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Find the right school for your child

International Schools, Local Schools with International Divisions and Private Schools

Find the right school for your child

Choosing the right school for your child can be a daunting task. Rather than focusing primarily on the cost of tuition, it is important to take all factors into account.

Teachers, philosophy, curriculum, quality of instruction and extracurricular activities are also elements that weigh heavily on the decision-making process.

International School

In Shanghai, there are three different categories of schooling. The first type, International School, is:

  • Registered under the Chinese Ministry of Education
  • Only for students who hold a non-Chinese, foreign passport
  • Typically include Pre-K through secondary school
  • Most teach the International Baccalaureate Organization Curriculum (such as Shanghai Community International School and the Yew Chung International School)
  • Most teach primarily in English and students from any country, except China, may attend.

Depending on the school, students can often continue the curriculum when they return to their home country. Another division of international schools is those that teach in the native language of their students, such as the French School of Shanghai, the German School of Shanghai, as well as the Shanghai Japanese School and Shanghai Korean School.

While students are sometimes put on a waitlist for international schools, some companies that regularly employ expats reserve positions for their employee’s children.

Local Schools with International Division

The second type of schooling is Local Schools with an International Division. Due to a growing trend, many local Chinese schools are adding international divisions for the sake of foreign students.

All the kindergartens, primary and high schools teach in Chinese, therefore these schools often provide Mandarin and Cantonese classes for students who are in the International Division.

Shanghai High School, Shanghai Jincai High School and Soong Chinese School for example, offer this option. Usually, these divisions use English as the primary language of instruction.

Private School

The third category is Private Schools which:

  • Mostly consist of Kindergartens and pre-K programs (privately owned)
  • Are required to have an education or training certificate
  • Are typically based on the state model or integrate aspects of foreign curriculums.

While these schools are predominantly Chinese, some offer English instruction, including Shanghai’s Montessori and Waldorf schools, which offer an alternative approach to education. Very few private schools offer curriculum for grades K-12.

Additional fees

While curriculum and tuition price are crucial factors, there is other important criteria. Before choosing a school for your child, keep in mind there could be other potential fees such as uniforms, computer costs, application fees, and possible transportation fees. Every school has its own unique strengths. 

Whether a family values music programs, facilities for sports and art, or Chinese or bilingual learning, there is a school catered to meet their individual needs.