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Japan Conference for Schools 2015

On March 3rd 2015 over 60 participants joined the Japan Conference for Schools, held at the Embassy of Japan in London. Co-organised by the Embassy of Japan, the Japan Foundation and the Japan Society, the event was an opportunity for teachers to network and share practical ideas about projects for introducing Japanese into their schools or to enhance their existing Japan-related activities.

Participants were welcomed to the Embassy by Minister Hideki Asari, Director of the Japan Information and Cultural Centre (JICC). This was followed by a key note speech by Lorraine Cooper, Deputy Head at Maryland Primary School about her fascinating educational research project. She visited Japan with her Headteacher, Lorna Jackson, as part of their research into critical thinking skills. It was very interesting to hear about what they learnt from Japanese schools, and how they have adapted these ideas to change some policies in their East London school and in the wider educational community.

This thought-provoking key note speech was followed by two workshops. Attendees were able to choose from the following:
- Finding a place for Japan in the Geography curriculum
- Kamishibai – a traditional form of storytelling in Japan
- Flipped Learning – Introducing Anne Rajakuma’s brilliant resources and giving a taster of how they can be used in the classroom to improve exam results
- Origami workshop
Helen Morris told us it was “useful to actually have teaching materials(as well as ideas) from Kamishibai and geography workshops.” Another participant mentioned that “these were all very informative, I particularly found the flipped learning session and secondary teaching ideas session very useful as we can take the ideas away and put them into practice straight away.”

A Japanese lunch was then followed by two sessions of small panel discussions, where attendees could join groups and learn more on the topic they were most interested in. This year the topics were things such as school linking, sharing teaching ideas, teaching Japanese to dyslexic students and introducing the Japan Foundation’s Key Stage 2 Scheme of Work.

The event was closed with a few words from the Deputy Director of the Japan Foundation London, Tomoki Akazawa. This year the conference had a good mix of both primary and secondary schools, and was also a mix of schools that teach Japanese already, schools that are hoping to start as well as schools that run Japan related activities as clubs or as cross-curricular activities.

Katy Simpson from Dartford Grammar School commented “The conference has inspired me to be creative! The whole day was a fantastic opportunity to network and share knowledge and ideas on how to inspire our students.” Another participant mentioned the event was “Extremely informative with fantastic ideas for teaching Japanese. I was really surprised by the abundance of teaching materials and funding opportunities”.

Thank you to all the participants, speakers and the other organisers for making the conference such a success. We hope to see you again next year!

*Handouts from the conference are available to download below.*
**Photos supplied by the Embassy of Japan

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