The growing popularity of international K-12 schools in China
Over the past three years, there has been a significant rise in the number of Chinese families selecting an international style of education in China for their children.international schools in china
With the development of the country’s international Chinese-owned Private Schools (iCPS) sector, options for Chinese parents to keep their children close to home prior to university and yet receive an education that prepares them well for university studies abroad, have expanded. For many of China’s parents, this is proving to be the preferred option, in preference to foreign boarding or foundation years overseas, at an age when their child may not be sufficiently mature to face independent living in a vastly different cultural context.
Private education in China is developing thanks to favourable government regulations, and it is growing in popularity amongst Chinese nationals, despite free public schools. This is partly due to a shortage of education resources in the public education sector, but also due to increased wealth of many Chinese families who are seeking private options as a route to academic success. For the most aspirational of families, the international Chinese Private Schools offer the best of all worlds: an international style of bilingual education where children can learn in the language of English, follow a more Western-style of pedagogy, and study towards globally recognised examinations that effectively pave their way for subsequent admission to the world’s top universities and, ultimately, global careers.
There is also a growing recognition amongst informed Chinese parents (many who have experienced, or are aware of the demands of foreign higher education) that university success is about completing the entire degree course and graduating; not simply about getting the grades to enter university. Such success requires independent learning skills, the ability to think creatively, and to debate and communicate effectively – for most of the best universities in the world, this means in the language of English. These are the skills that iCPSs are promoting, and many successfully offering, particularly when foreign collaborations are involved.
Opportunities for foreign partnerships
Some of the most successful developments within the iCPS sector have included partnerships between Chinese investors and foreign independent schools, in particular, British schools. They have not only provided the essential Western skills and pedagogy, but bring an important brand identity which responds to the demand, by aspirational Chinese families for education that delivers academic heritage, reputation, brand prestige as well as a reliable route to higher education.
The international Chinese Private Schools are one of the few routes by which foreign brands can get involved in the education of Chinese children in China. There are now 31 independent school brands which have established agreements with Chinese schools and investors in order to deliver teaching expertise and an international style of education. Several such schools opened their doors for the first time in September 2018, including Adcote School and Lucton School in Shanghai; Nanwai King’s College in Wuxi; RDFZ King’s College in Hangzhou; Rong Qiao Sedbergh School in Fuzhou; Huili Schools in Shanghai and Hangzhou which have service agreements with Wellington College; and Wycombe Abbey International in Hangzhou. More are in development and the trend looks set to continue.