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Phoenix House International School is a newly established school in central Tokyo, offering a British prep school style education to children from 5 - 11.

  • Phoenix House International School
    3-7 Yonban-cho, Chiyoda-ku
  • T +81 3 5530 7406
  • E admissions@pho…
  • W
  • School Ages: 5-11
  • School Gender: Mixed
  • Total School Numbers: 190
  • Teaching Language(s):
    • English
  • SEN: Mainstream with SEN support
  • Boarding: Not available
  • Uniform: Yes
  • School Year: August - June with three terms
  • School Hours: 8.30am - 3.30pm
  • Annual Fee Range: JP¥ 2,890,000 - JP¥ 3,240,000
  • Fee Information: Application fee: JP¥ 40,000 Enrolment fee JP¥ 260,000 Optional additional activities, bus fees, lunch fees. Annual Development fee JP¥ 300,000
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Memberships: COBIS
  • State/Independent: Privately owned


  • Council of British International Schools (COBIS)

No school can pay to be in
The Good Schools Guide International. Period.

What The Good Schools Guide International says

Head of school

Since founding in 2021, Ms Claire Fletcher. At the school gates every morning in ‘rain, snow, hail or sun’ to welcome the children. Knows every single child, and not just their name. She is well-spoken and proper but also has an upbeat, optimistic energy that is infectious. We doubt many children, when greeted brightly by name in the morning, can resist responding with a smile and a ‘Good morning, Ms Fletcher’.

Before arriving in Tokyo to start up Phoenix House, she worked at an established British prep-style school in Dubai plus stints on the founding team at two international schools (in Qatar and China). Speaks excitedly about the ‘blank canvas’ of a new school, and seems to relish the work of culture building that comes with it, particularly one with an ethos so close to what she herself enjoyed growing up; she speaks fondly of her traditional boarding school education in the north of England.

Says confidently that ‘we have 100 per cent parent buy-in’. Parents all unflinching in their praise for her headship. They say she is ‘a force of nature’, created ‘momentum’ and is the reason school has been able to become so successful so quickly. A ‘good communicator’ who is responsive to parents’ concerns and transparent about what can or cannot be done; parents appreciate that she openly admits the areas where work is still in progress.

She has lots of interaction with the community – a weekly newsletter, ‘Coffee with Claire’ on Thursdays and the popular ‘Window Walks’ where she shows small groups of parents what actually happens in the classrooms. Well-attended too are her parent information sessions on aspects of the curriculum (parents who are not familiar with the English National Curriculum especially appreciate these). Parents love her Instagram account, where she posts ‘little live videos’ to showcase what is going on at school.

When parents ask if she has children, she always answers that she has 288 (the school population at full capacity). This draws laughs but is not wholly untrue – extremely dedicated, she admits spending many hours in and on school. More than once we received emails from her on a Saturday morning.

Good news then that she tells us she is now ‘really settled’, ‘absolutely loves’ the great community and is ‘never leaving the school’!


School says it is ‘mildly selective’. A phonics assessment for prep 1 entry and the cognitive abilities test (CAT4) for prep 2 upwards plus a formal interview with the parents and another with the child. Head says she looks for parents who understand and support the school’s vision and children who are curious and want to engage. The academic demands and high standards for behaviour mean that children who aren’t ready to learn will not thrive here.

Still growing but the aim is gradual controlled growth, increasing from two to three forms in one or two year groups each year. Lots of interest though; we are told 75 families attended a recent open day event.


Vast majority of the initial intakes moved on to Rugby School Japan (RSJ) – not surprising as Phoenix House was set up as its feeder prep school, but it’s not the only option. There have been departures to competitive independent schools in the UK and renowned international schools in the US and around Asia. Head says it is a prep school in that the children are prepared for their next destination, wherever that may be.

Increasingly more parents want their child to move on to UK independent schools. School supports pupils on ISEB common entrance tests and interviews for entry to the likes of Marlborough and Millfield.

Latest results

Academic progress is tracked against the English National Curriculum and school reports on whether a child is approaching, meeting or exceeding expectations.

Teaching and learning

Class sizes are set at a maximum of 16, but some are as small as 11, meaning teachers know their charges well and pupils are engaged. We saw children sitting smartly at tables, engaged in their task or on the carpet, listening intently to the teacher.

Parents say the environment is ‘mellow’ and ‘nurturing’. The teaching is animated and lively with an undercurrent of good-natured British humour; children are encouraged to be curious but there is no hint of chaos or rowdiness. You can’t imagine any teachers shouting here, they probably don’t even have to call a child twice to get their attention.

Head’s hiring of teachers is praised by parents who say the quality of teaching staff is uniformly high. Class teachers are from the UK and parents note they all have the same energy as Ms Fletcher – in this case hiring those like yourself works very well.

English classes use the ‘Talk for Writing’ teaching framework and the exercise books we peeked into showed remarkable progress over just a couple of months. There is more variance in English fluency at the prep 5 and prep 6 end of school, where some pupils may have missed out on some of the foundational teaching when joining from other schools. In the younger years, parents note that while there is still a high ratio of non-native English speakers, English reading and writing attainment is more evenly high.

