The standard of education and schools in Osaka is high. While there are good public schools available here, the language of instruction is Japanese. Most expats find this an impractical option unless they plan on staying in Japan long term or if their children are young enough to pick up the language quickly.
Public and private schools in Osaka
Public elementary and junior high schools in Japan are assigned according to where the family lives. Compulsory schooling lasts for nine years, from the beginning of elementary school to the last year of junior high. During this period, education is free of charge for locals and foreigners alike, apart from contributions for teaching aids and the cost of school lunches.
Once a child graduates from junior high, they continue to high school. Admission is usually determined by an entry test. Junior high and high school can quickly become overwhelming and stressful to students, and potentially more so for foreign children who have not grown up in the system and are unfamiliar with the language.
Due to the high standard of public schools, most Japanese children attend them up to the end of junior high. When the time comes for making high school applications, there are generally more students than places available at the best public schools. Private schools generally have the space to accommodate students who aren't accepted to their public high school of choice.
International schools in Osaka
Most expat families in Japan opt to send their children to one of the city's international schools. These schools teach a foreign curriculum in the language of the school's country of origin. Most commonly, these schools offer the US, UK or International Baccalaureate curriculum and teach in English, but there are also schools catering to other nationalities.
Admission requirements vary widely from school to school. Applications often involve academic and language-proficiency testing. At the most prestigious schools, interviews may also be required. The best schools can quickly become oversubscribed, so it's always best to start applications as far in advance as possible.
Fees at international schools worldwide have a reputation for being extremely high, and Osaka is no exception. Tuition alone can be pricey, but there are often extra fees, some of which are compulsory, including fees for building maintenance, technology, bus service, lunches and extra-curriculars.
Homeschooling in Osaka
Homeschooling in Japan is a grey area for expats. While not technically illegal, there also aren't any specific legal provisions in favour of homeschooling.
As elementary and junior high school are compulsory in Japan, these years are more difficult for homeschoolers to navigate than the optional high-school years, during which school is no longer compulsory. Families are assigned a school based on their home address and will need to request permission from this school in order to homeschool. In most cases, schools are understanding of the situation, especially in cases where English support is limited at the school.
Special-needs education in Osaka
The government of Japan operates on the principle of inclusivity when it comes to special-needs students. In most cases, these children attend public schools alongside the general student body wherever possible. Depending on the nature and severity of the child's disabilities, extra support is offered whether in the form of attending special resource rooms a few times a week or attending special-needs classes within the school.
In the case of acute disabilities, children may attend a dedicated special-needs school. The curriculum at these schools is the same as that taught in public schools, with added activities that teach day-to-day living skills.
International schools often have support programmes for certain conditions or disabilities, though some offer more comprehensive assistance than others. This usually comes at an extra fee.
Tutoring in Osaka
As schooling is competitive in Japan, students often have multiple tutors for various subjects. Expat children in particular can benefit from tutoring, whether for language purposes or to catch up with an unfamiliar curriculum.
Japan has a booming tutoring industry and there are seemingly endless tutoring companies constantly popping up. Not all offer equally good service, so it's best to do thorough research before deciding on a particular company. Recommendations from schools and fellow expats are usually the best place to start.
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