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An introduction to school in Shanghai

International and Local Schools

If you have children, you may be concerned of their education here in Shanghai, as international schools in Shanghai can be costly. In addition to the cost, international schools are the only option if you intend to let your children have lessons be instructed in English. In Shanghai, there are no local schools that conduct lessons in English.

Traditionally, many international schools clustered around the Hongqiao area, but there are increasingly more international schools being set up throughout the city, in both Puxi and Pudong. This may be an important consideration to many expatriate families, given the growing traffic situation.

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

There is a growing trend among expatriates with young children to send their young children to local Chinese kindergartens for early exposure to Mandarin and Shanghai dialect. Sending young children to local kindergartens allows their children to make Shanghainese friends, and these local kindergartens charge lesser than the international schools. 

Some local schools, approved by the education authorities, are also made available for foreigners, but most of them teach in Chinese. If you want your kids to speak fluent Chinese, this may be a good option.

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

How can expat students apply to Shanghai shools?

Application Criteria

Expat students of suitable age, health and holding a common 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 shall be a formal commission signed by the parents to appoint a custodian in Shanghai, who should be expats of 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 Overseas Chinese Affairs Office; certificate of academy degree of the applicant (translated by authorized institute); health certificate issued by hospitals higher than Grade Two in Shanghai within six months.

Charging Standards

According to the regulation from the relevant department of Shanghai Municipality, it will cost 3,000 yuan (US$456) per semester for primary schools and 6,000 yuan per semester for middle schools, with an accommodation fee of 900 yuan per semester. The monthly fee for full-time kindergarten will be 1,300 yuan, and the boarding fee will be 2,300 yuan. 

In addition, there is another kind of school which especially accept expat students, and their highest fees are also regulated — 34,000 yuan per semester for primary schools, 38,000 yuan per semester for middle schools and 6,500 per month for kindergartens. Accommodation costs 1,300 yuan. 

Address: Jiading Education Bureau, 601 Jiahang Road

Application Date: one week before the end or the beginning of a semester

Website: www.shmec.gov.cn

Schools introduction: 

International Schools

Shanghai Rainbow Bridge International School

Rainbow Bridge International School (RBIS) is a dynamic learning community located within the Shanghai Zoo, one of the largest green spaces in Shanghai. RBIS first opened its door in 1997. Currently RBIS has 15 early childhood classes, 5 kindergarten classes, and 8 elementary classes. Our diverse student body of over 350 students comes from thirty-one countries.

RBIS’s mission is to inspire life-long learners to be responsible global citizens who have respect for themselves, the earth, and diverse cultures.

At RBIS, their dedicated teaching staff nurtures student growth by establishing high and achievable goals in a caring learning environment. The academic programs are designed to cater to the different needs of individual students.

One of our greatest strengths is the sense of community shared by the staff, students, and RBIS families and friends. Family-centred events such as our annual family picnic, Earth Day, movie night, and Festival of the Arts foster the special relationships amongst one another.

Address: 2381 Hongqiao Rd

Tel: 021-6268 2464/ 021- 6268 9773

Fax: 021-6269 1294

Website: http://www.rbischina.org/ 

Livingston American School Shanghai

LAS is a registered California corporation. LAS classes follow California's public school curriculum and standards. This is especially beneficial for those wishing to continue their schooling in the US. The principal selected to open the school holds a doctoral degree in school administration and has had over twenty-five years of experience as a school administrator in one of the highest achieving school districts in California. All LAS teachers have been selected for their teaching experience and success. In order to produce outstanding students, LAS must begin with distinguished educators.

Our school places a great deal of emphasis on technological literacy. In today's high-tech world, it is imperative that students excel in the use of computers. All students are also exposed to the arts, humanities and sciences, as well as ethics, since education must be coupled with character development during the maturation process.

Address: 580 Ganxi Rd

Tel: 021- 6238 3511


Manchester Business School China Centre

Manchester Business School (MBS) is one of the world's top 30 institutions with triple accreditation (EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA). Its MBA programme ranked No. 5 globally in ROI by Forbes 2012. MBS Part-time Global MBA Programme is now recruiting new students for July 2013 Intake in China. China Centre is committed to offer a Truly Global and Highly-Flexible MBA for working professionals and business elites in China.

Address: Suite 628, 6/Floor, Shanghai Centre, 1376 Nanjing Rd W.

Tel: 021- 6279 8660

For more international schools choices in Shanghai and their respective details, do visit http://www.idealshanghai.com/Resource/List/ServiceList.asp?classid=11 

Advanced Placement (AP) Program

Many Shanghai schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB), internationally-recognized programs that not only represent academic excellence but offer students, especially those living overseas, credibility.

AP or Advanced Placement (Diploma Program), run by the US-based College Board since 1955, is a secondary-specific agenda (usually grades 10-12). As with the American curriculum, it’s renowned for its flexibility, making it a program of choice among many globe-trotting families.

AP's 34 courses, all prerequisite-free, cover a wide range of college-level subjects and languages at nearly 18,000 schools worldwide. Expat families may benefit from additional support with the APID (The AP International Diploma for Overseas Study).

It's important to note that anyone can sit for AP qualification, including those who never stepped foot in an AP classroom - a plus for those wishing to strengthen both their skills and college application.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program

Both the international schools and some local schools may offer the IB program, which may give non-Chinese-speaking students another choice.

Founded in 1968, this non-profit educational foundation is based in Geneva, Switzerland with programs currently active in 141 countries.

Worthy of its many accolades, the IB Diploma (secondary) Programme hosts an extremely intensive and demanding two-year curriculum, but unlike its AP counterpart, allows little leeway after commitment (although fans often consider this its strongest feature).

IB programs can run from ages 3 to 19 with PYP (Primary Years Programme, 3-12 years) covering elementary years, MYP (Middle Years Programme, 11-16 years) and the IB Diploma Programme to be completed in the senior years (to be completed in secondary school).

IB prides itself on encouraging ‘international mindedness’ focusing on both the students’ and local culture and community awareness. Similar to the AP program, and per the school’s discretion, it also offers individual IB course options. Upon completion, students will receive an IB course certificate (not to be confused with the IB Diploma).

AP and IB classrooms are markedly different from "normal-track" classrooms, with a strong focus on discussion and independent projects involving critical thinking, problem-solving and research and writing skills.

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