What is High School like?
High School Life
In Osaka public high schools, the following are set guidelines. These differ from school to school, so please consult further with your school’s teachers.
High schools may be classified into two types, those with a school year system and those with a credit system. In the school year system, each year has a prescribed set of subjects (a section may select their own set of subjects). Many absences, failure to submit requirements, and getting low grades on tests will result in failure to advance to the next level, and the student will have to repeat the entire year. In the credit system there is no school year and no repeating of levels. In order to graduate, there are a fixed number of necessary subjects. Passing these subjects earns you units. Getting the necessary number of units enables you to graduate.
An official unit is a 50 minute class which meets 35 times. Or you can look at it as the number of class hours in a week. For example, if the math class meets 4 hours in 1 week, then that class is equivalent to 4 units. In high school the number of units you must take in order to graduate is fixed. The number of necessary units differs from high school to high school but most require 74 units or more.
◆Start of classes
School starts from 8:25 am to around 8:30 am. Make sure to come to school around 10 minutes before then. Arriving in school past the designated time for start of class marks the student as tardy. The school must be informed if the child is going to be late or absent due to sickness or other reasons.
A student is tardy when he or she hasn’t entered the classroom by the time each class begins. There are cases when being tardy often is equivalent to being absent from class and could prevent a student from earning credit for the class. The school must be informed if a student will be late or absent due to sickness or other reasons.
The number of classes, dismissal time etc. is the same for all levels. Classes start at 8:30 am with 4 periods in the morning (each period lasts for 50 minutes. After lunch (either school-prepared meals or packed lunches) there are 2 more periods. In one day, classes last for 5 to 6 hours. There are different teachers for each subject.
◆Home-prepared packed lunches (bentou)
High schools in Osaka do not provide school-prepared lunches. Please bring your own lunch to school or buy your lunch from the canteen. (High schools usually have a school canteen.)
After classes end, there is time set aside for cleaning the school. The students clean the classroom, stairwell, corridors, toilet and other rooms. Let’s all clean the place we study and use together.
The time for extra curricular activities after regular school hours is called “houkago”. During this time, you can join activities that relate to the sport that you excel in, or one related to culture. You are free to join any activity.
Most middle schools have their own prescribed uniform. Students come to school wearing them (one set for summer and another for winter).
During P.E. students must change to P. E. uniforms that will allow freedom of movement. Apart from the indoor shoes, there are schools which require that another set of shoes be worn only for the gymnasium.
During swimming classes in summer a swimsuit and swimming cap are required, and again, both must only be for personal use. Students must write their name on their things. For further details, please consult the school.
The homeroom teacher or classroom adviser is in charge of a class made up of 40 children or less. The homeroom teacher may also have an assistant. There is different teacher per subject.
※ Each school has its own subject matter coverage, classroom activities at the start of the day and at the end of the day (homeroom) and various school events. If you are unsure of something or have difficulties with any of these, do not hesitate to approach the classroom adviser immediately.
In high school there is Language (Modern and Classical Japanese texts), Social Science (Geography, History etc.), Citizenship (Modern Society etc.), Math, Science (Physics, Biology, Chemistry etc.), Health and Physical Education, Arts (Fine arts, Calligraphy, Music etc.), Foreign Language (English, Chinese etc.), Home Economics etc. Other types of high schools have their own special subjects.
※ Aside from these there is general education, and special activities (homeroom, Student Council, Clubs, and school events.)
Textbooks and supplementary books (supplementary exercises and problem sheets) are not free.
The necessary materials must be prepared at home. In art and other subjects it is required that the students bring their own equipment.
The Osaka Board of Education aids students whose grasp of the Japanese language in class is still limited by providing supplementary classes. They also provide interpreters for parents or guardians who can not converse in Japanese during Teacher conferences. Please ask your teachers for further information.
Schools in Japan hold regular medical exams. There are several types of medical exams.
・ Health survey (taking of medical history, examining the current state of health)
・Taking of height measurements, weight measurements, sitting height measurement, internal examination (abdominal), eye exam (eye health), ear and nose examination, dental check-up, eyesight exam (vision acuity test), color perception test (for Year 4 students only), hearing test
・ Tuberculosis test (Tuberculin test)
Those who have not taken this during their elementary and middle school years must undergo this.
・ Cardiac test (ECG)
This determines if the function of the heart is normal.
・ Urine test
This determines if there are any irregularities in the student’s urine by the amount of blood sugar and turbidity.
※There are also times when a medical exam must be undertaken before strenuous activities such as swimming class, marathons or mountain climbing, and overnight excursions. Also, in order to be allowed to man the shops during the Culture Festival, students might be tested for parasites.
In high school there are 5 periodical tests in a year (the midterm and the finals). There are some subjects which only require 1 test per term, some 2, others give no test at all, and some would base the student’s grade on classroom performance alone. Periodical exams are usually held within 3 to 5 days. There are some schools that give take-home exams or evaluation exams. Please ask the teachers for further details.
◆Report card (Tsuuchihyou)
The student’s grades and performance in various school activities (attendance, absences etc.) are recorded here. It is received on the day of the closing ceremony. After showing it to the parents or guardians, it is handed back to the adviser on the day of the opening ceremony, on the first day of the next term.
What is High School like?
School starts in April and ends in March. There are 2 types of high schools, ones using the school year system (where a student must repeat the entire year if they fail to reach the necessary grade and attend the prescribed number of school days for each year) and ones using the credit system (where a student graduates if they are able to reach the necessary grade and attend the prescribed number of school days in 3 years or more). There are schools that operate under a trimester system and schools that have two semesters. There are instances wherein the parents or guardian must come to school in order to confer with the homeroom adviser. Apart from the tuition fee, there will be events which require some financial outlay (such as the overnight school trip). High school is more student-centered than elementary or middle school. So, although the names of the events and the scheduled activities differ from school to school, they share similar features, and here is an example of a school with a trimester system.
This is held on the first day of school. The entire student body is assembled.
This is to celebrate first year students entering the school. Parents and guardians also attend.
A physician checks if the students’ health is in good condition.
●Height and weight measurement
The pupils’ height and weight are measured.
Topics that can not be covered inside the classroom are studied outside. These may touch on topics such as nature, history, culture and the like.
Parents/guardians, with their children, discuss school and home life with the adviser.
This is held on the last day of each term. The entire student body is usually assembled
●Summer break (end of July to end of August)
This is a long break that lasts around 30 to 40 days.
During this period there are days which the students may have to come to school for swimming class, club activities and the like.
This event makes physical activity fun through competitions such as short distance races, relay races, dances, and cheering. Depending on the school, the students’ family may be asked to participate. In general in elementary school this event is called “undoukai” (literally “exercise meet”) while in middle and high school it is called “taiikutaikai” (literally “physical education meet”).
●Culture festival, Students’ exhibit
The school enjoys listening to each class performing by playing musical instruments, choral singing, or staging a play. Parents or guardians may usually attend.
●Winter break (end of December to first week of January)
This break lasts around 2 weeks.
●School excursion (shuugaku ryokou)
In public high schools, second year students take an overnight excursion together. This is usually done during the second or third term.
This event is when successful graduates are recognized and diplomas are awarded.
*For more details, refer to the page on High School types.
●Spring break (end of March to first week of April)
It begins after the closing ceremony of the 3rd term