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International schools provide top-notch education
By He Liyao

LOOKING for an international school but not sure which one is right for your child? We’ve broken down a few of the top international schools in Shanghai and discussed why each is worth attending.


As we all know, international schools usually have great facilities, certified teachers and stellar curricula. But you may be concerned with the cost of the program, the number and variety of after-school activities, the campus location and if any language-immersion programs are available.

There are dozens of international schools and international departments of local public schools that provide education for expatriate children in Shanghai. Most of them require students to have an overseas passport for enrollment. Expatriates with young children are also encouraged to send their kids to local Chinese kindergartens for early exposure to Chinese and Shanghai dialect, as long as the kids are fluent in Mandarin. But before this, expats must receive the relevant permit from the district education authority.

In general, the curricula in international schools and local public schools are totally different. International schools, such as the Shanghai American School and The British International School Shanghai, use the same language, teaching method and textbooks as schools in their homelands. Besides the curricula, the expenses of the two different schools are also different. You should be clear what kind of education you want your children to receive.

International schools are centered mainly in three districts — Changning, Minhang and Pudong New Area, with each having about 10 international schools or their branch campuses. The rest can be found in Xuhui and Qingpu districts.

Some international schools offer programs to children as young as 18 months and up to Grade 12. Some international schools also offer bilingual programs.

How can expat students apply to Shanghai schools?

Expat students of suitable age, health and holding a valid passport can apply to study in Shanghai schools, and the application should be raised by their legal custodian in Shanghai. If the parents don’t live in Shanghai, there will be a formal commission signed by the parents to appoint a custodian in Shanghai, who should be expats holding long-term residence or Chinese citizens.

Materials needed

Occupational Certificate of one parent;

Residence permission of at least one year of one parent;

Property rights certificate or rental contract in Shanghai;

Study certificate issued by district-level Overseas Chinese Affairs Office;

Certificate of academy degree of the applicant (translated by authorized institute);

Health certificate issued by hospitals higher than Grade 2 in Shanghai within six months.

School recommendation

Shanghai Community International School

It serves over 2,500 students from more than 60 nations. Facilities are state-of-the-art, and all campuses have wireless Internet access and superior resources that support an innovative technology program, including one-to-one Mac laptops for upper school students.

The curriculum is international, with teaching materials largely coming from the US. It provides opportunities to participate in special-interest activities, community building, arts, and athletics. Class trips occur throughout the year and upper school students have yearly trips outside of Shanghai. These and other initiatives aim to develop a sense of host-country awareness.

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Yew Chung International School of Shanghai

Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS) is renowned for offering one of the most progressive and globally-minded programs of international education in China. 

Established in 1993 as the first international school officially recognized by and registered with the Chinese government, the school now has four campuses in prime locations in Puxi and Pudong to serve the expatriate community. The school’s unique multicultural and bilingual approach to education is known globally and is just one of the features that sets the school apart from others. 

Notably, YCIS was the first and only school in China to receive the Cambridge Award for Excellence in Education. In addition to its reputation for excellent academics, the school is also known for its sports, arts, and music programs. With over 2,500 students, aged 2-18, from more than 50 countries, YCIS provides a truly international education that develops caring, well-rounded, global citizens. 


The British International School Shanghai

Established in September 2002, it provides British-style education for the children of expatriates in Shanghai. The system is based on the national curriculum of England and applies to all students of statutory school age, Year 1 (5 years old) and above. It welcomes children from age 2 to 18 to study at the primary school or secondary school. Currently, BISS has two campuses, including Pudong campus and Puxi campus. They have almost 2,750 students.

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Shanghai United International School

It is the natural choice for parents seeking a bilingual international school. It aims to provide students with two high-grade educational components — an English-rich, bilingual, truly international curriculum through the IB Primary Years Program and International Curriculum of England Chinese (Mandarin) language and Mathematics through the Chinese national curriculum.

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Concordia International School Shanghai

It offers an outstanding, college-preparatory American-based curriculum. The school thrives on its culturally di-verse, international community. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Concordia is recognized for its dedication to academic excellence and for its vigorous activity programs in sports, arts, and cultural learning. In addition, state-of-the-art technology is highly integrated into the learning process.

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Shanghai American School

It offers an exemplary core American education program for expatriate students from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12.  There are two campuses: one in Puxi and the other in Pudong. It has more than 3,000 students from almost 40 countries.

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Dulwich College Shanghai

It is an independent British international school providing a world-class education to over 1,400 students from toddler to Year 13. Catering to students aged 2 to 18, it follows an enhanced English national curriculum, offering the IGCSE in years 10 to 11 and the IB in high school. The school is non-denominational, committed to the highest standards. The curriculum is modified and adapted to suit its Chinese location and international student body.

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Western International School of Shanghai

It opened in September 2006. As an IB candidate school for Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP), it offers students a rigorous, inquiry-based learning program in English. Small classes are taught by passionate and fully qualified Western and Chinese teachers. It also offers a very strong program in Chinese language and culture and daily Chinese instruction.

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