Rugby School Japan
The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below provide answers to some of the most common questions we receive about RSJ, our ethos, admissions, curriculum, co-curricular activities, boarding, and school life. We encourage you to review these and contact the school for further information.
The "Whole Person Whole Point" ethos at Rugby School Japan emphasises the holistic development of each pupil, and is the antithesis of a partial approach to learning. It recognises that one's identity is not merely an aggregation of separate "parts", but rather a cohesive and unique whole. In today' s world, children are often encouraged or pressured to focus solely on developing specific skills, such as academic, physical, or musical abilities, without the opportunity to explore their own interests and passions.
At RSJ, we recognise the importance of supporting our pupils to discover who they are and what truly brings them happiness. Rather than solely focusing on the development of specific skills, our approach is to cultivate each pupil as a whole person. We strive to create an environment in which pupils can flourish, both academically and personally, by understanding and supporting every aspect of their character.
Our boarding environment and house system provide a unique opportunity for pupils to develop their skills and abilities in a cohesive and supportive community. With a low staff-to-pupil ratio, our experienced teachers and housemasters are dedicated to providing individualised attention and mentorship, ensuring that each pupil receives the guidance they need to reach their full potential.
At its core, the "Whole Person Whole Point" philosophy emphasises the importance of understanding and supporting every aspect of a pupil's character, so that they may achieve their goals and flourish as unique individuals.
Rugby School Japan is different from other international schools in Japan because it offers a unique boarding school experience that is distinct from typical day schools. While most day schools provide an average of 1,000 hours of academic tuition per year, our programme offers a comprehensive schedule of intellectual and co-curricular activities that span from 7am to 10pm Monday to Friday, and Saturday mornings. With a total of 3,000 hours of activities per year, including lessons, sports, music, art, community action, and supervised studies, our pupils are able to build lifelong friendships and benefit from a holistic education. Being close to Central Tokyo means our pupils have access to world-class museums, cultural events, science and research institutions Japan has to offer.
At Rugby School Japan, we seek out young people who possess an inquisitive mindset and a strong desire to excel academically, while also embracing opportunities for personal growth and development. Our school culture is globally-minded, and we value pupils who are comfortable communicating and collaborating in English, while appreciating the benefits of diversity and inclusion within our community. We look for pupils with a solid academic foundation and a spirit of creativity and enquiry. Our goal is to nurture unique individuals who are not afraid of failure, open-minded, and committed to making meaningful contributions to the school and wider society.
Rugby School Japan's entrance examination is designed to assess the suitability of applicants in multiple areas. The assessment process includes a reading test to evaluate English proficiency, an interview with the Principal or Deputy Principal to explore academic curiosity, motivation, appetite for co-curricular activities, and suitability for either day or boarding school, and a Cognitive Ability Test (CAT4). This test is not meant to evaluate learned knowledge but rather to assess a pupil's cognitive abilities, allowing teachers better to understand the potential for learning.
At Rugby School Japan, there is no fixed requirement for English language proficiency. However, prospective pupils must demonstrate an age appropriate command of English that allows them to participate fully in and benefit from the curriculum offered at RSJ.
Rugby School Japan is committed to building an international and diverse community of families and children from different social backgrounds. Our school values inclusivity and does not discriminate against pupils on the basis of their nationality, gender, or race. Our entrance examinations are open to anyone, and admission is based solely on merit. Regardless of a pupil's background or nationality, we welcome all who are able to meet our academic and personal suitability requirements.
Rugby School Japan seeks pupils who are highly motivated, intellectually curious, and possess a thirst for learning. We prioritise the capacity to think critically and thrive in a rigorous academic environment over prior knowledge or grades. In essence, we look for pupils who embody the definition of being "academically minded" and are highly committed to their academic pursuits.
The visa requirements for attending RSJ will depend on the pupil's nationality and individual and family circumstances. In general, if a pupil is not a Japanese national, they will require a pupil visa to study in Japan. The visa application process may vary depending on the country of origin and the duration of the pupil's stay in Japan. RSJ will be able to provide more advice on this during your application process.
Rugby School Japan offers a range of Scholarship Awards which allow awardees to access extraordinary opportunities, enrichment and support through Scholars’ Programmes, and their parents to receive a generous fee discount. Details about RSJ Scholarships can be found here.
Will you accept pupils joining the School at other points during the academic year other than in September?
Rugby School Japan understands that Tokyo is a city with a high level of international mobility, and we are open to considering applications for entry points other than in September. In general, we accept applications for entry at the beginning of each academic term (January and April) provided there is availability in the year group. Families are welcome to formally register their interest as soon as possible, and we will advise on the best timing for their child to take the entrance examination.
Rugby School Japan follows a British curriculum, with a focus on IGCSEs for pupils aged 14-16, A levels for pupils aged 16-18, and a specially designed curriculum for our youngest pupils aged 11-14. The curriculum for our younger pupils is inspired by the British KS3 National Curriculum, while the IGCSE and A-level programmes are designed to provide a rigorous and comprehensive education to prepare pupils for university and beyond.
On Saturday mornings, Rugby School Japan holds academic lessons as well as sports fixtures, in which many of our pupils will represent the School. There is no school on the fourth Saturday every month.
The Rugby Learner Profile is designed by Rugby School UK and shared among the Rugby School Group. This is a set of bespoke learning dispositions that Rugby School Japan seeks to instil in all our pupils, from entry to graduation. These dispositions include being enquiring, communicative & collaborative, globally-minded, versatile, reflective, and resilient. The Rugby Learner Profile is embedded into our curriculum, as well as being a focal point in our co-curricular activities, boarding houses, and whole school leadership roles.
Our Admissions process will give us a thorough understanding of the English language ability of our pupils. Once at Rugby School Japan, a tailored programme will be available to those pupils who need on-going support to enable them fully to access the Rugby curriculum. This would typically include group timetabled lessons focusing on developing the academic language in specialist subjects. All our pupils will be taught English from Year 7 through to Year 11, preparing them to achieve an English IGCSE qualification as either first or second language learners. Working with our local education partners, we will also be able to prepare university applicants for their IELTS qualification.
At Rugby School Japan, we are open to working with external consultants appointed by parents to support their child's education. Although we are not a SEN (Special Educational Needs) school, we will judge each child's needs individually and have open discussions with families to determine how they can benefit from the RSJ experience.
Rugby School Japan has appointed outstanding educators from the UK and around the world, with proven records of achievement as teachers and scholars. Our selection process for teachers is thorough and involves input from Rugby School UK to ensure we have a first-class team of educators. They engage in continuous professional development to stay up to date with the latest educational ideas and advancements. Our staff team has a breadth of experience in the boarding school environment. Prior to appointment, our teachers undergo rigorous safeguarding and background checks to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our pupils.
Kashiwanoha is the largest smart city in Greater Tokyo where a number of academic institutions, including Tokyo University and Chiba University, as well as global corporations and startup venture companies are based near our campus.
Partnerships with these institutions provide our pupils with unique opportunities to witness the inspiring work of scholars and entrepreneurs at the cutting edge of research and enterprise. We plan to incorporate guest lectures, workshop days, and university fairs into our academic calendar.
Which universities do you anticipate RSJ pupils will be drawn to for their higher education aspirations?
It is our expectation that our pupils should be aspiring to study at top academic institutions worldwide. A levels are a globally recognised qualification enabling entry to the best universities around the world, and RSJ graduates will be in a very strong academic position to apply to universities in North America, Japan and other Asian countries, as well as to the UK.
