King's College joins rush of UK schools setting up abroad

King’s College School in south London has joined the armada of UK educational establishments setting up British-style schools abroad.

Wuxi, China
In the wake of President Xi Jinping's visit to Britain last month and the UK government's determined drive to establish closer trade links with China, King's has gone into partnership with Shanghai-based education provider Dipont to establish three fee-paying schools in China.The first, 3,180-pupil school will open in 2018 in Wuxi Taihu New City, 90 miles north-west of Shanghai, while others are planned in Hangzhou and in an as-yet undisclosed location.Andrew Halls, head of King's, said the Wuxi campus would embrace the best aspects of the Chinese and British education systems. "It's not like other schools in China which are a mirror image of the original British school – this is about sharing best practice on a single campus and sharing our ethos. The Chinese are very interested in our pastoral care and extra curricular activities," he said.King's is just the latest UK school to set up abroad as education establishes itself as one of the nation's most successful exports.Alongside the publication of its International Education Strategy, the government department UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) has also established an education unit to support UK education and training organisations to win business overseas, with the aim of helping the sector to secure £3 billion of new business by 2020 as part of its 2020 Export Drive.Brighton College, which already has two schools in the UAE, recently announced it would launch its first outlet in Thailand next year, initially with a pre-prep school in Bangkok which, in 2017, will be expanded to house 1,500, year 4-13 students. "They are very open-minded and like the best of what the British system has to offer in terms of a happy school community," said Richard Cairns, the college's headmaster.According to figures from the Independent Schools Council, its members were operating 44 overseas campuses, mostly in the Middle and Far East, at the start of the year. The figure has more than doubled in three years."A British education is seen as a gold standard by ambitious parents and students abroad, usually with the aim of entering a foreign university," Tony Puri, chief executive of Repton International Schools, which has three schools in the Gulf, told the Daily Telegraph.Aside from King's and Brighton College, schools expanding abroad include Cranleigh, Dulwich College, Haileybury, Harrow, Repton, Sherborne and Wellington.Joseph Spence, master of Dulwich College, which has five international schools in China, South Korea and Singapore, said, "They're very good schools in themselves and their stature is ultimately complementary to that of the parent school."Michael Wilson, headmaster of Cranleigh Prep School, said the international campuses were not just replicas of their parent schools and had syllabuses adjusted to include local history, culture and language."We wanted Abu Dhabi to be a partner school, not a satellite," says Wilson. "We're interested in translating Cranleigh, not transplanting it."He said teachers tended to be British expatriates or from the Commonwealth countries. "We had 30 applications for every post so the quality of the staff is unbelievable," Mr Wilson said. "We've effectively added 100 new members to our teaching staff and the exchange of ideas is equally valuable in both directions.For example, part of our Year 6 humanities course is now focused on Islam, with huge input from Abu Dhabi."There is no sign of the educational drive abroad slowing down. Mr Puri said, "Repton is exploring new opportunities in India, China and South East Asia. We'll probably double our schools within four years."For more Re:locate news and features on education & schools, click hereDon't miss the Re:locate Guide to International Education & Schools, published Autumn 2015.