Top London college partners with China to open three British schools
King’s College School in Wimbledon, London, has gone into partnership with Shanghai-based education provider Dipont to set up a trio of fee-paying British-style schools in China.
The deal is part of ￡30 billion-worth of trade agreements announced during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Britain last month.
According to Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School, where fees cost almost ￡20,000 a year, the income from acting as consultants in China will double the number of bursaries available for London students.
The first school, scheduled to open in 2018, is for 3,180 pupils, and will be built next to a lake in Wuxi Taihu New City, which is 90 miles north west of Shanghai.
The new city has sprung up in the past 10 years and is located in one of China’s fastest-growing areas, which will soon be home to 10 million people.
The city government is paying for the school to be built and the majority of the students will be Chinese, joined by around 500 international students.
The campus, designed by a UK firm, will feature a replica of the beautiful Victorian Great Hall at King’s in Wimbledon, with its wood panelling and leaded windows.
However, Mr Halls stressed that the Wuxi campus as a whole will not be a replica of the Wimbledon site, but will embrace the best aspects of the Chinese and British education systems.
“It’s not like other schools in China where it is a mirror image of the original British school – this is about sharing best practice on a single campus and sharing our ethos. The Chinese are very interested in our pastoral care and extracurricular activities,” said Mr Halls.
He has visited the country five times since the partnership was first discussed three years ago.
“The Chinese have been welcoming; they are very keen to make their school as good as it can be. They are a very competitive country and they like that King’s is the Sunday Times British Independent Secondary School of the Year in 2014-15 and very strong academically.
“They are very open-minded and like the best of what the British system has to offer in terms of a happy school community. The children are very keen, articulate and impressive young men and women and there’s no doubt that education is taken very seriously there.”
Two more schools are in the pipeline. One will be built in Hangzhou, an ancient city around 110 miles south of Shanghai, and the other in an as-yet-undisclosed location.
King's College School takes boys aged 7-18 and girls aged 16-18. Founded by Royal Charter in 1829, it has more than 1,200 pupils. Mandarin Chinese is taught there from GCSE up to International Baccalaureate level, and a significant number of Chinese pupils are on the school roll.
It is just one in a long line of renowned British schools to open branches overseas.