English state academy to open fee-paying school in China

A Hampshire school academy trust is breaking new ground by becoming the first English state school group to open and run a fee paying school in China.

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It has been reported in the national press that the Bohunt Education Trust (BET), an academy school group with three schools in the South East of England, is to open and run a new school in in Wenzhou, eastern China by 2018.

Bohunt Education Trust: Chinese connections

The school group appears to be building on its connections with China following its involvement in the BBC documentary series, ‘Are Our Kids Tough Enough?’ in which children from Bohunt Liphook were taken through their paces by five teachers from China. Pupils were expected to work to same standards expected of Chinese nationals such as, longer hours and with tougher academic expectations.BET chief executive Neil Strowger believes that the trust’s involvement in new Chinese school will benefit students both in the UK and China."We're delighted to be involved in this partnership,” he said, “which will allow us to build on our offering in the UK while bringing our outstanding educational model to students in China.”"Our experience of the [BBC] series further emphasised the importance of working with others and learning from them to deliver the very best education. This is exactly what this partnership is all about."

Academy Schools

The news follows George Osborne’s announcement at the Budget in March this year that every school in England will be required to convert to academy status.The move will effectively take all schools out of local authority control and move them into the hands of central government. It is the government’s belief that asking all schools to convert to academy status will offer them the freedom to make innovative changes and improvements to the existing state-school model."It is simply unacceptable that Britain continues to sit too low down the global league tables for education,” said Mr Osborne. “So I’m going to get on with finishing the job we started five years ago, to drive up standards and set schools free from the shackles of local bureaucracy. I also want to support secondary schools that want to offer their pupils longer school days with more extracurricular activities like sport and art.”"Now is the time for us to make the bold decisions and the big investments that will help the next generation."

Questions over national 'academisation'

But, enforced ‘academisation’ has not gone down well amongst the teaching Unions. Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers has pointed out that both Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted Chief and the Sutton Trust have highlighted that there are ‘serious consequences’ for children’s education of schools being run by multi-academy trusts.“Evidence clearly demonstrates that academy status not only does not result in higher attainment,” he says, “but that many chains are badly failing their pupils, particularly their disadvantaged pupils.”Sir Michael Wilshaw has also voiced his concerns over the number of teachers leaving the state system in the UK to work in English medium international school based overseas. Last year, the International School Consultancy reported that the number of teachers from the UK leaving to teach in English medium international schools (18,000) was higher than the number of teachers who qualified through the PGCE (post-graduate certificate in education) route in England (17,000).Sir Michael believes that the UK needs to offer better-targeted financial incentives to newly qualified UK teachers.“We need to demonstrate to our teachers through action as well as words that their country needs them and that it values the job they do,” he appealed in his monthly OFSTED commentary. “As far as I’m concerned, that means Barnsley not Bangkok."
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