At Rugby School Japan, we provide our pupils with a comprehensive and dedicated university counselling service to support them in their applications to universities worldwide. Our Sixth Form Centre features a University Counselling Room that gives our pupils access to the latest information, course selection, and application software, as well as experienced counselling staff who provide tailored advice and support to help our pupils achieve their academic goals. Our close ties with some of the top Japanese universities, as well as external specialist organisations, ensure that we can provide our pupils with additional support and preparation for entrance examinations, SATs, SAT Subject Tests (when required/desired), ACTs, personal statements, admissions essays, and online interviews. We are committed to helping our pupils achieve success at the university level and beyond, and we believe that our comprehensive university counselling service, including access to Rugby School UK’s Careers Department, is a crucial part of that process.
A-Levels are a global qualification formally recognised by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
“If you have foreign university admission qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate, Abitur, Baccalaureate, GCE A level, you could be qualified for Japanese university admission too.” (read more here)
As part of the recent move to “internationalise” their educational pathways, several larger Japanese universities offer degree programmes taught in English, and these courses will accept A level qualifications for entry on these programmes. For entry on a degree programme taught in Japanese, pupils would be required to sit the Japanese university’s entrance exams. It is our experience that it would be a real challenge for pupils to prepare sufficiently for these Japanese entrance exams while also completing their A level studies.
At Rugby School Japan, we are committed to offering our pupils a comprehensive education in modern foreign languages. Beginning in the earliest years, pupils will have the opportunity to study at least one modern language in addition to English and Japanese. In Years 10-11, pupils will typically choose to study one foreign language for IGCSE, with French, German, and Japanese being offered in our opening year. We are also open to discussing with pupils the possibility of taking IGCSE qualifications in their native language if it is not already offered as a timetabled subject.
Japanese will be taught to all pupils in Years 7-9, with two separate programmes available. First, the Japanese language programme, designed for first language learners, will cover language, literature, history and culture. Second, the non-Japanese language programme will focus on teaching Japanese as a foreign language, promoting language and cultural awareness, and preparing pupils for the Japanese IGCSE qualification in Years 10-11. We will develop links with local Japanese schools and the local Japanese community to offer our pupils a more immersive and authentic learning experience.
We have decided to focus on delivering the best educational experience to our Year 12 and 13 pupils through the means of A levels and the EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). A-levels are stand-alone, subject-based qualifications and are the most commonly studied post-16 qualification in the UK. Internationally, A levels are well recognised and give access to global universities. Each course is designed to promote a high level of knowledge and intellectual competence in that specific academic subject. Overall, we believe that the transformational blend of Rugby’s academic and co-curricular opportunities will equip our pupils with the very best skills and knowledge to enter the world beyond school.
Merits of A-levels
RSJ is a British boarding school, and this speaks to the culture of community to which all the pupils contribute, as well as the holistic and immersive pupil experience at the school. And whilst all pupils benefit from being part of RSJ’s boarding ethos, not every pupil is enrolled as a full boarder. Those pupils who remain at the school throughout the week and the weekends are classified as full boarders. They would go home at designated ‘leave weekends’ and other holidays when the school closes. Conversely, weekly boarders return to their families every weekend, leaving school once activities finish at Saturday lunchtime. They will then return to the school either on Sunday evening or Monday morning and remain in their school accommodation until the following weekend. Meanwhile, day pupils return home each day, and more information about their routines is given below.
A pupil’s boarding house is effectively their base, and their ‘home away from home’ whilst they are at school. As such, pupils would spend time when they are at school but not engaged in lessons or other activities, in their boarding houses. This applies to every pupil, regardless of whether they are a day pupil or a boarder. Within the boarding house, essential socialising, relaxing, and quiet study frequently take place. Many of the values and much of the personal development which are both so central to a RSJ education take part within a pupil’s boarding house.
