Breaking down China’s independent school network for expat parents

Breaking down China’s independent school network for expat parents

Breaking down China’s independent school network for expat parents

British independent schools in China are now adjusting to pupil demographic changes.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, British private schools have been setting up in China in order to take advantage of the growing need by wealthy, middle class Chinese parents for their unique style of British education. The difference between international and private education in the vast country is that British independent schools are overseas branches of the original independent schools in the UK, with each set of education specialists operating under specific licenses. Whilst seeming complicated for newly arrived expat parents searching for the best education for their children, the rules actually benefit expat youngsters.

Basically, schools holding licenses for foreign passport holders can only take children of expatriate families or children of Chinese families who actually hold foreign passports. These schools tend to operate at a certain distance from China’s strict policies on education. The second style of schools partner with Chinese companies in the locality to offer bilingual education to Chinese children and are bound by the country’s strict education rulings. Unsurprisingly, the first model is more attractive to expat parents, and soared in the popularity stakes when they first set up. According to one expat education specialist, neither the local Chinese government nor the schools themselves had any idea what they were doing.

Nowadays, government officials alarmed by the schools’ popularity are formulating restrictions on who’s teaching what, although many of the new rules aren’t yet in play. The decline in the number of expat professionals working in China has made it trickier for the independent schools to fill their rolls, and opening and keeping schools going is more expensive. However, expat demand is clearly still there, especially for famous bilingual schools such as Harrow, Dulwich, Wellington and suchlike, all of which would love to expand but can’t due to government, location and license issues.

Many believe British independent schools are foretastes for central government’s plans as regards economic development as, in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, they’re being used to attract highly skilled expat workers and Fortune 500 companies.

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