recommended.
  • Career Related Certificate – No schools have this IB programme in Japan. Several schools are developing internship programs.

We had video conferences with many key personnel from the IB Asia Pacific Region.

Kevin House regional head of school services Asia Pacific

  • He leads a team of IBEN (experienced IB educators) to help schools with authorization, self-studies and evaluations. School services also manages professional development programs (Base Camp) and facilitate coordinator networks. Kevin’s conversation reminded me of how useful the site can be. I will make a module of useful links on this blog.
  • The next IB visit to our association (IBAJ) will be in the spring of 2017. We asked them to give us dates and a venue for this meeting.

Ayumi Hoshino IB regional development manager of Article 1 (local – prefectural accredited) schools in Japan

  • Geography, Visual Arts, Music will be soon released in Japanese language.
  • MEXT is issuing special teacher certification for schools hiring foreign teachers. It is a lot of paperwork, but not a difficult process.
  • MEXT announced on August 19 a flexibility scheme that made it easier for Article 1 schools to meet the national compulsory  subjects and all classes can be in English except Japanese language. Japanese students need 74 credit hours to graduate which is much more than an international school. Hence, Higher Level courses will be worth 10 credit hours each and Standard Level courses worth 6 credit hours each. They still need to earn more credit hours outside of the DP subjects, and MEXT is trying to reduce this.
  • The University of Tokyo and Kyoto University will start DP admissions from this winter. Both universities do require students to take the preliminary exam. They do not have to take the individual subject exams, only the basic proficiency exam in Japanese.  Hosei University and Osaka City University are also making entry tracks from the IBDP.
  • Environmental Studies, Psychology, Self-Taught Language subjects are not going to be accepted by MEXT soon as Japanese subjects because they do not match with the current national curriculum.

A good idea for our schools Faculty Forum to do an activity with Theory of Knowledge (TOK), a special course in the Diploma Programme that really encapsulates the IB philosophy.

Ed Lawless – Employee of Pamoja Education, the sole provider of online/blended learning sanctioned by the IB. He is former head of PD of IB Asia Pacific. Ed gave us the following about Pamoja’s growth.

They are accredited by WASC since 2011 and have moved to In-house course development in 2012. They are growing and currently have 2009 3091 students, 113 teachers and 17 courses. They have courses in all subject groups except experimental sciences. They focus on courses that help schools fill in gaps. They have TOK and ATL integration across all courses. They also have a new LMS (learning management system) called “Canvas“. “Learning Spaces” are forums that students can interact with each other and the teachers. Nice advantage is the four cohorts of 25 students can interact with 4 teachers across the world. The scores of the students are pretty good, with 82% of the students earning a 4 or above. Regarding costs, 25-30% pass the costs on  to the parents Good ideas for schools is that if student withdraws, then parents pay for the course and some schools have an application process to earn the right to take an online course.

They are developing school-supported self taught languages and English B. An idea would be to bring all the language tutors in the JCIS schools together so if one school has a good Russian tutor he/she could do all the schools. He said more students are choosing psychology over history. They are thinking of developing a”taster” course 4-5 week pre-IB experience for grade 10 students to get used to on line learning.

I believe that this is an experience we should be giving our students – self-regulated learning environments, because this what students will face in university.

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2 thoughts on “Japan Association of IB School Heads Autumn Meeting

  1. Hi Bill: Thanks for the update. I will have to talk with you offline about some of the information, but from a parent’s perspective, I think the internship is a great idea, and there are likely a lot of professional parents that could likely help out. It would seem that the key issue would be around how the internship structured in a way that a student should get credit.

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