Best International Schools in Shanghai?

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    Just a little thought, the schools that charge the highest fees don’t always have the best packages for teachers as they may be driven by shareholder input rather than educational input.

    Some schools are run as purely profit making enterprises for large companies with their fingers in many areas of business. as education is a growth industry and large amounts of money can be made in very short spaces of time my advice would be to look for schools that have been around for a long time and have proven track records.

    It is important to remember that if you are here for short term stays maybe less than 2 years, your children will have to attend a school that will have a curriculum similar to the next place they will go to allow for continuity otherwise they may end up repeating some things and missing others.


    Just wanted to let you all know we ended up going with Shanghai United Bilingual School (SUIS/SUBS/Xiehe) in Hongqiao (Puxi side), even though it is quite a commute for our daughter. They will be opening a campus on the other side of the river near Jinqiao (Pudong side) next summer. So, one year of bus rides, but I think it is worth it.

    For those of you trying to decide which school is right, let me just say a few things from experience (Much more experience than I would have preferred!):

    * Try to find a school as close to the working parent’s office. Be very open and consider all options (International Schools, Bilingual Schools, Local Schools, and homeschooling). The simpler your life here the better. (I wish ours could have been!)

    * After you find your school, THEN choose where to live. In our case, we are all commuting for 9 months before we can move because we did this the other way around.

    * Do NOT choose a school based soley on their website. In some cases the websites are very far from true, and in others, the websites don’t even show you how good a place really is. You need to GO SEE any school you are considering, and make sure it is during school hours. And talk talk talk to the teachers, students, staff. At Chinese local schools in particular, make sure you are dropping in unannounced to get a real feel for what it is like.

    * Question the high prices at the International Schools, and don’t be afraid to ask for tuition reductions/ financial aid/ (discounts!) These schools are making a lot of money, and they are not Harvard (no one is leaving with a degree, that’s for sure!!)

    * As per bilingual schools, be very aware that there are 3 main approaches to a Chinese/English bilingual education:

    1. Chinese with ESL (English as a second language) – We didn’t want full immersion in the Chinese program because our daughter (a native English speaker) would have 1-2 hours of ESL classes everyday. Of course, one school told us they would move her to a higher class, but then she would have been in English class with children 3+ years older than her – not appropriate for a 1st grader. However, if your child does not speak English OR Chinese, this is probably a good option. ($2000 per year, and less)

    2. English with Chinese classes – For us this didn’t put enough emphasis on Chinese. We plan to live here for 5+ years, and having Chinese language skills is very important to us. This may be a good option for those students only living here for 1-3 years. But again, only if your on a nice expat package, because these are extremely expensive. ($21,000 and up)

    3. 50-50 English and Chinese – for us, this was the best option. In our daughter’s school, they have 1 Chinese teacher and 1 English teacher for every class all day. This is really special, and it’s at a much lower price than any other schools.. They put a lot of emphasis on creativity, and individual progress… And it’s an IB school. Unfortunately, for now, SUIS is the only school quite like it, but I can see that this is definitely the future for schools here in Shanghai. As expat packages thin out, there will be more and more demand for places that offer quality without the ludicrous prices. ($8,000 per year, approx)

    : )

    Just wanted to say thank you, to all of you on this website that have added opinions, and I hope this info I’m providing is helpful to others too! Please ask questions on this post, rather than sending a message, I’m watching this forum, so I’ll see your questions/comments.


    My husband will be working in Pudong next year. Could anyone let me know how far the SMIC school is from the more central parts of Pudong?

    How long does it take to get there by school bus? It looks pretty far out on the map, and pretty isolated. Also, is there a good local kindergarten nearby? I’m not keen to put my 3 year-old in school from 8.30am to 4pm! Thanks in advance.


    My daughter attends SCIS Hongqiao campus. This is her first year and she’s very happy there, aside from one teenage-girl sort of issue that I hope will soon be resolved. In fact, she would like to stay there until she graduates, but we’ll be going back to our home country long before then.

    It’s very international, as are many of the schools, has small classes, enthusiastic teachers, American curriculum, ESOL for non-English speakers, choice of 3 languages at present (Mandarin, French, Spanish), and they are building a new facility next-door to the old one.

    At present the school goes through 9th grade, but they have been adding a year as each class is promoted. I understand that the Changning campus (elementary only) is well-liked, and has the advantage of being very close to the Jiangsu Lu metro stop.


    /profile/261-emselst/?do=hovercard” data-mentionid=”261″ href=”<___base_url___>/profile/261-emselst/” rel=””>>@emselst  How do you feel SUBS “Shanghai United Bilingual School” now? I’m also looking for the school for my kids who are 5years old and 2years old. I’m appreciate to get your comments. Thanks.


    We have been in Thailand for 1 year now. Previously lived in China for almost 5 yrs. My kids are losing their Mandarin speaking skills, as well as reading/writing. Hired tutors, but sound is not quite right and not enough for just 1 hour a day. The school here is not too challenging to begin with (so looking forward to a change in school systems) and I really want the best education (as we all do for our children) combined with daily Chinese interaction so that they will improve their abilities with the language.

    We are US citizens and at this juncture, education is really important as my children are in very important stages of school: currently 10th grader, 7th grader and a 5th grader.