Many high ability pupils here. Head says the classroom teaching is always pitched to the top and teachers support from the bottom upwards. This ensures high achievers are consistently challenged and not coasting along. In particular, maths has been enhanced to suit pupils’ abilities; yet more challenge is provided in the form of maths mastery groups run during mornings and break times. Parents report that children are never bored or ‘waiting for something to happen’ in school.

All children bring their own devices to school – iPads for younger children and laptops for the older ones – but all year groups still record much of their work in exercise books daily, in neat cursive handwriting.

Unique on the timetable is oracy. Head believes children should be expressly taught to speak well. In addition to developing confidence, these skills will help distinguish many of them in school entrance interviews in future.

Forty-five minutes of Japanese language daily, taught by specialist teachers. Rumours are that some families supplement with additional Japanese language classes after school, particularly if they want to keep open the option of moving to Japanese curriculum middle or high schools in future.

French, Spanish and Latin are available as afterschool clubs for children who want to learn an additional language. Specialist teachers are brought in for French and Spanish, Latin taught by Phoenix House teachers (including the head herself).

In the library, school employs the Accelerated Reader programme – pupils choose reading books at their reading level, after which they complete a quiz online to check their understanding. Parents note a marked increase in motivation to read more quality texts since the introduction of the programme.

Year groups take turns to spend time at school’s enrichment campus in Hokkaido, a short flight away. The youngest prep 1 pupils stay for one night, gradually building up to prep 5/6 pupils spending a week at a time in autumn and spring. Many pupils say it is the best thing about school. Head emphasises that each trip has specific learning objectives from the curriculum, often it might be science units which are better taught in the great outdoors – they might visit the botanical garden in Hokkaido to learn about plants and the water cycle or a volcano that links back to their escape from Pompeii unit.

Learning support and SEN

Teachers note where children are exceeding expectations (therefore needing to be challenged more) or have gaps. Intervention groups are then set up where teaching staff are timetabled to work with small groups of children to boost number work, mental arithmetic or vocabulary for a term or more. Parents say the children do not feel singled out at all because it feels as if every child receives interventions of one kind or another.

Where more specific learning disabilities have been identified, school works in tandem with parents and external specialists, with regular communication to keep all the adults aligned.

Language support

Like other international schools, the vast majority of pupils here speak at least one other language besides English. The curriculum presumes a good command of English; gaps in phonics, vocabulary or oracy are identified in the course of the usual pupil progress meetings and school helps close these.

The arts and extracurricular

Pupils have music and art lessons with specialist teachers twice a week. Plenty of opportunity for pupils to present their work or perform at the winter and summer showcases or café concerts. We walked in on a prep 4 class preparing for their termly art exhibition on their unit on Ancient Egyptians and were impressed by pupils with hands up, eager to volunteer information about the scenes from Tutankhamun’s tomb (discovered by Howard Carter in 1922, we learnt).

Parents unanimous that the after-school classes are ‘amazing’ – screen golf, tennis, badminton, drama, ballet, ballroom and Latin dance, hiphop, aikido, judo, fencing etc. Pupils stay on for enrichment activities three, four, some even five afternoons a week. Parents appreciate that the programme encourages children to try different activities and is convenient and ‘stressless’ for all.


Lacking an outdoor play area, school compensates by making full use of its huge indoor gym for indoor PE and other organised games during breaktimes. Children are bused to a sports ground 15 minutes away for outdoor PE every week. Additional sports activities take place at nearby facilities. We saw children chatting happily with teachers on their short subway ride back to school after football team training.

Ethos and heritage

School was conceived as a feeder prep school to the newly established Rugby School Japan, with which it shares common ownership and management. The aim is to replicate (as closely as is possible in Tokyo) the experience of a British prep school.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Each child belongs to one of four houses. During house time every Friday, children take part in team building activities. House formals are a highlight in school calendar – once a year parents, pupils and staff dress up and sit down for a formal meal together.

Inclusivity is a big component of the culture that school is trying hard to build. A behavioural situation last year gave rise to an opportunity to bring parents in for a compulsory talk about expectations given the international demographic at school. The message of diversity and inclusion is taught from the youngest class up. On a classroom board we spotted: ‘We may all be different fish but in prep 1 we swim together.’

Pupils and parents

Currently slightly over half of the pupil population is ethnically Japanese but there is increasing diversity among new joiners.

Among parents, the Japanese tendency towards formality and reserve may mean it takes time to break the ice. We hear that parents have the autotranslate feature enabled on their group chat apps; this brings its own little frustrations (as all translation apps do!) but at least everyone feels able to join in.

No surprise that there are some celebrity parents and wealthy families (some mutterings of chauffeur-driven limousines and lavish birthday parties) but there are also a good number of middleclass families who prioritise a good education and are willing to make the necessary spending choices to give their child the opportunities here.

Money matters

Be prepared – the tweed school blazer alone for your prep 1 child (compulsory, worn daily) costs more than £200. In defence, parents say the uniforms are high quality, smart and comfortable; children feel proud in the uniform which has a positive effect on behaviour and learning.

Certainly not the cheapest schooling option but for those who can afford the fees, the range and quality of the offering actually makes this a value-for-money, value-for-time proposition. Parents all attest to this.

The last word

Possibly the closest experience to a British prep school that you can get here in Tokyo, with all the usual advantages that you can expect from a prep school education. Established as a feeder school to Rugby School Japan, this academically rigorous school with its strong emphasis on extra-curricular opportunities will put children in good stead for whatever comes next.

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