The Japan Council of International Schools (JCIS) includes most of the international schools operating in Japan. However, each school exists completely independently of the others.
Schools applying for membership to JCIS must meet a number of important criteria including stability, continuity, professionalism and an explicit commitment to internationalism. Education must be provided in English. Beyond that, however, there are no requirements concerning curriculum, ethos or ownership. Some schools offer programmes of the International Baccalaureate Organization. Others offer an education rooted to a greater or lesser degree in a national curriculum. Some schools offer a full ‘Kindergarten to Grade 12’ education while others specialize on certain age groups. The smallest JCIS member school has fewer than 100 students and the largest has more than 1,500.
The heads of member schools meet twice a year – usually in September and March/April. Meetings are held at member schools: once a year in the Tokyo region and once elsewhere in Japan. A President (Chair), Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer are elected by, and from among, the heads of member schools.
On a day-to-day basis, heads of JCIS schools communicate with each other regarding matters of common interest such as changes in employment legislation, appropriate precautions to take against pandemics (bird ‘flu, swine ‘flu), experience (good and bad) of service providers, and so on. In 2011 member schools liaised closely and very valuably in the aftermath of the Tohoku tragedy.
Opportunities are also taken to share the cost of visiting speakers or performers with neighbouring schools, to coordinate PD initiatives, to bring together specialist staff and to support schools introducing new curriculums or programmes.
JCIS is a collegial and collaborative organization which exists for the betterment of all international schools in Japan to the benefit of the parents who choose them and the children who attend them.