Should schools be throwing youngsters from China under the ‘money bus?’

Should schools be throwing youngsters from China under the ‘money bus?’ 150 150 Jane Evans

UK Schools are chronically underfunded which is a huge pressure for school leaders. From their budgets, come salaries, water, lighting, heating, maintenance and much more, additional services for pupils, books, computers, and who knows what else. 

“The School Cuts coalition of six unions, which spearheaded a national campaign for more funding in schools, has conducted an analysis of recent government announcements which it says shows that more than 80% of schools will have less funding per pupil in real terms in 2020 than they did in 2015.”

Source: The Guardian September 2019

Pupils are money pots

Attracting and keeping pupils is vital as each one represents a pot of money. Low numbers can mean a school will ‘go out of business.’ Pretty tragic for the children, and for those dedicating their lives to supporting their educational growth. 

A current financial ‘solution’ being touted it to open state grammar schools up to youngsters from China, for a fee. Why? Well the money would be damn useful. The idea is to give them a better chance of getting into top UK Universities. Something greatly prized by many Chinese families, as school and university places in China are limited, and academic achievement is seen as THE way to gain status. 

An article by Sian Griffiths in The Times, October 2019, gave us a heads up on state schools taking this finance-focused route,

“Ten state grammar schools are in talks to be paid to teach thousands of ambitious Chinese teenagers — snatching them away from private schools that charge up to £40,000 a year.

The plans, being developed with officials in China, include 16 and 17-year-olds being taught A-levels for up to six months and given help to apply to British universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, from next September.”

Recent media reports show that China will fund the places, rather than the families. But I know competition for them will be beyond fierce! Poor children who already grow up in a culture where ‘doing well’ isn’t an aspiration its an expected necessity for every child. 

Today the Daily Mail, quotes a current Times article showing it’s all about the money…

“Head teacher Desmond Deehan told The Times: ‘State schools can’t offer tier 4 visas; that is open only to private schools and further education colleges. Why should that be the case?…

‘This needs to be reviewed, particularly if we are looking at the UK’s international standing. Our education is still highly respected, something we can trade with as something to sell.’

Government figures showed the UK’s education brought in £15.8billion from foreign nationals in 2010 and £21.4billion in 2017.”

What about the children?

From 4 years of Coaching Chinese Malaysian parents, and knowing and working with Queenie Tan, a veteran international school teacher, curriculum developer and teacher trainer who lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore and China. (Now world schooling her two teenage sons.) 

I’ve learned a few things that make me feel deeply uncomfortable about using Chinese children to make money for our schools.

          Doing well academically is a primary focus for many in China. (Also other East Asian countries) 

I recall a really heart-rending conversation with a seamstress in Hanoi. She told Queenie and I, that to send her daughter to university in Australia. She’d sold her home, was living in a tiny apartment with her parents and working all the hours she could. Her daughter isn’t happy there and wants to come home, which isn’t an option!

School life in China is harsh. Children are often hit, or threatened with it, which is traumatising. I regularly hear from parents I Coach about children (of all ages) being hit with canes in classrooms. 

It’s common for children to be sent to do extra studying after many hours at school. Where they’ve been from 7.30 or 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Parents will sacrifice a great deal to secure sought after school places and send children away to be educated. (This is a really horrendous insight into what may have contributed to a mother’s suicide, and the near death of her FOUR year old child, over a school place!) 

I could go on for hours based on what Queenie has taught me from her personal and professional experiences. And from the sad tales I hear from parents I work with. 

It’s not going to be ‘easy money’

I hope the schools touting for Chinese money this way, are ready for the complexities of the children’s needs. The deeply hidden emotional ones that are so stuffed inside them it’s crippling to observe and be around. Understanding how these show up and the support that’s needed must be a priority if schools have any moral compass and integrity. (FYI a Chinese adult may NOT be the best person to advise on this in my experience!)

Finally…chilling advice to parents from a relocation service

“The educational approach in Chinese kindergartens might be very different as well. Teachers are a lot more strict, and discipline is highly valued (more so than creative expression). Parents from Western countries may be shocked by this or even perceive these methods as cruel. Also note, that kindergarten is the time when ideological education is introduced to the curricula.”

Source: Internations Go!




Jane Evans

Jane is a ‘learn the hard way’ person. She has learnt from her personal experiences and her direct work with people who have often been in really bad places emotionally, relationally, practically and sometimes professionally.

All stories by: Jane Evans

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