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International Schools in Guangzhou – All You Need to Know

guangzhou skyline

Growing in popularity among discerning foreign teachers looking for an alternative to Beijing and Shanghai, Guangzhou is a phenomenal Tier 1 city home to almost 30 world-class international schools.

Why might you want to live and teach in Guangzhou? This bustling metropolis is as modern and lively as they come. With its fascinating history dating back more than 1,800 years, captivating Cantonese culture, and insanely good local cuisine, Guangzhou is simply a fantastic place to live.

Aside from being the home and soul of Cantonese cuisine (which, in all honesty, is reason enough to call it home), Guangzhou is also a cheaper place to live overall. You can reach Hong Kong in under an hour and will have quite a few lovely beaches to while away your days off.

But we digress. You’ve landed on this page hoping to learn more about the best international schools in Guangzhou, so that’s where we’ll head.

Quick overview of International Schools in Guangzhou

Guangzhou offers abundant options for those wishing to teach in top-notch international schools. Not nearly as wide an array as in Beijing, but certainly enough to make it tempting.

As far as curricula are concerned, American, British, and International Baccalaureate are the most represented. Yet whatever type of international model you seek or have experience with, you’ll find at least one option in the city.

If you’re coming to China with some international school teaching experience under your belt, you may first need to acquaint yourself with ‘the Chinese way’ of doing things.

Aside from the traditional international schools you’re probably used to (foreign-owned institutions enrolling only foreign students), China – and Guangzhou by default – is also home to a few more schools that fall under the ‘international school’ banner:

  • Co-operative schools

Local schools which cooperate with foreign schools to offer an international curriculum

Private-owned bilingual schools

As the name suggests, these schools are not affiliated with the government and run their internationally recognized syllabuses in two languages (primarily English and Chinese). These schools accept both foreign and local students.

  • Public schools

Local public schools that offer the local Chinese syllabus in English

It’s important to know that ALL international school jobs in China pay very well. However, the ‘classic’ kind does have the salary edge.

What are the best international schools in Guangzhou?

ISA Tianhe International School

Prominent both in reputation and location, ISA Tianhe is centrally located and favoured by some of the most influential families in Guangzhou. Yet another IB World School of note, this stellar institution stands out for offering a creative hybrid syllabus that combines the IB and British national curriculums. ISA takes in pre-kindy, primary, and secondary school students, so your teaching options abound.

First opened in 2015, ISA Tianhe has made impressive strides forward and is now considered one of the best international schools in Guangzhou.

ISA Science City International School

The flagship school of the ISA group, this centrally located day and boarding school opened in 2019 to much fanfare. A bona fide ‘city’ as its name insinuates, ISA Science is a stunning campus with outstanding facilities and management. The first purpose-built international school in Guangzhou and a unique place to teach, ISA offers the Early Year, Primary and Secondary IB curriculums, all the way up to the Diploma Programme.

ISA Science isn’t interested in your run-of-the-mill foreign teacher. They want dedicated and experienced professionals who see their role as a vocation rather than a mere job. You must love children, must love teaching, and must be dedicated to partaking in extracurricular activities.

American International School of Guangzhou

The AIS is an IB World School that takes kids aged 3-18. Non-profit and intensely multicultural, this Guangzhou international school offers an open-minded and welcoming place to work. Given it was founded in 1982, the AIS of Guangzhou is the oldest non-profit international school in the city; one that’s set to become a fully-fledged IB World School shortly.

Right now, it offers the IB Primary Years Programme.

AIS is split into two campuses and is revered for its rigorous athletics program.

Alcanta International College

Loved for its small class sizes and focus on mindfulness and local culture, Alcanta boasts high-tech facilities and an enviable teacher-student ratio of 1:8. Students here are aged 12-18. One of the few schools in China allowed to enrol local students, Alcantara teaches the IB Pre and Diploma programs and offers an eclectic mix of extracurricular activities like cooking classes and tea ceremonies.

The student-centred learning and commitment to boast a 50/50 split of foreign and local students cement the school’s aim to offer a true East-meets-West community. Inspiration for a new breed of international schools in China? Could be!

British School of Guangzhou

Part of the Nord Anglia Education branch, the British School of Guangzhou has a desirable connection to prominent schools and institutes worldwide. An excellent choice if you’re keen to get a foot in the NAE door – and its 76 schools.

Established in 2005 and taking in students aged 1 – 18, this more traditional, solid, reputable school was the city’s first British institution of its kind. It continues to be coveted by parents who wish for their children to have a comprehensive global outreach.

Guangzhou Nanfang International School

Guangzhou Nanfang International School

Located in the Baiyun district when it first opened in 2004, Nanfang is now in a tranquil location next to Guangzhou’s Botanical Gardens. This non-profit school accepts students from kindie to Grade 12 and boasts more than 50 nationalities among its 300-odd students.

Being smaller than others means Nanfang is known to be a tight-knit community and is especially friendly and welcoming.

North Anglia International School of Guangzhou

With its impressive pedigree, cutting-edge facility, and upstanding British curriculum, Guangzhou’s Nord Anglia International School is one of the city’s top choices. A sister branch to the British School, NAIS inaugurated its brand-new campus in September 2021. It offers its world-renowned education model to students aged 1-10.

Guangdong Country Garden School (Foshan)

Although not technically in Guangzhou but nearby Foshan, this school is nevertheless considered part of the former’s international school scene. Founded in 1994 and recognized for its consistently stellar results, this school is a privately owned Chinese institution offering a recognized international curriculum.

This school boasts a somewhat high turnover of foreign staff, hinting that it may be an excellent springboard to the international school teaching scene in China.

What's it like to teach in one of the best International Schools in Guangzhou?

International school jobs are high-stress, high-reward affairs, which is as accurate in China as elsewhere. The specific benefit of teaching in Guangzhou is that you will still bring in the big bucks while spending less than you would if you lived in Beijing or Shanghai. Indeed, that’s got to count for something.

Even though Guangzhou is cheaper than China’s top 2 teaching destinations, salaries for international school jobs are still sky high. Competition is stiff and demands on teachers considerable. International school jobs, after all, are the best-paid and most coveted teaching jobs for those with plenty of qualifications and experience. If you’re lucky enough to land one of these stellar jobs, you’ll no doubt enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, plenty of travel, and savings on the side.

The highly-demanding roles come with impressive packages that range wildly – expect to earn anywhere from USD2,500 to upwards of $5,000, depending not just on the school but (primarily) your experience and qualifications.

For this considerable salary, expect to work long hours and some weekends, often also partaking in extracurricular activities and excursions, if necessary.

Naturally, since we’re talking about world-class schools, you can also expect to work in a hi-tech environment, although the quality of campuses can differ significantly.

Working in one of the best international schools in Guangzhou is an excellent choice for anyone who’d love to be thrown into the deep end in China or has prior experience working in the field.

Find out more about Guangzhou as a teaching destination.

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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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