Sign up now for FREE to read our insider reviews in full Sign Up Now
The British School in Tokyo (BST) Japan 3 - 18
The British School in Tokyo (BST)
, ages 12-18 | Mixed | Day

Showa Campus Secondary

Open all

Our View

Established in 1989 as a charitable trust after a group of parents wanted a British-style education in Tokyo for their children, this not-for-profit co-ed is the only school that currently offers the A-level programme in Japan. The British School in Tokyo (BST) brilliantly combines a UK-style curriculum with an international focus on Japanese society and culture.


The school is split across two campuses: Shibuya (primary) and Showa (primary and secondary). The leafy Showa campus is within the grounds of the Showa Women’s University in Sangenjaya, 10 minutes west of Shibuya. The BST is in one long building, spread across five floors, but the school also has access to university facilities, including the Astro pitch, the Leo Ground (for football), the Green Hall for assemblies and ceremonies and the Hitomi Memorial Hall for music and drama. There are smallish art and music rooms, plus a swimming pool.

The nearest subway station is Sangenjaya, a seven-minute walk from the school, serving the Den-en-Toshi and Setagaya lines. The school is 20 minutes from Shinjuku and five minutes by train to Shibuya. Secondary students are encouraged to use public transport – drops-offs are discouraged as there is no parking.


Welshman Paul Tough joined as principal in 2019. With 15 years’ experience in senior leadership, he was previously deputy head and head of international schools in Hong Kong.

Head of secondary is Brit Caroline McCallum, who was previously deputy head at Gordonstoun in the UK. She is currently studying towards a masters on school leadership.


Non-selective with rolling admissions, the BST gives priority in the following order: to siblings, children with one British parent, non-Japanese children who have attended a British curriculum school and want to continue, Japanese children who have studied a British curriculum for four years or more and want to continue, and other non-Japanese children. 
Prospective pupils in Years 7 to 9 need to provide school reports and a confidential reference, as well as sit an age-appropriate test to assess language, literature and maths, along with any EAL needs – if English is not their first language, the applicant takes an English test and an oral assessment. Applications for Years 10 and 11 are considered on an individual basis. 

For Years 12 to 13, candidates need five A-Cs or equivalent (including English and maths) at GCSE / IGCSE, plus at least Bs in subjects they hope to study at A-level. They must also provide a reference and reports from their previous school, and have an interview with the head of secondary. 

Anyone applying to Year 12 four months after the start of A-levels is unlikely to be offered a place, however  the school may consider applicants on to the second year of the A-level course (Year 13) if they are currently attending another A-level school.

Corporate scholarships are offered but these are part of Japan’s complex Corporate Contribution Programme (CCP). The CCP is a potentially cost effective and advantageous alternative to paying enrolment and tuition fees. Participation removes the additional income taxes that are normally imposed on the income of parents whose employers undertake to cover their children’s school fees in Japan.

A limited number of means-tested bursaries are available – last year, eight per cent of pupils received them. Priority is given to families whose main earner is in full-time education or working for a not-for-profit organisation. The bursary includes a total waiver of enrolment and application fees, as well as up to 50 per cent reduction of tuition fees, including the annual capital development fee.


The BST follows the GCSE/IGCSE and A-level programme. Year 7 pupils learn both French and Spanish; in Years 8 and 9, only one is studied, although there is an option to do both. In secondary, Japanese is studied for three periods a week until at least the end of Year 9. In Year 9, pupils start to look at IGCSE material. Pupils take eight to 11 subjects at IGCSE, including PE, photography, music and business studies. They can choose double or triple science. Modern languages are Japanese, French and Spanish. The school also believes in outdoor education, which might range from studying plant life to launching rockets on the school pitch.

From Year 11, life skills are taught that focus on leadership, career, sport and wellbeing. This course includes, in Year 11, GCSE/IGCSE success; in Year 12, Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs); and, in Year 13, university applications. In 2021, 83 per cent of IGCSE candidates achieved A*-A and 98 per cent A*-C.

Almost 20 subjects are available at A-level, including photography, psychology and economics. Most pupils take three, plus an EPQ. Spanish, French and Japanese are on offer. A-level results in 2021 were 72 per cent A*-A and 94 per cent A*-C. (The school recently discontinued AS-levels.)

Limited SEN support is available for those outside of the mainstream classroom and those who need significant support. Parents pay for additional costs for this. New families must declare any previous educational support in the application stages. EAL support is offered.

BST prepares students for further education, not just in areas such as applications and interview practice but also practical skills like basic first aid, money management and healthy cooking. Year 12s follow the Classroom To Boardroom programme, which includes interviews with leaders in key professions, personal CV feedback, as well as the chance to discuss career aspirations. There are also career and university sessions and work experience week in Years 12 and 13. Most graduates go on to Russell Group universities in the UK, followed by further-education destinations in the US and Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia.


A group of 180 pupils singing ‘World in Union’ at the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 (which was hosted in Japan) to a global audience must be at the top of the school’s list of musical achievements. It is important to note that Years 4 to 9 on the Showa campus have instrument lessons during class time, with the timings changing each week so that the same lessons aren’t missed. Music is strong at the BST, and several pupils have gone on to study it at university and conservatoires in the UK. 