Once all the lessons and official school activities such as clubs, sport, and societies have ended, the pupils will gravitate back to their boarding house. Day pupils will leave before supper, and boarders will eat and then spend the rest of the evening in their houses. During this time, they will be working for about two hours on their private studies, which will typically include work set by their subject teachers. In order to ensure that this study period is effective, members of the school's teaching staff will be on hand to supervise and set the tone. By about 9:00 p.m., the pupils will have finished their studying, and there will be a period of unwinding, which might include table tennis, playing chess, chatting in the common areas, and practising for house events. The bedtime routine starts at about 9:30 p.m., with pupils heading to bed at staggered times depending on their year group. Senior pupils and house staff will be on hand to oversee the settling of the house.
Typically, day pupils will leave once lessons and school activities have concluded, at 5:30 p.m. Occasionally, they may need to stay beyond this time, if they are involved in concerts, house activities, or other special events.
One of the many benefits of attending a British boarding school such as RSJ is the opportunity to share experiences with peers, as well as to gain experience and develop skills in cooperation with others. For this reason, we believe that it is important for pupils entering RSJ in the younger years to share a room with two or three other boarders of a similar age. As a pupil progresses through the school, they would expect to share a room with one other person in the middle years (Years 10 and 11), before getting their own room in the Sixth Form, which is defined as Years 12 and 13.
The rich co-curricular programme provided by RSJ is one of the key defining characteristics of the school, and is central to RSJ’s ethos of developing the whole person. Co-curricular activities will include sport, outdoor activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, drama, dance, music, and academic pursuits such as debating. All pupils will be engaged with the programme, and will benefit from a wide choice of activities so that they can discover new areas of interest, broaden their skill sets, and discover their passions.
RSJ will also be introducing IEA’s (Independent Enrichment Activities). Pupils will be able to initiate and set up activities that they would like to pursue, and the School will help find resources and external specialists if necessary.
As might be expected for a school which bears the name of the sport famously founded in Rugby UK, rugby will be a key option for both boys and girls at RSJ. Indeed, there is to be a pristine rugby pitch at the heart of the campus! However, there is far more to RSJ’s sports programme than just playing rugby. We firmly believe in the value of team sports, and these may also include football, basketball, and hockey amongst others. More individual sports, or those played with a partner, such as tennis, badminton and swimming, will also feature heavily in the School’s programme, and RSJ is equipped with indoor and outdoor courts, a sports hall and a swimming pool to host them.
RSJ is strategically located in the walking distance to the Kashiwanoha Park where we can find a 20,000 seater professional stadium, a baseball stadium, tennis courts and other amenities that RSJ pupils will have access to.
This is a unique aspect of British boarding schools and participation in clubs and societies will be an integral part of every pupil’s week at RSJ.
We believe children should gain a wide range of experiences. RSJ at capacity will have a substantial number of clubs and societies, where pupils can choose (and change!) what they would like to do every term.
We anticipate the choice of clubs and societies growing as our pupil and staff body expands in number: from the performing arts (getting involved on the stage or with technical support in plays and musicals, playing in music ensembles and orchestras and singing in choirs) to enjoying outdoor education (for example, through the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award programme), and from communication and collaboration pursuits (debating, public speaking, Model United Nations) to subject-specific projects, competitions and workshops (e.g. Maths Olympiad and the Greenpower STEM Challenge). Our fundamental ethos will be that if we don’t currently offer a club or society that a pupil is interested in, then we will explore how we and they could set one up.
The Music Department will be a very well resourced area. As part of the taught music curriculum and co-curricular programme, pupils will have access to instruments for composing, recording and performing, and a dedicated Music Technology suite will be equipped with industry-standard software. Visiting peripatetic music teachers will offer a range of individual instrumental lessons in the Music Department for pupils to sign up for on a termly basis, which families will be billed separately for. Individual practice rooms in the Department will be open for pupils to use in their free time, in the afternoons and at the weekends, and instruments can be stored in a designated area in the Department when a pupil is not using them. Each boarding house will also have its own piano and musical instruments for more relaxed practising alongside friends.
