What are the differences between the IB Programme at Tamagawa Academy and at International Schools?
From parents with children at International Schools, we often hear that they are concerned about their children’s paths to higher education within Japan as International Schools in Japan cannot offer Ministry of Education certificates for elementary, junior or high school. This is problematic for those students wishing to pursue post-secondary education within Japan where such certificates are required. Tamagawa Academy (and its IB Programme) is a Japanese article one school. Students enrolled within the MYP Programme do receive official, recognized middle and high school graduation certifications which are acceptable to Japanese Universities.
Where does the IB Programme fit within Tamagawa Academy’s education system and philosophy?
We believe that the standards and practices of the IB programmes support our schools pedagogical mission. We have great respect and faith in the sound practices offered by the IB student-centred learning frameworks. The IB Programmes also permit our students access to internationally recognised standards of education while following the Ministry of Education curriculum for years 7 – 10. It is our sincere wish to see such standards continue in year 11 and 12 and to this end we offer the IB Diploma.
Do students need experience in studying in English in order to enrol for the MYP?
Experience in studying in English is not necessary for those seeking to enrol in the MYP at Year 7. Our curriculum and support classes are designed to further English acquisition, while maintaining the students' mother tongue.
Are students from International Schools accepted?
Absolutely! It is possible to transfer from International Schools to our programme. However, all applicants should be aware that Tamagawa’s first language is Japanese. For those students whose native tongue is not Japanese, we do provide Japanese language classes and support with certified teachers and university students.
Are the MYP hours of classes and the curriculum the same as for main stream students?
Tamagawa Academy students in year 7 to 9 have 6-7classes a day. English B students are required to attend morning support classes in the morning everyday in addition to their regular classes. As we are an Article One school we are legally bound to follow the Japanese National curriculum. Therefore all students engaged in the MYP, although studying in English, follow the Japanese national curriculum.
How are IB students assessed, and how is it reported?
MYP students are assessed using the assesment criteria established by the IB (International Baccalaureate). Finalgrades are determined based on the achievement levels of each assessment criteria in each subject. The MYP grades are then converted using a conversion scale to align with the Tamagawa Academy grading system.
What do you use as study materials?
The content of the classes are based on the Education Ministry’s guidelines. Tamagawa Academy purchases study materials and teaching aids which are lent to the students for the duration of the course. Textbooks are distributed free of charge to each student to prepare and review for his/her lessons.
How are non-native speakers of English supported so they do not fall behind in their learning?
For those who have beginner or intermediate English abilities, we provide daily supplementary lessons in English from 7.30am. Where possible, we place foreign teachers with Japanese ability in year 7 classes.
How many hours of home study are necessary?
Generally students within the MYP can expect 2 hours a day. It is important that the student’s finish their home study and/or assignments by the next class. Such study provides both a bridge between lessons and a chance for students to reflect/review upon their learning. It is expected that such review will empower the students to identify areas of difficulty and speak to their teachers about their challenges. Indeed within the MYP framework it is essential that the students ask questions and solve their problems before the next class. We would also like homestudy to be a tool which students use to develop their time management skill.
By spending six years with the same classmates, would it restrict the students’ circle of friends?
While at Tamagawa the students Home Room is fixed, there are nonetheless many opportunities to interact with the students from outside of the MYP programme through shared programmes, clubs and a host of other activities. Many MYP students who have no problem with their studies are often heavily involved in the extracurricular club activities. Our students are part of the Tamagawa student body, not separated from it.
Is it possible to go and study abroad while studying at Tamagawa Academy?
Tamagawa Academy offers a number of international learning opportunities which give students opportunities to study abroad for certain periods of time. As students of Tamagawa, MYP students are eligible for such opportunities.
We do not speak in English at home. Would this be an issue?
No. Tamagawa’s MYP Programme is not only for those students who are returnees. Nor is it an immersion class for English such as often offered at International Schools. We aim to offer a bilingual education that values the development of both the mother tongue(Japanese) and the second language(English); We recommend that family members support their children in this endeavour. Annually we hold, as part of our parent forum, meetings which offer ideas and strategies on how parents can best support English language development at home.
What are the enrolment expectations? Is there an entrance exam?
We provide a variety of enrolment opportunities. Generally enrolment depends upon desired year, time of the year and the candidate’s previous educational experience. Students must also write an entrance exam and be interviewed by the School Head and members of the IB faculty. Please contact us for more details. Currently within the MYP programme we have a broad range of students. Some come from Tamagawa Academy, some from local schools, and others are returnees. Our rolling admissions policy has been of great help and comfort to many parents who worry about schooling and their child’s transition as a result of a move. As our students are used to having new classmates join them throughout the year there is little if any issues that new students face.
What subjects compose the entrance examination?
The subjects tested vary by year level. Year 7 (1st Year of Junior High School, enrolling in April): The exam is held at the same time as the general Junior High School entrance examinations. The examined subjects are Japanese, mathematics, science and humanities. Exams can be written in both Japanese and English.
If the content of science and humanities exam differs from that offered at my child’s current school, would that be problematic?
We seek to understand how the child applies their knowledge in science and humanities as thinking disciplines, rather than measuring how much knowledge they have memorised. The aim is to uncover how the child articulates and applies their knowledge in problem solving. For example, within science. The candidate will examine experimental data, graph it and then analyse the data. For humanities, the candidate produces an essay relating to a particular world event and explains how they personally believe this event is related to the world and the challenges it faces.
Is there an English language exam?
There is no English Language exam during the Admissions process, however we assess students English language ability through their exams in mathematics, science and humanities. The personal interview also provides us with information on a student’s language ability. Once students enter the MYP Programme they will be placed in the appropriate classes based on their English placement Test results.
Is it necessary for the parents / guardians to be able to speak English?
No. All communication between the MYP and home can be conducted in Japanese. Most of our IB faculty speak and understand Japanese.
Can we observe lessons before enrolling?
We recommend you visit the school before enrolling. It is essential for the candidate to observe the school as the MYP is a unique learning environment. Please let us know when you would like to visit and we can make the necessary arrangements. If you currently live abroad, please visit us when you come back to Japan. Other family members and friends within Japan are also welcome to visit.
Is this programme solely designed for the returnee children?
No. While the MYP does not specifically identify returnees it nonetheless does often match and support what such children have experienced abroad. However, the MYP also seeks to provide those students within Japan with an internationally recognised framework of education. At present about half of our students are returnees, while the remainder have had varied experiences both living within Japan and speaking English.
We currently live abroad and are not studying Japanese at school. Would this be a problem?
There are quite a few students from abroad who have been studying in local schools, and/or International Schools. It is common that such student’s Japanese ability is not on par with their national counterparts. The Tamagawa Academy MYP offers supplementary lessons in Japanese language development. We also provide support system for those who are either not confident with, or have limited exposure to, the Japanese language.
We are not able to come back to Japan in time for the Japanese enrolment period. Would this be a problem?
As noted previously we offer ‘Rolling Admission’ for those currently living abroad. We will arrange entrance examinations and interviews at a time convenient to you. Please let us know when you wish to start and we will arrange the necessary details.