Developing Experts in China

Developing Experts has just returned from a visit to Beijing to learn more about the Chinese education system, conduct focus groups and meet with our Chinese investment partner. This blog sets out our key findings.

Developing Experts has just returned  from a visit to Beijing to learn more about the Chinese education system, conduct focus groups and meet with our Chinese investment partner. 

The focus group explored the reaction of primary and secondary headteachers towards the Developing Experts platform. We are pleased to report that heads were very keen to have access to our curriculum solution in all subjects in Mandarin. 

The priority the Chinese government places on education is second to none! Did you know that there are 4 days in the Chinese year when planes are not allowed to fly to ensure that they do not disturb children taking their exams?!

Developing Experts also learnt that the Chinese education system is divided into three years of kindergarten, six years of primary school, and three to six years of secondary education, often followed by several years of higher education. Kindergartens and primary schools are usually run by local education authorities or even private enterprises. 

In China, children begin school at the age of seven (or six if they live in Beijing, Shanghai, or other major cities) and attend classes on five days a week. Before that, children often attend pre-school or kindergarten for about one to three years. The type of education children receive there can range from nursery classes and seasonal kindergartens in poorer areas of the country to top-notch pre-primary education. Moreover, extra-curricular activities and education groups, as well as activity centers and game groups, complement their pre-primary education.

At the age of seven, children begin primary education. In major urban areas, such as Shanghai and Beijing, kids can start primary school one year early, as mentioned above. All in all, 60% of the allocated time of instruction is dedicated to Chinese and math, also called “The Big Two”. Additionally, children are instructed in music, art, morals and society, and nature, and also take practical work classes. Some schools, Developing Experts learned, also start to teach foreign languages towards the end of primary school and add extra-curricular activities to the mix.

Between the ages of 12 and 17, children attend secondary school in China. Public secondary schools are often divided into junior middle schools and senior middle schools, each of them three years long. After completing junior middle school, students can choose whether they want to attend a regular senior middle school, a vocational school, or a secondary professional school.

The main goal of most secondary schools is to prepare their students for higher education. In fact, the quality of a secondary school is often measured by the number of students they send off to college. This has a lot to do with the limited number of spots at China’s universities and the high number of applicants. Thus, it is not surprising that secondary school students are under a lot of pressure, an issue that, as a result of many of our team's teaching background, Developing Experts are familiar with and dedicated to combating. Aside from their regular work load, students also have to prepare for the Gaokao, the  National Higher Education Entrance Examination, which is the basis for recruiting students for institutions of higher education.

This nine-hour exam is very difficult and only 40% of students pass it in the first place. The exam tests the students’ skills and knowledge in Chinese, math, a foreign language, and a few other optional subjects. According to their results, they will then be admitted to top universities, regular universities, or institutions which operate on a provincial level. The higher the number of students who go on to attend top universities, the higher the popularity of the secondary school they graduated from. 

China is one of the most progressive countries, in terms of economic and business development, with an education system offering your children many opportunities to thrive in the future. Moreover, Shanghai’s students came out on top in OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test  in 2012, a test that rates the reading, math, and science skills of 15-year-olds in 65 countries. It seems that Chinese schools, particularly those in the big cities, are a breeding ground for highly educated future professionals.

Here at Developing Experts, we are looking forward to returning to China shortly!