Senior High School
Learn about the ins and outs of Senior High Schooling in Ehime.
Senior High Schools (SHS) are the largest and least common of the three types of schools that are covered by JET ALTs, and have some significant differences from Elementary Schools and Junior High Schools.
As of 2023, there are only 24 JET ALTs working in public high schools, as well as 1 JET CIR. However, in rural areas in which SHS JETs don’t frequently visit, local ES/JHS ALTs sometimes visit nearby SHS to teach classes.
SHS lasts for 3 years, and is the first non-mandatory level of education, meaning students can opt out of education upon completing JHS, although only a small number do. So, how do SHS work?
Unlike ES or JHS, SHS are competitive. This means students can apply to any SHS they would like to attend, but (for public SHS) they are required to sit an exam. Schools then use the exam results to select who will be a student in the coming year. Schools have different scores required for a student to be accepted, but the birthrates and the increasing competition from private schools are generally making public schools easier to get into.
As mentioned, students can apply for any SHS, and that includes schools outside their town or city. This is because, unlike ES and standalone JHS, SHS are administered by the prefecture, not the local government. This means that JETs who work in public SHS are technically employees of Ehime Prefecture, not the town or city they live in. As such, you can find SHS JET ALTs in cities that don’t use JET for their ES or JHS ALTs, because SHS JETs are in a slightly different system.This also means that some SHS JETs travel outside their own city for visit schools, especially in Nanyo.
SHS also provide a variety of different courses. Although some are general, providing a broad “Academic” course that gives students a variety of skills, others train students in specific fields that would be more expected from a vocational school or university in other countries. Kogyos, or Technology Schools, are the most specialised. In Ehime, these schools can offer courses in Robotics, Architecture, Shipbuilding, Textiles, IT, Construction and more. Students graduating from these schools are guaranteed a job unless they opt to go to university instead.
In other specialisations, there are Nogyo, or Agricultural Schools, and Shogyo, or Commercial Schools. These schools focus on training students in farming and office work respectively, and provide a specialised series of courses for students. There are also Suisan, or Fishery Schools, but we only have one of those in Ehime. Many other schools will have a split focus, providing several Academic courses, but also running one or two Commercial or Agricultural courses alongside them.
For more academic specialisations, schools often have all 1st years attend a general Academic course, and then choose a focus in their 2nd year. This can be something like math, science or English, but can also be things like sports, or a course focusing on skills they’ll need to be accepted into university. It all depends on what the school offers!
Other kinds of schools include branch schools, schools that are too small to have their own entire administration, but instead share an administration with a larger, more central school. This is quite common for island schools in Ehime. There are also three Secondary schools. Although the name is a little generic, Secondary schools are schools with a combined JHS and SHS. Students broadly tend to begin immediately after ES, and continue at the same school for all 6 years, although moving from JHS to SHS is not guaranteed, and some students opt to go to a different SHS more in line with their interests/academics.
Being a Senior High School ALT
There is a really wide range of experiences for SHS JETs, maybe even more than most city BoEs, but here are some very broad trends.
Firstly, SHS JETs TEND to live in cities in Ehime, although that isn’t to be mistaken for living super centrally. Of the current 24 SHS JETs, only one doesn’t live in a city. This is mostly because SHS JETs TEND to need to visit multiple schools.
SHS ALTs have a single base school, like most ALTs, but the SHS base school is more like a combined school and BoE. The role city BoEs play for ES & JHS ALTs are instead handled by SHS ALT’s base school. Their supervisor (who is an English teacher at their base school) is basically the person tasked with helping them settle into Japan, and passing along all relevant information they need to do their job.
The actual workload of SHS ALTs is incredibly varied. Some have one or two classes a day and not much else, and others have back to back classes, followed by clubs and/or Eiken practice. Some are mostly leading, others assist. Some are teaching grammar and more advanced language topics, others are doing low-level review games for every lesson. Day to day, there’s enormous variation in what day to day life looks like for SHS ALTs.
In a similar way, how many schools SHS ALTs teach vary wildly too! In Toyo, they cover 2-3, Chuyo is 1-2, and Nanyo is 3-4, although Secondary school ALTs only teach at their base school. Being placed as a SHS ALT is a really unpredictable role!