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Are you ready to ride the back of the Chinese dragon?

Writing ahead of tomorrow's TES, in which China's new appetite for British education is interrogated, one expert explores the huge demand – and the reasons it is set to grow even further

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Writing ahead of tomorrow's TES, in which China's new appetite for British education is interrogated, one expert explores the huge demand – and the reasons it is set to grow even further

Without question, the international schools market is going from strength to strength, with research from the International Schools Research (ISC) predicting that by 2022 the number of international schools will have expanded from today's figure of about 7,000 to more than 11,000.

The appetite for high-quality British-style education in many countries and cities remains strong, with long waiting lists and fierce competition for places.

When considering the changing education market in China, there is a clear potential for rapid and sustainable growth. Preparing now for what could be massive future opportunities is important for the British education sector, especially considering the increasing volume of middle-class Chinese families with disposable income and the high value they increasingly place on quality education rather than rote learning.

We’re looking at an interesting situation in China. One of the questions is whether metropolitan cities such as Shanghai and Beijing will decide to allow – even as a pilot – their citizens to study in such international schools.

To go even further, will the authorities allow for British international streams to be piloted in high-quality Chinese national schools? 

With the potential increase in students following the British curriculum – in China and other countries – the provision of high-quality teachers and school leaders will follow the principles of supply and demand. ISC research predicts that an additional 175,000 teachers will be required worldwide by 2020. That’s a figure worth remembering.

Once recruits have been appointed, regardless of location, size or school phase, ongoing professional development is the key to nurturing, improving and retaining excellent staff.

In partnership with the British School of Beijing, my organisation, the Council of British International Schools, recently delivered a CPD conference for teachers and leaders. The event attracted delegates from British schools from across Asia. The evaluations clearly indicated that colleagues who travelled to China for the first time developed professionally but also deepened their cultural understanding and left with a wealth of positive memories.

Perhaps they will choose to live and work in China in the future? No doubt there will be a demand for their expertise.

And the UK government is keen too – seeing education as a huge potential export for this country.

All the evidence suggests that the appetite for high-quality British education in Asia, the Middle East and other regions worldwide is real.

Personally and professionally, are you planning to get involved?

For the full story, get the 5 June edition of TES on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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