Architecture Education

China’s clamp down on foreign schools leads to suspension of Chengdu international school by Broadway Malyan

November 9, 2021

Work has halted on a 2,000-pupil international school in China’s Chengdu city as the Chinese government continues to curb the purported spread of foreign influence on the country’s learning institutions.

The school designed by UK-headquartered global practice Broadway Malyan said its 133,000m² plan for Chengdu Westminster School was inspired by the premises of its parent school, located in Westminster Abbey in the UK. Construction had been ongoing since 2019 and the school was due to open in 2022.

The licensed operator of the school shared recently that it was terminating a licensing agreement with Hong Kong Melodious Education Technology Group that would have seen the company set up six sister schools for Westminster in China.

Beijing’s new education policies are skewed towards a nationalistic curriculum and President Xi Jinping has ordered a crackdown on all private learning institutions such as tuition centre in a move to reign in academic pressure on children in the world’s second largest economy after the US. The policies, which came into effect in September, require international schools to teach the same lessons as state schools.

While most of the buildings for Chengdu Westminster School have been completed, significant internal and external works still remain to be completed, including a 1,000-seat auditorium, inspired by London’s West End.

A spokesperson from the practice admitted that the change in policies had put a question mark on the long-term viability of the project. As well, the ongoing pandemic also contributed to the challenges due to the border closers and travel restrictions, making it harder to recruit construction workers, teaching staff and pupils.

Despite the challenges, China still plays host to well-known British education brands such as Dulwich College and King’s College. Broadway Malyan has also worked on the 13ha Fettes College campus in Guangzhou – an outpost of the established Edinburgh private school – for 2,300 pupils and 300 staff

‘We have also recently completed new campuses for Bright Scholar with Fettes College, BE Education with Wycombe Abbey and a new facility [which] will open next year for our client Kaiyuan Education Fund in partnership with Reigate College.’

Broadway Malyan’s Fettes College Guangzhou is a through-school for 2,300 pupils and 300 staff on a 13ha campus designed to be an international ‘reflection’ of the Edinburgh private school’s offer.

Earlier this year, King’s College School Wimbledon opened its Chengdu campus, the third project delivered in its partnership with Dipont Education. Broadway Malyan also designed its Nanwai campus in Wuxi, which opened in 2018.

Dulwich College has four schools in China: two in Shanghai, one of which – Puxi – was designed by Broadway Malyan, and one each in Beijing and Suzhou.

Renderings courtesy: Broadway Malyan

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