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Guangzhou has many international schools and most expat parents prefer this option over public schools or Chinese private schools.
Chinese parents put a huge emphasis on education, and a 60-hour school week is common. This is before even allotting time for any extra-curricular activities. The Chinese approach to education entails hard work, long hours and plenty of learning by rote, and it may be quite an adjustment for expat children.
Public schools in Guangzhou
Foreigners who plan on staying in China long term and wish to integrate their children into the country, culture and language may opt for a state school or a private school that follows the Chinese curriculum. As this integration is easier for younger children, this option is more popular in kindergartens and nurseries, although preschool is not compulsory in China.
Primary school starts at age six and lasts six years, and secondary school lasts another six years. Students in senior secondary school can follow an academic or vocational education programme.
Expat children who are more accustomed to a less rigorous or a more balanced lifestyle may feel pressured in a Chinese public school. For this reason, as well as the difficulties that the language barrier creates, selected private and international schools are usually the best option for the children of expats in Guangzhou.
Private schools in Guangzhou
Some private schools in Guangzhou accept both expat and Chinese students, but parents should make sure that Chinese-run private schools are a good fit for their children.
Some schools provide bilingual education or offer an international curriculum, while others are less focused on international students and follow the Chinese approach to education, which is not always suitable for expat children.
International schools in Guangzhou
There are a number of international schools that allow children to continue studying the curriculum from their home country while living in China. Placement is tough; some companies that regularly relocate expats will reserve spots in top schools, and education should be discussed with an employer well before moving to and starting to work in Guangzhou. International schools can also be expensive, so expats should try to negotiate an allowance to cover the cost of their children's school fees before accepting a job in China.
Those who don't have a reserved spot at an international school in Guangzhou need to begin the application process as early as possible because waiting lists at some schools are incredibly long. It is best to check the entry requirements for each school and have the necessary documents readily available so the application process can be done as quickly as possible.
Homeschooling in Guangzhou
Homeschooling is essentially illegal in China, although the extent to which the law applies to foreign nationals is questionable. Expats continue to opt to homeschool their children in Guangzhou, especially parents on short-term employment contracts and those who find the school fees of international schools exorbitant.
Parents who are interested in homeschooling in Guangzhou must do their research extensively and make the decision cautiously.
Special needs education in Guangzhou
The level of support for special education needs in schools in Guangzhou is variable. There have been moves to increase admission of students with disabilities into mainstream schools and provide necessary assistance to them, but international schools are still more likely to provide holistic support.
While some schools in Guangzhou offer a range of facilities, support classes, assistant teachers, counsellors and assistive devices, other schools may only provide support for certain disabilities, and physical, psychological or behavioural disorders.
We recommend contacting schools directly and discussing all the support available and the particular needs of the child.
Tutors in Guangzhou
Tutoring has become increasingly popular in Guangzhou, among adults and children alike. Whether adult expats are looking for a tutor to gain language skills or parents would like their children to receive extra support during exam time, tutors are easy to find. Finding a tutor through word of mouth and by networking with other parents is a great option, as are online tutor portals and companies, such as Preply and Apprentus.