    I am looking for the change to happen for 2021-2022 school year. I had been reading about a school called Jin Cai International High School – which is a boarding school with an international division (American Curriculum).

    On paper it sounds good. Now this SUIS sounds good. But are you still happy with the school? And what do you know of Jin Cai High School? Thanks for any input.


    I know that Jin Cai High is doing the MYP/DP curriculum, and so would be a good international exposure for your kids – I don’t have information on their 5th grade, whether they have an international division for that. Anybody has any ideas?


    I heard that Jin Cai has a good curriculum but the students that go there are not really enthusiastic about learning. My friend was considering that school (since it is only 3 minutes by car from where we live), but was worried that her child won’t study hard. Also, it’s basically only for Asian children, so if you are of Western culture, I heard the child may be thrown out of the loop.


    Thank you to all who added comments about Jin Cai High School. Personally for me, I like the academics taught in China.

    It is more academically challenging. As we have been living in Asia for 10+ years, my kids know nothing of the lax attitude towards schooling like in most Western Schools.

    Good and bad points here… while it is good that schools want a “well-rounded” education for the kids, I believe that most of the time they are not being challenged enough.

    For my kids, they are use to a more academic curriculum and not so much of a focus on athletics as in American Schools.

    Don’t get me wrong as they love sports as any child would, but they also enjoy the challenge of competition among their peers. This is what they know and anything less, well, that is why I have the problem that I do now.

    My kids, mind you, tell me that they are bored… they even ask for additional work… this is unbelievable to me. We had also lived in Singapore for 3 years and I loved the teaching method also.

    I just thought that as Jin Cai had an international division, using USA textbooks and also an Asian division, possibly kids would have the best of both worlds?

    Of course, each parent knows their kids better and what can work for them.

    Unfortunately, my husband has made the decision that he wants us to remain in Thailand.

    As I am not happy with the school in Pattaya – where we live – We will have to get a second residence in Bangkok as that is where the choices of schooling open up for us.

    Although, if Shanghai was still a possibility, I would make a trip there to check it out. Again, thank you to all for your comments!!!


    My family and I will go to Shanghai for few years. My sons (8 and 6 years old) are speaking fluent English as we have been living in the US for 4 years.

    I’m looking for an international school for them in Puxi area, but SAS just has waiting list. So, any comments on Shanghai Rego International School and British International School? Thanks.


    My kids were on the SAS waiting list and ended up getting into the school by July so I encourage you to put them on the list.

    The first round of admissions is made in May when the school determines who will be leaving for next year. After that there are still some spots that open up since many will keep their place even if there is a possibility of a move.

    Review the way their priority works – 3 years ago if you accept a Pudong spot you moved to the top of the wait list for Puxi. Also once one kid gets in the other moved to the top of the list.


    I heard that SAS hired over 90 new teachers in the Bangkok recruitment fair for the coming new school year. I was told their teachers turnover is every two years – most don’t stay for more than 2 years?? Anyone can confirm?

    If so, is it not uncommon for an international school to have loads of teachers leaving? I know that the first semester BISS was opened, they have to go over to Australia in January to recruit more teachers because they were expanding like crazy and also added a whole new floor to their building. Growing pains for a brand new school who expanded too fast?


    The International schools in Shanghai are all very different, with very different fee structures, trying to do very different things. How can they really be compared? The “best school” depends very much on what you want for your child.


    SSIS is a good option if your Childs English is reasonable, and you aren’t interested in your child learning Chinese. Their Chinese program isn’t very good and they don’t stream classes. They have a very limited program that gets kids to a vey basic level of English, and then dumps them into classes with native speakers. SSIS saps kids confidence by giving all kids the same standard tests. It also provides no additional support for kids struggling with English. So why accept kids with low English levels?

    SSIS is also very regimented, compared to most other international schools I’ve heard of in Shanghai. The kids have very limited free time, and go from class to class with no break. It’s a very rigid system.

    SSIS also seems to be struggling with its identity. It doesn’t seem to know if it’s a “Singaporean school” in Shanghai, or if it really is an international school. I’ve also heard its very authoritarian in management style, and it doesn’t use the talents of it’s teachers to improve the place, which is also a worry.

    Again, it depends on your child and what you want from the school. If you are Singaporean, its probably a great choice. If you aren’t, I’m not sure I’d recommend it.

    From my contact with various schools and teachers in Shanghai, amongst the lower fee schools in Shanghai, I think SMIC, SHSID and Xiehe are really good choices. These schools aren’t perfect by any means, but they seem to have a few strong points that would make them worth a look. As terrible as this sounds (why should money be messed up with schools?), these schools are also pretty reasonable “value for money”.


    I agree that SMIC is pretty good, but then I may be biased because I teach here 

    It’s really true that each school has different goals, and you really have to know what you want for your child when choosing. SAS has an amazing technology coordinator this year and is moving towards a Concordia-style one computer to one student model. SMIC has a really tight-knit staff and great facilities for the low tuition. Etc, etc. All schools have problem with turnover, especially the newer/smaller schools; it takes a while to grow a community of committed teachers.

    I can understand SHS-ID’s problems with being a government school; SMIC is attached to a company and has a (smaller) Chinese track for local students as well, which means we have to coordinate with both corporate and government cultures… we find both benefits and drawbacks to the arrangement.


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