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International Schools in Beijing – All You Need to Know

When it comes to international education offerings in China, few cities can compete with Beijing.

Considered among the most expensive (and prestigious) schooling cities in the world, Beijing prides itself on delivering a world-class level of education to any child whose family can afford the eye-watering yearly fees.

Beijing boasts some of the world’s best international schools, and they pay among the highest teaching salaries. Foreign teachers who manage to score a top job for a top school in China’s capital, are the best-paid ESL teachers in the world.

Add impressive salaries with an array of exceptional perks, and you’ll understand why qualified and experienced foreign teachers consider international school jobs

the bees’ knees of China’s teaching opportunities.

So…are there any downsides to teaching in one of Beijing’s international schools?

Well, yes.

First, the workload can be overwhelming. The city is also an assault on all the senses. Plus, don’t think that previous experience working in this specific field counts for everything. You might be surprised at just how different the teaching experience in Beijing international schools will be.

Yet, if the stars align and you end up being tailor-made for an international school teaching in Beijing, then you are guaranteed to have a career-defining experience.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Quick overview of International Schools in Beijing

What’s so special about Beijing International Schools?

What are the best international schools in Beijing?

What’s it like to teach in one of Beijing’s International Schools?

Quick overview of International Schools in Beijing

‘International’ is a term used a little willy-nilly in China. This type of education is in such high demand that a plethora of schools have ‘adopted’ the term to entice eager parents – even if they are not international, per se.

Consequently, the array of international school types is quite extensive here.

Aside from the kind of traditional institutions you’re probably used to (foreign-owned schools running foreign curriculums and enrolling international students), you’ll also find:

  • co-operative schools running international curriculums in partnership with foreign schools
  • privately-owned bilingual schools that run internationally recognized curriculums in two languages
  • public schools that teach the local Chinese curriculum in English

All these institutions are international schools in Beijing, although only the traditional, foreign-owned schools offer those impressive teaching salaries we mentioned earlier.

Don’t be mistaken: all international school jobs pay well in China. Yet the salary range can be quite varied depending on the school type AND the location.

What’s so special about Beijing International Schools?

The unique aspect of international schools in Beijing (and China, in general) is that they emphasize local culture. Moreover, the choice of material is extensive. 

In Beijing, you can teach the IB, British, Canadian, Australian, German, US, French, and Swiss curricula. You can also teach the local Chinese curriculum in English.

What are the best international schools in Beijing?

Currently, there are 39 international schools in Beijing. These are the most prominent:

yew chung international school of shanghai

YCIS is one of the most established international schools in Beijing. It is revered by parents (and teachers) because it nurtures a truly bilingual and bicultural environment. YCIA offers the English curriculum with a definite eastern slant, the Secondary School IB Program, and takes in kids aged 2-18. Teachers report an excellent working environment, although the workload is extensive. You really need to be on top of your teaching game to fit in at YCIS.  

If you’re familiar with Singapore’s ISS school, you might already know about its sister school in Beijing: BISS! This co-ed day school offers expat students an international curriculum that runs from pre-kindie to Grade 12. The school’s state-of-the-art facilities, dedicated faculty, and vibrant learning environment create a nurturing space for students to explore their passions and excel in the fields of science and technology.

Dulwich College International

World-renowned Dulwich runs several branches in China, with Beijing’s being perhaps the most popular. Kids follow a bilingual curriculum from ages 2 to 6 and then switch to the British national curriculum. Students choose several advanced subjects to tackle the IGCSE in the last two years. The formula is a winning one, given this Beijing international school carries over 400 years of British academic excellence on its shoulders!

BCIS is a non-profit day school that aims to develop students’ global outlook while delivering a top-notch education. Between yearly cultural discovery trips around China, and a bustling social and sporting calendar that gels the whole school community, this institution boasts one of the best reputations. When you find a school that students, parents, and teachers love, you know you’ve stumbled onto a winner.

nord anglia

Nord Anglia enjoys an excellent reputation in China. In Beijing, the school is known for its high-tech facilities and bilingual curriculum from kindergarten to Grade 12. A bevy of international teaching resources and methods complements the local Chinese curriculum. The cutting-edge facilities and array of extra-curricular activities makes teaching here busy and invigorating.

