Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of frequently asked questions about Tsukuba International School. If you have a question about our school and you don’t see the answer here, please feel free to contact us.

What is an international school?

An international school is a school that offers an international curriculum and that is open to students of all nationalities. Many international schools use English as their language of instruction, but some schools are bilingual, or use languages other than English.

Which grades does TIS offer?

TIS offers a preschool curriculum (ages 3 to 5), an elementary curriculum, covering grades 1 through 5 (ages 6 to 11), and a junior high curriculum covering grades 6 through 10 (ages 12 to 16).

Is TIS an English conversation school?

No, we are not an English conversation school. We offer a complete curriculum for full-time elementary and junior high school students. All classes are taught in English. Japanese is also offered as a language class.

What kind of curriculum do you use?

We are an IB World School authorized to offer the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and the Middle Years Programme (MYP) of the International Baccalaureate, so our curriculum is aligned with the PYP and MYP. We use curricular documents from Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom to inform our curricular choices.

Is TIS affiliated with a particular religion?

No, we are religiously neutral and we welcome students from all races, religions, and cultures.

Can Japanese students enroll in TIS?

We welcome students from all cultural backgrounds including Japanese, as long as they can communicate in English and they have a clear need to be educated in English (e.g. they have returned from a stay abroad, or their family is planning to move overseas). Tsukuba International School is an equal opportunity educator. We will not discriminate against any student or prospective student on the basis of race, color, gender, nationality, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

How is the school funded?

The school is a non-profit educational organization and is funded primarily by the tuition paid by the parents along with any donations we are able to obtain from private sources.

Are your teachers licensed to teach?

Yes, our full-time core teachers are licensed to teach at the elementary and/or secondary high level (as defined in their home countries). Our current teachers are from Australia, Canada, India, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Can I volunteer at TIS?

Yes. We welcome qualified people who are interested in acting as teachers’ aides in the classrooms. Volunteers must be willing to commit to a long-term arrangement (e.g. coming in once a week for a full day for the whole school year). If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the school and explain in detail how your skills and experiences will be an asset to our programmes.

How can I get a job at TIS?

Please see our jobs page for information about working at Tsukuba International School.

Please note that in order to apply for a teaching position, you must possess a degree in education with a specialization in early childhood, primary, or secondary education, and the degree must have been obtained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States. A degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is not a sufficient qualification for teaching core subjects at the elementary or junior high level.

How long is the school day?

The school day starts at 8:30 am (8:45 am in the pre-kindergarten) and finishes at 2:00 pm in the pre-kindergarten grades, 3:05 pm in the elementary school (kindergarten to Grade 5) and at 4:05 pm at the junior high school (Grade 6 to 10).

When does the school year start?

The school year starts in late August and finishes in June. Please have a look at our school calendar for more details.

Can I enroll my child in April?

Yes, you can enroll your child in April. We have a Spring Headstart Program that runs from April to June. These three months give students a chance to get used to the school environment and give non-native English speakers the opportunity to develop their English language skills before the school year starts up again in September. The Headstart Program is available to students in all grades. Please contact us for details.

In fact, students can enroll at any time during the year if there is space in the grade. (We only accept a maximum of 20 students per grade.) Please contact us to ask about specific grades.

What is the difference between the Headstart Program and the Regular Program?

Our regular school year goes from August to June, and this is referred to as the Regular Program. The Headstart Program goes from April to June (three months) and exists to give incoming students a chance to study intensive English before starting the school year in September.

In Japan, public schools go from April to March, so parents sometimes want their children to start studying at our school from April instead of September. The Headstart Program provides us with a way to accept students who are transferring from Japanese schools and gives them a chance to get used to our school before starting our school year in September. Students in the Headstart Program follow the same curriculum as those in the Regular Program.

Students who complete the Headstart Program in June are automatically accepted into the Regular Program from September.

What if my child doesn’t speak English?

Students at TIS are immersed in English and under ideal circumstances can be brought up to a high level of fluency by the time they graduate. However, for non-native English speakers, we require at least some basic English ability and that at least one parent be willing and able to communicate in English.

How old must my child be to enter Grade 1?

Students entering the preschool must be 3 years old by December 31 of the current school year in order to be eligible for admission. Age requirements may be waived for transfer students who have completed at least one term of schooling elsewhere. Please see our list of eligibility requirements for more information.

Do you offer a junior high school program?

Yes. In accordance with the five-year Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate, our junior high school (or “middle school”) consists of five grades, from Grade 6 to Grade 10.

Do you provide lunch for the students?

No, we do not provide a school lunch. Students bring packed lunches every day.

Do you have a school bus?

Yes, we do. Students can be picked up from several locations in and near Tsukuba. Click here for details of our bus service.

Do you offer any after school programs for children in the community?

Our after-school program and enrichment programs are only for current, full-time students. An international summer camp is available during the summer for children in the community.

I am Japanese and I just returned from a stay overseas with my family. I would like my children to continue their education in English. Can TIS help?

At present, we only offer full-time enrollment, so we welcome any Japanese students whose parents want them to pursue an English-language education on a full-time basis. We do not offer after-school English programs for students who are not studying at TIS full-time.

Are there any other international schools in Tsukuba? in Ibaraki? in Japan?

TIS is the only international elementary and junior high school in Ibaraki that offers a curriculum designed and implemented by certified teachers. We are also the only IB World School in Ibaraki authorized to offer the Primary Years Programme and the Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate. In addition, we are the only international school in Ibaraki that is registered as a school corporation (学校法人) and as a member of the Japan Council of International Schools (JCIS). You can see a list of top-class international schools in Japan on the JCIS website.

What are my child’s options after s/he graduates from TIS?

Many graduates from TIS have gone on to international junior high and high schools in Japan and then on to universities abroad. Other students have continued in Japanese schools after TIS, and still others have integrated back into schools in their home countries. Your child’s options will depend on his/her English language ability, Japanese ability, ambition, willingness to take tests (especially if returning to Japanese schools), and a variety of other factors. Graduate options are considered on a case-by-case basis, so it is important to communicate with your child’s teacher about your child’s future as early in his/her academic career as possible.

Why should I send my child to an international school?

For international families, one of the primary advantages of sending your child to an international school is the ability to communicate in English with the teachers and staff of the school. Also, our small class sizes and international curriculum offer an environment conducive to developing your child’s creativity and critical thinking skills. Finally, if you are planning to stay in Japan for a short time (one or two years or less), it may be difficult for your children to adjust to the Japanese school environment and keep up with their studies. In cases like this, where parents have concerns about their children keeping up with their cohorts back home, an international school like TIS can be a good option.