Revealed: How prestigious UK private schools are making millions from opening up academies in China – with pupils taught to march with guns and ‘protect the motherland’
- EXCLUSIVE: ‘Cranleigh’ school in Wuhan taught pupils to goose-step with rifles
- A young child at Sedbergh’s China school says he will ‘protect the motherland’
British private schools in China are teaching children to march with guns in military uniform with Chinese flags and to ‘protect the motherland’, footage shows.
In one video of a ‘Cranleigh’ school in Wuhan, China, children can be seen goose-stepping in military uniform with rifles and China’s national flag.
The children suddenly change from looking relaxed in school uniform to appearing in military dress with rifles.
They then step to the side and give a military salute, before the video transitions to showing them goose-stepping down a running track with rifles and China’s national flag.
Cranleigh School claimed the children in the footage, posted by the official channel of ‘Wuhan Cranleigh’ to Chinese social media, were younger than ‘sixth form’ age which it said it only provides education for.
It comes after China’s regulations recently forced British-branded private schools to abandon their curricula to uphold the ‘leadership of the Communist Party of China’ and ‘adhere to the socialist direction of running schools’.
In one video of a ‘Cranleigh’ school in Wuhan, China, children can be seen goose-stepping in military uniform with rifles and China’s national flag
The children suddenly change from looking relaxed in school uniform to appearing in military dress with rifles
But in some cases, the schools still earn millions of pounds through franchise fees paid by partner companies to use their prestigious brand name.
In different footage posted by Sedbergh’s partner school in Fuzhou, China, which charges up to £23,090 per year, a young boy dressed in military fatigues says the ‘seeds of patriotism’ are in his heart and vows to ‘protect the motherland’ when he grows up.
In the video titled ‘Let’s listen to children of Kindergarten recite patriotic poems’, the young boy says: ‘The seeds of patriotism take root in my heart. I’m a little soldier. When I grow up, I want to protect the motherland like my father’.
Dressed in combat uniform with China’s national flag on his arm, he then gives a salute to the classroom and bows before walking off.
There are around 77 British-branded private schools operating in China including Harrow, Dulwich, Malvern and Wellington, according to ISC, a company that provides data on international schools.
Harrow, which has four bilingual campuses in China, has earned £3,816,648 through its trading company since its first Chinese academy opened in September 2020.
And King’s College School Wimbledon, which has three campuses in China, has earned £5,461,978 through its trade subsidiary since its first Chinese school opened in 2018.
In different footage posted by Sedbergh’s partner school in Fuzhou, China, which charges up to £23,090 per year, a young boy dressed in military fatigues says the ‘seeds of patriotism’ are in his heart and vows to ‘protect the motherland’ when he grows up
The prestigious schools are also told to use Chinese state-approved textbooks to teach primary and high school students history, geography and ‘ideology and morality’.
High school history textbooks teach students about the ‘great cause of the reunification of the motherland’ and ‘correct thinking’ about Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Eighth-grade geography textbooks refer to the self-governing island of Taiwan as a ‘province’ of China and ‘sacred territory of the motherland’.
Meanwhile, ‘ideology and morality’ textbooks claim the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ‘puts people first and governs for the people’ and its relationship with Tibet and Xinjiang is one of ‘equality, unity and common prosperity’.
New editions that rolled out to schools last year will also incorporate ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ to help ‘establish Marxist belief’ in the country’s youth, according to China’s Ministry of Education.
A former teacher at a British-branded private school, who didn’t want to be named, told MailOnline although she wasn’t pressured to teach Xi Jinping Thought, China’s laws made it ‘difficult’ to teach the school’s original curriculum.
Pictured: a young boy dressed in military fatigues saying he is a ‘little soldier’ at Rong Qiao Sedbergh School
Pictured: a young boy at Rong Qiao Sedbergh School saying the ‘seeds of patriotism take root’ in his heart
She said there was a total ban on ‘foreign published materials’ and anything that was taught had to be ‘published in China’ which made teachers ‘worry about saying the wrong thing’.
The former teacher added that ‘Xi Jinping being very powerful’ made teaching in China ‘uncomfortable’ and was one of the reasons she left the country.
But Benedict Rogers, chief executive of NGO Hong Kong Watch, warned it was ‘dangerous’ for British-branded private schools to be teaching CCP ‘propaganda’.
He told MailOnline: ‘British schools that are being used by the Chinese Communist Party to help instil their propaganda in the minds of students in China is a dangerous thing to be doing.
‘It appears that the only explanation for it is that it’s lucrative. There appears to be no argument for British schools teaching universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights in China.’
