St Paul’s has links with one of Japan’s top schools, Jishukan High School in Aichi Prefecture. At half-term, three students and Dr Zetie visited Jishukan as part of its science specialism programme. During their stay, they attended classes in English and Japanese and made day trips to the Toyota factory and to Kyoto.
The cultural differences were striking. Japanese schools love ceremonies. Our party was introduced at an assembly of the whole school (nearly 1000 students). Each visitor from St Paul’s made a speech — in Japanese. A further welcoming ceremony was held at a restaurant the same evening and a farewell ceremony, with more speeches, rounded off the visit. At Jishukan, you remove your shoes and put on slippers to walk around the school. At the end of the school day, students spend 15 minutes helping to clean the school before going on to their sports or music club activities, and the staff room is an open area where students can always walk in to deliver work or ask for help.
We expect to host the return visit by Jishukan students in March, 2011, and the aim is to make this a regular exchange programme between the two schools, providing a great opportunity for our pupils interested in Japan to get to know the country, culture and people. In the meantime, we intend to set up links between the science students at the two schools, to share problems and research ideas.