Teaching In China: Public Schools Vs. Private Schools

China's public school system is the largest in the world, with more than 6 million elementary and middle school students. But millions of students have also enrolled in private schools that have grown rapidly over the past decade. While both types of schools provide quality education, it's important to understand their differences before deciding. The following sections will explain what makes each type unique so you can make an informed decision about teaching jobs in China:

1. The funding

Public school teachers in China are paid a salary by the government, which means a great deal of work security comes with working here. On the other hand, private schools pay higher wages but rely on parental funding to stay in business, making them more fickle than public institutions.

Private institutions also tend to be very selective in who they accept as students and instructors—there's some pretty stiff competition for seats at these places! That being said, if you're looking for more opportunities as an educator abroad, it may be worth pursuing teaching English in China at private schools instead of public ones.

2. Teacher-to-student ratio

Students in private schools have a lower teacher-to-student ratio, allowing teachers to give more individual attention to students and helping them develop their skills more effectively. Public school teachers are often expected to teach multiple subjects, so they don't have as much time for one-on-one interaction with students as public school teachers do. If you want your child to get a high-quality education, admissions to an international school is a good choice.

Although having a larger class can be beneficial because it allows students to be exposed to different ideas and perspectives from other classmates, this can also make learning difficult when there isn't enough time for everyone's needs—especially if certain children require extra help or specific instruction for them to succeed academically.

3. Enrollment options


Here are some differences in how both sectors enrol their students:

     Public schools are free and open to all students, including expats, and private schools have a tuition fee, which overseas teachers will receive a small stipend for.

     Private schools are usually more selective than public ones. This means that private schools tend to focus on being more academically inclined than their peers in the public system.

     Private schools are also usually more expensive than public ones because they provide small classes and offer an overall higher quality education tailored to each student's needs, interests and abilities.

The prestige of a school can vary wildly depending on where you choose to teach in China: while some private institutions are well-respected by locals as well as expats who come from all over Asia, others might be viewed as "second-class" simply because they don't have long histories attached to themselves anymore—so do your research first before committing yourself anywhere!

4. The teacher's working day

The work hours for teachers vary depending on the school but can range from 25 to 40 hours per week. If a teacher is paid hourly, they will be paid overtime at 1.5 times their regular hourly rate after 40 hours per week. Teachers may also be hired as full-time or part-time staff, and many schools pay bonuses if you teach more than one class daily.

Teachers typically work Monday through Friday with weekends off unless an extenuating circumstance such as a holiday or other event occurs. Most teachers have two or three free days each month where they do not have any classes scheduled to attend (each month being different from the others). However, since most Chinese students are required by law to attend school five days per week, most foreign teachers will need to be available for at least one extra day each month - more if your school has multiple campuses!

In addition to teaching duties, it's also crucial that you understand some basic facts about working conditions in China:

     Workdays tend toward longer hours than what would usually be considered standard practice in Western countries.

     The public transportation system tends toward efficiency.

5. The curriculum

You may be surprised to learn that the curriculum in public schools is more focused on the Chinese language and culture. This means that you will have difficulty finding opportunities for your students to learn about other world cultures, as this information is not part of their curriculum. It also means that you will teach them about Chinese history and literature, which are often considered unimportant” compared to subjects such as math or science in Western countries.

The situation is quite different if you teach at a private school! While focusing primarily on the Chinese language and culture, they offer more choices regarding your studentseducation. In addition to mandatory classes such as English, many private institutions also offer foreign languages. These may seem minor, but they can make all difference in graduation!

6. The public school system is more stable, but private schools pay more.

The public school system is more reliable and stable. It's also more regulated, so teachers are paid less, but their job security is higher. In most cases, teachers can't be fired or let go from a private school unless they commit a significant infraction.

Comparing these two teaching jobs is difficult without looking at specifics like location and age group (preschool vs elementary vs high school). If you want stability over money, working at a government-run institution might be right up your alley. On the other hand, if your ideal work-life includes flexible hours and good opportunities for advancement, then working in an international private school might suit you better!


Teaching in China is a great way to make money and live an exciting life. Remember, it takes patience and hard work on your part to get started. You should also consider how long you plan to stay in China because some jobs might not be available after a certain period (especially if there are limited licenses). Hopefully, this article helped answer some questions about teaching at public or private schools!