He added: ‘If they’re teaching the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda on Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang, where it is increasingly recognised a genocide is taking place, then these schools are just an extension of the CCP’s education system.
‘At a time when the CCP is not only repressing and persecuting many groups within China’s borders, but also acting increasingly aggressively abroad against critics and dissidents, British schools should not be aligning themselves with this regime.’
In October 2022, pro-democracy protester Bob Chan, who is originally from Hong Kong, was dragged into the grounds of the Chinese Consulate in Manchester and beaten by diplomatic staff.
Consul-general Zheng Xiyuan told reporters he was trying to protect his colleagues and said Mr Chan was ‘abusing my country, my leader’ for protesting against Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In October 2022, pro-democracy protester Bob Chan (centre), who is originally from Hong Kong, was dragged into the grounds of the Chinese Consulate in Manchester and beaten by diplomatic staff
Former British military intelligence officer Colonel Philip Ingram also warned the CCP posed a threat to Britain’s ‘economic stability’.
He told MailOnline: ‘The Chinese Communist Party is a whole society threat to the UK. Not just at Government levels, but to our businesses and economic stability.
‘It will do everything it can to empower itself economically at the expense of Britain and other nations so they can gain as much as an advantage as possible.’
At a G7 press conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said China posed the ‘biggest challenge of our age to global security and prosperity’.
He said: ‘They are increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad. And as the G7 has shown the UK’s response is completely aligned with our allies.
‘This is all about de-risking, not de-coupling. And with the G7 we are taking steps to prevent China from using economic coercion to interfere in the sovereign affairs of others.’
Minister for Defence Procurement Alex Chalk added that China could ‘weaponise’ the UK’s defence supply chains.
He said the Government was taking a ‘serious look’ at Chinese-owned security cameras linked to the People’s Liberation Army being used at UK military bases.
At a G7 press conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said China posed the ‘biggest challenge of our age to global security and prosperity’
He said the Government was taking a ‘serious look’ at Chinese-owned security cameras linked to the People’s Liberation Army being used at UK military bases
But despite tighter education regulations, some estimates predict the private education sector in China will be worth more than £400billion by 2025.
The China Britain Business Council said school partnerships typically earn £250,000 through the initial sale of a brand name, with hundreds of thousands more received through consultancy fees.
Sedbergh School, which says its partner Rong Qiao Sedbergh School shares its ‘core values’, earned £524,933 through its trade subsidiary Sedbergh School International Limited between 2019 and 2021.
MailOnline did not access the accounts of Cranleigh China, but it has two other campuses in China and plans to open a ‘family of schools’ with a similar ‘ethos’ over the next few years.
A tax loophole allows the schools to avoid corporation tax on profit earned through international franchises by using subsidiary companies to donate the income to parent schools, which have charity status, as gift aid.
Meanwhile, Fettes College, the alma mater of former Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair, opened a 32-acre campus in collaboration with the Chinese company Bright Scholar Education Group in September 2020.
The governors of the school said the partnership adopted the ‘ethos and name of Fettes College’ and would ensure the ‘future of Fettes’ through significant ‘financial benefits’ and ‘profits’ after its opening.
Sedbergh School, which says its partner Rong Qiao Sedbergh School shares its ‘core values’, earned £524,933 through its trade subsidiary Sedbergh School International Limited between 2019 and 2021
But Bright Scholar Education Group’s ‘educational philosophy’ is to ‘cultivate pillars for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation’ and train ‘patriotic’ students, according to its website.
The company’s chairman until last year was Yang Huiyan, who is the majority stakeholder of the education group’s parent business Country Garden Holdings, China’s biggest real estate company.
Miss Yang inherited an estimated £4.4billion in majority shares from her father Yang Guoqiang in 2005, who is a member of a top political advisory body to the Chinese Communist Party.
Cranleigh School’s headteacher Martin Reader said: ‘Cranleigh partners with Cogdel Education on the provision of a Sixth Form curriculum only to two schools in China.
‘Year groups other than sixth form are still Chinese schools with a Chinese curriculum and co-curricular programme, which will include Cadets doing drills, as with the Combined Cadet Force in the UK.
‘Throughout our sixth form programmes, we aspire to develop students who are readied for global citizenship and empowered by an understanding, tolerance and collaboration between cultures that their education provides.’
Sedbergh School’s Director of Marketing and International Relations David Milner said: ‘The little boy in the video is sharing a poem called I Love My Dad. The boy’s dad is a soldier. It was part of a dress-up day in celebration of World Book Day.’
MailOnline did not access the accounts of Cranleigh China, but it has two other campuses in China and plans to open a ‘family of schools’ with a similar ‘ethos’ over the next few years
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