Year 7s have two music lessons (primary students only have one lesson) per week. They also perform as a choir in the whole-school Christmas Concert. Pupils learn keyboard skills (there are 22 Yamaha keyboards), and there are lots of choirs, bands, orchestras and ensembles to join. 

Drama and theatre studies have been added to the A-level curriculum for A-level. Little Shop of Horrors and Hamilton are both recently performed musicals.

Sport is important here. BST had the honour of being the first school in Japan to welcome the Webb Ellis Cup (the trophy awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup) when it arrived in Japan in 2019. The school has close ties with the nearby Shibuya International Rugby Club. Swimming is compulsory from Reception. The school currently uses community pools but this will change when the new primary campus opens. BST is part of the Kanto Plains Association of Secondary Schools sports leagues, Japan Swim Association and the International Schools of Tokyo Athletic Association. Sports include cross-country, football, hockey, basketball, touch rugby, cricket and volleyball (the girls recently had their best season ever).

The school is renowned for its inclusivity. The 19:20 programme gave pupils the chance to take part in events leading up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics and Paralympics that addressed diversity in sport, disability and gender equality.   

Co-curricular activities include aikido (martial arts), shodu (calligraphy), art, dance, cooking, gardening, photography, climbing and boxercise.  Every Wednesday, secondary pupils take part in activities known as Electives that range from film-making and animation to DJing and juggling. There is also a Friday lecture series given by entrepreneurs, captains of industry and politicians. DofE and Model United Nations are also on offer. 

Volunteering is a big deal here, and Years 12 and 13 are expected to do more than 20 hours of community service, whether with one of the school’s partner charities such as Hands on Tokyo or mentoring pupils from the primary school. Outdoor-learning residential trips are very popular and include an annual ski trip to Hakuba. There is also a snow-sports club that organises three ski club weekends between January and March.

School community

The school community comprises more than 1,000 students of 65 nationalities. There are two counsellors: one for primary (who covers both campuses) and one for secondary. Primary and secondary pupils can be a part of the student council – in secondary, a representative from each house organises events, which provides a sense of responsibility for those who hold these positions. 

Parents describe the school community as one big happy family. All belong to the PTA. In primary, they are welcome to help out in everything from supervising trips to volunteering for reading sessions. The PTA organises the spring fair, parent workshops and lunch and coffee mornings (particularly for new parents), which are held every Friday at the Shibuya campus and monthly at the Showa campus. It has also put together a handy guide for families who are new to Tokyo, which includes lots of essential local information. 

A school advisory committee made up of parents, staff and representatives meets with the principal to discusses the BST’s educational provision. There is a new student buddy system where the school will match parents up with a current BST parent to introduce you to the school or even Tokyo life if you are new to Japan. This is offered throughout the year. 

There is a canteen on the Showa campus (known as the Sophia Canteen) that is run by the Showa Women’s University. Year 10 and above may use it, with the other years using it on a rota basis. Years 12 and 13 can also eat off site.

And finally....

An excellent choice for a British education with a focus on Japanese culture too.


The British School in Tokyo (BST) gallery image
The British School in Tokyo (BST) gallery image
  • Admissions

    1. CHECK ELIGIBILITY Please read the Admissions Policy before beginning the application process. 2. COMPLETE ENQUIRY FORM Please complete the enquiry form and create an account. An admissions representative will contact you after receiving your enquiry form (We will endeavour to respond within 1-2 business days). 3. APPLICATION FORMS Access to the Application Form will be provided after receiving and reviewing your enquiry form. An application fee payment of JPY40,000 (non-refundable) will be required on the Application Form. 4. CONFIRMATION OF APPLICATION Once you have submitted all items on the application checklist and a reference is received from the applicant’s current school/teacher, the applicant will be placed in our waiting pool. Any required interview/assessment appointment will be scheduled after receiving and reviewing all application documents, references, and when space is foreseen for the applicant.
  • Academic results

    A-level % grades A*-B: 87%
  • University Destinations

    In 2021, almost 20% of Year 13 graduates entered Top 50 universities listed in QS World University Rankings, such as University of Oxford, Imperial College London and University of Tokyo. About 40% entered World Top 300 universities, such as King's College London, Keio University and Waseda University. While universities in the U.K., U.S. and Japan are the most popular destinations for graduates, they also have students joining Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne in Switzerland, the world's best hotel management school.
  • Sports

    Martial Arts
    Table tennis
    Ten-pin bowling
  • Fees

    Day fees per annum
    From 2,570,000.00 Yens to 2,590,000.00 Yens

    View currency converter
    Currency Converter by OANDA
  • SEND

    2 staff

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs:
    The school has two in-house school counsellors. Primary students are able to see the counsellor with permission from their parents. In the Secondary school students are able to see the counsellor without their parents being informed although if there is significant concern of a safeguarding nature, the Designated Safeguarding Lead or counsellor may approach the parents.

  • Transport Links

    Nearest underground station: Sangenjaya
    Nearest mainline train station: Sangenjaya
    Nearest international airport: Tokyo Haneda International Airport


1-7-57 Taishido, Showa Womens University 5th Bldg., Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-8533

(+81) 3 3411 4211



Term Dates

Inspection report


Open Days

Open days and how to visit View Open Days

Click for a larger version of map

Need help?

Don’t panic! We have more than ten years’ experience of visiting schools and advising parents, and we are all parents ourselves – we can make this easier for you.

Talk to our team