The Thomas Hardye School

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Little Japan in West Sussex?!


Japanese School


On Saturday 8th November, five of our year 12 boys embarked on an exchange visit with their teacher; an exchange visit unusual in that they did not go abroad. The exchange was with the Rikkyo School in England, an independent boarding school which follows the Japanese curriculum. All of the students are Japanese, and the majority return to Japan for their university studies.

Our first impressions were of having arrived in Japan, for not only were the staff and students Japanese, even the layout of classrooms, staffrooms and even the architecture of some of the buildings gave the pleasant, if slightly strange, feeling of having arrived in another country. The students and staff stay on site over the weekend, as it is a boarding school, but we were immediately struck by the timetable. Even at the weekend, there are extra lessons, home-room (tutor group) sessions, and supervised study until almost midnight for the senior students.

In the morning, we were woken by students ringing hand bells, and followed them down to participate in morning exercises. The “rajio-taiso” is a sort of 1930’s callisthenics workout that is still practised by some Japanese schools and businesses. It is a very odd thing to see in a school in the UK at 7.15 am! The headmaster and deputy head also took part, and immediately afterwards there is a drum roll and the students parade off to breakfast.
So, at first we felt completely disoriented and almost shocked at the routine and workload of students and staff. However, as we got to know people, and followed them in their daily lives, we began to find many good points about the school. The staff-student ratio is very high, and teachers have less contact time (lessons) with students, so there is more chance for one-to-one conversations and for social and sport activities with teachers and students.

Here are some thoughts from our students:
At the Rikkyo School I have learnt many interesting things both in class and out of class. I have fully enjoyed my stay here and have had a good taste of what the daily routine is like. The students were very kind towards us, therefore I wish them the best in their studies and I am looking forward to when my buddy comes to my house.  Jody Martinez-Dodge.

Rikkyo School has been a very interesting exchange. What surprised me the most is how hard everyone works. In most English schools, working until midnight is unheard of! I also noticed that students and teachers interact with each other more than in Thomas Hardye School. I am very grateful for how welcoming everyone was to us, and I hope that this experience will inspire me to work just as hard as the students do here. Patrick Prior.
I have had a truly terrific time at Rikkyo School. At first, the five day trip seemed daunting; but now it does not seem long enough! My buddy Kanta and the other buddies were extremely kind and helpful. It did take a while to settle in, however. Some obvious differences between Rikkyo and Thomas Hardye were: going to chapel every day, and the organisation at meal times. No matter how many times I passed a plate the wrong way or sang the wrong line in a hymn, there was always someone to point me in the right direction. To conclude, the experience was very interesting and an eye-opening window into another culture. All the students and teachers were very welcoming and we had lots of fun. I can only hope that their experience of my school will be as good.  Rory Gillis.

I have learnt a lot from these five days at Rikkyo School, and experienced many different things that I wouldn't have otherwise. I saw the students stay up until ten to twelve at night just studying and I realised how different Japanese culture is compared to English culture! I have met a lot of new people and even learnt how to use chopsticks, but overall I have really enjoyed my time here, and given the chance I would come back here again. I would also like to thank you for letting me stay and attend the lessons. Thank you to all the staff and the students for making us feel so very welcome. Liam Watts.

I want to thank everyone from the Rikkyo Boarding School for allowing me and my classmates to stay and to attend lessons, clubs, meals and pastimes with you for these past few days. These lessons and other activities have allowed me to experience what things are like in your home country, and will hopefully allow me to develop my skills in Japanese, and to get closer to my dream of living in Japan. Tom Watson.

If you would like to read more about this trip, here are some blog posts I wrote when at the school: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3. Here is a link to a video of a song that the students and I wrote for the Japanese students.


See the schools report on our visit (in Japanese!)



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