Operated by Nord Anglia, the BSB takes in students from just 18 months to 18 years. Up until ten years ago, this school had two campuses in Beijing and was, at the time, the most prominent international school in the city. In 2012, the Shunyi and Sanlitun campuses were established independently and created into two different schools. You now have twice as many chances of scoring a teaching job with a well-reputed Beijing school!

Representing a British educational heritage that’s over 400 years old, Harrow is famous for its academic excellence and holistic teaching approach. In China, Harrows runs an international day and boarding school for students aged 18 months to 18 years, a bilingual school (same age bracket), and an early-years bilingual program for kids aged two to six.

hurtwood house school

Located just northeast of the city centre, Hurtwood boasts arguably one of the most beautiful campuses. Set amidst gorgeous green parklands, the school caters to around 600 students aged 3-11 and offers a hybrid Western-Chinese curriculum. HD focuses on students’ emotional and social growth while upholding impressive academic achievements. Undoubtedly one of the best bilingual international schools in Beijing. 

What started as an unassuming international kindergarten back in the 90s has evolved into one of Beijing’s most beloved ‘global’ schools. Beanstalk beats to its own drum and offers a respected international curriculum that is, in their words, “fused with Chinese culture and values.” Both expat and local kids (aged two to 18) attend this IB school (various curricula apply depending on grade) and boast five distinct campuses.

A Beijing international school that goes from strength to strength with every passing year, WAB is one of the city’s big players. It offers the full IB program from PreK3 to Grade 12 and terrific employment packages for teachers. Expectations and stress may run at peak levels here, and the extra-curricular commitments can be outstanding but the rewards are sensational, nonetheless.

A private co-ed school with abundant clout and prestige, ISB is a 40yo Beijing institution offering both Chinese and English programs from PreK3 to Grade 12. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone (teacher, student, or parent) who could find a single negative about this school. Awesome work environment, monster salaries, and outstanding packages attract the best foreign teachers in the city.

What’s it like to teach in one of Beijing’s International Schools?

As with every teaching job anywhere

Your salary package will be impressive. Teachers in these positions in China take home between USD 3,500 and USD 5,500 a month – jobs in Beijing will invariably all be on the higher end of that salary range. If you’ve perfected the art of negotiation, you will also score a housing stipend and, in some cases, even a return flight home to visit family once a year. Plus, you’ll be in the enviable position of being highly regarded in your local community, and this, in Beijing, is another big deal.

The cons: Teaching in a prominent international school is never a walk in the park. In Beijing, even less so. When you consider that school fees here are akin to college fees in the US, the pressure placed on teachers makes sense. Parents want to know their children are getting a top-notch education for their yuan. Unfortunately, teachers often bear the brunt of students’ shortcomings – but that’s a growing trend in the West, as well. Yes, even if the student is a dimwit who refuses to do any work. Politics plays a huge role in international school teaching in China and you’ll need to learn to play the game. This is one of those ‘compromises’ teachers accept if they want to work in a prestigious school.

Your role as a teacher in an international school in Beijing will involve more than just teaching. Curriculums are chock-full of extra activities, and you’ll have to supervise or partake somehow. There’s bound to be a weekend commitment now and then, long (primarily useless) meetings, and late nights. You can bet on also having to attend the odd recruiting function. As a foreign teacher, your presence is enticing to potential parents, so trust that your employer will require you to show your face at various events throughout the year.

Do the pros outweigh the cons? According to most foreign teachers working in international schools in Beijing, ABSOBLOODYLUTELY! The financial and professional gains far outweigh the drawbacks.

So, now that you know more about teaching in international schools in Beijing, you’ll be better placed to decide if it’s for you. One thing is sure: if you manage to get a posting at a prominent school in China, your CV will inarguably receive the most potent boost of all.

Contact us today if you’re ready to teach in one of the best international schools in Beijing.

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David O Connor

David O Connor

David is China by Teaching’s chief contributor. When not offering sage advice about teaching in China, David is a headmaster of a Bilingual kindergarten in Beijing. David is a lover of craft beers, book clubs and super long road trips.

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