Would you like to teach at a public or at a private school? It is an important question to answer for anyone who is thinking about a teaching position in China. There are five main differences between public and private schools that you need to take into account when answering this question.
Generally speaking, English teachers who work at a private school will receive a higher salary than their colleagues at a public school. Public schools are educational institutions and their main focus is on providing public education to their students. Private schools cater towards their customers’ needs and provide education as a service. A service that the customers, the parents of your students, are paying a lot of money for. Therefore, private schools are able to provide higher salaries, bonuses and commission to teachers who are capable of understanding these needs.
2. Working Schedule
Teachers who are working at a public school will work around 20 hours during school times from Monday to Friday. Some of these students will also attend classes at a private school after their regular classes at their public school. That means that private school teachers will teach during late afternoons, early evenings and weekends. They will work around 30 hours, and have around 22 teaching hours. Teachers spend the other hours at school preparing classes, conducting demo classes, correcting homework and talking to students and parents.
3. Class size
There is big difference in class size. Classes in public school can have up to 50 students in one classroom, whereas classes in private schools are much smaller and range from one student, for one-to-one tutoring, to a maximum of 12 students in one class. Standing in front of a big class and being part of a public school makes you experience Chinese society. On the other hand, small classes at a private school enable you to give every student lots of attention and to establish a close relationship with your students.
Teachers at public schools can enjoy lots of free time. Students won’t have classes in July and August and have a long break for Chinese New Year. That means lots of travel opportunities for the teachers. Most of the public schools won’t pay their teachers during these holidays though. Private school teachers can enjoy paid holidays, but will only get two weeks a year. They can request for one extra month of unpaid holidays, that they usually take at the end of their contract.
5. Working Environment
Private school teachers are part of a foreign teachers team. Because private schools work intensively together with foreign English teachers on a regular basis, they know exactly what they need and how to help. As a teacher here, you will be very well taken care of. Teachers at public schools need to be a bit more independent, and have more freedom to incorporate their own teaching ideas into the classroom. Besides the method offered, they can decide on and design their own teaching materials, whereas in private schools you will find extensive teaching materials ready to use.
In short, there a quite a few things to take into account when deciding on teaching at a public or a private school. There are pros and cons at both kind of schools. It really depends on what you, as a teacher, are looking for. Are you completely comfortable to stand in front of big classes and are you looking for lots of free time to travel? Or are you looking for the best benefits and do you like to bond with all your students? It is really up to you!
Written by Puck Stamps, Program Consultant at China Plus