In the past, Chinese public schools haven’t been a viable option for expat students, mainly because of the language barrier and incredibly disciplined approach to learning, which focuses on rote learning. The lack of second language programmes, as well as the fact that few concessions are made for foreign students, mean that most expats opt for private or international schools instead.
However, as most Western families are beginning to make long-term moves to East Asia, public schools are becoming more popular, especially for parents with young children who want them to be as well assimilated into the local culture as possible.
The standard of public schools in China varies considerably. Overall, the best schools do offer a high standard of teaching but, in many cases, this also means that they are more competitive and rigorous than similar public schooling options in an expat’s home country.
Public schools are usually free, but some schools may charge minimal fees or may charge for extra costs, such as food and extra-curricular activities. Overall, though, public schools are much cheaper than their private and international school alternatives.