Reasons to pursue your programme of first-year high-school studies (at the age of 16) in the United Kingdom

“Good steel must be tempered at least once by being passed through the flame. Elements that cannot withstand this early trial cannot possibly be expected to bear the still harsher tribulations that await later in life.” So explained Kiyoshi Ikeda, a scholar of English literature, in his book on British public schools (boarding schools), Freedom and Discipline: School Life in England (Iwanami Shinsho, 1949). This passage speaks to the true character of the education viewed as an absolutely essential part of the lives of young British people.
What is a British Public School?

The term “public school” is confusing to Americans, as in that country it refers to a government-run school. In the United Kingdom a public school is a middle-class boarding school that is privately operated (the UK term for government-run schools is “state school”). Public schools in the United Kingdom have a long history as centres of excellence and tradition.Most of the students who attend public schools are aiming at a university education, and in recent years the proportion of students who are overseas students has been increasing.

Why the United Kingdom?

The United Kingdom and Japan share a deep affinity born of historical background.

The relationship between the United Kingdom and Japan began after the Meiji Restoration in the md-19th century. At this time Japan adopted a parliamentary system with a bicameral legislature, as well as a number of economic and social systems, all of which were in emulation of British models. The first railways (locomotives) to run in Japan were imported from the United Kingdom. Many of the elements of social infrastructure so familiar to the everyday lives of Japanese people, including underground railways, the postal system and driving on the left, were adopted from British models.

Geographical similarities abound. Japan is similar in area to the United Kingdom, at 378,000 sq. km compared with the United Kingdom’s 244,000 sq. km. Both countries are surrounded by seas and have moderate climates with four seasons. Each is an island country sitting alongside a vast continent. In other similarities, both countries feature centuries-old monarchies (a royal family in the United Kingdom and an Imperial family in Japan). With so many points in common, it is said that the Japanese find the United Kingdom easy to relate to and comfortable to live in.

Growing as a Bicultural Individual

British society is ethnically diverse. In addition to the original peoples of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom, namely England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the nation embraces many ethnic groups originating in former British colonies, including people of Indian, African, Arab and Chinese extraction.

One of the great benefits of a British public-school education is the opportunity to learn about many other cultures. In addition to British students, overseas students can befriend and share their lives with students of numerous nationalities from every corner of the world.

During the summer holidays and other long holidays, overseas students enjoy plenty of opportunities to interact with local people, through volunteer activities, part-time work and other pursuits. This free time is the chance of a lifetime to build a strong grounding as a bicultural individual.

Enrolling in a Public School

The examinations for enrolment in public schools include not only written tests, covering subjects such as English and maths, but also an interview component using video links.

The interview component looks closely at the candidate’s ability to think and express himself logically and his ambition and enthusiasm. Each candidate must be in good mental and physical health.

Public schools offer an environment where students for whom English is not their native language can learn the language with the help and support of their teachers and school friends. More important than a high level of English-language proficiency is a cooperative spirit and strong communication skills, which will enable the student to lead an active and fulfilling student life.

Entering Cambridge or Oxford, Two of the World’s Elite Universities

Upon completion of a two-year course of study at a public school, students will be sufficiently academically accomplished to attend the University of Cambridge or the University of Oxford, two of the world’s top-ranked universities.

In most universities, one professor teaches a class of large numbers of students. In contrast, an “Oxbridge” education typically involves the tutorial system, which pairs one instructor with one student. This educational policy is widely acclaimed as the approach most conducive to making outstanding gains in scholarly ability*.

* Not all classes are one-to-one. Some consist of an instructor and a small group of students.

Why You Should Choose a British Public School

The two years you will spend at a British public school will be an important period in your life, as this is when you will decide on a direction for your future and your career. In Japan, high-school students typically commute to school from the family home, but public schools are run on the boarding system. This is an enormous difference. In this section we review some of the key features?and advantages?of a student life steeped in the tradition of the public school.
A time of preparation for university, when you gain an education that is valuable around the world

British public schools are focused on attracting students to its classrooms and dormitories. For this reason the quality of the classes, the comprehensiveness of the facilities, the services and equipment all satisfy the most stringent standards set by the British government and educational organisations.

According to a survey conducted by the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference in 2016, 92% of the students who graduated from British public schools went on to attend university. Of these, a majority proceeded to graduate from one of the nation’s elite institutions of higher learning.

British public schools provide high-quality lessons, equipment and support. The education they provide helps students to gain skills and knowledge, encourages them to develop free and creative habits of thought, and to maximise their potential.

