Famous British girls boarding school to open offshoot in China

Published:  31 Mar at 6 PM
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As the demand amongst the wealthy in China for a traditional British education soars, Wycombe Abbey girls-only boarding school is opening a co-ed offshoot in Changzhou.

The famous school, in partnership with old Etonian William Vanberger’s Chinese-based company BE Education, will offer a traditionally-based curriculum in response to demand from expatriate parents and local Chinese parents. The focus will be on leadership skills, entrepreneurial spirit, sport, art, drama and music, and will be as close as is possible to an English boarding school.

In spite of the downturn in the Chinese economy, the demand for the best of a Western-style education remains strong amongst wealthy Chinese families. The new school’s teaching staff will be selected mostly from the UK, and teachers with a boarding school education will be given preference.

Chinese entrepreneurs are keen to see their children attaining fluency in English, as most will be heading for a British university-based degree course. Learning about British culture is also considered important, as it helps youngsters studying overseas to fit in with their fellow students, and expatriate students will be able to learn about Chinese history and culture as well as studying Mandarin.

The ten-acre campus, set just over 100 miles from Shanghai, will be known as Wycombe Abbey International, and will join other leading UK public school offshoots already active in China. Harrow, Dulwich College and Wellington have proved popular with wealthy Chinese as well as expat parents working in China. When asked why the new school was planned as co-ed, Mr Vanberger explained that, due to the only recently dropped ‘one child, one family’ rule, the social interaction provided by co-education is a significant aspect of what the school has to offer.

At present, around 80 per cent of the students are Chinese, with the remainder coming from more than 17 different countries. All subjects except maths are being taught in the English language, and sport includes rugby, swimming and rowing. Profits from the venture will go the Wycombe Abbey’s bursary scheme and other educational schemes, according to headmistress Rhiannon Wilkinson.
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