Rugby School Japan is extremely fortunate to be located within striking distance of Tokyo, with all the convenience and amenities that this promises. And yet, the School is also uniquely blessed with access to the North Peak site in Hokkaido. The North Peak enrichment campus is an integral part of RSJ’s whole-person education approach, providing a space for pupils to develop their personal qualities and interests beyond the classroom.
North Peak is about outdoor pursuits in the natural environment (forests, beaches, horses and green fields). Pupils will participate in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Scheme, which aims to develop skills and build character through personal challenges. Importantly, it is also about service to the local community. The local town of Hidaka is surrounded by equestrian farms and the UNESCO Geopark Mt Apoi.
In short, yes, most of the facilities will be open in the evenings. Boarders would expect to make use of the library, the music practice areas, the art studios, and many of the social spaces around the school. Of course, some activities need supervision, and in the interest of safety and safeguarding, use of facilities such as the swimming pool would strictly be under the auspices of a teacher-led activity.
Unlike in a typical day school, almost all the activities that a young person might wish to experience are included in the daily routines and co-curricular programme at Rugby School Japan. There is very little need to access activities outside school, and indeed there is little time to do so with long, full days at RSJ. That said, the School will of course encourage those pupils whose specialist interests lie outside of the RSJ curriculum and co-curricular programme. In those cases, the School would seek where possible to accommodate a pupil’s specific needs; afterall, the whole point of a RSJ education is the development of the whole person.
RSJ will open in the first week of September 2023. We will follow a British curriculum and term dates will closely follow typical boarding schools in the UK with a three term pattern. The Autumn Term will run from September until December, the Spring Term from January until March, and the Summer Term from April until late June. Every fourth weekend will be a Leave Weekend, where pupils will have time off, as well as half-terms. Latest term dates can be downloaded here.
Because RSJ follows the British courses, where IGCSE and A level examinations are sat in the summer term each year, the term dates have to follow a similar pattern to UK schools.
We encourage parents to support their children as fully as possible, and hope that they can visit to see them perform in shows, participate in sports fixtures, as well as meet them for coffee in the school café on occasions. There will be many opportunities for parents to get involved in school life.
All food will be served in the new, purpose built Dining Room, which is inspired by Rugby School UK and Oxford and Cambridge colleges. Pupils learn to socialise with others of different age groups in their house, and teachers often dine with the pupils.
We understand the need to feed every pupil appropriately to fuel their academic work and all the co-curricular activities that will be on offer. Breakfast will be available from 7.30 until 8.15am from Monday to Saturday, lunch from 1pm until 2pm, and supper from 5.45pm until 7pm. There will also be snacks available in the boarding houses each day. At mealtimes there will be a choice of nutritious food. At lunch, for instance, there will be a choice of a European dish, Asian dish and vegetarian offering, alongside salad, soup and dessert.
There will ordinarily be summer schools based at RSJ for the first two weeks after the summer term finishes. These summer schools will begin in the summer of 2024, and be a chargeable activity.
There are many opportunities for RSJ to benefit from being part of the Rugby School Group. For instance, potential pupil exchanges are currently being proposed so that pupils in Japan, Thailand and the UK can benefit from such programmes. Additionally, the new Debate Chamber, a room based upon the UK’s Parliament, is currently being built on the RSJ campus, and the intention is to have debates with other pupils across the Group.
Kashiwanoha is a family friendly area, and there is a strong community feel. The site will be completely secure, with perimeter fencing, and a card system for pupils and staff to enter and leave the site. A professional security team will also be in place 24 hours a day to ensure the safety and security of everyone onsite.
We are currently working with Tamae Hirokawa, one of Japan’s leading designers, to create the uniforms for the pupils. We believe we can create uniforms that reflect the Rugby heritage, that are unique to RSJ, and that all pupils feel proud to wear. Tombow will be the preferred supplier, and all school uniforms can be purchased via a smartphone app ahead of the School opening this coming September.
As a British boarding school, English will be the language used on campus and in all communications to parents and other interested parties. RSJ admin will not provide a bilingual translation service.