Most public schools feature beautiful, historic school buildings that are centuries old, offering the allure of state-of-the-art classrooms amid a traditional built environment. Outfitted with the best equipment, these schools support a rich and fulfilling overseas-student life.

By obtaining an education at a British public school, you can gain the specialised scholarship you need to prepare for a stellar career.

A public-school education is about more than obtaining qualifications that open doors around the world. Through everyday interaction with students gathered from all over the world, you will improve your language skills and gain understanding of other cultures. Your time at a British public school is a period of vital preparation for an active life in the international business world.

At British public schools, students for whom English is not their native tongue undertake education to improve their English to a level sufficient for university study.

Most public schools provide interested students with supplementary lessons in English. Under the guidance of specialised instructors in small classes, students not only dramatically improve their English proficiency in a short period of time but also become fluent in “the Queen’s English,” a variety of English that is traditionally viewed as cultured and elegant.

Become a member of an international community.

British public schools accept overseas students of diverse nationalities and from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. By learning in such an international environment, you can make friends with students from various countries, gaining a rich understanding of different cultures. This experience provides you with a solid grounding as a bicultural individual.

Sport and the arts are also important in education.

Sport is a national religion in the United Kingdom, so much so that sportsmanship is regarded as a vital aspect of one’s character. Competitive sport is an essential part of a public-school education, prized as a means of instilling personal discipline.

In addition to sport, public schools offer a full complement of classes in the arts, including drama, music and more. Participation in these activities is an excellent way to build confidence and cultivate a spirit of teamwork.


Guardians are people who look after or mediate on behalf of overseas students. Having a guardian is a prerequisite for acceptance to a public school as an overseas student.

The Tazaki Foundation assists overseas students by arranging guardians for them. Your guardian will meet you at the airport when you arrive in the United Kingdom, take you on a tour of your school before classes begin, assist you in completing various procedures, help you obtain your uniforms and otherwise provide you with valuable support. Your guardian is someone who can contact your parents in Japan if you become ill or have an accident while attending school, or offer advice when you’re having trouble. With a guardian to assist you, you can focus on your studies with peace of mind.

The UK system of Middle- and High-school Education

The British educational system is radically different from Japan’s uniform system of six years of primary school, three years of junior high school, three years of high school and four years of university. In the United Kingdom, education begins to specialise at the age of 16. Moreover, in principle British state schools do not accept overseas students, so enrolment in a public school is the only way for a foreign national to study in the United Kingdom below the university level.

 In this section we explain the British system of academic years and the General Certificate of Education?Advanced Level, or GCE A Level. The A Level is the qualification needed to enter university under the UK system.

GCE A-Level

In the United Kingdom the education that corresponds to high school in Japan is normally provided over a two-year period. The purpose of this two-year period, called the Sixth Form, is to obtain the GCE A Level qualification, which is required for entry to university. (Please refer to the table explaining the UK educational system below.)v

For general universities, the only requirement for entry is the student’s exam results from three subjects. In the case of students aiming for an Oxbridge education, however, results from four subjects are often required. The subjects students choose at public school determine their direction for university entry and thus their future career, making public school a pivotal period in a student’s life.

Sitting University Examinations

In Japan’s university-entry system, each university sets its own examinations, and students sit the exams for the university of their choice. In contrast, under the British university-entry system, students submit their A Levels, a letter of recommendation from their school, a thesis and other materials to their desired universities, and are screened on that basis.

The GCE A Levels submitted by prospective entrants are the results British universities rely on most to screen applicants. However, students enrolled in public schools are also evaluated on their degree of participation in school events, sport and other activities.

The Academic Year

The British school year begins in September. It is divided into three terms: The period from September to December is the autumn term, the period from January to March comprises the spring term, and the period from April to July completes the year with the summer term. The terms are separated by one-week holidays called “half-term.” The end of the school year in early July marks the beginning of a long summer holiday of approximately two months.

All students who pursue overseas studies through the Tazaki Foundation are strongly encouraged to spend the long holidays engaging with a variety of people in the United Kingdom other than their school friends, through volunteer activities, part-time work and so on. These activities provide an opportunity to learn about British (and other) culture on a deeper level, thereby preparing the groundwork for becoming a truly bicultural citizen of the world.

(Table Describing the UK Educational System)
(UK 教育システム表)
Note: The period in which students study overseas through the Tazaki Foundation consists of the two years of the Sixth Form at public school and three years at university, as shown in the table above.