No, training centers in China are not all being closed down! No, English teachers are not banned from teaching in China! Let’s look at the new education policy in a bit more detail and examine what the implications are for teachers and schools in China.
In July 2021 the ‘Opinions on Further Reducing the Burden of Homework and After-school Training for Students in Compulsory Education’, known as the “Double Reduction” or “720” policy was issued by the General Office of State Council in China. The purpose of the policy is to reduce the workload on Chinese students and to reduce the financial pressure on Chinese parents when it comes to educating their children.
What does this mean for the education industry in China and what impact will this have on English teachers in China and their schools? There has been a great deal of confusion and misinformation online around the implications, so this article will help to clarify the situation.
The main elements of the policy are as follows:
1 – Teachers living outside China will not be allowed to teach online classes.
It is important to note that this only applies to online teachers living outside China, who are teaching for online Chinese companies. Already, a number of large online teaching companies have announced they will be closing down in the coming months or pivoting their business model significantly, as they will be no longer be allowed to employ teachers living outside of China.
Teachers currently outside of China are still allowed to be legally hired by schools that intend to bring them in to China to teach at their schools. If you are looking to get a job with a school in China and to enter China from overseas to teach, that is still absolutely allowed and there are no plans to change that. You will need a PU letter from your school, which can be used to apply for a work visa to enter China. More details on that process here, an example of a school that is able to provide PU letters here and an interview with one of our teachers who has gone through that process here.
2 – After-school tutoring companies can not run weekend and school holiday classes for core subjects teaching the national curriculum (including English).
The good news is, for schools that have classes running Monday to Friday during day time, this will not affect them at all. We have a wide selection of teaching jobs at primary, middle and high schools, as well as universities, international and bilingual schools that are not affected by the new policies at all and continue to hire teachers. For current job opportunities with these schools, have a look at our Job Board.
For training centers and tutoring companies that run evening and weekend classes, the implications of the new policies still need to be clarified. As the new policies will be implemented by the local governments, there won’t be a single, nationwide policy that is consistent throughout China. Schools in cities throughout China are currently discussing with their local government how the policy applies to them and how they will have to adapt.
As a recruitment agency with over 12 years experience in the ESL market in China, Gold Star TEFL Recruitment has close contacts with hundreds of schools all over China. We have been communicating with various training centers that we partner with to get a better understanding of how it could affect them and what adjustments they may need to make. The most important area that needs to be clarified is regarding the curriculum being taught. Schools we have spoken to have either already or are in the process of adapting their curriculum, which then needs to gain approval from their local education bureau.
For their weekday evening classes, training centers can continue to run their usual curriculum. For weekend and summer and winter holiday courses, many training schools are adapting their curriculum to fall in line with the new guidelines. This means rather than focusing on national English curriculum exam preparation, they will be gearing the curriculum to teaching English through, for example, debating, journalism, drama, public speaking, story-telling, reading, science, craftwork, music, cooking, sports, brain development. These are just examples and of course, a school is unlikely to adapt all of these courses, but more likely will focus on just some of them. Many schools already have a varied curriculum incorporating some of these areas, so will not have much adapting to do. Some areas of China have announced there will be a ban on foreign textbooks for primary and middle school aged students, so schools might have to adapt the materials they use. It remains to be seen whether any additional qualifications might be required for teachers to be hired to teach the courses mentioned.
Quotes from training centers around China on their plans for the future
“For our company, there are no immediate changes. A lot of the changes are targeted towards company’s that do not have the proper licenses and those who have foreign or traded in foreign markets. The major change for us has been shifting some of our curriculum to follow the new policies. We do not see it having any impact on our schools, teachers, and hiring process for the time being.”
Training center in Shanghai
“The full policies will be implemented immediately in six or seven select Tier 1 cities and then a pilot city in each province as well. There is due to be a meeting in this city for all its training centers with provincial government officials where they will announce their implementation of the rules and which city/class of schools will follow the announcements on a trial basis. Basically, there are some minor changes affecting all the schools immediately with the other larger amendments being trialled elsewhere and all we can do is watch and wait for future developments.”
Training center in Shijiazhuang
“Because the new policy was recently promulgated, we have lots of details that have to be communicated with the government education office, including class schedule and subjects that foreign teachers can teach. We can continue to operate and we’re creating new course already. We have to submit the plan to education office and get the approval.”
Training center in Shenzhen
“Regarding core subjects, we are still working with the education commission for the proper interpretations as our lessons are not based on the national curriculum. Nonetheless, our team is working diligently to meet the high demands of the new regulations. The company has decided to grow with the times. We are implementing strategic plans to improve and expand our workforce. Our school is developing new products beyond the current products, which will require in-depth training and research. This will increase the need for teachers and leaders within the company. We will also continue with our current curriculum and develop and implement ways to improve it.”
Training center in Beijing
“The ruling around what can and cannot be taught hinges on the Highschool entrance exam. If there is a written section for the exam then that is considered a subject under the new legislation and no training at all is allowed if it is specifically for that subject. Not all areas are affected yet either. The pilot cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang, Changzhi, Nantong, Zhenzhou and Weihai. Xi’an and Xiamen have also enacted the policy. I have heard the whole of Liaoning Province will also soon enact it. As for non-profit that does not really have any bearing on our day-to-day as it just means all profits generated must be reinvested in the business.”
Training center in Xiamen
“To answer your question about the weekend/holiday classes, it seems certain groups of students can and can’t take classes during these times, that is what we are working around at the moment but currently for us, business is as usual, with all our classes going forward just as they were a month ago. At the moment what is happening is that our schedule is currently undergoing changes, as students who don’t meet the requirements to take classes on the weekend will have to have their classes shifted to the week days.”
Training center in Hangzhou
It is worth mentioning that the new policies only apply to a select list of cities for now, as test cases. In a year things will be reviewed and suitable policies, based on how the testing went, will be rolled out to more cities in China. By then we will know more about the real-world effects of the policy and how schools plan to adapt.
3 – Ban on companies listed on foreign stock exchanges
Foreign companies will not be allowed to invest in companies engaged in tutoring or training and these companies will not be allowed to be listed on foreign stock exchanges. The companies will not be allowed to raise capital. We have already seen the stock price of listed online tutoring companies such as such as New Oriental Education and TAL Education Group plummet and the IPO of VIPKid was cancelled.
For privately owned companies in China, this policy won’t affect them.
4 – Fee capped and advertising regulations
Tutoring and training companies will have a limit put on how much they can charge for their services, to reduce the financial burden on parents of the students, who pay for the classes. There will also be guidelines implicated around how these companies can advertise, ensuring they are not making inaccurate claims.
There will definitely be some changes to the industry and it does seem like some schools will have to adjust their curriculum. But the education and training industry is definitely not going away. Wen Zhan Wang, a former senior staff member from the Ministry of Education spoke about his interpretation of the recent policies during the 2021 China Internet Education Conference. His key message is that private tutoring companies need to keep the faith and adapt. The government wants to regulate the tutoring industry not to shut it down.
We will continue to update this article as we get the more information and receive more feedback from the schools we work with.
For further reading, this report provides a good analysis of the policy.
About the Author: Jim
Hundreds of teaching jobs in China, fully screened, updated daily.
This content was originally published here.