Kirsten O'Connor

Kirsten O’Connor

BA (Ed) English

Kirsten has a had a career in Education in both England and Japan that many would envy.  She progressed to Headmistress of the British School in Tokyo before setting up her own consultancy business in Tokyo.

As part of her Christ Church studies, Kirsten chose to undertake her fourth year teaching practice, in Newham.  The community and challenged socio-economic setting of the school in which she was based was in such marked contrast to the schools in which she had previously trained that it completely changed her outlook and introduced her to an entirely new culture.  Kirsten continued to teach in Newham for seven years after she qualified.

Working in her second school in Newham, Kirsten met a colleague who subsequently left to teach in the British School in Tokyo.  This sowed a seed of interested in Kirsten’s mind.  Two years later, ready for promotion, she saw an advert in The Times for a Head of Key Stage 1 at the British School in Tokyo.  Kirsten applied and got the job.

Kirsten had never been to Japan before, but loved it.  When she arrived, the school had just 400 pupils, from nursery to Year 9.  By the time she retired, having served as Head of Primary, Deputy Head and then Headmistress, numbers had grown to over 1,000. 

By 2018, she felt that it was time to hand leadership of the School over to someone new, but wasn’t yet ready to leave Japan itself.  Despite the diverse education system within the City, Kirsten was conscious that there were few senior educationalists in Tokyo who could offer specialist advice to parents about the choices available and the right trajectory for their children.  In response, she set up QUEST TOKYO, a private company that provides advice and support parents and home-schooling tutors.  Another aspect of Kirsten’s current work is establishing Talk Education Tokyo.  This aims to generate increased cross-sector dialogue in a city where schools are often polarized by the significant differences in their curriculums.  Kirsten is also involved in a project to build a new primary and secondary school (with an outdoor centre) to provide parents in Tokyo with more choice and English education provision.  She is serving President of FEW (For Empowering Women) Japan – a group which supports local and foreign women through mentoring, public events and networking – and is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts.